Budget Culture and the Dave Ramseyfication of Money

Budget Culture and the Dave Ramseyfication of Money:

Budget culture is the damaging set of beliefs around money that — like so-called diet culture does for food and bodies — rewards restriction and deprivation, and promotes an unhealthy and fantastical ideal of financial success. …

The broader problem with budget culture is its emphasis on individual responsibility and insistence on ignoring the varying levels of access and privilege in our world. It vilifies and oppresses anyone who doesn’t live up to the ideal, regardless of their circumstances. And that ideal is, unsurprisingly, rooted in maleness and whiteness in the way many of our cultural ideals are. … 

But all we’re really doing is peddling the same worn promises wrapped in a veneer of language around “wellness” instead of “being rich.” The brass tacks of advice for financial wellness still emphasize restriction and individual responsibility, and “getting our act together” is still predicated on the fantasy of being rich. Because actually countering budget culture is a tall order, for individuals and society.

It requires: 

  • Getting comfortable not knowing the “right” answers.
  • Changing not just how you talk about money to others, but how you use money in your life.
  • Pay transparency — with your friends, communities and colleagues, and in job descriptions.
  • Seeing and acknowledging your privilege.
  • Rethinking how we compensate for every kind of labor.
  • Framing taxes as sharing privilege, not impeding personal wealth.
  • Admitting net worth is an imaginary number.
  • Creatively supporting people with financial need and protecting them from the tyranny of credit reports.
  • Reckoning with the fact that the American Dream of homeownership relies on hoarding stolen wealth.

It’s… a lot. 

It sure is.


Let’s all call cryptocurrency, NFTs, and web3 (in all of its poorly defined sense) a sunk cost and move on.


But beware of tech bros preaching decentralization. Technology has been promising to eliminate the middleman for decades, only to present new middlemen — in this case, new actors asking you to transfer trust and wealth from one institution to theirs. Crypto enthusiasts spent 14 years and tens of billions of venture capital dollars trying to create a trustless financial system with no middlemen. Status? See above: Celsius.

Crypto’s dirty little secret is that it’s no more eliminated the need for trust than it has replaced the U.S. dollar. (Sorry, Jack.) Its core rhetoric is in the Reaganite antigovernment creed … “Don’t trust the Fed.” Don’t trust anyone, they told us. But this is bullshit. I mean bullshit3. When crypto went mainstream in 2020, it appended a new line: “trust us.”

※ The librarian’s service

The librarian’s service:

I saw a great story in James Clear’s “3-2-1” today.

Lillian Moore shares a quick story that reveals what really motivates people:

“A few months after my husband and I moved to a small Massachusetts town I grumbled to a resident about the poor service at the library, hoping she would repeat my complaints to the librarian. The next time I went to the library, the librarian had set aside two bestsellers for me and a new biography for my husband. What’s more, she appeared to be genuinely glad to see me.

Later I reported the miraculous change to my friend. “I suppose you told her how poor we thought the service was?” I asked.

“No,” she confessed. “In fact—I hope you don’t mind—I told her your husband was amazed at the way she had built up this small town library, and that you thought she showed unusually good taste in the new books she ordered.”

This reminded me of the parable of the wind and the sun. It is an idea I don’t implement often enough.


I also subscribe to James Clear’s newsletter and read the same bit.

When I read this story I immediately thought, this is not repeatable. Even if it is, how is going to a third party with an issue and hoping they’ll accurately convey your issues only to have the third party change it going to necessarily benefit the original person? There are any number of points in this story where things could have gone poorly and, as far as I can tell, exactly one that ends in this sunny outcome.

This is a passive-aggressive’s dream result. It’s impractical in practice.

The Sportswashing Edition

The Sportswashing Edition:

“Everyone needs money. That’s why they call it money.”

– David Mamet, Heist

Jeff here. About a year ago, news began to circulate among the golf media that the Saudis—through their Public Investment Fund, and with the fiercely unlikeable Greg Norman as their frontman—were preparing to throw an unholy amount of money at some of the current greats of the game in an attempt to launch a rival league to the PGA Tour. The news was met with a mixture of moral outrage (the word “bonesaw” often featuring prominently) and a sort of glib flippancy (“who would ever leave the PGA Tour and its AMAZING pension plan?”)

These professional athletes are employees of the Saudi Arabian government regardless of how they spin their funding.

My big take away from this nonsense, since I’m soured on pro sports of every kind, is that I have been in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia several times and it is a miserable place to be. It’s the ancestral homestead of the House of Saud, which is why it’s the capital.

It’s not safe for foreigners, especially non-Muslims. All of the locals I know advised me about where not to go ever and when to not go everywhere. Had I gone back again I would have set up a spreadsheet to keep it all clear.

That these professional sports people think it’s ok that they not only take the Saudi’s money but also launder the Saudi’s reputation is reprehensible, I was never going to watch these Saudi employees anyway.

※ In Praise of Trackballs

Real physics are a lovely thing when you’ve got a human body

Clive Thompson writes about something on which I have strong feelings. Those feelings are about the trackball.

First off, trackballs are awesome. They require exactly the space taken up by itself unlike a mouse that needs room to roam. They’re more precise than mice in detailed work.

The quintessential trackball was made my Microsoft, the Trackball Explorer, where one’s right thumb was on the scroll wheel and mouse buttons. The forefinger on the trackball.

Today, one can get the same design with wireless options from Elecom. While not as durable as the Microsoft one, they’re available, in various sizes, and not crazy expensive.

Viva la trackball!

News Pruning

I’m thinking about pruning Apple-first news sources from my RSS intake. Apple’s “news” gets covered amply by the mainline news, is mostly PR announcements anyway, and the useful technical bits are often cited by others in my RSS feed.

I’m thinking about pruning news newsletters and primary news sources from my RSS intake, or setting up a separate one I can chose to view on any given day.

I’m thinking about filtering my RSS feeds to get rid of specific topics as my SO keeps me well informed, and my interest in them by myself is exceedingly low:

  • Marvel movies and TV
  • DC movies and TV
  • Star Wars movies and TV
  • Star Trek movies and TV

I’m thinking about getting rid of sources that are now cryptocurrency/NFT/web3 enthusiastic and forward.

I’m thinking about moving my Emacs and org-mode and Emacs-related news to Emacs’ elfeed. DevonThink posts will move to DevonThink 3.

Review: No Time to Die

I’m sad for Daniel Craig that No Time to Die is his last James Bond film. It should have been better.

Tl;dr: Bond – formulaic, thus predictable; way too long; boring; beautiful; wasted talent.

Spoilers below, maybe. I mean, it’s a Bond flick.

First, part of the story that was hinted at early in a seeming non sequitur and ended up as a set piece was from You Only Live Twice, the novel. Will we end up with a washed-up-on-the-shore-in-Japan Bond meeting Kissy Suzuki as the introduction to the next Bend actor?

Second, getting Phoebe Waller-Bridge to help with the script was a great move by Craig. Given how anemic the movie is, I can’t begin to imagine how tepid it was before she joined. I’m 100% convinced the script was a camel.

Third, I want to be Paloma – Ana de Armas completely upstages Craig in this like she did in Knives Out. She looks spectacular, literally kicks ass while wearing an outfit that is appropriate for black tie and for her acrobatic fighting skills, and has a better form of Roger Moore’s humor.

Fourth, this movie is woefully way too long. I don’t think that there was enough in this script to stretch into 2 movies. It drags in many places for no reason.

Fifth, let’s again ask where the armies of bad guys who burst forth from the tree line come from, why they were not employed earlier on, and their ability to die with a single bullet, when … 

Sixth, the main people don’t die after being shot multiple times, especially when a man is shot multiple times by a woman. Somehow a clip emptied into main baddy doesn’t keep him from saving the woman who shot him, setting up the … uh, drama?

Seventh, the MacGuffin and the bad guy scientist and the other (?) bad guy who stole him were woefully secondary to the plot.


Support for Apple Passkeys on Older Devices

Apple Passkeys:

At WWDC, Apple just announced Passkeys, their implementation of the FIDO protocols that aim to replace passwords. In Apple’s case, this capability will be available with iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, probably this fall. The other vendors are doubtless planning similar releases in a similar timeline.

Dan Moren from Six Colors has a post that gives a nice explanation of Passkeys and its operation by endusers. If you’re an Apple user with some or all of your passwords stored in the Apple iCloud Keychain, nothing much will change: you’ll authenticate with a fingerprint or face ID and a cryptographic exchange takes place between your device and the remote site to verify you. You can even use one device to log into another. Take a look at Moren’s post for the details.

(Via Irreal)

What I want Apple to do to enhance this is to extend this and other privacy efforts backwards so older Macs and other devices can take advantage.

For example, I have a 2012 Mac Mini that doesn’t support Apple Pay natively. I can use my more modern iOS devices to approve purchases made on that machine. But it doesn’t support Hide My Email or other privacy mechanisms.

Get on this, Apple!

※ Use Story to Change Your Life

Use Story to Change Your Life:

By Leo Babauta

Most of us don’t realize how powerful stories are in our lives, because we don’t even notice that we’re telling ourselves a story. But stories shape everything.

For example, the stories you tell yourself is the reason you feel:

  • Resentment toward a loved one or coworker
  • Guilty about what you haven’t done
  • Overwhelmed by all that you need to do
  • Anxious about the uncertainty of the world
  • Stuck in your old habits
  • Avoidant of your difficult tasks
  • Bored or lonely

Nothing in the basic reality of life makes us feel these things. It’s our stories about our reality that creates the feelings.

Leo nailed this. I strongly recommend reading his post.

I cannot tell you how often I’m driving or in the shower or doing dishes or something else equally mundane where I find I’m doing this very thing. Part of my therapy is using this in my favor.

Kate Bush

Stranger Things, season 4. Am I right?

Hmmm. OK.

Here’s the thing.

What took you all soooooooooooooooo long to “discover” Kate Bush?

Were her duets with Peter Gabriel too obscure? (They’re not). Was her impact on other artists in many genres too hard to puzzle out? (No! The artists were very explicit.)

Did not enough people hear me play Kate Bush on my high school radio station show in the late 80’s and early 90’s, a show I co-hosted with my best friend Ray whose now-wife then-girlfriend was almost a bigger Kate Bush fan than me?

Probably. I mean, it was a low wattage FM station in northern central Connecticut.

And yet … you people … it is about time!