obviously yesterday i wasn't talking about pie. i was talking about money. when we cut taxes on people who trade this resource we call money, they get more of it. as they get more of it the market for borrowing money becomes more monopoly-like and less free-market-like. which, just like our pie example yesterday, causes the economy to slow down. so from this point of view, the way to heat up the economy is obvious: break the monopoly. tax the people who have lots of money. and i'm not talking about taxing the pie makers who make money by creating wealth that is ultimately shared by everyone in the form of an enhanced standard of living. i'm talking about taxing the poker players who make money by taking money from other people without creating any new wealth in the process. currently, our tax system is upside down. the pie makers pay income tax and corporate tax. some 30%. the poker players pay long term capital gains tax. some 15%. or no tax at all because of loopholes they've bribed politicians for. some 0%! the economy is in the slump it's in today because the middle class lacks the capital it needs to finance its small business ventures. and has to buy operating capital from the upper class. and pays through the nose. which exacerbates the problem. things are not going to get better until we get our tax system right side up.
it takes flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, apples, and labor to make pie. the pie maker combines all the ingredients together following their secret recipe. the value of the pie is greater than the sum total values of all the ingredients. the pie maker can sell the pie for enough money to re-buy all the ingredients. with some profit left over. that's pretty much how most companies work. now suppose i sell apples. and i assassinate the competition. so now if you want to make pie, you have to buy apples from me. so now instead of paying the free market price, you have to pay the monopoly price. which is higher. which makes you raise prices and accept lower profits. it's actually a double whammy. cause the higher prices mean you sell fewer pies. which is bad for the consumer. cause they get to enjoy your delicious pies less often. their standard of living goes down. and the whole pie economy goes into a slump. which paradoxically, is bad for the apple guy. but only in the long run. and only if the apple guy is able to compare himself to where he could have been. instead of comparing himself to the sugar butter cinnamon pie guys.
individuals can be in debt a long way before the bank will stop giving them money. it's something like 4x their income. in other words, you can buy a $400k house on a $100k income. which is kinda cool. so the government has a debt of $14t. and an income of $2t. some 7x higher. sounds out of bounds. so we should panic? well, no. you and i would pay some 4% interest on a home mortgage. the government pays some 0.2%. no that's not a typo. so the us government could afford debt some 20x higher than we could. which works out to some $160t. or more than 10x the current debt. so we shouldn't panic? well, maybe. the government doesn't count debt the same way you and i and exxon have to. if the government did, it's "real" debt would be in the $50t to $100t range. depending on who's doing the counting. so we should panic? no. but we should tread really lightly. cause if the treasury bill rate goes up, we could be seriously over extended and in real danger of collapse. kinda like the soviet union. assuming of course the bean counters from the federal reserve who produced the above numbers aren't just making like chicken little. but there's no real reason for t-bill rates to go up. nope. nope. nope. washington would have to do something incredibly stupid. like talk about defaulting on our debt. and even the tea-brain partiers aren't that stupid. are they? oh wait.
i don't like telemarketing. i don't know many people who do. course i don't know any telemarketers. nor do i know any people who got rich employing telemarketers. i think the whole thing is kinda stupid. if i wanted a combination banana pitter and yogurt squirter i'd buy one. so don't call me. and even if you do call me and somehow manage to convince me i need one, i'm not going to buy it from you. i'm going to buy it from someone else. sheehs. so anywho, i just got off the phone with a telemarketer. they wanted me to buy a new furnace. but not from them. wtf? that is a whole new level of stupid. or not. considering my previous statement.
can you create money? well, yes and no. i explain. if you literally print money the secret service will come have a chat with you. if you hack into your bank and edit your balance, less nice people will come have a chat with you. so no. but... when you build a house you've created an asset that didn't exist before. it can be converted into money. say $1m. so by some definition you've created money. so yes. but... the money for that house was transferred from someone else's bank account. ie money was conserved. so no. but... somewhere out there is the federal reserve. every time you create a house they print some money. not the full amount of course. more like $50k. which becomes property of the us treasury. for use by the us government to pay for things that the us government does. like build bombs and bridges. so yes. by building a house, you've created money. in a sense. course turning the argument upside down... if you drink a $500 bottle of scotch, you've destroyed a resource. now the fed has to remove money from the system. my imagination conjures up ben bernanke lighting up a $20 bill.
a zero sum resource is always conserved. ie new resources don't enter the game. neither do resources leave the game. the stanley cup is a zero sum resource. houses and corn are not. monopoly money is a zero sum resource if you include the bank. a game is zero sum game if all resources are zero sum. the us economy is definitely not a zero sum game. because it has resources like labor and lumber. real us fiat money is not a zero sum resource. but it's pretty close. it's a zero sum resource for everyone except the federal reserve and the us treasury. between them they create some $50 billion in a typical year. that sounds like a lot. but it's about 5% of the money in circulation. about half of it is absorbed by a growing economy. the other half shows up as inflation. so in one sense, inflation is a tax. heh.
my father-in-law has a toilet paper stand. i thought it was the stupidest thing ever. but it stands there beside the tank out of normal sight. but then when you want it you can move the stand in front of you where it's convenient. then when you're done you put it back. it's actually kinda cool. my mcmansion should definitely have one. the stupidest thing ever is it's stocked with the thinnest paper i've ever seen. the kind that turns to mush when the humidity gets above 60%.
if i was benevolent dictator for life of the united states, the first thing we would do is switch to the metric system. it's a symbolic thing really. it's an accession that we're not going to be deluding ourselves anymore. we claim to be leading the world. yet we measure that lead in archaic units. hrm.
bongo is a very stroppy cat. he can push remarkably hard with his tail. he'd push you clean over if he could. it's normal for cats to head butt and rub. but the bottom of the water bowl when you're trying to set it down? ya just gotta wonder. bongo is a very wet stroppy cat.
the other day i was trimming a tree in our back yard when something got in my eye. it felt kinda big. and stung quite a bit. i went to the bathroom immediately. but i couldn't see whatever it was. it didn't really hurt. only when i moved my eye in really extreme ways. well. my eye was seriously irritated. cause it had just be whapped by something. but other than that i couldn't be sure there was actually something there. the beautiful and talented alisa dropped some saline in my eye to try to flush it out. the extra lubrication made it feel better. i left it alone. hours later after dinner, i felt something in my eye. this was different though. it felt like something coated in mucus. which in fact it was. another trip to the bathroom mirror and i was able to remove it. it was a 6 mm thorn like splinter. it must have gone up and over to the back of my eye for a while. eyes are amazing. somehow it managed to expel this thing with no hands. my vision is blurrier now than it's ever been. but that's cause i'm getting old. not cause i have a log in my eye.
i haven't poisoned myself in a while. i've been getting careless. i ate a sammich at work. it wasn't even all that good. it was mostly some sickly sweet mustard mayo spooge. the associated "salad" was a pile of really bitter stuff. like kale usually is. but everything looked like it should be sweet. anywho. timing was bad. it was the third saturday of the month. the day lunar launches model rockets at moffett. b was out of town. so i dragged along g and the beautiful and talented alisa. note to self: next time bring chairs. i stood in line for an hour. felt like we hadn't moved much when the prodrome hit. crap. it was hard enough to track rockets across the overcast sky. impossible with the flashing lights. wee. anywho. g was hot and bored. i asked if he wanted to leave. got a big hug and a yes please. alisa drove home. ah well. maybe next time. we did get to see some pretty rockets make some nice launches. they were having some event that let kids jump to the front of the line with their identical looking mini rockets. which is probably why the line was going so slowly. though some of the bigger kids (ie grown up club members) launched their big rockets. twice. before the line waiters got to launch once. hrm.
so help me out here all you grammar nazis. help me fill in the blank here. he has impure thoughts about the smokin hawt actress. i have _______ thoughts about my wife. they're not impure thoughts. cause they're about my wife. so what exactly are they? good. chaste. pure. purified. empurified. natural. blessed. immaculate. righteous. clean. moral. faithful. flawless. delicate. wholesome. yummy. endearing. sin free. sweet. hopeful.
warning spoiler alert. braid is a game that is hosted on the onlive game service. so i've played it. it's a kinda cool puzzle solving game. with a twist. a time based twist. you can press a button and unwind your moves to whenever you wish. and continue on from there. like say you missed a jump and landed in spiky lava and died. rewind. try again. it's a bit of a mind bender. glowing green things are immune to this time reversal. which is a feature you have to use in order to solve some of the puzzles. it's a pretty unique feature. and quite clever actually. this puzzle game also has plot. tim loves this beautiful princess. but lost her cause he's an asstard. and the whole storyline is to take tim back in time and fix things so he can win the princess and live happily ever after. except he can't. cause it turns out, she hates his guts.
politicians of all stripes are making political hay with the debt ceiling. most americans would say our debt is too high. most americans are ignorant. i explain. absolute numbers are irrelevant. what matters is the percentage of our gdp it takes pay the interest. and that cost is half what it was during the reagan bush clinton years. don't believe me? look it up. but now all of a sudden it's a crisis? sheehs. i call baloney. so what's really going on? i think there is productive debt and unproductive debt. i originally named these good and bad. but changed my mind for obvious reasons. anywho, productive debt is education, infrastructure, disease prevention, population control, technology research, exploration, and anything that takes the long view of making our life better. unproductive debt is paying people to kill people (wars), imprisonment without rehabilitation, paying people to not work, subsidizing things that are bad for us (tobacco, corn syrup), interfering with people's rights to pursue happiness (pot, gay marriage), etc. our federal balance sheet has way too many unproductive things and not nearly enough of the productive things. which is at the heart of things, is what's making people unhappy. and giving fuel to the politicians' haymaking. i don't like debt as a matter of principle. cause when you follow the money, interest payments are transfers of wealth from the middle to the top. the middle is bitching about this "tax". even if they don't realize it. so maybe if we actually taxed the top to get the middle's money back, the middle would shut the hell up about the "debt".
the old cat always slept on our bed. neither of the new cats have shown much interest. until relatively recently. usually they get into a wrestling match. and are quickly evicted. last night we had one cat for most of the night. i don't know which one. or maybe they switched one or more times. but cat on bed has an interesting property. when you sleep with another person you generally have no trouble sharing the covers. the covers move around kinda evenly both directions during the night. but introduce a cat. and suddenly the cover direction gains a bias. not sure how this works. sounds like a good phd thesis. anywho, by morning, oftentimes one person has no covers. they've shifted to the other person. and cat. who's by now hungry. and would like nothing more than for a person to get out of bed and fetch them breakfast. a cold cold bed.
so our last session went well. i think it was a milestone. the plane didn't need to be rebuilt. the elevator got a small crease. two landing wheels came off. one is missing. but still, those are minor thing. none qualify as a rebuild. most landings finished right side up. i buit a harness for the battery pack last rebuild. and moved it as far under the wings as i could get. and the thing is still massively nose heavy. i think i'll have to add some weight to the tail. still though, that wasn't all bad. made it impossible to climb real fast. which made it a lot easier to practice landings.
i met a man who doesn't shit. but let me start at the beginning. i'm pro smoking in private. i'm virulently anti-smoking in public. put yourself at risk all you want. but don't put me at risk. so anywho, this dude was smoking at the train station. granted he was way off in a corner and there was no one around. train comes. he comes walking along the platform. and leaves behind a smoking butt on the platform. at least i thought it was a butt. so i stepped in front of him and said, not cool. what? leaving your smoking cigarette butt on the platform. the butt's in my hand. blink. that's the cherry. i don't shit where i live. i don't shit anywhere. huh. he was gone before i really recovered. okay, i wished to say. i stand corrected. it's not cool to leave your smoking cigarette cherry on the platform. and another thing, do you really not shit? at all? seems so unlikely. i bet you shit in the toilet. and besides, you shit where you breathe. you shit where *i* breathe. and that's seriously, not cool.
i dragged g and the beautiful and talented alisa to the park this weekend to fly my plane. there were cones set up in the outfield and softball players were starting to show up. but we had 20 minutes. i let g fly once. he landed upside down on the infield. oops. most of my flights went straight away and landed. i was practicing landings. after most of which the plane was right side up. so like success! alisa suggested i try landing when the plane is coming at me. i think they were tired of walking across the park to fetch the plane. so they stayed where they were. and i marched off. it landed. in one piece. mostly. by the end of the day we had lost two wheels and the elevator had a new crease. it was still quite nose heavy. i built a little harness for the battery pack mostly under the wings. i also adjusted the elevator trim to a more neutral position. i'll try adding some weight to the tail. during the last rebuild i moved the control rods from the center hole to the outer hole. in theory this gives the controls more throw. but i didn't really notice much difference. the other mod was to cut most of the way through the laminate and styrofoam between the control surfaces and the wings. then re-strengthened the connection with packing tape. again, didn't notice much difference in performance. anywho, looking forward to the next flight. not at all sad that there are no major repairs to make.
san francisco installed a bunch of big brother style cameras all over the city. they figured they'd catch criminals. and crime rates have gone down. would be criminals think twice before becoming actual criminals. it's kinda hard to assert innocence when there's video of you doing what you said you didn't do. but that's only part of the story. the other side of the coin is these cameras are protecting the non-criminals. it's really hard to convict someone of doing something witnesses said he did when video shows he didn't. and yeah, it's a pretty serious reduction in privacy. but it's a good trade. for cops too. confrontations are much less likely to become violent when cameras are involved. bystanders filming police actions are much more likely to save a cop's life than to take it.
most people associate currency with inflation. which is sort of a misnomer. when you think of money, you really think of the buying power of the money. ie what you can get for your dollars. buying power generally goes down over time. ie it deflates. this is called inflation. inexplicably confusingly. yeah it's the value of the goods that you buy with money that inflates relative to the currency. it's still confusing. so anywho, this is considered a good thing. it keeps people from hoarding dollars. spend it now or get less later. or invest it now. which definitely seems like it would make the economy more robust. bitcoins on the other hand deflate. meaning they increase in value relative to the goods they can buy. don't ask. the reason is there's a limited supply of bitcoins. yet the goods available to buy increases. over time, you can get more stuff per bitcoin. which seems like it would encourage saving bitcoins. course that means hoarding them. which inflates the value of the bitcoins remaining in circulation. which encourages more hoarding. heh. many folks say this is a fatal flaw of bitcoins. i don't entirely agree. at some point bitcoins will become so valuable that a hoarder will not be able to resist the temptation to buy something. to start spending. the influx of bitcoins into circulation should stabilize the price. so everything should be okay. an inflationary currency encourages you to buy stuff you don't need. or invest in companies that make stuff that people don't need. a deflationary currency encourages people to put off purchases until they actually need something. which really, doesn't seem all that bad. course it cuts out the banks. who make fortunes literally printing money faster than goods are produced and thus making money inflate. and make fortunes by charging you to let them invest your money for you quick before inflation makes it worthless. it's really good work if you can get it. timmer for (bank) president.
so there's a handicapped car on the trains. basically it's a normal car except a few seats are missing. it's enough space to park three wheelchairs. somne trains get really goddam full. like the morning expresses that skip three stops. so i was on one of these. and people were sitting in the seatless area. cause it was otherwise empty. the conductor lady came along and made them move. simply cause it was her job. and she never gave it a single thought. that space is reserved for handicapped individuals. even if there are no handicapped individuals on the train to use the space. i guess she thought a wheelchair bound person might board the train between stops at 100 kph. course if they did, they can have the spot. only a fool would get in the way of a man on a rocket powered rolly chair.
i saw a man kicked off the train today. why? he had a bicycle. what?! neither he nor his bicycle were in a bicycle car. so the conductor dude made him leave the train. then the train left. without him. which i thought was pretty rude. it sorta smacks of a power trip by the train man. seems like it wouldn't have cost us anything to let him reboard either of the bicycle cars. we were already 10 minutes late. and everyone who'd be unhappy that we'd be 11 minutes late would be just as unhappy if we're only 10 minutes late too. course he could have made the guy get off at the next stop. then we'd only be 9 minutes late. huh. fodder for my theory that people don't think about what they're doing. they just do what they want to do.
so the supreme court recently ruled that california can't restrict the sale of violent video games to minors. on the other hand california can restrict the sale of pornography to minors. the court's reasoning was that this was in line with society's moral values. hrm. i doubt it. it might be in line with what society thinks its values are. but it's not in line with what society's values actually are. here's proof... would you prefer if my son engaged in an activity that led him to fantasize about a) making love to your daughter or b) raping and killing her? how many of your friends neighbors relatives and acquaintances do you think would actually prefer the raping and killing option? apparently the supreme court thinks we're a nation of psychopaths.
in the past we have gone white water rafting about this time of year. the boys are getting to the point where they might be old enough to enjoy it with us. we've had a lot of rain this year. so the rivers should be gushing. except they're not. well, they are. but not where we usually go. see, there's been too much rain. so the river level is down. got that? i explain. the lower rivers are full. nearly so full in fact that they're worried about flooding in reno. so the dams above the upper river that drain lake tahoe are closed. so the upper river level is too low for white water rafting. cause we got too much rain. see? makes perfect sense.
okay so i have an rc airplane. when i put it on santa's christmas list, i figured it would be a fun thing to fly. it might me. i'm not sure. by flying i mean controlled flight. now from time to time the airplane has been zipping around the park in something that resembles controlled flight to the observer. however, to the guy with the remote it's most definitely not anything even vaguely close to controlled. heh. fortunately, crashing spectacularly is pretty fun. and frankly, i kinda like rebuilding it. so it can "fly" again. meaning crash. i'm hoping that some day the amount of up time between crashes will increase. then maybe i'll be able to judge whether flying an rc plane is fun or not. but until then, crash and build baby. crash and build.
here's a little primer on the alternative minimum tax (amt) for those of you who've never had to deal with it before. a long time ago some people clearly weren't paying their fair share of taxes. this was about 200 families. the "fix" was to add the amt to the tax code. it's not clear to me that the original amt closed whatever loophole was being exploited. it's also not clear that today's amt is the same as it was. i doubt both. anywho. this is how it more/less works today. amt is a parallel tax to regular tax. you have to calculate both. amt is supposed to ensure that you pay your fair share. fail. as you'll see. suppose your normal situation is your amt is $1000 less than your regular tax. this is normal for most people. though fewer and fewer every year. now suppose you work for an innovative startup company. the very thing that makes america great. startups don't have much cash. so they give employees stock in the company. or more specifically the option to buy stock at a really low price. the employee now has non-salary incentive to work 100 hours/week and make those options worth a fortune. these options vest on some schedule. after they vest you can exercise them. you write the company a check. and they transfer title to you. let's be clear here: you bought something. you made a purchase. you did not sell anything. no money came into your hands. you bought speculative wealth. if it's a public company you can sell immediately sell it. at which point everyone agrees you should pay taxes on this income. however, if it's a private company you can't. well technically, you can. as in are allowed to. but for the vast majority of companies, it's not possible in practice. anywho, this purchase of speculative wealth counts as income for amt purposes. let's say the option price is a dime and the fair market value is a dollar. you have to treat that $.90 difference per share as income for amt. so now your amt is say $10k higher than your regular tax. your tax due this year equals the greater amt amount. now, if our story ended there, that would be completely cool. but it doesn't. that difference counts as a $10k tax credit. next year, when your don't exercise options, you can claim some of it. $1k in our example. in other words, your regular tax is reduced to your lower amt. and your credit is reduced to $9k. this continues for 10 years until your credit has been consumed. okay. stop and think about that. you pay exactly the same amount of tax. the only difference is when you pay it. it's not a tax at all. it's a loan. the government is forcing you to loan it money. and it's using your future regular tax as collateral. which is just plain wrong. i don't like paying taxes. but i understand their value. i don't mind loaning money to the government. but i seriously object to giving the government a 0% interest loan. that just seems like an unreasonable seizure of my assets.
so i grabbed myself a brand new bag of chips from the panty. reduced fat ruffles. no i'm not on a diet. they just taste better than the increased fat ruffles. crisper. not so much like oil sponges. anywho, so i went to open it. just like i've opened hundreds of bags before it with no trouble. but this one decides to go BOOF! a goodly chunk of the bottom blew out. and sprayed chip bits everywhere. like everywhere. there were chip pieces on the other side of the kitchen floor. and all over the counter. sheehs. i'm kinda curious how i did it. not sure if i could do it again if i tried. though it'd be a pretty good prank to pull on someone. on camera. for the consumption of the internet. i'm gonna be so rich.
in the summer i usually wear cargo pants to work. they have about 10 pockets more than i will ever use. i think if i put a little something in each pocket the cumulative mass would be more than the belt can support. and i'd be one of them trendy kids with their boxers showing. the belt is a nylon webbing thing with a plastic clicker for a buckle. convenient. it's longer than it needs to be. but not long enough to tuck neatly into the belt loops. so it tends to hang down. straight down. right in the front of my pants. like a skinny black penis. i usually tuck it into my pants. i have this recurring fear that someone will object to my blatant display of sexual powerhouseitude. or envy thereof. and i'll be assigned an hr program. but so far. i've been lucky. or no one really cares or even notices if your junk is in or out of your pants.
apparently there's a newfangled cure for diabetes. not exactly clear on the details. but it seems to involve eating less and exercising more. wow. who'd a thunk it?