thank god for dead tornado victims. it's god punishing us for driving suvs. causing climate change. and fucking up his planet. we're going to hold protests at their funerals. we could just post on the internet. and be lost in the noise of a hundred million other voices. but really. protesting a funeral is way more inflammatory. free publicity. gotta love it. be there. bring your mispelt signs. or if you don't like what we're saying, cause it's maybe somewhat offensive, tough shit. it's protected speech.
rich not richer
the rich aren't getting richer. it's true. i read it on the internet. i guess in some really limited sense there's a grain of truth there. like say if you compare pre great recession wealth versus the bottom. but that wasn't what the article said. it claimed the income of the rich was going down. which might also be true. i didn't check. okay so far the guy is 2 for 2. but now we get to the fail. paraphrased, the rich aren't getting richer because their income is falling. hrm. someone's confusing wealth (ie rich-ness) and income. granted the two are related in that you can convert one to the other. ie you can sell wealth to generate income. and you can invest income to create wealth. however, income and wealth are also independent. ie you can create wealth without generating income. and you can create income without losing any wealth. the former is what happens when stocks go up and when your house appreciates. your wealth goes up but there was no income. the latter is what happens when your stocks pay dividends. you still have the stocks. they didn't change value. but they generated income. here's a real world counter example. a few years ago, we didn't like our position. so we did what rich folks do. we sold stuff at a high price. generating income. and bought new stuff at a low price. as of last tax year, the stuff we bought increased in value. we're happy with our current position because we think these holdings will appreciate some more. we have no incentive to sell. no sales last year, no income. in simple words, our income went down, and we got richer. exactly the opposite of what mr kool aid drinker asserted is happening. sheehs, folks. learn to think. or sit down and shut up.
we went to several different beaches. a and b snorkeled with the sea turtles. g's snorkel was uncooperative. he needed to practice with it before trying to just swim out into the rocky waves. kind of a dumb plan in hindsight. g had a blast at the boogie board beach. went there twice. the first time, the beautiful and talented alisa was amused by watching me trying to not watch the beautiful butts stripping off to their itty bitty bikinis right in front of me. hey, my blood is red. the second time the locals were out cause it was good friday and they didn't have school. that's when g decided to master the boogie board. one of the pre teen girls had a real fuckmouth. called someone a dootch. apparently cause they splashed her and got her wet while swimming in the ocean. the horror. sandball boy spelled it for me, douche. ahh. i wondered if she knows what a dootch is. anywho. the best beach was the 9am beach just north of the airport. we didn't know it was the 9am beach the first time we went there at 9am california time. the road was unimproved. which really means, not suitable for rental cars. the road was made by driving a heavy roller over a lava field a few times to kinda break up the a'a. somewhat. we bounced and jounced slowly along in our unsuitable car. cause what the heck. it's a rental. very pretty beach. big. not crowded. okay snorkeling. at the last beach, alisa had what g had previously. poor dear. this was the beautiful beach. the usual pod of fat tourists was absent from this beach. it seemed to be exclusively for the beautiful people. i kinda envied the folks in the houses right next to this beach. they could engage in some surf snogging before the tourists showed up with their kiddies. then have breakfast. hrm. i sense motivation to help plan the next trip.
g got sick on the drive from kona to volcanoes park. we thought he was just carsick and he'd be okay once we stopped driving. the stretches of road across the lava fields were pretty straight. the stretches in the populated green sections were pretty twisty. the large crater was closed. it was spewing noxious amounts of sulfur. so we hiked across the smaller caldera. which is pretty cool. it's a very nice scale. it's big. but not incomprehensibly big. the first part of the trail followed the caldera edge. and i do mean edge. it sure looked like it was a drop forever straight down. i have atypical acrophobia. i can do loop-de-loops in an airplane. i can technical climb a 700 foot rock face without batting an eyelash. put me in a building near a railing more than one story up and i start to freak out. like paralyzing fear. put my beloved wife or kids near an edge and i freak out the same way. that part of the hike was kinda stressful for me from time to time. we hiked back across the floor of the frozen lava lake. which was pretty cool. we bouldered up to check out the steam vents. apparently, natural formations don't trigger my panic attacks. weird but true. g yakked again. at this point we started to think he was actually sick and not just car sick. the boat people who noticed had lots of advice to offer. none of it useful. our attitude changed from, suck it up wimp, to, storm on little trooper. b needed a rest room. so his boy scout conditioned legs hiked us back up the caldera wall without so much as a water break. sheehs. g promptly fetaled and wouldn't move. the rest of us ate lunch and took turns dodging the elderly to see the kinda cool lava tube. g slept the whole way home. fortunately. and was mostly recovered by dinner.
we just got back from hawaii. specifically, west coast of the big island near kailua kona. i'll blog more. the boys' spring breaks lined up this year. so the beautiful and talented alisa said we're going. and did all the work to get us there. here's the summary: beaches were beautiful (and i hate sand). weather was wonderful (much too warm for pajamas). a b and g got the heaves. i dodged. b swam with dolphins. g boogie boards like a local. found a few geocaches. hiked a volcano caldera. snorkeled. kayaked. ate fresh fish most every night. it was a good week.
a while ago i was thinking we need a new political party. tell the truth i was thinking of a centrist american party. sheehs. think of the political clout such a party could wield. right now a center leaning district sorta flip flops between a liberal republican or a conservative democrat. neither can ever acquire any congressional seniority. and hence influence. yet their votes are critical for getting things passed for either party. anywho. there does seem to be a new political party taking shape. but it's not in the middle. it's on the far right. which puts the republican party in kind of an interesting position. it can lurch to the right and absorb (or be hijacked by) the tea party. or it can tell the loonies to stfu and move itself to the middle. which would mean that the "new" political party representing middle america is the republican party. which just makes me kinda blink blink.
total taxable income in the us has increased by 50% since 1970. during the same period, gdp has grown by 10x. that's a whopping 900%. um. hrm. these numbers don't jibe. what's going on? presumably gdp is the sum total value of all the goods and services we produce. so how are we buying $10 worth of stuff for $1.40? we can't be paying cash. is the gdp propped up by collosal debt? you build a house. i buy it for $1.1 million dollars. i guess that's $1.1 million for the gdp ledger. but i owe $1 million to the bank. okay. let's look at total personal debt. it approximately doubled. so that's definitely a contributor. but not all. not even most. i'm kinda left with the theory that that quite a lot of the money movage that would have been taxed as income when i was a little leaguer is now slipping through loopholes. untaxed. and it sure isn't your paycheck.
living the dream
i came across an interesting set of numbers the other day. i was looking at the distribution of income. i surprised to find it hasn't changed much since 1970. ie the 50th percentile today still takes home the same percentage of the income pie the 50th percentile took home 40 years ago. i discovered this when i was looking for something else. it's common knowledge (for whatever that's worth) that rich folks have fewer children than non-rich folks. so if kids stay at the same relative income level as their parents, you'd expect over time the relative income taken home by the non-rich to drop. because there are more non-rich folks relative to rich folks. but that hasn't happened. which means either the common wisdom is wrong. which it could be. or more likely, non-rich children grow up and earn more than their parents. which is kinda what the american dream is all about. to make a better life for your kids than you had. huh. at least part of the system is working.
subsidizing a new industry is generally a good thing. but you need to be smart about it. lest it become a bad thing. how do you know when a good thing becomes a bad thing? heh. when there are so many windmills in oregon that they're producing more power than the grid can handle. and presumably, consumers can consume. when there are windmills in texas that charge a negative rate for power. that's right. they pay people to take their power. as if electricity was garbage, a waste product. presumably this is because the subsidy far exceeds their operating costs. you could make a profit "buying" power from such a windmill and using it to run a giant electric heater. i think those examples qualify as fairly compelling evidence that the subsidy for wind power is too generous. to say the least.
people are all for kicking all the illegal immigrants out. unless of course, they're picking our cotton or cleaning our toilets. those illegal immigrants can stay.
so how exactly did the bailout process work? i borrow money from uncle sam at 1% interest rate or less. then i invest it. a smart investment would be t-bills. which pay 3% interest. voila! free money. or i could throw it at higher payoff but riskier investments. this is business as usual for a venture capitalist. the idea is that the few winners win so much they more than pay off the many losers. and you walk away with a fortune. ah but the bailout plan has a clever twist. the money that i borrowed to give to a company that cratered and lost it all doesn't have to be paid back to the government. pretty cool huh? the venture capitalist can walk off with the profit from the winners and hand the losses from the losers to the government. the government of the people (meaning you), by the people (meaning me suckering you), and for the people (meaning me).
if i offered you $1000, would you take it? you'd be suspicious you're doing something illegal. but it's all perfectly square. maybe you would take it. maybe not. if i offered your business $1 million, would you take it? you don't need it. so no, why would you? because i offer the same deal to your competitor. if you don't take my money they will have an advantage. it's crazy but that's the position people found themselves in. ford honda toyota for example, didn't need bailout cash. yet since gm did, they had to sign up for the free money too. lotta banks were in the same position. and of course to get the free money they had to present their financial health in the worst possible way. which made the situation look completely dire. *everybody* and their brother is broke. the economy is gonna tank. these are the end of days. yeah, the economy slowed down. mostly because people believed the situation was far more dire than it really was. things are picking up again. which unfortunately means the pro-bailout folks are all taking credit for their brilliant intervention. meanwhile the bailed-out folks are looking at their mountains of cash and nodding their heads. oh yeah. it worked great.
people are notoriously bad at identifying inconsistencies in their beliefs. not to pick on any one group here. but let's start with muslims. muslims use death as both the greatest possible reward and the worst possible punishment. if you kill someone, they go to hell. if they kill you, you go to heaven. so if two muslims kill each other, how does allah decide which one gets the 50 virgins? weird. christians fear death so much they spend fortunes avoiding it. then sue others to coerce their help too. yet christians believe in the afterlife. weird. people say they want smaller government. yet they want the smaller government to provide all of the services currently provided by our big government. weird. people play the lottery in the hopes of winning. yet the chances of winning the lottery are vanishingly small. and even if you do win, winning almost universally makes people seriously unhappy. weird.
table sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. high fructose corn syrup is 45% glucose and 55% fructose. fruit contains nearly 100$ fructose. sugar pretty much goes straight into the blood stream. your pancreas notices and produces insulin. which is some sort of signal to every cell in your body to metabolize sugar. but your liver is the only thing that can metabolize fructose. if your diet is too high in fructose, your cells run out of glucose to metabolize before the liver metabolizes the fructose. so your cells start to ignore the insulin message and you have a problem: insulin resistance. insulin resistance encourages cells to grow. like fat cells. ie you get fat. especially around the middle. abdominal fat it's called. all that fat increases your bad cholesterol. which accumulates in your arteries. near your heart. leading to heart attacks. and death. insulin resistance encourages cells to grow. not just fat cells. but normal cells that shouldn't be growing. insulin resistance is a pretty serious enabler of cancer. maybe not causes cancer. but it sorta takes the foot off the brake pedal. yeah, the people who study how sugar affects the body don't eat the stuff. they treat it like it's a toxin. which apparently, it is. course who are we going to believe: some skinny old scientist in a lab coat saying bad, or our taste buds saying yum?
a while ago i was advocating a wealth tax. it goes like this: figure out your net worth. pay 5% of everything over $1 million to the gubm'nt. that's the rate it would take to balance the current record bloat of a budget. so just for fun i calculated our wealth tax rate to be somewhere between 2% and 4%. a 5% rate would be just fine with me if i didn't have to pay any taxes while accumulating that first million.
happy tax day! course tax day is really monday. but what the heck. income was way down this year. mostly because most of it was from wages. so the prediction is, our tax rate will be higher than normal. we also exercised iso's this year. so we get hit by amt. wee! so our tax rate is double extra high. according to my algorithm from 3 years ago our total tax rate is 42%. ouch! good heavens. if you don't count the amt from the iso's it's a much more typical 27%. man, i really don't like the idea of paying taxes when you buy an asset that can't be sold. a 26% sales tax? jeebus. fucking stupid. anywho. in theory, with extraordinary tax planning, we can recover this amt. it's kinda like a pre-paid tax. kinda. so our future year by year tax rates will be slightly lower than they would be without the amt credits. woot. also, the tax rate when we sell those iso's is 15%. wee. you can play the tax rate game too. first, figure out your income: add 1040 lines 8b and 22, add all w-2 box 12's. second, add up all of your taxes: add 1040 line 60, add schedule A line 9, add all w-2 box 4's and 6's. divide your total taxes by your total income. voila! enjoy. and yeah, email your congresscritter.
radiation is no big deal, right? well, yes and no. it depends on how you're exposed. if you simply get close to a hot source, yeah, it's no big deal. the radiation hits your skin. and pretty much stops. your skin is pretty good at fending off attacks. it's generally renewable. and yeah parts of your skin will suffer mutations. though it usually takes several mutations for cells to start growing out of control. then several more for them to be able to metastasize. ie spread. and kill you. so radiation exposure is no big deal right? sure. just don't eat it. or breathe it. your body tends to concentrate substances in different organs. so now, instead of a dose being applied to the massive area that is your skin, it's applied to a small number of cells. like say, your thyroid. even though the total radiation dosage in sieverts is the same, it's 10x to 100x more damaging when concentrated somewhere vulnerable like this. so the quarantine of food grown near fukushima is totally justified. at least until radiation levels fall to acceptable levels. which really shouldn't be too long. cause there really isn't that much stuff. it's just hot. which means it will cool off relatively quickly. like months.
cigs vs rems
consider a graph of harm versus exposure. many substances have zero harm up to a safe dosage. then harm grows more less linearly. some substances have no safe dosage. that simply means the flat part is really short. cigarettes and radiation are two examples. are these things dangerous? well, it depends on how fast the linear part grows. for cigarettes it grows alarmingly fast. so yes, they are dangerous. radiation hazard grows far more slowly. so yeah, you want to limit your exposure. but occasional high doses are no big deal. as long as they're infrequent. like mammograms and ct scans. and oopses at nuclear power plants.
anyone who's been following this blog knows that i think putting corn in your gas tank is a fucking stupid idea. i haven't checked in a while but the old stats were: fill one tank of gas -or- feed 30 people. i expect it to be about the same now. we divert 40% of our corn crop to ethanol. in the paraphrased words of another, you don't need a phd in economics to understand that's going to create upward pressure on food prices. corn is the major ingredient in animal feed, soda(!), and cereals. prices of other grains also go up because we're planting less wheat to grow more corn. here in rich rich america we don't really care. why? because the cost of the wheat is a tiny fraction of the cost of bread. doubling tripling it doesn't noticeably affect what you pay in the super market. but it sure does in the rest of the world. armies run on their stomachs. you're only king as long as you can feed your people. we're seeing it in the middle east. our action of creating an artificial demand for ethanol is making people hungry. one can argue overthrowing tyrants and replacing them with democracies is a good thing. and i don't disagree. however, if these new democracies can't feed their people, they won't last. and the world will be right back where it was. our best play is see if democracy takes root throughout the area. then flood the market with cheap food so they love their new government. and they're happy to sell us their oil for really cheap. but that does mean we have to summon the political power, will and otherwise, to oppose big corn.
okay so b was off camping with the boy scouts all weekend. g had just left for a first aid training course for cub scouts. i'm looking at the beautiful and talented alisa. and she's looking at me. and we're both thinking, no kids. we should do something fun. want to go for a hike? PSHHHHHHH! what the heck is that? oh shit oh shit oh shit. rust red water was shooting out from under the bathroom sink. PSHHHHHHHHHHH! turn the water off! turn the water off! turn the water off! PSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! i ran to the main water valve and flipped it. then i ran from sink to sink to turn on the faucets to relieve whatever pressure was left in the pipes. alisa grabbed a towel and kept the quickly spreading mess from ruining the carpet. 17 years. 17 years that flexible pipe sat there under that sink with no problems. then sure. we get a couple of kittens and put their litter box in the cabinet under that sink and suddenly it goes all PSHHHHHHHHHHHHH! sheehs. hateful thing. at least the litter box was mostly fresh. we tried not to think about the clumps we were cleaning up. though it could have been worse. much worse. the litter box could have been uh not fresh. ew. ick. heh. or... we could have been on vacation for a week. heh. well. if we had been, i'd be talking about how we're going to remodel the bathroom now. and replace the carpet. wee.
i feel like there's a lot of misconception out there about radiation. i don't know if there really is or not. but i feel like there is. for example, radioactivity hazard is inversely related to half life. radioisotopes with short half lives are very radioactive. iodine for example, is "hot". but not for long. one should definitely be concerned about these things in your food. but it really doesn't take long for the danger to pass. like days. however, radioisotopes with very long half lives are not very radioactive. at all. you could watch a single uranium atom for 100,000 years and not see it go poof. yet we seem to be afraid of long half life stuff because of the radiation. there's the misunderstanding. plutonium, for example, has a half life of thousands of years. so it's not very radioactive at all. it is, however, spectacularly poisonous to living creatures like you and i. that's poisonous in the classic chemistry biology sense. like arsenic and strychnine. and yeah, we shouldn't be using this crap. not in bombs and not as a fuel.
the beautiful and talented alisa is a wonderful cook. way better than i am. so she does most of the cooking. some weeks i might squeeze in a meal. or help a little. i usually end up doing the dishes. i don't mind. especially if i get yummy treats. this week it was coffee cake. which kinda makes a hard to clean mess of the cake pan. but it's worth it. just ask the boys. who don't do the dishes. see? asparagus, on the other hand, is easy to clean up after. which is a good thing. otherwise we'd be eating a lot more coffee cake and a lot less asparagus.
there's an interesting case in the texas courts. guy builds bar. church opposes with petitions and prayer sessions. lightning strikes bar. nearly complete bar burns to ground. church thanks god. behold the power of prayer! guy sues church. okay. guy argues the church indirectly caused the destruction of his property through their prayers to the almighty. if they hadn't held the prayer sessions then the bar wouldn't have been destroyed. now, the church is in the awkward position of arguing that their prayer sessions had nothing to with god's actions. in other words, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer suing a church that doesn't. that just giggles my berries. if i was the judge, i'd rule responsibility is a two way street. if you claim your prayers are responsible for the actions of an angry god, then you must accept the responsibility of the consequences. ie pay for the guy's destroyed bar. which would put the church in the position of either coughing up the dough. or publicly admitting that prayer is as powerful as wishful thinking. awkward. to say the least. then there's the position that the guy should get the money from god. and good luck with that. heh. that's a whole other can of worms. does the money in the collection plate go to god or to the church? and yeah that's a somewhat pedantic hair splittage. but either way, i think the bar owner gets paid. or the church shuts the fuck up.
g's team won their second game last night. it wasn't an impressive victory. our number 4 and 5 pitchers came through in spades. the opponents only had 9 players. evening games are tough. cause you've just spent the whole day working at school. you're tired. you're hungry. and you're losing. it's much better to play on weekends. but with the rain outs, we now have extra weekday games. oops.
baseball is going well for both boys. they both won their first games of the season. unfortunately, b's team lost their second game. so between them they're 2-1. heh. g's batting average is .667. b's is .750. g pitched two innings. b chucked someone out at second trying to stretch a single that took a crazy bounce off the infield grass to the right field foul territory. it was a nice day for baseball. overcast and cool. hopefully, it will be a really good season.
heh. the biggest prank was that i "forgot" to tell the beautiful and talented alisa that her dad was coming for the weekend to watch the kids play baseball. so his room wasn't prepped. in fact, it was kinda covered floor to ceiling with g's stuff. ha ha good one! the boys got mom with the old tape the kitchen sink sprayer handle so mom gets sprayed when she turns on the water. i got paper in my shoes. pissing man will have to wait another year. ah well. the boys had blue green ramen for dinner. they ate it. with much trepidation. b and g definitely didn't pull any pranks at school. nope nope. at least none i can talk about.
productivity generally goes down during a recession. businesses want to keep loyal workers. even when there's no work to do. this last recession was so severe that businesses thought they couldn't afford to. so they fired people. now that business is returning, they're finding they can do the same amount of work with fewer people. productivity is way up. heh. seems like propping up a weak recession isn't good for business. let it become a bad recession. it'll give corporate america the opportunity to trim its fat. to say, we don't need your lazy ass taking up space in the break home. get out. heh. if we had severe recessions more often, ie less government up-propping, our businesses would be even more profitable. and our work force wouldn't feel so entitled. and yeah, that's a pretty cold thing to say to someone who lost their job. but it's strong motivation to not be the bottom 10%. or should be. timmer for president.
polls are now showing that the tea party is just as unpopular as the rest of the politicians. people are figuring out that smaller government means less money for social programs. popular social programs. *lots* less money. heh. that and there's this awful rumor going around that tea partyers are pawns of corporate america. heh. i wouldn't say pawns. but surely bankrolled by. and yeah lotta big businesses are silently cheering for the tea party. big businesses that have lots to gain by less government interference. dirty industries can be dirtier. dangerous industries can be dangerouser. profitable industries can be profitabler. and the loser is... the guy who thinks he has the most to gain by voting tea party. heh. change you can fail.