the rule of thumb used to be to divide your income into thirds. each third is dedicated to: housing, savings, food/clothing/lifestyle. somewhere along the line people started to think of their house as an investment vehicle. and started spending 2/3rds on their house and nothing on savings. the first such folks made a killing. prompting more people to imitate. this was encouraged by the feds when they lowered interest rates. which drives up housing prices. which rewards people who upgraded their homes. and round we go. how long can this run last? heh. it'll last as long as people can devote more of their income to their house and as long as the feds can keep lowering rates. well, people are starting to go broke. and the interest rate is at zero. can it go any lower? well, yes: bailouts. here's a loan. can't pay it back with interest? okay. here's some money. you don't have to pay interest on it. you don't even have to pay it back. so i loaned you $1 trillion dollars. and i'm going to get back $900 billion. that's a negative 10% interest rate. neat huh?
went okay. the hit-a-thon schedule was fubar'd. i'm gonna give folks what for if they try to claim otherwise during the next managers meeting. our game got rained out. we're such wimps here in california. it was nice for pictures. the players behaved themselves for the most part. all but one kept their uniforms clean between opening ceremonies and pictures. they even had to wait while a different team got shuffled in front of them because the hit-a-thon was progressing at half speed. i'm gonna give folks what for at the next managers meeting if they try to say that was a good idea.
i got rear-ended the other day. car's fine. but my neck and back are pretty sore. we were on our way to baseball practice. i started a right turn on red. stopped suddenly when a car with a green arrow made a u-turn. guy behind me looked away at just the wrong time. BUMP! ow. i had that fresh injury feeling all of practice. next day i was pretty stiff and sore. i guess i looked appropriately miserable. the beloved beautiful and talented alisa gave me a backrub. took good care of me. not sure if that actually helped or not. being reassured that someone loves me sure did the trick.
so aig paid out $165 million in bonuses to its executives. heh. if i was aig. i'd have paid out a lot more. sheehs. these guys scammed the us government out of $170 billion. usually the fee for that is 1%. not 0.1%. see what i mean? aig got a deal. if i was an executive there, i'd take my golden parachute and jump. it's just not worth playing at such a cheapskate company.
heh. blogs usually get posted several days after i write them. sometimes in the between time something interesting happens. like this
so i was at a local high school the other day. and i walked past a room clearly labeled, birth control. now i grew up in rural pennsylvania. and some subjects were taboo. which might explain why there were so many classmates with children of their own. but california is quite a bit more progressive. sinful, we called it. so maybe. anywho, i immediately wondered what the room was for. do they hand out prophylactics? prescribe the pill? perform abortions? clearly, further investigation was merited. so i looked closer. the sign read, control booth.
a while ago about how rich people use the same words as everyone else. they just have different meanings. aig gives me another example: bonus. to you and me, bonus means extra money for a job done better than expected. like a bonus for early completion. or selling 1000 cars in one month. heh. to the rich, it's just wages. the contracts they have call this lump sum of money a bonus. there might be tax reasons. or future employment reasons. whatever. the point is, stop thinking of it as a the reward for a job well done type of bonus. it's compensation for a job done, well or otherwise. heh. we accept this sort of shenanigans from the union guys on the line. no reason to don the cloak of outrage when the guys at the top pull the same exact stunt.
i wrote these posts a long long time ago. but i couldn't publish them because we were in super secret stealth mode. until last night. hoo-fucking-ray. well, the press "accidentally" leaked 24 hours early. heh. i almost leaked 24 hours early. see gdc started monday. press release was tuesday. why? nfc. i guess we wanted a press leak. heh. anywho, check us out. onlive
the company i work for recently changed its name to onlive. the beautiful and talented alisa hates the new name. i told her to give it a frenchy pronunciation. tell people i work for own-lih-VAY.
so tasks were being handed out at work. timmer, we want you to double the speed of the server and at the same time improve the quality of the service while consuming fewer resources. by yesterday. yo, junior flunky, we want you to go play wow. huh? what? hey! wait a minute!
embryonic stem cells
it's a good thing we can get stem cells from sources other than human embryos. cheaper and faster if i understand things correctly. folks can straighten their bunched up panties. maybe we can have this discussion rationally now. an aborted fetus is a dead human being. we've been harvesting organs from dead people for a very long time. being an organ donor is considered one of the most selfless altruistic acts one person can do for another. some choose to donate their bodies to science when they're done with them. that weirds me out a bit. but i guess doctors in training need to practice on something. one thing we don't allow, is the harvesting of organs from criminals we've executed. china does this. not a good idea by western standards. the potential for abuse is just a bit too much for comfort. and we don't allow organs to be bought or sold. anywho, i'm thinking the same line of reasoning that applies to dead human adults should apply to dead human embryos. the guardian can donate, but not sell, its little organs and stem cells to whoever wants them. provided of course, the little dead embryo wasn't executed by abortion.
hey wow. the game developer conference
is this week. i wonder if anything cool is coming out.
earmarks. you love em and you hate em. they're the easy way to get needed funds from the government when a mount everest of bureaucracy stands in your way. on the other hand, they're an easy way for a special interest group to rob the treasury. sigh. what's a person to do? reform sounds good. this link
enumerates four really good ideas. write your congressman to make them reality. but timmer! you're a flaming lb'ral! how can you agree with republicans?!?! heh. pay attention now: pro individual liberties. pro sound economic fundamentals in government. should be part of the freakin constitution. 28th amendment: congress shall pass no law unless it has has been presented to the public for its review in its entirety and unchanged for 30 days. sheehs. how hard is this? timmer for president.
is pretty cool. it's a secure online voting system. the nice feature is it can be audited by the voters. and the tally can be independently confirmed by outside interested parties. which is pretty cool. it can still be defeated. all voting systems can. it has surpassed the security level established by putting a paper ballot in a box. we the voters need to get comfortable with the idea. someday... someday...
quote of the week
"a cross is a non-secular symbol of death." seems to the argument made by mormons in a court of law. someone's going to hell. and this time at least. it ain't me.
north v south
the news media is full of global warming phobia cause the arctic ice is melting. the counter-news is full of smug cause the antarctic ice isn't. or at least isn't as fast as the arctic. i think this kinda rules out the theory where the sun is causing global warming. if it is the sun then you'd expect both hemispheres to be affected pretty much the same. it's not like the sun shines any brighter on the north than on the south. well, yeah okay. there's a caveat. the earth is closer to the sun during the southern summer. but the southern summer is shorter. and the southern winter is longer and colder. which might explain some of the difference. i'll have to work out that math sometime. my bet is, it won't be enough of a difference. no, i think the real reason for the difference is here on earth. there's not much mixing between the air masses of the northern and southern hemispheres. they are chemically different. it's intuitively much more likely that the different chemistry of the air has different effects on temperatures. and hence ice.
i tore my beloved chair apart. the seat split clean in half. i have this vague idea of fixing it. clearly it'd be cheaper to just go buy a new one. don't want to. all i have to do is cut a board the correct shape. drill holes in it. warp it. insert the bolt seat thread thingies. reattach the cushion. reattach the arms and legs. voila! simple as pi, no?
order of the stick is an entertaining comic. new book. yeah sure the art is all stick figures. new book. and all the jokes aren't funny. new book. unless you've read every dnd book ever published. new book. the characters are predictable and pretty much one dimensional. new book. oh, that was a bad pun. new book. can a stick figure be anything other than one dimensional? new book. the online comics are free. new book. which is good. new book. the physical full color books are outrageously expensive. new book. i have them all. new book. except one.
folks go on and on about how the stock market has lost half its value. but what does that really mean? well, to most people it really doesn't mean anything. most people have a stock portfolio worth $0. let me do the math here. half of $0 is still $0. so they haven't lost anything. a very small percentage of the population has stock portfolios worth $100 million or more. now it's worth $50 million. OUCH! they say. but really. break out the tiny tiny violins. my heart's bleeding. then there's the substantial minority. these are the folks who calculated they need to build up assets of say $5 million in order to retire when they want to a life style of their choosing. suppose they've worked and worked and got to $4 million. which is now $2 million. OUCH! yeah, they'll live. but last year the dream seemed within reach. and now it's slipped away. depressing.
i started this blog thinking how i was going to go on and on about how crazy my schedule is. but actually, it's really pretty simple. shower. take g to school. go to work. come home. go to little league baseball practice. come home. eat dinner. work remotely. go to bed. repeat. 'course that's only monday through saturday. sunday instead of going to work i knock the most pressing chores off the ever growing list.
money goes round and round. we are the most productive country in the world. we're masters of creating wealth. so why are we in so much trouble? well, it takes money to make money. which makes life a really fun ride. if you have the money. which we did. now however after years and years of ever growing trade deficits we don't have enough money to feed the money making machine. and it all comes to a grinding halt. until we build up our cash reserves again. where exactly did the money go? well, remember when oil was $140 per barrel? heh. that's where. back of the envelope says a $1 trillion left the country. correction, left your savings accounts. apparently, that was enough of a wrench to wreak the machine. fortunately, the countries that money went to just spent it on useless junk like tanks and missiles. the world picture would be a bit different if they had invested in education and infrastructure. anywho, we need to replace that lost money to get the machine going again. so put down the credit card and get to work.
kids get most of their vaccines before school. symptoms of autism show up at about the same time. people being people like to make the connection that vaccines cause autism. rigorous studies show otherwise. thimerosal is an espeically nice target because it contains mercury. and mercury is definitely a poison that affects the nervous system. it's not real dangerous to adults. you just sweat it out. but then adult brains aren't still developing. children brains are. and that's a very delicate process with plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong. the problem is, vaccines just don't have enough mercury to be a plausible cause. however, my favorite bugaboo, corn syrup, does. as has been recently revealed. preschool is when kids are introduced to candy and juice and other things made of corrn syrup. i'm thinking a constant low level exposure to this poison can have devastating effects on people who are genetically the most sensitive to it.
spare the rod spoil the child. everyone has heard this one. google it. you'll find all sorts of information. like it's not in the bible, exactly. like it goes back, way back. like to the time when people first started writing stuff down. and like what exactly is a rod. everything you ever wanted to know. except what i want to know. what does it mean to be spoiled? and what age is a child? words change meaning over the years. today, spoiled means veruka salt from willie wonka. but in the past it could have meant a kid who's unable to control their actions and cannot grok social contexts. child today means anyone under the age of 18. heh. my grandmother and great-grandmother were married and had children of their own at 16. i'm thinking in this context it might have meant preschool. old enough to get into serious trouble. but not old enough to have figured that out yet. hey, reality is a dangerous place. you have to pay attention to it. or it'll hurt you. good lesson to learn. early. parents have been taking the rod to children for millions of years. i wouldn't be surprised if human brains took a bit of an evolutionary shortcut to take advantage of this reliable stimulus. ie humans don't have hard wired instinct for every possible scenario. instead we learn about the world. which apparently, is a better way. assuming of course, you can survive through the years where you haven't yet learned what you need to know.
i hate pc's. why? i explain. i usually shut down my 8 core pc when i leave work. save some watts. and this sucker sucks the watts. sometimes the next day when i come it, it boots up just fine. other days, not so much. a typical problem is it can't find the ethernet cards. stupid thing. it knows there's something there. it was an ethernet card yesterday. but my stupid pc has no idea what those things could possibly be today. dumbass thing. so i unplug it. the it guy tells me it's something about residual leakage power keeping the card in this sort of schrodinger state of being on and not on at the same time. plug it back in. boots up just fine. double dumbass thing. good thing it's not a laptop. i'd have to pull the battery.
last year bush was president. iran didn't have nukes. wasn't making nukes. had no plans to make nukes. nope nope nope. this year obama is president. suddenly, iran has nukes. they've always had nukes. and they're gonna make more nukes. sheehs. what? did they find fissible uranium under a rock? i sure wish people could trust each other enough to just tell the truth. don't tell bush iran has nukes or he'll start a fight the world really can't afford. one year later, play up the iranian threat to obama or he won't do anything about their nuclear program. and iran will start a fight the world really can't afford.
what's with all the obama nominees owing back taxes? obama did promise more transparency in government. maybe part of delivering that is to require his people to disclose their taxes. which you can bet will be gone over with a fine-toothed comb. i wonder how many nominees of former presidents would have discovered they owed back taxes. not likely to ever find out. taxes are a pretty complicated business. even when they're easy. which is most people. things get fun real fast when you're part of business deals, make stock trades, and employ household help. etc. hell, i can't say with any degree of certainty that i don't owe back taxes. i tried to follow the rules. but man, turbotax asks me some questions that might as well be in a different language. heh. they should have a button for, i don't know what that means so it can't possibly apply.
timmerov.com is back online. yay! well, the web server isn't. and probably won't be. but emails will be forwarded again. yay!
i have really mixed feelings about farm subsidies. they really need to be reviewed. we don't want to subsidize tobacco, or food to be used as fuel, or growing things in stupid places. like rice in a desert. fuckin' brilliant. the prices we pay at the grocery store don't reflect the true cost of food. some of our paychecks get redirected towards food subsidies. so we could lower taxes and raise food prices. it would probably be a small win for us. because management by free market is generally more efficient than management by government. 'course the dollar cost of feeding people who are unable to feed themselves would go up. and their ranks would probably grow. so maybe that small win would just go away. or maybe we can grow a pair and show that group some desperately needed tough love. anywho, that's a different topic. right now it's cheaper to buy american food than to grow it locally. many third world economies never get off the ground. whatever gdp they can generate leaves the country. like our deficits. but much worse because their deficits are like 110% of their gdp. so if we shut off the subsidies, some of these third world economies might be able to bootstrap. this worries some. we don't need more foreign competition for our goods. we don't need new players with political and economic clout on the world stage. and those are valid points. but on the other hand, these are potential consumers of american goods. who might just be political allies.
i like my replaytv. but man is it a pain in the backside sometimes. it got into an endless please wait reboot loop. the solution seemed to be to re-image the hard drive. which i did. no joy. several more times with variations of the theme. including low level format. and using the correct image. duh! still no joy. used a different hard drive. success! briefly. then back to the please wait reboot thing again. replaced the drive's cabling. reseated every set of wires that could be reseated. success! put the cover back on. fail! whine. repeat. this time being very very careful to not joggle the power supply daughter board thingy when putting the cover back on. happiness. sorta. i know it's only a matter of time before it breaks again. i tried watching shows over the internet. the quality sucked. and the commercials were over the top bad. you could mute the show. but not the commercials. fuckers. and if you walked away from the computer to get a sammich during the commercial, when you got back the show was running. and it was really goddam difficult to watch the parts you missed without watching the fucking commercials again. fucking fucker fuck job. fuckers.
innies and outies
what's the sales tax on your labor? interesting question. when a vendor sells a good, they tack on sales tax. in many places anyway. here in ca, it's some 8% or so. i buy a $100 rake. i give the vendor $108 dollars. they keep $100 and they give $8 to the government. that's an outer tax. when a worker sells his labor to his company, things are a bit complicated. there's an outer tax for social security and medicare. it's about 7%. you don't see this tax on your pay stub. it's a hidden tax. you also pay income tax. the company generally withholds it. but we think of it as your money being turned over to the government. at the end of the fiscal year you figure out how much you actually owe. at which point you and the government square up. this tax varies widely. but 30% is reasonable. and makes nice round numbers for this point. this is an inner tax. ie your wages (the cost of the good (your labor)) includes the taxes that have to be paid. i think we do this for psychological reasons. you buy the cheapest goods. so it makes sense to add on the tax. your time is valuable. you want to charge as much as possible for it. so your wage includes the taxes. it's not hard to convert between inner and outer taxes. your 30% inner tax is the same as a 43% outer tax. now tack on that 7% for social security. the tax on your labor is 50%. imagine if paychecks worked this way. here's my bill for one month of service: $10k plus $5k taxes. ouch! i'm thinking if the sale of labor was treated the same way as the sale of a good we'd get that out of control income tax under control in a hurry.
tax the rich
tax the rich is a mantra i've been crooning since i started blogging. some folks call me crazy. to them i just shrug and say, one of us is crazy. and suggest they call in sick for election days and stay home. link
i like my new room. it's actually the same room. just with a new paint job. the old room was kinda pastel swimming pool. now it's sort of browns in fractal pattern. the walls have depth. like you don't want to lean on them cause there's no there there. you'd just fall right through into the endless void. pretty cool. alisa did it. i told you she is beautiful and talented. there's no cheese on the ceiling. and all the old art doesn't go any more. so we have new art. actually some of it is old art that never found a home before. we acquired some giraffes from africa. they now live happily above alisa's dresser. we also hung the mirror. figured it was time. it was sitting on the night stand for 15 years. also cleaned every square inch. and fixed the other dresser so it doesn't lean into the wall. i like my new room.
i don't use drugs. i probably never will. though i consistently vote for a person's right to kill themselves any way they want. an interesting number is the total cost broken down by drug. this would be the cost to the individual, their family, and society per drug user. the most expensive ones are cocaine (any form) and heroine. let's give them a cost of $20. next most expensive are alcohol and tobacco at $10. and bringing up the rear are ecstasy and marijuana at $1. hrm. curious. alcohol and tobacco are legal but regulated. yet they're ten times more destructive than weed and e. which are completely illegal. that doesn't make any sense. well, it doesn't make any mathematical sense. enter social forces. politicians can run on a platform of tough of crime. which is very popular. they can point to how many criminals (stoners) they've locked up. great. cops like it this way too. i explain. being a cop is dangerous. and it's hard work. it's much easier to bust a dozen stoners than to track down one murderer. lots safer too. and finally we have the very powerful prison lobby. they get paid by the prisoner. they want nice well behaved prisoners (stoners). they don't want the violent types. yeah. wonderful country. the current economic mess might change things a bit. it's estimated that legalizing marijuana across the country would be a $15 billion financial swing. assuming we taxed and regulated the largest cash crop in california. that doesn't even count the social and political benefits. violent drug lords run large chunks of mexico. the police are powerless against them. why? because they have the money. we can take that away with a stroke of a pen.
tax more get less
tax more, get less. tax less, get more. it's really very simple. or should be. if you look at what this country taxes and what it subsidizes with this sound bite in mind, you'd conclude a few astonishing things. we want fewer rich people, richer rich people, more fat people, more (and fewer) smokers, fewer mom&pop shops, more scam artists. we want to burn less gasoline, more coal, more corn, both more and less oil. go figure.