Beginning to Think About Universal Basic Income

(posted 1/8/2017) - I'm reading more about automation affecting the traditional capital to labor ratios. It seems reasonable to expect that over the next decade the number of 1st world jobs will decrease dramatically due to automatons (think self driving buses, trucks, and cars). What new jobs will the average 'blue-collar' or clerical 'white-collar' employee train for if the net number of such jobs are reduced by capital (read artificial intelligences that do better than humans at any wage level)?

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An Interesting Comparison: Inflation Pricing for Cars, College and Medical Care

(Posted 12/16/2016) - Really not much for me to say here - just wanted to show this 25+ year inflation trend line comparison for the economy as a whole, versus car, medical fees, and college fees. I'm sure there are many possible stories associated with explaining the inflation divergence; but the trend lines are disturbing.

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If Only All Elected Politician's Applied This Kind of Rationality to Decision Making

(posted 12/8/2016) - I read this editorial by Texas Congressman (District 30) Eddie Johnson and thought that if more congressional committee hearings applied this standard we'd all benefit from better government.

I've copied the opinion piece in its entirety here below:

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Are You Being Suckered by Fake News Websites Designed as Click Bait Profit Centers or Propaganda Operations?

(Posted 11/13/2016) - I'm hearing more and more from people about sensational news reports that they think are published by real news organizations and sourced from accredited journalists. But here's the dirty little secret - website sources and email sources can be totally faked to look like something legit! We've entered the age of fake news websites melded with propaganda ops that distribute falsehoods to the public for profit.

It has become common for fake news websites to put out click-bait stories with totally fabricated or massively distorted narratives. These sites are then linked to by social and political cause web-journalists and media pundits - providing the 'data' to support their editorial points!

Fake news websites make money based on the click-thru traffic they can generate and are motivated to make up outlandish news that their market team has identified as being of interest to a market segment. The pundit / op-ed class gleefully jump on these fake news reports and further wrap the lies inside their own narrative. At times these stories within stories are so many levels deep that it can boggle the mind (sort of an X-file phenomena).

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Thoughts on Race in America - Albert Einstein 70 Years Ago (1946)

(posted 7/10/2016) - Below is an open letter to America penned in 1946 by Albert Einstein. It strikes to the heart of a human failure that has existed in every society and is tied to our genetic and social heritage. It is a failing that is amenable to honest introspection, self-awareness, and empathy.

To every one of us with a propensity towards making blanket generalizations, stop and read the letter below and think about how one thoughtful man reacted to the prejudice of his time.

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A Primer on Federal Government Operation - Follow the Money (Revenues and Services)

(posted 4/16/2016) - Every once in a while I try to refamiliarize myself with the scope of our Federal government operation (not its politics). A good way to understand what our federation does for us is to follow the money. I recommend this report from NationalPriorities.org which gives a concise description of the dollars we piped into our Federal government thru taxes in 2015; and the categories and costs of the services provided.

I've extracted as images some of the pie-charts for posterity - as web links can sometimes disappear and I like to be able to come back and peruse things across the years ...

Enjoy and be enlightened!

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Terrorism Vs. Armed Civil Disobedience -- Related but Different Concepts

(posted 1/5/2016) - An op-ed in this month's The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf intitled "Oregon and the Injustice of Mandatory Minimums" made me stop and think about human "tribalism" and how we all view events through ideological filters.

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Krugman Reviews Reich's "Saving Capitalism"

(posted 12/2/2015) - I'm copying Krugman's review in its entirety here ... I want to keep it handy for future reference. I think this is pertinent to Piketty's observations relating economic wealth distributions and social instability. Without further ado ... the review starts below the fold.

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Two Great Performance Video Mashups from YouTube

(posted 11/20/2015) - The internet has become an almost magical resource that allows one to time travel back and forth using the millions of recordings that are now available to the public at large (and the database is growing exponentially).

I'd like to share two YouTube mashups that I really love.

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One Chart Speaks Volumes on Wage Stagnation in USA

(posted 9/6/2015) - Josh Bivens and Larry Mischell of the Economic Policy Institute have put together a compelling analysis of the root causes of Income Inequality growth in the United States. Their data clearly shows that as workerforce productivity has increased by 72% since 1973, real wages have only increased 9% for employees. So where have the bottom line profits been directed? The authors identify the recipients of about 80% of growth in corporate profits as going to the 'owners of capital' -- meaning bond and shareholders. The executors of this change to the slice-of-pie going to labor and capital owners are the corporate executive class who non-coincidentally have seen their compensation rise at double-digit rates!

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You Should Read This Vox Interview (Klein / Obama)

(posted 2/18/2015) - Vox has published an interview with President Obama, done by two journalists I respect, Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias.

Ezra interviews the president on Domestic Policy. Matthew's interview is on Foreign Policy. The questions are pertinent to our future and are phrased to elicit real answers not boiler-plate responses. I was impressed with the breadth and the depth of understanding shown in the president's responses.

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Just Bought a SmartPhone Without Buying a Data Plan

(posted 1/31/2015) - Bought a new Ford Focus ST recently with MyFord Sync built-in. After successfully connecting my Acer Tablet to the Sync system via Bluetooth I realized I could also connect a phone for hands-free calling if I only had a Bluetooth and Sync compatible phone.

I'm pretty much a dinosaur when it comes to mobile phone usage. I had a 9-year old Nokia 6010 which I only turned on and used (it normally sat dormant in my glove box) when trying to rendezvous at an airport or when calling home while on the road. I only used it for voice-calling and the rare text message.

I found a plan back in 2006 that perfectly fit my usage needs ... T-Mobile offered a (now legacy) No Contract, Prepaid Minutes plan. I basically bought blocks of minutes good for a 12-month period at less than 10cents/minute. But now I needed a new phone to connect up for hands-free calling. What to do?

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I Wish John Boehner Were Unemployed

(posted 9/20/2014) - So John Boehner, speaking at The American Enterprise Institute (oh, the irony) lamented last Thursday that so many unemployed were just languishing, not searching for work, because ... Obama and Socialism and stuff. I sincerely wish the professional crier could taste the fruits of his party's politics - and be out of work long enough for his unemployment insurance to run out!

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What does Trigger Happy Really Mean?

(posted 8/18/2014)- When police use their side arm (pistols) the results will vary wildly depending on factors that include distance between shooter and target, sight-line, cover and visibility, relative motion etc.; but the most important variable will be the state of mind and training level of the officer.

I won't pretend to have any special insights into the tragedy that has enveloped the community around Ferguson, MO. I guess what I am reacting to is the certitude of so many folks that the cop murdered a young man out of malice of fore thought (eg. racist devaluation of human life).

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I Love Weird Al Yankovic -- Latest Parody of "Happy" -- calls it "Tacky"

(posted 7/14/2014) -- So there is this new website called Nerdist.com that has some really cool media. It is a cross fertilization of Youtube, Mad Magazine, and The Onion.

Al Yankovic who for decades has been at the top of the song parody pyramid has done a great job producing "Tacky" which uses all the latest hip-hop techno-sounds (aka hardtune and megaphone effects) along with a great repeating chorus. He chose this time to post it only on Nerdist; and they are seeing the benefit in increased page views I'm sure.

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Satire Works for Me -- The Tea-Party's Anthem in a Video

(posted 1/6/2014) - My first post of the new year is to make fun of so very many angsty Tea Party Patriots out there (you'll know if you fit the arch-type based on your reaction to the embedded video).

I'm personally much more interested in seeing the US economy continue to dig itself out from under the private sector debt overhang of the 2008 financial markets catastrophe than I am in worrying about reducing Federal safety-net programs in 2014. And no, I don't think we're on a path to spend our grand-kids into indentured servitude because of Federal budget overruns -- thank you very much!

Just to be objective, aka fair and balanced, I've included a link at the end of this post to another Tea-Party endorsed anthem sure to warm the hearts of all United States of America loving patriots out there who incongruently loath the concept of a Federal Government (that's the United States part folks).

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History of Budget Negotiations Entwined with Passing Debt Ceiling Increases

(posted 10/09/2013) - I view the antagonism between reactionary conservatives in the Senate and House and their Democratic brethren in Congress as exacerbated by said reactionaries' fundamental distaste for the 'socialist anti-business Kenyan' in the Whitehouse. Literally anything the Obama administration does is seen as anti-American by these senators, representatives, and their like minded constituents.

I believe these folks' actions are more anarchistic than oppositional. I can no longer listen to their arguments that the Democrats are failing to bargain in good faith towards compromises that will 'save America.' This recent Op-Ed by Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine) captures the essence of this new crop of Republicans failure to understand the concept of 'loyal opposition'. At the Federal level they have crossed enmasse it seems into the realm of destructive anarchy.

Chait deconstructs conservative pundit Ross Douthat's argument that the current impasse on budget reflected in the Fed shut-down and coming Debt Ceiling Default are just variations on a theme that has occured numerous times over the years.

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Let's Close the Debate -- Deficit Reduction Should Not be The Near Term Focus

(posted 3/11/2013) - I know that folks can argue about long term federal deficit policy goals, but jeez, we went from deficit surpluses in the late 90's to deficit spending in all the budget years from 2001 through 2008 and the deficit scolds were largely silent! During that period accumulated federal debt went from 56% to more than 80% of GDP, and the economy was booming!

When the great banking financial system collapse occurred in time for the 2008 presidential election the Republican brand was tarnished beyond redemption in that election cycle. But a curious thing happened as soon as a Democratic president took office, the deficit scolds' appeared from every corner and began to chorus that we couldn't allow the debt to grow at even the same rate it had during the previous administration's two terms!

I'm sure you've seen a deficit hawk's graph showing 2009 through 2012 deficits as a percentage of 2009 - 2012 GDP, with an average of 8%; versus the Bush years' average of 4% as proof of O's profligacy; but come on, Bush had 7+ years of booming GDP growth, even as his government increased absolute debt to new highs -- unlike 2009 where GDP decreased by 6% compared to the previous year! Of couse the massive recession impacts (lower GDP, lower tax revenues, stimulus program, and increased safety net payments, eg. unemployment insurance payments and food-stamps) pushed the deficit percentages up significantly!

We heard from numerous publications and from all across the airwaves how a $1.4 trillion dollar annual deficit would bankrupt the US and cause both hyper-inflation, and soaring interest rates within the year (that was in 2009). Folks with no economics modelling knowledge, and no applicable expert status other than being rich, politically influential, or being media owners or pundits began sounding off as though it was obvious that this president and his administration were naive and foolish when it came to managing the largest sovereign nation's economical problems. Seems like odd timing, given the president inherited the biggest recession since the great depression of the 30's.

Please read Paul Krugman's take down, written in laymen's terms, of the folly of these doom-sayers, and the damage they continue to do to our political and economic discourse. Please, dear reader, throw out your prejudices and pay attention to what the scolds have predicted, and compare that to what has actually come to pass over the last 4+ years. The current deficit spending issue needs to be quietly shelved and we need to move towards promoting full employment of American citizens. Further shrinking the federal government at this time does not help the private sector increase employment - in fact it promotes the opposite effect!

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Some Relevant Facts on Annual Federal Deficits

(posted 10/16/2012) - I've been biting my tongue trying not to comment here on the presidential race. The deficit reduction issue, while tangential, is the single metric for which Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan poll well ahead of the Obama administraton.

My problem with the majority opinion that Republicans are more fiscally conservative is that there is no data over the last 40+ years that clearly justifies this polling -- other than the oft repeated Republican mantra that "we are fiscally conservative, as opposed to Tax and Spend Democrats." People grab onto historical memes which are no longer true and I think this is what is being reflected in the polls.

Here is an excerpt from Rachael Maddow's (TRMS) that I believe is factually correct - and yes I realize Maddow is a progressive, liberal partisan. That does not diminish the quality of her opposition research however. As they say, facts are facts; it is only one's interpretation of reality that is variable.

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Context of the ATF Fast and Furious Debacle

(posted 6/27/2012) - If you don't recognize the names Dave Voth, John Dodson, and Emory Hurley, then you really don't know much about the context in which the ATF operation commonly dubbed "Fast and Furious" was operating.

Put your preconceptions aside for the moment and read through this well written journal about an Arizona culture of unfettered gun sales, ATF jurisdiction / operation constraints, interpersonal conflicts, political calculus, and NRA interest group agendas converging around the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry.

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Paul Krugman on Current Federal Deficit Spending

(Posted 4/28/2012) - Krugman has put together 4 simple charts that very clearly explain the rise in federal deficit spending since the crash of 2008.... and it isn't about increases in federal spending on new programs (as you may have heard). Instead it's about dramatic decreases on the revenue side and increases in demands on existing safety-net programs and revenue sharing to states in need.

Take a look at the CBO and FRED data that follows to learn what has been driving the last 3 years of deficit spending.

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Is There a Linkage Between Genetics and Political Affiliation?

(Posted 2/8/2012) - I found the article by Chris Mooney, titled "Want to Understand Republicans? First Understand Evolution" interesting and thought provoking. Its premise is that conservative versus liberal political affiliations are tied to genetic predispositions.

I don't think this is much more than an initial hypotheses, with some preliminary data that appears to support the thesis. But it does open up a line of thought that is interesting.

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Some Truths About Macro-Economics Modeling in Recessions

(posted 12/27/2011) - I have been following Professor Paul Krugman's New York Times column (Conscience of a Liberal) over the past year during which the divergence among Austrian, Neo-Classical, and Keynesian centric economist's world view has become more and more obvious.

The following 2009 opinion pieces from Krugman (Keynesian), Cochrane (Neo-Classical), and Murphy (Austrian) lend credence to the term "the dismal science" as an approbation for the economics profession.

What I find interesting is that these 2+ year old arguments seem to be even more pertinent now -- as all of Europe stands on the brink of massive recession and the US continues to hover in stagnation mode.

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Particle Physics for Dummies - Higgs in the House!

(posted 12/10/2011) - Just love this video put together by some cool folks at CERN. If you've wondered what's happening in the high energy physics community the embedded video explains it all -- in rap style, no less.

Expect some big announcements about Higgs Field theory and Standard Model impacting ideas in early 2012!

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Looking at Claims that Financial Deregulation Promotes Economic Growth

(Posted 11/08/2011) - Whether you agree with Paul Krugman's economic theory or not he tries to buttress his beliefs with factual argument -- always a good thing.

Those who argue that the benefits (economic growth) of financial deregulation have outweighed the downsides (the market busts) need to respond to the critique posted here.

It seems pretty obvious the economic gains being touted by degregulation proponents are enjoyed by a select minority (based on this US census data).

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Stealth War on Defined Benefit Plans?

(posted 10/23/2011) - As with many things that occur over decades there is room for reasonable people to disagree. However, from my personal experiences and hearsay from friends and acquaintances I do give Mark Sumner's article on how defined benefit retirement plans have been strategically sabotaged (click here) some credence.

I doubt that the collective actions to gut pension trusts which have been taken across literally hundreds of executive board rooms over the last few decades were planned with the Machiavellian care that Sumner argues in his article.

Instead I believe the genesis of the migration from Defined Benefit Retiremeent plans to 401K / IRA type plans originated with a small group of financial and business strategists advising power players in the financial markets. These folks likely knew the long term effects of their strategy would be an enrichment for rentier style capitalism at the expense of retirees.

Once K-street lobbyists successfully pitched the idea and the political environment was aligned (federal regulation changes) the winds of retirement planning change swept through corporate board rooms all over the country. The talking points used to justify these changes were probably little understood by many who espoused them (unlike those who actually created the new model).

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Universal Health Care - Canada's Solution

(posted 10/17/2011) - During a recent conversation with my cousin we stumbled into an area in which we held opposing views -- mainly the efficiency of national health care service in neighboring Candada.

I took the position that Canada's universal health care was more efficient and cost affective than the US model in which patients either pay retail, negotiate before service, or shop for insurance from competing companies with various plans and qualifiers well in advance of making health claims. My cousin's counter argument was that after researching Canada's health care system and talking with dissatisfied users it was clear that it was forcing patients to wait too long for treatments; they were coming to the US in significant numbers.

Here's the information that I believe refutes such claims. Note that no health service will ever be 100% satisfactory to all patients -- I'm looking at relative levels of service between the Canadian and US plans, not absolutes.

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Example of Superior DubStepping

(Posted 9/27/2011) -- The older I get the more I love watching extra-ordinary people perform their kinesthetic art forms while at the top of their game!

These artist's obvious passion and phenomenal skills never fail to make my day. If you find this video lifts your spirits, I invite you to use the archive->soapbox link at the top of this page to search for other YouTube video examples of individuals sharing their exceptional talent.

In this video a DubStepper named Porter Robinson does his thing ...

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Man Flying - People Can Learn to Do the Impossible

(Posted 8/28/2011) - A modern Daedalus leaps from a mountain peak and cruises down through the cragged passes and into a shadowed tree lined valley at over a 100MPH in a free-fall suit that gives just enough lift to keep him from smacking into the ground at terminal velocity.

At the end of the 'ride' he pops his chute and floats to the ground with the comment 'Well, I came extremely close on that one!' Watch for the scene that warrants this comment - as he bombs over a ridge at 100mph+ and about 8 feet above the ground!

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Could ExxonMobil Thrive without the Deferral of Foreign-Source Income Federal Tax Law Clause?

(Posted 7/25/2011) - First, read the article by Ken Cohan titled "ExxonMobil's earnings: The real story you won't hear in Washington." It appears in the company's official Perspectives website. Ken is ExxonMobil's vice president of public and government affairs. The link to the Exxonmobil Perspectives article is here .

Ken argues that the US division of world spanning ExxonMobil is just making a modicum of profit refining crude oil at prevailing world market prices (making about 7 cents profit per gallon at the pump). He implies ExxonMobil would be hard pressed to cope if the IRS removed a key deduction that virtually every multinational corporation based in the US currently relies upon to boost bottom line profits.

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Some Thoughts on The Nolan Chart Categories

(Posted 5/20/2011) - A facebook entry from a college frat-brother (class of '69) referenced the Nolan Chart Survey -- which attempts in 10 questions to categorize one as either a Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative, Centrist, or Statist. My friend confirmed his 'Liberterianism' while I found I was a 'Centrist' based on my survey responses.

I was curious as to the definitions and logic that connected the questions, responses, and predictions. As I read the site-linked information provided not by Nolan (deceased) but by a proclaimed libertarian, Walt Thiessen, I began to wonder even more about the utility of the above categories and the survey.

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Some Social Security System History and Some Facts

(Posted 5/10/2011) - I've come to understand that once I or anyone else takes up a position and invests it with an ideological (aka moral) valuation it becomes difficult for contrary facts to shake that belief system.

Much of the public debate about social programs is really nothing more than reiteration of opinion, filled with anecdotal stories and coded references that no impartial observer could ever use to become informed. For these reasons I largely eschew reading published social-opinion pieces (from right, left, or center).

This short piece proves the exception to my general disdain. It is an attempt to rebutt Alan Simpson (ex-Senator from Wyoming, and voice of the 2010 Obama Appointed Deficit Commission).

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Details of Wisconsin 2011 Walker Budget Bill

(Posted 2/25/2011) - It surprised me that virtually every reporter / journalist involved in coverage of Wisconsin's watershed events neglects to present the actual content of the budget bill. Instead, based on the angle the reporter chooses for the 'story' we are presented with either archtype narratives of the greedy unionist Democrat or the Republican governor lap-dog of David Koch.

I'd rather actually look at the bill and try and understand the impacts and motivations. To start that activity I present you the following link to the bill in it's present form: The Scott Walker Budger Repair Bill

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Danny MacAskill Tours Scottish Highlands by Bike

(Posted 12/22/2010) - This is just impossible stuff: I know there are folks who with bikes, skateboards, snowboards, and free-body (Parkour) moves can do aerobatic things that the rest of us can only (literally) dream about. But when I see these performances I am humbled at what the human imagination and intense practice can create.

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Arianna Huffington Focuses on the Real WikiLeaks Issue

(Posted 12/16/2010) - Whether you are socially progressive or a conservative; policially left or on the right, as a rational person, you should read Arianna's article which gets to the heart of the WikiLeaks controversy.

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The Daily Show on the 'War on Christmas'

(Posted 12/7/2010) - Sometimes a particularly insightful satirical commentary clarifies a whole category of human silliness. The trumped up anger by those who say they fear the loss of Christian Values each holiday season is just one instance of a class of hyperbole that finds its way into the public discourse with tenacious regularity.

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People Are Amazing - Break Dancing on a Street Corner

(Posted 10/10/10) - Over the years I've watched many athletic and aesthetic accomplishments that astound me. People (in fact all higher mammals) can learn to do things that are so far beyond the norm as to seem almost magical.

This street corner interpretive dance by a crew named Turf Feinz is poetic and physical -- it is the essence of what makes us all so very special.

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Celebrities In Funny or Die Videos

(Posted 8/11/2010) - I stumbled across Funny or Die Online and thought it was hilarious. Basically, TV and Movie Celebs appear in 5 minute videos that are usually high camp / slapstick humor. But the ones I watched were just too funny not to share ....

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Space Flight Redux

(Posted 3/23/2010) - Every once in a while I step back from the day to day frustrations of human drama and see something truly inspiring. This months test flight of the Virgin Galactic VSS Enterprise are just awesome!

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Runaway Cars -- Oh Come On!

(Posted 3/11/2010) - OK, having driven manual transmission cars for over 45 years, I've had three instances where the clutch failed to disengage while the car was moving: Broken clutch cable on an older vehicle, and failed clutch hydralics on two later model Fords. Guess what my response was in every case? You got it; brake and reach for the ignition key to turn off the motor. In all three cases I merely moved the key from engine on to engine off (leaving the key in the ignition). I even experienced the 'stuck accelerator' situation (broken throttle plate spring) on an Olds 442 in '68 and just turned the ignition off. It took two of us to drive the thing home however; me hunched on the floor boards moving the gas pedal up and down while my buddy steered the car.

So why are we hearing all these horror stories about Toyo drivers who cannot seem to figure out over the course of minutes as they accelerate to 90+ speeds that all they have to do is turn off their car ignition?

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A History Lesson: US GDP and Federal Debt

(Posted 2/10/2010) - Like many older Americans I'm fiscally conservative. I tend to invest in things I understand and don't believe one can (or should) sustain profits without producing something of capital value. Like many of my generation I do not spend beyond my means.

Our family and our parent's families have always adhered to non-deficit spending policies with regard to the family budget. Doesn't it make sense that governments should follow the same common sense strategies? Well, maybe yes, and maybe no -- read on.

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A Grass Roots Response to Big Banking Autocracy?

(Posted 3/30/2009) - We all watched helplessly as our economy circled the drain in 2008. The news has painted a picture of financial irresponsibility on the part of major banking, insurance, and investing institutions that leaves the average citizen breathless.

Now, after an infusion of over 400 billion tax payer dollars into the largest of these failing institutions, we are learning that top level decision makers (in congress and in the private sector) plan to continue without major changes to their personally profitable habits. This has lead to widespread distrust of government-oversite and of large financial institutions in the US.

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A Video Is Worth a Million Words

(Posted 10/18/2009) - If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this You-Tube video is worth a million words: The fake video-ad points to a noxious trend amongst house republicans who increasingly rely on hyperbole and ad hominem attacks rather than logical argument for a position.

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Thoughts on Obama-Birther Phenomenon

(Posted 07/30/09) - Sometimes reality (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder. There are a number of very bitter and fundamentally fearful people in this country (along with a relatively smaller number of opportunists) who have latched on to the idea that Barack Obama and a group of unnamed 'socialists' have high-jacked the presidency.

Many of these anti-Obamaists have focused on the seemingly arcane argument that he is not a natural born citizen of the USA and therefore should not be allowed to continue in the office of President of the United States (POTUS).

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Jon Stewart Interviews Jim Cramer

(Posted 3/15/09) - One of the better interviews by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show occurred just last Thursday. Jon spoke frankly with Jim Cramer (Mad Money), one of CNBC's professional securities and equities experts who attempted to defend against Jon's charge that CNBC was grossly negligent in its reporting in 2007 - 2008 as the run up to recession and credit meltdown was accelerating.

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Some Thoughts On Income Taxes

(Posted 2/27/2009) - There has been a lot of talk during this recession about how federal income taxes are fair (or unfair) in their burden on various income cohorts. I don't pretend to 'know' what is best. But like everyone I have some opinions. Before I share my opinion however I feel obligated to present some data provided by the fiscally conservative think-tank "The Tax Foundation." This non-profit organization has been around since 1937 and publishes an analysis of how current tax cohorts contribute to the federal income tax revenue stream.

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Good Advice for Dealing with Medical Bills

(Posted 06/28/2008) - I stumbled across this article in Kiplinger's Personal Finance (August 2008 issue). It provides some interesting facts that should be of interest to anyone who is concerned with spiraling medical costs in the US.

Pay special attention to the average 'mark-up ratio' applied by hospitals in the US. It is quoted by the author as being a whopping 300% of service costs!

I guess someone has to pay for the brick and mortar, imaging machines, and return on equity to investing partners!

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Michael Hirsh on the USA's Recent Decline Under Bush

(Posted 5/16/2008) - Hindsight is, as they say, 20-20. Michael Hirsh has penned a brief but cogent sketch of the USA's mis-steps since the Bush Administration took office.

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Thoughts on the Global Superclass

(posted 4/8/2008) - I was impressed by an article written by David Rothkopf and published in Newsweek this month. It follows on the heels of his recently published book "Superclass" and journals how control of resources is moving from nation-states into the hands of about 6000 individuals (the superclass). It is a strong argument that we need governments which increasingly invest themselves in oversite of our international businesses; lest we soon wake up to a world in which 6000 people effectively control the economic lives of everyone else on the planet.

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Have You Read the Presidential Front-runner's Online Issue Statements?

(Posted 03/22/2008) - I spent yesterday perusing the issue statements posted on the Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama campaign websites. It is interesting to note what they say they believe, what they pledge to accomplish if elected, and how they plan to accomplish their objectives.

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Reactionary Talking Points: Looking at a Claim of Criminality Amongst Illegal Immigrants in the USA

(Posted 10/21/2007) - I'll start by saying that on the subject of criminality amongst illegal immigrants in the USA, I believe there are those who manufacture facts that are not supported by real data. Their aim is to inflame public opinion rather than to inform. These unsubstantiated claims quickly find their way into the talking points of a vocal minority in this country who want us all to fear our neighbors to the south.

If you hold an opposing view you may be disposed to stop right here, thinking I'm delusional. After all we've heard folks like Colorado Representative and presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo dishing out some pretty damning numbers that seem to indicate that there is evidence for the belief that Mexican Illegals have introduced a crime wave in the US.

But to make my initial point about mis-information masquerading as fact, let's look at just one of Tancredo's key talking points to see if a closer examination supports his suppositions.

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DSLR Cameras and Lense Compatibility: Making Tough Choices

(Posted 4/21/2007) - Amateur photographers have more choices now than ever in the Digital Single Lens Reflex camera market. But there are new risks associated with the traditional strategy of buying lenses and expecting them to be compatible with future camera bodies.

Read one photo-enthusiast's assessment that there are risks in buying 'digital lenses' for the current crop of pro-sumer DSLR's.

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Federal Attorney Dismissals: Ideological Firewalls Constrain Questions

(Posted 03/16/2007) - This soapbox rant may disappoint some readers in that I examine arguments presented by apologists for the Bush Administration on the propriety of the recent dismissal by Justice of several Federal Prosecuters. I believe these arguments boil down to just two themes.

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References to Authority Can Be Analyzed Thanks to World Wide Web

(Posted 02/17/2007) - Anyone who follows the public discourse is inundated by a diversity of opinion. Much of what is said can be reduced to "my opinion is thus." But at some point one must argue the logic of an opinion if there is dissent. It is here that things get really interesting.

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The Concept Based Economy

(Posted 01/28/2007) - Even as we enjoy the fruits of the Information Age the sun may be setting on the economic stranglehold the USA has enjoyed because of its information technology preeminence. Are we entering the Concept Age?

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Are You a Patriot or a Nationalist?

(Posted 10/26/2006) - I stumbled across an old Newsweek Op-Ed by Christopher Dickey that struck me as a cogent litmus test each American should apply when evaluating our foreign policy. It comes down to determining whether our tactics are promoting patriotic ends or nationalistic ends -- the operational definitions are supplied by none other than George Orwell!

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Airport Security, Terrorism, and Liquid TATP Explosives

(Posted 8/18/2006) - You'd have to live on the dark side of the moon not to be aware of the mass arrest of a group identified in the media as an Al-Qaeda terror cell operating in London's suburbs. The media have been told that these individuals were plotting to bring liquid precursors for making explosive TATP (TriAcetone TriPeroxide) on board several US bound flights. The story goes that they were going to mix semi-stable liquid ingredients onboard the flights to make the actual explosive device(s).

There's a fundamental flaw with that story -- it takes hours to mix the ingredients effectively and requires care and controlled temperatures. Chemists can't imagine how it would be possible to carry out the operation on a passenger filled flight.

While true that TATP explosives have been used against airplanes, in the documented cases the explosives were put aboard in (volatile) final form. The current binary agent story lead is cause to question the veracity of the official story.

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What Truly Differentiates Republicans from Democrats?

(Posted 7/14/2006) - In today's politically charged environment I read daily rants from Republican and Democrat icons and lessor beings. Eliminate the hyperbole and rationalizations and what remains are two different world views.

I'd like to share an hypothesis that with three simple questions one can detect an archtype for either party affiliation. Take the test and see how you fare!

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R. Kennedy Jr.'s Open Letter on 2004 Presidential Election Fraud

(Posted 6/4/2006) - Some believe there were RNC conspirators in Ohio who planned and executed election fraud in the 2004 presidential race. Others argue that the election results while showing a flawed process were clearly not the result of a GOP plan.

I link to the two side's arguments and their references. Then of course I add my two-cents!

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Foxnews Faux Pa? Internet Enables Reader Fact Checking

(Posted 6/1/06) - The next time you read something in a news publication that sets off your b***sh*t detector, I suggest you test your intuition by doing an online search. Playing the detective is fun and will increase your understanding of any reported event of interest.

It is often surprisingly easy to detect false information buried in current news reports. It appears that 'research and analysis' by professional newsies is not a forte of many organizations (though they would prefer you believe otherwise).

Read on to see an analysis and reader response to a recent Foxnews report on criminality among illegal aliens in the US.

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Observations on Petroleum Industry Windfall Profits

(Posted 4/29/06) - Very few articles or public discussions about current petroleum industry windfall profits relate to free-market economics.

Read my views on the issue and see why the price of oil is a classic example of free-market operation.

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Neocon Politics and NeoLiberal Economics - Nation Building in Iraq

(Posted 3/29/06) - The American Street would say our problems in Iraq stem from an Islamic Insurgency fomented by nationalism and a clash of cultures. There is another view however, and it is based soley on the economics of poverty dynamics administered by the US run Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority.

Read what Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology and Faculty Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University, has written about the US led dismantling of the Iraq economy. We are now witnessing the fruits of the most accelerated attempt in history at privitizing a national economy.

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Religious Fundamentalism Reflects Tribalism At Its Worst

(Posted 3/14/06) - I've given some thought to news media and pundits' recent observations that (I paraphrase): The American street, as contrasted to the Arab street, is at a tipping point regarding their tolerance for Islam.

There appears to be an increasing American and European belief that followers of Islam are prone to acceptance of violence done to non-believers (due to certain Koranic strictures and references to Jihadic responsibilities by their mainstream clergy). I don't really want to talk about whether this appearance is fact or fiction; I do want to share an observation about Religious Fundamentalism.

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A Flaw in American Politics is Growing

(Posted 3/5/2006) - Our congressional and presidential campaign processes are eating up capital, rewarding bad behaviors, and in general putting men and women in office that are the least fit for public service.

Read my case for focusing on the real problem with American politics today - campaign financing rules and institutions that reward treasure chest mentalities.

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TCP/IP MTU (Max Transmission Unit): Diagnosing a Packet Delivery Problem

(posted 10/21/2005) - MTU can be a key variable in TCP/IP network connection anomolies. Not because it's set 'wrong' in the client machine, but because network servers and home LAN products may be configured in so many ways.

Following are the facts concerning an internet upload problem and a wireless LAN data transfer problem that were resolved by adjusting the clients' MTU.

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US Airlines and Auto Industries: the Pensions Question

(Posted 10/10/2005) - Hundreds of thousands of retirees, from United Airlines to General Motors to Delphi AutoParts have already begun, or are soon going to be, receiving reduced 'promised defined benefits' as these US industries undergo long term restructuring.

The standard argument goes that as embattled industries restructure and downsize, the cost of supporting their retiree defined benefits can not be sustained. What wallstreet and the public seem not to realize is that defined benefits, by SEC mandate and by federal law, require funding of pension plans sufficient to sustain existing retirees should the corporate entity cease to exist! So, what went wrong?

Read my take on this monumental corporate scam for which no top executives or board members are being held accountable!

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A Technologist Reviews the Plot of Spielberg's War of the Worlds

(posted 7/8/2005) - I just watched Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds interpretation and enjoyed the experience.

Unlike H. G. Wells' novel and the 1953 movie adaptation directed by Byron Haskin which posited an interplanetary invasion by Martians using ballistic entry space craft, Spielberg's version throws the technical minded some real curveballs.

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Hard Times for US AutoMakers -- SUV Fever Over?

(Posted 6/24/2005) - It's starting to look like the american love affair with inefficient, high powered SUV's has ended, based on recent GM and Ford sales figures.

It never ceases to amaze me how big corporations fool themselves into believing their market growth predictions are givens instead of possible outcomes -- and then get blindsided when a market evaporates.

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Leif Johnson Ford in Austin, TX Little Shop of Horrors

(posted 6/1/2005) - My son took his 92 Ford Ranger into Leif Johnson to have the starter replaced. While on the lift the brake-line mysteriously broke and when my son left the dealership the pedal went to the floor.

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Lucent Ex-CEO Rich McGinn Has Some Explaining to Do

(posted 4/23/2005) - If there is justice in Corporate America then executives that make millions as their companys flounder need to be held accountable financially, if not criminially when they misbehave.

Read the following recent report on SEC bribary and fudicial misconduct investigations of Lucent's ex-CEO Rich McGinn.

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Political Op-Ed on the End of Conservatism in US

(Posted 1/26/2005) - Here's a rather scary op-ed from former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a devout consertative. He makes some rather dire predictions based on his appraisel of a shift to what he calls neo-conservatism

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Presidential Election HighLights Two MindSets In America

(Posted 11/04/2004) - At the national level the Republican Party has embraced those who want religion in their politics (in all its variations), while the Democratic Party has embraced those who recoil from such coupling.

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SUV Fever Reaches the Point of Idiocy in the US

(posted 9/17/2004) - Many thought the GM-Hummer SUV was the height of conspicious consumption, but Navistar has trumped GM with a new Sport Utility that gets 7-miles per gallon diesel -- the 8-ton CXT shows once again that in the US too much is never enough.

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How to Make DLink dwl-120 Wireless USB adaptor work with Windows XP

(posted 8/29/2004)- When you upgraded to Windows XP did your Dlink wireless usb adaptor stop working? Here's the reason, and a simple system driver fix.

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The War on Terror Takes Some Odd Turnings at US Airports

(posted 6/15/2004) - Stories like this one recounted by a London reporter trying to enter the US to do a story just scare the bejesus out of me. It demonstrates how we've put the force of the federal government behind the actions of apparent idiots.

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Why Motoring in UK is more fun that in US

(Posted 6/5/2004) - After four visits to the UK (England and Scotland) and to Ireland, the verdict is in: Its more fun to drive there than in the US.

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A WebClient JavaScript SlideShow that Supports Large Collections of Images

(posted 5/6/2004) - After a couple years of making image collections I've come up with what I think is a very good solution for displaying a large number of images organized into collections (linked as a group).

It all fits onto One Screen with intuitive controls. Take a look at an example by clicking on this page's external site link labelled 'Family Photos (Reunions).'

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Stem Cells - Grow New Human Teeth

(Posted 5/3/2004) - Some of the fruit from the stem cell research ongoing in Europe is the ability to grow new teeth to replace decayed or chipped teeth in humans.

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Sunny Arizona High Country Land For Sale - East of Show Low Arizona!

(Posted 4/19/04)- When Pat and I visited Pine-Top, AZ we also stopped by and photographed a residential lot my mother owns outside Show Low. It is for sale -- cheap! See the description and photos.

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I Made It Onto the Front Page of the Wall Street Journal!

(Posted 4/17/2004) - A couple of months back I was interviewed by reporters from the WSJ about my experiences as a recent Lucent Retiree. They ended up writing a fair, but somewhat scathing article about Lucent Executive's (ab)use of the Lucent Retiree Pension and Health Care trusts over the last 8 years. All legal, but showing poor faith for the welfare of 125000 retirees. My interview is in the last quarter of the article.

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I'm Preparing Mentally for the Golf Season

(Posted 4/14/2004) - I stopped practicing golf the year before last -- I snapped two clubs practicing in 2002 (one of the dangers of practicing by yourself is that one can get kinda depressed after too many errant shots). I really started enjoying golf a lot more once I gave up the practicing and paid more attention to the playing.

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Cheap, Full Service Web-Hosting has Arrived!

(4/12/2004) - Competition and technology price reductions have driven down the cost of full-service webhosting

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