Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Two years later

I was thinking that tomorrow will be two years since my last picture of a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and two years and a few weeks since I posted it. Like a few of my friends, I shifted toward Facebook in the last couple of years, and I wonder with the advent of Facebook and Tumblr how many active Blogspot blogs there still are. Though there isn't a blog-like ability to insert pictures in precise places and incorporate text formatting, it's easier to read everyone's posts and comments, and rather than individual single streams of posts, discussions are much more interconnected.

A few on Facebook showed, for one motive or another, that they tried finding out more information on me. The Eidelblog is, of course, no longer the top search result for my surname. I see the top few are the liar's entries about me. Ah yes, the petty little coward (his own chosen name "Captious Nut" fits him) probably still thinks American Idol isn't manipulated. Time doesn't permit me to debunk all his lies one by one, nor should I bother anyway, but what honesty can be expected of him when he posts a purported photo of me, which he supposedly got from a schoolmate of mine, that obviously isn't? And it's all because of several years ago, after I attempted to show him the truth of American reality TV. All he could do was become indignant, start spreading lies about me behind my back, then even libel my wife, no doubt from a latent racism. Maybe there was some Filipina he pursued long ago, but her family wouldn't accept him as good enough, especially when they realized his duplicitous nature. Is it any surprise he doesn't post his real name? One has to wonder if anything he posts about himself is true at all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The 2012 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

Last year I was so busy that I didn't get a picture for the first time in years. This year (three weeks ago) I did manage to get a good shot, good enough I didn't have to do my usual fine rotation and crop.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How green was my valley, how profitable was my bailout

I wrote a long time ago, "If you want to know how well an American automaker bailout will go, look no further than AIG." Let me merely provide this link, and you can judge the accuracy of my prediction. It wasn't hard.

"There is a strong family resemblance about misdeeds, and if you have all the details of a thousand at your finger ends, it is odd if you can't unravel the thousand and first." ("A Study in Scarlet")

Or in the case of government bailouts, when they all go badly for the taxpayer, why should the next be any different?

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Even panic must give way to reason

That's what I told someone last night at a gas station.

Starting yesterday, people up in Putnam County started going crazy that there would be no more gas. Like an unfounded run on a bank, there was in fact enough underlying commodity to meet normal demand, but people's panic brought the business down.

There was plenty of gas, and no lines, at exit 7 on I-84, where we were headed anyway to kill time and get hot food at Stew Leonard's.

City residents aren't en masse going to go as far as Danbury, Brookfield and New Milford. Maybe a few will be so irrational, but most won't, since it costs too much gasoline and time just to get a bit of gas. So many people are gullible enough to believe what they see on the news, such as one evening program showing a picture of someone siphoning gas from his SUV to use in his generator. That wasn't "desperation" as the news claimed -- that was simple practicality. That man wasn't going to spend a few gallons of gas when he had extra right at home.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The new word for incompetence and laziness: NYSEGian

As a friend put it, "They put the CON in ConEd." So when you've been screwed by someone on repairs that should not have taken anywhere near that long, you can say, "I've just been ConEdded."

The slow pace of repairs after Hurricane Sandy is beyond absurd. On Facebook, eyewitnesses have reported on what the news won't touch: NYSEG and ConED simply aren't doing the work. Out-of-town repair crews were brought in before the storm, but they were sitting in their rooms at the Westchester Marriott, not having been given any orders to work on. Fifty workers were spotted hanging out at the Eveready Diner in Brewster, having been told to go out and await orders, but the orders never came.

I haven't seen a single crew in my neighborhood, but they've been around. The first time was to cut down a tree, which had taken down a power line, then drag it across the street so it blocked the opposite lane. For the life of me, I still can't figure this out. Someone later came by to remove the tree.

In the last four days of driving around upper Westchester and lower Putnam, I've seen working crews a total of three times. Tuesday and Wednesday, the same crew was working on the same intersection near Putnam Hospital Center: four to direct traffic, three to drive three crane-equipped trucks, and six more to stand around and drink coffee. Wednesday, I saw another crew driving down Drewville Road. I don't know what they were going to work on.

Today, I didn't see any crews. This morning I did see a NYSEG truck parked by the roadside on Stoneleigh Avenue, work flashers going. He was eating something.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the inevitable result of having to rely on public utilities -- entities that are given a monopoly by government, eliminating them from worries of accountability to their customers.

Think of the business motivational poster with a handshake, captioned, "If we don't take care of the customer, someone else will." NYSEG and ConEd's motto is, "If we don't take care of the customer, who else will they turn to?"

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reuters: show weeping and wailing at the terrorist's funeral

There's little audacity like the pro-terrorist bent of mainstream media. Israelis are constantly attacked with rockets, with home invasions, with suicide bombings. When Israel retaliates and gets one, Reuters features a picture of that bastard's funeral.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

May Tony Bennett have many, many more years

His rendition of "God Bless America" a few minutes ago blew me away. At his age, he can still sing with more purity than most "artists" out there. As the announcers just said, "Wasn't that something?" "I was thinking the same thing!" "To still hit notes like that."

Now I have to pull out my Billy Joel "Live at Shea" DVD just to hear their duet of "New York State of Mind."

How about a Big Bird segment on not stealing from other people?

Having no shame, Democrats made a campaign commercial featuring Big Bird. Truth would be Big Bird saying, "What if you really liked Mr. Hooper but never wanted to buy anything from him, but some people make you buy things from him so Mr. Hooper can have his job? Doesn't that sound good? But what if you wanted to buy something else? And if you have to buy from Mr. Hooper, that means you can't buy from someone else, and the other guy hurts in his business." Big Bird could then explain that it's stealing to take money from people against their will, even if you would spend the money on a good thing, or spend the money very efficiently.

For adults, Big Bird could go on to say that the problem stems from a social situation, typically called "government," in which some people are compelled to pay for the goods and services enjoyed by others. That it doesn't matter how the government is created or who runs it, or that "most" of "the people" support what it does, it's still stealing from people who wanted nothing to do with funding or spending.

And putting another thing in Sesame Street terms, in the end, while Mr. Snuffleupagus was finally revealed to be real, there is simply no inexhaustible supply of rich taxpayers that liberals keep talking about as the solution to trillion-dollar deficits. Supporting all the Mr. Hoopers, who'll gladly vote for a government that ensures their shops stay open, mean less money to go to the businesses where Gordons and Lindas work.

Here is the entire problem in a Yahoo comments exchange. The Obama supporter's reply is no better depiction of the collectivist mindset, while M's way is that of freedom and truth. If you think something's so good, then you give your own money -- or is it really not that good, that you must force others to give their own money?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The perpetual lie that the federal deficits come from cutting taxes

Tonight, the Golfer-in-Chief wanted to blame the deficits on everything except the Occam's Razor answer: that the government is simply spending more than it's taking in. Meanwhile, he again took false credit for ending "the war in Iraq."

It's true that George W. Bush and the 110th Congress were responsible for this country's very first $1 trillion deficit. Obama and subsequent Congresses didn't start it, but they haven't had to keep the pedal to the floor. The 2009 deficit included Obama's $787 stimulus, but what is the excuse now? Blaming it on falling tax revenues would be an outright lie, since we can see they were up slightly in 2010.

This article from the Christian Science Monitor is a good look at the liberal mythology that the post-Clinton tax cuts gave us the deficits today. The first part is clear: the CBO extrapolated from the tech bubble of the 1990s, figuring tax receipts would continue to come in faster than Congress was spending.

Now what about those tax cuts?
Then there were the tax cuts. President George W. Bush instigated most of these, but President Obama also pushed through Congress a payroll tax cut intended to pump money into a moribund economy. Tax cuts accounted for a further $2.8 trillion of the $11.7 trillion discrepancy. (Yes, the big kahuna here is Mr. Bush’s 2001 reduction in income-tax rates, which alone accounts for about $1.2 trillion in revenue foregone over the decade.)
But that's only $120 billion a year. In other words, the tax cuts were only one-quarter of the typical GWB-era deficit. Clearly, restoring higher tax rates -- on everyone, not just "the rich" -- won't cure the deficit. In fact, it's been calculated that revoking the "Bush tax cuts" would bring in only $70 billion annually from the top 2% of federal income taxpayers. This clearly shows that the tax cuts benefited $50 billion annually on the "non-rich," and this plain fact demolishes the argument that only "the rich" benefited from the tax cuts. In fact, it shows clearly that "the rich" benefited less from tax cuts for the kind of taxes they pay.

Note that as an anarcho-capitalist, I completely oppose all taxation. I'm merely pointing out what happened with the tax cuts and what would happen if they were revoked, and most importantly, that so many Americans swallow the lies that "the rich" don't pay enough in taxes, and if only "the rich" paid more.

Walter Williams: "Because of the earned income tax credit, most of America's poor pay little or nothing. What the Tax Policy Center calls working class pay 3 percent of all federal taxes, middle class 11 percent, upper middle class 19 percent and wealthy 67 percent."

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

MTA construction taking longer than it should -- is anyone surprised?

I'm not.

The escalator from Grand Central North to Madison Avenue routinely breaks down, as does one of the escalators at the White Plains Metro-North station. I've seen five workers when the latter happened: two talking to each other, one standing around, one showing his cell phone to an MTA policeman, and the fifth actually making repairs.

By comparison, last week I saw only one repairman was needed to work on an escalator at the White Plains Galleria Mall. It was no small repair, either. This burly, 50-ish guy was pulling entire plates out by himself.

The difference is clear to any thinking person. As Milton Friedman said, when you spend other's people money, you don't care how much you spend, and when you spend money on other people, you don't care what you spend it on. Every morning for a few years, I'd shake my head after noticing the "work" on the bridge at the Chappaqua Metro-North station. I didn't have to wonder how a private business could stay afloat with four workers perenially just standing around while only one did actual work. Why shouldn't that private company take its time, when it was paid by the state government and federal government (hurrah to all you federal taxpayers living outside NY, you got to help!). The total cost was $17 million for one damn bridge.

Every progress report on the Second Avenue subway line seems to push back the completion date. Originally Phase 1 would be completed in 2014. Then it became 2015...2016.  And that's just Phase 1: the total project is now expected to take until mid-2019, with at least $1 billion in overruns. It's good odds I'll have a nice head of gray hair before it's done.

Apply Bastiat's test: "See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." Could your neighbors decide to tunnel underneath your home, spreading dust and dirt that harm your health, blocking your sidewalk, and generally ruining your quality of life for several years, and making you help pay for it?

Now here's food for thought: applying Bastiat's test, there is nothing that government does that neighbors could do themselves without committing a crime. Your neighbors can't come to your home or workplace every two weeks to demand their "cut" of your paycheck, else you have to pay even more and/or be kidnapped and housed in a concrete room against your will. From that first usurped power, that of taking people's money without their consent, all other governmental powers proceed.

"No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate)."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

If Obama "can afford" to pay more taxes, then let him while leaving the rest of us alone

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Charles Schultz characterized liberalism so well 40-plus years ago

I have no love for Mitt Romney, but with all this outrage that he paid only (only!) $2 million in federal income taxes and a 14% tax rate, I thought of a couple of Peanuts strips I saved.

These were reprinted on July 27 and July 29, 2006. They would have been originally published sometime in the 1960s.

Joe Biden ($5540 charitable contributions last year) had no comment.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The real "compromise" between the two parties

...is no different between a mugger and a rapist accommodating each other over the victim, and eventually learning to "cooperate" with future ones.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I love my Nexus 7, but Google and Asus certainly did some strange things

For a while I've been looking for a 7" tablet, something light for my commute. My strict requirements were very good screen resolution, and Android. Barnes and Noble's Nook can run Android off a microSDHC card, and Amazon's Kindle Fire comes with a weird customization of Android but can be rooted to run Jelly Bean. However, both have a resolution of 1024x600, which is a bit small for anything beyond casual Web browsing. Dell's Streak has a mere 800x480 display.

There are a plethora of inexpensive, off-brand 7" and 8" tablets, some just 800x480, many 1024x600, and I saw one 1024x768 model. The big drawback is the very fact that they're off-brand: underpowered CPUs and GPUs lead to sluggish screens, displays may not have consistent colors, capacitive touch may have poor responsiveness, fit and finish may be so poor that it's like a child's flimsy toy, and QA and support may be questionable. Service and support count for a lot, which you might not get with a cheap brand, especially with Internet vendors that tend to pass the buck to the manufacturer. As I mentioned before, my wife's Thrive came from the factory with a slight speck under the glass. I dreaded that we'd be referred to Toshiba, who might take weeks to clean under the glass and ship back. But the good guys at Woot immediately sent us a replacement, with a pre-paid label to send the original unit back.

When I started reading reviews of the Nexus 7 in the first days after its release, I knew it was what I'd been waiting for. This should say something: I had never before been the type to buy brand-new technology. I'd always wait a while to see what bugs and quirks a new product has, and for the price to drop. For $199 and $249, the 8-gig and 16-gig Nexus 7s come with quad-core CPUs, a gorgeous 1200x800 display, and Jelly Bean. It had everything I wanted, except external memory expansion.

For a few dollars more, a microSDHC slot would have made the Nexus 7 about as perfect as one could want in a 7" tablet. Google didn't see fit, probably a combination of rushing the product out and keeping it at the retail prices, and maybe that no memory slots would push people to the 16-gig model. Considering how cheap flash memory is, the 16-gig model must have a far bigger profit margin. Still, there's the micro USB port, and Android supports USB OTG (plugging storage devices into USB ports and having them recognized as separate devices, which is how flash drives and external hard drives work).

But Google inexplicably released the Nexus 7 with a slightly hamstrung version of Jelly Bean. Auto screen rotation is disabled, as is USB OTG. Thankfully it's no problem to root the Nexus 7 and install SU, which I did about four hours after I took it out of the box. Then it's a matter of the right adapter, micro USB male to USB female, which eForCity delivered in a week. Pair it with a standard flash drive, or better yet, one of Sandisk's tiny models. Isn't it amazing how cheap flash memory is, and continues to get cheaper?

I recently bought some adapters, micro USB male to USB female, and I should have read the lone review. It won't work for USB OTG, but elsewhere some have speculated that pins 4 and 5 need to be connected. Micro USB has a 5-pin layout, whereas regular USB has 4. Since nobody seems to make a short micro-to-full adapter that works with USB OTG, it's time to get out the soldering iron!

Update: I never got around to modifying the adapters. These from DealExtreme just arrived and work perfectly. They've unsurprisingly sold out in the 2 ½ weeks since I placed my order.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The federal government is a "bargain"?

Idiots at U.S. News & World Report claim,
If you could buy a Toyota Camry or an Apple iPad for 20 percent off the regular price, you'd probably consider it a great deal. Savvy buyers haggle for much smaller discounts on quality merchandise.

Few consumers have noticed, but the federal government has essentially been on sale, with taxpayers paying about 20 percent less than they used to for what Washington does. Yet unlike satisfied customers, taxpayers are increasingly fed up with the government they finance. This could make them downright surly when the price of government goes back up, which is a near certainty over the next few years.

The price we pay for government, of course, is taxes, and despite what inflammatory political rhetoric might suggest, they are at modern lows. A new report published by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the average household paid 17.4 percent of its income to the federal government in the form of taxes in 2009, the latest data available. Today's rate is probably comparable.
This is so disingenuous, so based on statistics, that it's beyond horseshit lies.

Tax rates haven't gone down, so how are families paying "20 percent less than they used to"? They're not. Their taxes as a percentage of total federal spending has gone down, because the federal government is borrowing much more than it has in 70 years -- over $1 trillion annually, to be specific. Don't take it from me, take it from the federal government's own data (table 1.1). This claim of the "sale" is akin to saying a spendthrift family's paychecks are a lower part of its total spending, when in fact the family hasn't cut spending and is running up a great deal of debt.

If taxes were really like cars or technology, first, we're being forced to buy the item, and second, we're still paying full retail price, just not right now. We, our children and all future generations will be paying for the "discount," plus interest. Some "sale."

It was a dark and stormy night

We only lost one tree Thursday night, at least not two as I initially feared. The high winds didn't last very long, maybe 15 minutes as they passed over my neck of the woods, but it was enough.

The brush is too thick for me to see the base, but I don't think it snapped. It's 19 inches across where it was cut, and even thicker approaching the base. I think it simply fell over, since it grew by the stream separating us from the neighbors, where the perpetually wet soil is weaker and roots can't grow as deeply.

The tree had fallen halfway across the road, and much more horizontally than this picture would indicate. After cutting off the top half and branches on the lower half, a crew used steel cables (you can still see them) to pull the lower half back onto our property. Even if we used our fireplace, it would be a lot of work for me to go at it with a chainsaw. Maybe a company with a woodchipper will come cut it up if we let them have the wood.