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And You Don’t Even Have To Pay for My Advice

January 28, 2015

I caught this one as I was paging through articles on my phone this morning while on the exercise bike.  I thought about posting, decided I’d send it to Lynn.  Forgot to send it to Lynn, ran into it again this evening… You get the point.

Hey, Ladies.  Whatever you do, don’t make it this:

BLAKE’S TIPS ON BAGGING A MAN IN 60 DAYS

Be pro-active: Put yourself out there, don’t wait for a man to invite you out or talk to you. Chat them up or ask them out first.

Buy them dinner: Show you are in control.

Don’t wait for him to call: Get in contact with him after a date to say thanks. Don’t leave it for days waiting for him to call.

Sleep with him on the first date: Give him what he wants and he’ll be hooked.

This is the advice some mid-50’s guy gives ladies on how to find the man of her dreams in 60 days.  Oh, mid-50’s divorced guy.  And with that said, I’m not a trained psychologist, or even an untrained one.  I’m an engineer, and one that truly never dated in high-school or beyond all that much.  But let me give you ladies a bit of advice.

The most mysterious and desirable woman a guy will find is one that is confident in her own skin and isn’t interested in just doing what the guy wants or giving him what he wants.  If you decide to pay the meal, you’re just finding guys who are too cheap to object that it’s their job to pay for the R&D.  If you hop in bed the first date, then you’re just devaluing the gift that most interests the guy in winning it.  So he might decide to hang around and let you keep paying and giving, but what’s he really giving back.

I’ll give you the call him part.  I’d have saved a lot of time if I’d gotten to the point where I had to stop decoding whether the lady was really interested, but that’s more just courtesy.

Want to really win a guy, to my mind?  Show him respect and demand respect from the first date, and let that grow to affection and love.  It might take more than 60 days, but you’ll be in a relationship that lasts a long time.  Keep loving and respecting the guy, and demand it in return, and you’ll keep it healthy.

But maybe I’m just being an engineer.

Taxes and Fees… or: Fees Instead of Taxes

January 27, 2015

Work with me here…

I started with this article on 529 plans.  Essentially the White House decided to back off taxing 529 plans because, well, because it was a dumb idea.  For all the claims that they want to enable kids to go to school, the idea of hitting people who were smart enough to save for a kid to go to school was probably the easiest way to deter kids going to school.  And I get that not everyone can supposedly save.  I also get that punishing people who can is the worst way to increase any savings rate.

But this comes back to something I’ve thought of on occasion.  Here’s an example. According to this document, the total National Parks budget is $3.6B (give or take).  That says that every person in the us pays about $10 a year to run the parks.  How do we remove the burden for the parks service from the normal tax burden on the average citizen and put it more on the backs of the people who actually use the park?  First, you’d have to actually make the parks run like a business… you can’t dump all the central federal funding, but about $2.6B of that total is discretionary, so that’s a start for the target.  Then you drive the fees up to go into the parks drastically, and run a funding campaign on everyone donating $10 a year to support the parks.  Say you get an average of $10 a family, (who pays this tax-free), which still leaves you severely underfunded… so fees to actually get in likely go to $200 a day or so for actual visitors.  Or for $1000 you get free access annually.  That’s still a lot of people that need to move through the system, but it starts to drive a streamlining of the system.

It’s not workable, and I’d have to spend more than five minutes looking through the report.  But my point is… what if we gave people a ton of their money back and actually let them pay to use formerly taxpayer-funded resources as a super-tax?

I suppose the biggest losers in this would be social work programs, but then again, a lot of people think that social work programs are the worst part of government spending anyway.

Hmm, I have to think about this more…

Who Tracks, and Who Cares?

January 27, 2015

Hey, is anyone concerned that there are people out there who track your every move?  I mean, everyone is worried that there are cameras everywhere, and that the government can actually look at them… right?

According to the Journal, the DEA program uses high-tech cameras placed on major highways to collect information on vehicle movements, including location and direction. Many of the devices are able to record images of drivers and passengers, some of which are clear enough identify individuals. Documents seen by the Journal also show that the DEA uses information from federal, state, and local license plate readers to burnish their own program.

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air isn’t all that impressed, mostly because he thinks it gives us the ability to do better law enforcement.  At some level, our tax dollars are going into the government paying for those traffic cameras.  We should use them for something other than posting the occasional car crash warning.

But really, how many of you out there are using Google Maps?  You happily clicked yes on those terms of service the first time you used it, right?  You had to, otherwise it would exit.  There are three or four links in there to other terms of service that you also agreed to in the process… so you can’t even find everything on one page.

Google collects location data from every device that has Maps loaded and uses it to determine traffic patters, make decisions on route planning, and the like.  While all the data is anonymous in the system, it’s data that Google collects and uses.  How hard would it be for Google to ID and track an individual user in the system?  Not hard at all.

The fact that Google can track more personal information than the government can is something that most people just take for reality.  And I don’t think that Google is going to use that to do the equivalent of a Hollywood movie on any person.  Despite anything that Hollywood tells you, a company that kills or maims either its employees or customers won’t stay in business for very long.  But with that said, we all seem to look at the, “Don’t be evil,” corporate mission and assume that all is right in the world.  In the meanwhile, our government is actually trying to prevent evil (while occasionally creating it by accident, hey, it’s the the government…), and we assume all evil intent.

So am I upset that some camera base has my license plate info?  The government could be paying someone to sit on the corner and track that.  Meanwhile, I give Google (and others) all the info they want and more by using their free service.

So what’s the greater concern?

Paris

January 12, 2015

So, to be clear, I’m not Charlie Hebdo.  I think that deliberately pissing off people to sell subscriptions is a fine strategy, I’m just not up for playing it.  I definitely defend the right of the people to do stuff like that — it’s just not my gig — and I’m infuriated that there’s a whole culture of people who don’t have a sense of humor.

But that wasn’t why I felt like posting.  I’m more posting on the fact that so many people are shocked, SHOCKED! that nobody important in the US government showed up to the march in France yesterday.  I get that people are unhappy that we couldn’t stand with the world in a too-late display of solidarity against said people with no sense of humor.  But I’m not.

Mostly I’m not because, if there was anything to show yesterday, it was that no nation or people is above any other when it comes to certain issues.  Well, America should be above.  We should be the benchmark against which all nations hold freedoms of speech, assembly, and the like.  And I don’t necessarily think that showing sorrow at an after-the-fact demonstration of people who risk severe consequences over free speech makes a ton of sense.

But more to the point, if anyone in the administration had decided to show, it would have been about the administration, not about the US being represented.  That would have been even more infuriating to me.

I know I’m not being entirely cogent about things, but I just wanted to make the point that we can’t be better than everyone else if we’re either just like everyone else, or worse, if we’re just being about ourselves.

While We Fiddle

December 30, 2014

Remember Ebola?  Yea, that dread disease that was coming over from Africa that was going to spread across the US?  Anyone remember that there was a lung disease that actually killed more people at the same time?  Anyone want to remember that we annually get a pretty bad disease that sweeps through the nation and kills our weakest members?

The CDC has today declared a national flu epidemic as virulent mutated versions of this years H3N2 virus sweep the country.

Twenty-two states have reported a high number of flu cases, centered mainly around the Midwest and southeast of the country.

Since the start of the flu season on October 1 and December 20, CDC figures show that 15 children have died from the virus and four in the week before Christmas.

Adults over 65 are also particularly vulnerable, though news agencies prefer to prop up children as victims before the elderly.  Either way, this is a real disease that is easily communicable.  In a good year, the vaccine for it is about 50% effective (and this is not a good year, admits the CDC).  And it claims about 24 thousand people a year.

Now, I generally don’t believe people who say, “I have the flu,” when they have a cold.  You know when you have the flu, trust me.  But I’m also usually the one who will mention that if you have the flu, you should contact a doctor.  This might be a tough year, and those of us who travel extensively have to take precautions and still be prepared to react before things get too bad.

Be careful out there, folks.  Don’t let it change your life, but do take precautions.  You’ll be better off than all those times you scream, “EBOLA!”

Merry Christmas

December 24, 2014

It’s been a rough year for our little blog, and both Lynn and I have been swamped at work.  Thanks for reading, and we’d like to wish all of you the best of the holiday season.  Both of us are strong Christmas fanatics, so Merry Christmas.  if you’re celebrating something else, that’s cool, and enjoy it.

Christmas is my second-favorite day of the year (Good Friday is #1, and I’ve posted on that).  Our Lord came to earth to save us, and gave up everything that made Him God in the process.  I’m humbled, and I’m unworthy.  It’s not my choice.  You have a choice, so check into the story of Christ to see it.

Jim and Lynn

Politics, Not Ethics

December 10, 2014

I’ve generally stayed away from the whole debate around our government using coercive methods to get information from terrorist detainees.  However, Andy McCarthy makes a valid point in this post that is similar to some of the thoughts I’ve had in the past… of course, he articulates them much better.  That’s why he’s a great writer, and I blog for six people.

If you were to take everyone in America who is serving a minor jail sentence of say, 6 to 18 months, and you were to ask them whether they’d rather serve the rest of their time or be waterboarded in the manner practiced by the CIA post 9/11 (i.e., not in the manner practiced by the Japanese in World War II), how many would choose waterboarding? I am guessing, conservatively, that over 95 percent would choose waterboarding.

Now, if you take the same group of inmates and ask them whether they’d prefer to serve the remainder of their time or be subjected to Obama’s drone program (where we kill rather than capture terrorists, therefore get no intelligence from the people in the best position to provide actionable intelligence, and kill bystanders – including some children – in addition to the target), how many would choose the drone program? I am guessing that it would be … zero.

Long before any details of the OBL raid came out, I commented that there was never any intent to bring him back alive.  Alive he’d be too much of a political football for the current administration to stomach, and it was a lot easier to knock him off, claim a great victory, and then remind people about it for years.  Let me see, what was one of the 2012 campaign slogans again…?

What I think most people forget is that we’re at war with a shadow entity that is not a nation, plays by no standard rules, and is uninterested in traditional victory.  I can’t tell you how to fight back, but it’s not through random strikes that leave us further in the dark.

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