Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not a truck

Me:  Remember, we didn't bring the truck
Wife:  It will fit...
(She almost had to ride home with the paper towels on her lap)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street vs The Tea Party

I've got issues with both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street--but I'm firmly in the center of this Venn Diagram.  It would be nice if we could work together and concentrate on the parts where both sides agree--I think that would help both groups with the parts outside the intersection.

More on Occupy Wall Street

The previous post was of what appeared to be an Occupy NY supporter's demands, but I have no way of verifying.  Daisy Deadhead is a very liberal (self-described hippie) blogger I read, so I asked her what their platform was.  She pointed to one of her posts, which I'm fisking here.  

  As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
I feel wronged that our second amendment rights are restricted...but I doubt that counts here.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
Was the mortgage paid as in the terms of the contract?  This might be a technical legal issue, but morally, you still owe.    A lot of the mess was because the government pressured mortgage originators to be 'fair' rather than fiscally responsible.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
Just about everyone would take a bailout if offered, and in a couple cases banks were pressured by regulators into taking TARP funds, along with TARP regulation.  The issue of bonuses is complicated--Should a struggling company lose the manager of a profitable division because other managers screwed up?
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
We will never reach 100% equality.  At some point the cure becomes worse than the disease, with employers unable to risk firing non-productive employees.  
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
Family-run businesses in modern times are mostly limited to service industries--we don't have much family manufacturing businesses either.  Farming is either labor-intensive or capitol-intensive, and big business can afford the capitol.  Big business can also afford to navigate government subsidies more efficiently.  If we were limited to family farms, food prices would be significantly higher.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
Stop eating meat.  (To be fair, Daisy Deadhead says she's a vegetarian, so she's not being a hypocrite in this point)
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
Union organizers are against non-anonymous elections, so they can pressure people into voting "properly".   There is no good excuse for this, there is a reason most fair elections have secret ballots.  My union experience has been working beside auto workers, and I'm not sympathetic--many were proud of working the system--an example is that tradesman work was divided into break/fix and project work.  Some would refuse to do project work unless they were on overtime--and they could get away with it.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
How much education is there a right to--bachelor's, Master's, PhD?  We also have vastly different definitions of rights-requiring the effort of others can't be a right.  
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
It's only racism if the foreigners are lucky enough to live in America?
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
Somewhat valid--but some of the owner's rights should pass through to the corporation.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
But the same sort of shenanigans to get out of paying a mortgage is somehow OK.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
Valid point.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. 
Not so much, otherwise I'd never have heard of you.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
Sometimes.  But products are safer now than ever, and there's no such thing as risk-free.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
Huh?  Unless 'they' are the ones setting up 'subsidies for this, tax breaks for that' plans.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
...often donating to both sides, perpetuating the corrupt 2 party system.  The real problem is the politicians who take these contributions.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
Like Nuclear.  Oh wait....
How are they blocking alternative energy, other than the laws of science?   Alternative energy is like alternative medicine--the alternatives that work well become mainstream.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
So why should they invest billions in research to find new drugs, (most of which will be unsuccessful) if they can't profit on the few that work?   Without patent protection, nobody will go through the time and trouble of testing.   There are abuses and problems here-it is surprising how often we 'suddenly' find a safety problem with a drug just as it goes generic, with a new alternative waiting.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
Again, less than at any time in our history.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
Quit listening.  This is as much incompetence, laziness and that most of the public is more interested in entertainment than news.  Every news story I've known about through non-news sources has significant errors in the reporting.  Everyone I've asked says the same thing.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
What is this referring to?
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
Colonialism is declining, although I won't defend much of our overseas meddling. .
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
The fault here is the government's, not the corporations.  We need a strong military-but I'll agree not as large as we have.
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
I'm not seeing much in the way of solutions, other than 'more government except with US in charge".

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

When I first read this list of proposed demands from the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, I thought it must be a fake, put up by someone to discredit the movement--I didn't want to be taken in by an Onion article.  I'm fairly convinced this is genuine, which frightens me.

Their demand list from here:
Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending "Freetrade" by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market
In general, cheap goods increases our standard of living more than the accompanying job loss harms it, but the lost jobs are easier to point to.  Free trade benefits both sides of the deal.  Remember the lack of quality in American cars when they were only competing with each other?
To level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages.
The argument that it is not fair to compete with goods manufactured without enviornmental controls is somewhat valid, but competing with low wages is self-correcting over time.  Competing environmentally may be--developed countries are almost always better environmentally than developing.  And don't people in poor countries deserve jobs as much as we do? 
Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.
...which will cause immediate inflation, increase unemployment, and drastically increase entry-level unemployment.   Few people who haven't had a job are worth $20 per hour.
Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.
A better argument would be to disconnect health care and health insurance from employment--End the policies and tax benefits that artificially make self-purchased health insurance uncompetitively expensive compared to employer-paid.   We need some sort of cost controls, some method to prevent consumers spending on health care as if it is someone else's money.
Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.
Not sure what this means--if you don't feel like working, you still get a living wage?  If you aren't willing  to do more than show up at work, an employer still has to pay you 'a living wage"?  If you are just unqualified or unable?
Demand four: Free college education.
  Not everyone needs or can benefit from a college degree, and almost anyone willing to work at it can get one now.   If college is free, then it becomes the equivalent of a high school diploma, required for a job at Target.
Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.
Unless you count nuclear as 'alternative to fossil', this requires either a repeal of the laws of physics, or a drastic reduction in our standard of living.  We can do better at conservation, and we will--Chances are we are at or near 'peak energy', as measured by consumption.
Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.
Where does this trillion dollars come from?  Immediately? These sorts of things need years or decades of planning to do even remotely efficiently.
Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America's nuclear power plants.
OK, nuclear is NOT considered alternative.  
Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.
What would this cover, and how would it be enforced--If women aren't as interested in sports as men, would colleges still have to restrict men's sports?
Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.
Almost anyone who is willing to work for a living and isn't a criminal, sure.
Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.
Probably the most realistic and important demand.  I'm not sure of the exact mechanism, but that would be better than what we have now.
Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the "Books." World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books." And I don't mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.
Wow.  This would wipe out our economy faster than just about anything else, and may be the most ridiculous demand in this manifesto.   People should really be forced to rent until they can afford to save up for a house?  Even if this were a 'one time' forgiveness, no rational business or bank would be willing to loan substantial money ever again.
Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.
If loans are illegal, what's the point?  
Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.
There are many good reasons for secret ballots, and very few good reasons to require open ballots--whether we are talking about government or union elections, we should go to great lengths to avoid coercion or retaliation for voting 'wrong'.
These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy.
More wishful thinking.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Honey in fiberglass repair

A few weeks ago I found a set of hard fiberglass motorcycle saddlebags at a garage sale for $2, in fairly poor condition.  I de-rusted the hardware and painted it flat black, patched up the cracks in the fiberglass and painted them to match the bike.  I'm learning how to paint, and was still experimenting with the tops, so I didn't re-attach the safety chains...oops.

On my way home from work, I apparently did not properly latch one of the lids, and without a safety chain it fell off.  I didn't notice immediately, and by the time I found the lid, it had been hit and the last 3 or so inches was broken off.  

The two lids are identical, so I've been trying to use the intact lid as a pattern to repair the broken lid with fiberglass. The first attempts at the form were with expanding insulation foam and plastic wrap so I can remove it.  I think the method could work, but the expansion makes it difficult to get an accurate form with a thin enough layer to cure in a reasonable time. Worse, the outer layer appears to be fully cured, but removing the foam from the lid revealed that the center was almost completely soft and liquid.   A layer thin enough to cure would not duplicate the shape properly.

I gave up on the foam and made a form out of fiberglass.  I greased the inside of the good lid, lined it with foil and added a layer of fiberglass and resin.   I used popsicle sticks and binder clips to hold the fiberglass in the sharp corners of the lip.  This form turned out well, so I riveted it to the broken lid.  I was going to use the same combination of grease and foil to separate the new fiberglass from the form, but saw honey and figured it would be sticky enough but easier to clean.  That part worked fairly well.

I need a couple more layers of fiberglass for strengh, then I'll bondo over the repair so I can smooth it out a lot easier, but I think it is going to work.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Not wasting a blog comment

A court in Oregon has recently ruled that the state cannot ban licensed concealed carry on campus.  This worries Baldr Oldenson, despite the complete lack of problems in the few other states that allow it.  Baldr is irregular about which comments he chooses to allow on his blog, so rather than wasting the effort, I've used my comment as a basis for a post.

He writes:
 Among college-aged people (ages 18-30, to include most grad students), 81.5% of homicides and 46.5% of suicides are by firearms.  Homicide and suicide are the number 2 and number 3 causes of death in that age range (behind unintentional deaths, where firearms are about 1%) (based on CDC WISQARS data for 2008).  Percentages increase if you drop the age to undergrad ages (18-22), and the difference in ranking between accidental and homicide drop dramatically.
This definition of 'college age' includes the peak criminal and gang years.  Criminals account for most of the non-suicide gun violence, it is misleading to lump them in with college students.

Yes, those are schools that have had shootings. It's true that no one was allowed to carry a gun and "play Wyatt Earp" (to quote myself from this post) and shoot the bad guys. However, I would counter that in mass shootings that have happened outside of university settings, including on military bases, no one intervened in any of them, either, despite the ability for citizens to carry guns. In other words, allowing guns on campus isn't likely to stop the shooters, but it definitely will increase the likelihood of homicides and accidents by students. In colleges all over the nation, the rate of gun-related crimes is far lower on-campus (in those gun-free zones) than in the surrounding city.
Mass shooters tend to choose places where they think resistance will be minimal. Mass shooters almost always give up or suicide once someone else shoots back.  And when someone intervenes quickly enough, there's not an opportunity for it to be a mass shooting. Most of the benefit of concealed carry is not in criminals getting shot, it is in criminals not being assured of harmless victims.  Unless accompanied by unrealistic increases in physical security, banning guns in 'sensitive' areas is likely to make them more attractive to mass shooters.   The mass shooting at a military base that he refers to is evidence for my point rather than his--On a typical base the only legal loaded guns are on the gun range or carried by security.  In the  Fort Hood incident, nobody could shoot back until an armed civilian arrived. 

But accidents happen every day, and there are plenty of violent and reactive people out there.  Where there are guns, there are gun crimes and accidents.
In general, proponents of expansion of licensed concealed carry keep predicting minimal issues and a slight drop in crime, while anti-gun activists keep predicting severe problems, even when similar measures have not been a problem in other states.  Once enough time has passed to judge these predictions, one side is consistently more accurate than the other.