Thursday, December 18, 2014

Free Energy!... for the low, low price of $1,100,000,000,000

there's an idea going around that the US could provide "free energy" in the form of solar panels for every household in America... and while i'm completely for this idea, as a general rule, there are some nasty facts out there to deal with... let's begin.

there are, at best account, around 316,000,000 people in America.

averaging about four people per household (discounting all arguments regarding apartment dwellers, the homeless, and hermits), we have about 79,000,000 homes to furnish with solar panels.

each solar panel will cost about $10,000 in material, and we can estimate (on the low side) $5,000 to install... we all know that electricians charge a lot (no pun intended), so that is probably really low.

79 million X $15K = $1,185,000,000,000... that's $1.1 trillion.

"Well that's what we spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined! Make solar, not war!"

well, aside from the costs of NOT going to war, like allowing terrorists to train in these regions, the continued slaughter of the innocents by Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, and additional strikes on US foreign and domestic target, we'll tentatively agree that we could use a similar amount of money to provide solar panels... we're talking possibility here, not ideology.

so, if it's possible, why aren't we funding that?

well, because we have a small problem:
Thin, cheap solar panels need tellurium, which makes up a scant 0.0000001 percent of the earth’s crust, making it three times rarer than gold.
when the rush to build solar panels increases, the value of these "rare earth" materials will rise exponentially... the cost will be much more than those simple numbers above, because a high demand and a low supply will increase costs dramatically.

so, while, on the surface, it sounds like a great idea, one i'm totally behind... in reality, it's not that easy.

but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ferguson's night of broken glass

is this going too far?... or not far enough?

there is a man, a rabbi, who has made the assertion that the riots in Ferguson and beyond are similar in many ways to Kristallnacht in Germany... on the face of it, it's absurd to equate the two.

isn't it?

let's set the stage and see who the performers are.

circa 1920 Germany.
  • one portion of the population was being demonized... the reason?... the Jew was seen as traitorous to the German state.
  • many WWI military commanders blamed businesses for turning their backs on the war effort, allowing profits to come before patriotism.
  • the focus of this ire specifically fell to the Jewish businessmen, with the thought being they could not be patriotic Germans and also Jews.
  • the Jews in the military were seen as profiteers, spies, or demoralizing agents.
  • one well-known author later charged, "[Communism was] Jewry's 20th century effort to take world dominion unto itself."
  • additionally, the Germans were propagandized as being betrayed by the socialists among them, saying they had not done enough to overcome the communists and Jews.
  • the socialists seek to unify Germany by focusing on race and a state controlled economy.

circa 2014 United States of America.
  • the wealthy and the business owners are being demonized... why?... the poor are told they are being stolen from; not being given their "fare share".
  • the faceless "Illuminati" are seen as seeking world dominion... they are, of course, bankers and businessmen.
  • some would even go so far as to attack those who support the nation of Israel as being part of this conspiracy.
  • communism is no longer the adversary... capitalism is.
  • instead of businessmen turning their backs on war efforts, the war mongers are seeking to foment war for their own profit.
  • the socialists among us are doing everything they can to overcome these forces.
  • there is great division among the races; some seeking their own national identity.
  • the people want businesses to have less power, therefore they seek to have the government reign in, in some cases rule, businesses and their "obscene" profits.

November 7, 1938 - Herschel Grynszpan, German-born Jew, shoots Ernst vom Rath, German diplomat, over the deportation of his Polish-born parents.
November 9, 1938 - Kristallnacht,

August 9, 2014 - White policeman, Darren Wilson, shoots black man, Micheal Brown, suspecting him of a strong-arm robbery minutes before.
August 10, 2014 - The beginning of looting of businesses and the targeting of white people, especially business owners, for violence. This violence has ebbed and flowed for the last two months.

so... does Rabbi Lapin have the right performers for his modern Kristallnacht play?... or is he reading from the wrong script?... there are extreme voices on each side... but is this a tipping point from which there is no return?

November 12, 1938
"I have received a letter written on the Führer's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another... I should not want to leave any doubt, gentlemen, as to the aim of today's meeting. We have not come together merely to talk again, but to make decisions, and I implore competent agencies to take all measures for the elimination of the Jew from the German economy, and to submit them to me."
- Hermann Göring

Rabbi Lapin on Ferguson Riots: Liberalism’s ‘Twisted Pathology … It’s Kristallnacht in Germany’

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

the unequality of feminism

i happened across a blog / website that talked about organization and motivation tools for getting work done... it focuses mainly on the home, but it is applicable to other areas of life, as well... i thought it was a fairly brilliant take on what is generally a dreaded and menial task; cleaning.

i also liked the name: Unfuck Your Habitat (or UfYH, for short).

i won't get into the details of the site, as this post is not about the site... or the tools... or the motivation... or anything useful... this post is about feminism.

Feminism? What? Are you saying cleaning is women's work?

of course not... but that's the attitude right there which needs to be addressed... it's the knee-jerk reaction which says, if you make a statement about a subject which feminists have determined to be a "woman's issue", then you are a chauvinistic piece of crap... how dare you have an opinion or even speak your mind... unless, of course, you parrot whatever bit of tripe we say you are allowed to say.

here's a little background on this experience... we'll start with the title of the piece which was so outside of UfYH's organization and motivation tools that it cried out for attention:

Enough With the Gender Role Crap Already

catchy title, isn't it?... it so nicely places the outrage in a succinct manner... on the surface, it appears to be about equality, so, though crudely formed, it's an agreeable sentiment... ah, but that's where the first clue should have been found... it's not about equality... it's about fairness.

it all started when a question was posed to UfYH:

Q: My husband and I both work full-time and we have two kids (5 and 8). Our schedules are basically the same, and the kids are in school or at my mother-in-law’s house while we’re at work. When we’re home, though, the bulk of dealing with the kids, and ALL of the cooking and cleaning falls to me. My husband says that his job is more demanding than mine is, and that I’m better at the housework than he is. We’ve been together for a long time, and this is really the only sticking point in our marriage. How do I make him see that this arrangement is unfair to me?

so, let me point out the key parts of the question which quickly became points of contention:

  1. the husband and wife both work full-time
  2. schedules are the same
  3. wife does bulk of house-work; kids, cleaning, cooking
  4. husband's excuse is his job is more demanding.

to which, UfYH responds with:

all caps... really?... UfYH continues:
OK, so what we’re dealing with here is the product of deeply ingrained social gender roles; ones that relegate women to doing all of the housework and child-rearing, even when they work just as much as their male partner.

here the problem starts... "work just as much as their male partner"... UfYH has immediately dismissed the husband when he said his job is more demanding... because, i guess, the patriarchy... UfYH continues:

Well, first off, make sure you write a nice thank-you note to your in-laws for helping perpetuate this nonsense for another generation by training their special snowflake that his external genitalia somehow exempts him from washing the goddamn dishes.

okay... rude... that's about the extent of UfYH's sexist and misandrist rant on their blog... of course, i'm more than willing to point out the mistake in assuming that the male here is always wrong... UfHY hadn't even considered that, perhaps, the jobs, which have similar schedules, have dissimilar work taking place at each of them... it is a distinct possibility, on which the husband relies for his side of the discussion, that one job is physically more demanding than the other... perhaps the husband does manual labor all day, while the wife sits at a desk... the desk job may be mentally and emotionally draining, but not so physically... are unequal things to be treated equally?

the questioner also disregards other work which, in the "gender normative" relationship (to use a popular feminist phrase), is placed on the male... does he do yard-work?... home repairs?... vehicle maintenance?... what other responsibilities has the female excluded from consideration because it is cognitively dissonant to her argument?

so, i point this out on UfYH's Facebook account:

Why is no one asking what the two of them do at their jobs? That was his excuse. You might consider both sides of an argument before assigning "gender inequality". That, in itself, is sexist.

too much?... to which UfYH replied:

They work the same number of hours, the same schedule, and both live in the same house and were both responsible for adding children to their family (biologically or otherwise). Actually, if the letter writer carried and gave birth to the children, then, by that logic, the husband should take on all of the child-rearing duties since her job in child-creation was measurably more difficult.

well that escalated quickly... same hours; same schedule... so, the actual work required to do their individual jobs doesn't matter... but child-birth does?... to which, i replied:

Same hours. So all hours are equal? Just wondering why that was not considered? Do welders do equal work to carpenters? Nurses to waitresses? Teachers to lawyers? And I agree with you about [carrying] the load equally. But you haven't addressed what the loads actually are. And if giving birth plays into it, how long does the husband work to equal that? Never? Just consider that you're overlooking several unspoken factors.

UfYH retorts:

So is your assumption that the husband's job is harder and/or more demanding than the wife's? And that has absolutely nothing to do with the devaluation of what is traditionally seen as "women's work" (teaching, nursing, waitressing) as less important than "men's work"? The letter writer provided all of the details I had to work with, and regardless of what their respective jobs are, there's no excuse for the husband to be doing NONE of the household work. ("ALL of the cooking and cleaning falls to me.")

there's "no excuse"... well, that's a convenient theory, but reality has a way of intruding on your platonic and idyllic utopia... differences do matter... physically demanding jobs degrade the body and require additional recuperation time... increased mortality (e.g. death) is directly linked to high occupational physical activity and low to moderate leisure, while high leisure reduces mortality in the same physical jobs... demanding physical work is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

but, apparently, facts don't matter... only feelings... if the husband dies at an early age, so much the better, right?... for feminism!!... fuck external genitalia!... fuck the patriarchy!... fuck men! (but not in the happy-fun way, because, the patriarchy).

reason be-damned.

unequality: noun - the state or condition of being not equal in quality, value, or rank

Ask UfYH: Seriously, Enough With the Gender Role Crap Already by "[E] RachelTuesday", November 11th, 2014 on Persephone Magazine

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rs vs. Ds - Questionist - Re-Blog

re-blog post of The Questionist... some formatting and all emphasis are mine... no edits of content.

Every once in a while a post comes along that shines a very bright spotlight on just how profoundly insulated some people's personal echo chambers are. This one is mind boggling in its contempt for reality. Before I deconstruct this fantastical narrative, I need to clarify that this is NOT a defense of Republicans, nor is it an indictment of Democrats.

Claim #1:
Democrats are responsible for 65 straight months of economic growth.
Facts: The economic collapse of 2008 resulted in economic indicators that reach 75 year lows. These numbers were so far from average that the chances of them improving were near 100%, no matter what the government did or who was in charge. This results from a statistical phenomenon called “regression toward the mean.”
One famous example of this phenomenon in action is the “Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.” Athletes or teams that are featured on the cover are chosen only following extremely good performances. Regression toward the mean all but assures that their performance will not be as good as the exceptional performance responsible for getting them on the cover. The same phenomenon holds true for any variable metric.
The economic growth that we have realized is much smaller and slower than expected, and the evidence that Democratic policies are responsible is non-existent, especially considering more than half of that growth was realized under a Republican House.

Claim #2:
Democrats are responsible for record 56 months of private sector job growth.
Facts: See #1.

Claim #3:
Democrats are responsible for unemployment falling from 10.1% to 5.9%.
Facts: Both the Employment to Population Ratio (also called simply the employment rate) and the Labor Force Participation Rate have dropped to 30+ year lows.
The unemployment rate of 5.9% that we see on the news does not give us the entire picture. If you add those actively seeking employment + short term discouraged workers + long term discouraged workers + part time workers who want to work full time, the number is closer to 23%. And if we used the same unemployment measurement we used prior to 1994, unemployment would be around 18%.
Add to this that people who are reentering the labor force are getting jobs with lower wages and fewer hours, and add to this that income inequality is increasing, and add to this that wages are not keeping pace with inflation; and the 5.9% unemployment rate we see in the headlines is not particularly meaningful. And... See #1 – regression toward the mean.

Claim #4:
Democrats are responsible for the budget deficit being reduced by two-thirds.
Facts: This one is more complicated, and I'm not going to pretend to understand all the reasons for this. What we do know from looking at revenue compared to spending is that spending has largely leveled off, and revenue has slowly increased since a $500 billion dip following the collapse; so part of this reduction is due again to regression toward the mean. Spending under Bush increased at a faster than normal rate due to increased military spending and, because for most of his term, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Any time the same party is in control of both the executive and legislative branches, spending increases.
I'll conclude that this claim has some truth to it, but keep in mind that the National Debt has increased from $10.7 trillion to $18 trillion under Obama. In terms of debt as a percentage of GDP, it has increased under Obama from 65% to over 100%. As a comparison, under Bush it increased from 55% to 65%. This is a long term trend that has little to do with who is President or who is in control of Congress, but it is a distinctly unhealthy trend.

Claim #5:
Democrats are responsible for fewer Americans in harm's way in war zones.
Facts: The reduction in troops in Iraq was the direct result of the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement signed by Bush in 2008.
Yes, there are fewer troops overseas, but what Americans wanted and expected when they voted for Obama was a drastic reduction in military interventionism, not just the number of troops on the ground.
What we did NOT want or expect was hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan, an invasion of Libya, American citizens killed in Yemen, 17,000 residual forces, diplomats, and defense contractors left in Iraq, and 10,000 troops left in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.
As recently as September of 2012 Obama said. “We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. And I've set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014. And when I say I'm going to bring them home, you know they're going to come home.” This is clearly not the case.
We did not want or expect an escalation in Iraq that included renewed airstrikes. We did not want or expect a new war in Iraq and Syria.

Claim #6:
Democrats are responsible for zero attacks by al Qaeda on US soil.
Facts: I'm not sure how Democrats are responsible for this, and there are far too few data points to draw any conclusions about which party is better or worse at preventing terrorist attacks.

Claim #7:
Democrats are responsible for record stock market growth.
Facts: This is perhaps the most clear example of regression to the mean. A stock market at rock bottom has nowhere else to go but up. In addition, the Federal Reserve dumped 16 trillion printed US Dollars into the market in 2008-2009, and has continued to pump 85 billion printed US Dollars into the market ever since. There is no possible way that the stock market could NOT have gone up under these conditions, and the negative effects are a dramatic increase in wealth inequality, a huge stock market bubble, and economic growth that is supported almost exclusively by debt. Despite the record stock market numbers, the US economy is very sick in a very real and long term sense.
Again, this has nothing to do with which party is in power, and much to do with short-sighted monetary policy on the part of the Federal Reserve. Almost all politicians focus on short term solutions with complete disregard to long term effects. This cliff will be very difficult, if not impossible, to retreat from.

Claim #8:
Republicans are responsible for two economic recessions.
Facts: Recessions are largely the result of natural economic fluctuations, and the only influence that politicians can hope for is to reduce the effect or shorten the duration. The recession of 2002 was a direct result of the bursting of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.
The collapse of 2008 was the result of several factors, none of them having anything to do with which party was in power. The precipitating factor was the collapse of the housing bubble which was, in turn, precipitated by artificially low interest rates by the Federal Reserve and ridiculously easy lending terms which resulted in millions of people getting mortgages that were above their abilities to maintain.
Another factor was the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking. This allowed commercial banks to, effectively, gamble with our money. The repeal of this act was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, and signed by Bill Clinton.

Claim #9:
Republicans were responsible for the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression.
Facts: See #8.

Claim #10:
Republicans were responsible for the worst terrorist attack in history.
Facts: This claim is probably the most disconnected from reality of any of the claims on this list. One only needs to read exactly what Osama bin Laden himself explained as the reasons for the attack. []
Among the motivations stated by bin Laden for the attack were: long term US aggression in the Middle East, US attacks on Somalia, US support for Russian atrocities in Chechnya, Guantanamo Bay, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, immorality of Americans (including the President), US support for Israel, and US sanctions against Iraq. (People seem to forget that Clinton was bombing Iraq throughout his term on a regular basis.)
None of these alleged provocations had anything to do with which party was in power, although the most immediate of them (and infuriating for bin Laden) happened on Clinton's watch.
Another possible motivation for the 9/11 attack offered by terrorism experts is that bin Laden wanted to provoke America into a war that would incite a pan-Islamist revolution. Considering what is currently happening with the Islamic State, one can only conclude that this strategy has been largely successful.

Claim # 11:
Republicans were responsible for the two longest wars in US history.
Facts: This claim regarding the war in Iraq is mostly true. This happened on Bush's watch with fabricated claims made by his administration, and a large majority of Republicans supporting the Iraq War Authorization. Note that a majority of Democratic Senators also voted in favor of the resolution.
This claim regarding the war in Afghanistan is, however, completely false. Only three members of Congress did not vote in favor of this, one Democrat and two Republicans.

Claim #12:
Republicans are responsible for the worst record of job creation since Herbert Hoover.
Facts: It is true that job creation under Bush was the worst since Hoover, and a certain amount of blame can be placed at the feet of Republicans. Another factor is (you guessed it) regression to the mean. After the dot-com boom, employment was exceptionally high, and it was a statistical near certainty that job creation would slow down or decrease.
Another factor is that the forces that led to the 2008 collapse were working against the economy well before the actual collapse itself. It's also worth a reminder that governmental actions have limited effects on job creation, and what small effects there are can lag several years behind the action.

Claim #13:
Republicans are responsible for a complete collapse of the stock market.
Facts: See #8. (It's interesting that three of the seven claims against Republicans are essentially the exact same claim. I could have come up with a lot more legitimate complaints against Republicans.)

Claim #14:
A budget surplus turned into a trillion dollar deficit.
Facts: It's true that Republican led spending on military intervention added to the deficits experienced under Bush. But yet again this can, to a large degree, be explained by regression to the mean. The 1990s saw an unprecedented information revolution, and a dot-com bubble that was further inflated by a badly timed reduction in capital gains taxes (which was supported by both Democrats and Republicans and signed by Clinton).

The Questionist on Facebook - post

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

the emotional wreck of being a younger sister

"Do you want to build a snowman? Come on, let's go and play. I never see you anymore. Come out the door; it's like you've gone away. We used to be best buddies, and now we're not. I wish you would tell me why. Do you want to build a snowman?

"It doesn't have to be a snowman."

Go away.

"Okay, bye.

"Do you want to build a snowman, or ride our bike around the hall? I think some company is overdue. I've started talking to the pictures on the walls. It gets a little lonely, all these empty rooms, just watching the hours tick by.

"Please, I know you're in there. People are asking where you've been. They say have courage, and I'm trying to. I'm right out here for you. Please let me in. We only have each other; it's just you and me. What are we gonna do?

"Do you want to build a snowman?"

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Lyrics from Disney's Frozen - Disney Song Lyrics

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Econ 101 - Government subsidies, or Don't Be Silly

I keep reading about "progressives", a misnomer if I've ever heard one, who decry the government handouts to corporations... the most common target is what they lovingly refer to as "Big Oil"... Big Oil, they say, should not receive government subsidies because they're corporations... they're big enough to not need the money... and they're right; the companies do not need the money... but this shows a terrible naiveté about how money works.

let's say a barrel of crude oil costs $104, as it did in July of 2014... Big Oil is allowed a tax credit off this price due to an exception in the tax code... they're allowed to "write-off" about 15% of the cost of extraction from their federal taxes... now, this doesn't equate one-to-one to dollars they save, but some sources say this, along with other tax breaks, equates to over $4 billion dollars each year.

if we stop those tax breaks, the government gains $4 billion dollars... but where does that come from?... will Big Oil swallow that bitter pill?

don't be silly.

these costs will be borne by the consumers of Big Oil... the truckers who bring goods to market will pay the most... will they bear the lion's share alone?

don't be silly.

will the grocery stores and retail outlets pay that price for the increased costs of delivering the good they sell?

don't be silly.

the consumers, the American people, will shoulder the cost... reduction or removal of any government subsidy is an indirect tax on the populous... to believe otherwise is to believe in fairy tales.

speaking of fairy tales, there is something the government can do to offset the damage done to their citizens... they could reduce the taxes imposed by the government on the sale of gasoline and other petroleum products.

don't be silly.

the federal and state governments make 40 cents per gallon sold in the United States... Exxon, for example, made 7 cents per gallon (in 2011)... these progressives want Big Oil to pay these taxes out of their pockets, yet will they open their own purses to help those actually paying the costs?

Don't. Be. Silly.

  • Crude Oil: 67%.
  • Refining Costs and Profits: 12%
  • Distribution, Marketing, and Retail Costs and Profits: 9%
  • Taxes: 12%.
    • Federal excise taxes were 18.4 cents per gallon
    • State excise taxes average 23.52 cents per gallon

This Eye-Opening Map Shows The Reason Gas Is More Expensive And Who’s Profiting The Most - The Federalist Papers; by Steve Straub on July 14, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday, Big Oil Tax Breaks - ThinkProgress; by Rebecca Leber on March 1, 2013

What do I pay for in a gallon of regular gasoline? - US Energy Information Administration FAQ

How much oil is consumed in the United States? - US Energy Information Administration FAQ

Who Really Gets Rich Off High Gas Prices? - Wall Street Journal; By Drew Johnson on August 2, 2012

Who makes more from sales at the pump – industry or government? - ExxonMobile; by Ken Cohen August 8, 2012

Gasoline Tax Profits -; on April 11, 2008

Who Really Gets Rich Off High Gas Prices? -; by Richard Rider on August 9, 2012

State and Federal Treasuries "Profit" More from Gasoline Sales than U.S. Oil Industry -; By Jonathan Williams, Scott A. Hodge on October 26, 2005

Saturday, September 6, 2014

shoes and the minimum wage (a lesson in economics)

everybody needs shoes... kicks, chucks, treads, toms, shit-kickers, high-heel, pumps, crocs, flip-flops, boots, tennis, deck, loafers... doesn't matter what shoe, but you've gotta have them, right?

and you need more than one pair of shoes, right ladies?... even you guys need a few... formal shoes... work shoes... brown shoes and black shoes... beach shoes... house shoes... boat shoes for those nautical among us... high-heel; low rise; open toe; strappy; slip-on; zip-up... a shoe for every occasion!

how about those Jimmy Choo shoes?... now that's some footwear!... and we're not just talking Ivette Patent Sandals... no, we're talking Chocolate and Cobalt Suede Shearling Lined Hi-tops, too... and Amore Pointed Toe Ankle Boots... and Prescott Glossed-Leather and Suede Dégradé Derby Shoes.

so... why aren't all of your shoes made by Jimmy Choo?... what, too expensive?... that's not fair... that's classist, if not outright racist!... everyone should be able to afford Jimmy Choo's!!!


not true?

but what if ALL shoes cost $750, like Jimmy Choo's?... what if Nike, Reebok, Converse, TOMS, Puma, and every style and type of shoe cost $750?... how many pairs of shoes would you have?

you might get one pair.

you'd probably go without.

and when you finally saved up enough money to buy a pair, would you get just any old shoe?... would you get a pair of Croc's?... or flip-flops?... hell no!... you'd get the best, most reliable, sturdiest pair of shoes you could find... you'd make sure that you would NEVER damage or lose that pair of shoes... and you'd guard them like they were made of gold... hell, they might just BE made of gold for $750.

this sounds foolish, doesn't it?

everyone knows that there are classes of shoes... some are worth more than others... some people are willing to buy cheap pair of shoes, knowing full well that they won't last very long, and they'll have to buy another pair of cheap shoes to replace them.

some people will spend more on a pair of shoes... they'll take good care of those shoes... if they get damaged, they'll try to fix the problem before buying a new pair... maybe a new heel... re-sole the tread... new laces.

and a few people will buy expensive shoes, wear them once, and forget about them.

common knowledge.

now, imagine you are a business owner.

you don't need shoes; you need employees... you want to buy the best employee you can with what money you have... do you buy the most expensive employee on the market?... maybe you do, and you show off to your clientele that your company has the best employees money can buy... maybe you buy the best and put them in a corner office with a nice fat salary and no responsibilities... you buy them, and forget them.

or maybe you're more frugal... you want a good employee... one who will last... one who will do the job needed without a lot of upkeep... so you buy a mid-level employee at a fair salary... you don't want him to leave, so on occasion you give him the odd bonus... maybe a small raise... or a pat on the back, just so he knows he's appreciated... you take care of your employee because you don't want to buy a new one... not unless you have to.

or maybe you can't afford an expensive employee... maybe you don't have a business that makes a lot of excess money... so you go for a low wage, or even minimum wage, hourly employee... you know they're not going to be great employees... but you can afford to buy one now, and you can replace them when they stop working... maybe you don't take great care of them, and another employer steals them away from you, possibly offering them a salaried job... that's okay... you can afford to buy another... but you can't afford much, so you buy another minimum wage employee.

but what if ALL employees cost the same?

what if minimum wage was $15 an hour, and you can only afford $7.50... what then?

do you get one employee when you really need two?

do you go without?

Monday, July 7, 2014

a simple answer to a complex question

this is a post i should have written a long time ago... i guess it is a daunting task, so i have been hesitant to delve into it.

the Bible is a simple answer to a complex question.

there... i said it... i've touched on the subject before, but never approached it so directly... i have addressed atheists' arguments in three parts: "That's so stupid", "Evolution", and "Nonsense"... but none of this gets to the root of the basic issue, which is "why doesn't the Bible specifically address scientific fact?"

what a silly question... but it's only silly because it fails to address the basic needs of the text, as written... simply put, if the first chapter of the Book of Genesis were to address all of creation in a scientific manner, it alone would comprise the majority of space in the world's largest library... we, as humans, would need to have invented the internet before the wheel simply to contain the wealth of information required to adequately describe the smallest portion of such a massive concept as the beginning of creation... and that's only Chapter One, verses one and two.

another library set aside by itself would be needed to contain the volumes of information which is required to explain verses three through five... the astrophysics alone would have its own wing.

verses six through ten would only need a small annex... i mean, that's only the cooling of the earth, the creation of an atmosphere, and continental plate tectonics... you know... simple stuff.

eleven through thirteen is the beginning of life... the beginning of biology should be a simple thing... only a few thousand tomes would probably be necessary... of course, there already exist entire libraries which house evolution, but these verses only cover plant life... we could probably pare it down to only the most necessary books... we don't want to get silly and over-do things.

verses fourteen through nineteen are more astrophysics... some discussion of time and the theory of relativity should be included at this point... maybe a smallish wing to an annex of the previous library.

more evolution, this time into the animal kingdom, for verses twenty through twenty-five... sure, it's more complex, but the basics were covered in an earlier library... we're getting fewer and more concise volumes... maybe just a room off an annex of a wing of a library.

verses twenty-six through thirty-one are primarily focused on mankind... as this is intensely personal to the audience being reached, this might require some additional material... maybe histories, discussions of genomes, exactly what is mitochondrial DNA and how it affects evolutionary mutations... you know... details.

we'll place that in its own library... no need in having extraneous information in there about the evolution of the sperm whale... or why it was named that unfortunate name... no, we need to focus this library on one thing; us.

because, after all... isn't this what the Bible was written for?... let the dolphins write their own books.

some suggestions for reading material:
1: "In the beginning" - Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh
3: "Let there be light" - The Birth & Death of the Sun by George Gamow
4: "Separated the light from the darkness" - Astrophysics by Wolfgang Kundt
6: "A vault between waters" - An Ocean Of Air: A Natural History Of The Atmosphere by Gabrielle Walker
9: "Let dry ground appear" - Plate Tectonics by Wolfgang Frisch, M. Meschede, Ronald C. Blakey
11: "Seed bearing plants and trees" - Origin of Land Plants by Linda E. Graham
14: "Lights in the vault of the sky" - Origin of the Moon. New Concept: Geochemistry and Dynamics by Erik M Galimov, Anton M Krivtsov
16: "He also made the stars" - The Formation of Stars by Steven W. Stahler, Francesco Palla
20: "Waters teem with living creatures" - Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer
25: "All the creatures that move along the ground" - The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

wash your bowl

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”
Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?
The monk replied, “I have eaten.”
Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.

too often, we enter situations with preconceived notions of how things are... how things should be... we have so much knowledge about the world, we often fail to actually learn anything new.

wash your bowl.

the Joshu speaking to the monk, in the story above, makes a very profound statement about the student... many people who hear this story fail to find enlightenment, as the monk did... they hear the words, and they think about the bowl... but they don't realize Joshu was answering an unasked question.

the monk, in his first statement, asked a question in the form of a demand... "Please teach me," as gentle and pleading as it sounds, is a demand... Joshu has no obligations to teach him... but the demand, when examined, is a request... the monk should have said, "Will you teach me, please?"... Joshu, being more skilled, recognized this for the question it was.

so, how does one answer such a question?... Joshu could have said, "Yes, I will teach you," and begun extolling the virtues of zen and monastic life... but that would be futile... the monk, Joshu knows, comes to the monastery with life experiences... he was not hatched from a giant egg, like Robin Williams, fully formed and no experience... life, no matter how simple, is a harsh teacher... lessons have been learned... with experience comes some form of wisdom, whether right or wrong... with each day, we make assumptions based on our previous days' experiences... they color our expectations of future days... they color our experience of the present.

wash your bowl.

to answer the monk's question, Joshu begins with a lesson... and the lesson begins with a question, "Have you eaten your rice porridge?"... on the surface, this is a nonsensical question, having nothing to do with the education of the monk... but it sets up a precedence... he wishes to be taught... but has he finished what he started?... has he completed his education, and is he willing to begin learning again?... the porridge is a metaphor for life's lessons.

to which, the monk assures Joshu that he has eaten his porridge... at this point he, like so many, is thinking of his meal and the bowl.

Joshu then finishes his instruction by instructing him to "wash your bowl"... but what does he mean?... and how was he enlightened?

first, understand that, in Joshu's lesson, the monk is the bowl... the rice porridge, being his life experiences, has been consumed... it has made him what he is... the monk, like his bowl, is dirty, fouled by the life he has lived... the crevices of his soul are tainted by the experiences he has gathered as his daily meal... he, like his bowl, needs to be cleaned, refreshed... if the bowl is not clean, it will taint anything you place into it... you need a clean bowl if you wish to eat something unspoiled by the previous meal... likewise, the monk needs refreshed.

he needs to clean himself of his own life experiences... to learn something new, without being poisoned by previous experience, you must remove all trace of those experiences... you must taste the new experiences without them being soiled by anything outside of what it is.

wash your bowl.

like the monk, we are all guilty of not washing our bowl... we come to a feast of knowledge with bowls overflowing with the residue of past meals... often, the residue is so thick, we can hardly place another morsel into our bowl... new experiences flow into and out of our bowls, each reminiscent of the one before.

i have gotten fairly esoteric with this, so i'll speak plainly... when you fry food in oil, the oil retains some of the flavor of the food being fried... if you first fry fish, then fry chicken, your chicken will taste faintly of fish... if you continue to reuse this oil, it will quickly become spoiled... but the oil cannot be spoiled by itself... it is turned rancid by the flavors previously passing through it.

so it goes with our lives... our daily lives flavor our conceptions, and expectations, of the world... each day flavors the next... and the next... and every day after that.

wash your bowl.

it is attributed to Socrates the paradoxical "I know that I do not know"... what he is saying is similar to the enlightenment the monk found... first, you must understand that you do not have all of the answers... then, you must cleanse yourself of preconceived notions before you can begin to understand anything, great or small... even before you can "wash your bowl", you must first understand that it must be washed.

and thus, he was enlightened.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

how do you #selfie your soul?

seriously, this nonsense has to stop... people keep writing articles about how it's "Fat-Shaming" whenever someone posts a picture of themselves looking skinny, fit, or just good... apparently, this makes fat people feel bad about themselves.

honestly, maybe they should feel bad... seriously... being fit is being healthy... "i can be fat and healthy," says the offended... sure you can... you can smoke cigarettes and not get cancer... you can sky-dive and always have your parachute open... Evel Knievel can jump over the Grand Canyon and not plummet to his doom.

but let's be real about statistics for a moment... if you have excess body weight, you (statistically) will have higher triglycerides, cholesterol, etc... you are (statistically) at a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc... your mortality rate (again, statistics) goes up.

for those who haven't made the connection:
  • if you're fat, not fit, you're going to die sooner... if you're fit, you live longer.
  • hell, if you're fit, you feel better.
  • you can walk up stairs without having to sit down half-way up.
  • sex is even better (and who doesn't want that?).
    • on that note, excess body fat obstructs the base of the penis... that's right... the fit, skinny guy has a longer penis.
    • skinny women receive greater penetration during sex... no thunder-thighs to get in the way.
    • more sexual positions!... if you're fit, you can have sex in those damnable small bathtubs... (trust me, two whales mating in a puddle isn't pretty... don't Google that!)
  • if you're fit, you can wear a greater variety of clothes... not because you look good in them, but because they make your size... the Big And Tall shop is a misnomer... tall has very little to do with it... it should be called, to paraphrase Gabriel Iglesias, "Big and Damn!"
  • if you're fit, your children are more likely to be fit... that's right, if you live longer, so will they!

but, no... people have to get pissed of whenever someone else feels good about themselves.

like this turd... she gets all holier-than-thou about a lady who is internet-famous for her butt... she takes "selfies" of her own tush... along comes this lady who calls it "objectification of women"... so, a woman feels good about herself, takes a picture of her butt (which she obviously worked hard to get), posts it online because she's proud of it, and somehow she's objectifying herself.

let me get this straight... if i, as a guy, put on a tie, get a haircut, spruce myself up and decide "damn, I look good", the moment i share a photo of myself, i've objectified men?... because that's what you're saying women are doing... "damn, I look good"... *click*... *post*... objectification.

what... the... hell.

back to the "turd"... here's some of her bitching:
Someone needs to say it: Ladies, get a grip. Face selfies are one thing; butt selfies are another.
And yet, the problem with butt selfies and all manner of obsession with the female backside is old as time: It’s the objectification of women.
It’s great for Ms. Selter to promote #hardwork and #cleaneating, among other healthy lifestyle choices. It would be even better for someone to come along and remind us that we are cutting ourselves short when we focus purely on the physical.
if you can't take photos of yourself, what are you allowed to take pictures of?... you go to the gym, lose weight, feel great... take a photo of the car you drove to the gym?... won't that offend people with older model cars?... or, worse yet, no car?... that lady who had three kids, looks great, and challenges others to do the same; somehow she should take photos of something else?... what, her vagina for giving birth?... would that cause labia-envy?... the lady who showed off her six-pack abs just days after giving birth; should she take photos of her college degree?... or would that offend the illiterate?

i'd just like to know something... how in the hell do you take a selfie of your soul?

The Case Against Butt Selfies, by Erin VargoErin Vargo | TUE. MARCH 25 | Acculturated
Mom Angers World After Showing Off 6-Pack 3 Days After Giving Birth by Ericka Sóuter December 2, 2013
'Hot Facebook Mom' Still Wants To Know: 'What's Your Excuse?' The Huffington Post | by Cavan Sieczkowski 03/07/2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

reminiscing on burying the hatchet

always remember, when burying the hatchet, you aren't the only one who knows its location... watch your back.

and when turning the other cheek, you can expect that one to get slapped, too.

on a personal note, i find it amusing that it does not matter how much i wish to extend the olive branch, i always seem to end up with olive-branch lash marks for my troubles... today i spent time with one step-son, supporting him in his college career and choices in life... it's always a pleasure to see him... in doing so, i tried to be friendly and cordial with my other step-son, whom is the diametrically opposite the first... no matter how hard i try, it is never a pleasure.

i'm not going to delude you (or myself) with the illusion that his an our issues are not mutual... we have both done things which should not have been done; said things which should not have been said... some things are water under the bridge; some flood over... but today, it was to be a détente‎, a mutual cease-fire for the sake of the family and to enjoy some family time; to bond over the mutual good fortune of our relative... it might as well have been the Tet Offensive.

we were talking about several movies; older movies, new movies, spoilers for movies... my wife brought up the upcoming movie of "God Isn't Dead"... i could feel my heart sink, as i knew that he wouldn't have let a religious reference go unchallenged; him being the faithful atheist zealot he is... his derisive comment was, "You know that's not based on a true story," as if we were thinking Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain just happened to be part of some documentary.

i should have let it go... i knew it at the time... my brain knew it, at least... my mouth didn't get the memo.

"That's why it's called a movie," i said, too much sarcasm in my voice... "Who thinks this is based on fact?"... to which he replied, "The same people who think The Passion of the Christ is based on fact."

okay... what do i do?... do i go on the offensive and provide some comments about his own beliefs (or lack thereof) or do i sit back and allow him to insult me and my wife (his mother) some more?... as i have allowed him to spit his derision in my face for several years, i suppose it is partly my fault... but, as i have made it clear that i won't allow that; i face a dilemma... do i go back to being spat upon, or do i do something about it?

i chose to just leave... call it a day... throw in the towel... move on... forgive-and-, well, i'm short on forgiveness these days... i can only take being kicked so much... so leaving seemed the best route... not classy, but it removes me from the situation.

speaking of classy... i'm short on that these days, too... he had his shit-eating grin, looking forward to shaking my hand on leaving... kind of his own little, "Well, that point goes to me"... i don't plan on losing well.

"F-U"... and i walk away.

well, apparently that was not what he wanted to hear... it definitely wasn't what should have been said... but i'll admit i felt much better haven gotten that off my chest.

i hope he got the same relief from the following bits he had to say in return... these are my favorite bits:
"You can't talk to me like that in front of my family"... yet he has never had that same restriction.
"You don't deserve my mom and brother"... a common refrain from his teenage years when i was dating his mother... Oedipus much?
"You've never respected me"... now that's not true, but how long can you respect someone who (figuratively, of course) defecates on you time and time again?... what am i, in an abusive relationship?... yet i keep coming back... maybe i am.
"I'm the only one who stands up to you"... obviously, he has a delusional image of married life... and his brother has, but not in that in-your-face manner, but in a more passive-aggressive mode... sometimes, he'll even sit down and discuss his issues with me... he, i respect.

i should learn from this experience... i should still walk away, but i should also let him have his hollow victory... i should shake his hand and wish him well... i know that one day, he'll treat someone else with the same mocking derision... someone who doesn't have the family ties to restrain him... one day, that someone will break his jaw... and he'll learn a very hard lesson; one i have tried to spare him for some time... but you can lead a horse to water; you can't make him think.

the greatest lesson i learned from this incident is going to remain my secret... but i have learned that he has a tell (like in poker)... and when i saw it, i couldn't suppress a grin.

i feel bad about that grin.

Monday, February 10, 2014

i've told you a trillion times

US Debt = $17,322,966,800,000
but what is a "trillion"?... how do you conceptualize a number this large?

US Debt converted to seconds:
1 trillion seconds = ( 10^12 sec)/( 3.16 x 10^7 sec/yr) = 31,688 years
17.3229668 x 31,688 yr = 548,932 years

Homo-erectus lived 500,000 years ago. Neanderthals didn't evolve until nearly 300,000 years later.

US Debt converted to hours:
1 trillion hours = ( 10^12 hr)/( 8,766 hr/yr) = 114,077,116 years
17.3229668 x 144,077,116 yr = 1,976,154,095 years ~ 2 billion years

The only known living organisms 2 billion years ago were a form of algae. The first oxygen was produced on Earth.

US Debt converted to days:
1 trillion days = ( 10^12 days)/( 365.25 days/yr) = 2,737,850,787 years
17.3229668 x 2,737,850,787 yr = 47,427,698,289 years ~ 50 billion years

The universe is only 13 billion years old. So 50 billion is truly meaningless.

US Debt converted to light-years:
17,322,966,800 miles / 5.878625 mi/ly = 2.95 light years ~ 3 light-years

The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years (2.4×1019 km) from Earth.
Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf [star] about 4.24 light-years from Earth.

US Debt Clock - February 10, 2014
How Big is a Trillion? - NASA

Friday, February 7, 2014

we've been saying this FOR YEARS

Congressional Budget Office says Obamacare "Creates A Disincentive For People To Work"... well no kidding.

REP. PAUL RYAN: Just to understand this, it is not that employers are laying people off, it's that people aren't working in the work force, aren't supply labor to the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs in 2024, and as a result that work force participation rate, less labor supply, lowers economic growth.

DOUG ELMENDORF, CBO: Yes. That is right, Mr. Chairman.

RYAN: So, who are these workers? Who are the people typically in this category? What kind of worker from an income scale side are being affected by this?

ELMENDORF: The effect is principally on the labor supply of lower wage workers. The reason is what the Affordable Care Act does is to provide subsidies focused on lower and more middle income people to buy health insurance, and in order to encourage sufficient number of people to buy an expensive product like health insurance the subsidies are fairly large in dollar terms. Those subsidies are then withdrawn over time for people as their income rises. By providing heavily subsidized health-insurance to people with very low income and withdrawing those subsidies as income rises, creates a disincentive for people to work, relative to what would have been the case in the absence of that act. These subsidies are, of course, make those lower income people better off. This is an implicit tax, not the sort of tax we normally think about, where if the government raises taxes we are worse off and face a disincentive to work more, but providing a subsidy people are better off, but they do have less incentive to work.
emphasis is mine...


CBO Director: Obamacare "Creates A Disincentive For People To Work" | Video | RealClearPolitics By Tim Hains, February 5, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

defeating Darwin, Nye, Ham, and Fisher

i discuss Bryan Fisher, of AFR, and his discussion of Bill Nye and Ken Ham who discussed scientific atheism vs. intelligent design... there's a lot of discussion going on, so let's get right to it... we'll skip ahead to Fisher's "Defeating Darwin in Easy Four  Steps", which is predicated on Ham's highlights, primarily those which confounded Nye the most.
First Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a scientific law) teaches us that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In other words, an honest scientist will tell you that there is nothing in the observable universe that can explain either the origin of energy or matter. By logical extension, then, matter and energy had to come into being by some force outside the universe.
what is the primary cause?... if all other things are secondary effects, what is the primary cause?... where did this "Great Ball of Matter/Energy" come from?
on a secondary note, i laugh whenever i hear the phrase "seeing light from the Big Bang"... apparently space unfolded faster than the speed of light, and light from the "Bang" had to catch up to the heavy matter out on the perimeter... think about that for a second, and you'll see why i find that hilarious.
Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a law) teaches us that in every chemical or heat reaction, there is a loss of energy that never again is available for another heat reaction. This is why things break down if left to themselves, and why scientists tell us that the universe is headed toward a heat death.
of course, the simple answer is a reduction in entropy in one place is balanced/offset by an increase in entropy elsewhere... this is some quantum magic, apparently... where our planet has a decrease in entropy through evolution, there must be an equal increase in entropy somewhere else... my (sarcastic) guess would be on Mars... because no one likes Martians.
also, through this Law, we naturally arrive at the conclusion that, from the current entropic state, there is an "original ordered state" of zero entropy; an "Initial Singularity"... the first moment of entropy is colloquially called "the Big Bang"... since entropy is one of those non-reversible laws, it stands to reason that there is no way the original ordered state could ever be reached through natural processes; the Initial Singularity has no precedent nor any subsequent equal... so, where did it come from?... it just was... there is no determining where it came from nor the first cause from which all others derived... should we take that on "faith"?
Fossils. Realize that the fossil record is the only tangible, physical evidence for the theory of evolution that exists. The fossil record is it. There is absolutely nothing else Darwinians have they can show you.

even if we accept Darwinian evolution, which is entirely plausible in my opinion, what does this add or detract from the debate over "Intelligent Design" or the existence of God?... this is simply a mechanism for modification... where self-determinism fails to react to environmental stresses, successive generations are able to adapt and survive through biological processes... simply because evolution is not described in a collection of religious texts, this only proves the incompleteness and necessary brevity of the text... this does not describe an incomplete God.
Genes. The only mechanism – don't miss this – the only mechanism evolutionists have to explain the development of increasingly complex life forms is genetic mutation. Mutations alter DNA, and these alterations can be passed on to descendants. Catch these two quotes. First, evolutionary microbiologist James Shapiro of the University of Chicago: "There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular systems, only a variety of wishful speculations." And this from University of Bristol scientist Alan Linton: "Throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another. None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another."
genes and fossils are two parts of the same debate, for which there is no necessary reason for discussion, as pointed out previously... one does not negate the other (e.g. evolution and God)... genes are simply mechanisms for either argument, not the argument, themselves.

Defeating Darwin in four easy steps By Bryan Fischer, February 6, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

consider this

what if the Governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, said something similar to Governor Cuomo of New York?... imagine if you will:

You’re seeing that play out in Mississippi. The Right To Life Act. The Democrat Party candidates are running against the Right To Life Act -- it was voted for by moderate Democrats who run the House. Their problem is not me and the Republicans; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme liberals who are pro-choice, gun-grabbers, anti-religion? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they are the extreme liberals, they have no place in the state of Mississippi, because that’s not who Mississippians are.

what kind of vile, hate-filled rants would come from the likes of MSNBC and other media sources?... but it's those of us who are "bitter" and "cling to guns and religion" who are intolerant of differing opinions.


Transcript: Cuomo's full answer when referencing 'extreme conservatives' - Politics Now - The Buffalo News