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Religion, Politics, & Culture: Defined and Explained


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why Education Matters

To illustrate the difference between computers and common sense, I respectfully submit the following:

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Just ‘cause it passes spell check don’t make it right.


Labor Security—when you can never be fired. This only applies to career politicians and Swedish workers.



Here’s another I found today when buying tickets for the Scottish Games. After completing the page above with number of tickets, credit card number and my address, I scroll to the bottom of the page and encounter this.
OK computer guys, why is there two buttons and which is correct?

Do I Submit my order or Buy Tickets?

I have this mental picture of David Letterman asking, “What the hell is the difference?”


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Just remember that people charge big bucks to connect web pages to online payment portals.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I clicked on Submit.

Posted by william on 04/27 at 03:05 PM
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Monday, April 24, 2017

The CRA, Aaron Park, And Anthony Cannella are all the same on Taxes

By X
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Loyal readers, the Blog Father, William, spoke about the recent “bi-partisan” tax increase at length the other day and I want to expand on it slightly.  This type of horse trading and phony math has been going on in this state for generations. 

Let’s start with the phony math
The 7 billion that is not being accounted for in KCRA’s math?  Does anyone think the bullet train is getting left out of this “transportation tax?”  To be clear, X does not support any tax increase, but does support $$$ for infrastructure repair.  Let us not kid ourselves, 15 billion for “potholes” is just putting lipstick on a pig. We tried that on the Oroville Dam and look what happened!  X prefers total tear down and rebuild, similar to what William warned about earlier saying wait until the big one happens and we will see how badly mismanaged this state has been. 

Fixing potholes does not fix infrastructure, it’s simply a waste of time; however, it does create busywork that very highly compensated state employees are capable of doing. It’s all temporary fix work.  With all the billions going to public transportation, when is the last time you saw someone actually riding the bus/light rail?  Most ride public transportation because they don’t want to be stuck in gridlocked traffic and pay for parking in downtown areas. For their trouble, they actually pay $35 per month and we pay the rest.

Folks, the lion’s share of this new tax money is all going to Los Angeles/Bay Area communities, some monies may trickle down into San Diego, Ventura, Riverside, and possibly Sacramento.  Other outlying areas? Well you may get an extra bus on the route, or an extra bus stop or two put in.  Most likely this money will be diverted by the local city/county/bus authority to shore up future healthcare/pension benefits and prevent a system wide shut down like BART experienced not long ago.  The other revenues raised from the tax increases amount to the same old same old; walking paths and bike trails?  Does anyone even use those anymore?

The horse trading aspect is most troubling
A CRA endorsed State Senator, Anthony Cannella, took a 400 million dollar bribe; err, I mean promise of future work to be done in his district to provide the decisive vote for this tax increase.   Cannella is a sell out in the worst way. Roger Niello, also a CRA favorite, did the same on his way out of office.  Cannella and people of his ilk are why the Party has dropped below 30% registration statewide. Even low information voters have figured out that if even Republicans are willing to accept tax increases what do they really stand for?  The state party and the CRA are in a horrible position. They have no clearly defined set of goals or beliefs and as a result do not police their own. 

Over the years, I watched personally as the CRA endorsed; Mike Villines, Roger Niello, Anthony Cannella, and Anthony Anderson; all of whom reneged on the no new taxes pledge, but I guess these were fees?  Keep in mind folks, the CRA endorsed Ted Cruz after it was certain Donald J Trump would have the delegate count required to advance to general election!  Fear not, Cannella will have no problem finding his next political job, is the State Insurance Appeals Board still around?  Remember the board that retired legislators got to sit on that required very little time commitment and a six figure salary?  Cannella might see his name pop up there too. 

To be clear, if any of these clowns were running for re-election or election near the unit where I was CRA president not only would they have been non-endorsed I would have seriously advocated for endorsing the Democrat; why have the light beer when the regular one will do just fine!  By the way, evil State Senator Steve Glazer, a Democrat who worked for Jerry Brown was the lone Democrat to oppose the tax!  Heck I would even venture to call Glazer a hero of the taxpayer, but that’s ok; meanwhile, the GOP will keep telling us we need to support more Anthony Cannella types in order to appeal to more voters.  Excuse me while I go barf.  Meanwhile I heard the CRA had career politician and definition of low energy Ted Gaines highlighting their convention a few weeks ago.  Go Team!

My tie-in to Aaron Park?
Well he may act all far-right and self-righteous on his blog but he would have voted for it too.  Actually for a conservative, Park actually does not even mention it on his blog, not that it matters when you draw about 30 clicks a day, 29 being yours and the other being your brothers.  I know Aaron; he would have asked for the money in cash as opposed to hoped-for future projects in his district. 

Personally, Aaron should run for office under the slogan “Beliefs I can change in.”  I have to give Park credit, he and his group of LOW ENERGY IMPACT REPUBLICANS spend about $30k to beat a guy running for a supervisor seat.  By the way, anyone know what happened to the other idiot Park brother George?  Last I heard he was seeking greener pastures in Nevada, since his type of political fertilizer has lost its potency in California. Like the influence of the California GOP, he has been slowly fading away. In the decade that I have known him, he’s gone from being about 400 pounds to about 110. Clearly Aaron hasn’t learned everything his brother could teach him.

Anyhow til next time,

X

Posted by william on 04/24 at 08:28 AM
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Einstein Vindicated Again

If you thought you were having a bad year because you voted for Hillary or have other issues with the direction of the cosmos, try being a physicist or astronomer. You see, somehow 68 percent of the universe is missing.

No, joke; 68 percent of the universe—according to the currently held theory—doesn’t exist and never did.
Link: Simulation suggests 68 percent of the universe may not actually exist

According to the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (Lambda-CDM) model, which is the current accepted standard for how the universe began and evolved, the ordinary matter we encounter every day only makes up around five percent of the universe’s density, with dark matter comprising 27 percent, and the remaining 68 percent made up of dark energy, a so-far theoretical force driving the expansion of the universe. But a new study has questioned whether dark energy exists at all, citing computer simulations that found that by accounting for the changing structure of the cosmos, the gap in the theory, which dark energy was proposed to fill, vanishes.

Scientist now confirm that the guys that developed this theory and won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 2011 for its development were wrong.

“The theory of general relativity is fundamental in understanding the way the universe evolves,” says Dobos. “We do not question its validity; we question the validity of the approximate solutions. Our findings rely on a mathematical conjecture which permits the differential expansion of space, consistent with general relativity, and they show how the formation of complex structures of matter affects the expansion. These issues were previously swept under the rug but taking them into account can explain the acceleration without the need for dark energy.”

For those of you that don’t understand the quotation cited above, it means that Einstein’s general theory of relativity is correct as long as you don’t round your math answer.  Yes, in this age of computers, the eggheads that should know better, took a shortcut that injected errors into Einstein’s theory. Instead of checking their math, they invented dark energy “making it a placeholder plug for holes in current models.” When you end-up with a 68 percent error in your solution you deserve a failing grade not a Nobel Prize.

Is it me or did the guys in the era of slide rules do a better job of engineering than those with computers?

 

Posted by william on 04/13 at 08:36 PM
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Comments on Beauty and the Beast

My protestations notwithstanding, the wife demanded to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. (Anything that passes as a musical will usually get her to purchase a ticket. Thankfully, she went with someone else to see La La Land.) Anyway, I admit that I made treks to the little boy’s room and snack bar during the film but what I did see of the film seemed really overhyped as far as the “rainbow people” was concerned. I’ve seen worse on broadcast television. It was blink and you miss it sort of stuff. Based on the posts from Focus on the Family and their fellow travelers, I was braced for some in your face propaganda; thankfully this was not the case.  Unless you’re waiting to be offended, most of this stuff will go past both you and your children with hardly a notice.


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Beauty and the Beast


The wife might be entertaining a return visit to go to the Beauty and the Beast Sing Along but I will sit that one out. Visions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show somehow do harm to what I might expect to see upon attending such an event. Girls Gone Wild meets off keyed singing; single guys, this might be your best opportunity since Sacramento hosted the Xena: Warrior Princess Convention several years ago.

Posted by william on 04/12 at 09:13 AM
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Friday, April 07, 2017

More Gas Taxes

Governor Brown signed the gas tax bill one week after it was introduced in the legislature. Apparently we had to pass it to learn what’s in it because I doubt anybody that voted YES actually read it.
Link: news story from KCRA-TV

Per media reports, the bill is supposed to raise 52 billion dollars over ten years. If you believe that this is a temporary tax, then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that you might want to buy.

The pretext for this bill is that we have horrible roads because we are woefully under taxed. Now, California has the highest taxes in the country but somehow it is never enough. We have a spending problem not a revenue problem. Anyway, I digress.

Just for fun, I put all the numbers in my trusty Excel program and learned some interesting stuff.


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KCRA’s math doesn’t work.  Right off the top, 7 billion dollars are missing.  I guess this is the cut off the top being diverted to the General Fund or to backfill underfunded pensions.

Of the remaining 45 billion, 24.44 percent is going to public transportation and non-road repair purposes.

Thus, 34 billion is supposed to be going to road repair over ten years. This means the tax is generating 3.4 billion per year for road repair. Currently the state diverts about two billion from road repairs from just two taxes that it collects on commercial vehicles. Extrapolating the other funds diverted from road repair means that there is no reason to have this tax. If the legislature would just follow both the law and the promises made to the people, all our repair needs would be fully funded with no new taxes.

But it’s actually worse than this. Money currently going to transportation can now be diverted from transportation to the General Fund. The way government budgeting works, this is the reality of what happens. Plus, the legislature is lying when they say that this money will go to its intended purpose. Yes some will but look at their miserable track record on this issue. Every few years they find a way to weasel out of promises made in the previous election cycle.

Tax revenue creates a government dependency on the revenue source, much like the homeless guy with an addiction problem; however, what happens in 2030 (a mere 13 years from now) when the internal combustion engine is outlawed in California. On this subject, look for two things to happen simultaneously: cars with gasoline engines will no longer be sold and gas stations will be outlawed via regulatory power and people that own “legacy” automobiles simply won’t be able to purchase fuel.

Lastly, did you notice that one Republican sold his birthright to give the governor a YES vote?  In the proud tradition of Maurice Johannsson and Roger NielloAnthony Cannella voted YES in exchange for 500 million dollars. This is less than one percent of the total amount of revenue the new taxes are supposed to raise; plus the governor can now say there was bipartisan support for the bill. Any bets that this guy is out on term limits soon?

Posted by william on 04/07 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Oroville Fix Update

The headline today, Governor Brown waived some environmental reviews on emergency construction at Oroville Dam. But look at the last paragraph in the story.

Authorities say designs for the redone main spillway are about 60 percent complete. State water officials still aren’t releasing an estimated price tag for the rush repairs, but say they hope to award contracts for the work by April 17.

Fact 1
OK, it’s close of business on April 6th. The state Department of Water Resources says the plans for the fix (temporary one per previous media reports) are 60 percent completed.

Fact 2
They hope to awards contracts by April 17th.

They are finishing the plans, soliciting bids, and deciding who will be awarded the contract seven business days from now? What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

Conclusion
Either the fix is in on who will be awarded this contract or these guys are dumber than dirt to think they can get a bid price with unfinished plans. Oh, change order is spelled $$$$$$

 

Posted by william on 04/06 at 03:52 PM
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Monday, April 03, 2017

Diversity in Media

“Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.” 
Link: David Gabriel, VP of sales for Marvel

So what has Marvel been up to lately?

Over recent years, Marvel has made efforts to include more diverse and more female characters, introducing new iterations of fan favourites including a female Thor; Riri Williams, a black teenager who took over the Iron Man storyline as Ironheart; Miles Morales, a biracial Spider-Man and Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenage girl who is the current Ms Marvel.

Writer of the Kamala Khan Ms Marvel series, G Willow Wilson responded to Gabriel’s comments … and criticising Marvel’s tendency to introduce the new iterations of fan favourites by “killing off or humiliating the original character … Who wants a legacy if the legacy is shitty?”

If this sounds familiar, it should. George Takei, said something similar about the last Star Trek movie, when producers decided to make his character—Hikaru Sulu—into a homosexual, complete with “husband” and baby. Takei said they should have made a new character, not changed the cannon of Star Trek. 
“Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate” – George Takei


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George Takei


Hollywood is hell bent on making this issue one that you can’t avoid. Look at it from their point of view, they get to simultaneously teardown some part of an American symbol or institution and replace it with something else.

Partly, this is laziness on their part described as creativity. Stan Lee or whoever pours decades of work into something and then some young punk comes along and highjacks it in the name of diversity. Why? It’s hard to make an original thing successful.

Revisionism, especially as it relates to homosexuality, is just the latest fad in Hollywood. Xena: Warrior Princess and Wonder Woman are slated to become “gender-benders”. Xena is being revived by NBC as a television series and Wonder Woman—in her second movie—is expected to “come out”.

This is just the latest iteration of Democrat group politics. No character stands on its own merits. Everybody is just assumed to identify with a group, and the group must advance or no one does. This plantation mentality is just dumb and shortsighted; not to mention insulting.

Dear Hollywood Liberals, the more you push these issues, the less of your products that I will buy. I want characters that are entertaining and have a moral code not ones that get their identity with who they sleep with.
• I dumped my DirecTV a year ago because of this.
• I’ve seen every Star Trek movie except the last one because of this issue. Oh, and I will take a pass on the new Star Trek TV show on CBS because you are pushing homosexual characters.
• I’m done with most everything Disney because of this and yes, Disney there are many children in this country that have never owned a Mickey Mouse piece of clothing or even know who you guys are because of your abandonment to “family values”. If Star Wars or Marvel movies go the direction of Star Trek then I’m done with them too.

I want something my children can see that has good role models not morally broken ones. If I want my kids to see morally broken people and what they are really like then I’ll let them watch the evening news not your programming.

 

Posted by william on 04/03 at 07:16 AM
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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Professional Stadiums, Taxpayers Buy’em, Governments give them away?

By “X”
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After a two week hiatus, most faithful readers of this blog were wondering where I was. I heard several reports from the Blog Father.  Was I in rehab? Did I rejoin the CRA?  Was I the one who spied on Donald Trump?  Was I arrested for my shenanigans at a local Mexican restaurant a few months ago?  No on all accounts. 

During my absence, X was forwarded an email that almost made him burst into rage!

Dateline: San Diego.

It has come to my attention that since the San Diego Chargers have re-located to Los Angeles, the city had nothing to do with it’s largely taxpayer financed stadium.  So it got a great idea, sell it for $10K, to a soccer team that may or may not ever come.  Kinda sound like a situation in Elk Grove?  Qualcomm Stadium—to be honest was very dated and located in the middle of a canyon—not a desirable place to play or commute too.  However if the answer is selling an 80 acre stadium and land for just $10K, I don’t think I want to know the question!  Yep, they sold 80 acres including the former NFL stadium for less than you’ll pay for a used Toyota.

It gets better. The group of investors “I love that term, give me something for literally pennies on the dollar” want to build 4,200 houses and over 1 million square feet of commercial development; think strip malls, malls, and office buildings.  While details were not released, very likely the deal would exclude the “investors” there’s that term again, from property taxes.  You are probably asking, which far left communist is leader of the republic of San Diego?  That would be CRA endorsed liberal Republican Kevin Faulconer.  Yup, the stadium initially built with taxpayer money, is now being given away for pennies on the dollar, since—well I guess—no professional team is a tenant now! 

San Diego suffered from a cardinal sin; never give in to a billionaire owner and the temptation of a sports team to “rejuvenate” downtown.  However, maybe in the long run San Diego may not be that bad off, check out these other two cities facing crazy stadium repercussions over the next few years!

Let’s examine Sacramento and Oakland, the former keeping its basketball team and pulling out all the stops, the latter losing its NFL team. 

Let’s start with Oakland. This city pulled out all the stops to get the Oakland Raiders to move back to Oakland from Los Angeles back in 1995.  Keep in mind; the Raiders have had a very nomadic nature during their years in the NFL shuffling from Oakland, to Los Angeles, back to Oakland, now on to Las Vegas in 2020.  What Al and Mark Davis did to the City of Oakland is criminal.  Upon moving back to the Coliseum in 1995, major renovations were required to add luxury boxes, etc. Again the city and in this case the county of Alameda gave in to a billionaire, as they bore almost all the costs.  They both fell for Davis’ push for a personal seat license, this so called “fan tax” on season ticket holders would pay back the loan on the stadium improvements pronto.  The City and County took out 200 million in bonds for stadium improvements, backed by Personal Seat Licenses (PSL’s).  These licenses were to help pay down the bond debt quicker, because if you bought a PSL you got the first right of refusal to buy tickets for any event that took place in the coliseum, sitting in the seat which you would “own.”  This was a well-conceived idea but far ahead of its time, as seat licenses are very popular now.  What the city and county didn’t count on was a number of people not buying the seat license, but buying tickets on the day of a game or through scalpers and thus avoiding the fee the PSL would levy on them.  The PSL’s were scrapped two years later. By the way, the team is leaving and the debt owed on the renovations won’t be paid off for another eight years at the earliest!  Also at a cost of roughly $350 million, almost double the initial bond amount.

Now the economics of the City of Oakland will be examined.  Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf reports that the city will have an eight figure deficit this year, mostly due to debt service on the coliseum. This doesn’t take in to consideration the improvements made to Oracle Arena, home of the soon to be San Francisco Warriors basketball team, totaling roughly 68 million.  Further, the least team standing of the trifecta, the Oakland Athletics Baseball Club, is moving to a new venue that was 100% privately financed by their owner….wow what a concept!

The city of Oakland is now left with two decaying buildings and their accompanying notes not yet paid for dreams gone bye; sounds like California accounting at its finest.  Remember the argument about how stadiums revitalize the area around them?  Have you been to the coliseum lately?  Yeah, don’t go unless you absolutely must, it’s still a drug filled cesspool.  The second argument about job creation, well if you consider part-time seasonal employees part of a hiring boom, I guess check off that box as an accomplishment as most front office jobs are filled by former players and lifelong employees. 

Now let’s talk about income from the stadium itself, the items sold in the stadium such as concessions and memorabilia go 100% to the owner less any sales tax is owed to the municipality.  Parking revenue generally all goes to the owner as well.  The teams usually pay “rent” to the city for the use of the stadiums and in the case of the Raiders, they paid roughly $938k last year, a number that will rise to 3.5 million this season.  A large sum until you realize most corporations pay more in rent/property tax a year than the Raiders would have over the course of several years!  Not such a great deal at all now is it? 

Rest easy Las Vegas Raiders fans, the team will be paying 1 whole dollar in rent a year in Vegas, because apparently if they pay more it could jeopardize the tax status of the bonds Las Vegas is issuing to buy the stadium.  Lastly a new revelation has come out regarding how much money the city and county was spending on maintenance of the stadium, they are actually losing 1 million on the Raiders annually due to the fact the baseball and football seasons overlap and heavy maintenance is needed to change the field over from baseball to football.  Sounds like a deal I wish I could get in on, but trust me Oakland you are much better off, pay off the debt and get some additional police on the streets, clean your city up and watch property values continue to skyrocket!

Looking at Sacramento, this process is still playing out as the city council, mayor and ownership groups have “passed the stadium bill to know what’s in it.”  We did get a very nice shiny arena in the middle of downtown, and hosted a few top tier concerts, and the NCAA March Madness games, so I guess there is that.  Yes there have been some new bars/restaurants going in downtown, however when people say the area has turned around, remember the area used to be a run-down mall sold for pennies on the dollar to the ownership group.  The fact that the team is lousy and just traded their star player does not bother me even one iota.  Neither does the fact the two local CRA units actually endorsed the idea of the arena without even bothering to ask questions or taking a principled “no” stance.  What bothers me is Sacramento caved and agreed to a deal brokered by former Mayor and NBA athlete Kevin Johnson and former State Senate President and current Mayor Darrell Steinberg.  The problem…no one really knows what is in this complicated deal; it was drawn up as a land swap, but no one really knows what land was involved. 

Further additional details keep coming out that are flat out astonishing!  Sacramento State University—the flagship school in the Sacramento area and a fixture to locals—just found out they can no longer have their graduation ceremonies at the old Sleep Train Arena (former home of the Kings) and must have it at state-of-the-art Golden 1 Arena.  What is the problem X? Well the problem is rent at Sleep Train was $50K to have the event there, now the taxpayers are on the hook for $150K. 

My overall point of this long blog is that these stadium deals generally include quite a big payoff up front for the owners and very little benefit for the taxpayers that get stuck with the tab for years to come.  Owners are always angling for the next big pay-off and in this case I believe the residents of San Diego and Oakland are the winners in the long run with the residents of Sacramento due quite a few more surprises along the way.  We already know that the new Kings Arena is financed over a period of 35 years and no one—including Kevin Johnson and Darrell Steinberg—is claiming that the arena will last that long. It will need to be replaced within 20 years.

I will leave you with a few quotes from the current Oakland city council president Larry Reid, the former chief of staff to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris in the 1990’s who worked on the agreement to pay for stadium renovations; “It was a bad deal.”  Congrats President Reid for your wonderful revisionist thought.  Here is a more damning quote from Reid “The projections were off, but everyone was caught up in the emotion of having the Raiders return.”  Yup, be careful, very careful to what you agree to.

Til next time,

X

Posted by william on 04/01 at 06:49 PM
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