the Long of it ........

unintended consequences and other musings

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Still Learning after all these years….

Took another trip down to the orphanage in Mexico yesterday with my buddy Jerry – a few more lessons learned:
1. Finally found out why the breaker for the water heater was off, they only use it for showers in the winter – repeat after me, we are really blessed.
2. The director showed me her latest electricity bill; about 38$. This is about one-tenth of a normal bill. This was the result of focusing on elec usage – an evaporative cooler had a burned out motor that was running all winter, added fans to help alleviate cooler usage and replaced all bulbs with LED. The lesson here is that sometimes the best gift is giving a person margin in their life – they can now use the money usually reserved for elec for food, education, etc. every month ………..

still learning lessons…..

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My Mind is Racing…..

Accused killer of the nine people attending a church meeting in South Carolina had a Facebook page; in it are a few black friends.  Wonder how fast those guys are trying to unfriend him?  My Mother was right once again; pick your friends carefully – do we accept them too casually on social media?

Brian Williams was too untrustworthy to get his network anchor job back at NBC but is ok to serve up breaking news on MSNBC.  Is that a tacit admittance by NBC that MSNBC brand is a cut below that of the major network news organizations?

Federal Government is going after AT&T with a 100M$ fine for limiting the speed of large users of it’s unlimited data plan.  Users were notified that excessive use would result in degradation of service.  Even if you agree with the charges against AT&T, who will ultimately pay the fine?  The same consumers…..and the fine goes into the general fund of the gov’t – so it is a cellular phone tax….by another name!

College accreditation is not working, in the last 15 years they have only removed 26 out of 3000 colleges.  Meanwhile the federal government sent 16$b of aid to students at four year colleges that graduated less than one-third of their students within six years.  The correlation of student debt to graduation success is striking. Time to weed out colleges that are not graduating seniors, i.e.; succeeding.  We may also be sending too many kids to colleges when a better fit may be a two year focused technical school.

Donald Trump let a woman on stage and let her pull her hair to prove it was not a toupee – is this what running for political office has come to?   I would have told her that we have much more serious issues to debate than stuff created for late-night TV entertainment….and please leave the room – too stupid to be a voter.

 

 

 

 

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Hate Laws, What added Punishment do they Bring?

In the immediate aftermath of the Charleston church killings, the Justice department has quickly announced an investigation into the killings with an intention to file federal ‘hate law’ violations.  Hate laws require the crime to be motivated upon hatred towards a specific social group – in this case, a witness seems to support this by repeating things he said while conducting the killings.   Also, to be noted, South Carolina is one of the few states still without a hate crime law.

The question needs to be asked – is it really necessary to file a ‘hate crime’ charge against most defendants?   I am sure that any competent prosecutor can insure that this young man will be executed for the cold-blooded killing of 9 innocent victims.  Note that South Carolina still has the death penalty so it could be used in this case – in any case, he will spend the rest of his life in jail.  So, the question remains, what do we add to his sentence by adding the ‘hate crime’ designation to it?   My view is this is one of those ‘feel-good’ laws that add nothing to most prosecutions of crimes that already have sufficient laws on the books to use.  I am also against specific laws that increase penalties for crimes against policemen and women.   I would like to think that all lives matter equally; my Aunts murder in the late 60’s was no less a murder than any other murder of someone because they were a Jew, Black, Protestant or Atheist.  If you believe that a person so filled with hate at another person will refrain from carrying out his actions because of ‘hate laws’ on the books…….

Be very wary of a Federal Government that keeps coming into state matters and ‘helping’ out – especially before all of the investigation is complete.  At some point, some may ask why we have a local prosecutor, local police and state laws – just use the ‘corrected’ ones provided by the Justice Department which is run by a political appointee.   Come with me to visit Mexico if you want to see this in action……

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Where is the Science?

A He is now a She – or on a more personal level, Bruce is now a Caitlyn. Everyone in the media is telling me this great news that she is a ‘transitioned’ person and that this is important to all of us.  I find it interesting that there seems to be no science in the ‘transition’.  Is He really a She now?   Or is He just look like a She?  Are these the same ones that remind me that there is no science behind my belief in a creator that is implied in the intelligent design of humans, space and animals?  So belief is accepted in the people who now claim to have changed genders but not in spiritual matters?  I think I understand……

I listened to the NPR interview on the creating of the Vogue article that most of the media is using as a lead in to this story –  was especially telling when the Editor explained why they chose the writer they did:

“Buzz has a fascination with clothing — I didn’t realize, actually, that Buzz has had experiences with cross-dressing himself. That came as news to me and I only read it when I read the manuscript he turned in. But Buzz is very much an old-school type of journalist, and I wanted somebody who would be willing to spend a lot of time, and who would understand this. And he’s a wonderful writer on top of that — and a very empathetic writer.”

So a writer was chosen who is a supporter of transgenderism and who can be completely objective…..yes.

My question will be when He or She checks into a hospital with a health issue, what will the science-based Doctors consider Her to be? This is what She really is, no matter how beautiful the clothes and photo-shopped pictures.  But we are not talking about science here, are we?

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The Latest Punishment for Large Companies – Government Fines

Two headlines today of Con-Agra and five global banks being fined over $5b.   In these cases and others, a pattern develops;  the company is found guilty of gross negligence but no specific person is ever charged.   The company pays a hefty fine (which of course is paid by consumers – a hidden tax) and the revenue goes to the federal treasury.  None of the money is ever paid directly to those that were affected by the ‘crimes’ to compensate them.   This smells of a bribe/payoff to make the charges go away.  Of course, the unintended consequence is that the executives will do it again just like my five year old did when there was no personal accountability.

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No Parking for the Disabled

wheelchair  Arizona Republic ran an article about the new disability signs; icon now shows a more ‘active’ wheelchair symbol.  Interesting statistics in this article caught my attention;  there is now 600,000 vehicles with disability status in the state – out of 4.2 million registered vehicles.   This is a staggering 14.2% of the vehicles – up from 11% in 2002.   I realize our state is a huge draw to older snowbirds but many of these keep their midwestern plates/disability status.  Doesn’t make sense but regardless –  the real question to ask is where are all these people parking?   In regular spots, because very few parking lots have 14% of their spots reserved for people with disabilities (with the possible exception of the Sun City Recreation Center).  I notice this while taking my father-in-law (Parkinson’s) to various locations in town – there is no spots available!   I must park illegally in front of the door, drop him off to wait alone while I go find a non-disability spot. So the government keeps handing out a permit that does not mean what it says – there is no room in the city for the disabled!

Just reviewed ADA standards – requirement for number of disabled parking spaces varies on lot size but runs from 5% on small lots to 2% on larger ones – definitely no where near 14%.

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A Surplus is Good, Right?

Headlines Today:

US Posts Biggest Monthly Budget Surplus in Seven Years, Wall Street Journal

US Records Biggest Budget Surplus in 7 Years, ABC News

Record Revenue Boosts U.S. April Budget Surplus to 7-Year High, Bloomberg

$157 Billion Budget Surplus in April, Treasury Reports, New York Times

US budget projected to post sizable surplus in April, lowering deficit Fox Business

So, reading the headlines, this looks like great news. right?  Well, partly……   The US did take in $157B more than we spent last month so on a monthly basis we took in more than we spent – this was April so we usually have a surplus since all of us must pay our taxes (except some IRS workers).  But, most people confuse a surplus with a deficit – assuming that we do not have a deficit anymore and could spend more money on our favorite projects.  The actual deficit for the year is still $460B, meaning we are spending more than we take in on an annual basis.   Fox Business seems to have gotten the facts right in it’s headline.  In any case, it is partly good news if it continues and lots of those rich people must be paying more in taxes…..

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US Police Force is 27% Minority Staffed

black policeLatest stats form the DOJ showed that minorities represent 27.3% of the total 477,000 officers in the country.  Blacks represent 12.2% of police officers while they represent 13.2% of the population – dispelling common belief that the US police departments are mostly white men and blacks are under represented.  Adding 4,770 black men to the officer rank would have them represented at the same share as the population – this would add less than .5 black officers to each police department (12,000) in the US. The real story in the graph is the lack of increase in Black officer recruitment.  While other minorities are increasing recruitment, blacks have remained flat since the mid 1990’s.   Researchers give various reasons; written tests that may be culturally biased, failure to pass extensive background checks, physical checks and the overall opinion that blacks have of police.

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Presidents Contempt is Bipartisan

Yesterday, the Senate failed to pass legislation to allow President Obama to have ‘Fast Track’ Trade Authorization in negotiating new deals with other countries.   This was heavily supported by Republicans but his own Democrats did not support him.  While his contempt has usually been reserved for the ornery Republicans, this time he displayed open distaste for his own party – in defending his trade deal, he said that Senator Warren was absolutely wrong and just a politician.   While many on the right has seen this president as one who has no skills in developing any kind of consensus, maybe a few on the left are now seeing the same behavior.

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Your Pocket Knife May Be Illegal

belt buckle knifeKnife laws are emblematic with the loss of freedoms we have in this country.  Laws are complex and change sometimes within miles of starting on your journey.   These laws are so complex that many citizens are actually committing crimes in carrying a simple pocket knife which they would consider simply a tool.

I was reviewing the aftermath of the Baltimore arrest of Freddie Gray for carrying an illegal concealed knife.  The fact whether it was an illegal knife or not seems to be in doubt but the States Attorney has said it was a legal knife.  The local police argued with that view and said it may have been legal in the state (Maryland) but was illegal in Baltimore city (the filing paperwork by the police describes the knife as a ‘spring assisted, one hand operated knife’).  BTW, the knife clip was showing on Freddie’s pocket – does this mean concealed – I think so?

Knife laws are very confusing and inconsistent in most places, and have not kept up with advances in gun rights – I use a ‘Knife App’ LegalBlade on my iPhone (available on Android) to determine the various laws.

I looked at my state, Arizona first to see if my 3” long locked blade folding knife (CRKT-M16-01KZ) is legal.   Arizona is a bit easier since there is only a state law that pre-empts any local laws.  Looks like I can possess and carry (open or concealed) any kind/length of knife as long as I am 21 years old.  The exceptions are two that I was not aware of – I cannot carry any knife on the grounds of a public/private school or in an election polling place – I have violated this law many times without knowing.  Also, my knife has a clip that I attach to my pocket – the clip is not concealed so is that defined as open-carry?  Still have not clarified that but in any case not needed in Arizona.  Also have not clarified my responsibilities after being detained by the police while carrying my knife.  To further muddy the Arizona waters, you can often transverse multiple Indian Tribes on public roads without even realizing it – not sure what the specific Indian tribes laws are either?

I then looked up Maryland to view state law – State law does not pre-empt city laws – two cities and multiple counties have specific laws in addition to state ones.  Some counties have age limits – some do not allow a minor carrying one hour after sunset or one hour before sunrise.  No carry is permitted in schools and you cannot SELL a switchblade knife.  It is unclear whether concealed carry of an assisted opening knife meets Maryland’s definition of a ‘switchblade’.   All concealed carry of anything but a no-assist folding knife is illegal with the possible exception of proceeding sentence – are we clear now?

In Baltimore it is illegal to possess or open carry or concealed carry of a switchblade knife. Also, lots of confusion over gravity, assist and switchblade knives.

Texans have a aversion to throwing knives, you can own them but not carry them……for some reason…..

Is your pocket knife legal?

Do you know what all of the types of knives are:  Folding (no assist), Folder (Assist), Single edge fixed blade, double edge, Dagger, Dirk Stilettos, Bowie, Automatic Switchblade, Butterfly, gravity, ballistic, Belt Buckle (see pic above), Sword Cane……..whew….