We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, November 21. 2013
Wednesday, November 20. 2013
He was a good student, too. As a result, he opted out of the NFL, and decided the working life was a better career choice. He was a bit tired of the culture of football. He loved it, but it's grinding work. He wanted to use other skills he'd developed. I don't blame him.
As the hiring manager and I spoke, she commented "Well, he has the added benefit of being diverse."
I looked at her and said, "What do you mean, exactly?"
"I think you know what I mean, he's ethnic."
"So he's black. You're telling me this makes him more qualified?"
"No, not more qualified, but you know how things are today. We have to remain conscious of this fact, diversity is so important in the workplace."
"Yes, I agree, it is important. But having me as part of the team doesn't make us more diverse? I'm curious if I'm diverse?"
"Well, you're diverse in terms of thought. You think in ways nobody else here does, but that's not what we focus on in diversity."
"So I'm not diverse?"
Continue reading "How Do I Become Diverse?"
Wednesday, November 13. 2013
I have complained that the cost of my son's education is primarily to support spending on new 'stuff' rather than better education. I'm glad to see the former president more or less agrees. It is a problem which is not isolated to Miami, I've seen similar activity taking place on every campus I visited.
It doesn't help that Federal loans and grants are helping to fuel this work, either. Ultimately, whether you have a child at university or not, this is costing you money.
Wednesday, November 6. 2013
Scott Adams has a unique understanding of human nature. He also understands management reality, which he juxtaposes with the goal-based thoughts of standard office denizens. The result is a very humorous and informative strip.
His advice on how to manage your career is equally useful. Most of us are so far along, it may not benefit us at this stage of our careers. You're never too old to learn, though. My career improved after I made some alterations in office demeanor in my late 40's, and I continue to evolve.
I shared the linked article with my staff and my sons. It makes several points which I truly believe.
Continue reading "Career Success"
Sunday, November 3. 2013
No, it's not a post with Biblical quotes are references. In some ways, it's just another listicle, but more informative and thoughtful than your standard "10 reasons why...".
Monday, October 28. 2013
I've always felt it was a place I needed to see. I was correct. It lived up to every expectation. Pictures don't do it justice(but I'll share some anyway). The story enhances the visuals to a degree I had not prepared myself. You could visit this several times a year and get a substantially different feel each time.
Wright had something very particular in mind when he built this, and he clearly achieved what he set out to accomplish. It wasn't easy. He exceeded budget, there were disputes, and Wright was not easy to work with all the time. But the owners of the home, the Kaufmans, had bought into his vision, and the results are spectacular.
While their original budget was only $35,000, total costs eventually topped $155,000 (roughly $3mm today). While it would be nearly impossible to build this structure today due to environmental impact issues (this structure has been assessed regularly has having a negligible impact on the environment, which says something about environmental regulations, as well as Wright's ability to deliver on a vision), the costs would clearly be far higher than the inflation-adjusted figure of $3mm. In addition, you'd have to account for the costs of ego, which were significant in this project.
Continue reading "Frank Lloyd Wright"
Monday, October 21. 2013
Thursday, October 10. 2013
He always told me if I'd like a glimpse at what a government run program for health provision would resemble, take a look at the VA. My extended family members who have utilized the VA did so mainly because they could, and they lacked any other access to health services. None were particularly happy with it, except to say it didn't cost them much when they needed it.
I don't want to imply this kind of abuse can't happen in private practice. Certainly Hollywood stars have managed to find their fair share of enablers. But when it is the government running things, we're supposed to expect better, and when it's a single payer system, we won't have the range of choice to avoid charlatans.
Wednesday, October 9. 2013
He uses the purchase of a house as the basis of negotiation, and compares the current shutdown to a potential buyer threatening to burn down the house being negotiated. This is not only extreme, but wrong. Clearly, he's never negotiated the purchase of a home.
A better comparison is to picture the potential buyer saying "I don't like the price you're asking, because there is an oil tank buried in the back and it may start seeping and destroying the ground soon. I would prefer that you have that tank removed. In the meantime, I'm willing to buy the house at this significantly reduced price." At that point, Harry Reid (the seller) replies, "No you don't have the right to ask to remove that tank and the alternative offer you've made is not under consideration. I choose to no longer speak with you. Come back when you're realistic with a 'clean offer' on the house and just forget about getting rid of that tank. I've grown to love that tank, and you should too. I'd rather see the whole thing fall apart than speak with you."
President Obama Explains the Shutdown
Yesterday, eight days into the Republican government shutdown, President Obama spoke from the White House about the need for Republicans in Congress to stop threatening another recession just to sabotage Obamacare, stop demanding ransom just for doing their jobs, and just vote to reopen the government. He talked about the toll this shutdown is already taking on our country and the economy, and warned against the dire consequences of a default if Congress doesn’t act to prevent an economic shutdown.
Keeping the government running and paying the nation’s bills aren’t bargaining chips or a matter of negotiation – they’re a fundamental part of Congress’s job. Here’s how the President put it yesterday:
As the President has made clear -- and the press has reported -- the government could be reopened, today, with the votes of reasonable Republicans and Democrats if Tea Party Republicans would allow a simple yes-or-no vote on a Senate-passed compromise bill to fund the United States government. It’s time for Congress to just vote and end this government shutdown now.
Toward the end, the instructor decided to discuss healthy foods. She correctly pointed out what you eat can impact how you feel throughout the day. While I believe this, what I got was a lecture on food 'toxins'. The minute I hear someone talking about toxins in food, my eyes glaze over. Another nut talking about their perfect diet. Which is exactly what we got. I decided to play along, because being snarky can be fun.
The instructor admitted alcohol is a toxin, but we all need to unwind, so you should be careful about what kinds of wine or beer you choose. Obviously, fewer preservatives is 'better'. I told her I brew my own beer, and I prefer craft brews to standard national brands. I was lauded for being so careful about my food choices.
However, when she moved into chocolate, caffeine, and other standard fare, the word 'toxins' became more common. I asked her if she ate almonds. She replied almonds are very good for you, very natural. I then pointed out wild almonds (and to a significantly lower degree domesticated almonds) contain cyanic acid which can be toxic, since it is the basis of cyanide. So my question was, how much of my natural diet could be too much? Unaware of this fact, she stumbled a bit, and mentioned moderation.
So I did a bit of research, and sent her a list of natural foods which contain toxins (I particularly like this link - the politics of healthy eating - as if politicizing food choices can save us all from ourselves!). Some I was aware of, others not so much. I pointed out what she considers 'toxins' (usually preservatives) enable a much larger percentage of the world to eat. In fact, it allows them to eat good foods and healthy foods, and is part of the reason why the world is a better, healthier place in general. If we were to move to an all-natural farming structure, eating only natural foods, not only would we likely starve half the world, but we'd be spending far too much time farming.
Tuesday, October 8. 2013
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 11:36 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, September 16. 2013
Three years ago, I was playing tennis during the final weekend of summer. The previous two weeks, I'd had some calf pain, nothing significant, I just kept stretching to keep it loose. Suddenly, while chasing a shot down the line, I collapsed with a sharp pain in my calf. At first, it felt like a hot stone had hit my calf. This feeling matched the description my brother had given me of tearing his Achilles, so naturally I was concerned. However, I was able to stand and walk, although stiff and in pain.
This past Friday, while on a golf outing with a client, I was walking down from the first tee when I was hit by the same 'stone' in my other leg. Luckily, this time I knew what the issue was and completed the round, though I used my clubs for support at times.
I suffered, both times, from a tear or strain of the Plantaris tendon. The Plantaris is a vestigial muscle in the calf, often harvested for repair work because it has a tendon which runs from the heel almost up to the knee, attaching a very small muscle. It's length and relatively low capacity makes it attractive for harvest when the need arises. The tricky part is that about 7-10% of all people don't even have this tendon.
Tennis players often suffer strains and tears of the Plantaris. My guess is this is due to less attention being paid to the calves by most workouts. At the gym I rarely see people stretching or even working out their calves. But the calves require more attention than they typically get. I'm resting it now and avoiding my usual leg workout at the gym.
Thursday, September 12. 2013
Empirical evidence often suggests certain actions may yield desired results, because a rule exists supporting this action. We were told the stimulus would yield, at a minimum, $1.25 for every dollar spent. This multiplier has been seen before, is measurable (to a degree) and conforms to Keynes' prediction of a multiplier. Many people claimed the return on stimulus would be much higher - upwards of $1.75! But Keynes' 'rule' of a multiplier, just because it was observed, isn't necessarily a rule.
The truth is, we spent far more than we gained in GDP over the last 5 years. There is a reason for this. While a multiplier may exist, and probably does, the factor may vary. More importantly, it is likely to take place if stimulus is focused on productive activity, not consumption. We have spent the last 4 years pushing consumption, telling people to buy homes, cars, food or anything at all. Keep the access to money cheap and available, provide support ot everyone. But here are the results. It's true this data is for the G-7, but a quick review of data in the US shows just as bad a return on dollars spent.
In the 20 years prior to Bush's final year and Obama, the average deficit was roughly $253 billion. In the last 5 years it was $1,215 billion. Over 5 years, we spent $6 trillion more than we collected in taxes to generate....$800 billion in GDP growth. That's a return of 13 cents on every dollar of deficit. In the previous 20 years, GDP grew by $5.57 trillion compared to $5.069 trillion in deficit for a return of $1.10 on each dollar of deficit. At some point, the Keynesians have to admit defeat.
Some economists predicted a slow economic recovery. Even Krugman did. But sometimes you can be wrong, even when you are absolutely right. It's all in the context. Krugman is great at twisting context to suit his needs.
(It's worth noting the link to the Money article may go some way toward explaining why it's so easy to get food stamps these days. But then again, there are many different ways to look at poverty, which means how we address it needs to improve.)
Wednesday, September 11. 2013
Then, on CBS' Sunday Morning program, a short piece was delivered on "Vocal Fry". That's it, I pointed out to my wife. I don't have the CBS piece, but here is a very clear example of the speech pattern.
When I first heard it, I thought "that's someone trying to be a Valley Girl," but the tone is lower rather than higher, as it is in Valleyspeak. I assumed, like Valleyspeak, it would be a fad and go away. Its use has grown substantially, however. Today, apparently, it is used as a means of sounding either authoritative or sexy. I think it sounds lazy. I don't think I'm judging harshly, oftentimes when this voice is used, the person provides a blank stare along with it. Clearly it began as a derisive or insulting voice, though now it's just commonplace.
It's not just women doing it, either. Many of the young men in my office are beginning to use it, one young fellow outside my office speaks exclusively in vocal fry. Is it an affectation? Perhaps it started out that way, but it's becoming a standard.
I don't agree with Liberman's response. Sure, I'm getting old and young people are doing things I don't like or agree with. Most of it I can live with. But as a parent, I don't have to accept anything, even from an adult son/daughter. My father will still comment on behaviors of mine he dislikes, and I accept his point of view, even if I don't always agree with it. More often than not, though, I realize he's got a point. Even as adults, we can still learn, and we should learn, from our parents.
Have you heard it, and if so, what was your point of view?
Monday, September 9. 2013
I doubt I would have employed Ayn Rand's rationale if asked to choose my toys when I was young. Delayed gratification isn't something most of us understand until later in life. Today, however, I take a very different view about how I employ things I enjoy. I realize my enjoyment can wear thin quickly, so I tend to not 'overplay the record'.
Austrian Economics is deeply concerned with 'time-preference' and its impact on the market, because choosing between immediate and delayed pleasures are part of what drive the market. This explains, to some degree, the general opposition to Keynesian stimuli.
Sunday, September 8. 2013
Meanwhile, my friend was kind enough to pass this along to me, as well. A sorbet for the ears, I suppose. Math makes good music. Fibonacci numbers are a sequence beginning with 0 and 1, then each following number is comprised of the previous two added together. Thus the sequence is 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13....and so on. Fibonacci numbers are closely related to Phi, or the golden ratio, which nature follows very closely. Items which utilize the golden ratio are aesthetically pleasing.
I don't play an instrument, and I suffer from tinnitus, but I know when I hear something I enjoy.
Saturday, September 7. 2013
Apparently, it doesn't take much schooling to become a CEO, just the ability to shake hands, tell anecdotes, and generally be personable.
Philo T. Farnsworth developed a vast wasteland on this day in 1927.
Leftist media hates censorship, unless it's their censorship. Media Matters seeks to quiet Joe Kernan and have CNBC spend more time discussing the perils of AGW. If CNBC could just get some viewers, what they say might be worth censoring. 42,000 signatures is important, because, you know, it's a consensus.
I do loves me a Big Mac every once in a while, but how will raising the minimum wage affect Mickey D's? I will not pay $17 for a Big Mac (I paid only $5.50 a week ago). A $15.00 minimum wage will only make it more difficult for the poor to feed themselves.
The problem with anyone feeding themselves is that everything they eat will kill them. When I read articles claiming "Collard Greens May Cause 85% of all Colds!", or articles about things that cause cancer (or almost any disease) my inner skeptic is aroused. For example, recent studies linking meat to Alzheimer's. Note the key word in this, and virtually every other title of this nature. Could. One of my favorite sites utilizes an acronym, MMC, for these articles. May, Might, Could. In fact, the article on red meat even points out:
Correlation does not imply causation. If we study football statistics, we can see that teams which take a knee win an overwhelming amount of the games. A new headline: "Studies Show Quarterbacks That Genuflect Win 90% of Games". A new strategy I hope the New York Giants adopt because, after all, science proves it works.
In this case, however, the word "May" carries an entirely different meaning. You take your Molly, or any hard drug, you take your chances.
Apparently, the bar scene isn't even all that safe these days. Guess you take your chances anywhere.
Even the dead don't get much peace. I grew up near Jim Thorpe, this is about the most excitement they've had, well, ever.
Moving a body is contentious, and so is patent and copyright law lately. I'm not sure where I stand on the issue. Jeffrey Tucker's view is a Libertarian stance, which someone once explained to me this way: "If I light a match, then someone else lights another match from mine, and this fire is passed from person to person, who owns the fire and why should we limit ownership rights?" Too simplistic for my taste and there is a role for patents and copyrights, but perhaps in the modern media economy the length or application of them should be reconsidered. After all, can we honestly say the one-click shopping Jeff Bezos patented is deserving of one?
Tucker made the following comment, which is informative:
Speaking of mass thievery, or at least some form of it, several people asked about Bitcoin the other day. Here's a primer, and another. I'm no expert on the concept of crypto-currency, but I know a good idea when I see one, and this is one which has got the digerati very excited. Bitcoin, oddly enough, could serve as a new reserve currency, which is one reason why the US government is concerned by its growth and use. The US has benefited from being a reserve currency for years, and it's one reason the growth of our money supply has not yet led to rampant inflation.
One place where there has been rampant inflation is in Peyton Manning's performance on the football field. Against a defense that was supposed to be very good, Peyton threw 7 TDs, a feat performed by only 5 people before, and not since 1969. It's one game, but what a game it was. Sadly, it was a precursor to this heart-rending annual event.
Speaking of aerial attacks, it's interesting that Obama won election in 2008 on an anti-war platform. But it's 'just politics' that part of his platform in 2012 was anti-war-with-Syria.
He also won with a jobs-creation platform. Sure, jobs have been created. But not as many as are actually being originally reported due to downward revisions and people dropping out of the workforce. Or maybe that's not the real cause of our unemployment woes. Perhaps the decline of working actors could have been limited with these.
To make matters worse, Obamacare is causing jobs to be reduced to less than 29 hours per week, and his administration is lying about the impact.
Few of the unemployed and part-time worksers are likely to buy this. Too expensive. It's odd, too, as far as I'm concerned. Tablets and smartphones? Yeah, sure. Glasses and watches? I guess there's a niche for this stuff. The people I see wearing Google Glasses just look like they're trying to be digital hipsters.
Finally, because I promised Doc lots of pictures of fluffy puppies...have a great weekend!
Thursday, September 5. 2013
I'm adding this after the fact, since Dr. Mercury made a comment which is germaine, but not wholly correct and I feel the need to address. While the commentator mentions a "racial epithet", the entire video, if you have the chance to view it, begins with the antagonist saying " married to an Arab." He then calls Weiner disgusting and a scumbag, which are epithets, but not racial. The first comment is not an epithet, even if it was used in a derogatory fashion, but sensibilities on issues like this vary. For the record, when I saw this on TV in the morning, I was laughing at the whole thing, as was Charlie Rose. Weiner is a public figure, and his wife is too, and they are open to any criticism which comes their way and have to accept that as part of their choice of profession. Sometimes it's ugly and uncomfortable, but even when it is, Weiner's reaction was over the top and damages an already heavily damaged public persona. As a public figure, voters do get to judge him in whatever way they choose.
De Niro is a great actor, but when he and his Hollywood cohorts involve themselves in politics, they really make a hash of it. They reason they can do this? Apathy.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 08:45 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, September 4. 2013
We're two days past the Labor Day holiday weekend, but is it a day off when you're always off?
This is exactly what happened when I walked into the office at 8am yesterday.
Harvard study discovers what most of us already knew. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Do not expect this to impact the national conversation.
What to expect with Obamacare. The NHS is the obvious goal. At least it's 'free'.
One side of the minimum wage debate. I wish everybody could be rich, but that can't happen. If it did, then the whole concept of 'rich' would be meaningless, so it's good to understand rents. The value of anything is based on its relative ease of obtaining it. If you can only dig ditches, and 90% of the population can dig ditches, too, you have to accept a lower wage or find some new skills.
If the minimum wage is increased, we will have higher unemployment, higher prices, and stagnant or reduced profits. So we'd be paying more tax dollars for people who aren't working, paying more for goods and services we need, and stocks would take a hit. Sounds like a plan to me. It doesn't take much to understand why minimum wage legislation fails as a ham-handed attempt to make a nation wealthy via legislation. If it actually worked, we could set the minimum at a very high level, say $100,000 a year, and we'd all be working and all be happy because consumers would have lots of money to spend. Better yet, let's make it $100,000 a year and no layoffs, ever. What could possibly go wrong with that?
More work on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory points to external influences in the boom and bust cycle, rather than irrational behavior. This has been a critical missing piece of Neo-Classical Economics as macroeconomic theory, and is part of the reason why Keynesian thought has dominated. That dominance is eroding.
In other news, Ronald Coase died. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics (which, by the way, is not really a Nobel Prize at all), Coase's work opened new windows on the nature of corporations and their optimal size. His work is often cited by conservative activists when government looks to regulate business. Below is Rodney Dangerfield, as Thornton Melon, explaining his version of Coase's work to an economics professor.
Covered regularly here on Maggie's, but of interest to me lately since I have one in college and another to follow - garbage degrees and the ultimate outcome of wasting 4 years to study an otherwise useless topic. I have a number of teachers in my family, but I'd still put "Education" on the list of degrees which won't get you far in terms of career or income. No offense to teachers, I have the highest respect for what they do. We parents can be the biggest problem many teachers face. And vice versa. I continue to believe what my father told me, "You go to college to get an education. You go to grad school to get a job." His point, obviously, was to challenge me so I would study something meaningful.
Bill Maher praises Obama for 'restoring the Constitution' by asking for Congressional approval to strike Syria and takes a potshot at the Tea Party. Obama's 'restoration of the Constitution' is a purely face-saving measure designed to shift blame. After all, he never sought Congressional approval for Libya and continues to insist he doesn't need Congressional approval. Hillary remains invisible, though she helped craft this foreign policy. Perhaps she is spending time consulting on her upcoming Hollywood biopic?
Some interesting views about well-known people and events. I happen to like the first three. The rest aren't quite as good.
I'm glad I don't live in George Soro's Logarithmic Shadow.
Drudge rightfully asks "Why would anyone vote Republican?" But why vote Democrat, either? Neither party is specifically looking out for the best interests of the nation, but rather for themselves and their position in society. As a Libertarian, I view Republicans as a sometimes useful first step toward the goal of reinstating the Constitution as the law of the land. But not the guys currently pushing for attacking Syria or voting for NSA funding of Prism. They need to get back with the program.
The world is a Rorschach Test. I've always disagreed with the concept that perception is reality. If perception is reality, does that mean demons really were coming from the WTC? I believe the job of the individual is to utilize facts to help overcome limitations of our basic perceptions. Just because we like what we perceive doesn't make it reality. This can be applied to Syria. The main tool to utilize in cutting through to the facts is cui bono.
Ending on an up note, I'm surprised I didn't read anything about Diana Nyad on Maggie's. On Monday morning I learned she was only 5 miles from shore. 53+ hours of swimming, at age 64, is quite an accomplishment. I've done a mile in a lake and it was murder, so I can't imagine what she went through. Her accomplishment is one which is consistent with our values. Persistence, hard work, and a desire to achieve. You really are never too old.
Tuesday, September 3. 2013
Sunday, September 1. 2013
Obama believes attacking Syria will send a message. He's correct, it will, but the message will not be what he thinks. Rather than a forceful show of strength, the world will view it in these terms:
The Syrian situation exists purely because the Obama foreign policy has been weak. As a result, it has fostered situations which allow tyrannical leaders to be overthrown, with tacit approval of the US government, without any support or plan for providing material support afterward.
Each of these situations has become chaotic - which is precisely what should have been expected, since the region in question has never been completely stable and any hint of stability had previously been provided by despotic regimes. When these despotic regimes have faced a populace encouraged to stand up, they have fallen (as expected), and reverted to anarchy.
Obama is faced with a situation which he didn't plan for, but should have. Increased anarchy in a region he hoped he'd guide gently toward democracy. He has learned you can't reason with mobs or tyrants. And now he's learned what every other leader in the world knows - if you want to deal with tyrants, you have to do so from a position of strength.
But he has squandered our strength.
Now he needs to regain it and lacks the ability to do so. He is hoping a show of military force will help. He is wrong. He can only make things worse now. Best to back off, disengage, and let the chips fall where they may.
Saturday, August 31. 2013
I smiled, and replied very simply, "No."
He took offense and commented that younger people knew more, were more adaptable, etc. I again smiled and said, "I know what you're thinking. I was there once, too. We do tend to think, when we're new to the workforce, that business is messed up and we know a better way. Frankly, we probably do when we're younger. But there are a few things lacking when we think this way. For example, experience and perspective. While I can understand you point of view, and to some degree you're correct, the reality is altogether different and it may take time to understand, let alone accept, this."
He was not happy with my response, and his interruptions eventually disrupted the class and we never finished. I had to speak with his director about his behavior. Eventually, he left the company to go with a smaller start-up firm. I hope he found what he was looking for.
Continue reading "Millenials in the Workplace"