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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?
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.
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.
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
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.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Ovoville Fix: California’s Jump the Shark Moment
Steve Camp did a song many years ago about “playing marbles with diamonds”. Camp was lamenting the fact that the Church seems to squander its opportunities and not take its job seriously. In like manner, the State of California is failing to take the issues relating to the Oroville dam seriously.
As I’ve stated before, nobody in State government has ever been involved in the construction of any large scale water storage project. There is no institutional memory in the government bureaucracy of how to successfully do such a project. All anyone knows is that a mountain of paperwork is required before such a project can be undertaken; a process that can take decades to complete. In their mind, a fix is not possible if they go thru normal channels; however, nobody wants to cede their part of the regulations to get the job done.
I submit that the situation is much more dire than you realize. Governor Brown has assembled a crack team of experts and this is what they have floated as a solution:
One temporary recommendation is building an angled flip just above the collapse site. If water needs to be released from the lake down the spillway, the flip would launch the water away from the hole, preventing further erosion.
Link: Making water jump the gap
Really? That’s the best you’ve got?
History lesson: we tried that before in California. It was called hydraulic mining.
Link: California Gold Rush hydraulic mining
It was outlawed in 1884 because of the devastation that it caused to California’s waterways and agricultural land. Now our crack state engineers want to use the same technique on an ever larger scale to save the Oroville Dam? What could possibly go wrong launching 100,000 cubic feet of water per second into the air? Amazing.
OK, so the government can’t do it, what about the private sector? I submit that in a litigious state like California that no insurance company will cover such a project. Look we already had one evacuation for 200,000 people; plus many more would be affected if the dam had further failure. Folks there are tens of billions in potential liability and whoever touches that dam will own it until the end of time. Unless the state gives the contractors a special exemption from liability, why would anyone want to participate in such a repair job?
Then there is the issue of state jobs requiring that prevailing wages be paid. In normal times, prevailing wages add forty percent to the cost of constructing a public school. Can you imagine how much this government mandated wage inflation—in one of the poorest regions of the state—is going to add to the price of any potential fix? Does Oroville even have the infrastructure in place to support the demand for concrete and related materials? I really doubt it.
Dear readers, there are thousands more similar infrastructure issues in this state that are currently being ignored by government. Oh and you have been paying taxes for decades to fix many of them but the money is diverted elsewhere. If and when “the Big One” happens, then you will know just how truly mismanaged this state has been.
Whatever happens to the spillway, I promise that it will be an excuse to raise taxes and somehow the money won’t really improve things all that much. Likely it will start out as a temporary tax that will still be in effect a century from now.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Opposition to Trump One of Biblical Proportions
Anthology series like Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Amazing Stories often start with a world like ours and then tweak one aspect in order to allow a character to participate in some fantastic adventure that otherwise would be totally improbable. The results are often extreme; either to the good or bad for the person that is the focus of the story.
Rarely do we get to witness a real life adventure that is on par with these types of stories. I know there have been others. I had a great uncle named Charles that entered the US Army at the ripe age of 14 in May of 1941. In December of that year, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and my uncle spent the war fighting in the Pacific. He was discharged in 1946 and still not 21 years old and thus not even old enough to vote.
Today, we are witnessing one of the greatest stories of the 21st Century; the Presidency of Donald J Trump. Barack Obama divided the country more than anyone since Richard Nixon; however, Trump has united both parties in their hatred of him. Why? Trump actually expects the members of Congress to do their job and serve the people not themselves. This is the modern day version of Mr. Smith goes to the White House.
Trump is everything that Arnold Schwarzenegger promised California voters in his first run for governor and never delivered. Trump is truly unique. What he promised during his campaign, he is delivering when in office. Folks, I can’t begin to tell you how rare and refreshing that this is. Both parties hate him for this. Trump is fighting an uphill battle against all three branches of government, plus the Federal Reserve, and the media. Make no mistake, this is total war. It’s Trump and about half the voting public versus the status quo.
Next time you read about the kings in the Old Testament tearing down the Ashura Poles and pagan high places, maybe you will understand the type of resistance that they faced and boldness it took for them to do this. I believe Trump is tearing down many similar strongholds in our nation. Gary North and R.J. Rushdooney’s idea that a change in law is a change in religion is clearly validated by Trump’s presidency.
Law, culture, and religion are all intertwined. Pluralism is just a temporary cease-fire until one faction gains a winning advantage over others. The faction that views government as their god tried to press their advantage to victory and crush the opposition; especially, Christians; this is the legacy of Barack Obama.
Trump has been compared to Cyrus or Constantine—and this may be a fair comparison—because he is a defender of The Faith while he himself may not be a believer. I for one am praying for Donald Trump and hoping that he succeeds.
Friday, March 03, 2017
Entry Level Jobs Killed by $15 Minimum Wage
Remember those economically ignorant people that demanded a $15 an hour minimum wage and conducted a campaign of protests and walk-outs nationwide during the last few years? Last year, California Legislators passed and Emperor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law here in Soviet California? How about the issue coming up time and time again during the presidential election as Democrats tried to get this implemented nationwide? This process has also played out in various municipalities and states across the nation. California workers, congratulations on your wages increased, but before you go buy that brand new car or new iPhone you may want to take a look at how far automation has come in the last few years and how it will affect your job very soon. Witness a conversation between X and the Blog Father about five months ago.
iRobot—now closer than ever
Over dinner at a Mexican food establishment with a salsa bar, the subject of automation was brought up. The Blog Father shared that he was recently at a local Wendy’s and to his surprise the monitor used to order food was turned around, facing him. Obviously something was wrong. After further analysis, it turned out that Wendy’s had two touch screen monitors back-to-back, one facing the employee and another facing the customer. The Blog Father speculated that this was a small test being done by corporate to get customers used to the idea of entering their own order. This test was for limited time only. To the Blog Father, the ordering process appeared intuitive. Clearly customers could order seamlessly and upselling was literally right at your fingertips; or for those of you in Rio Linda, asking about add-ons like bacon, fries, soda, baked potato (seriously? Are we in Russia?), and chili were just a touch away.
I imagine that the liberal counterargument to a more automated experience is that a machine can break down and isn’t unionized; thus The Party cannot receive union dues from the machine; however, the all-important sales tax still flows to government coffers. However, I would argue automation has other benefits. It doesn’t need a vacation; call in sick because it was out too late the night before partying, doesn’t activate the fire suppression system due to prank phone calls, doesn’t have mandated medical insurance or payroll tax withholding, and is always ready to do what it’s told.
The employee and all his brethren protesting for $15 an hour minimum wage were right, the owners of fast food companies and other minimum wage jobs could never replace them, they were critical cogs in the process. Initially they might have been right; the monitors were turned back to their original position of advertising products after a trial time. Yup the $15 an hour folks were the smartest people in the room….until the executives realized they weren’t needed in the room, and could be replaced cheaply.
The people thinking they would be the economic beneficiaries of a minimum wage increase were wrong; Wendy’s has announced a roll out of automated kiosks nationwide, eliminating at least 1,000 jobs across the country.
Link: Wendy’s deploys kiosks at 1,000 stores
The Elk Grove location is being renovated and modernized as we speak. I fully expect that once it re-opens for business, this Wendy’s will be equipped with technology that replaces employees with automation.
Wendy’s Order Kiosk—The future is now
A second example; Outback steakhouse—a favorite of X and Mrs. X—now has those annoying kiosk things at every table, and wait staff pushing guests to use them to order more drinks, check out, etc. Keep in mind, I was there to eat a steak on Valentine’s Day and had to look at a tablet asking me if I wanted to buy a new alcoholic beverage every five minutes! I mentioned to my waitress I thought it was a little over the top, her response shocked me; she said “corporate wants 70% usage of this kiosk at every location by the end of 2017!” Yes, hard to believe but machines will be replacing the American worker.
Readers of this blog smarter than the average CRA member understand that machines—not illegals—are replacing the American worker. This comes as no surprise to either the Blog Father or X, as corporations and especially franchisees—whom most fast food workers really work for—will do everything possible to save a few dollars. Now, that this reaction to the wage increase is happening, scores of low skilled workers will be replaced, likely on a permanent basis. This has been the Democrats goal since the party’s birth; create a permanent welfare/government dependent class!
Before you overreact, think about it, how many fast food employees would you say are worth $15 an hour? (Don’t forget to add the health insurance cost of each worker mandated by Arnoldcare, paid family leave, and all the other employer mandated taxes that employers must pay.)
Ok, now let’s play devil’s advocate:
• How much are you willing to see the dollar menu increase by at McDonalds to pay the employee $15 minimum wage?
• How about the two medium two topping pizza’s for $7.99 a piece at Dominos?
• Like the 4 for $5 at Wendy’s? Say Hello to 4 for $10, not such a great deal right?
• Applebee’s burger, fries and coke for $9.99, how about $19.99?
Okay by now I figure you get my point, but if you are a CRA member, Ted Cruz for President 2020 member, or Aaron or George Park, please stop reading as you are lost.
My point is very simple, minimum wage jobs are not intended to be career wages; they are a starting point for entry level work. By raising the minimum wage and making it seem more like a career choice, employment is going to be harder and harder to come by for younger and unskilled Americans. Sadly, these unskilled or inexperienced folks think the Democrats are trying to lobby for higher wages to help them and thus gladly give them their votes but in reality the joke is on them. They are literally voting themselves out of a job and into a life of subjugation and dependence on government. Look no further than the Wendy’s in Elk Grove, maybe I will be wrong, I hope I am, but I have a feeling that when it reopens after renovation, Wendy’s will be employing kiosks not people at the front counter.
Until next time,
Friday, February 24, 2017
Adam was just entering his teen years when I last saw him. His family moved out of state shortly after I was married. His dad was in my wedding party and a great guy. His dad had a great sense of humor. Except for his irrational love of Monty Python, I usually found that we liked many of the same things.
As is common for church members, we had a going away party for the family before their big move. At the party, I happened to mention to him an obscure song by Marty McCall and Fireworks called Adam.
The song is presented from the point of view of the singer blaming Adam for causing this world of woe by sinning in The Garden. The song wonders what the world would be like if the original Adam had not disobeyed long ago. The lyrics include the line,”Adam how I hated you…”
(“Adam” was released by Fireworks in 1981 and can be found on YouTube.)
Adam’s reaction to this brief portion of our conversation was really weird. He seemed to take it as if the song was about him, not a guy that lived a few thousand years ago. I tried to get him to understand that it was not about him but I still remember him not letting it go.
Years later, he and I became Facebook friends. On Facebook, I was friends with his parents and since he was now an adult, I became friends with him too. (Subsequently, his folks deleted their Facebook account.) When I viewed his page, what a shock I had. The squeaky clean kid I knew in California was living far away and had become some kind of Goth. Everything was black. Sadly, so was his heart. He was into drugs and had tried several times to commit suicide. He was effectively homeless. I occasionally would look him up on Facebook. Sometimes I would post a Scripture or encouraging word.
How this kid that was “raised right” could end-up so messed-up was tragic. From the outside he had everything: a loving two parent family, an upper middle class home, a good church, education, etc. I remember praying for him often during my breaks at work.
Last week we visited Church of the King in Roseville. My wife and I ran into some mutual friends that we know there. It was then that we learned that Adam had committed suicide. Apparently, it happened months ago but word was circulating slowly all the way to California. I was devastated that this wonderful kid that I once knew had fallen far enough to purposely take his life.
The first chance I had, I checked my phone to see if Adam’s Facebook account was still there. I wanted confirmation. Unlike many that I know have died, his Facebook account was gone.
(Note: there is nothing creepier to me than getting an automated reminder from Facebook to wish a dead person a happy birthday.)
Later, I think I found an obituary online, but the site wanted money to access the information. Suicide is not exactly something those left behind like to brag about so I understand that it is hard to find information about one, even in this digital age.
I miss Adam. I think the world was a better place with him in it. I’m sad for his family.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Trump rally in Florida shows what really divides America
As I wrote to Mr. Winton earlier this week, the political divide in our country is spiritual; Christianity versus Secular Humanism. Man likes to put himself in the place of God.
This is the spiritual divide:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. I Joh 2: 15-17
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1: 18-32
The Left is screaming like demons because they are following the doctrine of demons. Their god is government (and power). Trump is dedicated to tearing down many of their strongholds and they aren’t happy. I don’t know where Trump is spiritually, but I’m confident that God is using him to clean-up the mess that has poisoned our country for so many years.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Jesse Winton: Another Casualty
G.K. Chesterton’s philosophical opponent, George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying, “Youth is wasted on the Young.” This is one of many ideas that came to mind while reading the latest missive from Jess Winton. Another is a quote that some have attributed to Charles Darwin; “I was a young man with unformed ideas.”
Winton and his father produced a pro-gun film called Targeted: Exposing The Gun Control Agenda. It was released at the end of last summer with the hope to inform folks about the agenda of the Left and to influence the upcoming November election. I have previously blogged about attending the premier of the film with Jesse, his father, and others that were in the film. Link: Targeted
Now, six months after it was released, Jesse Winton has decided to repudiate and renounce the film.
Here are a few excerpts of his essay.
“I regret making Targeted.”
“I spent four years of my life making a project that, for a time, I was proud of.”
“So, I regret making Targeted. I regret that it was fundamentally biased toward a particular viewpoint. I regret that it lacked empathy towards anyone that wasn’t a supporter of the Second Amendment, instead judging their motives as evil.”
I knew Winton and his family while they were making the film and know several folks that were extras in the film. Were this all that Jesse repudiated, I would still be shocked but unfortunately, he has made other more disturbing statements. The only difference is that I got a copy of this statement before he deleted it.
You see Jesse doesn’t have the courage of his convictions to stand by what he says. Twice I found Facebook posts that he initiated where as soon as he was caught advocating positions contrary to the theology of his father, he would delete the posts. One was a full throated defenses of “gay marriage”.
Jesse has left the Calvinist reservation and gone in another direction. Two themes that you will see repeatedly are his proclamation that he is a Libertarian and that he has a hatred of Donald Trump.
“Firstly, hear me say very clearly that … I am staunchly Libertarian. I have a hard time with Conservatism and the ways that it has manifested itself in our culture today.”
OK, what does this statement mean? Winton repudiates both Liberals and Conservatives and thinks that Libertarianism is a better way? Really? To some folks, Libertarians are all about live and let live; in a non-judgmental sort of way. The problem that I have with Libertarianism is that followed to its logical conclusion; it is a repudiation of Christianity. Sin is an integral part of being Libertarian. Prostitution, drug use, abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other things (euphemistically called “victimless crimes”) are perfectly fine according to a Libertarian worldview. However, all these are contrary to Biblical teaching.
Conservatism is not the same as a Biblical worldview but it often comes closer than either Libertarianism or Liberalism. Conservatives and Christians have many things in common. Politically, we both believe in limited government and that morality has a place being codified into law. The civil law exists to protect citizens from harming themselves and others, punishing crime, and defending the nation. All these are anathema to the Libertarian mindset.
Christianity does not allow room for the axiom, “My country right or wrong” or “the ends justifies the means” as some Conservatives seem to believe. The family, Church, and State have clearly defined roles. The Bible does not proscribe one form of human government as superior to all others but it does say that God’s Law is Supreme. Nations and their people are judged on the basis of how well we uphold His Standards.
This brings up to Donald Trump.
“Unfortunately, what we’re seeing now under the Trump administration is the result of years of divisive politics that gave American’s an excuse to not listen to each other. Everyone looked for ways to point fingers, we searched for methods by which we could confirm our own bias, and on a small level, Targeted was part of that. Fortunately, Targeted’s reach was limited. But it still had a reach. And I wish it hadn’t.”
This paragraph is full of nonsense from someone that should know better. Donald Trump is not now nor ever been a Conservative. Trump is outside of traditional political categories. He is President today because he said in effect, “a pox on both your houses” to the Democrats and Republicans in elected office. Trump called them frauds and said somebody needs to get off the track Obama put us on and go another way.
Last time I checked, there was a battle for the hearts and souls of men and the political divide in this country is along spiritual lines even more than policy ones.
If you look at Winton’s Facebook posts (at least the ones he hasn’t deleted yet), you will see that he endorses the Trump = Hitler meme. Last week, he has posted about Trump shredding the judiciary because Trump is not happy with the Ninth Circuit Court. The Ninth Circuit should have been dismantled back when Reagan was President, the fact that Trump is willing to say it is a good thing and long overdue.
Jesse seems to want popularity and praise more than standing for Truth. He reminds me of another film maker that departed from the faith of his father, Frankie Schaeffer.
Another thing that Mr. Winton seems to willfully ignore is that Donald Trump is there because God put him in office. And yes, ditto when Barack Obama was President. Obama was a judgement from God on our nation for rejecting His values. One of the punishments promised in Deuteronomy is the foreigner ruling over us and whether you think Obama was born in Hawaii or not, his values were not American values but something else. Obama was the first openly Communist or if you prefer, International Socialist President.
Whether Trump is another form of punishment or the savior of the American way of life is yet to be seen. So far, I have no complaints in what he has done. Trump seems content for the church and the family to carry-on without interference from the national government and from my perspective that is a refreshing change from the tyranny of the Obama administration.
Winton also spends part of his article dumping on the guests that he had in his movie. This too I find disingenuous. Unlike many bloggers, I spent part of my time in junior high school thru college in the practice of journalism. I know that part of the craft is finding quotations that help your article. You typically either go to an expert in the field or someone involved in the issue which you are writing about. Just because I quote someone does not mean that I agree with everything that person stands for. Case in point is this article when I quote George Bernard Shaw. I would find much more agreement with Chesterton than Shaw on almost any subject but quoting Shaw makes my point in that particular instance.
Speaking again about Targeted, look what Winton has to say:
I regret that it was endorsed by someone who said that Rosa Parks’ contribution to civil rights was “absurdly inflated.” I regret that it was endorsed by someone who’s sense of class prompted him to compare pictures of Hillary and Chelsea with pictures of Melania and Ivanka with the caption “Make America Hot Again.”
This appears to be the offending graphic mentioned by Winton.
Undeniable truth of life #24 comes to mind “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society.”
Winton is using a classic logical fallacy of the Ad Hominem attack.
Arguments of this kind focus not on the evidence for a view but on the character of the person advancing it; they seek to discredit positions by discrediting those who hold them. It is always important to attack arguments, rather than arguers, and this is where arguments that commit the ad hominem fallacy fall down. Link: definition Ad Hominem
Winton chose who to have in his movie either because they were a subject matter expert or because he was able to get quotes to bolster his argument. Attacking their character now is way too late. Jesse, you presented them as experts on the Second Amendment and nothing that you say about them now in your current rant diminishes that expertise.
Just because somebody shares something on Facebook because they think it’s funny is not sufficient grounds to throw them under the bus so Liberals and fellow Libertarians will like you more.
Jesse had a choice to make and he chose Libertarian values over biblical ones. They may appear to start in similar places but they end in very different destinations. Jesse seems content to swap his birthright for a cup of stew and that’s too bad.
In “Ode to the Outlaw”, Gary Paxton wrote about “that prison of freedom called hell” The only people with “freedom” in our society are homeless ones, everyone one else has someone telling them what to do. As Bob Dylan said it, “You gotta serve somebody.” Jesse mistakenly thinks freedom is the ultimate value. Sorry Jesse, God’s Law is the ultimate value not personal freedom.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Where’s my Refund?
We files our taxes last week, so just for fun I checked on my refund status tonight.
The IRS is promising to give me my refund 8 days after I filed.
The IRS can process an electronic return in days
However, the State of California is a different story. They promised me a refund within 2 months if I filed electronically and four months if I filed a paper return.
The worker’s paradise of California requires two months to process an electronic return
In previous years, my fastest turnaround for a refund from the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) was seven days. Apparently Democrats screw-up everything they touch. Now that they run everything in the State its two months? Too bad there aren’t any tech companies on the West Coast. I guess they can’t write a decent program when Trump has all their brainy people stuck at home or in some backwater airport waiting for permission to travel to the United States.
Based on the timeframe required to process my return, it looks like the State is in worse financial shape than they admit publicly. For paper returns you will literally be waiting until next fiscal year to get your money back.
If you wish to check on your refund, here are the links.
Update: 02-13-2017 Contrary to the statement on their website, Franchise Tax Board did in fact process my return. Actual turn around was less than two weeks. Apparently their time estimates are made by Mr. Scott to maintain the appearance of a miracle worker.
Thursday, February 02, 2017
A Texas Sized Pension Crisis in Dallas
After awaking from my New Year’s celebration I decided to do a little catchup reading. One article that caught my eye was about a pension crisis in Dallas, Texas. The first thing that came to mind was this must be the county workers retirement pension system, I was wrong; this is the police and firefighters retirement pension system. A very small pension fund by comparison to some such as CALPers. However the problem in Dallas is strange, in a sense because Dallas has a booming downtown, cranes and skyscraper construction dot the skyline. People have been moving to Dallas in droves, this is not the case study of a braying Midwestern city struggling with population loss, and the mill or warehouse closing down. This really caught my eye.
Government and private sector accountants have been tussling in Dallas over how large the deficit in the pension funding crisis is, however they do agree on one thing, it’s between one and five billion dollars! Yeah, Billion, like Million but with a “B”. Dallas appointed a pension board about thirty years ago to oversee the investments of this fund; most states and municipalities do this. These board members are supposed to have a fiduciary duty to put the financial needs of the members over any short term profits or accounting gimmicks…they failed. I will go in to their misdeeds later; in the meantime the city is now facing a monumental crisis of epic proportions.
The pension system in most states and municipalities all work the same, work so many years, and contribute a small portion of your check, roughly 1% and you will get a defined payout amount each month for the remainder of your life once you retire. This is true with most pension plans; they are set up in a defined benefit manner not a defined contribution manner. This becomes a problem when the union designs a contract where employees can retire at 50 and collect full benefits until death some 30 years later. The problem is the pension fund essentially becomes a Ponzi scheme as new money is added from current workers that go to pay out the benefits to retired workers.
The fund receives money each month collected from current workers’ pay, and then hopes to invest the money, earn a decent return, and pay out benefits to those collecting retirement. The main problem is these funds always use pie in the sky projections for investment return, with some such as CALPers saying they expect around 7.5% a year! As per usual they didn’t come close to 7.5%, they actually did .41% which is well, awful especially considering the market is at all-time highs. Enough about California; now back to Dallas.
Dallas got creative about a decade ago, they created an option for retired members called (DROP) deferred retirement option program. This option allowed retired members to put their pension check in a separate account, which would be a savings account, with a 10% interest annually credited to it. If you’re scoring at home, once again this is a characteristic of a Ponzi scheme promising pie in the sky returns, risk free mind you. Many retirees participated and I cannot say I blame them, as a 10% risk free return that is likely guaranteed by the municipality or the state is a great option. Then as one would expect problems began to arise, since you can’t guarantee 10% returns while the fund was only projecting to earn 7%.
The fund was beginning to see trouble in 2008, and as a result the board of directors decided to make investments in real estate as opposed to stocks or equities. Investing in real estate is extremely risky, and the bets placed by the Dallas pension fund blew up right in their face. This was to be expected. (If X was tasked with generating a massive investment return, I admit I would have done something similar.) The fund began buying up real estate all over the world, a winery and hotel in Napa, and quite a few investments in foreign countries that were supposed to make up the difference and generate a return that could pay off the obligations to retirees. This solution is not an issue until the value of the real estate holdings drops, and predictably it did. The fund took over $500 million in write-offs over a two year period from 2014-2015. Which is not a problem until those expecting to receive pension benefits find out they may not be receiving said benefits, then mayhem ensues. Mayhem indeed did ensue later in 2016. Further adding fuel to the fire were an agreement to raise the cost of living adjustment by 4% a year rather than pegging the rate to inflation which would have saved over 15-20%.
Remember those DROP accounts? The pension system had over 500 worth more than 1 million dollars, as a result of the shortfall; retirees began pulling all their money out of the system. Who can blame them? It was money and benefits they had earned. As a result, the mayor of Dallas, pension board leaders, and the state have been looking for a solution, including the temporary halting of withdrawals from the plan. Which as per usual from governments and the CRA these days, answers nothing. Panic has set in among retirees and as a result lawsuits have started flying in Dallas, as well as an FBI investigation as well as an SEC investigation. The mayor of Dallas predictably wants a state bailout, which predictably the state government told him politely no thank you. Now he wants to raise property tax by 130% on Dallas residents. Remember this is Dallas, not a small decaying city, but one that is lined with skyscrapers. Stay tuned, and I will report as more details come available.
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
Just Odd News
Sometimes when browsing the Internet, I find the juxtaposition of certain news stories out of place or just peculiar. Here is an example from KOVR-TV’s website tonight.
In math we did study inverse proportionality but ...
Muslim ↑ Bacon ↓ ?
Lest you think this television station—which I admit to occasionally watching—has all their oars in the water when it comes to their website, I did do a screen capture of this gem several months ago.
When weather babe Lisa Meadows was hired, the station did a fluff piece on her but the website muffed the slug line. It should read, “Get to know the newest member of the CBS13 weather team.”
So is the website person ESL or are they poking fun at another blond female news personality?
Perhaps it’s just nerd humor.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Hopes for President Trump
This week, we will experience the end of an error and a new beginning. Yes after eight years of Barack Obama a new chapter in American history will begin. As with all beginnings there is both uncertainty and high hopes for President Trump. Unlike Obama and his imperial declarations of unilateral executive authority, Trump has the possibility of lasting change by having his wishes turned into law by the Legislative branch of government. Not since Ronald Reagan, has anyone holding the office been so willing to bypass both the media and Congress and take his case for action directly to the American people. Trump will have the power to cause permanent changes in both political parties by being successful.
Unlike the Contract with America and Speaker Newt Gingrich, Trump has longer term goals for the country than merely 100 days. The economic picture has been so obfuscated by Obama and to some extent George W Bush before him, that both danger and opportunity will be encountered. Obama has been cooking the books thru “Quantitative Easing” and manipulation of economic data such as unemployment statistics. The plight of the American worker is the worst it has been since the 1930’s but the difference is less honest politicians and a greater willingness to print money and finance the status quo with debt. Medicare is expected to become insolvent during the Trump years and no one has been willing to fix it. Thankfully Trump has the backbone to at least try for more than a Band-Aid solution. Cutting corporate taxes and repatriation of money that US companies are warehousing overseas will be a great boon to the economy. Trump’s tough stance on trade is needed. Proposals like the Trans Pacific Partnership and its 6,000 pages of nonsense are ridiculously complex and unintelligible even for its advocates to understand.
The legacy of the Supreme Court will be the one that Liberals will hate the most. They can’t get most of their ideas thru the legislatures of the several states or the Federal government so the legislative power of the courts has been their “go-to” play. Trump must not only put folks on the Federal Bench but realign the courts. The dreaded Ninth Circuit Appellate Court must be dismantled so the only the Left Coast states are under their sway. Look for some “out of the box” proposals to be made in this area.
To me, the Courts don’t have to overturn Roe v Wade. If the government would be prohibited from spending any public money on abortion and family planning then groups like Planned Parenthood would be irrelevant. Abortions are at an all-time low. The people that regard abortion as the Sacrament of the religion of Feminism are literally dying-off or at least beyond child bearing years. Yes, Roe needs to be overturned but I think that will be a lagging indicator not the first domino to fall.
Protecting religious liberty will be a mixed bag under Trump but the hostility against Christianity that Obama fostered will mostly be undone. Marriage will be the area to watch. I look for the social engineering of the military including its hostility to Christianity and promotion of LGBT junk to go away…for the most part. I think you will see states like California going to war against Christians while the national government stands with people of faith. The threat of withholding Federal Funds will win the day…for now.
Many of us sense that this is the last chance we will be given before following Europe into the abyss. The America of Norman Rockwell is gone; will it continue on the path into socialism (international or national) or find a way to continue to be Reagan’s “city on the hill” for the rest of the world. If Trump doesn’t undo the damage of the baby boomers and show the next generation a better way than doubling down on the narcissism of their parents then the American Experiment has truly ended as an abysmal failure.
Lastly, I predict that the biggest obstacle that Trump faces will be Republicans undermining him. If they thwart his legislative priorities, look for Trump to run a slate of candidates against these incumbents in two years.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
This past weekend, we celebrated Christmas. It was the most enjoyable one I can recall in many years.
My weekend started Friday afternoon by getting sent home early from work. This year it was two o’clock. This is the earliest that I can recall being dismissed. Of course the drive home was a cakewalk. I arrived home to be greeted by my wife and son. We had a nice dinner and watched a Christmas movie.
The next day we went and visited some dogs that needed a home. While my son hasn’t gotten his dog yet, he knows that mom and dad are willing to get him one when the time is right. Later we had dinner with grandpa and grandma. My son got to open many gifts from his grandparents. The evening went well and my dad’s prime rib was good. We drove home—well mostly. I had the wife dump me out of the car at California Family Fitness and I walked the rest of the way home—too many calories at grandma’s. After I got home, we went to bed ready for Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day, my son was up at his usual time of 6 AM. He played on his computer until mom had breakfast ready. We ate breakfast and then went to see what was under the Christmas tree. We opened our gifts, loaded up the car and then headed to church.
Our church was closed on Christmas. Yeah, I know that’s kind of weird but it’s the pitfall of not owning your own building. There was nobody around to let us into our usual place so we had to meet elsewhere. After many false starts, a few days before Christmas, our pastor decided that we should crash the service at Christ the King in Roseville. The service there was glorious and we got to see many people that we haven’t seen in many years. The Communion portion of the service was my favorite. They had really great homemade bread and port wine. Since this is a meal with Christ, typically you get a big handful of bread and each family gets their own glass of wine. I even got seconds on the wine. Yummy.
We then went home and got ready for our lone guest for Christmas dinner; my sister-in-law. More prime rib. (I don’t mind, the turkey is being served when the child in the military gets home next weekend.)
Since Christmas was on a Sunday this year, Monday was a holiday. My day started by stepping on the scale and amazingly enough, I had lost my final two pounds for the year! Yes, I stepped off and got back on the scale just to check. It was official; I lost 50 pounds in 2016.
After breakfast, we went to look at pet supplies and accessories in anticipation of getting our son a dog. Then I took the family to lunch. (Mr. X had dibs on lunch but had to take the wife shopping so he took a raincheck.) We then went home for a while.
Mid-afternoon I had the crazy idea to go swimming. The wife and I suited-up and headed for Cal-Fit. However, it turns-out that the pool heater has been dead for a while. I can’t understand how a solar heater is broken when the sun works just fine but the water temp was definitely in the 50’s. The wife headed for the hot tub and I endured the cold water for about 15 minutes of laps and then hit the hot tub as well. After about 35 minutes we were on our way home for a warm shower and dry clothes. I did some laundry and then did some chores around the house.
After dinner and a prolonged computer project—which I may blog about later—I went for a walk to get the rest of my steps for the day. I was glad because I figured it would be the last chance to see all the lights in the neighborhood until next year.
Truly it was a good Christmas. I hope yours was as well.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Thoughts as We Near Christmas
Normally I don’t get so personal on this blog but this time of the year, isn’t that—at least in part—what Christmas is about; preparing for Christ and what He is doing in your life?
This last month or so I have been experiencing many changes in my life.
First two friends have died rather unexpectedly.
At Thanksgiving time, I learned that Bishop Royal Grote had died.
Royal U Grote, Jr
Bp. Grote was based in Texas and for much of the time that I knew him, he was in charge of the Missionary Diocese of the West for the Reformed Episcopal Church. Bishop Grote was a fine man. He smoked cigars on important occasions, enjoyed adult beverages and loved the Lord. He was charitable with other believers and tried to be the best shepherd that he could for his flock. He took his vows of marriage and to serve God very seriously. He jealously guarded The Table from error and those living in it. Only once did I see him discipline a minister in his charge (although I am aware of other occasions). He acted firmly and decisively when needed. Like it or not, Grote was also instrumental in the formation of the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America). Grote hoped this organization would be an umbrella group to unite various splinter groups fleeing the heresy of the Anglican Church.
Link: Wikipedia Royal U Grote Jr.
A week later, another friend—George Fincke—also died.
George B Fincke
George was also ordained a Bishop in the REC. George started out as the son of a Presbyterian minister in Cape May, New Jersey. He attended college at Bob Jones University and occasionally made life there a living hell for the Jones’. He attended college there in the 1970’s. While a student, George did a play at Bob Jones that was a parody of the original Star Trek. In the play, Spock was replaced by Bob Jones and the results, while hilarious, were unsatisfactory to Mr. Jones and his family. George also admitted to putting laundry detergent in the water fountain at the college’s main gate and creating a layer of foam three feet high in the fountain. He had a wonderful sense of humor and maintained a friendship with Bob Jones Jr. who was also a student there when he was.
Later George attended the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia and spent the next twelve years in the Presbyterian Church. Finally, he “saw the light” and moved to the Reformed Episcopal Church. I met George when he was recruited by Bishop Grote to be the minister of the parish in Vacaville California. At the time, many people were hoping to recruit Ray Sutton as their pastor but Grote had other plans for Sutton.
George and I became good friends. While in Vacaville, George suffered a stroke. He had to learn to speak again and also to walk. I spent many hours at his home during this time. That was 16 years ago. George had been made a Bishop about two years before the stroke but his life changed when this happened. He was effectively stripped of his duties and became a Bishop without a flock. It was an awkward period. Once he was recovered enough to resume preaching, he was transferred to Fargo North Dakota. Despite many years of labor, the Mission in Fargo faded away and about two years ago, George moved to Prescott Arizona and took a church there. At this point he transferred from the REC to the Anglican Provence of America.
Link: All Saints Prescott, AZ
It was a fresh start for his family and much closer to his grandchildren. Two months before he died, he and his wife had finally purchased a home in Prescott.
I miss his emails and posts on Facebook; mostly his wonderful friendship and sense of humor. He always was laughing and enjoyed life.
I have another friend that is in the last stages of his life and will soon go to his reward. Unlike the other two that I mentioned, he hasn’t made his peace with God. Should you happen to see this post Frank, I’m praying for you to find the peace that only Jesus Christ can give you.
Also in the last month, the wife and I decided to pull our son from the private school that he has been attending for the last 8 ½ years and send him to a different school. The academic rigor is not there this year and the mandatory purchase of an Apple product for the second trimester was the beginning of the last chapter there. We had to buy him this device not for learning but so he could play even more games than he already does at home. Now he can play games at school too. It was time to go.
Back in November, the oldest child moved out. We are enjoying the relative peace and quiet. This move has provided us with the opportunity to do lots of cleaning and organizing. The biggest beneficiaries so far are Goodwill and Ikea.
Adding to this cleaning opportunity is the weight that my wife and I have lost this year. I’m back to where I was in my 20’s and the wife will be there soon if she survives the Holidays. (-:
Our first trip to Goodwill this fall was over one hundred clothing items, many that still had tags on them. This has been followed-up by several more trips.
Lastly, I was given a promotion at work. God is good and we keep pushing that Dave Ramsey snowball down the hill. A debt-free scream is still in our future but we’re getting there.
I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas.
Thanks Mr. X for your contributions this year. I hope to see you at the salsa bar real soon.