Jason Moran
Monday, July 14, 2008
So, there's an African tribe that doesn't count using numbers (the Pirahas). They have a word that means "one or two", a word that means "four or five", and a word that means "many" or "a lot". In other words, they never directly count or say exact quantities of items.

This guy says it the best - and I know it's a really long quote to read through, but it's funny and interesting and it explains how baboons use the same counting system:
So, I grew up on a Bushveld Farm in Africa.

And, as one does on farms in the raw, one must maintain a system of control... over baboons.

Experience taught the farmers how to deal with baboons, as a necessity towards having a harvest- baboons are quite destructive you see.

The first method is by catching one using the 'pumpkin' trick. Quite easy:
Tie down a pumkin, make a hole in it just big enough for a baboon hand to slip in and wait.

The baboon will come along and stick his hand into the pumpkin, grab a handful and then try to remove his hand... but as an empty hand can go in, the clenched fist cannot get out... baboon does not want to let go... and is therefore stuck. Then you paint the fellow white, and let it go. The returning baboon will scare the living daylights out of his tribe and they will disappear for a while.

The other method... well... shoot a couple and the farm will be avoided for a LONG time.

It is not as easy as one would think to hunt baboons, firstly, as they have very effective watch..err.. watchmen (Bobejaan-brandwag) who will sound the alarm as soon as they spot people with guns. The trick is as follows (works for Maize fields):

If one man walks into the field, and hides, the baboons stay away.

If two goes in, and one comes out, they stay away.

If three goes in and two comes out... they stay away...

But if four goes in and three comes out... they seem to think that many went in and many left... all right to plunder. (ok, know it should be 'feed', but we live in a relative universe!)

We used to tease and say "1-2-many" is how baboons count. So, imagine my puzzlement when I saw that there are... well... humans living by a similar system!

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008
  Salary Vs Contracting: The Other Side Of The Fence
I thought I'd revisit Salary Vs. Contracting now that I'm back in a salaried job.

I have now worked an even amount of hourly, salary, W-2 contracting, and 1099 contracting.

My overall take on it is this: I want to do pure 1099 contracting if I can help it at some point in the future...but I am enjoying the perks of a salaried job while I can.

I haven't gotten paid for holidays in years, and it is really nice to still get a full paycheck for 3 and 4 day weeks. I don't have any vacation days yet, but when I do and I take my vacation it will be awesome to not take the "double hit". When you are contracting it is a double hit because you pay lots for your vacation and you come home to no pay for the time you took off.

However, let me explain why the 1099 route is the best way in my personal opinion (for software developers). First of all, you don't 1099 under your personal name. You create a corporation (LLC, S-Corp, etc). The business at the front end is the key to the whole thing.

Since you are working for this newly created business you can pay yourself for your work and for rent (because you have to do your work at some physical place). Then you get to write off your computer, supplies, travel, and all kinds of other things on your taxes. Plus, it provides legal protection. If you did something stupid like break a non-disclosure agreement they can't sue the pants off of you directly, they would be suing your company.

Before I continue with a few more good 1099 points, let me tell you some of the bad. Your taxes are way more complex, so you'd better hire an accountant. You'll have to do some payroll stuff for yourself and any other employees you have, including their taxes and sending off IRS paperwork. Some of your clients won't pay, or at least not in a timely manner. Sure, you might make 30,000 dollars, but what if they give that to you in 5 months in a single payment? Can you survive until the check shows up? One last thing, you need to pay double taxes (employer and employee portions).

Anyway, the last couple 1099 pros: You generally make a bit more than salary/normal contracting so that covers your extra taxes and then some if you are writing off enough on your taxes. You can hire other people to do the work for you. Lastly, you can work on your own terms.

Let's say you are busy at a client but company ABC wants you to redo their website for $8K. You don't have the time. However, you ask your website-savvy buddy that wants to moonlight a little how much he thinks he could redo the site for. He says he could redo it for about $4K, but in case anything unexpected comes up it could max out at $5K. You take the contract, let your buddy do it, pay him worst-case-scenario $5K and bank $3K just for setting the whole thing up. You can't do that if you are working directly for an employer.

All that being said, I'm happy where I am at my salaried job right now.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008
  Go Ahead, Chop My Hand Off
I love wacky science and health stories. A guy chopped half of his finger off and it grew back.

Using some cellular matrix powder made out of pig's bladder like some sort of magical pixie dust the dude just sprinkled it on his stump and the finger grew back in a few weeks.

I can't wait until they start growing back amputated legs or tossing a third arm on people. Yo, doc, my liver's going bad can you grow me a new one? Thanks, bro.

I wonder if we can use a sport star's tissue to grow near-superhuman legs/etc for next gen soldiers?

Implants? No, these are natural. Naturally somebody else's, but still natural.

The possibilities are sort of crazy.

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