Too Conservative To Vote Republican

Sunday, 3 February 2019 09:11 by The Lunatic

 

I could never vote for a liberal candidate; I’m so conservative that even the Republicans are far too liberal for me.

I am frustrated with our government’s poor financial planning and horrified by our deficit spending. The damage being inflicted upon us by free spending liberals is by far the biggest issue facing our nation.

As a taxpayer, I want to see a full audit of our treasury. And I mean a completely transparent accounting of every penny spent. Over the past two decades, we have $10 Trillion (yes “Trillion” with a T) missing from the pentagon, and no one — not even the DoD — knows where it is. We need to call a plumber to fix this leak, because we’re already drowning in debt and this isn’t helping any.

We need to hold the US government to the same accounting and reporting standards as we do for publicly traded companies.

We already know that our national debt is 100% due to rampant, unrestrained, unnecessary, and irresponsible military spending – no one disputes that. But we forget about the annual interest we must pay on the existing debt from deficit spending in prior years. It’s a vicious cycle; we spend so much of our tax revenue on interest that we can’t pay down the principal. This draining of our coffers started under President Reagan with his failed “Star Wars” initiative and the Republicans have had a disgustingly liberal ‘spend spend spend spend I don’t care about the consequences’ mentality since then. We are now looking at close to $22 Trillion in debts that you and I, as taxpayers, are responsible for.

In addition to the debt, our out of control military machine has produced an inconceivably large population of veterans, who we need to feed and provide medical care for. This in itself is a form of liberal welfare which has caused far greater social and economic harm than any food stamp program.

Over the past 40 years, we could have funded science education at every university, implemented much needed birth control programs, made healthcare affordable and available to all, and built gay and lesbian activity centers across the USA … all for the money that the Republicans have liberally spent lining the pockets of corrupt defense contractors, and we’d STILL have a budget surplus and wouldn’t owe $3 trillion to the Social Security fund.

Speaking of Social Security, let’s talk about that. Deposits into the Social Security trust fund, and disbursements from the fund, are NOT part of the US treasury and should not be reported as such. The “Social Security Trust Fund” is a SEPARATE LEGAL ENTITY with its own separate accounting. The White House started including Social Security in the official financial statements of the U.S. government – again, around the time of the “Star Wars” program – specifically to make the military expenses look like a smaller portion of the total US budget than they actually are. This is like a company including its pension plan in their profit and loss statement – it is outright FRAUD. Where’s that audit I’m looking for?

Frankly, I would vote for ANY candidate, from any party, who would take this on as a campaign platform!

The Savings & Loan crisis of the late 80’s? The Sub-Prime Mortgage crisis of 2007/2008? Both events were the result of de-regulation led by the liberals in the Republican party who can’t seem to take a ‘long term’ view of anything, and both of them led to recessions which had a global economic impact that we are still paying for today. If we had any ‘buffer’ left in our treasury, we could absorb these catastrophic events (along with natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes) and move on. But we’re so far in debt as it is, we can’t take another major hit and expect our government to stay solvent.

Being a conservative means that I have a laser sharp focus on planning for our future. I want to leave a habitable environment and stable economy for our children and future generations. All these damn liberals are so worried about short term goals – they are more concerned about next quarter earnings than the health and well being of our environment. The Republicans are continually ignoring safety and environmental studies which are designed to protect us, and this stupid short-sighted liberal attitude is going to kills us all. We really need to tighten our regulations and take a more conservative approach to reduce the environmental footprint of every citizen and every business in the US, and we need to set an example and encourage other countries to follow suit. It is the only way to ensure the future health and prosperity of humanity.

I absolutely and unapologetically uphold the conservative ideals of complete truth, honesty, and integrity, which is why there is no place for religion in our government. Religion is the antithesis of anything moral or ethical. Religion is a process of using coercion and threats (such as “you’re going to HELL if you don’t read the bible and give money to my church”) to manipulate people. Sure, everyone should be free to go out and follow whatever nutcase religion they want – just keep priests away from my kids, and religion away from our government, and we’ll get along fine. Our nation was founded on the principle of separation of Church and State, and we need to keep it that way.

And another thing. The republicans, with their liberal gun laws, have put an abundance of firearms into the hands of every criminal in the USA. We decry the 3,000 people killed by terrorist on sept 11, but we’ve had some 30,000 people killed by Americans with guns every year since then.

Due to strong regulations which have resulted in safer automobiles, the number of people killed in car accidents has steadily declined over the past 50 years. And every year since 2014, the number people killed in automobile accidents is less than the number of people killed by firearms in the USA!

The NRA was once just a political lobby arm for the firearm manufacturers, and has turned into the world’s largest terrorist organization, preying on people’s fears and emotions to make everyone think they need to buy more guns.

Unless properly stored and secured, more guns in our society just means more crime and more gun deaths. All reputable studies have shown that a homeowner brandishing a gun is more likely to be killed by an intruder than non-gun owners. More disturbingly, gun owners are far more likely to have their own weapon used against them – taken by a burglar, played with by a neighbor kid, pulled out when a simple family argument gets out of control – than they are likely to use it against an intruder. The difference is not a 10%, 20%, or even 50% increase; you are between six and ten times more likely to have someone in your own home hurt by your own gun than you are likely to “use it against a bad guy”.

The evidence is absolutely irrefutable and is backed up by the success in other countries which have implemented strong regulations, all of which have curbed gun deaths and reduced crime in these countries. But these stupid liberals don’t care about scientific studies or empirical evidence in the slightest. They are driven strictly by emotion and just want to have their guns to play with, no matter what the consequences are to our society. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year because of their liberal ignorance.

The NRA should be held responsible for the killing of hundreds of times more American citizens than "immigrants" or ISIS. If you are looking for an enemy to go after, start with the ones at home that are doing the most damage to our society.

As a conservative, I want to faithfully uphold our second amendment, which calls for "a well-regulated militia". A Militia is "a military force raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency". I lived in Switzerland for a year; Swiss citizens who have gone through basic military training are all 'reservists' and keep a military issued firearm in case of a foreign invasion. Their guns are securely locked on one floor of the house (typically in the attic), and ammunition is on another floor (usually the basement). Inspectors routinely come in to Swiss homes to confirm proper storage. It's illegal to keep loaded firearms in your home, and citizens do not carry firearms around in public. They own guns to protect the nation against foreign invasion; Switzerland has achieved the "well-regulated militia" that our second amendment calls for. We are nowhere close to it.

I am so sick and tired of it all.

As I said, I’m way to conservative to vote Republican.

Or maybe I’m far too liberal to vote Democrat?

 

Gold to Green and the Quantum Mechanics In Between

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 07:54 by The Lunatic

 

I love gold. Do you love gold? I think everyone loves gold!

It is common enough for everyone to have a little bit of it, but rare enough to hold its intrinsic value. Gold doesn’t tarnish, oxidize, or interact much with other elements at all; it is very stable. In fact, Gold is the heaviest known ‘monoisotopic’ element, meaning that 100% of all naturally occurring gold comes in just one form: the perfectly stable Au-197 isotope. That’s the main reason why I love gold!

Stable elements, such as Gold (Au-197), are those which have no tendency to "decay", i.e., change into another element.

Unstable elements, on the other hand, have isotopes that decay from one state to another – and this is the basis of radioactivity.

The dictionary definition of radioactivity is “The emission of ionizing radiation or particles caused by the spontaneous disintegration of unstable atomic nuclei.”

Ok, that’s quite a mouthful. But note that wording which says “spontaneous disintegration” of the atomic nuclei. Spontaneous disintegration happens instantly. At one point in time, there is an atom – and then suddenly you have a different atom (or a different isotope) and an emission of ionizing radiation (i.e., the “radio activity”).

The point in time for any disintegration is completely indeterminate. We can never know exactly when any individual atom will decay. However, we can absolutely say, from a statistical standpoint, how many atoms will decay in a specific time period, and that time period is called the “Half-Life” of the element.

The half-life is the time that it takes for half the atoms in any given sample to decay. It doesn’t matter if you have just a few hundred atoms, or trillions upon More...

Categories:   Science | Social Issues
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (2) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

The Required Component For A Viable Cryptocurrency

Tuesday, 6 March 2018 21:23 by The Lunatic

 

There is no doubt that the ‘blockchain’, Bitcoin’s amazingly successful distributed ledger, is one of the most ingenious concepts ever invented.

Blockchain's importance, and potential scope of influence, could eventually rival RSA public key/private key encryption (the algorithm developed in 1978 that all modern-day financial transactions rely on - including, ironically enough, blockchain transactions). It really is spectacular.

So … am I investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies?

Absolutely not!

My reasoning is simple: the function of a currency is to be an intermediate thing that holds value temporarily, so you can easily trade for something of real value. There is no reason to ever ‘invest’ in any currency. That is not its purpose.

You may, however, want to avoid a currency. Let’s say you live in Mexico and own a business, and that business generates nice profits. You take your profits, and decide to hold that value in cash while you look for something else to invest in, or maybe you're saving up for a nice yacht.

However, if you expect that the Mexican Peso will fall in value, you can convert your holdings to U.S. Dollars in the meantime. You are not ‘investing’ in dollars – you are avoiding Pesos in favor of a currency with greater stability!

The goal of any government backed currency is to be as stable as possible. While consumer spending is mostly based on cash transactions, the majority of business transactions are on ‘terms’ … payment in the future for the trading of good or services that occurs today.

If you hold cash in a transaction (“I will pay you for the goods in 90 days”) or if you hold debt (“you can pay me for this in 90 days”) – both parties expect the ‘value’ of the currency to be the same at the end of the transaction. It doesn’t matter which direction it moves; if the currency goes up or down, one party will suffer.

Here’s a true story: about six months ago, More...

Categories:   Economics
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (4) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Space, Time, and the search for "Little Green Men"

Sunday, 9 April 2017 07:44 by The Lunatic

 

Given the number of stars in the universe, how arrogant to think ours is the only sun with a planet that supports life, and that it's the only solar system with intelligent life.
— Edward J. Weiler, NASA Director (Washington Post newspaper, 20 July 2008)

While I can’t disagree with the sentiment of Mr. Weiler’s statement, the bigger question remains – how likely is it that we will ever find evidence of other life in the universe, or be able to communicate with them if they do exist?

We tend to imagine that if there is alien life somewhere out there in the vast universe, they could be receiving our television broadcasts, and will eventually respond back to us. This was the premise of “Contact”, the blockbuster sci-fi movie written by Carl Sagan.

In the movie, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) is heading up a SETI team (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), and they detect a signal coming from a far-away star system. They quickly realize that the signal is one of our own TV programs, which is being re-broadcast back to us – and interleaved in between the frames of video are instructions from an alien civilization on how to make a spaceship to go visit them.

I really did enjoy this wonderful movie, but the realities of aliens receiving our TV signals isn’t quite as simple as it was portrayed.

Television broadcasts can be “terrestrial” (the traditional antenna tower constructed behind most TV stations, or high on a hill overlooking the city), or via satellite. Modern satellite systems are marvelous things. You just go to the store and buy a “dish”, which is about 20 inches in diameter, and point it up in the sky. Then you align it to the right satellite, and you have TV reception in glorious high definition!

The signal that the dish receives is not very powerful – somewhere in the range of a micro-watt of power (one millionth of a watt). However, you need to remember that you can put the antenna anywhere … in your front yard, in the back yard, on your roof; the network of satellites that broadcasts the signal to your house isn’t beaming a microwatt of power directly to your dish, it is putting out a microwatt of power for every 20-inch circular area across the entire United States! Only a very miniscule amount of the power transmitted More...

Categories:   Science
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

A Study in Cyberpunk Economic Philosophy

Saturday, 11 February 2017 09:11 by The Lunatic

 

How many times have you read a book, or saw a movie, with a monopolistic “mega corporporation” as a primary plot element - a giant company run by a powerful, brilliant, egocentric, multi-gazillionaire?

It’s usually a male character at the helm, either the company founder or the founder's son, and he ruthlessly destroys every competitor and government agency that gets in the way of his quest to own it all and rule the world; It's a common theme in cyberpunk fiction stories.

But I’d like to take a slightly different approach to the idea of the giant company that we’ll just call ... megacorp.

In my scenario, the corporate merger mania that exists today continues unabated, as companies strive for higher efficiencies and economy of scale. Coke and Pepsi merge. Nestle and Tyson Foods do the same. Google and Microsoft and Facebook. Ford and GM and Tesla. FedEx and UPS. Novartis and Pfizer. United and American and Delta airlines. Then slowly they all start merging together. Berkshire Hathaway gets swallowed up along the way.

In the process, the large shareholders of the initial companies end up with smaller and smaller chunks of the combined entities, so the total number of smaller shareholders goes up but no one person owns a significant share. After a few mergers, a previous “majority” shareholder might end up with 5%. They merge again and that shareholder now owns 2.5%. The incredibly large number of individual shareholders suddenly have all the power.

Eventually, the individual shareholders of all these companies realize that the widely distributed ownership structure is actually beneficial, so they vote to put shareholder limits in place: no one person can own more than 1% of the company, with an annual decrease over ten years down to .1% - and then it goes even lower as more mergers take place.

In the end, they all finally merge together to form the almighty, invincible, unstoppable “megacorp”.

But instead of the popularized evil empire, I envision a different outcome: nearly everyone works for megacorp, More...

The Arbitrary Nature of Rules and Regulations

Thursday, 11 August 2016 18:24 by The Lunatic

Here’s a question to ponder: Why do we set our kid’s bedtime at a nice round number like 9:30 pm, rather than 9:15 or 9:45? How about 9:41, or 9:22, or some other equally arbitrary time? And is that the time your kids actually have to be in bed with the lights turned off – or the time that they need to start getting ready?

If you think about it, every “rule” has a bit of an arbitrary aspect to it. You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, but where should that line be? How wide is the “grey area” between being too lenient (an 11:30 bedtime?) or too stringent (how about 8pm sharp)? Both these extremes are arguably out of the question, so the reasonable “grey area” is probably narrower than that. Somewhere between those reasonable limits, however, you need to pick a bedtime for your kids – and 9:30 seems to be a good compromise. But once the rule has been set, how strictly should you enforce it?

How often have we seen this: The kids know as well as you do that 10pm is still within the “reasonable” window … so a little delay here, a little delay there … and after a few weeks, the kids are going to bed at 10pm on a regular basis. But the official rule of the house is still bedtime at 9:30!

I’ve always been fascinated with the arbitrary nature of the actual boundary – how and where the limit is set – for any rule; this is a deep-rooted problem that has vexed humanity for centuries, in every culture and on every continent.

In the USA, our society has determined that kids can’t drink alcohol until they are 21 years old. At that magic day in your life, you are suddenly free to drink as much as you like. There is no “Slop” in that rule, as far as the legal enforcement goes. No “grey area” at all to work with.

On the other hand, the speed limit on a highway might be 65 miles per hour – yet everyone knows that you usually won’t get a ticket unless you are going at least ten miles per hour over the limit. So in our minds we don’t think we are speeding till we get to 75.

Sometimes you may have to ask why a rule was enacted in the first place. One small town in Iowa for example, has an ordinance on the books that proclaims “The Ice Cream Man and his truck are banned”. So I’m wondering, what DID the Ice Cream man do to deserve such a harsh penalty? It must have been quite drastic in order to justify banning EVERY Ice Cream Man (and their trucks) from the town forever!

Of course, we have to have rules. More...

The Etymology Of A Scandalous Suffix

Tuesday, 2 February 2016 00:00 by The Lunatic

Along the western edge of Washington DC, parallel to the Potomac River, runs the historic C&O shipping canal. Stop at Fletcher’s Boathouse, just north of Georgetown, and you can rent kayaks or canoes for a relaxing time on the water – or just enjoy the nice biking/jogging path that accompanies the canal. The water in the C&O is calm and peaceful, you can traverse it without having to battle the strong currents and wild turbulence of the mighty Potomac just a few hundred feet away.

Built in the mid-1800’s, the C&O (which stands for Chesapeake and Ohio) was used to transport much needed goods from northern Maryland and Pennsylvania into Washington D.C. Initially intended to go all the way to Pittsburgh, the C&O canal was only completed up to Cumberland, Maryland – still an impressive 184 miles in total length.

The primary freight that was shipped via the C&O was coal from the Allegheny Mountains, but the canal was also used for transporting building materials (lumber, paving stones, sand and gravel) and foodstuff (pork, wheat, corn, oats – and even whiskey). This was an alternative to shipping goods via railroad – and for a time before it closed, the canal was actually owned by the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad Company. The canal was a vital part of Washington DC’s rapid growth following the civil war, and all the way into the early 1920’s.

Initially, the C&O canal was built with 74 locks, used to keep the flow of water stable and to raise and lower barges from one section to the next. The very last of these locks emptied the C&O canal into the Potomac river; it was there, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington DC, that all the freight was unloaded from the barges and distributed throughout the city.

There really was never any particular name for this last lock which separated the canal from the river, but in 1942 (18 years after the canal was closed to shipping and the C&O Canal Company went into receivership) a restaurant opened directly across the street – and the restaurant was named “The Water Gate Inn”.

Another 18 years went by. In 1960, The Water Gate Inn closed its doors and sold out to an Italian real estate developer, Società Generale Immobiliare (known simply as “SGI”). SGI didn’t just buy out the restaurant – they purchased the entire ten acres of land that was owned by the remaining vestiges of the C&O Canal Company. SGI outlined their plans for a major real estate development, and named the proposed building complex after the little restaurant that had been on the corner of the property; thus was born “The Watergate”.

Right from the start, SGI had grand plans and a big budget for The Watergate. It was to be a mixed use complex More...

Categories:   Miscellaneous
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

The Quantum Quandary

Wednesday, 4 February 2015 00:46 by The Lunatic

I’ve discussed “The Immutable Laws of Physics” a few times in previous articles. Every shred of evidence we have indicates that the interactions between matter, energy, time, and space, are themselves the very nature of the universe, and nothing we (or anything/anyone else) can do will ever change these interactions. Whenever we’ve observed or discovered something new that we don’t understand, it reminds us that we have incomplete understanding of the laws of physics – but the physical world is still immutable.

Quantum mechanics is a “relatively new” branch of physics that was discovered roughly 100 years ago, and it has certainly enhanced our understanding of these physical interactions. It has also made things quite a bit more complicated, as quantum mechanics embodies concepts which are quite difficult to grasp. The concepts are not as elegant as the pure logic behind classical “Newtonian physics”, or the mind-bending beauty of Einstein’s discovery of relativity.

One of the problems is that quantum mechanics have a large component that has to do with randomness. Changes in quantum states are thought to be the only truly random physical interactions in the whole universe!

One question that often comes up is this: how do we account for the randomness of quantum mechanics if the fundamental laws of physics are so perfect and so immutable? Why don’t our traditional laws of physics clash with the crazy and unpredictable nature of this randomness, the particle/wave duality, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle? And while we’re at it, what do we feed to Schrödinger’s much maligned cat?

Quantum mathematics are somewhat abstract, yet exceedingly precise. The math has been verified experimentally to within one part in many billions; the measured data agrees with the theoretical equations to the limits of our measurement technology. This is a very key point. 

As a practical example, every time a transistor switches on and off in a computer, there is a “quantum band gap” that each electron goes through. If we could somehow “see” each electron that is pushed up against the junction of a transistor, we would not be able to tell which specific electrons would make it through the gap and which ones wouldn’t. The quantum state of each individual electron is completely random. However, we can say – very, very precisely – how many in total will go through and at what energy levels.

Advancements in manufacturing technologies, resulting in less impurities (i.e. stray molecules of unwanted substances) in the silicon junction, More...

Categories:   Science
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (4) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

An Overview of the U.S. Patent System

Thursday, 31 July 2014 01:07 by The Lunatic

(Note: This was a term paper I wrote for an MBA class in 2012. I recently ran across it in my files and thought it would be a good addition to my blog. Enjoy!)

An Overview of the U.S. Patent System
David M. H. Workman

Introduction

A Patent is a form of legal protection for an invention, allowing the patent holder to have exclusive rights to make, use, or sell the invention for a specific period of time (typically either 14 or 20 years in the U.S., depending on the type of patent).

To secure a patent, a Patent Application is submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); the application consists of two major elements: a description of the invention, and certain claims (which define the scope of protections desired under the patent application). The USPTO may grant the patent for the invention, but allow or disallow each of the claims individually. “Broad” claims mean that the applicant is asking for the invention to be protected in a wide range of uses, and are more likely to be rejected (and if allowed, are more likely to be challenged by competitors). “Narrow” claims mean that the invention has very focused and well defined commercial applications, which are less likely to be challenged.

For a patent application to be approved, it must meet a certain bar for (1) Novelty, (2) Non-Obviousness, and (3) either Utility, Distinctiveness, or Ornamentality (depending on whether it is a “Utility”, “Plant”, or “Design” patent, respectively). The USPTO reviews the patent application to ensure that the patent, and each of the claims, meets the bar for each criterion.

During the application process, the patent may be rejected if “prior art” (i.e. any published diagrams or descriptions which show that the invention is not original) is found by the USPTO, or if any aspect of the invention was publicly disclosed by the inventor before the filing date. Even after the patent has been granted, others may challenge the validity of the patent (or any of the individual claims) if prior art is presented which is proven to have been publicly available before the application date.

Patents cover an amazingly diverse range of ideas – from describing the optimal radius of the bend in a wire paper clip, to More...


Categories:   Economics | Miscellaneous
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

I Believe That Belief Is Irrelevant

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 16:44 by The Lunatic


In a previous article titled I’m a believer!, I proposed we should swap the traditional definition of who’s a believer and who isn’t – I suggested that a believer is someone who believes that the laws of physics are immutable and a non-believer is someone who doesn’t.

In this post, I’ll take a little different approach. I’ll go on record and say that what people believe in is irrelevant. I don’t care what you believe in. Heck, I don’t even care about what I believe in myself! Simply having a belief in something does not make it true.

What if I go around the world and convince everyone that the universe is governed by a Grand Orange Duck. And what the Grand Orange Duck really wants is for everyone to donate their ear wax to the famed Diamond Crucible. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out ... I really believe this is the truth! Once we have ear wax from every person on Earth, and the Diamond Crucible is full to the brim, the Grand Orange Duck will reveal himself to us and we will be allowed to marvel at his magnificent wings. It will be a glorious day indeed!

Even if I can get everyone to believe in the Grand Orange Duck (let’s just call it “GOD” for short), and convince every single person on Earth that they need to contribute some ear wax to the Diamond Crucible, that still doesn’t make it the truth.

Is this scenario really that far-fetched? How about this: The Mormons are very good at getting people to believe that there were white people on Earth before black people (Mormon scripture says that Cain, who killed his brother Abel, was so evil that God "cursed" him with black skin), and that More...