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Messages - TheDrake

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General Comments / Re: President Trump Passes Standard Mental Exam
« on: January 18, 2018, 07:08:23 PM »
That cognitive test isn't really what most people are concerned about from his mental health. They weren't worried that he couldn't read his watch, identify a rhino, or say what day it is. The concern is with his mental stability, like how he handles pressure, whether he reacts irrationally to perceived threats, or other emotional stability issues.

It was a clever bait and switch. People can suffer from a variety of disorders including anxiety, depression, bipolar. All of those people would likely pass this basic cognitive test with flying colors, it wouldn't make them fit for certain types of jobs especially if they weren't managing their conditions.

General Comments / Re: Trump and Ethics
« on: January 17, 2018, 07:49:57 PM »
I'd bet dimes to dollars at least one of those would come up, although I don't know how widespread the adoption of it would be. Probably at least the DailyBeast and CNN. ;)

I'm sure I could dig up some examples that stretch to make any action taken by Trump fit the author's narrative.

Not that any of those character judgments are necessarily unfounded, just that when that is an author's whole goal they will do anything to make the piece fit the puzzle. And with a helpful dose of hyperbole, like "most racist president ever!" - when we have Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon just to start the post 1900 examples.

Of course many of the people writing these articles probably only have vague memories of Bill Clinton when they were still wearing footie pajamas and didn't pay much attention in history class.

General Comments / Re: Trump and Ethics
« on: January 17, 2018, 05:29:58 PM »
Au, come back with my gold!

Imagine if Trump tried to eliminate the $100 bill. I'm not sure how, but I'm sure it would mean he is racist, helping rich people, stupid, and unethical. Maybe like this:

1. He's racist because poor people don't use banks like white people, so he's destroying the life savings of minorities.
2. With the increase in banking fees, his pals in the financial industry are going to make millions.
3. He doesn't understand what paper money is and why people use it.
4. He is overstepping the traditional separation between the US Mint and the Executive.

General Comments / Re: Trump and Ethics
« on: January 17, 2018, 01:45:14 PM »
As far as the most unethical presidency goes, I'd have to begin with Nixon's use of the FBI against his political enemies coupled with the obvious Watergate stuff.

FDR's high on the list. He threatened to subvert the supreme court, imprisoned citizens and allowed their property to be stolen.

Then you have to consider Warren Harding and the Teapot Dome scandal, secretly leasing of oil reserves, although he was never directly implicated.

General Comments / Re: Trump and Ethics
« on: January 16, 2018, 12:46:22 PM »
Jimmy Carter give up his peanut farm.

As for Obama:

“Well, not to get too personal, but our home back in Chicago—not the White House, which, as I said, that’s a rental—our home back in Chicago, my mortgage interest rate, I would probably benefit from refinancing right now, I would save some money,” Obama said. “When you’re President, you have to be a little careful about these transactions, so we haven’t refinanced.”

Could any president avoid helping friends, foundations, etc? probably not entirely. The major difference is that they made the attempt and recognized that it was a real concern.

Add to that that Trump had no problem criticizing Hillary Clinton's conflicts, and it starts to paint a picture that he doesn't think the rules apply to him.

General Comments / Re: Will wages rise with the economy?
« on: January 13, 2018, 02:26:36 PM »
Envy? More like calling out the statement that "everybody wins".

Crunch, you think that 90% of people getting a paycheck are paying federal income tax? I think Mitt Romney illustrated that isn't true. "Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. "

Washington post:

60 percent of those who don't pay income tax are still working and paying taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

You can certainly defend the policy, but not with rosy cheeked hyperbole. Call it what it is. Stand up for what it is. Say that those people not paying any tax don't deserve anything - rather than pretend they are getting something they are not.

General Comments / Re: Cryptocurrencies
« on: January 10, 2018, 12:58:09 PM »
True, bitcoin isn't very anonymous for the reasons you state.

The others are all working to solve this "problem" including Verge. Of course the flipside of public chain is that a Bad Guy can also unravel everything you did with bitcoin. Another reason not to use it.

General Comments / Re: Cryptocurrencies
« on: January 10, 2018, 09:57:51 AM »
It's the tulip craze all over again. Speculative bubbles can give you great returns. Some of the Dutch probably bought one bulb, sold quickly, and did great. Those that bought late and held on too long - some lost homes over it.

We'll wait and see, but I imagine that as the novelty of the opportunity wears off, there are going to be a lot of sad people holding at 5% of what they paid.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: January 10, 2018, 09:37:34 AM »
Another physics nit pick the ships that ran our of fuel start rotating like there is "drag" in space, those ships would have continued on at a constant velocity until they got picked off. Also WTF did anyone stay behind if the ships were just going to be blown up. Autopilot should be able to handle "stay on this course until you run out of fuel." Also why did the last 3 ships in the rebel fleet only have 6 hours worth of fuel??? This is one of those movie things I kind of hate when they shrink the size of the "good" forces so small as to be absurd. 3 ships in an entire galaxy of space travel isn't a fleet.

So many problems with that. The velocity of the ship without fuel would be... exactly the same when it ran out of fuel for the same lack of drag. Also, when they fire randomly when the ships are out of range (presumably because they need to futilely use ammunition in order to appease their weapons suppliers?), how do they almost get close enough - obviously under acceleration - but not be able to reach the ships for some reason? Yah, it's not worth exploring SW physics.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: January 09, 2018, 03:50:11 PM »
I was definitely receiving it that way during the scene, thinking "I wonder if Snokes will catch on to this, or if he is so rapt with excitement at seeing Kylo fully embrace the dark side that he will never notice until the light saber burns through him."

Then I thought, "That's it then, one virtual slice? No need to finish him off? No need to have that final engagement of will with a weakened Snokes? No final act of anger from a mortally wounded Snokes that throws Kylo across the room? No dying curse from Snokes? No need to injure Rey in order to keep up the ruse long enough?"

They might as well have had a ceiling tile fall down and crush him at random, for all the showdown that ensued.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: January 09, 2018, 02:11:46 PM »
Ren was hiding his thoughts by creating the impression that his thoughts about killing Snoke were thoughts about killing Rey. This mask allows him to get away with the manipulation.

General Comments / Re: Cryptocurrencies
« on: January 07, 2018, 03:53:07 PM »
I think it is only a matter of time before governments start cracking down on this.

G7 already made this statement a few years ago:

In 2013 the G7's Financial Action Task Force issued the following statement in guidelines which may be applicable to companies involved in transmitting bitcoin and other currencies, "Internet-based payment services that allow third party funding from anonymous sources may face an increased risk of [money laundering/terrorist financing]." They concluded that this may "pose challenges to countries in [anti-money laundering/counter terrorist financing] regulation and supervision"

I think if enough people started actually making transactions in bitcoin or other crypto-currencies, what will happen is governments will start missing out on tax revenue that they normally expect to trace through centralized banking. This is the same reason that India removed large bills from circulation. They will then lean on the idea of stopping organized crime and terrorism to introduce curbs on its secretive nature. They will insist on having the "keys" to the money trail. The Swiss finally caved under this same pressure and agreed to open their books to international tax collectors.

Lots of the newer cryptocurrencies are trying to bank on making things even more anonymous than bitcoin. Bitcoin largely relies on obfuscation - you can't link an account with a user, but if you figure that out, you can find everyone they do business with. ZCash, Monero, Dash - they all seek to remove the traceability.

Personally, I wouldn't touch it as supplier or user. There just isn't enough history of stability. It's really just being treated as a commodity right now, but the demand side is just too hard to figure out. Gold has real uses for making products. Bitcoin (or other such) could one day just be supplanted by yet another crypto currency. So holding them would seem highly dangerous to me.

Making them? Unsurprisingly, you're not the first one to think of it. According to this site, there are 1384 of them.

My favorite name might be Useless Ethereum Token

The UET ICO transparently offers investors no value, so there will be no expectation of gains. No gains means few investors, few investors means few transactions, and few transactions means no Ethereum network lag—not to mention no depressing posts on /r/ethtrader about people losing all their savings!

I learned all about Ethereum smart contracts and Solidity over a weekend so I could launch this ICO. Most of the smart contract contract code is copied from GitHub and Stack Overflow posts, so it should be pretty much right… right?


Wait… is this a joke? Is it a scam?
Neither! This is real—and it's 100% transparent. You're literally giving your money to someone on the internet and getting completely useless tokens in return.

Will there be more chances to buy UET?
That's a great question! It totally depends on how the ICO performs in the beginning. If I don't make enough money to buy at least one flat-screen television, I'll probably keep the ICO open longer than initially stated.

According to the webpage, their crowdsale gathered $339,822.

For tokens that can't be used for anything, anywhere. Now, all those people had to do was to click through to the fully transparent web page. But they couldn't even manage that. No way I'm going near that kind of mania with real dollars to invest. BTW, just look at the chart for that garbage over the past week.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: January 05, 2018, 02:00:59 PM »
Fenring, I never said it was a viable political system. It never has been, really, which is why I support regulation in the attempt to cage the unprincipled animals that dominate the majority of US businesses (and probably elsewhere).

How it could be "enforced" without government is that the men of the mind refuse to do business with the people who are shady, unethical turds. Suppliers would just pass on doing business with Walmart and sign up with Costco. When the government messed up Roark's project he blew the damn thing up. When Rearden was ordered to hand over his patent, he (at first) simply refuses. Wyatt sets fire to his oil fields. While those are dramatic examples, there are more subtle ones in the book. The principle is not to live exclusively for profit, but rather to live for self-interest. These are not the same thing, although they are intertwined. Roark turns down lots of jobs and makes less money in the name of his self-interest.

#1 It should be recognized in their own self interest - Costco regularly gets beaten up by analysts who say that they ought to compensate their employees less so the profit can be sweeter. Costco knows better. Costco has a P/E of 27.7, walmart 17.2. Growth is higher for Costco. It is in Walmarts personal best interest to change their model from crushing employees into the ground to lift them up, but they don't recognize it.

Which is #2, don't work for unethical companies and don't buy their products. We've seen some of this sentiment lately but it needs to go a lot farther. I've had my personal battle with Wells Fargo. I should have cut ties with them over their widespread fraudulent account opening. I haven't, and may not. Partly because I prefer a large bank to credit unions for their various amenties, including great online interface and available ATMs. I already avoid Chase, B ofA, and Citi for previous ethical flaws.

#3, if you're inside a company and spot unethical behaviour, blow the whistle. Put it in the paper, smash their stock prices. Change the optimization strategy and the risk profile by making it really, really painful to blow the rules.

And so, in the meantime, yes I'm going to support a lot of regulation. I want the government crawling through WF looking for more bull*censored*. I want fraud held truly accountable, like when investment firms tell customers to buy a product while they are selling it off. I want Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and every other damn thing we can throw at them until they straighten up and fly right.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: January 05, 2018, 01:01:37 PM »
for those who love Ayn Rand's books there's a reason why they most likely recoil at the idea of the industrious and successful being told they're bad for doing well.

We would also recoil at the idea of an all-powerful oligarchy. Her books depict man qua man, and so the very ideas of price fixing, giving your nephew a million bucks to invest in property, and other behaviour observed with "capitalism in the wild" would be rejected along with those who practice it.

She depicted competitors battling on the strength of their ideas, not colluding to crush their opposition. She depicted employers compelled by morality to pay a fair wage and reward merit.

Would that our system operated on Objectivist principles, and there would be no need for regulation.

None of this stops 80% of business folks to hand out copies of Atlas Shrugged and use it to justify behaviour in total opposition to Objectivist values.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: January 03, 2018, 04:54:40 PM »
That's a good article, and it does lay some things out worth discussing. But those ladder rules didn't come up because nobody was falling off of them. You'd like to say, "isn't this just common sense, what a waste!". Until somebody doesn't train their workers on the correct way to set a ladder, or how high to climb safely, or other such regulations. I'd like to see that come out in suits against the small business owners, but the owners will say "there is no standard for this training, therefore how could we fail to meet it?" They rightly would point out that accidents do happen and too bad about that, but at what point are employers negligent?

Food safety regulations have been cited as stopping people from donating prepared food. But what are you going to do when somebody changes the baby and doesn't wash their hands before going back to the kitchen? They're going to get a lot of people sick. The worst losers are the people who already know what to do safely, but then suddenly have to prove that they do because of regulation.

Even from the article, note that on top of the government, large customers are asking for more compliance documentation, not less than the government. Why would that be? Because they have a big reputation to lose if there is a supplier skirting safety or labor regulations.

I'd rather a blanket assertion, "Ensure that adequate safety is in place" and then fine the employer for any workplace injury - regardless of cause. If you hired them, you own their decisions and their actions and take the burden of their risk. That would dump the red tape, but leave incentives to keep people safe.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: January 03, 2018, 04:05:26 PM »
Of course deregulation spurs growth. Just picking one example, worker safety standards, could also result in increased costs for health care, workers compensation claims, and other costs related to injured workers. These are not able to be measured in an appreciable way, so its hard to prove empirically what the effect was.

Just one of those quickly googled at random - lowering the limit for silica exposure, resulted in industry complaining that it was too hard to measure and comply. I'm sure if you eliminated OSHA altogether, you'd create a giant surge in business profit at the expense of injuries and long term health issues.

Policy isn't always about creating the greatest growth imaginable. When shady operators skirt safety issues - where is the check and balance? Unions often pushed for such things in a previous era, but it has been fairly clear that business does not handle this on their own. So, you wind up with an anarcho-capitalist view that says "well, it was up to the worker. They can always not work there." Assuming that they even knew what risks were in place. I'm kind of okay with safety rules, but it is obviously possible to swing too far and make it impossible to do business.

I'm sure if I took everything line-by-line, I'd agree with some regulations and not think others were warranted.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: January 03, 2018, 10:56:24 AM »
There are two questions - will it lead to reinvestment, more high end jobs, more GDP? Absolutely. No question, which is why as Seriati states, other countries are going to try to combat the US advantage (or improvement).

The other question is, will anyone below the median income see higher wages, more jobs that they are _qualified_ for? A lot less certain. More capital could easily mean more automation, more outsourcing, and increases in executive compensation. All of which can be called a better economy - but for whom?

Decreased corporate tax isn't going to help the person who wants to start a food truck business, open a restaurant, or haul freight independently. In fact, it makes it less viable as a restaurant group opens another location, etc.

In my opinion, the overwhelming gains go to people with brokerage accounts (less than half of all Americans have them), college educated or self taught people with skills in high demand (much less than half), and perhaps self-employed professionals.

Depending on your philosophy and politics, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. But I don't think we should kid ourselves that this is some kind of universal boon for everyone. The last time everybody won was when Oprah was on TV. You can make an argument, certainly, that no one is worse off than they were before - until we start looking at programs like CHIP that are under fire for being too expensive, especially now with higher deficits.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: January 02, 2018, 12:37:46 PM »
Putting capital in the hands of investors is also the best way to generate investment in new businesses and expansions.

Or fuel speculation on Bitcoin.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: December 27, 2017, 04:34:47 PM »
Another point - if you have the ability to track single person fighters, why aren't any of the FO ships going to "notice" the lifeboat sized shuttles that the rebels are using to escape, when they've got nothing better to do waiting for the rebels to run out of fuel? They are obviously able to track them well enough to blow the crap out of them once they are "detected".

Somebody must have got force-choked for that one.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 27, 2017, 03:10:28 PM »
The pre-payment of taxes idea probably impacts less than the breathless reporters imply.  Many many people in High Tax states who make enough to get a benefit from pre-paying SALT will actually get no benefit from doing so because their SALT deductions were already high enough to force them to pay the AMT and anymore SALT is therefore already a complete waste.

It isn't even clear if you can deduct pre-paid SALT. This is all speculative, and you wanna bet the IRS ruling is that you can't? This is going to screw up people's escrow handling and cause a big headache for no return. I will also predict that rather than saving the prepaid taxes, at least some of these local governments will squander it and then choke on it a year later. They're really just not wired for having wads of extra cash on hand.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 27, 2017, 01:15:12 PM »
Man, CNN continues to lower my already low opinion. Top three headlines on the tax change:

Homeowners scramble to pre-pay property taxes
Residents in high-tax states could lose thousands of dollars due to new tax rules starting in 2018
Apple finally got its tax break. Will billions of jobs follow?


The first two are just deeply skewed, but the last one borders on illucid.

So yeah, if this is your sole go-to news source I can absolutely see why you'd have an uninformed negative opinion no matter how methodical the process might have been.

General Comments / Re: Weinstein mess
« on: December 26, 2017, 07:40:56 PM »
It is worth noting that POLICE need to do their diligence when it comes to arresting someone.

It is understood police had looked at thousands of phone messages when reviewing evidence in the case, but had failed to disclose to the prosecution and defence teams messages between the complainant and her friends which cast doubt on the allegations against Mr Allan.
A Met spokesman said the force was "urgently reviewing this investigation and will be working with the Crown Prosecution Service to understand exactly what has happened in this case.
"The Met understands the concerns that have been raised as a result of this case being dismissed from court and the ongoing review will seek to address those," he said.

rape accusation ruin

Did the cops review the records they pulled? Why didn't they at least let prosecutors know? Is this a situation of wanting their arrest rate to go up?

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: December 26, 2017, 05:34:34 PM »
Isaac Asimov, once asked to explain the difference between science fiction and fantasy, replied that science fiction, given its grounding in science, is possible; fantasy, which has no grounding in reality, is not.

Does that make the Foundation series fantasy? Considering Asimov's mutant with a mind-control lute in the Foundation series.

Then you have to balance that against Clarke, who said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

But yes, point taken, Star Wars has never had a technological edge to it. Which makes it more like Dr Who than Star Trek on the Spectrum, but even the Doctor occasionally had to wave a spanner around even though it was preposterous. As did the characters on Farscape.

General Comments / Will wages rise with the economy?
« on: December 26, 2017, 02:10:54 PM »
The inertia behind wages is complex and varied, these are some of the reasons why I think median wages will rise slowly, if at all, as a result of increased cash flow or after-tax profit.

1. Larger companies have carefully calibrated wage schedules.

Every job description has an acceptable wage range associated with it. Hiring mangers have two choices to raise wages - push people up the range or re-classify them at a higher level. In highly skilled jobs, managers are given wide discretion. In less skilled jobs, there is little room for movement.

2. Small business owners are notoriously frugal.

When you look at the <50 employees small businesses (think restaurant, bar, mom&pop retail), these sole proprietors (or LLC) are pretty grim when it comes to sharing the wealth or thinking about top line expansion. Likely, they won't make more money by reinvesting into their one storefront, and they don't really have the mentality or enough extra cash to think about expansion. Even if they do expand, they will probably employ more people - not pay each individual more. If they run short of help, they are likely to absorb high turnover or run shorthanded than to share back another dime. Many small business owners are happy if they are maintaining a threshold that keeps them in their current lifestyle, and they are risk-averse as a general rule. We're talking about the people who don't want to pay a $2 credit card fee and won't let people have free soda refills.

3. Union contracts

Union contracts tend not to reflect general market trends with any great accuracy. Contracts up for negotiation are anchored at historic levels, and so companies know they might be saddling themselves with future headaches if they gave up ground, and I'm not sure the unions have had the power recently (if ever) to cite "higher profit" as a reason to get better pay for the workers they represent.

4. Margins are margins

The street pays very close attention to margin. Gross margin is often dominated by workers wages. Net margin is often dominated by SG&A or R&D expenses - which may or may not be dominated by compensation. On the face of it, it would make sense that lowered costs in the bottom line would make room for higher unit cost. But companies usually use Gross margin as a metric, and would be seen as losing margin even while increasing profit. They are more likely to re-invest in R&D or SG&A (more ads, new product development, more sales people, more executives) than they are in worker expansion (even assuming the workforce is domestic).

5. Productivity gain may be better realized through something other than wage growth.

You find yourself with a shortage of available labor. You can pay people more to fill the positions, or you can find a way for 3 people to do the work of 4. You might be much better off investing your new found capital in efficiency improvements. Maybe you put in a new pos or inventory system to reduce manual labor. Maybe you farm out cleaning to an outside contract company. Some companies certainly will pay a premium to get the best and most reliable workers, but there are a lot more Walmarts than Costcos.


None of this stops higher-end wages from rising. Those making $60k and up might well see jumps in their compensation (wage, profit share, bonus, equity), and they might be high enough to see a rise in average wages. But those in the mid and lower quintiles are unlikely to move, in my opinion. So we'll see a lot of "rich get richer" type reactions as the gaps between growth at these different income levels accelerates.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: December 26, 2017, 01:06:43 PM »
Another thought -

There's a huge difference between Star Wars and other sci-fi. In Star Wars the engineers are either invisible or don't exist. In the tracking situation, the Star Trek captain would have dozens of people trying to figure how they got tracked, can it be countered, etc, so they could jump to safety. In Star Wars its like they just kind of inherited the technology from a witch doctor somewhere. The only time anything gets repaired is when a droid rams its head into a panel or something.

Maybe there are no engineers dumb enough to get on a rebel vessel. :)

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 24, 2017, 11:24:51 AM »
Baseline success, a rise in median income adjusted for inflation. Largely flat over the past 15 years.

This group makes $50 per year, roughly, so we're not talking unskilled workers. This is the group that is supposed to get all the benefits of growth, including higher wages and better jobs.

Move that needle, and I'm on board. If gdp grows a bunch and median income doesn't rise - well we know who got all the benefit then, don't we?

The second question would be - when do we measure? It takes time to react to new policy, etc. Are we really going to see meaningful improvement at the employment level by then? I still wonder how much of the Clinton boom years were really long-term effects of Reagan and Bush policies. If you leave it loose, then you just cherry pick the good or bad year.

This still leaves the potential impact of major events to obfuscate any effects. What happens if NK becomes a shooting war? It pretty much obliterates any ability to separate impacts. Did the tax break make it "less bad" than it would have been?

General Comments / Re: Destruction and theft of cultural heritage
« on: December 21, 2017, 01:02:37 PM »
Two more statues go to an undisclosed location in Memphis

They sold the plot it stood on, kind of a sneaky maneuver but who can blame them for not wanting a riot over it?

Makes me wonder - should cash strapped communities hold an auction for these statues? Can you imagine the bidding war between people who want to preserve them and peopel who want to destroy them?  :P

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 21, 2017, 11:22:15 AM »
TheDrake, and what do you mean by "savings"?  Walk me through it, how are they going to be passed on to another generation?  In mattresses?  Boxes of gold?   How do these savings survive the next 10, 20, 40 years until they are passed on?  Do you think, maybe, that those who recieve them may use them like they do now?  You know, with the majority going into new investments that generate return?

Deficits concern everyone (though not mentioned when the Dems want to spend more), the entire argument though is that its a false claim.  There's almost no uncertainty that the corporate tax cuts are going to result in a non-zero amount of new investment and a non-zero amount of real wage increases.

0.1% is a non-zero amount, size matters.

An investment that generates return is not necessarily capital investment that generates jobs.

Apple buys back its stock, and money goes to people who were holding that stock. They use that money to buy other stocks. Unless it gets to a company performing an IPO or raising debts through bonds, its just savings generating investment return but not jobs. Typically this would manifest as high P/E ratios. This is a very real scenario, but just like your example, size matters. I don't have a great concept of how much this might happen, but it is a concern. This is especially likely for companies (like Apple) that already had plenty of cash and cash equivalents and have chosen not to use it for organic growth or greenfield expansion (or increased wages, for that matter).

There are a non-zero amount of companies that will pocket the cash, increase executive compensation, and other reactions that will not generally improve economic conditions for the majority of Americans.

Luckily, we'll be able to measure this impact on publicly traded entities. Capital investment is easily identified vs cash and cash equivalent. You may be fully right, or you might even be underestimating the even better outcome we're going to enjoy. I'm only trying to say that there is room for a reasonable person to be skeptical.

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 21, 2017, 10:56:07 AM »
What am I misunderstanding?  What are you opposed to?  Lower taxes?  Economic growth?

For myself, I've stated that I'm lukewarm about this. From a growth side, I'm fearful that many companies will spend the windfall on stock buyback and dividends that will please investors but not materially increase opportunity, with the net impact of increasing savings that will be even easier to pass on to descendants with the raising of estate tax limits.

I'm generally fearful of the higher deficits, but possibly even more fearful that these higher deficits in turn will be used to justify draconian cuts in various government agencies and programs (never military or border patrol of course)

And as far as secrecy goes, remember all the Obamacare townhalls, discussion of death panels and the like? Did I miss a bunch of these inviting feedback about the tax bill? No, because there wouldn't have been time to book the flight and have the discussion before voting. :D

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 21, 2017, 09:32:50 AM »
34. Businesses won't be able to write off sexual harassment settlements.
New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez's amendment born of the #MeToo moment made it all the way through. Companies can no longer deduct any settlements, payouts or attorney's fees related to sexual harassment if the payments are subject to non-disclosure agreements.

That one I didn't know about. I like it.

General Comments / Re: Defeat ISIS, check.
« on: December 21, 2017, 07:15:05 AM »
There's another risk if you go for capture. You get binLaden, but on the way out Pakistani troops arrive and demand his release. You could wind up with an armed confrontation with an <ahem> ally - on their own ground. And, remember that even the possession of a dead bin Laden was considered dangerous enough that he got tossed overboard (officially).

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 20, 2017, 06:16:49 PM »
I guess you nailed us. You've totally proven that the only way anybody might respond negatively to this bill is through the malevolent manipulation of the media or willful ignorance.  ::)

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 20, 2017, 01:49:03 PM »
You found an opinionated Op-Ed contribution. Congrats.

General Comments / Re: Defeat ISIS, check.
« on: December 20, 2017, 01:40:00 PM »
Failing to capture and bring Obama to trial was a big mistake, that shame would have done more to undermine Al Queda than virtually anything else could have. 

 ;D ;D ;D

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 20, 2017, 11:20:48 AM »
Part of the perception problem is lag and selective propagation of bad news vs good.

The media correctly reported that proposed legislation was going to tax graduate students more. Then grad students and supporters blasted the internet of the terrifying consequences. When it was removed from the final bill, those same people were not as motivated to propagate the good news that it had been pulled out. That's not the only provision that was in there, SALT had been proposed as an elimination rather than a cap, and child tax credit was improved in the final bill.

So, everyone remembers the news they heard that scared them. This is a well known phenomenon called the “loss aversion” principle. And, people don't have up to date information. Part of rushing a bill through is a lack of time to communicate what is in the final legislation, some blame resides in that process for why people have a negative opinion.

I think that people will continue to believe what they want to believe. If they think the cuts were a bad idea, they will find data to explain any upside as independent or they will focus on the people who were on the losing end of the equation - no matter what their numbers versus the winners. Or they will focus on how much bigger the win was for the billionaire class. Or they will talk about how the ensuing tax war has ruined our relations with other countries.

I'm personally rather lukewarm on the bill. I don't see anything in it that I truly hate, my personal tax situation is unlikely to change dramatically, and I doubt there will be any significant near-term impact.

General Comments / Re: Weinstein mess
« on: December 19, 2017, 02:19:31 PM »
My God! The Democrats even got Ivana to describe an encounter with Donald as rape in a 1989 deposition!! Clearly the DNC has access to TIME TRAVEL!

General Comments / They are coming for our drones
« on: December 18, 2017, 07:08:34 PM »
Well, mandatory drone registration is back on again. Clearly this is the first step on the road to drone confiscation.

You probably remember how the FAA finalized its mandatory drone registration rules just in time for the holiday season in 2015. Any drone that weighed more than 0.55 pounds was required to be registered before being flown outdoors, a process that involved providing your complete name, physical address, mailing address, email address, and a credit card that was charged a one-time fee of US $5. In exchange, you got a unique registration number that had to be visible on all of your drones.

Lots of people were not fans of this, in particular model aircraft enthusiasts, who have been flying drones (that look much more like airplanes) for decades without having to tell the government about them. They took the FAA to court, and last May, mandatory drone registration was ruled unlawful and the FAA started giving everyone their $5 back. It’s not like this changed the FAA’s mind about whether drone registration was a good thing or not, so they did what the government does, and sneaked that mandate into the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act, signed yesterday.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: December 18, 2017, 04:58:41 PM »
I was wondering how many people caught that. Hurry, we have to get over the Dreadnought so we can 'drop' the bombs! There they go, falling down onto the ship. In space.

They would have felt ridiculous if they just floated on with their bombs hanging around their own ship.

General Comments / Re: Weinstein mess
« on: December 18, 2017, 02:57:55 PM »
I guess Kozinski is the latest to fall from a brilliantly choreographed set of 15 (and counting) accusations from respected fellow judges, lawyers, and one professor.

Well done DNC, well done!

Or maybe occams razor suggests that he just liked groping women, making lewd comments, and generally being a giant *censored* for decades.

Maybe Breitbart and friends will put the women through hell to make them leave the country or recant their stories.

General Comments / Re: Trump New Speak
« on: December 18, 2017, 01:15:28 PM »
So, no, they didn't tell CDC to stop using those words. This came from NYTimes:

“It’s absurd and Orwellian, it’s stupid and Orwellian, but they are not saying to not use the words in reports or articles or scientific publications or anything else the C.D.C. does,” the former official said. “They’re saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you. It’s not about censoring what C.D.C. can say to the American public. It’s about a budget strategy to get funded.”

So it is grant proposal advice, and probably pretty prudent advice at that.


General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 18, 2017, 01:09:34 PM »
So you're good at timing the market on a daily basis, Wayward? All the science I've seen on it suggests that people who leave all their money alone in a broad index fund fare better than the wizardly fund managers. I'm not sure why you think that the guys managing a Vanguard 401K fund are somehow less attuned to market risk than some goofy rich individual investors. Believe me, they have stop losses in there as well as derivatives for protection. The only handicap they have is the inertia of a large fund, getting out of substantial positions poses a market liquidity problem.

Short selling stock is a fantastic way to lose your money, especially if you're timing it to a near term event. Since you said "get out now", I'm assuming that you are not really short selling, but rather just selling.

Most 401k allow for close to daily moves in their mutual funds. I'm not sure why a 401k asset reallocation should take days let alone weeks. Prudential and other bigger boys are practically etrade. If you are filling out a paper form and giving it to HR, your company is doing it wrong.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: December 18, 2017, 12:58:29 PM »
Ender would have a field day with how they arrange all their ships into a 2 dimensional plane. :)

General Comments / Re: Republican Tax Plan
« on: December 18, 2017, 09:33:33 AM »
But what about all those workers who have their 401Ks invested in stocks?  They probably will be the ones who will suffer the loses.

Anyone who has a 401k has not only access to professional advice, but also has a very limited set of funds to choose from. It's investment-lite. Each fund is stamped with "Growth", "Risk", "Income".

Index funds rarely do poorly over the long run, but even so there are bond funds and other hedges even available to the unsophisticated investor in a restricted 401k.

The vast majority of Americans, however, have little to no savings of any kind. Others, like the saps at Enron, left their retirement undiversified in their own company stock. It is up to them to either invest wisely on their own, or seek advice from someone more knowledgeable. Any CPA can help someone with that, and if you have tens of thousands of dollars in savings, you probably can pay the $150 for them to explain your options.

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: December 18, 2017, 09:11:08 AM »
Why did the bombers all "fall" down when they got destroyed? Is the Dreadnought dense enough to create its own gravity for some reason? Plus, since they clearly have gravity technology (nobody is wearing magnetic boots in these films), wouldn't it make sense to repulse explody things? And why are the bombs dropping at what appear to be 1G?

General Comments / Re: Weinstein mess
« on: December 18, 2017, 09:06:37 AM »
How many accusers are required to burn the witches? Bloom (and the DNC) could establish a budget if she had a specific number of people to target.

Let me get this straight. You think the DNC is not only willing, but also capable of orchestrating multiple accusers who will not only be able to claim credible contact with their falsely accused victim, but also be willing to participate in such a scheme. And that they will be okay with having their lives upended and scrutinized over it - presumably because the DNC is giving them duffel bags full of cash? And that enlist people who knew them at the time to also back up their story? And that the DNC, despite not being capable of securing their own emails, will be able to use this tactic repeatedly with no exposure?

General Comments / Re: Trump v. Obama nominees
« on: December 15, 2017, 01:18:28 PM »
haha. Petersen. Talley.

Real winners. A lifetime judgeship three years out of law school? A guy who has never tried a court case?

Is this a ploy to make the next person look like a wizard by comparison?

General Comments / Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
« on: December 15, 2017, 11:15:16 AM »
Going to see it this afternoon, company bought us tickets AND a free small popcorn. :)

The early audience for this film is likely to have a fair proportion of superfans, so their low rating could be for violating some canon of the series of films, books, and fan fiction. Also people with super jacked up expectations.

I'm expecting to see a mildly interesting action film, featuring the disillusioned anti-hero and the fiery acolyte. I've avoided any discussions of the details and trailers.

General Comments / Re: Weinstein mess
« on: December 15, 2017, 10:55:35 AM »
Doesn't quite rise to my standard, single accuser no apparent corroboration. That said, I tend to believe there was something behind this.

Ramsey repeatedly said that she was not aware of any settlement in the case, but said that if she had been a party to the case she would have opposed settling.

That kind of stretches credibility. You run the HR department. Company lawyers come and ask you about the case. Then they just go away, and you never follow up? She might have opposed settling, but to be unaware? I'm assuming her department probably had to revise their training in such matters as well. ;D

The allegations about “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos” makes me think she probably did some of that. Again, stipulated, no proof just opinion and guesswork.

General Comments / Re: Net Neutrality 2.0
« on: December 14, 2017, 07:49:19 PM »
5G is going to be a game changer for ISP potential. 10Gb speed over wireless, not requiring the $1000 considered typical to lay fiber.

Part of the US challenge is the sheer distances involved that have to get plumbed, I would imagine. I also suspect that the costs we see directly are charged indirectly in the UK.

I can't research these suspicions because my internet is too slow in my impoverished nation.

General Comments / Re: Weinstein mess
« on: December 14, 2017, 07:38:36 PM »
Sure sounds good to me. Especially since he impugned the integrity of his opponent and the media while he was covering it up.

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