today is tuesday. well, it is as i write this. probably not as you're reading it. but alas. i diverge. i know it's tuesday because there's a giant dead rat on the back porch. we think the cat that stayed out all night played with it until it wouldn't play with him any more. then the cat that stayed in all night got a chance to play with it. which clearly was not as much fun as when the rat was still more/less alive. or at least warm. anywho, i know it's tuesday because the garbage truck just took away last week's trash. now the rat gets to live (so to speak) at the bottom of our garbage can for the maximum amount of time. i guess they can walk past the garbage can and smell it. presumably it gets easier as next trash day approaches. and apparently reminds them that it's time to catch another rat.
it really wouldn't be all that difficult to cut 10% from the federal budget. there are a bunch of websites where you can try it yourself. the problem with the sequester is that it cuts 10% uniformly. so like every program. every sub program. every office. every building. etc. which is dumb. so dumb in fact that it's pretty obvious congress has to do something about it. the president can suggest a budget to congress. but congress has to pass it for it to become law. and there's the rub. every congress critter says cut anything you want except the one teensy tiny little part that affects my district the most. which makes for some 500+ exceptions that pretty much span the entire budget. so yeah, the fat's gonna get cut by 10%. but so are the leaner muscular bits. which ain't healthy. write to your congress critters. tell em what you *are* willing to sacrifice instead of what you *aren't*. please and thank you.
so while collecting data for the previous two posts, i came across something interesting. i found some net worth numbers on the internet. and log plotted them by percentile. it makes a nice straight line. that's kinda exciting to a science person. it usually means there's some sort of fundamental underlying principle at work. basically, when you double your money, you move up N percentile points. which is kinda cool. it means that whatever forces are at work are pretty consistent across this entire range. ie fair. so no one in this range should be complaining about anyone else also in this range. i did the same thing for the top 1% by .01 percentiles. and i found another power curve. which is kinda cool. just like before. the thing that's not cool is the exponent is very different. in other words. the world of the 1% is also very fair within itself. but the fundamental rules of the rich and the non-rich are not the same when compared to each other. the rules are not equal. which isn't fair. by pretty much any definition. the dividing line between rich and non-rich is where your wealth is more productive than your labor. which really, should never be the case in a functioning utopia. otherwise, you have a class of people who don't work. lay folks would call this freeloading. economists call this class the rentiers. which is functionally indistinguishable from royalty. if you think that's perfectly okay, timmer for king.
social net free
following up yesterday's post. so the government has a balanced budget. what does it do with it? the first half goes to the social safety net. say $2t. divide it up evenly amongst the tax payers. cut checks. kind like social security. but much much simpler. no means testing. no paperwork to see if you're eligible for welfare or any such nonsense. alaska has a similar program. the state collects taxes from the oil companies. and pays people to live there. it's not good money. but it's enough to keep you going frugally while you're say, raising a deadbeat's kid, or going to school, or sick, or injured, or just plain lazy. the second half of the budget the government can spend on whatever it wants. like say defense, infrastructure, research, pork. it's really not much different from the status quo. just much simpler, efficient, and hence cheaper. timmer for president.
tax time again
sometimes i get these niggling ideas that wiggle and jiggle and tickle inside my brain and just won't go away. the one at the surface today is progressive wealth tax. it basically works like this. claim your net worth. pay 1% tax of everything in the first tier. pay 2% of everything in the second tier. and so forth. the tier boundaries are defined from a tier factor. which the government calculates in order to balance the budget. according to my calculations this would be around 4. let's call the median net worth W. which is around $90k. the first tier starts at 4W. so you'd have to pay 1% of everything over $360k. plus another 1% of everything over $1.44M. plus another 1% of everything over $5.76M. plus another 1% of everything over $23M. and so on and so forth. eventually you get up to warren buffett and bill gates levels. still they're only paying 8% on wealth that averages gains of well over 10%. so instead of making $5b per year. they'll only make $1b. my heart bleeds. sarcastically. our taxes would be in the $20k range. which is a whole lot less than the $70k we typically pay. though that'd go up as wealth gets syphoned away from those that hoard it. and we'd have a balanced budget. the basic premise here is: don't bother taxing people until they have something worth taxing. like duh.
not too long ago the bad astronomer posted something that wasn't quite right. yeah, okay. i'm being nice. what he said was dead wrong. inevitably, and quite quickly, he came face to face with the facts. and he said, holy shit guys! i was wrong. and you know what? nobody really cared. cause he's a scientist. a real scientist. scientists are not gods. they never claim to be. they glory in whatever theory or model is most useful at the current time. and then abandon it when something better comes along. i think one of the problems here is that people expect scientists to be exactly right all the time. and when they're not, lazy thinking kicks in. and people assume that scientists are wrong *all* of the time. which is just really really weird. but it allows people to make a living bashing scientists. which is terribly unfortunate. for all of us.
so the other day i was staring at nothing in particular apparently quite intently. someone asked what i was thinking about. i blinked. i was thinking about the sex lives of sea slugs. i looked at them. and said, puppies and rainbows. really? of course. you're lying. of course. i think that was a pretty good indicator that they should back off and drop it. but no. they persisted. i half heartedly attempted a few more deflections. but i broke down and told the truth. they blinked. so what about the sex lives of sea slugs? i took a deep breath and began. i don't really know anything factual about the sex lives of sea slugs. other than a headline i read on a certain news aggregator. and then my fancy spread its wings and took flight. anywho. did you know sea slugs have a vagina at one end and a disposable penis at the other? more blinks. it grows back in a few days. which is kinda not unlike how things work for humans. except for the disposable part. presumably sea slugs also have a mouth and an anus. one assumes also at opposite ends. which leads one to ponder which way the sex organs and digestive organs match up. is that a penis on your face, or are you just happy to see me? so presumably two like minded slugs would line up compatible sex organs and get funky. and each one would carry the other's babies. and everyone's happy. course that leaves a nice opportunity to cheat. especially if the mouth and the vagina are co-located. one could fool the other into thinking that one's mouth is one's vagina. and then CHOMP! then one ends up with a snack and the other other ends up making the investment in the offspring. this might explain the disposable penis part. course that's still not what i was actually thinking about. if i was the intelligent designer i might experiment with a universal orifice. it'd triple as mouth, vagina, and anus. it's only gross by human standards. for sea slugs it'd be perfectly normal. and presumably quite sexy. course it makes cheating a whole lot easier. so maybe there were such slugs at one time. but briefly. cause they'd tend to die out. if i was the intelligent designer i'd make it so the payload would automatically be delivered to the appropriate place while masticating the stolen member. so for sea slugs it's not really a use it or lose it thing. it's use it *and* lose it.
valentine's day didn't go as well as i hoped. lack of planning on my part. i made a last minute run to the store for a stupid store bought card. and put on my best happy valentine's day smile. grimace. same thing. i got crocheted hearts on my knitted mitts. way cool. i made cookies. heart shaped sugar cookies. with little heart shapes cut out of them. and little red hearts stuck into the hole. it was a kind of a heart in a heart kind of thing. it was kinda cool. or was supposed to be anyway. some of them came out kinda pretty. the ones in the middle. the ones on the outside sorta browned up too much and stopped looking like red and white hearts merged together forever. awwww. something went wrong. and their kinda inedible. hence the last minute run. and the forced smile. well, at least i'm set for next year. drill holes in em. and string em together like christmas decorations. maybe paint em. at least the browner ones. whatcha think?
i am definitely allergic to corn syrup. it triggers a migraine 1-2 days after i eat it. heh. doctor doctor i feel terrible when i eat junk food. don't do that. nyuk nyuk nyuk. actually, it pretty much works. unfortunately either there's other triggers. or food products lie about their ingredients. nah. couldn't be that! so the other day i'm biking to school with b. and i can feel a migraine coming on. okay. maybe it's just the sun making me blind. so i press on. pah. nope. it's a full blown prodrome of lightning bolts. great. so i catch up to the teenager at a major street. migraine i say. cars are disappearing. bad form he says. don't do that. thanks. walk your bike home. yes sir head of household sir. i almost saluted my teenage son. i was gonna walk my bike home anyways. should've smacked him down. woulda. if i coulda seen him. sigh.
i click a bunch of links from my favorite news aggregator, fark. i might open 10 new tabs at a time. then i read them one at a time. so it might take a while to get to the last one. so here's a tip: if your web page immediately starts playing a video, i won't see it. if i get to your page and the video is done. or has gone on to the next video of anthrax squirrels doing rocket surgery, i'm not going to watch it. cause it's not what why i clicked the link. i am disappointed. i'm not going to even look at the ads on your page much less click on one. here's another tip: if your web page starts playing a video with sound, i stop opening links. i find the offending page. and i close it. again, i don't look at the ads. i don't click on the ads. which i assume is your revenue stream. same as before. except this time i'm not disappointed. i'm pissed. there's a seriously annoying trend lately. web pages auto play an ad. with sound. and there's no mute button. and there's no pause button. rude. seriously rude. will not return. if it continues i'm going to start adding domains to my blacklist. in which case your page won't even load. get a frikken clue.
wrestling has been dropped from the summer olympics. fuck. fuck. fuckity fuck fuck. ah well. it's not like i was going to get a medal. but still. badminton made the cut. like, really? wtf ioc? seriously? wtf? sigh.
i'm pretty sure an unending filibuster is extra constitutional. it gives every individual in the senate veto power. which is a power granted by the constitution to the president. i don't have a problem with filibusters with a time limit. like say, you have to actually physically occupy the senate floor. and presumably be awake and speaking on the record. otherwise you could just set up a tent. a very smelly tent. but the current ability to simply say, i'm filibustering, is undemocratic nonsense.
i hate getting old. the worst part is deteriorating eyesight. at least today's worst. today was bagel day. i wanted my breakfast. i wasn't wearing my glasses. i selected the plumpest sesame seed bagel. and took a big bite. BLECH! it was salty as all get out. i looked closer. it was a sea salt bagel. kinda like a soft pretzel. there weren't any sesame seed bagels. so i spent a few minutes standing over the trash can carefully picking every last grain of salt off my bagel. at which point it kinda sorta approximated a plain bagel. poorly. ah well. lesson learned.
i dumped my bike the other day. i was coming home with g. he did something that wasn't as safety conscious as it could have been. so i called a stop. and turned into a driveway at a too shallow angle. the front wheel caught on a lip. i knew i was going down. so i jammed on the brakes. and alternately steered into and away from the lip in the hopes of hopping it and recovering. not this time. i dropped the bike and pronked off of it. i landed on palms and toes. and recovered quickly. no damage. good thing i wasn't wearing my newly knitted mitts. they might have been mussed. i picked up my bike. and a good samaritan stopped to see if i was okay. i looked at the line of cars piling up behind her. they were all trying to race through the intersection before the light turned red. headlights disappeared below bumpers. i said yes and drive! it be kinda foolish to cause an accident while dealing with an accident unnecessarily. anywho. nonplussed, i gave my safety speech. and we were on our way.
a scout is kind. among other things. that's not a suggestion. or a recommendation. that's the scout law. literally. i can be an eagle scout. i can reap the benefits of that accomplishment on my college applications. and from there to the benefits of having gone to a finest university. but you can't. cause you're gay. that's pretty mean. which is pretty much the exact opposite of kind. a scout is brave. that's also not a suggestion. it's also scout law. you can't be an eagle scout. cause you're gay. and we're afraid other scouts might catch teh gay from you. fear. which is pretty much the exact opposite of brave. shamed enough yet? or should i continue?
so guess what group is the most effective at helping people at disaster sites like katrina and sandy. go on guess. okay here's a hint. this group regularly goes someplace where the usual amenities of civilization just plain don't exist. like water, sewage, police, roads, rules, food, etc. and they create it. in a very very short amount of time. things are made. tens of thousands of people are fed. they clean up a huge mess and leave things they way they should be. all on a shoestring budget. these extraordinary abilities are exactly what you need in the aftermath of nature's fury. i'll tell you, if the big one ever hits here, fema won't get a call from me. burning man will.
everyone hates trolls. they're the obnoxious scum of humanity who viciously attack folks for no reason other than they expressed an opinion. often not even an opinion the troll disagrees with. hey, if you can't be famous, be infamous. yeah okay, so here's the idea. people donate to charities all the time. collect up all that money. and donate in increments whenever a flagged troll posts something offense. preferably to a charity the troll would troll if the troll could troll. like say, phred felps: thank god for dead soldiers! trollpatrol: trollpatrol just donated $100 to the wounded warrior project. troll: make me a sammich b***!!!! trollpatrol: trollpatrol just donated $50 to the national organization for women. troll: hang that n***** from the nearest tree! trollpatrol: trollpatrol just donated $75 to the national association for advancement of colored people. you get the idea. i'm gonna be so rich. well, maybe not in dollars. but surely in karma.
i'd like ya'll to join me in a little boycott. today's personal pet peeve is videos that play without my permission. the videos part isn't so bad. but the audio is. dude, i'm chillin' to my tunes. and you're harshin'. anywho, the latest ad fad is to prefix the video i do want to see with an ad. an ad i can't skip. and the fucking mute is disabled. and the fucking pause is disabled. oh-fensive. sheehs. don't do that. i just close that page. see, i go to my favorite news aggregater, fark. and i control click on all the headlines i want to read later. and several videos start playing at once. not cool. like seriously not cool. so please join me in boycotting the websites that use such annoying tactics. please and thank you.
just heard about a program where public schools are offering big time salaries to teachers. seems like a good idea. but you have to couple it with the ability to get rid of bad teachers. otherwise it's particularly useless.
this is a really fun little book. it mostly pokes fun at the ridiculousness of our copyright laws. and the system that produced them. and the sluttyness of alien females. the basic premise is the universe is full of aliens. and they all love our music. like they could literally drop dead from euphoria upon hearing a real life human performing a real life human song. and so all trillions of beings have every single song ever recorded or broadcast. it all fits on their alien ipods. so like, why not? turns out, they have to obey the local laws of the civilization that produced it. no matter how stupid. so they owe us a whole lot of money for illegally copying copyrighted material. like trillions of brazillions of times. so they owe us a *LOT* of money. all of it, in fact. some powerful aliens really kinda don't want to be bankrupt to a primitive backwater planet. so the only rational thing to do is to destroy it. or more specifically, to help us destroy ourselves. all in the guise of helping us. like what friendly alien neighbors would do. anywho. it's an entertaining read. highly recommendable.