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User Journal

Journal Journal: Trapped in the closet 5

Trapped in the Closet is what some have called hip-hop opera. I don't expect very many of my readers to be familiar with it, but it's actually not so bad. You can watch it on Youtube, but what I'm particularly interested in is chapter 6, which I'll let wikipedia's description, included at the end, suffice for those who may not care to watch the whole thing (takes a good half hour to get to the end of 6, start of 7).

The question is: how culpable is the police officer for the shooting in this incident? You'll need to watch the video to really be able to argue the point - at what point does a police officer entering a home without permission, but in which he believes a crime may currently be being committed (in this case, he fears it may be assault leading to murder, so there wouldn't be time to go get a warrant), cease to be an enforcer of the law and instead himself become a home invader? Was it ok for Sylvester to grapple with the officer right there at the end of Chapter 6?

Wikipedia explanation of chapter 6:

After the realization that Gwendolyn cheated on Sylvester while already knowing he had also cheated on her, Sylvester laughs at the craziness eventually also causing Gwendolyn to also laugh and apologize. Sylvester then tells her what he went through the previous night. The police officer, whose name is revealed to be James, is concerned about Gwendolyn, turning his car around and going back to the house where he sees Sylvester's car parked in a crooked space with the lights still on. James looks around the back and sees the door has been broken in and then pulls out his gun and goes in to investigate. He hears Sylvester and Gwendolyn laughing hysterically which he mistakes as yelling and crying. As Sylvester continues to explain what was going on, James thinks Gwendolyn is being abused and when she says that Sylvester is "killing her" with his stories, James bursts in. Sylvester notices the guy as the same cop who pulled him over. Gwendolyn tries to calm them down while Sylvester threatens James to get out of the house with his gun. After Gwendolyn begs and James insists, Sylvester drops his gun, and puts his hands up to freeze, James winks and smiles at Sylvester which angers him and then he struggles with James over his gun. While they are fighting, the gun accidentally fires.

User Journal

Journal Journal: So damn annoying! 5

I can get info from the census bureau about:

Age, Ancestry, Births, Children, Computer Ownership and Use, Deaths, Disability, Education, Elderly, Families, Fertility, Foreign Born, Grandparents, Health Insurance, Hispanic Origin, Households and Families, Immigration, Income, Journey to Work, Labor Force, Language Use, Marital Status and Living Arrangements, Migration, Occupation, Overseas U.S. Population, Poverty, Program Participation, Puerto Rico and the Insular Areas, Race, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, School Costs, School Districts, School Enrollment, Voting and Registration, Wealth, Well-Being, Working At Home

But I can NOT get info from the census about religion.

Don't tell me it's a first amendment issue, that's just non-sense. If it were a concern over constitutionality, than the would not be able to ask about race (15th amendment) or sex (19th amendment), but they do. There's no good reason not to get some sort of info on religion, even if it is a high-level question (e.g. you would get to pick only just "Christian" without having a list of various sects to choose from, or "Muslim" without indicating whether sunni or shite or sufi, etc.).

We don't concern ourselves over the government collecting info on race, sex, education level, income level, age, immigration status, ancestry, occupation, marital status or anything else, but like hell we're gonna let them know our religion? In what world does that possibly make sense? Either they need to collect none of these things, just a count of the number of people, or they should just go ahead and collect everything. It's no better that the government might discriminate based on race than the might discriminate on religion - either one is equally wrong, so why worry about them getting one of those pieces of info and not the other? Either they already use it for evil or they don't, they won't suddenly start being evil (if they weren't already... *cough*) just because they got one more piece of info.

*rolls eyes*

User Journal

Journal Journal: deficits and surpluses 11

So, using the following sites for data:

I had to start in 1901 since the historical federal budgets aren't separated out by year until then.

I looked both at which party controlled both chambers of Congress, and then which party controlled Congress AND the presidency BOTH at the same time, and added up the budgets for each year of control. Years where there was a split, I didn't assign the budget to either party, although arguably I could/should assign it (or some percentage of it) to the party controlling the House, but I did it as an all or nothing deal.

There's some funky "TQ" budget between 1976 and 1977, but no footnote or explanation in the table as to what that means. I did include this budget amount in my totals - the democrats controlled congress in both 76 and 77, but the presidency switched in those years and so I assigned it to the republican president. This works to the favor of the democrats since this TQ budget ran a deficit...

One thing I had a problem with was control of the Senate during the 107th Congress and how it kept flip-flopping, first democrat control with 50-50 split and Al Gore still VP, then 50-50 split with Dick Cheney as VP, then democrat control 50-49 with Jeffords caucusing with the democrats, then republican 50-48 after the death of Paul Wellstone. So I didn't assign the budgets for the 107th Congress to either party.

With these things in mind, since 1901 the democrats have controlled both chambers of congress 59 years of that time, versus 38 years for republicans. Democrats have controlled congress AND the presidency 36 years, versus 30 years for republicans.

If you look at the budget only in the context of who controlled both houses of Congress, without regard to who controlled the presidency, the democrats, in their 59 years, ran deficits in 52 of those years and surpluses in only 7, for a net of $2,896,474,000,000 (~$2.9 trillion) in debt. The republicans ran deficits in 17 years and surpluses in 21 years, for a net of $1,228,948,000,000 (~$1.2 trillion) in debt. If you don't count the Bush years, the republicans actually ran a net surplus of $127,891,000,000 (~$128 billion) when they controlled Congress.

When you examine which party controlled both houses of Congress AND the presidency, we find the democrats ran deficits in 33 of the years they had this degree of control and surpluses in only 3 years, for a net of $955,058,000,000 of debt (955 billion). The republicans ran deficits in 13 years they had that degree of control, and surpluses in 17 years, for a net of $1,353,730,000,000 of debt (~$1.35 trillion), but again if you discount the Bush years, the republicans had a surplus of $3,109,000,000 (~$3 billion).

Historically, prior to Bush, the republicans were the party of great fiscal responsibility, while the democrats spent us into oblivion. Bush and his cohorts in Congress, on the other hand, have been vastly more egregious than the democrats ever were. We'll see how it goes post-2008...

Now I understand the democrats were in charge during the build up to WWI (though congress split once the war started), through all of WWII, the first half of the Korea war (republicans finished the war), and the first half of the Vietnam War, so a lot of the democratic deficits are from war-time spending, so it isn't necessarily as horrible as it might sound at first, but there are far more non-war years than there are war years, so it's still not all that great.

It does not appear the numbers are adjusted for inflation or otherwise in constant dollars, but if you made that adjustment it would only make things look much, much worse for democrats and much, much better for republicans since republicans ran most of their surpluses in the early part of the 20th century while most of their deficits are in the past 5 years (although 1919 was a humdinger of a year), while democrats have been running deficits the entire time.

User Journal

Journal Journal: individual income tax 8

Looking at the historical tables in the 2008 budget

If you take the outlays from 2000 and subtract that from the estimated outlays for 2007, the difference is $995,051.

The 2000 budget had a surplus (*cough*) of $236,241.

$995,051 + $236,241 = $1,231,292

The individual income tax in 2007 is estimated to bring in $1,168,846.

If the feds were to cut back spending to 2000 levels (which were entirely too much for my tastes to begin with, but it'd be a helluva lot better than current spending), we could ENTIRELY ELIMINATE the individual income tax, and still have a small surplus to boot.

*rolls eyes*

Bush a conservative? Only if you misuse the word to mean completely the opposite of what it is supposed to mean... Unless you are referring to his commitment to conserve big government spending...

Forget the Fair Tax and a revenue neutral replacement for the income tax, just return to 2000 spending levels and kill the income tax completely, replacing it with nothing at all!

User Journal

Journal Journal: H.R. 1591 3

H.R. 1591: U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007

Which is the supplemental Iraq spending bill.

Read it for yourself and discover the kinds of things Congress apparently believes are vital to continued fighting in Iraq!

Title II of the bill is especially enlightening.

Yeah, some of what is in there may be vital or good or desirable, but they have absolutely positively nothing to do at all with the fighting in Iraq. If they are so great or necessary than separate them out into their own bills and let them stand or fall on their own merits.

The democrats have really proven EXTREMELY disappointing with their control of Congress.

Not terribly surprising of course, but still annoying.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Advice to stupid criminals:

If you're going to make fraudulent charges on a credit card that will be recurring, and of a sort that suggest residency in whatever country the charge is being made, for example, a World of Warcraft account, steal the credit card info from someone who actually lives in your country. Just a thought.

Considering it's been 30 years since my last trip to Europe, and my wife is 6 years since she's been to Europe, charging a WoW account in Euros just makes it obvious the charges are fraudulent.

It would be nice if the credit card company could have been a little more on the ball on this one, but at least they aren't giving us any grief in removing the charges. When I say on the ball, I mean the previous bill we had called and disputed those charges, but then the WoW account still continued to get charged against our card anyways and are appearing on the current bill. Which says to me that the credit card company is just as stupid as the criminal. We just closed the down that account completely - just not worth dealing with so much stupidity all around.

User Journal

Journal Journal: some suggested readings 1
The Imaginary Presidency
by Ryan McMaken
Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine and Virginia Tech
by Anthony Gregory

Please read both. Thank you!

Late addition:
A Culture of Passivity - "Protecting" our "children" at Virginia Tech.
By Mark Steyn

User Journal

Journal Journal: tax 2

Combined effective federal and state tax rate, as a percentage of total income: 21%
As a percent of taxable income: 25%


And that's the effective tax rate of both returns combined. The marginal tax rates for each individually, well, I'd rather not talk about that >:(

User Journal

Journal Journal: gelded 1

I've heard it several times now, it's making the circuit on talk radio - they are saying that today we live not in a gilded age, but a gelded age. BWAHAHAHA!!!

Er, wait, it would be funny if it weren't so true :(

User Journal

Journal Journal: Occam's Razor 4

So, Bill Whittle has a new post.

I like his opening paragraph - made me laugh :D

Occam's Razor is the idea that when confronted with competing theories that explain certain data equally well, the simplest one is usually correct. It's called Occam's Razor, and not Occam's Hypothesis, or Occam's Theorem, or Occam's Bit of Useful Advice, because it is a razor - it cuts cleanly and with great efficiency.

Occam's Bit of Useful Advice... that's very funny!

User Journal

Journal Journal: The sun 4

So, ever since my company relocated from midtown to Roswell, I've been getting in real early, typically by 7am, because traffic is so bad that if I try to leave any time between 7 and 8, it will take a minimum of an hour and a half, maybe two hours, and that assumes there are no collisions, wrecks or stalls, and that Norfolk-Southern, in its infinite wisdom, isn't running a 500 car train across Pleasant Hill at Buford Hwy during peak rush hour. If you have any problems, you may as well turn around and go home, because by the time you get to the office, it'd be quitting time anyways. It's a total disaster. If I leave by 6am, however, I can get in in 40-45 minutes. That's 1/2 to 1/3 the commute time by leaving an hour earlier. It's just nuts.

There was a lot of talk a few years ago about building "The Northern Arc", which would have been a high-speed highway going east-west some miles north of the perimeter, more or less right where my commute takes me these days. At the time I didn't have a dog in the fight so I didn't pay attention, but a lot of people opposed it because friends of the politicians who were pushing the deal stood to make a lot of money from the sale of land along the route. Let me tell you, now that I have that commute myself, I don't give a damn who makes money off the construction of such a road, build the damn thing! Of course audit to make sure the prices paid are fair, but as long as they are fair market value, who cares if it's some politicos buddy? SOMEBODY is going to make money off the deal anyways, and that road is desparately, urgently needed.

Anyways, I'm not here to talk about the Northern Arc or the politics surrounding it, I'm here to talk about the sun.

Leaving at 6 in the morning and getting to work by 7 in the morning generally means I don't get any sunlight on the commute. There's no windows in the part of the building they have most of us seated, so I don't get any sun while I'm working. If it's not too cold or not raining, I'll go outside at lunch time, but that's a small amount of sun at a point where I've already been up for 7+ hours. Doesn't help.

Last week here in Atlanta all the elementary schools had spring break. On top of that, I worked so late into the night on several nights that there was no possibility of waking up early. I didn't mind so much however since I figured with spring break and the final four, traffic so far north where I am would be light. And I was right. So leaving for work at 7:30 or 8 in the morning meant driving into work with the sun.

This week I've been working out of the datacenter in downtown for 3 of 4 days so far. Working out of the datacenter is no fun, so I impose a fee for having to do so of getting in around 9. But since it's a straight shot down I-85, I can generally leave around 7:45 or 8:00 and still make it in around 9, so again this week I've been driving in with the sun.

So here's the point of all this: when I wake up and get into work before the sun has even started to rise, I find myself tired and grumpy all the time. When I wake up with the sun and drive into work in daylight, I don't find myself sleepy at all. It's not just that I get extra time to sleep - even if I get to sleep by 10pm on the days I wake up a 5:30, I still am tired and grumpy. Even if I get only 5 or 6 hours of sleep on the days I get up at 8, I am completely fine all day long. Even if, while at the data center, I don't see the sun again until I leave at 6pm in the evening, I am fine.

So all I'm really trying to say here is that it is quite amazing just how much impact the sun can have on your quality of life. It is so important, at least to my biology, to get that sun light in the morning. Life sucks without it. And you just can't make up missed morning sunlight with afternoon sunlight. Doesn't work for me, anyways. It's totally different and totally unhelpful. I gotta get that sunlight in the morning to help get me woken up and properly functioning.

User Journal

Journal Journal: This is so stupid 9

Giuliani Off the Mark on Grocery Costs

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani hasn't done a lot of grocery shopping lately -- at least based on his answers about the cost of milk and bread.

I do grocery shopping nearly every week, and I haven't the faintest clue how much a gallon of milk costs, nor a loaf of bread. I occassionaly buy a quart of milk, which I guess is in the 1.50 neighborhood, but that doesn't mean a gallon is $6. I would guess probably in the neighborhood of $3.50 to $4, but I never look at how much a gallon would cost so I can't say that with any confidence.

As for bread, I couldn't even make a ball-park guess. I *NEVER* buy bread. Can't even guess what the price would be.

It's not because I don't shop, it's because I don't buy those things.

What an absolutely stupid, stupid, stupid non-story that is. Not knowing the prices of milk and bread isn't, in my mind, indicative of any damn thing at all.

Just because someone doesn't know the prices of arbitrary food items doesn't mean they are out of touch, it just means they don't buy those things. They may be staples for some people, but hardly for every person. Probably for fewer people than you might imagine. Especially in a place like Atlanta where everybody seems to eat their meals out at restaurants, three meals a day, 7 days a week. And those that don't are generally the immigrants who are going to eat whatever they are used to, not what americans may be used to, and probably doesn't involve either milk or bread (asians certainly don't eat those things, and they represent a sizeable portion of the Atlanta immigrant population). I'd be surprised if the majority of people in Atlanta could have gotten that question close to right...

User Journal

Journal Journal: The root cause of terrorism: 12

Bacon. Can you imagine having to go through life never being allowed to eat bacon? That's just inhuman! No wonder they become terrorists, being deprived of one of the best foods God put on earth!


Now I just feel sorry for them :-p

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