Category Archives: Details, Details

Puzzles (off topic)

I always resent these puzzles for being deliberately misleading and using “+” and “=” in a devious way. Con artists, some of these puzzle writers.

I keep thinking “YOU’RE LYING!!! That is not a ‘+’ function. Why don’t they just use commas and then challenge readers to find the pattern?”

They don’t gain anything by lying — ie by using symbols with long-established and widely accepted definitions as placeholders for the mystery function which the reader is challenged to discover.

Another early problem for me was that I didn’t want to violate the integrity of numbers and calculate digits separately. When digits abutt their neighbors, it means something. It’s a promise and civilized people will honor that promise.

You can create puzzles (or for that matter art) without this sabotage.

Once I realized the vulgar barbarity of these puzzle writers they became much easier.



Ex-patriot vs Immigrant

From a very wise friend of mine:

So if you were born in a first world country and choose to live in a lesser country, you are called an expatriot.

If you were born in a lesser country and came to live in a first world country, you are called an immigrant.
Am I right or are there some nuances I’m missing?

Dear NSA

Dear NSA,

I love technology, but (as you probably know) it is also confusing at times. It creates opportunities for silly errors. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, I recently deleted a whole bunch of my telephone’s contacts. I think it happened totally by accident while the phone was in my pocket, like pocket dialing. Has that ever happened to you? I probably left the phone on the “synchronize accounts” screen because I’d been messing with that. What’s worse is that my contacts weren’t automatically backing up as I thought they were.

So, I know you’re probably really busy, with . . . well . . . doing whatever it is you do . . . but it’d really, really, really save me a lot of heart ache if you simply sent my old contacts to me.

Thanks, guys!


Just returned from the Fulbright conference in Odesa. I think I won the prize for most *interesting* presentation: “Property Rights and Ukrainian Identity”

Stay tuned for audio, pictures.

Winding down

I have a few months left in Ukraine. I am working furiously on writing, though it seems I still have impossibly much to do. I’ve been invited to a number of conferences, and I hope to attend all of them, as they’ll take me to Odessa and Donetsk, and give me an opportunity to see more of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Money

A few days ago, I found myself with every type of Ukrainian central bank note in my wallet, also a coffee coupon and my train ticket to L’viv:

Ukrainian Money

At the time of this blog post, the exchange rate is about 7.95 hryvnias to 1 dollar. The Ukrainian central bank pegs their currency to the dollar.

Who heard of the Khazars?

With regards to Ukrainian history, as I’ve written before, things only get more complicated the closer you look. There’s no end to this, even in Ukraine’s ancient history.

A man told me his ideas about the Mongols who sacked Kiev-Rus, and the Khazars who, according to him, sought revenge for their defeat by Kiev-Rus. I’ve found no hint of the revenge narrative in my casual internet inquiries, but there was lots of information about the Khazars, whom I’d never heard of before despite their civilization having once been the largest in Europe, existing east of Kiev-Rus and having an intertwined history.

Read about the Khazars on wikipedia.

Oleg of Novogorod expelled the Khazars from Kiev near 880. Sviatoslave I of Kiev went to war with the Khazars and destroyed their civilization.

There seems to be much historical controversy surrounding the conversion of Khazars to Judiasm and the question of whether Khazars are the ancestors of Ashkenazi Jews. Perhaps the controversy has made their study taboo. In 2008 Shlomo Sand, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University published the controversial book, The Invention of the Jewish People about the Khazars.

I’m sure there’s more to be said about this, and, like the rest of Ukrainian history, the closer we look the more complicated it will get.

As interesting as this history is, I’m going to back to property rights. To paraphrase Mises, commerce forces us all to be peaceful, whether we like each other or not. :)