29 May 2012

College GPA Redistibution

I love it when college students have communism explained in a way they can relate.
Fittingly, some not in the upper 10% welcomed the free points. “Why not? I’m down,” said one student with a low GPA  (eagerly signing the petition), but then the student’s friend standing next to him said, “It takes away from people working hard… and obviously it’s paid off with their higher GPA.” Later in the conversation, when the first student told his friend to sign the petition, the friend responded, “How about trying harder for a semester?”

Apple and Greenpeace

One thing that surprises me about Apple is how they harass any group that they feel is not doing a good enough job to be 'green'. I personally would have thought that Apple is doing a rather excellent job, not that I particularly care about green-ness. However, I am surprised at how much lee-way Apple allows Greenpeace to have.

Apple isn't a company to let people "advertise" on their property, yet, here we have GP doing just that. They are projecting their disgruntlement onto one of Apple's buildings... Now, I don't know how long they were permitted to do this, but still. Someone got it a picture. Further, GP has continually complained about Apple not doing enough.

I mostly wonder about the moves Apple is making. For example, are they making their NC solar farm to acquiesce GP or because it was always part of the plan. For a company that is as focused on profits as Apple, intentionally making a solar plant doesn't seem to fit.

25 May 2012

Capitalism: Obama's Greatest Threat

Rush Limbaugh has been talking about how Obama will be the first incumbent president to campaign against capitalism. I have nothing other than 100% agreement for that statement! When Mitt Romney was asked about this position by Fox, he said:
Well, it certainly sounds like that is what he is doing. There's no question but that he's attacking capitalism, in part, I think, because he doesn't understand how the free economy works. He's never had a job in the free economy. He either, as Vice President Biden, they spent their lives as either community organizer or as members of a political class, and frankly the American people understand that the free economy and free enterprise is tough, it's hard work. 
When they hear that a business like Bain Capital was successful 80 percent of the time and five percent of its investments only went bankrupt, they say, "You know, that's a pretty good record. If all the president wants to do is talk about their failures, why, he's misrepresenting the nature of free enterprise."
Jed Lewison on Daily Kos, in typical liberal leaning ways, refutes the premise and claims that Obama has been better for capitalism than George W. Bush. He uses this, rather weak and mis-guided argument, as his basis.
Second, the notion that President Obama is an anti-capitalist president is really, really nuts. Since Obama took office, the stock market has soared—the Dow is nearly double what it was on January 21, 2009. Compare that with President Bush, under whose economic leadership the market fell. Or take a look at private sector job growth: despite inheriting Bush's economic collapse, private sector jobs have actually grown since Obama took office, including four million over the last two years. Under Bush, we lost more than six hundred thousand private sector jobs.
I would say a few things against this.
  1. The market is hovering at 12,500-13,000. Numerically lower than it's peak of 14,093 in Oct of 2007. And really, if you use inflation adjusted dollars, it looks even worse for poor Obama (yes, that graph is a year old, but the Dow has been in the 12,500- 13,000 range for a good while now).
  2. Bush's 8 years ended with the start of a massive recession which can largely be blamed on democratic/liberal policies such as Fair Housing acts and has not recovered thanks to ideas by Dodd-Frank, Affordable Health Care Act, suspension of drilling in the gulf, no Keystone, uncontrolled spending, etc.
  3. Private sector jobs have not increased at all. See my plots here. Unemployment has "decreased" as people have left the market, but as a percentage of our population, the employment rate has not increased.
  4. Under Bush we had a net loss of jobs because of the financial crisis. Period. Otherwise, we maintained a rather nice 4-5% unemployment rate for most of his term.
  5. Denial much?
Finally, continuing from that lovely Limbaugh program (link to the transcript), I recorded the radio old-school style (audio link, I don't know how to embed an audio player, sorry) of their Obama against capitalism montage and managed to capture most of the sound byte. 

The quotes I recorded are:
  • If somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it'll just bankrupt them.
  • The insurance industry is making this last ditch effort to stop reform, even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits
  • Cost cutting has become embedded in their operations and in their culture. That may result in good profits, but it is not translating into hiring.
  • Speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick.
  • If that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's 30,000, 40, $50,000 immediately the surgeon is reimbursed.
  • The market will take care of everything.  Here's the problem.  It doesn't work.  It has never worked.
  • White folks' greed runs a world in need.
  • In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few.
<sarcasm> So, yea, Obama is the most aggressive supporter of capitalism since Reagan. </sarcasm>

PS - If I have in anyway infringed in making this post, I apologize. Just trying to summarize Rush's on-going theory about Obama and capitalism and some of the left's ridiculous rebuttal. I am linking to all the original content and giving recognition.

21 May 2012

Election 2012: Character

What is wrong with character attacks, if and only if, they are honest and factual?

I'll add that this would be the only way to justify character attacks. Further, I believe that we should fully investigate a person's character if they are putting themselves forward to be in a position of leadership. I don't care whether they are a Sunday School teacher, Scout Troop leader, HOA president, Congressman, or US President.

When you decide to become a public leader, you take on a huge responsibility because the people you are promising to protect and to help have entrusted on you their livelihood. This is why I get rather upset when media talking heads start complaining about "dirty campaigns" and "character attacks". In most cases, they are only upset because their guy is getting criticized. In the case of the US Presidential elections, or any country leadership election for that matter, everyone should be hyper critical of the person they are considering to vote for.

Character matters. When it comes to our leaders, it is the most important trait, and one that we should be keen to understand. Character is commonly defined as "what you do when no one is looking". Here it is from dictionary.com:
char·ac·ter [kar-ik-ter] noun
1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. reputation: a stain on one's character.
Going into the 2012 election, we have some serious items that need to be brought to light. Barack Obama was practically an unknown when he was elected. For 2008, we knew he was a junior congressman who voted "present"129 times out of four thousand. He was a regular attender at Rev. Wright's church in Chicago. He is a married father. There were a few other details, such as some associations with Bill Ayers and his "Chicago Politics", but that was it. No one really tried to find out who he was in his heart. No one really seemed to care about his character.

He won 2008 because he was not Bush, McCain had a horrible campaign, we were at the start of a severe economic turn down, Iraq, and because he is African American (which prompted the single greatest black voter turnout).

But, now we have a much greater understanding of Mr. Obama's character, and it is particularly gray. He will deny accusations readily, especially if they put him in a negative light. Any opposition is referred to with insult, such as people who want to cling to their guns and their religion, flat earthers, tea baggers, etc. Or he will very openly say that his opponents want to destroy the earth and let the elderly die. Or he will claim to have the most transparent administration in history (+1100 days and still no budget!). Or that his health care reform will be the end-all cure to the financial issues we are facing in providing medical aid to the country (see some real research that isn't regurgitated talking points). He even likes to claim that we are drilling for more oil than ever (see flat earthers link)... any increases in drilling has nothing to do with Obama (they haven't approved drilling permits in the gulf region since the BP spill) and everything to do with private land owners finding new ways to access the natural resources beneath them!

Obama's lack of character should be reason enough to evict him from the post of president. We will likely only have one choice - Romney - and Romney does have a few things going for him. He appears to be remarkably humble. I hope we can learn more about Romney's character, his moral beliefs, what defines him on the inside. I doubt that we will experience another great debacle such as the 2008 election, so even by voting against Obama, I think we are safe. However, from what I know so far, Romney is a step far above Obama.

16 May 2012

Greek Crisis

Interesting article in what appears to be a crisis that is just getting closer and closer. Will Greece try to get out of the Euro? Will her people riot at the austerity measures that are required for the bailouts?

If the Greek government is finally able to form after the June 17th elections, and they choose to force austerity on the people... The public will revolt. They are too addicted to their government money. If Greece does not accept austerity, and it looks like it won't as Alexis Tsipras has a lot of momentum, then their only real option is to revert to the Drachma. Which will immediately cause hyper-inflation as no lending institution in their right mind would accept Greek denominated currency. I would be surprised if Merkel and company let Greece continue down the path it has followed up until this point.

So, as the people of Greece sit on the street starving because their currency is worthless, will they finally realize that they have to work for their income? Will they finally realize the government cannot provide their every need when they do no work?

Here's a great quote at the end of the article:
"Oddly, I can say that in many ways my Greek experience gave me wonderful opportunities.  Nonetheless, my epiphany came when Greece's economic collapse and the government's implosion revealed just how reliant on the government we are, and just how vulnerable to government mismanagement we are."
If the Greek economy collapses, will Americans and Europeans alike comprehend the reason? Will we recognize that big government is a failed experiment?

15 May 2012

Bellwether: Urgent California Budge Cuts

I am actually surprised to hear a democrat governor that is practically begging the state to enact severe budget cuts. In California, they are facing a $16B budget deficit. That is more than Iceland's GDP. That's just their budgetary deficit. It doesn't go into their total debt of $361B.

The really surprising part is that Jerry Brown wants to cut so much (I use this loosely) from education, health care, and welfare.
Brown on Monday proposed $8.3 billion in cuts across education, health care and welfare programs in laying out a plan to address the state's $15.7 billion shortfall, an amount equal to 17 percent of the state's discretionary fund. He warned that additional cuts are ahead if voters reject his tax-hike initiative in November.
Unsurprisingly, he wants to increase taxes. That'll just encourage all of those wealthy 1%'ers to keep on hanging around the state, don't you think? California is an expensive place to live, and as much as $250k per year is considered in many places as being well-to-do, in California it doesn't quite get you as much.
In addition to the cuts, Brown hopes to close the deficit with $5.9 billion in new revenue from the tax initiative he proposed earlier this year that would temporarily add a quarter cent in the state sales tax and collect higher income taxes on those who make $250,000 a year or more.
Frustratingly, for us conservatives, is that liberal democrats are only just now starting to wake up. We've been yelling for years that you can't keep giving away the farm! It's all well and good to want to help people through the difficult times. To want to provide everyone with a baseline standard of living. But, the small percentage of people who pay taxes cannot afford the size of the burden this "mandate" has become. Even Gov Brown is comparing what California has to face to the austerity going on in Greece (which also has obscene amounts of social programs):
Brown said the cuts are real and will impact every school in the state. He likened California's fiscal challenge to the federal government and European nations, including Greece and Spain. 
The real issue we face is that so many people, such as unions in Wisconsin, president Obama, Harry Reid, the "Drive By" media continually attack conservatives as being fear mongers for trying to get our local, state, and federal governments to wake up! Look at Governor Scott Walker who is facing a recall election because he STAVED OFF A BUDGET CRISIS! It is horrible that by doing the right thing fiscally, for saving a state economy, he has been completely castigated by the left. But, do the people of Wisconsin realize that their fate could instead be that of California if it hadn't been for Walker?

You can't spend yourself out of a fiscal crisis. It's not possible. We need responsibility across the board. Local governments, state, federal. Once government is beaten down to size (including reduced regulations and taxes), then business can again flourish and we will have a return to the low unemployment and increased individual wealth. Let people take their wealth and put it to the causes that they feel impressed to support and keep the government out of our social programs.

But what do I know. I'm not from the elite.

iOS 6: Low Hanging Fruit

I've got a few nit-picks that I would consider to be Apple's low hanging fruit for the iOS 6 update.

The first key item that always annoys me is how Apple has forced 3rd party devs to store in-app content. I listen to lots of audio books for when I am on the road. Often driving 2-3k miles at a time. At the same time, I will have my iPhone connected to a wifi hotspot in the car. Which means that I can get Photo Stream updates or other app purchases that will automatically install.

The issue occurs when large swaths of data decide to get sync'd automatically. Apple has decided that, for example, Photo Stream files will get precedence over existing in-app data. Such as audio books. So, on my last long road trip I intentionally cleared off lots of space on my phone in an attempt to mitigate the likelihood of my audio books getting deleted. But, I had failed to realize one key detail: I didn't turn off auto-upload of photos on my iMac. While driving, and listening to part one of my book, my iPhone was silently downloading gigs of photos. The next day, when I went to listen to part two, lo and behold it was not there and I received the lovely message that I was out of space on my phone. Suffice it to say, I think Apple needs to do something to improve where developers can store downloaded files. Other apps should not have the power to delete files without discretion. I should be prompted prior to anything being deleted without my express permission.

Which leads me to my next pet peeve. iCloud. And I really mean Photo Stream. Although I do wish  documents were handled in a manner akin to accessing a document in a Dropbox folder...

So, Photo Stream. As I alluded to above, I have a couple of Macs. One for work (MacBook Air) and one as my desktop at home (iMac). I have my iPhone that I use for both work and personal use. Let's ignore any iPads for the sake of simplicity.

I like the auto image uploads from my phone going to iPhoto. It's great! But, it needs to be smarter. Maybe location based? For example, if I were taking pictures at work, I should be able to configure Photo Stream to recognize this and only transfer photos to my Air. If I am at home, then go to my iMac. Things get dicey if we're travelling. The same goes for uploads from the full fat computers. I don't want pictures from my iMac getting sync'd to my laptop - it doesn't have the space to be honest (300 6+ MB images at a time is a lot of space!).  However, I do like them going to my iPhone (if it weren't going to delete my books!) as I know they are automatically scaled down in resolution.

Currently, Photo Stream is an all or nothing. My iPhone can either get all the benefits of Photo Stream or none of them. iPhoto can either upload all or nothing (it can receive separate from the upload). I'm not certain how to cleanly solve this without requiring a very manual process. But, we should be able to turn off automatic features, but still allow for manually sending photos to the stream. Or to be able to direct which device will get the pictures (and I am well aware of being able to sync selected photos in iTunes - but this doesn't help when working from an i-Device).

So, these seem like relatively easy items to resolve in iOS 6. Improved handling of Photo Stream configuration and a safe location for apps to store downloaded content. I hear Apple is supposedly working on some sort of photo sharing capability...

14 May 2012

Climate Change: 2012 US

Interesting summary of some NOAA data for the first part of 2012. All of us in the states could hardly deny that it was definitely warmer this February! However, I had been eagerly awaiting some data from the rest of the planet. And now we have it. As it turns out, only the US and Europe experienced the unseasonable weather in force.
 Even as the US has experienced record-breaking extremes, the GISSTEMP index has seen global temperatures that were roughly equivalent to the ones we experienced last year, and well below those of 2010, the warmest year on record.
I'm looking forward to the climate returning to being viewed as a force beyond our direct control. The politicizing of nature is ever frustrating. We have much more immediate issues at hand.

12 May 2012

Austerity: Spanish Backlash

Once you give a society all that it needs, the whole cradle to the grave mentality, they will revolt when you take it away. Little do they realize that it simply is not sustainable. People have got to be willing to take responsibility for their own lives and not count on the government for their daily needs. In Spain, there were nearly 100,000 people protesting in the streets today about the austerity measures that are being enacted because THEY ARE OUT OF MONEY.
"I'm here to defend the rights that we're losing and for the young people who have it so tough," 57-year-old middle school teacher Roberto Alonso said. "They're better educated than ever. But they don't have work. They don't have anything. They're behind and they'll stay that way."

Look, buddy, getting free services from the government is not a "right". It is called wealth re-distribution. And it is probably one of key indicators as to why all of your well educated young people don't have a job.  

11 May 2012

December 21, 2012

The news has been spreading. There has been mounting evidence that the Mayan calendar really does extend beyond December 21st this year.
The calculations include dates some 7,000 years in the future, adding to evidence against the idea that the Maya thought the world would end in 2012—a modern myth inspired by an ancient calendar that depicts time starting over this year.
I'm seriously disappointed! The party that night is now going to be completely underwhelming.

I can't, in good conscience, joke about the end of the world in 7 months time since this revelation. However, I hope that there will be several true believers still wandering about making all sorts of ruckus about the end of time. That gives me some solace.

10 May 2012

Congressional Pay

This is just a little something that always bothers me. Congress is a group of people who get to determine how much money they make every year. To be completely fair, in 2010 and 2011, the automatic income adjustment did not take place. But, ever since 1989, each year every congressional member gets an automatic bump in their pay if they do nothing. That's kinda cheeky.

I wish I could afford to give myself an automatic pay raise every year.

They need to change the law to make it a bit more... manual. You know, it should even be contingent on how well congress as a whole performs. You and I, well if you also hold a private sector job, have to perform to a certain level, and for the company in general to be doing well, to justify a pay raise.

Congress currently has an approval rating hoving in the mid-teens. They have not enacted any significant piece of legislation since the dreaded "Obamacare". Additionally, their ability to address Obama's spiraling spending (face it, Congress hasn't passed a budget in well over 1100 days, Obama and his Czars just spend as they will) has caused some debt issues to get larger. Basically, they aren't doing their job, they don't deserve to get a pay raise.

I think we should all get to vote on our income tax returns every year. As we watch our money be yanked out of our hands, we should be presented with some questions about how that money will be spent.

"Shall Congress be given a pay raise this coming year?"

"Shall Congress mindlessly spend your money?"

Ummm... let me think about that... "No."

I like several other people's suggestions that we need to enact various concepts like a balanced budget amendment requiring the entire federal government to only be able to operate on a zero-based budget. Or that members of congress don't receive any salary if there is no budget. Or, how about something a little more harsh? Members of congress get automatically fired if the approval rating is under a certain threshold? Say, 30%. Which is overly generous. Even the original Buffett Plan was nice.
"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."
Instead, we have a congress that gets a pay raise by doing nothing.

Will they get one in 2012?

Climate Change: We are the Gods

In ancient days, cultures, society, people in general worshiped nature around them as the gods. They had their sun gods, water gods, earth gods, druids, gods on stars, gods on planets, gods who battled in the sky as lightning and thunder, gods who made the volcanos explode, gods who controlled the seas... and gods which ruled the weather.

The weather has always been a finicky lady. She changes her mind without warning. Regions around the world have had droughts for years on end. Mountains rise and turn deserts out of fertile farm land. How many climatologists talk about the world wide sudden climate change that happened in 2200 BC?

In the ancient days, people prayed to their gods to grant them rain. Just a 200 years ago, Native American Indians performed rain dances to please the gods. Until recent years, mankind around the world have always known that the weather was beyond their direct control. That's not to say they didn't try to control it. They were human. And as humans, we need control. It's our nature.

So they danced.

Then we had science. And science has been the key to slowly converting the west to its latest god. Us.

We now believe that we are gods. We control our own destiny. We have decided that our science has explained how this amazing world can exist. We explain away the miraculous universe in which we live.

We are learning to control our day to day lives. To control our ability to travel where we want, when we want. To have control over the day and night. To have access to what seems like an unlimited amount of knowledge instantly. We can dive to the depths of the ocean, or can explore the reaches of space. We try to see the beginning of time itself.

While we are at it, we have decided that through our actions, we are destroying our world. That, because of our interactions on this planet, it is getting "warmer". However, I do beg these scientists, politicians, self-theists, to please explain all the other historical, sudden, climatic changes that the Earth has experienced prior to our ability to affect the climate.

In any case, the public is more than willing to accept this claim that we now control our complete destiny, the climate included. Why should we not? We have been conditioned to believe that we are gods. In what ways are we limited? So, of course we are responsible for the way the Earth's climate changes. And we must do all that we can to prevent our own destruction by following the instruction of these climate activists.

That is the real plan. We have been deceived into believing we are in control. In doing so, we are willing to accept a different form of austerity. We let these few educated superiors tell us how we must live our lives. We let them enact ridiculous carbon taxes, force on us the idea that hybrid cars are the answer... or that we all need wind mills in our back yard, or that we have to spend $60 on a light bulb (make that $10M in tax payer dollars), or... or... the list can go on for a long time.

We get threats of our imminent destruction by our own hands. And the only solution is to trust these new-fangled dictators. That is the crux of the plan. That we give up and listen to those that are enlightened. That we willingly walk away from ideas like capitalism (the greatest equalizer the world has ever known) and trust this superset of mankind to lead us.

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?” 
- Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme; Opening speech, Rio Earth Summit. 1992

FYI: The oceans aren't rising that fast after all.


How do you tax something which is a natural bi-product? How do you effectively turn carbon into a form of currency when it is something that, for all economic purposes, is near limitless? Burn a few trees in your back yard and get a bill? Run too hard and pay a fine?

Hybrids currently are more harmful to the environment when you account for the entire process and life of the car.
In some cases, hybrids consume four times as much energy in production, and in turn are responsible for four times as much harmful pollution that is released into the atmosphere, when compared to non‐hybrids.

09 May 2012

Reason for Delays

Just a quick update:

I was out of the country on business and it made updating challenging! I'm back, so I'll be better.

I don't like advertising my absence while actually being away, hence the lack of warning.


Politics: French Choose Communism

Sarkozy has lost his 2012 bid for re-election as the French President. Not really news, but it is a key indicator of what Democrats have been pushing for here in the US.

The month-long session is scheduled to pass legislation ending several tax exemptions, imposing tax surcharges on banks and oil companies, approving a top tax rate of 75 percent for the wealthy and quashing a social VAT introduced by Sarkozy.
Armed with pump-action shotguns, sidearms and stun grenades the officers look like they belong in a war zone. In fact they are elite French policemen who were deployed to the historic centre of Lyon yesterday to deal with rioting students. President Nicolas Sarkozy took the extreme measure in the face of growing protests against an unpopular law aimed at increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Ms. Merkel has expressed her support for Mr. Sarkozy over Mr. Hollande, who has promised fiscal measures to support France’s ailing economy and called for more growth efforts in Europe.

How does it fit? Well, Democrats are continuously pushing for more and more public dependence on the government. Health care, getting a job (detroit clothing program that cost $10M and helped 2 people!), government regulations, government funding to private businesses (Solyndra!), higher taxes (fair share), etc. The basic plan that government will take care of you from cradle to grave (see Obama campaign's "Life of Julia").

The end result is that the people can't give it up. Which keeps the party giving away all the goods in power. Regardless of the cost of the power. It will implode. See Greece. See Spain. See Italy. France may follow much quicker now... What will we do in November?

04 May 2012

Patents: Google vs Oracle

The judge overseeing the Java case between Google and Oracle seems to actually be handling such an advanced subject very wisely. Ars has some good coverage on the subject.
"If someone were to give you an assignment and say, 'Go write a guide book on how to drive from San Francisco to Monterey,' and everybody could sit down and write their own two-page thing on that, there would be some similarities. But the idea is not protected," Alsup said in court last Friday.

01 May 2012

Unfit to be Boss

It seems inappropriate to me for a set of lawmakers, in this case UK, to determine that a private individual citizen is "unfit" to run their company.

It should be his company's Board of Directors or maybe a judge. But lawmakers? I.E. Congress?
"We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company," the report by the panel of 11 lawmakers said.

Continued TSA Idiocy

This agency simply needs to be removed. It is filled with robots who have no understanding of people and the true threats that we face. They follow their rules and instructions blindly. They continue to invade our privacy, terrorize our children, and humiliate the elderly, disabled, and mothers.

Here is another example of TSA abusing their "authority" and performing a pat down on a screaming 4-year old girl.
The incident went on for maybe 10 minutes, until a manager came in and allowed agents to pat the girl down while she was screaming but being held by her mother. The family was then allowed to go to their next gate with a TSA agent following them.
If politicians actually cared about the citizens, this is a prime example of an organization that needs to be removed. But, I have yet to hear Obama or Congress speak out on the subject. I think Rand Paul is about the only one who has been vocal.

We should take the Israeli approach and start profiling dangerous people. Much more effective. Either that, or allow citizens who hold concealed/carry permits to carry on a flight. Let me a terrorist try to blow up that plane!

If they pull you aside, you had better tell them the truth. They'll ask you so many wildly unpredictable questions so quickly, you couldn't possibly invent a fake story and keep it all straight. Don't even try. They're highly trained and experienced, and they catch everyone who tries to pull something over on them. 
Because I fit one of their profiles, it takes me 15 or 20 minutes longer to get through the first wave of security than it does for most people. The agents make up for it, though, by escorting me to the front of the line at the metal detector. They don't put anyone into a "porn machine." There's no point. Terrorists can't penetrate that deeply into the airport.