so i saw the latest book puts the price tag of the iraq war at $3 trillion. well gosh golly how high will it go? the gdp of the world is some $50 trillion. i can't imagine the middle east going for more than say 100 years without a major conflict. so that makes an upper limit of some $5 quadrillion dollars. i'm gonna write a book and be so rich. err... would be if the iraq war hadn't killed my profits. anywho, the dollar slumped some 1/3rd since 2000. yeah i know not all of that can directly be blamed on the iraq war. some of it is the high price of oil. but some of that is the iraq war. some more of the dollar's slump is the rest of the world saying we don't like your leadership. but some of that is the iraq war. so anywho, the swag. call it $1 trillion dollars worth of gdp shifted away from the u.s. sorry, that's $1 trillion per year. and we just promised to be in iraq for the long term. sigh. heh. who needs u.n. sanctions when you control the supply of oil? which controls the price of oil. which feeds the us economy. we seem to have been seriously wounded. and no one seems to have noticed yet.
mccain said he's afraid al queda might try spectacular attacks to try to get people to vote against him. that doesn't make any sense. he's the candidate of violence. a spectacular al queda attack would benefit him.
our marginal tax rate is over 50%. do i care? rarely. it helps the beautiful and talented alisa make decisions about how much contract work to do and how much to charge. say she charges $100/hr for simplicity. she gets to keep less than $50. she works because she wants to keep her fingers in the pie. and deal with problems not related to family. so she either raises her rate for uninteresting work until the company balks. or she takes the tangible hit for the intangible gain. i love that woman. anywho, but wait you say! i prattle on and on about my tax rate usually being in the low 20%s and now i say it's over 50%. heh. strange but true. it's the difference between marginal tax rate and effective tax rate. very little of our income is taxed at the marginal rate. most is taxed at either the lower brackets or at the capital gains rate or not at all. which makes kind of a weird situation. one assumes the smartest brightest most talented most experienced individuals command the biggest salaries. but those very same individuals are strongly incented to leave the work force and live off the proceeds of managing their portfolios. which seems like it's not in the best interest of society. i think that's a pretty strong argument for changing our tax structure. ie keep the best workers in the work force. instead of letting them slip away.
here's a fun statistic: of the people whose incomes were in the top 1% in 1995, half were no longer in the top 1% in 2005. conclusion: high income earners don't stay there very long. heh. seems perfectly reasonable. now let me rephrase the exact same math a different way: if your income was in the top 1% last year, it is 96% likely your income will be in the top 1% again this year. conclusion: high income earners stay high income earners forever. heh. said it before. i'm sure i'll say it again. statistics are beyond 99.44% of most people. that's everyone within two sigma of the mean. which includes some very smart people.
this is the land of opportunity. work hard. get rewarded. this is not the land of hand outs. as soon as we become the land of hand outs we are no longer the land of opportunity.
so i got a trial account for wow from my buddy. made a tauren druid and ran around a bit. it got a lot more fun after i discovered the armor vendor. heh. anywho. i'm reminded of a scene in clerks 2. the jerk clerk dishes hefty abuse on lord of the rings. it's about walking. four huge books about nothing but walking. anywho, that's kinda how i felt about wow. maybe later i can get the walk real fast spell. or maybe after i have a rich higher level toon i could just send a few gold pieces to my newbie so my newbie doesn't have to go kill a bunch of sheep to scrape together enough coppers to buy a full set of crappy armor. selling stuff baffled me a bit. dying was no big deal. mostly just a time penalty. you have to walk your spirit back to your corpse. wee, walking. all the colors are very primary. felt kinda weird. realistic scenes with cartoon colors. the monsters wandered the plains in big herds. you could walk up to one and start killing it and nothing else would notice. and last bash, i could customize my head. but nothing else. call me weird but i'd like to have the option of playing a short fat guy. or a stocky chick that doesn't have boobs out to here. sounds all bad huh? didn't get to try out the multi-player bit. which is so much fun that everything else could suck and it'd still be a great game.
saudi arabia made two very interesting comments recently. one, they want to get into the solar power business. saudi arabia is a big desert. it's a perfect place to generate solar power. the weird part is they have the largest oil reserve in the world. why would they invest in solar? one could speculate they need to. thinking along the lines of yeah they have a lot of oil. but it's gonna go quickly. and then they'll have a useless desert. or they don't have as much as they say they do. another possibility is that they don't /need/ to switch. but /want/ to. they're sitting on the largest material prize in the history of the world. countries are willing to start wars to have it. that'd be pretty bad for saudi arabia. so it kinda makes sense. also maybe jibes with the second interesting announcement. they don't want the price of oil to drop below $60-$70 because that's the price at which alternative energy fuels become viable. in other words they want to keep prices high so people are motivated to develop something that would compete with their product. weird. altruism? self-preservation? hmm... it's also the price point that maximizes their profits. but that can't have anything to do with it.
from this web page
is interesting. it shows global average temperatures for the past 600 million years. the first interesting thing is the scale. the classic hockey stick
is entirely contained within one pixel on the far right. the next most interesting thing is temperature and co2 don't correlate very well. maybe sometimes. if you squint. which means that the co2 folks are completely nuts. on the other hand the sun was dimmer in the deep past and has been getting warming. that's not reflected in the graph either. now it's the solar crowd that's completely nuts. heh. i'm thinking a more reasonable conclusion would be that time scales of say 10 million years are of limited value for understanding things at human time scales. though that won't keep me from trying. kinda looks like the earth has two stable temperature states: hot at 22 C, and cold at 12 C. some process appears to kick in to keep the earth from cooking or freezing. which is comforting. sorta. the upper cap is some 7 C warmer than today's global average. where i live it occasionally gets to be 105F. the cap'd put that at some 120F. toasty.
the other day i was sitting at my desk and i heard this tiktiktiktiktiktiktik sound. that's odd. what is it? then i realized it was coming from inside my head. i had post nasal drip. never heard it actually drip before. apparently others have. otherwise it'd be called post nasal ooze. or post nasal sludge. or post nasal slime.
tonnes is a funny word. i think it mean 1000 kg. anywho, all previous caveats aside i ran some numbers checking some claims by other blogs that undeniably publish unsubstantiated garbage. anywho, the assertion is that human emission of co2 is insignificant. okay. the numbers. there are some 3,000 gigatonnes (an even funnier word) of co2 in the atmosphere. people toss some 2-3 gigatonnes into the air burning fossil fuels each year. i made some swags (scientific wild assed guesses) at a total since the beginning of the industrial revolution. and came up with 180 gigatonnes. which is some 6% of what's in the atmosphere. 6% is a small number. but it's not insignificant. atmospheric co2 has risen some 35% over that time period. of which our 6% contribution may be a significant part. also means that burning fossil fuels alone doesn't account for all of the change. the other major contributors would be: changing land use, warmer sun, dust, and feedback.
female vocalists tend to top my list of favorite types of music. it doesn't seem to matter if they have something interesting to say, like madonna. or are singing in a made up language, like cirque du soleil. or singing nonsense, like the sugar cubes and laurie anderson. i wonder if that's a left over thing from human evolution. women sang to attract mates. works for me. if so that'd mean i'm a bit more primitive than most. works for me.
god was the first blogger. really. the bible is god's blog. he seems to have quit writing though. wonder why. still though. several thousand years is a pretty good run. probably not gonna touch that record.
this is a blog. like all blogs it's filled with unsubstantiated garbage. i don't do rigorous checking on my sources. i just parrot whatever idea happens to appeal to me at the moment. some of my original material is blatantly plagiarized. and/or embellished. i of course believe that this blog is better than most in these regards. so there dear reader is your one and only warning. let it serve for all blogs. please approach this blog with the same sort of skepticism with which you should approach all sources of information of unknown credibility. in other words, think about everything you're exposed to. make your own decisions. and send all your money to me.
i vaguely remember my fifth grade teacher telling us some folks think we're overdue for an ice age. the decade of the 70s was unusually cold. so it seemed reasonable. i really don't remember him mentioning anything about global warming. anywho, i came across an article that counted papers published then that took a position on warming or cooling. warming outnumbered cooling 44 to 27. which doesn't jibe with assertions that scientists have done an about face on the topic.
ann coultier has two faces. one is a raving loonie. the other is the exact opposite, coherent and intelligent. anywho, she was sad that it looks like mccain has a lock on the republican nomination. mccain is fairly right of center. but when you're six sigma right like ac, those who are merely one sigma right look like liberal lefties. anywho, her argument was that this was all the fault of campaign finance reform. there are now severe limits on where and how candidates can get money and from whom. good point. which pretty much limits how much advertising a candidate can do. or a group can do on behalf of a candidate. unless of course, you are the media. then you can do as much campaign stumping as you want. err.. i meant to say, you can run as many "news" programs as you want to. or need to, to get your guy in the big house. another good point. so now the game is to seize control of the media. which historically has been pretty hard on everyone. regardless of red/blue. 'course i only remember the times they're hard on my guys. the other guys deserved everything they got.
the bankruptcy laws changed fairly substantially in favor of the lender some 3 years ago. before then you came out of bankruptcy proceedings with bad credit, no assets, and no debt. now you come out with bad credit, no assets, and a payment plan. the spike in bankruptcy filings before the new laws was obvious. not so obvious then is what else happened. lenders believe it'll be easier to collect more money from people. bankruptcy can't protect them any more. profits should go up. they did. but it also means that lenders can afford to lend to people with horrible credit. so they did everything they could to sell those loans. and we ended up with people living in more house than they can afford. which is okay as long as housing prices go up quickly. but as soon as a few people default housing prices drop. and the real estate market turns into an avalanche. the technical term is self organized criticality. and yeah, the problems in the housing market predate the bankruptcy revisions. this is more like the straw that broke the camel's back.
i'm not real sure how these $300 checks from the government will turn around our current economic slowdown. if you're a reaganomicist this is a tax cut for the poor. clearly that won't stimulate the economy. on the other hand, we're borrowing money to pay for it. which is a windfall for the rich. cause they get paid the interest. the problem is the-house-as-atm game has come to an end. people are defaulting on their mortgages. $300 doesn't make many mortgage payments.
my company requires me to get comcast. i'm not entirely pleased with my dsl. but i'm not real motivated to change. sigh. so i called to order. 30 minutes later i'm told $45/mo. wait. this web page says $20/mo plus a free modem. you have to order it online. oh thanks for nothing. so i ordered it online. a few days later the self install kit arrived. i hooked it up. no joy. under os x the install told me i entered the wrong password. wtf? os x has a special system dialog that doesn't go away unless you cancel or enter the correct password. under xp it said no connectivity. power light on. receive light steady flash. send light dark. online light dark. not good. i have been assigned an ip address. and i can ping the router. but that's as far as the packets go. no dns. so call comcast. 30 minutes later jeff helps me. or tries to. jeff has a southern accent but talks really fast. i have never heard this combination before and i kept asking him to repeat stuff. he needed to verify that i'm actually the account holder. and needed my account number or the amount of my last bill. i pay this bill online. so i had to boot my computer and log in to my bank. good thing i have dsl. he said oh your account is for cable tv only. i'll get you someone in billing. 30 minutes later i'm talking to bill. of billing. har har. bill's very quiet. doesn't say much but i can hear him typing. he also needs to verify i'm the account holder. i had logged out of my bank. but i remembered $16.08. heh. he pointed out that there's no personal information in my account. i'm thinking that's a good thing. he suggests i call them and add some. so that i can just hand over my social security number to get "in". as if. i elected to write down my account number on a business card. which i will keep with the modem. it also has the 888 number for comcast. good to have this info around /before/ the isp goes down. anywho, he says we're good to go. but it'll take 10 minutes for the changes to percolate through the system. 2 hours later no joy. 30 minutes later i'm talking to ted. ted wants my account number. heh. timmer smart. he also wants the mac address of the modem. it's a long string of tiny little numbers on a sticker on the modem. garrett's here buzzing around like an annoying fruit fly. so i send him crawling across my desk to get my readers off the shelf. courage, i tell myself. anywho, ted says he can't see the modem. so he's going to have to send a cable guy. great. last cable guy fell off the pole and knocked the power meter clean off the wall smashing it into a gazillion pieces. two days later. cable guy shows up. wants the modem. fixes the squirrel chew. says i'm all set. ha ha. i won't let him leave until the modem syncs inside the house. apparently this can take 5 minutes. sheehs. bad news if you lose sync during an online game. whatever. this is work's baby.
a few years ago i noticed gray hairs mingling with my normal brown. sigh. i ignored them. and now they've gone away. this means one of two things. i'm getting young again. sort of a fountain of youth thing. or my vision has gone bad.
standers and sitters
we have some 50 standers and 5 sitters at work. there are 4 potties. they used to be divided 2 and 2. now the upstairs potties are either. and the downstairs potties are designated. the discussion about seat up or down started at one company meeting. but fortunately died out quickly. might have been when the time pool started up. anywho, i've done some experiments on potty cleanliness when used by standers and sitters. and i have some theories on stander and sitter psychology. which it pleases me to announce will be subject for the rest of the post. the experiments are pretty easy to conduct. you need two potties, a stander, and a sitter. designate one of the potties as stander only. and the other as sitter only. evaluate their cleanliness each week. most of the ick on a potty is on the top of the bowl and the bottom of the seat. the stander's potty will have more ick on the top of the bowl. the sitter's potty will have more ick on the bottom of the seat. why? not going there. anywho, this result will be rejected by every sitter that's ever lived. why? well, my hypothesis is that at some point in a sitter's life they had a potty all to themselves. and since they never raise the seat they never see the accumulated ick. to them the toilet is always pristine. except when it's time to clean it. which typically happens more often than a stander's. the expectation then is that it's dirty and gets cleaned quickly. and the lasting memory is of the shiny you-could-make-soup-in-it bowl. then that utopia ends. and the sitter has to share the potty with a stander. and the stander invariably leaves the seat up. so now not only is the potty actually dirtier (there are two people using it) but the sitter gets to see the previously concealed ick. the potty's icky. it didn't used to be. clearly this is the stander's fault. the solution? why, make the stander put down the seat. poof! potty's clean again. sorta. the ick is still there. it's just the sitter doesn't have to see it any more and can go back to the nice fantasy land that the potty's clean. the stander of course has no such delusion. standers have been using dirty potties all their life. dirty is the normal state of a potty. so what's a stander to do? this was my proposal at work: get lids for the potties. put the company logo on the lids. company policy is to put the lid down. seat down is prettier. lid down is prettiest. and best of all, it's position independent.
donuts. the beautiful and talented alisa made donuts. it was a surprise for me. some of them were rolled in sugar and cinnamon. some had their tops dipped in chocolate. all were yummy. g must have had 4 after dinner. must have been my reward for making dinner the night before. maybe i'll cook more often. ha ha.
heh. it's actually pretty hard to define rich. according to the democrats we're really rich. they want to tax the shit out of us. according to the republicans we're insignificant. they want to tax the shit out of us too. heh. so my latest brainstorm is: you know you're rich when they could double your tax rate and it would have no effect on your lifestyle. 'course that makes folks who pay zero taxes rich too. sigh. back to the thinking board.
i made home made pasta last night. we have a machine that does the work. most of the work. someone has to clean the machine. and it's really noisy. i made thick spaghetti. it was definitely better than dried pasta. but not so great i'd want fresh pasta every time. the optimal approach would be to make a whole bunch of pasta and freeze most of it. then you get many meals for the price of one cleanup.
it's tax time again. this is the time of year when i brag about how much money i made. and how little i pay in taxes. and how unfair that is. some of you will write a thesis proving i'm wrong. some of you will stick your fingers in your ears and go la la la. and once again i'll fail to make my point. which is simply: given the choice... i would have preferred to have paid a lower tax rate when i was young and broke. in exchange for a higher tax rate now that i'm old and rich. heh. actually, my tax rate is way up this year. up to somewhere around 30%. which puts us squarely in the little people category. last year was not a good year for selling stock. and we didn't sell any airplanes. so our income was way down. almost half came from wages. don't worry about us poor rich people. our income was still well over the top 1% cutoff. anywho, our income tax system is promoted as progressive. and it is. for 99% of tax payers. but if you're one of the lucky few you get a free ride.
i posted in a previous blog that exxon pays some $27 billion in taxes every year. which is as much as half the people in the us combined. so my question is, why do they (the low incomes) pay taxes at all? i mean we could replace their contribution with one company. you could get yourself elected president if you give $500 to some 60 million voters. heh. anywho. here's the tinfoil hat part: i think they do it so they can collect information about each and everyone one of us. i always thought the anti-income tax people were a bunch of gun toting inbred loonies. but maybe they have a point. your government needs to know where you live and how much money you make so it can predict how you will vote and decide which precinct you should be assigned to so they can stay in power. breathe just breathe. i should not have posted this. someone's gonna take this ball and run with it.
the other day i was noticing that the countries that do the best job of moving money from the rich to the poor are the wealthiest countries. and the countries that do the best job of moving money from the poor to the rich are the poorest countries. one wonders which if either is the cause and which is the effect. ie are countries wealthy because their social economic policies elevate the masses? or are rich people in wealthy countries more generous with their wealth because they can afford to be?
we have to amend last years taxes. sigh. that's gonna be a pain in the ass. turns out we paid too much. we could just write it off. and call it a unilateral tax hike. and we'd be pretty cool with that. except for the nature of the error. our charitable donations went in the wrong column. so we never got the tax credit for them. and i just have a problem with paying taxes, indirectly benefitting others, on money i gave away, directly benefitting others.
i don't like the new lucky store. the old lucky store got bought by albertson's which got bought by save mart or something. they noticed that people liked the old lucky better. so they changed the name back to lucky instead of save mart. but they didn't implement anything that made the old lucky so great. the old lucky would open a new checkout line whenever there were three people in one line. managers would come out and bag your groceries. they tried the savings cards. but abandoned them cause they were stupid and annoyed people. the cashiers just kept a savings card at the register and swiped it whenever a customer didn't have one. so instead of three's a crowd! we have self service lines. where employees stand around gabbing about their bbq's while i do all their work. instead we get labels that tell me how much i'm saving instead of how much i'm paying. sigh.
so do people bicker extra bitterly when their positions are actually really close? i mean, if their positions are farther apart... why bother arguing? the other guy is obviously a lost cause. hmm...
if you've never done it it's pretty fun to stick you name in an anagramizer
. i am metric tot. super hero sidekick. or something. i should have done this before i got married. i would have learned my beloved carries leash. my eldest son is better content. and my youngest sadly has no two word anagrams. and no interesting anagrams of any length. sigh. unless you include his middle name. then he's cartridge totterer. our president is buggers hoe. of the leading candidates to be the next president: one's a maraca kabob, another will lynch a trillion, and last is cosmic jehad ninny. quite a set of choices there.
one of the first things newlyweds need to do is buy plates. we just finished that task. so after fourteen and a half years the beautiful and talented alisa and myself are still newlyweds. you bet. anywho, we got pfalzgraff sandbar plates and bowls
. it's a discontinued pattern and we found a store that was practically giving them away. extra bonus. the decision was, like many things in a marriage, a compromise. they're not the plates either of us liked best. but they're plates we're happy with. we were still using some plates my mother bought for me when i got my first very own apartment after college. alisa's were of the same age. anywho, they're pretty. come on over to dinner sometime.