Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dodging the Obamacare tax

AS the year ends, the thoughts of many Americans turn to taxes.The new one for this year is the Obamcare tax. I choose not to have insurance, because a $300 a month insurance bill for a policy that doesn't pay a dime until the $6,000 deductible is met just doesn't make financial sense.

There is a way to get out of the Obamacare tax, as there are 14 reasons to receive a hardship exemption. Here they are:



 The easy route, using #3:
1 Do not pay one month's utility bill each quarter
2 wait for shut off notice
3 pay bill the next day, before utility is actually shut off
4 mail shut off notices in to IRS
5 receive exemption, save hundreds or thousands of dollars

 or #8:
1 Don't pay medical bill
2 Send copy of unpaid bill to IRS

or be vague, and use #14...

There is an application, which can be downloaded as a PDF here. From Healthcare.gov:

Hardship exemptions are usually provided for the month before the hardship, the months of the hardship, and the month after the hardship. However, the Marketplace may provide the exemption for additional months after the hardship, including up to a full calendar year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Business news

My brother is a business owner.  Just over a year ago, I blogged about him and how Obamacare was affecting small business owners.

Now a new problem. My brother pays his workers $10 an hour (which is $2 per hour higher than minimum wage) plus a percentage of profits that are earned as a result of the worker's labor. He employs ten, and the highest earning of them made $42,000 this year, meaning that they are making more in profit sharing than they are in salary.

That will come to an end in 2015, when all workers will go to an hourly rate of $14 an hour. Why is that? Is it because my brother is a greedy business owner? No. It is because one of his workers has been sleeping on the clock.

One of his workers was caught taking naps while he was clocked in, and this caused that employee to work more than 40 hours a week. When caught, my brother fired the man. The man filed a complaint, stating that he was not paid properly.

My brother pointed out to the DOL that the employee was paid fully for the time he was on the clock, even while sleeping. The DOL disagreed. They said that ALL funds received by an employee on a regular basis must be a part of the overtime calculation.

What does this mean? Let's say that your employee makes $10 an hour plus profit sharing. He works 42 hours a week. That means that his "time and a half" overtime rate should be $15 an hour, right?

Wrong. Since the employee got $400 a week in profit sharing, his hourly rate works out to $25 an hour, making his overtime rate $37.50 an hour. So an employee that made $400 in wages and $400 in profit sharing for weeks on end, and then takes a nap and winds up working 42 hours when he oversleeps the end of his shift by two hours, winds up deserving an extra $75 for his two hour nap.

My brother cannot afford this, so profit sharing is coming to an end at his business.

This is why the little guy can't make it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

To what end?

In July, blacks were protesting Obama's immigration policies, and were even calling him 'the worst President ever.' Protesters began referring to Clinton, and how he cared more for the black community.

In August, a black teen is shot in Missouri by the cop he was attacking. The press runs with it. Protesters appear with professionally made signs, and are bussed in from hundreds of miles away.By September and into October, the protests had spread to other cities.

The situation has escalated to the point that police officers are now being murdered in the streets, and black people are cheering over it.

Now we have the movie 'Selma' that is being released to show how blacks were discriminated against and overcame the adversity.

This appears to be a well orchestrated, well funded campaign to distract and redirect the blacks in America. We as a nation, and blacks in particular, are being manipulated. To what end? Is this merely a distraction to bolster Obama's sagging approval poll numbers? Is this something more? Something else?


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas.

Get off the Internet and go enjoy some family time.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Today's LOL

I love the definition for "Zumbo" and especially love the term "Zumborrhea," which is listed. I am going to try and use that in a sentence this week.

Again?

So the Republicans are planning on having either Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney run for President. They will never learn. You might as well get used to hearing about President Clinton again. President Obama, the narcissist,  has given Bush his permission to run, at least.

If you run Huckabee Bush or Romney in the 2012 2016 election, you are not getting my vote. I am through with voting for the same old crap simply because that person will take away my liberty at a slightly slower rate than the other guy. I am also tired of seeing the same old, tired candidates in every election.

Many people keep saying that I am throwing my vote away unless I vote for the R candidate, because a third party candidate can't win. I have news for you, telling me to vote for a douchebag that can't win, simply because he has been anointed by the Republican party establishment doesn't mean that he can win, only that he has bowed down to the big money in charge of the R party.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Education

This week, I have been giving mid term exams. My test in Biology has 80 questions: ten true/false, and seventy multiple choice. There are four versions of the test, so that the kids who sit next to each other cannot cheat of the tests of their neighbors. Two of the tests begin with the true/false section, and the other two end with it.



The test is done on Scantron sheets. The very fist question on each sheet says "KEY ID" and the students are supposed to mark which version of the test they have. One student did not do so, meaning that the test will now have to be graded by hand. In trying to figure out which answer key to use, I look at the test to see if the student's test began or ended with the true/false. The true/false questions are answered by filling in the first or second bubble, respectively, so any of the first ten questions that are answered by filling in a 'C' or a 'D' are not true/false.

The problem? NONE of the student's tests appear to have any true/false answers. This indicates to me that the student didn't even attempt to take the exam.

This is one of the reasons that education fails in this nation: The students don't want to be educated.

You can lead a child to knowledge, but you can't make him think.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

More receipt madness

So I went to WalMart to get some ink for my printer. I paid for it, and on my way out, the inventory control system began sounding. I was in a hurry, so I kept going. I have places to be,and was in no mood for this nonsense.
The door guard began yellg at me: "I need to see your receipt!"
"Sorry, I don't do that," I replied.
I was then followed to my car by about 5 WalMart employees. I was half expecting them to physically detain me, like Best Buy employees did to this unfortunate man.

I have to say that at the point where the employees blocked my exit, I would have still refused to show a receipt, and waited until the cops arrived. Then, after the police officer verified that I had not stolen anything, I would have demanded that the police take a report. That report and I would have been in my attorney's office the next day for unlawful detainment/arrest.

In this story, the store employee putting his hands on you, or your property, he is now using force. In the state of Florida, this is an illegal use of force. At that point, the employee of the store is committing a crime. At the very least, simple battery. I would ask store owners to think about what that means from a liability standpoint. One lawsuit can make up for a lot of recovered merchandise.

 Costco was sued for $670K in 2013 because a loss prevention employee accused the customer of shoplifting and broke his leg in the process of detaining him.Of course, there are those who will say that a person agrees to be searched as a condition of his or her membership, and that is certainly true. What is also true is that no one has the right to use physical force while enforcing a civil contract.


I have had enough of stores demanding that I prove I am not a thief when I shop in their establishments, especially in light of the fact that more than two thirds of lost inventory is NOT caused by patrons shoplifting, but nearly half is caused by employee theft.

In other words, the employee inspecting my receipt is more likely to be a thief than I am.

In my case, I simply got in my car and watched them write down my license number, I suppose to report me to police. However, it is not illegal to refuse a search, so I expect that I will not be hearing from the law, just like the last time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Humor

We were shopping for a gift for the 10 year old child of a friend. That child asked for a long list of odd presents. One of the items on the list was a pop corn popper. As a joke, we bought her a Jiffy Pop. She probably won't get the joke, but her mom will. (Don't worry, we got her a real gift as well, her feelings won't be hurt)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just like the other countries

As our South American population increases, we are becoming more and more like the third world hell holes that are south of the border. In this case, a border patrol agent is caught accepting bribes to help a cartel import marijuana into the country.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

4,096

4096: That is how many hotel rooms were leased out for the night when Obama went to the G20 conference in Australia. The cost for rooms alone was $1.7 million. It makes me wonder a couple of things:

1 Were there really over 8,000 staffers that are absolutely necessary for a one day conference? They were staying double occupancy, right?
2 At an average cost of $415 per room, the Deputy Under Secretary of Whitehouse bed linens was staying in a nicer room than the average national leader. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott opted for the thrifty $270-a-night Rydges hotel, while Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe required just $170 of public funds for his stay at Novotel. China's Xi Jinping came closest to Obama's bill, spending $1,450 on his room, followed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, whose room cost British taxpayers $1,070.

Just last spring, Obama went to Brussels with 900 of his hangers on, bringing along 45 vehicles, 7 helicopters, 4 jumbo jets, and a $10.4 security bill for Brussels

 This goes along with the 46 car motorcade (plus motorcyle escort) that travels every time the President wants to take a ride across Washington. Things like this are less about security and more to show the peasants who is boss. After all, it isn't THEIR money being spent.

This is all reminiscent of a medieval king. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chicago

In the news, it was announced that Chicago scientists discovered a 2,500 year old Egyptian coffin. When they opened it, they discovered the mummy was holding 21,100 absentee ballots for candidates in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Apparently, the African-American community organizer who was in the coffin was on his way to deliver the ballots to the supervisor of elections when he was detained by racist police officers. Democrats claim that a recount that includes these ballots would ensure that they retain control of the Senate. They claim that every vote should count, and it is wrong to disenfranchise the Africans who cast the absentee ballots, and to do so would violate their constitutional rights, or something. Eric Holder has initiated a Department of Justice investigation into any potential civil rights violations.

"Records show that more than 80% of mummies are black. This disproportionate number of mummies is further illustration that white privilege is alive and well in this country," said Holder, "Rest assured, we will not rest until black men in America can feel safe from being mummified."

Protesters stood outside the field museum, chanting "No mummies, just votes."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

No protests?

White cop shoots unarmed black man... and no one rioted.

An off-duty Brevard County deputy shot a man during a burglary...Authorities said Deputy Jessie Holton was alerted by another resident in the area of the alleged burglar, identified as 32-year-old Wilford McCloud. As Holton attempted to arrest McCloud, the man was reportedly violently resisting, which led to Holton shooting McCloud...McCloud was arrested just days before for carrying a concealed firearm by a convicted felon and has an extensive record.
 I thought the mantra was "black lives matter."



Pearl Harbor Day

Today is the day that the Japanese attacked the Naval facility at Pearl Harbor. The US claimed that it was a sneak attack, but was it really? Some claim that the attack came as a surprise because of Japanese treachery, while others claim that the US government (to include its military) were simply myopic.

Me? I believe that the attack was a part of ongoing hostilities between the two countries, and the Japanese were simply responding in kind. That's right: the US started the war with Japan by attacking her first. Not only that, the US government put the Japanese government in a position where the only logical choice that they had was either go to war, or allow the US to rule them.

In 1940, Roosevelt even stated that war with Japan was inevitable. Roosevelt had wanted the US in the wars in Europe and in the Far East for years. Standing in Roosevelt's way was the fact that many US citizens felt that the wars were not their problem.

First, the United States, continuing in its tradition of using treaties to keep other countries weak, refused to allow the Japanese Navy to maintain itself at the same level as the US Navy. This caused the Japanese to withdraw from the Naval Disarmament Conference in 1936.Then the US began imposing trade restrictions and sanctions against Japan in 1938.

The sanctions were expanded, and the Japanese were being denied the access to materials that they needed: things like steel and copper. The US closed the Panama Canal to all Japanese shipping. This particularly hit Japan's economy hard because 74.1% of Japan's scrap iron and 93% of her copper came from the United States. Then, in July of 1941, the US froze all Japanese assets and established an embargo of all gasoline and oil sales to Japan. At the time, more than 80% of all Japanese fuel came from the United States. The US claimed that the sanctions and embargoes would continue until the war with China came to an end.

The problem with this, is that the Japanese tried to engage in a mutually agreeable treaty with Chine to end the war, but China, seeing Japan on the ropes economically, wanted far more in concessions than the Japanese were willing to offer. Japan had two choices: go to war with an aggressive US, or surrender.

Then there was the First American Volunteer Group, AKA the Flying Tigers. Of course, there were machinations that took place to make the process technically deniable: The US loaned money to China, and China then used the money to purchase US war materiel and pay the aircrews. Roosevelt then signed a "secret executive order" in April of 1941, authorizing servicemen on active duty to resign in order to join the AVG.

 In July of 1941, the emperor of Japan was told that his nation had two years of oil remaining. The course was set: Japan had no choice but to fight.

All of this should have been no surprise to Roosevelt, and I would argue that this was a deliberate attempt to enter the war on the President's part.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Random thought

Why does the elevator in a building with only two floors need a button for each floor? Why can't there just be one button labelled "Not this one?"

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Your bigotry is showing

This is what intellectual liberals think of me:

You’re a scared white person, almost certainly male. You do not live in a major city, or near a university or intellectual hub of any note, nor have you ever traveled very far from your home town, much less out of state or anywhere further than, say, Mexico. Once. And that was enough.
You do not read complicated books. You do not like new or weird things. You watch lots of TV, mostly Fox News,

The truth:
 I am white. Mostly. My great grandfather was black, and another of my great grandfathers is a Cherokee. Being white is no surprise, gun owner or not, as over 75% if the country is white.
I don't live in a major city, but neither does 92% of the US population. (Cities that have a population of 1 million or more have a total population of 25.2 million)
I live less than 50 miles from the University of Florida. Does that count?
I have lived in five states (Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida), and I have traveled to 34 of them. I have traveled to 27 foreign countries on 4 different continents. I travel constantly, with my last trip out of the country being just two weeks ago.
I am quite well read and somewhat educated. I have four college degrees. I am constantly trying new things, and I do not watch much TV (although I have to confess that I have a liking of ice hockey), and I mostly get my news from a wide variety of sources on the internet.

Sorry that I don't fit your stereotype, you hoplophobic bigot.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

School behavior

Here is a video of a black student attacking a white one, all the while making racial comments. The school is a short distance from mine, and I actually know a few of the students that attend the school, including a student who appears in the background of this video.


As a first year high school teacher, I can tell you that I have seen this sort of thing myself. Last month, a black student called a white one an "ignorant cracker" and a "honky." The white student replied that the black student should "remember that it wasn't that long ago that I would have been your boss, and you would be picking my cotton."

The white student was suspended, the black one was not disciplined. After the incident, teachers were told by the vice principal that racism and racial comments would not be tolerated, and that those of us here in the south (VP is from up north) needed to learn that redneck, racist attitudes of the people in the south would have to change.

I am too new to have pointed out to him that his comments and the way the incident were handled were racism and discrimination at their finest.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

4 hours

There is a lot of complaining about how Mr. Brown's body was left lying in the street for four hours after he was shot and killed by Officer Wilson. During the 22 years that I spent as a paramedic and firefighter before retirement, I was present for more than a few homicide investigations. Vehicular homicide, arson with homicide, shootings, and many other scenes involving dead people, all of them have one thing in common:

The police only have one chance to gather all of the evidence that they will ever get. At a crime scene, the police must map out and measure everything. They then have to collect every scrap of evidence from blood spatter to empty casings from expended ammunition, and that includes the body. All of this must be done flawlessly, and once the police leave the crime scene, the collecting of evidence is over.

What you see on TV shows like CSI, where the investigator returns to the crime scene hours, or even days, later and finds that crucial piece of evidence just can't happen, and this is why: Any defense attorney, even one fresh out of law school, will say "I object to the introduction of this evidence. It was collected from a the scene HOURS after police left. How can anyone be certain that this evidence wasn't placed there after the police left the scene?" and then the judge will agree, and the evidence will never be seen by the jury.

I once responded to a vehicle fire in a Wal Mart parking lot as the company officer (supervisor) of a heavy rescue squad. When the engine company put out the fire, they found the vehicle to contain a handgun, 2- 20 pound propane tanks, a case of road flares, 50 pounds of black powder, 3 five gallon cans of gasoline, and 40 pounds of a homemade explosive that was later determined to be ANFO (edited to add:) in addition to a dead body. (end edit). They called for the squad because of the hazardous materials, and because the police would need to disassemble the car to collect evidence.

I spent over ten hours at that scene. We used hydraulic tools to cut the car apart, and had to stop every time we made a cut, so the evidence collection guys could take pictures. The scene was so meticulous that we had to give the police samples of our hydraulic fluid and our fingerprints, so that they could document the entire scene. We didn't even remove the body from the car until nearly 8 hours had passed since the fire was extinguished.

Claining that a body at a crime scene should be immediately covered is wrong, and the NY cop that said that is either lying or a fool. When you are dealing with evidence, everything must be documented before you move or touch ANYTHING. What if that sheet you cover the body in has a hair on it from another crime scene? What if the sheet drags away a shell casing? Soaks up some blood? The crime scene has now been irrevocably altered.

So to those who think that it was wrong to leave Brown's body there for four hours: Had this case gone to trial, the evidence collected during those four hours would have been needed at that trial. That is just the way our court system works: we require evidence to convict people of crimes, not just feelings and assumptions. Shame on the press for not clearing this up. Your job is to educate and inform, not to inflame tensions and cause unrest. The riots of this week are as much your fault as they are anyone else's.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Seriously

Some idiot named Juan Williams was on the Sean Hannity show, commenting on the shooting in Ferguson, MO. Williams stated that Officer Wilson should have just gotten back in his patrol vehicle and driven away rather than use force, and also stated that police officers should not be allowed to shoot anyone.

I am at a loss for words...

Moms demand death of Tamir Rice

Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows that I am not shy about calling out cops who are being overly aggressive. With that being said, I think that the decision to "no bill" the officer in the Ferguson shooting was the proper one. That doesn't mean that I think the cop is telling the truth. I have no idea if he is or isn't. What my agreement means is that Wilson  (the cop) is claiming that Brown (the decedent) was attacking him at the time, and presented a deadly threat. The physical evidence that I have seen corroborates that statement, and I haven't seen enough evidence to show that Wilson's account is false beyond a reasonable doubt. With that being the case, the only possible verdict is not guilty, and prosecutors are bound to only prosecute cases where there is no reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused.

As for the other shooting in Cleveland of the 12 year old, I am looking at the video, and the video does not match the statements of the cops in question. The video in that case seems to support those particular cops being charged. We will have to wait to see how the evidence plays out.

I would also like to point out that Moms Demand action is getting exactly what they hoped for: They want to call the cops every time they see someone with a gun, in the hope that police will kill them. Congratulations, Moms, Tamir's death is on you...

All sales should go through licensed dealers

It is illegal to operate a firearm business without a Federal Firearms License.
It is illegal for a convicted felon to buy a firearm.
It is illegal to knowingly sell a firearm to a convicted felon.
Still, the anti gun forces think that we should pass a law that requires all gun sales to go through a dealer. They claim that the criminals will then be prevented from buying guns, because they won't buy guns on the black market.

There is a couple in San Antonio that bought a girl on the internet, and then forced her into prostitution. We need to institute a law requiring everyone to sell everything through an authorized retail establishment.

That should fix it. Right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

No justice, free flatscreens

Let's review the applicable rules:

In Florida, deadly force may be used to protect oneself from death or serious bodily injury, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

Forcible felony, according to 776.08, includes arson, aggravated assault, and the unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging a destructive device or bomb, and any other felony that involves the use or threat of force.

Throwing a Molotov cocktail is arson, which is a forcible felony.

A Molotov cocktail is also considered to be a destructive device under 790.001.Throwing one is a forcible felony

Participating in a riot whereby the participants are forcibly and violently attempting to destroy any building is a forcible felony under 870.03.

This means that anyone rioting, throwing, or preparing to throw Molotov cocktails may be lawfully engaged with lethal force to prevent the imminent commission of these forcible felonies. The riot of arson need not be directed at you, as you would be employing lethal force to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

However, under Florida law, you are not allowed to possess firearms in any public place, once a state of emergency has been declared. (870.44)

What does this mean? If there is a riot in your area, stay home, and make sure that you are ready to be there for a few days.

Monday, November 24, 2014

History repeats? Or does it merely rhyme?

Julius Caesar was a brilliant general and commanded an army of over 50,000 loyal men. His success at a military level all but guaranteed the loyalty of his soldiers. But he was seen by some as a cruel man solely driven by expanding his own personal power. As a result, he made enemies of important politicians in Rome itself. Some senior army generals, such as Pompey, were also very concerned about Caesar's intentions.

The Roman Senate ordered Caesar to hand over his army to their control. He refused, and instead advanced to the line that divided France and Italy - the River Rubicon. Roman law said that a governor was not allowed to leave his province, but Caesar ignored this law, crossed the Rubicon, and advanced to confront his enemies in Rome. The Senate considered this to be a treasonable offense, but there was little they could do. Caesar had a very powerful and experienced army and his opponents were fragmented. Pompey was killed in Egypt in 48 BC.

 Here we have Obama, who has just declared that the Senate (along with the rest of Congress) is irrelevant and powerless by signing an executive order that is in direct opposition to Congress and to the will of the people. The Federal bureaucrats will do as he says. Is this Obama's Rubicon? Only time will tell. History may well mark this as the date of the official end of the Republic.

Interesting times, indeed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hiding

Darren Wilson is staying out of the public eye. There are many who claim that he should be staying out there and trying to taint public opinion and the jury pool by putting PR spin on the news.

Mark O’Mara, the lawyer who represented George Zimmerman — a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin — said Wilson and his attorneys should make an effort to speak to the public. That is especially important, O’Mara said, during all the little flare-ups that happen as a case develops. This week, old video surfaced of an officer who looked like Wilson threatening to arrest a man who was videotaping him. Neither Wilson nor his legal team addressed the video.
Mark O'Mara is wrong, in my opinion. His client may have been found not guilty, but the press still won't leave him alone. Three years after the shooting, and a year and a half after being found not guilty, Zimmerman still has his own dedicated page on the local TV station's website. No, Officer Wilson needs to stay out of the limelight, so that the entire nation won't know what he looks like. That will make the people in this country who want to murder him that much less likely to recognize him in public. In fact, he should offer to resign in exchange for a new identity and a pension. His career as a police officer is over, and he will be spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.

This case, along with Zimmerman's, is a warning to all police officers and CCW holders: If you are white, do not, under any circumstances, attempt to stop a black man from committing a crime unless your life depends on it. If you do, you will lose everything.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Differences

Let me illustrate the difference between men and women by telling you about my upcoming cruise. We are leaving on Monday morning for our cruise ship, which is a 4 hour drive away. This is how cruise preps go:

Me:
I begin preparations by making a checklist a week before the cruise. I begin packing on Thursday, four days before the trip. I do laundry on Friday night, and my suitcase is 90% packed by Saturday morning. By Sunday at 4 pm, I am packed and ready to go, except for my toothbrush and medication, which I will put in my carry on bag on Monday after I get dressed.

Her:
She tells me that I am crazy to begin packing on Thursday, and spends the evening watching TV. By Sunday, she still hasn't packed. At 5 pm on Sunday, she decides that she needs to go buy some clothes for the trip. She accuses me of "showing off" and "throwing it in her face" that I am packed, because I put my packed luggage next to the door. We return from clothes shopping at 8 pm. She spends the time from 8-10 pm looking for missing clothes, which she accuses me of misplacing when I did laundry.

She sits on the couch at midnight, erasing the memory card for her camera. She asks me to empty the dishwasher because she still isn't packed. At 1:00 AM, she gets mad at me for playing Kerbal Space Program on the computer. I pointed out that I was packed two days ago. That starts a fight that lasts until 1:30.

We have to get up at 5:30 AM to leave, and she still is packing at 2 AM. By 2:30, she is looking for her passport, but still isn't packed, and somehow this is my fault.

Vent complete.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Obamacare math

I was just getting ready for the coming tax year and reviewing the coming Obamacare taxes. For tax year 2015, the tax for not having health insurance is 2% of your pay.

Reviewing the market prices at healthcare.gov, the cost for the cheapest Bronze plan is $280 a month, or $3,360 a year. For that amount of money, the insurance pays nothing on your behalf until you reach the plan deductible of $6,500. So, unless you are paying more than $10,860 a year in medical expenses, or you are making more than $168,000 a year, it makes more fiscal sense to just pay the tax and pay for your own health expenses out of pocket.

This means that the government is stealing another 2% of my pay every year, and giving me exactly nothing in return.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dear TEA party: I don't want to hear it.

So the military is cutting service members just before they are eligible for retirement benefits in order to save money. The TEA party republicans are furious. I don't want to hear it.

I was forced from my job as a firegihter-paramedic because the TEA party said that my pension was ripping off the taxpayer. Pensions, they said, are an anachronism. I replied that they were a promise to people who made a commitment to serve others, giving their lives in many cases, so that the public would be protected from harm. They claimed that they were saving money, while giving the bigwigs raises at the same time.

They mocked me for that. I was told that I should only have a 401(k), like everyone else. I was told that I should be forced to buy life insurance to replace the on duty death benefits I was losing. So I left, taking my pension while I still could.

How does it feel, now that the shoe is on your foot?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Government Health Care

In Britain, cab drivers make 65,000 British pounds (the equivalent of $100,000) a year. That is enough to make one would-be cabbie give up his business as an engineer to spend more than a quarter million US Dollars and four years of his life in order to become a cab driver.

Meanwhile, Doctors working as general practitioners in the UK start at 23 thousand pounds, and max out at 65 thousand. The average pay for a cabbie is the same as the top pay for most doctors. So where do you think the brightest and most talented people are going? Certainly not into the medical profession.

That is what happens when you attempt to thwart market forces by intervening with government licenses and restrictions.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nostalgia

I was just sitting here thinking about the television shows of my youth. Does anyone remember the shows that I am thinking of:


Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom
Wonderful World of Disney
Mork and Mindy
The Muppet Show
Happy Days
Laverne and Shirley
Barney Miller
Emergency!
SWAT
Welcome Back, Kotter
WKRP
The Jefferson's
MASH


There were even more shows that were in reruns by the time I was of age to remember them, and I'm sure I have forgotten a few, but television sure has changed over the years.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Playing favorites.

Rattlesnake Tactical is a company that wants to open an ammunition factory in Osceola County. That county is waiving the $265,000 in taxes that they would otherwise be required to pay in order to open the doors. State business records do not mention the name of the owners, but I'm guessing that they have friends down at the county offices.

Why? Because my brother wanted to open a business a few years ago, and they would not waive the taxes. The government is in the business of picking winners and losers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Arrogant Americans

There is an American academic who was attending a conference in the UAE was arrested for taking a picture of a sign banning photography. From the headlines:

Architect Dr Robert Alan Black was lecturing at a conference in Abu Dhabi when he innocently took a picture of sign banning photography

No one can "innocently" take a photo of a sign banning photography. He knew the sign was there, he flouted the law, and took the picture anyway. He broke the law. 

Dr Black was lecturing at a conference in the city and was thought to have innocently taken a photo of the strict sign near his hotel on a walkabout of the embassy district. He appeared to be amused by the sign, and was entirely unaware that it enforces an ultra-strict code which allows for a five-year sentence for anyone who breaks no-photography rules.

70-year-old from Athens, GA, was held by police in United Arab  Emirates' capital for seven days before a translator alerted his family

OK. And?

Grandfather has been allowed just two snatched phone calls to his worried family who say he is innocent and just wants to get out

He was allowed to call home twice in the past 2 weeks, which seems to be inconsistent with the implied claim that a translator needed to notify the family because he was being held incommunicado. He isn't innocent.


Supporters tell MailOnline of fears for health of diabetic academic, who is said to be losing weight behind bars and cannot afford local lawyer

 So he can't afford a lawyer? Why did he intentionally break the law then?

Americans travel the world with the attitude that they can ignore the law wherever they go. This is what happens, and why people see us as arrogant.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Wholesale ticket writing through automation

Police in Central Florida now have a device that tracks the speed of every vehicle within range, records plates of all moving and parked vehicles, and automatically issues citations. Not only that, the system tracks the location of every license plate it passes, and the information is stored in a police database. Are you a politician or citizen that votes for cop paycuts? Well, the cops know where you have been, and let's just say that you better change your tune, if you don't want the information made public, or you don't want some free lance "asset forfeiture."

The Ekin Patrol, automated violations.

Welcome to the police state.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Communist Pope

The Pope has been advocating for the government to take care of the poor. He claims that wanting to care for the poor doesn't make one a communist. That is true, but when you say that the government should care for the poor, what you are saying is that the government should send armed men to your home to forcibly take money from you and give it to the poor (after they get their own cut, of course) IS communism as it has been practiced.

I cannot listen to a man tell me that I need to give more of my money to feed the poor when he is the guy taking a dump on a solid gold crapper that is crusted with diammonds and said to be worth over US$50 million. . The Catholic church is wealthy beyond measure. Maybe the Pope can start there. Sure, the Pope doesn't own that stuff, the Church does. Sure, he is technically under a vow of poverty. He does, however, live in a palace filled with priceless works of art, has hundreds of servants and body guards, an armored Limo, and a personal jet.


Communism is for the people, not the communists.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Interference problem found

Last week I reported having some issues with my breakers tripping when I transmit with my amateur radio at anything above fifty watts. I have found the problem. It seems that Eaton, the company that made my circuit breakers, shipped out a batch of AFCI breakers that trip when exposed to strong RF interference.

Part 15 of the FCC rules state:

1) The device may not cause harmful interference.

2) The device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.

I will be contacting Eaton on Monday.

IRS problems resolved

I was having some issues with the IRS. In short, they have been claiming that I owe $8,400 in back taxes. We have been writing letters back and forth since May. I finally got my answer: I owe nothing, and my case is now closed.

That is one bit of drama that is off my plate.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Harmful interference

So I spent the day rigging a G5RV JR antenna in my attic. 52 feet of wire antenna, stretching from one side of the house to the other. I ran the coax feeder inside the wall to my radio shack, and hooked it all up. I turned the transmitter down to the minimum output (5 watts) and tested the system. It worked fine. I was getting SWR of about 1.1:1 without a tuner on all bands from 40 meters up to 10 meters.

So I started cruising the bands. I found someone broadcasting from Europe, turned my power up to 100 watts, and pushed the transmit key.

Every light in the house went out. The breaker for the general lighting was tripped. I guess I am getting RF feedback into the power lines.

My girlfriend was pretty annoyed. Have to go up and move the antenna tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Seroconversion

Regarding the nurse that is refusing to submit to quarantine for Ebola, much ado is being made of the fact that she has tested negative for Ebola, and many are saying that since she has tested negative, this means that she isn't infected, and that placing her in quarantine is in opposition to science and to her rights.

First, the test. A test for Ebola (and most other infections) is based not on testing for the virus itself, but looking for the body's response to the virus. That is, when you are infected, your immune system eventually recognizes the infection and begins to produce chemicals to fight the infection. These chemicals are called antibodies. Each antibody is specific to the virus or other pathogen that it is being made in response to. When the levels of those antibodies rise to detectable levels, a person will show as "positive" for that infection. This is called "seroconversion" and is an indicator that you have been exposed to a given pathogen at some time in the past.

A negative test does not mean that you are not infected. It doesn't mean that you have never been exposed. All it means is that your body has not yet begin to produce antibodies. Some people take longer to develop detectable antibodies than others, and still others never develop them. (Called silent seroconversion) For example, I have been exposed multiple times to chicken pox (vaccination and direct exposure) and still have no detectable antibodies, but I have never caught the illness.

As to her rights, any person who is engaged in an activity that is dangerous to the health of others can result in restrictions. For example, I could say that it should be permissible for me to have a campfire in the living room of my first floor condo. After all, if the fire hasn't spread to an adjoining apartment, it isn't hurting anyone, right? How about being able to fire my pistol down a crowded street? After all, if no bullet strikes anyone, no one was harmed. Drunk driving?

In short, that argument doesn't fly with me. 21 days is not that big of a deal, and this nurse is acting like it is the end of the world. 

(to my biology friends: I know that some of the concepts in here are oversimplified, but that doesn't change the gist of the argument.)

Mayberry to Martial law

Police agencies have acquired over a billion dollars of military equipment this year alone.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Non compete clauses

When do the terms of your employment move from being a voluntary agreement between two parties to being unfair? In this economy, employers have the upper hand, and people are so happy to be offered employment, any employment, they will take the job, no matter the conditions.

I post this because of the newest trend in employment: the non compete clause. Now I'm not saying that the non-compete clause is anything new. Those clauses have long been used to keep key employees from taking valuable company secrets with them to their new employers. A prime example of this, is the lawyer who leaves a firm and takes valuable clients with him to his new firm. However, the non-compete clause is now being used as a club against workers by telling them that not only will they have their hours cut or be fired if they don't do as they are told, but they will also not be allowed to get a job anywhere else, either.

Places like the Jimmy John's chain of sandwich shops are requiring their minimum wage sandwich makers to sign non-compete clauses to prevent them from leaving for better employment. The non-compete clause is buried in the fine print on the job application. You can blame a person for not having job skills all you want, but this prevents those workers from ever improving their lives. Suppose that I am a worker at a sandwich shop, and I am making minimum wage. I am working during the day, and attending college at night. I get a degree in restaurant management, and I am offered a job managing a TGIFridays. Under the terms of the non-compete clause, I can't take it. I am literally stuck in my minimum wage job.

I have been forced to sign a non-compete twice:
Two decades ago, I worked for a company that provided technical services at the Orlando airport. A competitor opened up nearby, and began taking a substantial part of the company's business away. The competitor was offering $3 an hour more, in addition to a $1,000 signing bonus, to anyone who left my company to work for them. Our ten employee location lost two employees within a week of each other, and one of them was the location manager.
The remaining employees, myself included, were told that we had to sign a non-compete clause that prohibited us from working at any airport location for two years after leaving the employ of the company. The penalty for not signing the agreement was that we would be immediately terminated.

The second time was just three years ago. I was working as an instructor at a private college. To save money, the school told us that we were not employees. We were contractors. We would serve at the pleasure of the company, and had to pay our own taxes (so they would not have to cover the matching half of Social Security), we were not covered by Worker's Comp because we were not employees, we received no benefits, and we were not promised any specific number of hours. However, we still had to wear the company's uniform (Polo shirts with the school logo), punch a time clock, teach according to the school's lesson plans. The non-compete clause said that I could not teach for any other school within 50 miles for two years after leaving employment with them.

It wound up biting me in the end. The school's director and I had a slight disagreement in 2013, and he cut my hours to four hour lecture every month. I tried to work for other schools, but as soon as they found out where I had worked, I was told that they did not want to get involved with the legal battle that would result if they hired me, and that was that. Even though I was never technically an employee of the school, the mere threat of a lawsuit hurt my chances at working anywhere near Orlando.

That is why I am not IN Orlando any longer.

In short, I think that any time an employer requires that you sign a non-compete clause, that employer should be responsible for continuing to pay you your salary until you are released from the restrictions of the clause. That will ensure that these clauses are only used when they are vital to the employer's business interests, and not as a tool to punish employees.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Liar? Or simply stupid? You decide.

In this morning's post, I forgot the best quote, from a reader calling himself "Jarhead" in Maryland:

the whole thing about how could the cop shoot him six times? Could be excess, or as anyone whose fired weapons will tell you - - the cop did not have an old-style police pistol that shoots one round, one trigger squeeze. He had a semi-automatic pistol, and in an adrenaline rushed fight-or-flight encounter, the cop could have held the trigger and more rounds came out as a matter of course. It's not binary, he brutally shot him repeatedly OR he squeezed and discharges continued automatically, but the number of rounds fired is not insane.
This comes from a person calling himself "Jarhead" and claiming familiarity with weapons, yet doesn't know the difference between semi-auto and full auto.

Ferguson shooting and idiots

There is a story in the NY Times this weekend about the Ferguson shooting. In the article, a source is quoted as saying that Federal charges against the officer are not warranted because the forensics seem to support the officer's account of the shooting. The innocence or guilt of the officer is not, however, the topic of this post. The stupidity of the people commenting on it is.

Here are some real gems from the comments section, comments which show just how ignorant and stupid people can be:

Louis says:
A few nights ago I had a run-in with a police officer in a St Louis suburb (not Ferguson) and was stunned by his aggressive and abusive behaviour. As I spoke calmly to a first officer (who was also calm) Officer #2 began ranting and raving, threatening to arrest me. The very first words out of his mouth were shouted at full volume.

My first thoughts were that if he was behaving like this toward a middle-aged white guy, what would he have done had I been a 20 yr old black man?
So to prove that a cop is prejudiced, we submit a statement that says an encounter with a cop in a different city who acts like a jerk makes the Ferguson a racist? Even though, according to your statement, race was not a factor in your own encounter?

Brian Kirkland from North Brunswick, NJ says:
Brown was unarmed and running away. It makes no sense that he would attack the cop, if all this was over walking down the street.

Why did the cop want to stop Brown? Because he could? This is so much like the shooting of Trayvon Martin. If the guy with the gun, who has no legitimate reason to confront anyone, doesn't decide to confront, everyone lives.

Being a police officer shouldn't be a license to stop African-Americans in the street, anymore than being on the neighborhood watch. There has to be a probable cause, which isn't revealed in this article.

I went to that street. It's narrow and doesn't lend itself to high speeds. What was this confrontation over, since Wilson didn't know Brown was a suspect in the store incident? That's what needs to be explained.
Never mind that the article says that Brown was not shot in the back ( as evidenced by the autopsy), meaning that he was not running away. Never mind that Brown's blood is in the patrol car and on the officer's gun, indicating that the officer and Brown were fighting over the gun inside the patrol car. Never mind that Zimmerman did not confront Martin, but was attacked by Martin. No, you want to claim that armed men must wait until they are killed before trying to defend themselves.

 rm writes:
The officer was armed and Michael Brown was not, and the officer fired many times at Brown, hitting him six times, killing him.

Those bare facts alone, I believe, should make it hard to claim, with aggressive confidence like many posters here, that the shooting was justified.

I don't know the whole picture, or how the trial will turn out, but we know enough to see that the shooter's defenders are in no position to be quite so bumptious.
 So, to this self defense expert, I ask: If you are justified in shooting someone, how many times are you allowed to shoot them before it is no longer a justified shooting? If I shoot a person in self defense once, that is OK, but if I shoot him six times, that makes the previous five shots retroactively unjustified?

knickerbockeravc from Tennessee says:
Reports on the incident are all over the map. One glaring fact is Wilson unloaded his service weapon into Brown. The kill shots being in the eye and top of the head. My opinion is Wilson was scared of a young black male, so he executed him. He should be charged and the specific charges will be up to a court of law.
Actually, that is pretty factual. See, you have to be "scared" (in fear for your life) to use deadly force. Brown was in fact a young, black male. However, I do not see where that adds up to "execution" or warrants charges.

alista writes:
A man with a gun in a car shoots 6 times, I repeat 6 times, another man in the street and kills him. The reason: the other man was walking in the middle of the street. The event happened in full day and the facts are undeniable. And we are discussing here whether the murderer should be prosecuted? This is sick.
So just ignore all of the events and facts that don't support your opinion? The fact that the man who was in the street tried to take the weapon from the cop and kill him with it? Ignore that the man walking in the street was a violent felon? Those undeniable facts?

One last one, from Riley Temple in Washington, DC:
It is brushed aside, Michael, because assault in a store, petty theft, a violent nature, even punching a police officer in the face or body, as deplorable as all of that surely is, is no justification for shooting to kill when the perpetrator of the violent acts is unarmed and in retreat. If he must be stopped for arrest, then the officer could have shot his weapon to stun or to stop him -- at his feet or legs. What Wilson did in this case was to shoot to kill. Six bullets in all were dislodged, five after the victim had turned with his arms up in surrender, one of the bullets fatally aimed and lodged in his head. The killed man could have been as violent and as awful a person the world has ever known. Yet, he did nothing to deserve to die on August 9, 2014. He tussled with a cop and he stole some cigars. Bad boy! Since when does our government put "bad boys" even "delinquent boys" to death in the street? Sadly, we know the answer all too well.
Even ignoring the allegation that Brown was trying to tak ethe officer's gun from him, and that robbing a tore with violence is a felony. According to this idiot, cops should shoot people in the legs to stop them from running away. As if a gun were some sort of lasso or remote controlled punch, instead of being what they are: lethal force.

Which story is more believable?
A cop pulled up next to a 6'4" 300 pound black man, grabbed him by the throat with one hand and hoisted him through the driver's side window. Then, the black man bravely fought him off and ran, the cop ordered him to stop, which he did, and then the cop shot him as he was surrendering, then staged the entire crime scene in front of witnesses, and none of those witnesses saw him.   OR-

The criminal who just robbed a store attacked a cop who confronted him and fought over the cop's weapon. The gun went off twice during the struggle, and hit the criminal at least once, leaving the criminal's blood in the cruiser and on the weapon. The criminal ran, and the officer pursued. The criminal then doubled back to attack the officer, and was shot several times as he advanced on him.

The scary thing to me is that these idiots can all vote, and each of their votes counts the same as anyone's. The comments here are the biggest argument against Democracy as I have ever seen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola thoughts

 HIV is a pretty well known and understood virus. We know that it is a blood bourne virus, and the only way to get it is to share body fluids with an infected person. That means that if you do not expose your blood to the bodily fluids of a person infected with the virus, you won't get HIV or AIDS. With that being said, about 50,000 people per year are diagnosed with HIV. About 60% of the people who are infected with HIV go on to develop AIDS. Of the ones who develop AIDS, about 25% of them die.So, to summarize, HIV has a mortality rate of about 15%.

Health care workers have been dealing with blood borne pathogens for decades, and have little trouble preventing its spread in health care settings.Of course HIV is pretty difficult to catch. Epidemiologists have calculated a reproduction number, or R0 (pronounced R-nought) to estimate the number of individuals who contract a disease from an infected and contagious individual. In the case of HIV, that Ris 4, meaning that each person with HIV transmits that disease to 4 others, on average.

Epidemiologists are estimating that the R0 for Ebola is 2, meaning that, on average, each person with Ebola will pass the disease on to 2 other people. Of course, they are also saying this about Ebola:
 Ebola, which is transmitted only by contact with infected bodily fluids, is not contagious until the patient begins to show symptoms. Once contagious, concern is warranted, because Ebola fatality rates approach 50 percent, especially without proper treatment.
 Of course, there are some obvious falsehoods here. It turns out that the mortality rate for Ebola is closer to 70% than it is to 50%. It also turns out that the disease may not be purely blood bourne, as previously thought. Think about this: You have a pair of nurses who caught the disease, presumably from being exposed to infectious materials that were expelled from the Index patient. These nurses, if they are like the workers that I know, are intimately familiar with blood bourne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis, being that they likely see multiple patients with one of those diseases several times a day.

Instead, we find out that the hospital has the staff that is treating Ebola patients wearing positive pressure respirators. When was the last time you heard of a medical team wearing respirators for HIV or Hepatitis patients? Compounding this, we have an NBC reporter who reportedly had no known contact with any Ebola patients, and reportedly caught the virus from riding in a taxi that an infected person had previously ridden in. He had been in Liberia for less than 24 hours when he began showing symptoms. (He arrived in Liberia on Tuesday, and was diagnosed on Wednesday) That particular fact opens all sorts of scary possibilities.

Perhaps the disease has changed, and a new strain is more infectious than previous ones. That would give us an R0 that is higher than 2. How much higer would need to be determined. Let's face it: Duncan has already infected his two patients.

Let's talk about treatment.

Sure, the mortality rate here in the US is pretty good: Of the 6 patients treated here in the US, one has died, three have recovered, and two are in the early stages of treatment. Of course that is when you have 6 patients in a nation of 300 million. When it takes 70 people to treat one patient at a cost of several million dollars, you have to ask yourself how many times we can make such an effort before we run out of resources. Two of the patients were saved because they received the blood of a survivor. How much blood can he give? What about people who do not match his blood type? What happens when supplies of disposable suits and respirators run out?

Let's do some math:

Assume that the Ris still 2. There are currently an estimated 15,000 people with the disease worldwide. With an R0 of two, and considering that people become contagious and die in less than a month, we are going to see the number of cases double every month. That means that a year from now, there will no longer be 15,000 people with the disease, there will be over 245 million people with active Ebola infections. Assuming that the 70% mortality rate holds steady, by this month next year, the worldwide death toll from the disease would be 344 million dead.

Raise the R0 to 4, and those numbers become MUCH worse. With an R0 of 4, everyone in the world would have the disease by July, and more than half of the world would be dead of Ebola. That is what makes this disease so different, because HIV has an R0 of 4, but that number is stretched out over the several years that it takes an infected person to succumb. In the case of Ebola, the disease runs its entire course in less than a month, so an Ebola patient will infect his two patients within a week or two, whereas the HIV patient takes years to infect 4.

Of course, deaths on that scale probably won't happen. The reason for that is that the R0 would fall rapidly at some point. Why? Because humans can be a fear driven, panicked herd, just like any animal that perceives its survival is at stake. Once a disease like this takes off, society will begin to break down as antisocial behaviors take over.

See a hundred or two hundred cases of Ebola happen in the US. Schools will close, either by government decree, or by unspoken agreement. People will stop going to work, will stop gathering in large groups. Medical personnel will stop going to work. People will stop interacting. At some point, rioting will ensue. This will continue until the disease burns out.

From a purely scientific stand point, this is interesting to watch. At the same time, I think that we are either deliberately being lied to, or the experts are being proven wrong. Either way, these are the same hospitals that cannot control or prevent the 1.7 million hospital acquired infections in the US each year, which kill 100,000 people each year. Because of that fact, I do not believe them when they say that they have this under control.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My issue

I have a student who was failing my class. She was failing two other classes. All of the teachers who had been there longer warned me to just give this student good grades. "It isn't worth it," they said. Statements like that offended me, and I stuck to my ethics, and gave her the grade she had earned.

Her parents immediately complained when progress reports came out, and they found out that their daughter was failing my class. They requested a meeting where they claimed that I was giving their daughter zeros on assignments that she had turned in. I pointed out that I have the students put all assignments in a drop box on the class website, and showed that the student had not been logging in to the website at all. They backed down.

I offered to help the student, and the other students who were failing, by setting up after school tutoring sessions where attendance was requried for anyone with less than a C. The vast majority of these students thrived on this, and raised their grades to a C or higher. This student refused to do work, and became a royal pain. She complained and fought doing anything the entire time. She and her parents insisted that they didn't accomplish anything during tutoring, and that I am a bad teacher who is giving the student failing grades because I do not like her.

The student began taking photos of my class and tutoring sessions, and tried nitpicking about everything. In one picture, she showed a student with a soda in tutoring, which is not allowed. She insisted that I was not enforcing the rules. I was called into the vice-principal's office and told that it looked bad that I was not enforcing the rules.

So, the very next day, the student who complained was sitting there in class eating during class. I wrote her a detention, as per the rules. Now she is complaining that I wrote her a detention. I pointed out to the VP that this girl was complaining that the rules were not being enforced. and now that they are, she is upset because she has to follow them as well as everyone else.

The parents and the student are bragging that they are going to get me fired. It looks like it is going to go that way, if I don't just pass her. I am beginning to see why the other teachers just give this girl a passing grade. They are right, it isn't worth the hassle. It isn't worth my job.

This is why our education system is a mess.

FBI throws a fit

Why is the FBI angry? Because encryption on Apple's iPhone is strong enough that they can no longer spy on your phone without you knowing about it. Android will soon follow suit. The FBI doesn't like that.

Too bad. Get a warrant.


Suicide contract

A 5 year old girl in Alabama draws a picture of a gun, and also points a crayon at a classmate and says "pew! Pew!"

The school makes her sign a statement that she will not commit suicide or kill her classmates.

What 5 year old knows what suicide is?
Would a contract be enforceable against a 5 year old?
Would a person planning on committing suicide or mass murder care that they had signed a contract not to?

Pure stupidity.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Stupid Party will never learn

2012: It was the year where incumbent President Obama had a rather poor rating from voters: He went into the first week of September with a -2 approval rating. Nearly anyone could have beaten Obama. The Republicans sent in the best candidate that they could come up with. They sent: Mitt Romney, a man that could only be called a conservative if he were in a liberal state like Massachusetts.

Trying to play to the middle, the republicans lost their base, and Obama walked back into the Whitehouse for four more years. So, realizing their mistake, the Republicans decide that they will send in the best man they have for a 2016 run at the Oval office. Who are they looking at? Why, Mitt Romney, of course!

The past two years have seen the government argue and filibuster themselves to a standstill, just as I had hoped they would. You Republicans need to stop trying to pander to the left, and just stick to your base. I promise you, just like last election, I WILL NOT VOTE FOR MITT ROMNEY. I will cast a vote for no one in the presidential race before I vote in a tax and spend liberal, just because he has an (R) behind his name.

Go ahead, repeat the mistakes of 2012, and watch Hillary become the next president.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Parents are more immature than kids

I have been quite busy. The main thing that has been taking up my time is the new career as a High School Science Teacher. I have been working so much that I don't have time to read blogs, let alone write one. Let me explain how my week typically goes:

I spend about 20 hours a week teaching class.
I attend about 2 hours a week in training.
I spend another 10-15 hours a week grading papers.
I takes me about 4 hours to plan the next week's classes.
Then I spend about 3 hours a week on parent conferences.
I spend 3-4 evenings a week attending High School sporting events (JV and Varsity Football, Girl's Volleyball, Swimming, and Golf.)


This was supposed to be a part time job (I only get paid for 20 hours a week). That leads me to my troubles of the past month:

I had a problem with many of my students not turning in their work. Those that were turning it in, were not really trying all that hard. In fact, more than half of my students had earned a grade that was below a C. I was desperately looking for a solution. I finally found one: There is a school policy stating that any student receiving below a C in a core course (Math, Science, English) will be placed on mandatory tutoring.

So what I did was establish two days a week as tutoring days, and the sessions would last for one hour. Any student who had below a 50% would have to attend both days each week, and any student who had a grade between 50 and 70% would have to attend one. During the sessions, the students would be working on and turning in any assignment that they had received an F or a Zero on.

It worked even better than I had hoped. Every single student increased their grade as a result tutoring. My classes went from having a 62% average with 23 F's, to a 74% and only 4 F's. There are only 10 students left with a D or an F. 4 students went from an F to a B, and all but 7 of the students increased by at least a full letter grade. I did all of these tutoring sessions off the clock, and didn't get paid for a minute of them. Good work, right?

The parents of one of my students are furious, as is their child. This child doesn't want to sit in tutoring and do work. She is demanding that the student be given extra credit to take home and bring back. I explained to them that I don't do extra credit, and if the students would just do the work as assigned, that is sufficient to get a passing grade. The parents are emailing the Principal and the Superintendent and claiming that I am punishing their child by holding them after school and giving a bad grade. This is reflected in the student's attitude. The student called me stupid, refused to do any further assignments, threw her books across the room, and then stormed out of the classroom by kicking the door open while declaring that she was going to report me to the principal and to her parents.

We scheduled a parent/teacher conference. (For the third time this year with this parent.) I explained that I just grade the homework as done or not done, and the exams, which are multiple choice, and there is no teacher discretion built into my grading plan. I set the course up this way so no one could claim that I was being unfair. The parent still insists that I am giving their student a D just to punish them. The father used as an example that I reduced his daughter's grade because she turned in an assignment late, as per class policy. (My class policy is 10% off for each day late). He said that the paper was turned in the next morning, which was only 18 hours late. I asked him what happens if you mail in your tax return 18 hours late. Then I showed him his wife's signature and his daughter's signature on the classroom policy paper, where they acknowledged that policy. He was furious. When I mentioned the student's temper tantrum from the other day, the parent told me to my face in front of the Vice-principal that I was "a damned liar." They have threatened to get an attorney.

It has since come out that the student is secretly taking photos and video in class to use as proof that I am not teaching to the student's and parents' standards. If this student would only pay attention in class instead of trying to prove me wrong, they would be earning a better grade than a D in my course.

This morning, the student tweeted out "Fuck my science teacher. We r gonna get him fired." Don't think that I am not giving that particular tweet to the Principal.

In other news, while proctoring the SAT, a student showed up without photo ID. No photo ID, no test. Those are the rules. The teachers don't make the rules for the SAT, the College Board does. The parent immediately launches into a tirade about what an asshole the teacher is, and how the teachers are personally responsible for ruining his child's chances at a future because they won't let him in without ID, and now the kid can't get into college without his SAT scores.

The parents are more immature than the kids. Teaching is easy. It is dealing with the students and the parents that is hard.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This is what crazy looks like

Here is a link to mugshots from around Florida for people arrested in the past week. Some of these people in these pictures make me want to do a press check.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tipping madness: Marriott

Marriott Hotels are now demanding that I pay them for a clean room, and then pay their employees for cleaning it.

Jessica Lynn Strosky of DuBois, Pennsylvania, who earns $7.75 an hour cleaning rooms at a hotel that's not a Marriott, says only 1 in 15 or 20 guests leaves a tip. When they do, it's a dollar or two; she's lucky to get $20 a week in tips. "I've talked to lots of people who say they don't know they are supposed to tip," she said.
Unlike waitresses who earn less than minimum wage because tips are expected to raise their earnings, hotel housekeepers are paid minimum wage, and in expensive markets, substantially more. In Washington D.C., Sorenson said, Marriott housekeepers start in the mid-teens per hour.
Most hotel maids clean 14-16 rooms in an 8 hour shift. If Marriott's formula of $1-5 per guest is followed, then their maids will be making anywhere between $9.50 and $17.75 an hour. For making a bed? No way is unskilled labor worth that kind of cash.

I have had some rather strong opinions about tipping for years. Many servers at restaurants complain that they do not receive enough in tips, even when they are making $100-200 during an 8 hour night. This is far more money that other, more skilled positions are paid.

Servers making $400-800 a week in tips, or maids making $400 a week is more than enough for the skill that they bring to the table. My sister and daughter are both working in tipped jobs. They each bring home $300 a week in tips. That is $300 in TAKE HOME tips, plus the $5 an hour they get from their employer. That is the equivalent of $12 an hour.

I tip 10-20% of my check at restaurants, with a maximum tip of $10. Any more than $10 for a fraction of the server's time for the hour that I am there is more than I am willing to pay.

I am not tipping maids.

If you want to make $50,000 a year or more and can't get that off of tips, here is my tip to you: Get an education and get a better job, but stop whining about the pay you make for unskilled labor.If Marriott feels that strongly that their employees should be paid more, then they should raise the price of a room and give the maids a raise. The market will then decide if the extra cost is worth it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Are my standards too high?

This week, my students turned in a scientific research paper. They have been working on it for the past 4 weeks. To begin, the due date was discussed every class period for the past two weeks. The paper was supposed to be research on the topic that they chose to do experiments on, so that they would know the background science.

I have 75 students. I received 24 papers today. Meaning that 67% of my papers are either going to be late, or not coming at all.

For the ones that were turned in, there were a number of rules that I had for the paper:
-Must be typed. Times New Roman font, 12 point, double spaced, 1 inch margins
- Reference page, with at least 5 references, and these references had to be from scientific, peer reviewed publications. Not popular press, and no Wikipedia. I even had the learning resource department come in and give a lecture on proper references and how to cite them.
- must look professional and neat
- do not mention your experiment, this is a review of the relevant science, not a proposal about your experiment.
- No first or second person pronouns: Me, my, you, yours, and the like are not to be used.
- Spelling, punctuation, and grammar count

Only four of the papers had a title page. Three were script fonts, and one of those used a different color for the text of each paragraph. One had what appears to be pizza sauce on it, another was water stained.

Not one of them had 5 valid sources. Some sources included: an FAQ page from the Mayo clinic, an article in people magazine, and links to the web page for a television show. My personal favorite was the student who stated on his resources page: "Google the underlined text in each paragraph for relevant sources and further reading."

There were frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Then there were the factual errors:
- "Dolphins make squeaking noises with their mouths."
- "when dolphins are at high speeds, they leap to save energy, so that explains why dolphins attend to leap out of the water so that they can get more air to restore more energy just like humans."
- "The largest dolphin are the Amazon Dolphins & they can reach 2.7m in feet"
- Listening to the wrong type of music can cause a heart attack, or lower your heart rate and cause death.


Are my standards too high? I don't see a single paper worthy of an A. There may be 2-3 B grades, and maybe 5 or 6 C's. The majority of them have not even attempted to turn in a paper, and the rest appear to have phoned it in.

This is why we are getting our butts kicked as an economy. The kids just don't care, and then they grow into adults that just don't care.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Obama doctrine

During the Bush administration, there was a big deal made about the so-called "Bush Doctrine." With that in mind, I want to take a look that the "Obama Doctrine" with regard to Russian relations.

On June 24, the White House released a fact sheet on US-Russian relations, and the "Reset." It read like this:

In one of his earliest new foreign policy initiatives, President Obama sought to reset relations with Russia and reverse what he called a “dangerous drift” in this important bilateral relationship.  President Obama and his administration have sought to engage the Russian government to pursue foreign policy goals of common interest – win-win outcomes
President Obama outlined the steps that he would  take to reset US-Russia relations. These steps included:

-  A New START Treaty that reduces limits on U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads by approximately one third. Now we have Russian bombers practicing nuclear missile runs on the US.

- Russia confirmed that it will not deliver S-300 missiles to Iran, in accordance with a UN resolution.
Iran now has the missiles, claiming that they made them locally, but rumor has it that they were sold to Iran by Croatia.

- The United States and Russia were to have collaborated closely within the framework of the G20 on measures to address the global economic crisis, and on the coordination of the reform of financial regulation.

Sanctions put in place because of the Ukraine crisis have forced Russia to deepen ties with China and other states that have grown tired of the US using its economic influence as a club.

The Obama doctrine is an abject failure.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. That is what the powers that be in this country keep telling us, anyway. The law in Florida the prohibits carrying a concealed weapon say that:


(1) Except as provided in subsection (4), a person who carries a concealed weapon or electric weapon or device on or about his or her person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) A person who carries a concealed firearm on or about his or her person commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Then it goes on to say, in 790.25:
(3) LAWFUL USES.The provisions of ss. 790.053 and 790.06 do not apply in the following instances, and, despite such sections, it is lawful for the following persons to own, possess, and lawfully use firearms and other weapons, ammunition, and supplies for lawful purposes:

 
(n) A person possessing arms at his or her home or place of business;
A trial judge got it wrong, and was overturned. There is something wrong with a justice system where citizens are required to know the law, and those charged with enforcing it are not.

Monday, September 8, 2014

View of a teacher with a month on the job

I have been teaching at the college level for over 8 years. I just started teaching high school this year. A month into my job as a high school science teacher, and I have a few observations:

This job requires far more hours of my time than I am paid for. I work at home for about 3 hours per night, planning lessons, designing lab activities, and grading papers. I'm hoping that next year it will be easier, because the lessons will all be planned out.

The kids, for the most part do good work. Very few of them do great work. Currently, only 3% of my students have an A. The majority of the class are average students, with about 30% of them earning a B, and about 35% of them have a C. There are about 20% that have earned a D, and if it were up to me, a D would not be a passing grade. Finally, 12% or so are failing my class.

The students that are failing my class are also failing others. I have one student that is failing my class along with 3 others. He is failing Geometry, Biology, English, and History. He has a D in an elective, and an A in art. I would not take bets on his ever making it through high school.

The number one reason why kids are failing? They don't turn in any assignments.

Number two? Cheating.
I caught three kids so far cheating by cutting and pasting WikiPedia pages into their report. One of them actually turned in a wiki page that I had written. Plagiarism is cheating, and anyone caught cheating in my class gets a discipline referral and an automatic zero for the assignment.

Number three? Just not studying. I can see who logs into the class website to retrieve class notes and power points. There are quite a few that never log in, have never checked out a textbook, and cannot understand why they get a 40% on the test.

I email weekly progress notes that include a copy of their grade book marks to every parent. If your child has a D or an F, I email you personally and notify you that your child is doing poorly. In many cases, it helps. In some, it does not. On average, I schedule 3-4 face to face parent/teacher conferences a week.

Still, there are students who have a 45% average in my class.

That is American Education. Don't blame the teachers. There are teachers that phone it in, but there are many parents that just don't care how their kids do.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

IRS struggles

I got a letter in May from the IRS. Yeah, one of THOSE letters. It was a letter telling me that the IRS didn't agree with my tax filing for 2012, and explaining that they took the liberty of doing my taxes for me. Then it said that, by their calculations, I owed them another $8,400 and change in taxes. I had two options: I could either send a check, or I could send a letter as to why I didn't agree.

They disagreed with my income, because they claim that I didn't report income from a 1099 that I had received from a customer that I had done some consulting for. I checked, and the income HAD been reported, but on the form for reporting business income, and not personal income. I sent proof.

They disagreed with my reporting of income from investments. I under reported my investment income by $4. I couldn't argue there. I forgot to include the $4 in interest that I had earned on a small savings account.
 
They disagreed with my deductions, claiming that I had taken a lifetime learning credit for a school that is not confirming that I was a student there. I have receipts and a 1098-T. I sent them in.

I just got a follow up letter. They agreed with me on the reporting of my income. Now, according to the IRS, I "only" owe them $1,200. They still say that they school is refusing to verify that I was a student there. I have a 1098-T. I have bank records, a $12,000 student loan, my student ID card, and receipts to prove that I was. If I have to pay taxes on this because I can't prove I attended this school, then why should I have to repay the $12,000 student loan. After all, if I wasn't a student of their school, then how did they give me a $12,000 student loan?

So I will be sending the next letter out this weekend.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tyrants

The Mayor of Winter Garden ordered a man to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance which ended with a prayer, and when the man refused, the Mayor ordered the Chief of Police to escort him from the city council meeting. [Mayor] Rees said he considered the man's refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance to be disrespectful to American military troops who are serving overseas and others who have given their lives in defense of freedom.

Well, Mr. Mayor. I don't see how you honor men who have died for freedom by ordering the man to leave a government meeting AT GUNPOINT  because he refuses to pledge his allegiance and pray to your version of god.

The article then says:
Though Rees said he did not know Richardson by name, he recognized him from previous meetings as the man who sits in the front row and then leaves after the invocation and pledge. "He doesn't come to the meetings because he cares about the city," Rees said.
So the Mayor gets to decide who cares and does not care about the city?

I fought in a war so that people would be free from petty tyrants, not to empower those same tyrants. Don't you DARE invoke my name to enforce your power on others.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Intenet outage?

I don't know if this is an Internet outage, or if it is a problem at my end, but seems as though a good portion of the net is down. I cannot reach many sites. To test it, I went to various major websites to see if they would work, with the assumption that the big guys would be up and running:

Google: Functioning normally
Facebook: Functioning normally
Amazon: Loads, but does so slowly, and with a funny text only version of the page
Blogger: Was down, now normal
CNN.com is loading abnormally, as a text only version of the page
Fox news is down

WalMart.com is down
Samsclub.com is down

The problem is selective, and appears to be my home connection, because my Smartphone is accessing all sites normally.

Odd.