Friday, February 27, 2015

Obama "Middle Class Tax Cuts" Amount to $12?

Yeah some "fighting for the middle class." You cannot even pay for an entire McDonalds meal for a family of four with this pitiful cut.
But these proposals are mostly small in scope, with limited near-term effects on middle-class economic fortunes. The White House had a telling spat last month with the Tax Policy Center, a center-left joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution that produces estimates of the distributional impacts of tax proposals. Len Burman, the center’s co-director, who was a Treasury official in the Clinton administration, ran the numbers and found the president’s plan produced an average tax cut of just $12 for families in the middle quintile — a surprising result for a plan aimed at the middle class, and one that produced inconvenient headlines.
What the White House needs to do is dangle tax incentives for companies that follow Wal-Mart's lead in jacking up entry level pay to $9. Or even better tripling the earned income tax credit so every American making below a certain amount can get more than $12 back from so-called "tax cuts." That will get people spending again. Put a couple $1000 in someones pocket and they can pay down debt or put a down payment on a car or something similar.

Second Weird Light seen on Ceres

One is a coincidence but two is a trend.
Could dwarf planet Ceres be watching us watching it? As NASA's Dawn spacecraft approaches the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, it seems to be lighting up. Not long after images of Ceres revealed a strange reflective spot, another dimmer one came into view in the latest NASA images, giving the appearance of a spooky pair of eyes peering back at Dawn.

So what's going on here? Metallic mineral deposits? The local ice skating rink on an improbably shiny frozen lake in the bottom of a huge crater? A giant Ceresian mirror or solar farm?
If we lose contact from the Dawn spacecraft after it was zapped with an Ion cannon then we have a much bigger problem.

It's Official ISIS is now Officially Genocidal Maniacs that Engage in War Crimes

As if there were any doubt.
Several human rights groups released on Friday what they consider to be the first legal analysis for war crimes proceedings against IS.

The report, titled “Between the Millstones,” says the jihadists are guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide for their persecution of Christians, Kaka’i, Shabak, Turkmen and Yazidi.
I wonder if the UN will just condemn their crimes in the strongest possible terms or are they really going to something about ISIS.

We Shall Live Long and Prosper Leonard Nimoy

This is one great final Tweet.

GOP Pragmatism: Homeland Security Department funded for Now

At least they aren't going to shut down parts of the government again.
Congress closed in Friday on approving a short-term spending bill for the Homeland Security Department that would avert a partial agency shutdown hours before it was to begin.

The legislation also leaves intact Obama administration executive actions on immigration that Republicans have vowed to overturn. But Republicans insisted that passing a short-term bill preserved their ability to keep fighting them.

An early vote in the House clearing the way for final passage of the bill was approved easily, 240-183.
The GOP blinks for once. Hopefully, they will get some actual reform done and we can solve immigration problem more or less.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sign that there is Too Much Money Sloshing Around: Art Sales Hit New Record

Even though much of this spending is by new museums opening up that money is coming from somewhere.
Works worth $15.2 billion (13.5 billion euros) sold at auction during the year, an increase of 26 percent on 2013, Artprice said in its annual report, produced with China's Artron.
A record number of 1,679 sales worth $1 million or more were recorded over the year, four times more than a decade ago, it added.
Thierry Ehrmann, founder and CEO of Artprice, described the figures as "an amazing result, an increase of 300 percent in a decade".
That decade was one of low interest rates and much money printing. Oh and this generic looking thing sold for $84 million.

Net Neutrality Passes: Verizon and Comcast Can't Rip Us Off: At Least for Now

Well this is quite a blow to two of the worst companies in America by reputation.
New rules from the Federal Communications Commission adopted on a 3-2 vote will prohibit Internet service providers like Comcast (CMCSA) and Verizon Communications (VZ) from discriminating against any web site or online service. That means sites like Netflix (NFLX) or Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube won’t have to pay extra fees or face sluggish connections with their users. And new sites and services will be able to reach everyone on the Internet on the same terms as the big players.
So I don't have to pay a "Gamer Rate" because the majority of my packets are coming from the Xbox One or other nonsense. This defense is just hilarious as well:
Cable and telecom companies say congestion is due to the Internet companies sending more data. Higher fees are needed to cover the cost of building more capacity, they say.
Comcast made nearly $7 billion in profit last year and bought back $2 billion in shares in Q4 and are increasing their share buyback to $10 billion. I think they have more than enough money to "clear the congestion" and "build more capacity." Maybe cut that share buyback down to $5 billion and take the other $5 billion and improve service? In any case I think it will be a stopgap until Comcast can get their financial wizards online to figure some other way to nickle and dime us.

Weird Light on Dwarf Planet Ceres: Its Alien Mining Colony or something!

Now this is one weird thing.
A dwarf planet is shining two bright lights at a NASA spacecraft right now, and our smartest scientists are unsure what they are. 

As bizarre as that sentence sounds, that's the situation with Ceres — the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, officially designated as a dwarf planet (the same category as Pluto). 

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is approaching Ceres ahead of a March 6 rendezvous. The picture above was taken February 19, from a distance of just under 29,000 miles, and shows two very shiny areas on the same basin on Ceres' surface. 
My money is on an alien surface base shining a light on a craft that is flying close to their mining operation. Now more UFOs will be seen on earth to see what we humans are up to.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ball Rolling Downhill: TJ Maxx Follows Wal-Mart 's Lead by Hiking Pay

It seems that Wal-mart is the trend-setter. Hopefully other retailers will follow suit.
The owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods stores said Wednesday that it will boost pay for its U.S. workers to at least $9 per hour.

The announcement by TJX Cos. comes a week after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would increase wages for its employees and is a sign that more competitors may follow suit. Low-paying retailers are having a harder time retaining workers as the job market improves.
I think this may have a knock-on effect to the rest of the economy. You give workers another $2 an hour and they will spend another $2 on goods and services. I would love to see an economist calculate the economic impact of a majority of companies hiking their minimum pay all at once. Also it would be interesting the see the cost savings of reducing employee churn. Lets see what other companies do with this trend.

Monday, February 23, 2015

401K Supreme Court Case Could save us some Money

I hope the SCOTUS finds in favor of the 401K participants.
In the initial class-action lawsuit, Tibble v. Edison, participants in the 401(k) plan sponsored by California-based utility Edison International argued that they were being charged excessive fees. 

Under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, companies that sponsor 401(k) plans have a "fiduciary responsibility" to act in the best interest of their employees. The lawsuit claimed that Edison breached this duty in the case of six of its fund options, where almost identical offerings charging lower fees were available. 
Sounds like this is a no-brainer.The company offering the 401K should put lower fee options in when the offerings are the same. That means institutional shares over retail ones every time.

Friday, February 20, 2015

It Seems ISIS Wants to Destroy Rome, Break Crosses, and Enslave our Women

I guess Obama not calling them Islamic Extremists does them a disservice.
The Islamic State is different from al Qaeda and almost all other jihadist movements, according to Mr. Wood, “in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character.” Its spokesman has vowed: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.” They believe we are in the End of Days. They speak of how “the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria.” The battle will be Rome’s Waterloo. After that, a countdown to the apocalypse. 
I think the armies of Rome needs to smash the crap out of these guys but people like Obama don't understand the threat these guys pose. I think we might need boots on the ground going forward because they hold territory that needs to be recaptured.

The Greek Euro Exit aka Grexit has been Postponed for 4 Months at Least

The can has been kicked.
The euro gained against the U.S. dollar on Friday after euro zone ministers agreed to extend Greece's financial rescue package by four months.
The agreement removed the immediate threat that Greece could run out of money next month and be forced out of the single currency area. The new leftist-led Athens government now can try to negotiate longer-term debt relief with official creditors.
"It certainly looks like we're moving away from disaster," said Sebastien Galy, senior foreign exchange analyst at Societe Generale in New York. "It should help a stress that has been building up in the market to be released."
Maybe a gradual exit from the Euro with promises to stay from the other laggards like Portugal will go a long way to solving this crisis. People will take a haircut but the Germans no longer have to prop up the bad debts from Greece going forward. 

Climate Change Big Wig Might be a Sexual Harasser: Did he Show Her his Growing Carbon Footprint?

Is isn't just global warming making things hot in there.
Indian police are investigating claims that the one of world's top climate change officials, Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sexually harassed a 29-year-old woman, police and lawyers said on Friday.
The woman, who is a researcher at Pachauri's Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), claims the 74-year-old Indian scientist began harassing her soon after she joined the non-profit think-tank in September 2013.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oregon Governor Out under Cloud of Suspicion

I guess corruption and cronyism finally got to him.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned Friday, giving in to mounting pressure to abandon his office amid suspicions that his fiancee used her relationship with him to land contracts for her green-energy consulting business.
In a lengthy statement, the state's longest-serving chief executive insisted he broke no laws. He said the resignation would be effective Wednesday.
He won pretty handily so this is really quite a fall from grace.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Obama Calls out Staples for Skirting Obamacare Rules

I guess this is the power of the jawbone or shame them into compliance.
"It's one thing when you've got a mom-and-pop store who can't afford to provide paid sick leave or health insurance or minimum wage to workers … but when I hear large corporations that make billions of dollars in profits trying to blame our interest in providing health insurance as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages, shame on them,” Obama said in an interview with BuzzFeed.
Staples also payed $355 million in taxes last year as well. I guess that isn't their fair share. This is the same tired line from Obama that companies shouldn't be maximizing profits. These companies need to make profits in order to stay in business and keep employing the 46,000 people that Staples currently employs.

They are cutting back hours so that they don't have to pay fines. Sounds like a perfectly sound business decision. That is what happens when you use the stick instead of the carrot to get companies to comply. Lets say for the sake of argument each company got $500 per 40 hour a week employee (or some arbitrary number) in tax deductions or credits to offset higher health insurance costs you would bet that no hours will be slashed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

End of an Era: Jon Stewart Out at Daily Show

Well now the derby for his replacement begins.
The AV Club is reporting that Stewart told the audience at today's taping that he's stepping down from the Comedy Central news show he's hosted since 1999. No word yet on when he'll be leaving, or who might replace him. (Perhaps Stewart himself will deliver the news on tonight's broadcast.)
I think they need a woman to replace him to change things up. My vote is for Amy Poehler or Olivia Munn. I would tune in to watch them day to day. They wouldn't be as biting as Stewart but they would be interesting change of pace. It would also be interesting to have a number of different guest hosts for several months. Have a rotating anchor to get a taste for different people on the show.

Wait Someone wants to seriously inject Sulfur Dioxide into the Atmosphere to Combat Global Warming?

I'm not sure if these people are playing with a full deck.
It's time to study and maybe even test the idea of cooling the Earth by injecting sulfur pollution high in the air to reflect the sun's heat, a first-of-its-kind federal science report said Tuesday.
The idea was once considered fringe — to purposely re-engineer the planet's climate as a last ditch effort to battle global warming with an artificial cloud. No longer.
That has got to be the worst idea to combat global warming I have ever heard (I guess genocide is worse but few main stream people talk about that.) 

What is wrong with simply dealing with the "warming earth?" If it really going to be as bad as some Warming alarmists believe just mitigate things. Build seawalls in coastal cities. Move populations around and that sort of thing. Develop next generation sources of energy. Instead of pumping pollution into the sky just use that money to build more next generation nuclear plants and get off of the combustion engine. Hell they can start planting more trees and crops because a higher CO2 environment will start bringing in record crop yields. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

No Big Bang? I Guess They Need to Rename the Big Bang Theory

This is an interesting development.
The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein's theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once. 
I always wondered about dark matter and energy. If those items happen to have been errors in the theory it might make sense that there needs to be an addendum to Einstein. If the universe has always been and will always be it changes quite a few things. These guys need to go back into the lab and make sure everything checks out but it certainly is intriguing.  
The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein's theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

Great More Messing With the Temperature to prove Climate Change

I think this is one of the main reasons why people cannot get behind the idea of Climate Change.
Following my last article, Homewood checked a swathe of other South American weather stations around the original three. In each case he found the same suspicious one-way “adjustments”. First these were made by the US government’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). They were then amplified by two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), which use the warming trends to estimate temperatures across the vast regions of the Earth where no measurements are taken. Yet these are the very records on which scientists and politicians rely for their belief in “global warming”. 
They will chalk it up as smoothing or massaging the data or what have you. If Climatologists are serious they will push for several billion from the UN to install thousands of extra temperature stations in these rural areas to create a better temperature map of the earth. Maybe add some cellular stations or satellite uplinks and you can get a temperature gauge and bring broadband to the entire earth. Then after this is in place we can see what the temperature is like. No more "adjustments" just raw data. 

Uh uh, They found the Lost City of the Elder Things in Antarctica!

Why the Great Old Ones haven't destroyed the planes of the survey of East Antarctica by WEGAS (West-East Gondwana Amalgamation and its Separation) is beyond me.
Such formations are inconsistent with meteorite impacts, which generally leave a single crater with a raised center. And as a general rule, these craters also measure between ten to twenty times the size of the meteorite itself – in this case, that would mean a meteorite 200 meters in diameter. This would mean that, had the ring structure been caused by a meteorite, it would have been the largest Antarctic meteor impact on record.
It is clear that it is the Lost City of the Elder Things. If they keep trying to pry into these things they will glimpse the city that even the Elder Things fear. The City that caused Danforth to lose his sanity in H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness." That place is known as the hated and accursed Plateau of Leng where ululating horrors from out of time lurk and plot to destroy mankind. If they merely glimpse this fortean place all the peoples of the earth will be lost! Pry not into the rime-stained hills from lost and ancient times for they only lead to madness and death!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Brian Williams Has Got to Go: Now He's Caught Lying about Katrina Coverage

You would think nearly dying when your helicopter gets hit by an RPG would have been remembered more clearly but things are really flying apart now.
Williams' reporting about Hurricane Katrina has also been disputed since the scandal began, and a soldier who initially backed up some elements of the anchor's Iraq tale says he is now "questioning my memories."
Last Friday, Williams said on NBC that while he was in Iraq in 2003, he was flying in a helicopter that "was forced down after being hit by an RPG."
His Katrina reports seem especially bad as well.
Williams’ account of seeing a body float by in the French Quarter — which remained largely dry — and even a claim of catching dysentery from drinking Katrina floodwaters have raised eyebrows among bloggers and elsewhere since he took it on the chin this week over a claim that he rode in a helicopter that was downed by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq.
I guess it is time to go through Williams reporting looking for inaccuracies like they did for Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair. In any case his credibility has been shot to hell because you cannot lie about being shot down for 10 years and hope to keep your credibility intact.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Climate Change Proponents Understand they Cannot Use Ridicule to Get their Points Across

It is good that the dynamic is changing on persuading people that Climate Change is happening and there needs to be something done about it.
For example, communication from the scientific community and its supporters that ridicules sceptics' concerns is likely to drive the groups further apart.
This is particularly problematic as we know from previous research on the politicisation of climate change. Ridicule is only likely to strengthen scepticism and therefore increase sceptics' determination to act in support of their groups' cause.

This is 100% true. No one has ever gotten people on their side by calling them or their concerns stupid. The whole idea of calling Skeptics "Deniers" is a way to create an us-vs-them mentality that is unlikely to get Skeptics to buy in. I agree with this statement as well. The mentality that all Climate-Deniers are stupid needs to get buried if they want these people on board.
Conflict between groups can also be diffused by shifting the focus from differences to focusing on similarities between the members of the two groups. And, more importantly, on broader goals that both groups share.
The idea is to push electric cars because they save a ton of money instead of saying "if you don't buy an electric car the earth will burn up and you are too stupid to know that." Moving the electric grid to renewables and next-gen nuclear might be able to drop the prices on nearly everything and have a side benefit of reducing carbon emissions. People want to save money and some aspects of fighting Climate Change might make that happen. If people focuses on this and dialed down the scare tactics we might see a change in this issue.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Jordan Promises "earth-shaking and decisive" Response to ISIS Burining Their POW to Death

I hope that means rolling tank armies into northern Syria and Western Iraq but it probably won't be the case.
Reuters could not immediately confirm the content of the video, which showed a man resembling airman Mouath al-Kasaesbeh standing in a small black cage before being set ablaze.
The furious reaction of the Jordanian authorities made clear they treated it as genuine.
Jordan, which has been mounting air raids in Syria as part of the U.S.-led alliance against Islamic State insurgents, would deliver a "strong, earth-shaking and decisive" response, a government spokesman said.

Whatever the response ISIS acting like something out of the Middle Ages and need to be wiped out.

$150,000 Fine for Not Baking Wedding Cake for Gay Couple

I think this one needs to go to the Supreme Court to clarify.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that Aaron and Melissa Klein, who own Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, will have to pay the lesbian couple up to $150,000, USA Today is reporting. The final amount is set to be determined at a March 10 hearing, according to the report.
Bureau spokesman Charlie Burr said in a statement cited by Reuters that although Oregon law provides an exemption for religious institutions, it "does not allow private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot legally deny service based on race, sex, age, disability or religion."
I think a new cottage industry could spring up from people scoring fines from various religious businesses. So a Kosher Deli could be sued by someone bringing in a pig for them to slaughter. If they refuse to dress the pig you can conceivably sue them for discrimination. You could do the same thing at a Halal butcher or other sort of business that has a religious background.