If this is what he means then I can agree with him.

Dr. Vivek Murthy is now our nations Surgeon General. I’ve been told that he is exceptionally qualified for the office. I don’t doubt that. The trouble he has faced has been from his notion that gun violence is a public health issue and most people see that as an indication that the good doctor wants to see guns removed from the hands of the public.

However, he is quoted as saying:

“I want to find a way that we can reduce violence in America, and I think you would be hard-pressed to find parents or families of victims, or health care practitioners who would disagree.”

Source: Surgeon General Offers First Remarks On Gun Control | The Daily Caller

If this is his true goal then he’s looking in the right direction. The problem isn’t too many guns in the public’s hands, it’s a public that is too violent. As long as he focuses on reducing violent behavior rather than focusing on the guns in the hands of the public I can support him.

If You Have a Super PAC Why Tie Yourself To A Political Party?

This article brings about a very good question. Could a candidate successfully run for office as an independent in a Federal election? The party system, as it stands now, provides tons of resources for their candidates but the way elections laws are being interpreted by the Supreme Court super PACs could conceivably come to replace that source of resources. Then factor this into the equation:

….The number of voters who describe themselves as “independent” has grown for more than two decades. Last year’s Pew Research surveys found that 39 percent of voters now identify as independents — more than the 32 percent who are Democrats and 23 percent who are Republicans. This is the highest recorded percentage of independents in more than 75 years.

via Can America’s politics be unbundled from America’s political parties?.

That 39 percent is where I find myself. Neither the Republican or Democratic or even the Libertarian or Green party represents enough of what I believe for me to commit to any of them. I agree a little with all of them but disagree mostly with any of them.

So could a candidate win without the support of any party, only with the support of a super PAC? These super PACs could only have a life cycle of one election, forming anew in the next election cycle, possibly supporting a challenger to the incumbent they supported the last election cycle.

I like Sen. Warren as a senator, but….

A poll is taken among Massachusetts

When asked, 57 percent of voters said that Warren seeking the presidency would be a “bad idea,” 32 percent said it would be a “good idea,” and 11 percent said they did not know or declined to answer the question.

via Mass. voters support Elizabeth Warren as US senator, but largely oppose her running for president: WNE poll | masslive.com.

I fully agree with this! I think Senator Warren makes a fantastic senator but she just doesn’t have the depth to be president. She’s a one-trick pony and that trick plays well in the Senate. Leave her there where she belongs.

While this sounds green and all….

Happy Earth Day!

There is good news on the renewable energy front. Tesla is announcing the release of batteries for the home and for utilities. Great news, eh?

As battery technology evolves, it could pave the way to cost effectively store both wind and solar-generated energy and connect to electrical power grids. The technology also could be used by businesses and homes, which could virtually remain off the power grid except in emergencies. The grid, essentially, would be the backup.

via Tesla to announce home and utility-scale batteries that offer energy independence | Computerworld.

While this sounds like wonderful news and all how many of you have thought of this, it is will become possible to have an all-electric home out in the wilderness far, far from power lines and utilities. Just think of all the development of wilderness area we will be able to complete. Power and people where they never were before.

Are You Saying We Can Borrow Ourselves Into Properity?

Brad DeLong, an economics professor from the University of California at Berkeley, has made this observation.

“Isn’t the point of the market economy to make things that are valuable?” Since the debt of rich countries is “very cheap to make… shouldn’t we be making more of it?”

via Is Government Debt Too Low? – Real Time Economics – WSJ.

This actually makes some perverse sense if one is a Keynesian. Money is really cheap right now and a government, unlike a family, has forever to work and pay off this debt so, sure, borrow more money, fix up the infrastructure and then pay off the debt with the inrush of taxes from the new, mo’ better economy.

APS cheaters pay a steep price for refusing to accept responsibility | Kyle Wingfield

 

I’m reading Kyle Wingfield’s blog post on the APS Cheating Scandal and the trial sentencing yesterday. His pull quotes are priceless.

Baxter’s reaction to their incredulity was reminiscent of the righteous indignation that spurred former Gov. Sonny Perdue to order a full investigation into the cheating almost five years ago. Some of Baxter’s most impassioned exclamations:

  • “Yesterday I said to everybody, this is the time to search your soul … and the punishment wouldn’t be so severe. It was (about) taking responsibility, and no one is taking any responsibility that I can see.”
  • “I don’t want an apology. I want this community, and these kids that were shortchanged, to have an apology.”
  • To one defendant whose lawyer said she wanted to be able to raise her kids: “Why didn’t she think about that 18 months ago (when she could have accepted a plea deal)?”
  • “(The defendant) didn’t need to be taken away from her kids. She didn’t need all this. She could have just accepted responsibility. The evidence (presented at trial) was overwhelming.”
  • “This was not victimless crime that was going on in this city … These kids had no chance to begin with … the only chance they had was school,” which failed them.
  • “These kids can’t read. … I look at these scores (they got in middle school) and they are totally bogus.”
  • “When you can’t read, you’re passed on and passed on. There are (cheating) victims that are in the jail, kids.”

via APS cheaters pay a steep price for refusing to accept responsibility | Kyle Wingfield.

The only motivation the prosecution had for offering a plea deal between conviction and sentencing was to avoid the cost of an appeal so giving up that right to appeal had to be a part of the plea deal. The only reason not to accept a plea at this time is if you are innocent or believe that you have a very strong case to have your conviction overturned on appeal.

The evidence presented resulting in their conviction was overwhelming. These people were guilty of what they stood accused of. Why they didn’t just accept the plea deal and begin to get on with their lives is beyond me.

Under the circumstances I think even the sentencing they received was very merciful. These were the ringleaders. Their boss is dead so this group was the group responsible for what happened. Dozens of other educators were corrupted by this group and will never be allowed to teach again. Thousands of students were injured, some for life, by their actions and the taxpayers were defrauded out of millions of dollars to continue funding failing schools that should have been closed so the students could attend schools where they would have received an education. A good significant chunk of those millions also went to pay bonuses to enrich these educators and others.

Mr. Wingfield says they paid a steep price for refusing to accept responsibility. Maybe that’s true considering the plea deal they were offered but they still got off lightly for the damage they have done to the city of Atlanta and its children.

$70,000 a year minimum wage? Yeah, that seems about right.

Dan Price read an article stating that about $75,000 per year is all of an income it takes to be happy, everything above that was just for fun. With that advice the founder of Gravity Payments made a commitment to pull all of his employees up to a minimum wage of $70,000 per year and he’s doing it because he wants to, not because he’s being made to.

If it’s a publicity stunt, it’s a costly one. Mr. Price, who started the Seattle-based credit-card payment processing firm in 2004 at the age of 19, said he would pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and using 75 to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit this year.

via One Company’s New Minimum Wage: $70,000 a Year – NYTimes.com.

I applaud this man. I really do. He’s making a sacrifice, that he is convinced isn’t really a sacrifice, to make sure his employees are happy and, if the article he read is correct, you can’t be happy unless you are making about $75,000 per year.

The story is a really good one. I hope you follow the link.

Should Social Security Be Expanded?

Something that has been on my mind lately is our Social Security System. The government demands that we give 6.2% of our earned income and that our employers contribute 6.2% of what they pay us to a fund that will then pay benefits to us upon reaching a retirement age. If you are self-employed, like my wife, then you and your employer are the same person so you pay a total of 12.4% to the cause.

Maybe I’ve been thinking about it because time is coming closer for me to collect and there is talk about it being the cause of our federal deficit, that it is unsustainable and that benefits will have to be cut. There was a time when I would have foregone any of the benefits I paid into Social Security to secure my parents continuing to receive benefits and for my children not to be saddled with pouring a significant part of their income into a program, I’m told wouldn’t be around for them. I no longer feel that way.

Now I think it is a worthy program to save.

Okay, so now my ox is being gored. I’ll accept that as being the reason I’m becoming more concerned about the program but that isn’t the whole reason for me doing an about-face and believing it should be saved. No, the reason for my changing my mind is that I actually did more research into the program, how it really works and, most of all, how it really is funded.

Social Security and Medicare are funded by their own special tax. None of the money that is taxed for Social Security can be used for any other purpose. If it is then it is a loan and must be paid back. While there can be all sorts of arguments made for whether or not there is an actual Social Security trust fund it can not be denied that each individual with a Social Security number has an account that keeps track of every penny credited to that individual. That money is to pay for the individual’s benefits and there is no need for another tax to do that.

Benefits paid to the individual must be made available to that individual because those benefits have been paid for. If the government borrowed the money from Social Security for something else paying back the loan isn’t what’s causing that deficit and politicians should stop insinuating that it is. Social Security is an entitlement because I am entitled to get what I paid for.

Now I will agree that Social Security is somewhat of a Ponzi scheme in that it depends on there being enough workers in the workforce making enough of a salary to pay the benefits of the current retirees. In 2010, I think, Social Security tax income first failed to meet the full benefit requirements and surplus dollars started being used to supplement those payments. A summary of the Social Security Administrations Trustee report can tell you more about this.

So making some changes to funding Social Security is necessary. One change could be to raise the cap. Currently workers pay into Social Security only until their income reaches “the cap.” That cap for 2015 is $118,500. Any income above that amount is not taxed by Social Security. Let me suggest raising that cap to $250,000 but start lowering the tax rate on it starting at the $118,500 that is the current cap.

Let’s face it, many people have prosperous years and years that aren’t so prosperous. Placing a cap on their Social Security contribution also places a cap on their benefits. That’s fine for a steady earner but for those not so steady earners, those who have good years and bad years, the cap limits their good years from averaging out their lean years in calculating their benefits.

I would also consider looking at unearned income as a possible source of funding Social Security. Yeah, I understand that under many circumstances all that would manage to do would be to hurt those you are trying to help but I’m thinking that some formula could be figured out  to fairly tax this income for the Social Security Administration.

So what brought this up? Mother Jones wrote an article on Elizabeth Warren taking the offensive on Social Security expansion. I’m generally in disagreement with Mother Jones and I think Elizabeth Warren is more an opportunist than the populist she wants us to see her as. Still there is a lot to what she says here. I definitely don’t believe the conservative line (Republican or Democrat) on Social Security. There is no way you can convince me that the program I’m paying directly into is the fault of our Nation’s deficit spending, especially when we are still showing a surplus of funds in the accounts.

What do I want to do about this? I want to make saving Social Security and expanding the program through self-sustaining funding a grassroots movement that can not be ignored by right wing politicians. I want to see Ted Cruz and Rand Paul take up this unlikely for them issue and make it their own.

I’ll talk more about why tomorrow.

Should Social Security benefits be increased?
Would you consider raising the Social Security Cap to $250,000 to be reasonable?

Edward Snowden statue installed by artists in Brooklyn removed by park officials

I fully understand the park officials removing an unsanctioned piece of art but……

The NYPD says its intelligence division is investigating the statue and will be searching for DNA or other clues that may bring up a suspect. It’s not clear what charges are possible, NBC continues to report.

via Edward Snowden statue installed by artists in Brooklyn removed by park officials | syracuse.com.

Why go to this expense to prosecute the artists responsible?

Leftovers may be good for you.

Now this is interesting. It has been found that when white rice, when cooked with fat and then refrigerated, has about 50% fewer digestible starches when reheated than fresh cooked rice. And it isn’t just rice:

A previous study in 2009 also showed that freshly cooked legumes, cereals, and tubers had significantly higher levels of resistant starch after multiple cycles of heating and cooling. The resistant starch in peas, which had the most dramatic change, increased by 115 percent.

via Why Leftover Pasta Might Be Healthier Than Fresh | Mother Jones.

The article has a bunch of other interesting ways that we can make our food healthier for us.

Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts

11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”
says the Lord.
“I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fattened cattle.
I get no pleasure from the blood
of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to worship me,
who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;
the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath
and your special days for fasting—
they are all sinful and false.
I want no more of your pious meetings.
14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.
They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look.
Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen,
for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
16 Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways.
17 Learn to do good.
Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.

~Isaiah 1:11-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

I’m a firm believer that I am saved by Grace through Faith, not by any good deeds I might do. God makes it pretty clear here, though, that he expects good works from me. I can lift my hands in praise during worship all I want but unless I’m out doing good the rest of the time God will be turning his back on me.

Breast Physics

A fairly interesting article from the aspect of considering things you normally wouldn’t consider. But for gamers breasts become a technical issue.

If you’ve played games that have breast physics, you’ve probably seen how uncommon it is for games to show breasts that move like what they actually are: bags of fat affected by gravity. Instead, it’s more likely for a game to depict breasts as helium balloons that have minds of their own.

via How Video Game Breasts Are Made (And Why They Can Go Wrong).