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Friday, February 09, 2018

Thoughts on California’s Housing Shortage

Happy Friday!

I’m just wondering what things are like in your corner of the world? Here in the shadow of California’s capitol, I keep hearing how great the economy is but I think its wishful thinking. Prices of food and energy keep going up due exclusively to government policies. In my town, Elk Grove, the city council is spending money faster than a drunken Congressman with a new girlfriend.

The only fault here that any politician will admit is a housing shortage. What shortage? The only thing in short supply is affordable housing. Ten years ago, at the peak of the housing boom, it cost about $100,000 per lot just to get a building permit. Wages, taxes, and utilities cost much more than ten years ago, but real estate prices in my area have never recovered their peak values of the last decade.

Nevertheless, single people that I know at work are paying apartment rental that is double what my monthly mortgage is costing me. What is worse is that there is plenty of housing available. I have three empty homes in my neighborhood that are within a two minute walk of my driveway. Two of the three are not even listed as being for sale. Yep, they are just sitting there. One has been empty for about two years and another for six months, and the third for about four months. Another family on my street is closing up shop and heading out of state later this year. If this is a common occurrence then things are worse than I imagine.

I fear that by the time Gavin Newsom and the gang in the “bill mill” are done with this state, we will be comparing ourselves to Haiti or Puerto Rico. That’s when you know that California has achieved its goal of being the worker’s paradise that we have been promised.  Oh, and then government will have created affordable housing to boot. Until then, buckle-up.

Posted by william on 02/09 at 03:04 PM
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Thursday, February 08, 2018

Comments On Learning How To Think Straight

Bob Dylan released a track on his Grammy winning Slow Train Coming album called Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking but I’m not sure the article below is what he had in mind.


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At first glance you might think this is the prison version of My Fair Lady but we are not talking about which fork to use at the fancy dinner or “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”. Neither is this a redux of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten where rules such as “don’t hit others” and “share” were the life lessons that folks used to learn.

No, the article below is a target rich environment for an alien way of thinking. We are in fact looking at a religion of self-improvement and behavior modification which yields no improvement in the human heart; thus there is no real moral or ethical basis why the prisoner should change.

Inmates at Corcoran learn how to think straight

By Lt. Edward Sanchez, AA/PIO
California State Prison, Corcoran

Thinking for Change recently congratulated its second graduating class on Facility 3B at California State Prison, Corcoran. The inmates in the class learned social skills such as active listening, apologizing and responding to anger.

The next subject the class learned last fall was, Cognitive Self-Change: paying attention to how their thinking affects their responses, recognizing risky thoughts and behaviors that are likely to get them into trouble and how to identify new and different ways of thinking and acting that will help them avoid conflict.

After practicing these skills, the next subject was Problem Solving: learning to take problems they experience every day, such as conflicts with cell mates, family members and staff and develop a more constructive way of dealing with those difficulties.

Members of the class learned by observing the group leader and one of their own members who had already completed the class demonstrate the specific skills they were learning.

They then identified their own problem situations, worked through the process of identifying potential solutions, chose one and acted it out in front of the class with another inmate.

For Inmate Harris, this was the second time through the class, this time as a teacher’s assistant who helped demonstrate the various skills and worked with some of the other inmates to help them complete assignments in between classes.

“This wasn’t just book learning,” said another inmate. “We actually did what we were learning about.”

“The experience I got out of this class was the most helpful thing I have received in all my years in CDCR,” said another inmate.



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Graduates of Think for Change

Folks let’s face it, the guys in prison are those that are more logically consistent than the rest of us. If Darwin is true—which is what we teach from elementary school on up—then taking what you want and exploiting the weak is proper behavior. Rape, murder, theft, and other “crimes” are just survival of the fittest in action. What these inmates learn the hard way is that society for the most part doesn’t really believe Darwin.


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You see, we want the morality of Christianity—the fruits if you will-without the consequences of the reality of God. We latch onto Darwin to explain our existence apart from God and justify abortion on demand but otherwise we don’t really have much use for him.

Inmates acted like animals (per Darwin and evolutionary theory) and subsequently got caged. Thus the society that caged them is now trying to train them to behave better. Acting according to nature got them in trouble so now somebody decided that the problem was their lack of nurture. Sorry but even with Siegfried and Roy, the animals were still wild, they just acted tame in a controlled setting for short periods of time; their fundamental nature is not changed.


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Siegfried and Roy

Likewise, this prison program cannot effect the type of change that these men really need, only the Gospel of Christ can have lasting change. Why? Because when God saves us, he gives us a new heart, a new nature, His nature.

From a biblical point of view, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can’t really do either correct or rehabilitate. God is in the business or redeeming people from their sins. (Imprisonment is not a biblical punishment anyway.)

When the government gets into the business of trying to redeem people, they have left their God given sphere of responsibility and strayed beyond their mandate. These eight guys were able to get out of their cells and interact with others but sadly they were not given the antidote to their real problem just a placebo.

Posted by william on 02/08 at 09:16 AM
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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Folding Tablets Are New Cell Phones

Later this year two design concepts will converge to create a new category of devices.

Always Connected
Windows 10 devices will be entering the market which run on ARM chips. ARM chips are the same ones that power smart phones. This is not Windows RT or Mobile but the same Windows 10 that runs on your desktop and laptop. These always connected devices will hold a charge measured in days not hours and can run most programs that you use at work or home.

Foldable Tablets
In addition to laptops and tablets, a new set of foldable devices will also be marketed beginning later this year. This new technology category is the folding tablet that just happens to be a smart phone. Several Android and PC manufacturers are entering this market space.

Combining Both: Andromeda
I’m particularly interested in Microsoft’s Andromeda devices. These foldable tablets are always connected, run Windows 10, and support touch and pen. Andromeda is believed to be the mythical “Surface Phone”. Now that the top brands of cell phones routinely cost more than one thousand dollars, Microsoft can market this tablet without the sticker shock that would have occurred a few years ago. Also the technology has become both powerful enough and efficient enough to be practical.

Here is are sketches of the Microsoft Andromeda concept.

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Sketch from Patent application


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Render of Andromeda from Engaget

Microsoft ‘Andromeda:’ Everything we know about the rumored foldable device

I’m looking forward to seeing these gizmos at my local electronics retailer later in the year. (and hopefully under the Christmas tree too)

Posted by william on 01/31 at 07:51 AM
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Saturday, January 27, 2018

When Hyper-V Attacks

A coworker has an old program that he couldn’t get to run on his computer, so he asked me to help. From the description of the program it sounded like it was probably written with 16-bit code, so I told him about DOSBox. He had never heard of the program; nevertheless, I convinced him to try it. (I like D-Fend Reloaded mod)  Once he got it installed he tried to run his program. It gave him an error because he didn’t have Windows installed.  After several text messages, we agreed that he would bring the program CD to work, give it to me, and I could try it at home the next day.

In the meantime, I pulled out my old Windows for Workgroups 3.11 CD and tried to figure out how to install it on DOSBox. Yes, I know there is no such thing as a Windows 3.11 install CD, I made it myself almost 20 years ago. The CD is also bootable, I tweaked an image of a Windows 98 (or ME) rescue floppy and added some improvements. It can install WFW and Norton Desktop—a product that looks suspiciously like Windows 95 but is much older. It makes 3.11 have a different desktop experience and features portions of Norton Utilities as part of a graphical interface. It’s really cool software. After fiddling with DOSBox for a while I was able to get Windows installed. Oh, nice thing about having it on CD is no prompts for inserting the next floppy disk.

I then had to configure the sound card and video. Sound was easy, just select SoundBlaster and set Interrupt and IRQ—typical old school stuff. Video was a big problem. I picked Living Books “Arthur’s Teacher Trouble”. Believe me it was trouble too. The video in DOSBox just wouldn’t go. I changed the settings within Windows to every size and shape monitor but they all failed. Finally, I found a complete answer which I’m happy to link to HERE.
Having conquered Broderbund, I decided to revisit Microsoft virtualization in Hypervisor. I clicked on Hyper-V Manager in my Windows 10 machine and found a treasure—or so I thought; a relic of Windows 7, I found Windows XP. I tried running it and it errored out. One error was that the network settings were invalid. I was forced by Windows into a reboot after each failure. Unable to get it running, I decided to use the same virtual hard drive but use it in a newly created session of Hyper-V. I accepted the defaults and tried to create a new virtual PC. After letting Hyper-V run for about ten minutes I aborted to program. I knew something was wrong, it should only have taken a few seconds.

While messing with the virtualization software, I noticed that the virtual network card was running but my regular network card was dead. It said no network cable was attached to my computer. I tried many things, but none worked:
• At elevated Command Prompt: netcfg -d
• Help in Hyper-V had no content when I tried to use it
• Restore Point from a week before
• Delete all network cards in Device Manager
• Delete Hyper-V
• Reinstall NIC drivers
• USB network card (which said no ethernet cable attached to PC)

All these ideas and a few more failed. But things got worse.

In the midst of this, the Wi-Fi for our whole house went down and despite several reboots, nothing happened. I checked with a friend in the area and his connectivity was normal. On my phone, the ISP website assured me that there were no outages in my area. I ended up having to do a factory reset of the cable modem to get anything running. More than three hours after I tried to run my virtual hard drive, I finally admitted defeat and went to bed.

This morning, I was contemplating running a cable from another part of the house to my computer until I could get a wireless dual band NIC. Just for fun, before I left for work, I unplugged my computer from the hub in my wiring closet and plugged the cable into an unused port and immediately the green light came on and my computer was connected. I was glad to have my computer connectivity back but…

Folks think about it, a malformed piece of software on my desktop computer had the power to kill a port on my gigabit hub and my cable modem/router at the same time. Port 8 on my hub is dead and buried and a factory reset was needed to recover connectivity to the Internet. It sounds like I may have stumbled onto a bug or potential exploit. Whatever happened, I hope the boys in Redmond get this fixed. A simple message that this is not a supported operating system would have saved me a few hours of inconvenience.

Posted by william on 01/27 at 12:30 AM
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

State of the CRA

The CRA has graciously invited me to their annual convention in March; an honor that I must respectfully decline.

They will be gathering in once Republican Orange County to considering such weighty topics as:
Battle for Congress—Which seats are at risk
State of our State
Why be activists?
How to engage Non-Republicans?

Also they will vote to endorse candidates for Governor and U.S. Senate.


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However, I must respectfully rip this confab as a relic of a long dead age. The CRA, and Republicans in general, living in California are much like zombies. They move around, make noise, occasionally mumble about brains, and can occasionally be herded about totally unaware that they died long ago.

Conservatives blame Pete Wilson and Charles Munger Jr. while Liberals blame pro-lifers and religious Conservatives for the Party’s demise; however, both are wrong. Two factors deserve the lion’s share of the blame for the decline of the Republican Party in the once Golden State, George Herbert Walker Bush and demographics.

• In 1973, Los Angeles County alone had 270,000 aerospace jobs, mostly due to the military. The aerospace industry was one of the biggest employers in California. While the number of jobs in this industry was declining due to the decrease in spending for the space program and end of Vietnam as well as improvements in materials and manufacturing, it was still an important industrial sector in the state. 
• In the late 1980’s, then San Francisco Mayor Diane Feinstein refused to allow the USS Missouri to be stationed at Hunter’s Point as a permanent museum.
• A year after Ronald Reagan left office the Berlin Wall fell.

George H.W. Bush created the military base closure commission to celebrate the mythical “Peace Dividend.” This “Blue Ribbon” commission decided which bases would be closed and Congress agreed that no amendments would be allowed, it would be a straight up or down vote, that way if a base in someone’s district closed it was the commission’s fault not theirs. Furthermore, Bush agreed to sign the commission recommendations into law before it ever saw the light of day. This commission stripped most military installations from California. Ironically, the money from the base closures ultimately went to bailing out the Saving and Loan Crisis that was solely created by the same Congress.

Demographics in California changed for a number of reasons but the mass exodus of conservative and Republican voters from the state due to the base closings sealed the fate of the state. This change in the electorate coupled with the influx of people arriving from other countries changed the face of California forever.

It was during this era that CRA saw two things, a precipitous decline in membership and the rise of Barbara Alby and the Christian Right. CRA went from north of 100,000 members to about 20,000. Today CRA numbers less than 2,000 members in a state of 38 million.

For CRA to hold a convention about Republican victories is like the survivors of Pearl Harbor or Civil War reenactors gathering to honor the good old days of a bygone era. They can pound their chests and drink a beer in honor of their fallen comrades but other than being armchair quarterbacks to current events they are as irrelevant as Pete Wilson to contemporary politics.

Posted by william on 01/25 at 08:34 AM
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Thursday, January 04, 2018

New Year with Teenager

The wife and I have decided to do a course correction in the life of our teenager. We have come to the opinion that both his older siblings have holes in their upbringing that we don’t wish to replicate in his life. Our son is not allowed to use electronic devices including computers, phones, and television during school nights—defined as Sunday evening thru Thursday night; however, this rule has not been enforced in any meaningful way because if we watch television, he is right there with us. This is not just to insure that he does homework but electronic stuff can end up being too much of a good thing.

We are trying three new changes this year to move in what we hope will be a better direction.

First, once a week, our son is responsible to fix dinner. We have set this as a Friday night event with three caveats; first, he can pick a night earlier in the week to complete this task but not later; second, if we eat out on Friday he is off the hook for the week; lastly, he must make a balanced meal. Chocolate cake and milkshakes is not a balanced meal.

Second, Wednesday night is reading night. We can either read by ourselves or aloud but reading is good and we need to do more. I’m thinking about doing a read aloud of a chapter a week from Paul Harvey’s Rest of the Story because my son has no idea who that is and I can’t get him to read the darn book.

Third, Sunday night is daddy school. For one hour a week, we will spend time with various aspects of the Christian faith such as doctrine and apologetics. Our son has spent his life in Christian schools but much of their theology is shallow (the Apostle Paul rightly called it, “the milk of the Word”). A few books we will be dealing with include Walter Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults and James Sire’s The Universe Next Door. I want him to have an answer for the hope that is in him and be able to discern truth from error. I also want to make an effort to get him to make the faith of his parents his own. Nothing I’ve seen other parents do seems to insure that result and arguably it is in God’s hands but I want to know I did my best in my primary duty as a father.

This week will be our first attempt at these goals. We have some good ideas, I’m hoping that the implementation will bear some positive results even if it needs some modifications along the way.

Posted by william on 01/04 at 09:39 AM
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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Review: The Last Jedi

Note: This review contains spoilers as well as commentary that you won’t read anywhere else.


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J.J. Abrams has done for Star Wars the same thing he did to Star Trek; namely, burn the franchise to the ground  and substitute a different worldview in its place. Unfortunately, while the grittier sandbox looks better in CGI, the morality at its core is gone. Any concept of right and wrong has been done away with and replaced with varying shades of gray.

Before I go on, I can hear you asking the question, “Who cares? Why does this matter anyway?”

Look I know these two franchises are just make believe but within them is a view that is optimistic and hopeful of the future and both hold to an idea of right and wrong, the tension of which the franchises are built around.

Star Trek has one big commandment called the Prime Directive which often gets in the way of Captain Kirk doing the right thing. The world of Trek is hopeful and in the past many Post Mil Christians have seen Gene Roddenberry’s world as one where Christianity is triumphant. One episode in the original series is built around the idea that Christianity triumphs but good luck finding it in syndication. Roddenberry was horrified to learn that Christians liked his show because he intended the future to be a religion free universe. Gene didn’t understand that only with Christianity could humans be optimistic about the future. Belief in Progress is a result of a Christian worldview; other belief systems have no basis for such a concept.

Star Wars borrows philosophically from many views and is infused with strong doses of pantheism and duality. George Lucas borrows Christian concepts and morality without attribution  and instead attributes them to impersonal means. The god of Star Wars is impersonal but omnipresent (pantheistic). Like the Chinese idea of Yen and Yang, Star Wars is Light versus Darkness. Mastery of The Force requires training from early youth to keep its followers in the Light or else they will be seduced by evil; the Dark side. (Salvation by works?) George Lucas spent his second trilogy in the franchise showing us that breaking the rules of training will only produce an evil outcome; in the person of Darth Vader. Those outside of the Jedi Order were forbidden to exercise The Force. Lucas based the franchise on “balance” of opposing forces not good triumphing over evil. Nevertheless, good leads to redemption for Mr. Vader; something duality cannot rationally offer.

Star Trek claimed to be a vision of a possible future for our world while Star Wars was always set in “A Galaxy Far, Far Away…”

When Disney bought the franchise, they promised to produce one Star Wars movie per year for the rest of my natural life (or longer).

Link: Disney will release a new ‘Star Wars’ movie every year starting in 2015

In order to do this they brought in J.J. Abrams to “reboot” the franchise so they could have the freedom to use new characters and stories. Abrams had the choice of going to some future period in the Star Wars universe and simply write an off screen epilogue for the original cast or let fans have one last adventure where the old is replaced by the new with Disney reaping the profits all the way.  Disney chose the latter. In the course of the last two movies of this third trilogy, they have killed-off Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. Carrie Fisher was the only remaining cast member left and as Episode VIII was winding down, she died. Fisher’s death will clearly necessitate a major rework of Act 3.

To the careful observer, J.J. Abrams did much more than kill-off the old cast in exchange for a quick dollar, he killed the world of Star Wars as well.  Upon purchasing the franchise, Disney declared virtually everything except Lucas’s movies as null and void as far as the cannon (or mythology) of Star Wars was concerned. Every non-Disney property was nullified by proclamation. All novels, comic books, cartoons, etc. were invalidated by fiat.

Link: Why Disney Blew Up More Than 30 Years of Star Wars Canon

By the end of episode VIII, J.J., killed-off everything in the first six movies as well.


George Lucas modeled the original Star Wars in arch types of a western set in outer space with the theme of good versus evil. The story was designed to have a beginning, middle, and end. How well Lucas thought the whole thing out is questionable in light of some obvious holes in the second trilogy but the basic idea of good and evil permeates all six Lucas films.

J.J. Abrams began his course correction with Episode VII The Force Awakens but the seeds that he planted didn’t bear much fruit until the next and most recent installment, The Last Jedi. Abrams begins with the familiar arch type of Sith Lord and apprentice on the side of evil and a young girl that for no apparent reason has really strong ties to the good side of The Force. Abrams takes these themes and proceeds to violently overthrow the whole structure erected by Lucas.

Abrams took the fairytale-like world of Star Wars and in the course of one movie, did a gut-and-amend that would make Willie Brown blush with its boldness.
• In this movie, the apprentice kills his master, which is no big deal since he killed his father (Harrison Ford) in the last movie. The dialogue in this part of the movie is crucial in understanding what J.J. is doing. The interaction between the two main characters is important to the Disney version of the franchise going forward. The heroine says there is still good in the bad guy and surprisingly, the bad guy says that the heroine has evil in her and she should fully embrace it. The “good” girl and the “bad” guy then team up for a major fight scene and then go their separate ways. Folks here is the new paradigm. No characters are totally good or bad, there are just varying shades of gray. People just live for the moment and do what is in their self-interest (or right in their own eyes). However, if there is no right or wrong, then the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker (episodes 1 thru 6) is impossible. Lucas may have lacked a proper philosophical framework for his world, but he did keep the Christian ideals of good being the superior value and winning over evil and redemption of the vilest being possible—even at the moment of their death.
Luke Skywalker and Yoda destroy the Jedi temple and all their teachings (scriptures). They repudiate thousands of years of the Jedi religion and have no substitute for it. They create their own version of Pascal’s heart shaped vacuum with nothing to fill it. Yoda states the heroine has no need of training but already knows everything that she needs to. Excuse me but we spent six movies debating the premise of training and age; whether Jedi or Sith, they both agreed on this point and now with one simple comment we do away with it?! Luke and Yoda further agree that the Jedi Order is to be abolished (somehow, they seem to imply that this will do away with the Sith too, but this is never explained). Gary North’s words about you can’t beat something with nothing come to mind. Abrams’ switcharoo is totally without foundation. Only Christopher Hitchens would praise such hubris with a straight face.
• Luke sacrifices himself in a selfless way that seems contrived because all he does is use astral projection or a Force-made hologram to toy with the bad guy to allow the last of the Rebels to escape. This sacrifice—which visually harkens back to Alec Guinness in the first movie—seems to serve some greater purpose—likely the next movie. I can hear high school literature teachers screaming about Luke being a Christ figure in this story, but I think Abrams and company sacrificed young Skywalker just for shock value. Mark Hamill expressed his disapproval about how his character was portrayed in the movie but once his comments lit-up the Internet some suit at Disney pulled him aside and put him in his place. 
• At the end of the film, the Jedi Order is abolished, and regular people begin to exercise The Force. Somehow no training is required anymore.


I could mention many more plot points but the Galaxy Far, Far Away was replaced with the angst of secular humanists struggling to find meaning in a world without morality or God. The world of Lucas was dismantled and replaced with another right before our eyes…one that looks eerily like a modern day Liberal worldview.

As I watched this movie, a few thoughts were going thru my head.
• The words of Gary North saying that a change in law is a change in religion certainly applied.
• Also, a line from Pixar’s Incredibles, “If everyone is Super, no one will be.”
• After the movie, my military son was furious because it was clear to him that there was no overarching story, everything from here on out will be character arcs and nothing more.

Star Wars was ripped from a fairytale-like story of good versus evil and thrust headlong into our morally relativist world of self-interest where everyone does what is right in their own eyes and the only taboo is absolutes.

Disney did to Star Wars what other malcontents in our society have done to other things in America, destroy what made them good in the name of making them relevant. So, to a long list of things including marriage, clergy ordination, Boy Scouts, patriotism, capitalism, American Exceptionalism, Western Culture, Christmas, et al, you can now add yet another; the cultural icon Star Wars.

Posted by william on 12/30 at 10:52 AM
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Friday, December 22, 2017

Government Accounting v Reality

One of the most frustrating things for Conservatives is the lack of concern that the elected folks and those in government have concerning underfunded promises made by government. This is especially true when we look at government funded pensions and Social Security. California’s State Treasurer admits that California governments (state, county, and local) are 1.5 trillion dollars in debt (Link: Treasurer Debt Watch) and this does not include the estimated 1.4 trillion in underfunded pension liabilities for the State (state, county, and local). From our perspective, the government officials are behaving much like Mad Magazine’s Alfred E Newman who is best known for saying, “What, me worry?”


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Finally, I have an explanation; mind you it’s not one I like or agree with but I would like to share it with you.

This fall, I took a class on government accounting that was sponsored by the California Department of Finance. Much of the class focused on the way California does things. Please understand that the Dept. of Finance is the government agency that assembles the budget presented each year by the Governor to the Legislature for approval. When the Dept. of Finance speaks, powerful people listen. (Think Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, etc.)

I could get into much vocabulary on things such as GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and GASB (Governmental Accounting Standards Board) but it’s not necessary for this discussion; instead you only need to know one term, measurement focus. When this term is applied to governmental accounting, it looks like this:

Governmental fund financial statements are prepared using the current financial resources measurement focus and the modified accrual basis of accounting. Revenues are recognized in the accounting period in which they become available and measurable, and expenditures are recognized in the period in which the fund liability is incurred…

Link

The key phrases in the quote above are “current financial resources” and “modified accrual”.

This is radically different from what people do in the private sector. Normally, businesses use accrual accounting. Under accrual; assets and liabilities are recognized when they happen. For example, in a private business when you bill a customer, an accounts receivable is created. The A/R is treated as an asset at that point, you don’t wait until the customer’s payment is in your bank account.

Government doesn’t do that. Instead they purposely ignore certain things because under current financial resources, government only cares about the current fiscal year. In the example above, government only recognizes the receipt of cash as an asset when it is deposited in the bank, except at year end. Assets and long-term liabilities are purposely ignored except on a few special year end reports.

So practically speaking, this is how government treats pensions:
• Employee money withheld from paychecks for retirement are sent to the federal government for Social Security and state retirement is sent to CalPERS. Assets are done.
• Retirees in the system are sent their retirement checks. Liabilities are done.
• Conclusion, pension system is ok.

Seriously, their view is really that simplistic. Why? Because the current fiscal year was taken care of.

Oh, just so you know, they treat bonds this way also. As long as they can cover interest payments for the current year then per government accounting, everything is wonderful.

I realize that from a practical point of view this makes no sense but that is how it is. It goes back to GAAP. Specifically, the Generally Accepted part. If governments agree that things should be done a certain way, then that is the way they will do them. It’s not a matter of what is right or more technically correct or responsible to the next generation, if it is generally accepted not to worry about long term obligations then they don’t have to.

Don’t just take my word for it, here’s straight from the textbook:

The employees earn the right  to the benefits during the periods that they work but don’t receive the cash (or whatever form the benefit may take) until after they retire. The employer, however, receives the full value of the employment exchange during the periods the employees work; therefore, the employer’s obligation for paying both salaries and benefits arises during those working periods.

But what if the government budgets for those benefits on a purely cash basis; that is, by not budgeting for the benefits until the years the actual payments are due, after the employees retire? Is the budget “balanced” if the government fails to set aside money for the benefits in the years the benefits are earned? We suggest such budgets are balanced in form—on a cash flow basis—but not in economic substance.

In fact, some governments consistently do not budget in the current year for the full amount of pension benefits earned by employees in the current year, and virtually every government budgets for retiree health care benefits in the year they are paid, not when the employees earn the benefit.

Introduction to Governments and Not-for-Profit Accounting  Seventh Edition page 24.
Emphasis added by author in red .

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The fix is in and they are all in on it. It is clear that the authors of the textbook are just as indignant as we are about it but as they say, “Such is life”.

So next time you hear someone claiming the California budget is balanced remember the unspoken weasel words they are omitting, “Budgets are balanced in form…but not economic substance”.

Posted by william on 12/22 at 04:06 PM
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Thursday, December 21, 2017

I Predict 2018

2018 will be a pivotal year for American politics.

I look for a huge change in the composition of membership in the House and Senate. The “swamp” is just not as much fun as it used to be before Trump came to town. Also, I think several folks will be challenged in the primaries. Look for President Trump to find more cooperation next year on his legislative agenda. This situation will improve even more after November. Furthermore, look for another Supreme Court vacancy that will impact the November elections.

In contrast, look for California politics to make a marked turn towards the Left within the next 18 months. Look for the bifurcation of Prop 13 as business exemptions are lifted while residential restrictions are left intact—for now. The per mile tax on vehicles will pass. We will have double taxation on vehicles—high gas taxes and mileage tax. The State will set a date to outlaw internal combustion engines. Lastly, no Republicans will be on the ballot for the top two election in November and their registration will continue to decline with them officially being the third party as Decline to State (or no affiliation) moves to second.

I look for “adjustments” in the economy due to “bubbles” in some sectors. Trump’s tax cuts will soften the blow from what it could have been. Investment opportunities will become more varied and the stock market will not be the only place to put your money.

At this time next year, Windows devices on ARM processors and 5G internet speeds will be a big deal and gaining momentum.

Posted by william on 12/21 at 09:56 AM
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Stranger Danger or Opportunity

I often critique or admonish the behavior of other folks on this blog. Often it is because of something that I care about or view as a potential learning opportunity for readers. This blog post is about my church and a set of problems that I have been having with them. I can think of three things with which I have real disagreements with the leadership. Two of the three will be discussed publicly and the other will not. The present subject is the first upon which I wish to vent.

Strangers

The Bible has much to say on the subject of strangers. Some folks clearly do better than others in regard to how they treat new people. Here are some sample passages from the Bible:

• Rahab the harlot treated strangers well and became an ancestor of Jesus.
• The people of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to fornicate with the strangers (angels) visiting their cities on the final night of their existence.
• Joseph treated his brothers harshly and with many trials before revealing himself.
• The disciples were told that if they were treated badly to shake the dust off their feet when leaving an unwelcoming town.
• Hebrews tells us, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
• Exodus reminds the Jews, “Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
• Matthew quotes Jesus, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:...”
• Paul wrote the Ephesians, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”
• John said, “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;”

Given the weight of biblical evidence, it is clear that we are to treat strangers the same way as those we know. People that have one set of rules for themselves and another for the masses are violating Scripture.

Furthermore, those claiming any part in the theology of John Calvin bump into the doctrine of Predestination. One thing that Predestination means is that everything has been ordained by God for His purposes. Unfortunately for my church, that includes encounters with strangers.

My church is openly hostile of strangers. We meet in a rented public building next to a very large park. We place signs out on the street showing folks where we meet and then lock all the doors to the building. We used to have unlocked doors that were guarded. For some reason, allowing folks to enter the building that want to use the bathroom is equated with inviting bad guys into our place of worship.

Many men in my church carry firearms to the service and many of the young men carry as many as three knives. Young children are expected to be escorted to the bathroom and are never left unattended.

Are we hyper-Calvinists or what? Why can’t a stranger entering our door be viewed as a Providential appointment to share the Gospel? Why not expect that people will respond favorably to Christ and stop assuming that everyone that we don’t know wishes us ill or is at least an irritation that we don’t want to deal with? What happened to give a cup of water in the name of the Lord?

It is ironic that members lament that our numbers are not growing and wonder why? “Welcoming” is never a word used to describe our fellowship. It seems to me that we are way too busy hiding under our bushel basket instead of being a light. Yeah, lights may attract moths but it also can lead people to safety.

The final irony is that two members of the congregation are registered sex offenders and nobody is afraid of them. (This policy towards strangers predates the attendance of either man.)

Posted by william on 11/15 at 09:29 PM
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veteran’s Day 2017

I got back into the old uniform for the first time in 29 years and walked in the Veteran’s Day Parade in Elk Grove today. Its was moving to be thanked for my service.

I was also blessed to hear my wife sing three songs at the event. God Bless America, Star Spangled Banner, and Amazing Grace.


image


What a contrast from the time when I got out of the Navy back in 1988 and was looking for a job. I distinctly remember applying for work at a local Filco. I handed the guy my resume, he laughed at me, handed the resume back to me, and told me to get out of here. The thought of this treatment still stings.

Posted by william on 11/11 at 02:55 PM
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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Trump, Russia and Other Nonsense

“As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
—Donald Rumsfeld

Candidate Donald Trump was not given a snowball’s chance in hell by the political class when he announced his run for office. The smart money was on people like Jeb Bush. With a full slate of House and Senate races already in the pipeline, Trump had few options available in terms of available personnel when his campaign started picking up traction with voters. The top tier political consultants and more experienced people were already committed to other campaigns. Trump was at a disadvantage in terms of traditional campaigning. Thankfully for him, he was willing to spend his own money to make-up the difference in media buys.

For a while, this served him well but he had huge holes in his organization as he entered the spring of 2016. In many cases, he was left with a combination of inexperienced or disreputable people to run his campaign. Roughly speaking, these folks could be called the “bottom feeders” of the political world.

Such was the case in California. Trump basically had a choice of two consultants to choose from when he began gearing up his California operation. If you recall, it was looking like Trump might need the delegates from the winner-take-all state of California to seal the nomination against Ted Cruz. Trump’s California choices were folks with availability to work for him because they had losing records in running statewide campaigns.

If you apply this personnel deficit on a national scale, you might start to understand why Trump kept changing personnel throughout the campaign and during his first few months in the White House. In fact, even as recently as last month he is still changing people faster than the Senate can confirm them.

The special prosecutor and indictments that were unsealed don’t lead to Trump as the author of any wrongdoing.  The wrongs alleged in the indictment dates back to 2014 and even before; long before Paul Manafort was on Trump’s payroll. The media is still stuck on their Russia narrative but the facts lead elsewhere. Assuming this prosecutor is an ethical guy—which I know is a charitable gesture, if your last name is Clinton or Podesta, you might want to “lawyer-up”.  Trump will survive this sideshow and Hillary will fade away if she knows what’s good for her. 

Addendum
I was contacted by the Sith Lord who shed some more light on the reason that Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort in the first place.

If you recall, as the Trump campaign was winning various state primaries, Ted Cruz supporters were systematically trying to highjack the delegate selection process to get Ted more delegates than he was winning at the ballot box. By doing this, Ted was boosting his delegates in many states with more relaxed systems of delegate selection. Their goal was to deny Trump an outright victory on the first convention ballot and force a brokered convention where Cruz hoped to pick up more supporters in subsequent ballots. Some Trump delegates were actually Cruz supporters that would then be free to vote for Ted after the first vote. Many Establishment types were also hoping for a brokered convention where they planned to dump both candidates and bring in someone like Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney.

It was because of this possibility that Manafort was hired. Per the Sith Lord, Manafort was instrumental in the last brokered convention where he flipped delegates from Reagan to Ford at the 1976 Republican National Committee Convention. Manafort was the “enforcer” for Gerald Ford making offers that delegates simply couldn’t refuse.

As the likelihood of a brokered convention fight between Cruz and Trump dissolved, so did Manafort’s influence in the Trump campaign. He lingered long enough to help with the transition into the White House and then Manafort and Trump parted ways.

Posted by william on 11/01 at 03:40 PM
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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Reformation Day Plus 500 Years

Reformation or Revival, we need a little more Jesus in our lives today.

On Oct. 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther posted 95 debate questions on the door of Wittenberg Church, which began the movement known as “the Reformation.”
Link: 500 Years Ago Today: The Birth of Protestantism

Posted by william on 10/31 at 06:13 AM
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Monday, October 30, 2017

Murder of Old Classmates

I saw this article on Facebook over the weekend and it made lots of emotions get stirred up inside.

The article was posted as a link to the Davis Enterprise newspaper. It was about a man convicted of murder who had served about one year of his sentence and was being released by the Department of Corrections. Yeah, you read that correctly. Kill a guy and get charged with murder and convicted of manslaughter and serve a year and then go free!? I knew Governor Brown was letting folks go without serving their sentences but wow!

Here is part of the Enterprise article:

Jeffrey Lemus, who is about a year into his seven-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, has fewer than six months to live after being diagnosed with liver cancer and advanced cirrhosis, according to a compassionate release report prepared by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Although Lemus remains ambulatory and independent in his daily activities, “the progression of the disease is rapid with extreme unlikelihood of improvement,” CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan wrote in a Sept. 21 letter to Judge David Reed, who is due to decide Nov. 6 whether Lemus’ sentence and prison commitment should be recalled.
Terminally ill prison inmate from Woodland may be released

So Mr. Lemus is sentenced on October 25, 2016 and on September 21, 2017, CDCR is looking to set him free. It’s not like the taxpayers are getting out of supporting this guy’s medical expenses so why kick him loose? So he can spend time with his family?

But the article gets better. The guy who was killed was Kelly Choate. I knew him. We went to elementary school together at Holy Rosary Catholic School. I remember he and his brother Barry and their sister.

“…an emotional Kasie Choate, the victim’s daughter, urged Reed to reject the CDCR petition and keep Lemus behind bars.”

“Whether he be healthy or fatally ill does not change the fact that he killed a person,” she added, noting that Lemus is still able to visit with his loved ones in prison. “What about my dad? He didn’t get that. He didn’t get a warning, a diagnosis of his last days. He didn’t get to prepare for his death.”

This tragedy is bad enough for the family it is not the only one:

Once again, tragedy has befallen the Choates.

The longtime Woodland family is mourning the death of Kelly Mason Choate, 53, who was fatally stabbed Saturday night during an altercation at Kenny’s Bar & Grill on East Street.

His death — which the suspect says resulted from an act of self-defense — comes nearly 29 years to the day after that of his twin brother, Barry Choate, whose 1986 Thanksgiving Day murder remains one of Woodland’s unsolved homicides.

“Their father has lost four sons,” Lisa Hulse, Kelly Choate’s ex-wife, said in a phone interview Monday. In addition to the twins, she said, two of their half-brothers have met untimely deaths, including one who passed away just a few months ago.

Barry Mason Choate was a month shy of 25 when a man searching for recyclables on the morning of Nov. 27, 1986, found his body on First Street south of Main. He’d been shot twice in the jaw and neck by a killer who’s never been identified.
Woodland homicide victim mourned; suspect claims self-defense

So the sister—whose name I have purposely omitted—has lost all four of her brothers, two to homicide. Wow. It’s spooky that I knew both men.

I can understand that Kelly’s family is distraught at the thought that his killer will not have to serve his sentence which they believe was lenient to start with. I’m sad for the family and hope that CDCR gets to hold Mr. Lemus a bit longer.

 

Posted by william on 10/30 at 05:40 PM
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Friday, October 27, 2017

Las Vegas Shooter

I have waited a while to mention this topic in hopes that facts would make for a better discussion but the number of Facts-capital “F” are frankly very few.

We know the following:
• The attack was premeditated
• The guy modified legally purchased weapons
• He had a laptop, a hammer, and many guns
• A chart for shooting that calculated for gravity acting on a bullet over distance was in the room
• It took 72 minutes from the first shots until the police breached the door where they found the man already dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot.


One last fact, the man was a perfectly rational Liberal. Why?
• He didn’t attend church
• Was not a militia member
• Was not a Trump supporter
• Was not a Republican

If any of the above was true, we would still be hearing about it.

Oh, he was a millionaire and registered to vote Democrat in Florida.

The autopsy showed that he had a “normal” brain.

Liberals—who deny the existence of evil—are mystified how to explain away this whole incident because it doesn’t fit their way of looking at the world. However, not allowing a crisis to go to waste, they began demanding that their god (government) take better care of them by demanding more stringent laws on law abiding citizens.

A friend’s daughter was at the concert that night as were some others that I am aware of. It is tragic but sadly more things like this will happen. Evil flourishes in a world that turns its back on God. Welcome to another judgment day.

Posted by william on 10/27 at 03:46 PM
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