hey i have a brilliant idea. let's cut taxes on the rich. that way we can borrow money from them in order to fund government. this way, instead of just having the money like we would with taxes, we can pay it all back with interest. but wait, it gets better. next year they'll still have it so we can borrow it again. i'm gonna be so rich. it's a great plan. sorta. maybe that's why the tea party is imploding the republican party. cause deep down, they know that whole tinkle down economics thing is their own fault.
rich poor gap
is at its highest level in a very long time. well duh. let me see. someone predicted this would happen. course you can always argue about how it's impossible to actually measure the rich poor gap. which might be true. but it's pretty easy to show that the incomes of the rich are going one way and the incomes of the non-rich are going the other way. so yeah even though i can't actually define the rich poor gap to your satisfaction i'm damn sure it's growing. so your next argument is that that's good. the rich always recover from a recession first. and the bottom follows the top. except every recession the bottom falls further and further behind. your solution is to cut taxes for the rich. which is a death spiral. many of the richest folks in america can see the wave breaking. they can see the foundation crumbling under them. and they're dumping huge chunks of their wealth back into the middle class. which seems good. but unless that money actually reaches the bottom... yeah. ouch. we need to re-establish a progressive tax system. and we need to expand our energy base as soon as possible. or we need to cut the world's population. your pick.
anyone remember demosthenes and locke? valentine and peter wiggin? ender's sister and brother who didn't have the killer instinct to go to battle skool and kill all the alien buggers? anyone? anyone? bueller? heh. the beautiful and talented alisa read ender's game to b recently. it's still a pretty darn good book. someone on the internet was dissing the book cause they claimed card got the internet thing all wrong. peter and valentine decided to publish opinion pieces on the net and since they were so well thought out and rational they should obviously be given control of the world and avoid a war even though they were 12. so this time through i paid attention to the actual events in the book instead of what someone on the internet said happened in the book. and yeah orson scott clearly underestimated the ease at which the internet can propagate misinformation. but peter was expecting the rational locke position to immediately be recognized for the brilliance that it was. instead the demosthenes position rocketed to stardom first. in the book, the locke proposal was eventually adopted. but only when the alternative was earth-wide civil war. sanity won out in the end. will that happen in real life? we'll just have to wait and see.
the other evening the beautiful and talented alisa and myself were in the back yard looking up at the night sky. it was kinda chilling so we crowded real close to each other to keep warm and let that wonder aura of alisa infuse my being and ... i digress. we were discussing whether jupiter follows the moon across the sky or whether the moon follows jupiter. it's an interesting question because it depends on your point of view and your scale of time. if your sky is just above the heads of the two people at the center of the universe, they see jupiter rise first and set first. the moon is clearly following jupiter. on the other hand, if the sky is the heavens in which the stars live and the planets dance, then jupiter is slowly moving in the direction of the moon. and the moon is moving away from jupiter faster. in this case, jupiter is clearly following the moon.
small business taxes
obama wants to let the bush tax cuts for the rich expire. republicans say it will hurt small businesses. the problem here is they are using different definitions of small business tailored for political gain. shocking i know. the dems mean small businesses with small revenue. so they're right. taxing the rich won't affect these small businesses at all. the reps mean small businesses with a small number of employees. like, none. without regard to how revenue. this definition would include movie stars, professional athletes, law firms that charge $1500/hr, and rich people masquerading as small businesses. in other words, people who have power (money) and don't need tax cuts but get them anyway cause the pols need money to get elected (power).
bomb bomb bomb iran
i think we bombed iran. not with jamie wants big boom kind of bombs. but with a trojan far more sophisticated than anything ever seen in the wild. a polite trojan that did nothing except slowly propagate looking for its target. unlike most malware that targets consumer and corporate computers, this one went for industrial control computers. the ones that control pretty much everything in a manufacturing plant. or nuclear power plant. also atypically, it operated without instructions from home. it used exploits that no one previously knew existed. scary stuff. way way beyond organized crime. the list of folks that could create such a thing is pretty short: the us, japan, china, russia, brittain, south korea, israel, microsoft, google, maybe a few others. iran seems to be the epicenter of infections. and their nuclear plant has been delayed for unspecified reasons. dang. let's pretend obama did it. the game has seriously changed. it's no longer a war of guns. or a cold war of words. it's now the first known cyber war. iran has promised retaliation with no limits. i'm not real excited about the idea of religious fanatics for an enemy. but whatever they did would like be overt. which would justify a bush style war. and incidentally making the incumbent president very popular. if iran really wanted to play dirty by attacking the general population, so should we. and we should keep the territory formerly known as iran. rename it timmersia. booya.
the latest news from the sun seems to be that this sunspot cycle will be kinda mild. maybe the weakest in 150 years. the last time this happened was the last time we saw sunspots for nearly 200 years. and by we i mean the great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather's of today's sol-onomers. so what does that mean? well, it means minimal danger to extra terrestrial travel. which is good. it also means the sun will be a bit cooler. about 0.1%. which doesn't sound like much. but the last time this happened it coincided with europe's little ice age. between it and the stagnant global economy that disturbing warming trend should ease up a bit. maybe even reverse itself. though i wouldn't bet on it. at least until human population smashes through the current upper bound.
i sprained my toe on my birthday. hurt like the dickens. it was one of the rare times i was actually motivated to put ice on it. i sure couldn't put any weight on it. and after an hour of 15 minutes on 15 minutes off it was feeling much better. several more hours later and like magic it felt healed. that is until it got squeezed a few days later. oh yeah. i really did sprain it. and now i can tell exactly where. so here's some advice to all your 45 year olds, don't try to do toe stands in your socks. and especially don't try them with you ankle in a point position and your toes in a flex position.
i haven't been stung by a bee in a long time. it was the end of baseball practice. it was getting dark. so i couldn't see very well. i felt this pain in my wrist. i looked and in the fading light i saw what at the time thought was a bug biting me. so i squished it. it was a funny looking bug at type of which i didn't recognize. but man. it hurt way more than a normal bug bite. and it felt like liquid ice-fire running up my forearm. weird. but whatever. then the coach next to me freaks out and tells one the players to hold still. there was a bee on the kneeling player's calf. the coach flicked it off. sometime much later i wondered if that was the dying bee that had stung me. stupid thing. fortunately i'm not all that allergic. had a red circle the next day. which was gone the day after. it kinda reinforces this crazy idea i have that the wires in my brain are a bit crossed. my reaction to pain is more like the typical reaction to cold. and vice versa. that bee poison following the veins in my arm felt both painful and extremely cold.
a country can be an economic powerhouse. or it can be a military powerhouse. it can't be both. it's just too darn expensive. we've been the 800 pound gorilla on the block for quite some time now. like when we first beat up the taliban. lotta folks would like that to continue. but guess what. we're not the economic powerhouse we used to be. the only way to recover is to stay out of wars for a while. lessee my kids are still pretty young so maybe 100 years or so ought to do it.
i'm very much a first principles kind of guy. so when you boil down an economy you find two main inputs. human labor. and energy. which can come from oil coal natural gas hydro pv wind csp geo etc. energy consumption has stagnated and jobs have disappeared. and guess what. the economy shrunk. obviously things are more complicated than that. but not much. people are leaving the job market because they don't want to sell their labor for the wages currently being offered. many are living off benefits and savings. which is great for as long as you can do it. one way to get people back to work is to take away the benefits. though to get elected you have to promise the opposite. another way is to increase the offered wage. in effect, we need to make businesses hungry for labor like we made people hungry for food. but different. cause for businesses we want to increase the supply of everything except labor. specifically, energy. and here we have two choices: coal and nuclear. until we make a focused effort to expand one or the other, our economy will continue to stagnate. case in point, china brings online a new gigawatt coal burning power plant every 10 days. their economy is growing. ours isn't. course choosing coal means we're willing to tear the tops off of mountains. a known evil. or we're willing to boldly venture into a nuclear world. an unknown evil. and apparently unacceptable. sigh. timmer for president.
so i've been thinking about ways to avoid paying taxes recently. as sort of a side tangent i was thinking about state taxes. consider. there is a richest state and a poorest state. presumably the richest state pays the most federal taxes and the poorest the least. oddly, the richest state has the highest state tax rate. and the poorest state the lowest. seems like a rich person would move to the poor state where their many dollars would buy multiple mcmansions. but this doesn't seem to be the case. hrm. if you live in a poor state you pay few dollars in federal taxes but you receive much benefit. which is a good deal. if you live in a rich state you pay lots in federal taxes but you get squat. a seriously crappy deal. so you vote to raise your state taxes. they're deductible from your federal taxes. your tax burden is the same. the difference is your taxes are now spent close to home where you might benefit from them. as opposed to far away where you won't.
i bought some earrings for the beautiful and talented alisa a while back. they're made from something called peanut wood. which oddly, has nothing to do with peanuts. imagine you're a sailor hundreds of years ago. and your ship sinks. worms eat it. well they start eating it by drilling holes through it. then it gets covered by sediment filling in the holes. then it petrifies. hundreds of years later someone digs it up. polishes it. and turns it into an exotic piece of jewelry. which makes a wonderful anniversary present.
will you marry me? no. heh. those lines were from a movie with time travel. she didn't mean it. she just wanted to assert she had free will. which is kind of an interesting question. when i was a kid i decided it didn't matter if i actually had free will or was just following a script as long as no one knew in advance what i was going to do. the two positions are effectively the same. which kinda puts a big fat kibosh on time travel. in this particular movie you couldn't change events. in the star trek universe you can. which leads to alternate realities. yada yada. boring. anywho, the situation with an omniscient being is similar but different. free will and god are compatible as long as god doesn't ever reveal the future. so now i've logic'd myself into a corner where my choices are: i don't have free will. god isn't omniscient. or god is indistinguishable from an obnoxious child who says i knew you were going to do that.
sheehs. b's been taking a new route to school. apparently he rides through a thorn patch. they've been chewing up his tubes. we got some heavy duty thorn resistant tubes. but they're no match for these thorns. they're shaped a whole lot like a push pin. i guess their plan is to stick in some animal's foot and tag along for the ride. at least until the animal bleeds to death. then it's decaying flesh becomes fertilizer. voila! an excellent plan. so anywho. i *suggested* he go back to the route he used last year that didn't involve riding through the thorn patch. that was before the thorn resistant tubes went flat. i'm no longer suggesting. next repair comes out of his allowance from mowing the lawn. oh wait. g's doing that for a cub scout merit badge. i guess it's coming out of his piggy bank.
our compost pile grew for a while. but it seems to have stabilized at a certain size. which i think is kinda odd cause we keep adding stuff to it. and we don't really remove all that much. anywho. compost piles are kinda fun. it's a lot more fun to go throw some stuff on the compost pile than it is to take out a trash can full of garbage. i can recommend them. though you shouldn't put meat or dairy on the compost pile. and some other things don't decompose real well. like potatoes and corn cobs.
we went geocaching over the weekend. it was fun. kinda the last free weekend before everything gets super crazy with school birthdays and holidays. oh my. we found 6 of 7. as we were leaving a couple asked us if we were geocachers too. they had forgotten their gps. which was gonna make finding things kinda hard. i gave them our map. i had marked x's on the trails where i thought we should find a cache based on google maps. heh. it wasn't accurate at all. i made big black blobby dots where the actual coordinates where. anywho. got some karma. karma's good. not as much as if i had given him our gps. but then hey. gotta leave some karma for the next guy. hrm. did i get extra karma for that. hrm.
apparently someone actually cares what i think. hrm. i'm not sure whether to feel flattered or disturbed. anywho. the topic was mind altering drugs. here's my thoughts thereon. i have neither use for them nor objection to their use. i'm just way more interested in altering reality than to altering my perception of reality.
we pay lip service to being a color blind society. 20% of the us population is black. much less than 20% of our employees are black. hrm. i like to think i'm more color blind than most. i grew up in a wrestling room. it's one of the places where skin color really doesn't matter. if you win wrestle-offs, you wrestle for the team that week. if not, work harder. it's a good system. so anywho. i was shooting .22s at camp michigania. a black guy was at the station next to mine. at the end of the round we turned in our targets and empty shell holders and signed up for another round. i got back to my station first. then a couple arrived. a white couple. and they took the black guy's station. by the time he got back all the stations were taken. i looked at him and he shrugged. he didn't say anything to the couple. he missed the round and called it a day. the couple never knew they had taken a station someone was using. okay so here's the question. if i'm so color blind and morally superior, why didn't i say anything?
winter is coming
last week we were closing up the house to keep it cool cause it was really freakin hot outside. this week we're closing up the house to keep it warm cause it's really freakin cold outside. go figure.
power plants basically work like this. you generate some heat. which turns water into steam. which turns a turbine. which turns a generator. which makes electricity to run this computer and millions others like it. easy peasy. the heat can come from many sources. usually we burn stuff. but sunshine works too. we can also use nuclear fire. there are two ways to boil water with a nuclear furnace. the hard way is to enrich uranium and plutonium until it's just about to the point where it's going to spontaneously detonate. which would be bad. so you have to spend a huge amount of effort to make sure that doesn't actually happen. that design is called a light water reactor. the other design is called an integral fast reactor. basically you pile up a bunch of radioactive materials until it gets really hot. since it's not enriched there's no chance it'll explode. and it consumes its own waste products. and if it gets too hot it kinda melts and spreads out and cools off. sorta self regulating. it also generates its own fuel. it's not exactly a perpetual motion machine. but for all practical purposes it's pretty close. so why don't we build ifr's instead of lwr's? heh. i've already answered that. lwr's run on the same stuff used to make nuclear bombs. if we don't have lwr's then we can't divert any enriched uranium into making weapons that we will never use. makes perfect sense right? if this were a rational world we'd decommission (blow up) every lwr on the planet along with every enrichment facility. and subsidize the construction of ifr's instead. obviously we don't live in a rational world. sigh. timmer for president.
the internet is a wonderful thing. we had an intern stay at our house while working for delta tao some 11 years ago. he just up and decided to re-establish contact. google found me and the beautiful and talented alisa. scoop decided to send email to our little league contact emails. it was of course seen by more people than just us. fortunately they were amused. we call him scoop cause he worked at an ice cream place before working for our game company. it was a pretty sweet deal for him. he got to partake of alisa's amazingly good cooking. and he got to drive the spare car. we had bought a second practical car with four doors. but i wasn't quite ready to give up my little red mercedes benz 450sl convertible sports car. that's what scoop got to drive all summer. he'd fit right in at onlive. just like old times. the employees get paid to play video games all day. course since they get a real paycheck they have to buy their own sports car. not included. sheehs.
we have new neighbors. they say they're from hong kong. but they're really spies from china. i figured it out cause i'm really smart. but i figure the government is way smarter than i am. so they already know too. so i just play along with the charade. they have names like robin, agnes, and stacey. perfectly ordinary names. too perfectly ordinary. that was my first tip off. their english is perfect. too perfect. and they're way too well versed in american culture. i mean really. how many people know lines from the second verse of the star spangled banner? agnes does. she also really likes birthday parties. i think i'll request chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting trimmed with white frosting as my birthday cake. all little girls from china like chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and candles. i mean hong kong.
so i bought myself a new pair of sunglasses. i get the cheap ones cause i tend to either lose them or be really hard on them. this last pair lasted quite a while. they've been lost and found several times. but they're kinda scratched all to hell. mostly from the ear pieces folding over into the lenses. which i think is a design flaw of sunglasses. hmm. maybe i should invent a better set of shades. i'm gonna be so rich. i like the last pair a lot cause they are so comfortable. but anywho. guess what i did with the brand new pair. i lost them. wee.
is a good read. short but kinda sappy. or maybe i just like it cause it happens to have been written by my pal andy. i've always like him. now i know why.
in school, we were taught that our country was started by people looking for religious freedom. a chance to get away from an oppressive king. and a bunch of other assholes who were making their lives miserable. and to establish a place where every man had inalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. yeah okay. that's a theory. it's bullshit. people came here because there was the opportunity to take stuff from other people who couldn't defend it.
would you like to buy some postage stamps? this is what the cashier at office depot asked me. i looked down at my purchases, printer ink cartridges and poster board, and wondered what the fuck made her think i wanted some goddam postage stamps? i breathed and said no. curtly. she ran off to fetch my ink cartridges from the secure cabinet. yacked with a co-worker about her adorable daughter and son in miniature football gear running around the store. she started to ask me the stamp question again. but stopped when she remembered she already had. at least i assume she was going to ask me about stamps. she might have a list of random items they try to turn into impulse sales. you can probably guess how i feel about impulse sales. i don't have a problem with the question at the grocery store, did you find everything okay today? the impulse sale is obscured by the apparent desire to provide me with better service. which is cool. trying to sell me crap at the door is just dumb. it means the management doesn't understand their business. which means i should buy my paper and ink somewhere else.
penn and teller
check out penn and teller's take on vaccinations in this video
via bad astronomy. heh. there's currently a pretty strong backlash against the well meaning but dangerously misinformed anti-vaccination movement. friends of ours tell of people who take their kids across the country to go to chicken pox parties specifically to infect their kids and get lifelong immunity the "natural" way. true story. this makes me think the most serious backlash is yet to come. namely when these kids become rebellious teenagers and realize their parents intentionally gave them horrible diseases when their peers got vaccinated. and didn't catch mumps, measles, chicken pox, polio, etc. nor autism neither.