i just finished an interesting read by jacqueline carey. it's a two book series: banewreaker and godslayer. which is unusual. and hence interesting. the main protagonist is the bad guy. which is interesting. he does what bad guys do. though he's far more likable than the good guys. who are assholes. the author doesn't go out of her way to make them act like assholes. they're just doing what the good guys do. the right thing. singlemindedly. without actually thinking about what they're doing. or why. or the consequences. the author takes a pretty harsh-reality position on the nature of choice. and the ability of powerful and/or key characters to affect events. the series is ironically quite predictable. normally that would make for a serious yawner. but i kept turning the pages.
so i calculated what people pay in taxes as a percentage of their net worth. the us households at the bottom have a net worth of $0. their wealth tax percentage is 100%. everything they "save" (ie not spent on living expenses) goes to the government. the us household in the middle has a net worth of about $100k. and they pay about 14% per year in wealth taxes. ouch! the top 1% has a net worth of about $1m and pays about 8% wealth tax. those with net worth about $10m pay about 2% wealth tax. the super rich have a net worth in the billions and pay about 0.01% wealth taxes. no that's not a typo. warren buffett has a net worth in the $50 billion range. billion with a b. and pays taxes less than $10 million. that's million with an m. warren buffett's wealth tax rate is so inconceivably low, we could raise it by 100x and he'd barely notice. right now, his wealth doubles every 5 years. if we raised his wealth tax by 100x to a measly 1%, his wealth would double every 5 years and 4 months. absolutely crushing, i know. i'm a cruel man to even contemplate such a thing. sheehs. the intention of the founding fathers of both the constitution and the bible was that people would pay for the common good according to their means. the system in place, clearly does not do that. anyone who says the rich are paying their fair share of the tax burden, is an idiot.
heh. imagenius. a while ago i speculated someone was running a botnet to mine bitcoins. turns out, someone is. and yeah, stealing from other people is bad. in this case they're stealing electricity. so it's kinda minor. course running a gpu full blast 24/7 is kinda hard on the card. so they'll need to be replaced. most are also pretty darn loud. which should make it really obvious to the mark that something's wrong. course most victims are in denial. otherwise they wouldn't be victims. anywho, if the botnet operators weren't using your hardware to mine bitcoins, they'd be using your hardware to spam us with shrink-your-tummy and grow-your-penis emails. or they'd use your hardware for ddos attacks. or for cracking passwords. so if they're mining bitcoins instead, that's a win for society. they're doing something useful. by some definition. it's possible bitcoins will catch on as a legitimate currency. i don't think so. though i think the next generation of bitcoins has a pretty good shot. ie bitcoin 2.0. the system relies on thieves and criminals to manage your currency by exploiting the foolish. heh. so not much different from the current banking system, eh?
there's not much to do in pennsylvania. it's not like the little league world series was going on or anything. sigh. should have done some recruiting. yeah, that's it. a long time ago i wrote a memory manager. it's great feature was it allocated and freed memory in constant time. it's pretty interesting if you, like me, like tackling hard problems for fun. it was kinda dated. so i rewrote it. i came across a technique that would make it much gooder. and it is. the original version wasn't thread safe. i made it thread safe by slapping in a global mutex. it's not pretty. but it works. the new version will be better. i got plans. now i just need the time. wee. yeah okay. you really don't want a low priority thread to block a high priority thread and give all the time to the middle priority threads. heh. the trick to using locks is to minimize the time the lock is held. like don't hold a lock long enough to make a function call. good rule of thumb. the other feature i'd want to add is multiple pools. so each thread can have its own private pool. in which case, no locks would be needed. pretty cool huh?
man i really blew through my vacation time this month. what with the long scheduled family trip to michigania and the unexpected trip to pennsylvania. yeah, i'm practically out. i have only 6+ weeks remaining. sigh. i'll have to conserve. sheehs. okay. i need a vacation.
funerals creep me the fuck out. i means jebus. let's get everyone together and go look at a corpse. i stayed as far from the open casket as possible. course i was one of the pall bearers. which was okay. cause the box was closed by then. the best part of the sermon thing was the sappy shit my marine uncle wrote. which was extraordinary on so many levels. the worst part was the praise jebuses. like really? grandma died. praise jebus. wtf? thank god she's dead? now we can get on with our lives. did i wander into westboro? sheehs. actually that wasn't the worst part. the worst part was the recitations. the lord is my shepherd. i shall not want. he maketh us to lie down in green pastures. we are the borg. you will be assimilated into the house of the borg forever. you believe in god the father almighty creator of heaven and earth and his only begotten son. you will be assimilated. resistance is futile. our father who art in heaven. hallowed be thy name. the borg come. you will be assimilated. your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. resistance is futile. for we are the borg. for ever and ever. ramen.
yay. i missed my family. no, i *really* missed my family. but i'm home again. grandma's safely in the ground next to grandpa. mom's a slow motion train wreck in progress. she's more alone now than she has ever been. the house is bigger and emptier. so that's not good. we're kinda waiting for her to decide to move out here to california to be nearer to us and the grandkids. she started doing art again. just some sketches. but they're pretty good. even if she did spell her name wrong. she says it's the first initial of all of her three last names. plus some H-shaped shadows. but it sure looks like she dropped a letter from her maiden name. heh. course i won't just let it go, man. payback for all those years of uh what? taking really good care of us when we had nothing. yeah. timmer for asstard of the year.
so on the flight from detroit to harrisburg, there was a young woman across the aisle a row in front of me. she was wearing a camouflage caltech sweatshirt. which i thought was pretty darn strange. she and the nerdly looking guy sitting next to her were wearing matching blue sneakers. so i assumed they were travelling together. turns out they weren't. i struck up a conversation with her at baggage claim. she just finished law school. and is a patent attorney. or will be. as soon as she gets the results from her bar exams. so, wait for it, she's a patent pending attorney. anywho, she's going to caltech as a grad student. double-e of all things. seemed like a really sweet person. not your caltech stereotype. too much jewelry for that. i haven't been to campus in 15 years or so. she showed me a map. the baseball field is still there. though some new buildings have encroached on it. i gave her some advice. learning at caltech is like trying to drink from a fire hose. you either get a sip. or you get blown away. having done both. i strongly recommended she go for the sip.
the annual family trip to camp michigania was fun. as usual. alisa made some gorgeous tie dyed shirts. as usual. she also batik'd a scarf that came out really cool. i'll have to give her occasion to wear it. i had burgers every day for lunch. salad for dinner every night. i didn't go to ropes. i'm too old and fat. i sailed a butterfly in perfect wind. it was really light. way too light for real sailors. they'd be bored. all the old friends are good. one of their daughter's voice changed. though i seem to be the only one who noticed. whatever. somewhere along the line snot became a verb. as in, you snotted on my sweatshirt. the boys got their field archery. so we went out and shot a bar under an apple tree. b lost three arrows. and found three different arrows. so we're all good. right? alisa and i signed up for the kayak excursion. it was fun. there was no wind. lotta fog. so we stayed close to shore. camp picked up a pair of paddle boards. they looked like fun in hawaii. they were okay. turns out, the speed of my leg reflexes exactly matches the resonant frequency of the paddle board. so things got kinda exciting some times. you can't paddle them straight. you kinda s-turn your way from place to place. i'll try one again. pretty sure i like kayak's better.
grandma roush passed away thursday. so instead of going home from camp michigania, i am now in pennsylvania. i hate being away from my family. pah. ah well. there's really no convenient time to die. christmas would have been worse. anywho. grandma was born in 1917. her mother was 17 years old. she married my grandfather and had her first son when she was 18. it was a very different world then. ah well. the stock market crash of 1929 didn't affect her much. they lived on a farm way out in the sticks. like with a hand pump outside the house for water. her two sons went to wars. grandpa passed at the same time of year in 2003. his health had been deteriorating steadily. as far as i know, grandma was never sick a day in her life. mom joked that nothing could kill her and that one day she would just decide she was done living and die. and that's pretty much what she did.
okay so harry got an invisibility cloak from his dear departed dad. who also happened to have made the marauder's map. and happened to be a superb athlete. with fast hands. and could fly a mean broomstick. he also had a pile of gold. hrm. how exactly did he get that? it's never revealed. one can only speculate. but given his skill set and disposition, i think it's pretty obvious. we get the story from harry's point of view. course he was the winner. and got to write the history book. nearly everyone who could have contradicted him ended up dead. it's entirely reasonable that james stole something from tom riddle. who cornered him and killed him. seems like a reasonable thing to do in the wizard world where you just make up the rules as you go. harry got that scar in the crossfire. course the little brat grew up trying to avenge his da. and succeeded in the end. i think harry just made up that whole lord voldemort thing. cause tom riddle just isn't scary enough of a name for an arch villain. or at least embellished the story enough to justify murder.
readers of this blog know i'd prefer to pay taxes on my wealth than to pay taxes on my income. while this seems like a good idea to me that's frankly kinda obvious, others don't see things this way. when i suggest abolishing income tax and replacing it with a wealth tax, otherwise intelligent people go apeshit crazy. their faces turn red. their eyes roll around in their heards. their tongues flap around in their mouths to the point where the only coherent word they can splutter is asinine. okay. let's go there anyway. just for fun. i'm going to make the extraordinary claim that income tax is a front loaded wealth tax. when you deposit your paycheck in the bank, that's wealth. or what's left of it after the tax man took his bite. consider the median household. they have no wealth to speak of. and not much hope of accumulating any. imagine we got rid of the income tax in favor of a wealth tax. using numbers from yesterday's post, at the end of the year, the median household would have accumulated $14k in wealth. assuming they live exactly the way they did before and socked away the surplus. now to maintain the status quo equivalence to the income tax, they'd have to hand over all of it as a wealth tax. ouch! so apparently, people would rather pay a wealth tax of 100% and call it an income tax. than pay an actual honest to god wealth tax of 1%.
do you really know what the tax rate is on your employment? let's consider the median household and numbers pulled off of the internet. it makes $50k per year. it directly pays federal income taxes 5.6%, social security taxes 4.2%, medicaid taxes 1.45%, state taxes 6.7%. those are the ones that show up on your pay stub. there are also hidden taxes that your employer pays on your behalf that never actually show up in your paycheck. social security taxes 6.2%, medicaid taxes 1.45%, unemployment taxes approximately 3%. for a grand total of about 28.6%. however, we've mixed inner and outer taxes. which isn't mathematically precise. let's imagine that congress revamps things so your employer pays all of the taxes and your paycheck is cut to what you actually take home. in this case, the median income becomes $41k and the employer's outer "sales" tax rate is 35%. ouch! okay so turn things around. let's imagine that congress revamps thigs so /you/ pay all of the taxes and you get a raise to cover it. in this case, the median income becomes $55k and your inner tax rate is 26%. keep in mind that in all cases you take home the exact same amount. your employer pays the exact same amount. and the government collects the exact same amount. we're just quibbling about how to keep the books. in the end, in order for you to take home $41k, your employer pays $55k, and the government pockets the $14k difference. it's good work if you can get it.
my 24/7 bitcoin operation has come to an end. three reasons. first, the difficulty of mining bitcoins means i'm mining them significantly more slowly. second, the price of bitcoins has dropped. mining 24/7 pushed our monthly electric bill into tier 3 which costs $.30 per kilowatt-hour. ouch. it still makes sense to mine when the computer's going to be on anyway. the mining card draws less than 100 watts. that should keep us in tier 2 which costs $.14 per kilowatt-hour. which is cost effective. at least until this bitcoin bubble completely bursts. or until the next bitcoin bubble appears. still though. it's amazing that the amount of computation power is still growing exponentially. i guess feather merchants like myself are being replaced by specialists. i'm wondering how much mining is being done under questionable circumstances. like say, by a someone using their employer's computers. or by botnets. heh. you can mine profitably at any difficulty if you don't have to pay for the hardware or the electricity.
help me out here. where should the grammatically correct writer put the quotation marks when one uses the phrase /alternative medicine/? the bad astronomy guy used /"alternative" medicine/. hrm. that would imply an unusual meaning of /alternative/. and a normal meaning for /medicine/. i'm pretty sure that's not right. at the very least, /medicine/ must be in quotes. because /alternative medicine/ isn't real medicine. if it was real medicine it wouldn't be called /alternative medicine/. sheehs. i think /alternative/ is supposed to imply the quotes around medicine. ie that /medicine/ isn't what is usually meant. so no quotes needed. however, /alternative/ implies that it's equivalent. and it's not. so prefixing /medicine/ with /alternative/ isn't strong enough. so i guess the question boils down to: do you put /alternative/ in quotes or not? heh. /"alternative" "medicine"/ would be silly. /"alternative medicine"/ would imply it's not what /alternative medicine/ usually means. hrm. that's just confusing. /alternative "medicine"/ is probably best. because the meaning is clear. if you object to vaccines you can do this other thing. but it isn't real medicine. if the literature were required to use this form, alternative "medicine" would be seen in a fairly negative light. which is a good thing(tm). but it would make the alternative "medicine" crowd go all dancing burrs. so it's not likely. sigh. we can dream.
cheney convinced us we can get more pie by taking a smaller slice of a bigger pie. the dick. but we (meaning you) swallowed it. yes, i just called you a dick swallower. get over it. or do something about it. anywho. the tea party is the completely opposite perspective. they dug in their heels like a stubborn mule in order to hold to their ideals. great. good job. now you have a bigger slice of a *much* smaller pie. way to go. idiots.
smaller government sounds like a wonderful thing. course it depends on how we get that smaller government. you're nuts if you think it means we're going to cut the social safety net. um, why? heh. cause the recipients of the social safety net vote. in droves if they feel like their slop trough is threatened. and yeah it's just a trough of slops. but it's theirs. and it's free. so smaller government in practice will mean people lose their jobs. so instead of being tax payers, they will be new voters at the ever growing trough. smaller government will mean fewer subsidies. which sounds like a good thing. until you realize those subsidies are jobs. sense a theme here? course the cost of the social safety net is lower than the cost of the payroll. so yeah, that's a savings. except now there's a bunch of work that isn't getting done. which is bad. cause it's common good kind of work. ie the kinda everyone wants but no one will pay for on their own. smaller government means more social safety net, not less. and a lower standard of living. and reduced potential for economic growth. on the other hand. bigger government is bad too. timmer for balanced government president. wee.
my current favorite geometric shape in the entire world is the icosahedron. a twenty sided die. i made one 4' in diameter for garrett's birthday one year. that was fun. so anywho. i needed to write a test program for work. it needed to exercise the gpu. what better way than to draw some icosahedrons. lots of icosahedrons. but we'll get to that. the first step was to write the code to generate the vertices. heh. the zeroth step was to figure out where the vertices are. anywho. each vertex got its own color. white on top. black on the bottom. and hue all the way around. the next step was to list all the triangles. the vertices are all used by many triangles. so i didn't even consider not using an index buffer. first i used a triangle list. then two fans and a strip. then one strip. which i thought was a pretty clever trick. but wait, there's more. the point is to exercise the gpu. and one icosahedron really isn't gonna do it. i needed more. many more. what pattern what pattern. i considered an array, a spiral, an oscillating snake. and then it hit me. i'll arrange 12 icosahedrons in an icosahedron. i made the camera move around them. it was kinda pretty. but if 12 icosahedrons are pretty then 144 icosahedrons would be pretty squared. so i duplicated the 12 icosahedrons 12 times and offset them to be centered at the vertices of a super icosahedron. but why stop there? if 144 icosahedrons are pretty squared, then 1728 icosahedrons would be pretty cubed. so i duplicated the 144 icosahedrons 12 times and offset them to be centered at the vertices of a meta icosahedron. but why stop there? if 1728 icosahedrons are pretty cubed then 20,736 icosahedrons would be pretty to the fourth. so i duplicated the 1728 icosahedrons 12 times and offset them to be centered at the vertices of an uber icosahedron. at this point the gpu was pretty well loaded. so i stopped. there was no need to go for pretty to the fifth. all that geometry is still just one triangle strip. using the aforementioned clever trick in an super meta uber way. the point was to exercise the gpu with a minimum amount work by the cpu. i think i succeeded.
a babe ruth rookie season baseball card is worth a fortune to a collector. magic the gathering racked up a tidy sum for its publishers. hrm. imagine the wheels going round. so i was at joe and mary's and i noticed a card in a box. i picked it up thinking it was a collectible. on the other side was a smoking hot model. at first i disappointed that this was just some marketing fluff. but them it hit me. super model collector cards. ta da! how much would a farah fawcett rookie card go for? sheehs. ka-ching. but wait. super models command high prices. so probably wouldn't be able to get them to sign a contract. but there are plenty of wanna be super models. and with a little photo shopping of the pixels, one could have a sarah sawcett who looks and awful lot like the pin up of my youth. hrm. course my ps skills are non-existant. hrm. i could just use real pictures of ff. and /say/ they're a ps'd look-alike. oh man. i'm gonna be so rich.
consider the difference between causation and correlation. ready? good. a while ago i read an article about a correlation between tooth decay and heart disease. it went on to speculate on causation. seems really unlikely that heart disease could cause tooth decay. but it seemed reasonable, at least to the author, that tooth decay, which is a form of infection, could cause heart disease. which seems to be related to inflammation. ie infection. could they be related? hrm. maybe. but they could have a common cause. a more recent article suggested that many of our modern afflictions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, all showed up right around the time we switched to a high sugar diet. seems kinda ambitious to blame refined sugar for every ill. further investigation required. but if there's a link between tooth decay and heart disease, maybe. if i was a mythbuster, i'd call it plausible.
if you're stuck in a traffic jam, you're causing a traffic jam. if you're driving on an empty road, not only are you smart, but you're also being polite to all other drivers.
so we went to visit my father-in-law recently. it was fun. i saw two things i've never seen before. the first was at target. there was this lady cop. at least, i think she was a cop. if you know what i mean. she had a pink flashlight. at least, i think it was a flashlight. if you know what i mean. the other thing was a bear. you know. like at the zoo. 10' away. except without the bars and cages and stuff. yeah he was just licking the berry juice off his shelf. and settling down leaning on a tree. looked like he was turning in for the night. didn't seem to be too much fazed by the two legs and barkers ambling by. was cool.
heh. this blog was published on 8/8 at 8 am. that's great!
i've always been a little altitude sensitive. meaning i get kinda unhappy when going from sea level to the mountains. headache mostly. nausea sometimes. usually can be controlled by drinking lots of water and not overeating. but it's gotten worse in recent years. symptoms are much more flu-like. g gets pretty car sick. so we stop at joe and mary's. hrm. this last trip was the first after i got over the cat allergy. and dang. the symptoms seemed really similar. i'm thinking i'm allergic to something at joe and mary's. could be the local flora, dust, pollen, dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. dunno. remind me to take my allergy medicine the next time we go. it'll be a good experiment.
i'm kinda tired of the government not doing its job. makes me wonder why we're paying taxes. we should all stop paying taxes. heh. imagine if every corporation in america said, we're not paying taxes any more. what are you going to do? put everyone in jail? they still won't pay any taxes. and you won't have any money to pay the jailers. heh. i'm not really serious. it's just a mental exercise that makes me feel less powerless.
so the faa is partially shut down. that's good news for us. in sort of a short term greedy algorithm kind of way. cause we bought tickets before the shutdown and traveled afterwards. which means we're entitled to a refund of several hundred dollars worth of taxes. on the other hand. it's pretty bad for us. cause the faa collects some $200m a week in fees that are now going to the airlines. that money was used to subsidize flights to out of the way airports. like where we fly to. and to keep some 4000 people employed. and to employ thousands more on construction projects. the winners here are the big airlines that fly from hub to hub. sorta. cause people will fly less if they have to drive 6 hours instead of flying 40 minutes. why didn't congress finish this business before they left the session? sheehs. it's almost like someone wants the numbers to look bad. and it isn't even an election year.
we played a family game of war hammer quest last night. we took a fairly direct route to the objective room. defeating the 4 mummies and 3 dragon ogres took over an hour. the barbarian threw a temper tantrum cause all she got was 3 lousy pieces of gold. the elf made the observation that we clean the table to play games on it. but not to eat off of it.
why do people say quote unquote? like: the quote unquote normal procedure is blah blah blah. um. in text that'd be: the "" normal procedure. hrm. obviously they mean: the "normal" procedure. the quotes around normal imply that the word is being used in this context in an unusual way. today's manager was talking about the procedure we're supposed to follow but never actually do in practice. so why they heck don't people say: the quote normal unquote procedure? that's what they mean. or heh. maybe he really meant the usual definition of normal. meaning we're going to do what we always do. ie that which is literally normal. in which case he shouldn't say quote/unquote at all. unless he was trying to be deceptive. hrm. maybe this is why i suck at being a manager.
i don't do restaurant reviews very often. but sometimes i just have to. i don't get to go on a date with the beautiful and talented alisa very often. so when i do i like to go somewhere nice. she acquired some new clothes and looked fabulous. we arrived early enough that the road construction didn't make us late. it did however, keep us from window shopping. we felt overdressed as soon as we got there. first impression inside was underwhelming. the giants game was on tv. it was noisy enough that it was difficult to have a conversation. the waiter had no useful wine recommendation. the gumbo was good. in a rice stew kind of way. the salad got sent back. someone had spilled the salt shaker on it and didn't notice. the heirloom tomato salad was much better. i dodged. cause, you know, it's t-o-m-a-t-o-e-s. the bread was good. but the butter had another salt bomb. i had steak and fries. paid an extra $10 to call them papas fritas instead. they were good. lightly salted, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, not oil soaked. the steak itself was really good. lean and tender and done perfectly. however, it was encrusted with msg. which really amplified the char flavor. i thought an 11% tip was generous. afterwards we went for what should have been a nice romantic drive along skyline. the plan was to stop somewhere and watch the sun set and kiss and other mushy stuff. it didn't happen because of the msg headache. went home. went to bed. didn't get up until morning.
so last year we californians passed a couple of measures that will impact congressional elections next year. the first change is to completely redraw all of the congressional districts by a non-partisan committee. they have some rules they have to follow. reasonable sounding things. like follow city boundaries. there's still quite a bit of wriggle room for gerrymandering. but this should put the kibosh on the most egregious manifestations. which really sounds like a good thing. the other thing we now have to have two elections. the first election determines which two candidates run off in the final election. this one is pretty weird. presumably the idea is to prevent a minority candidate from winning because two majority candidates split the majority vote. which seems like a good thing. the other possibility is when the minority is so small the majority can put two of its candidates in the final election. in this case the minority might be able to swing the vote towards the more moderate candidate. in other words, this could move politics towards the center instead of towards the extremes. which again, seems like a good thing. i don't know how often either of those cases would come up. but it'll be an interesting experiment. at least until someone decides to put forth enough effort to get the always pliable voters to change the rules again.