Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Ignorant morons and thinking.

I can take any side of an issue.  If I can't, I really don't believe I have a right to an opinion.  Most people don't, because most people don't think.

Thinking is a developed skill.  Puzzles, especially story problems, can help.  Most people avoid story problems and they do cross word puzzles or word searches, or whatever.  Yeah, those can be useful in developing specific skills in language relating, but, they don't help thinking.

So, thinking...what is the most important part of thinking?  The truth is, the most important part of thinking is knowing what one does and does not know.

Suppose I write a blog or a discussion board post discussing a psychiatric paper from the early 1900s on homosexuality.  I do that a lot, take a position in a discussion and occasionally people help me learn stuff.  More often, some moron without any thinking skills just becomes angry and goes off on a rant, or sometimes I piss of a moronic fascist hacker who has taken it upon himself to become a "New Age Inquisitor".

The world is filled with morons, and guess, what?  You can't avoid them so don't even try.

There is an old saying, "steel sharpens steel", and occasionally I find someone with a brain who can discuss an issue and then I might learn something.

Over the years, I have watched as the Internet has become less and less a place to exchange ideas and more and more of a place where ideology is monitored by fascists of one kind or another.   Discussion is one of the great learning tools and people don't use it, instead, people make assumptions about what they know, anything that conflicts with what they "know" is "wrong" and anyone who disagrees with what they "know" is a horrible person.

Then there are people with concepts of "respect", or "honesty" in discussion and if someone violates these rules, usually, once again by disagreeing with the "moderator", the ability to learn is compromised.

I believe this is because people go to schools and listen to idiots lecture and those idiots chastise whoever disagrees with them, so people never learn how to use discussion as a learning tool.  All people know how to do is regurgitate what they have consumed from lecturers.  This is true of reading as well.

See, the lecture or the reading is a story problem.  Generally a single perspective in a world of perspectives.  The listener or reader needs to place the information in context with other perspectives to develop an opinion or understanding.

Instead, people don't care about understanding, they just champion whatever opinion someone told them to have, then they think anyone with a different opinion is "wrong".

The thing is, people are more than a single opinion or even a group of opinions.  people are hopes and dreams and opinions and fears and thoughts.

So, our "learning" process destroys the ability to learn to think.  We can't discuss or become better at what we do.  Instead, we are building an idiocracy, and have been for hundreds of years.

Honda 1979 CX500 Headlight, Sealed Beam to H4 LED conversion

My daughter moved a ways away so I blew money I had put away for tuition on a motorcycle so I could drive out there more often this summer.  The bike is a Honda 1979 CX500 and it runs okay.  There is a harmonic shimmy occasionally, so I probably should replace the swing arm bearings.  The bike has a shaft drive and I haven't done that on a bike with a shaft drive, so, haven't done that yet.  It rides okay.

Somehow, in 36 years no one managed to do a sealed beam to H4 headlamp conversion and the low beam was burnt.  This is a real simple, fairly cheap thing.

First, I needed the conversion light.  I bought a IPCW CWC-7006 7" Plain Round Conversion Headlight from Amazon.  Under $15 bucks.  Search around, you might find one cheaper.

Second, I needed an H4 bulb.  That I ordered from eBay, 22watt, from China, about $6.   22W White H4/5730 CREE LED Fog Light Bulb 1000LM High Low Beam Headlight

Again, look around because I wasn't exactly trying to do this super cheap.  I was just trying to avoid the scam artists selling "conversion kits" on eBay for $60 bucks.  Maybe I should put together a few "conversion kits", add some instructions and sell them.  Nah, I am not interested in ripping people off.

There is a difference between the conversion headlight and the sealed beam, there are stand-offs and the stand-offs on the conversion are higher than on the sealed beam.  I thought about hack sawing them off, but, didn't need to, so I didn't.

There are eight screws to deal with, all phillips head.  You will need both a #1 and a #2.  I used a screw driver with switchable heads.  Remove the three screws holding on the headlight assembly.

Pull the connector from the back of the sealed beam.  This connector works fine for the H4 bulb, just don't get a high wattage bulb.  If you do, you could burn the connector and the alternator.  You could try wiring in a ceramic socket, but, I wouldn't bother.  The alternator specs won't handle the load.  I suggest LED.

The sealed beam is in a retaining ring inside an adjustment ring.  Remove the two pivoting screws, don't lose the stamped steel "nuts".  Loosen the headlight adjuster screw on the outside of the retaining ring.  You need a #1 phillips here.  Don't lose the spring or the little square nut.

I like using a paper bowl or a small can or something to put my bits and pieces in.  Lay them carefully in the grass, whatever.

There are two screws holding the sealed beam into the retaining ring.  #1 phillips.

Now, if the locater tabs are too big, cut off with a hack saw.  These help position the headlight in the correct orientation, so leave some stubs and file them all down so they are the same height.  I wouldn't do this unless you have to, I suggest avoiding cutting stuff up.

Swap the sealed beam for the conversion light. Rotate the conversion light around so the locater tabs fit in the correct places in the mounting ring.  Slip the retaining ring on and replace the two screws.

Put the light assembly in the adjuster, put in the pivot screws first.  The top pivot screw mount is also a tab for the head light mounting screw.  Make sure the pivot screw goes in the "middle" hole.  Those stamped steel nuts are a pain, but, play with them and they work.  You could try replacing them with real hex nuts, but, I wouldn't.

Push the assembly down against the adjuster spring, spin the nut down a ways and eyeball how even the adjustment looks.  You can use a screw driver to fine tune it.

Put the H4 bulb into the light.  There are some wires that snap loose, you might need a screw driver to push them down, then in, towards the opening.  Remove the shipping cap.  Put the bulb in, use a screw driver if you have to.  Just be careful.  Attach the socket.

Test the light, everything working?  Proceed.  Not, sit down and cry for a while, then dust yourself out and figure out what is wrong.

This is the hard part.  I think the conversion light is slightly deeper than the original so, create a "nest" in the wires for the light plug, and shove the thing together.

Put the two lower screws in first.  It might take some real force to push this together, if it takes too much, work on the next some more.  Once the lower screws are both in about half way, put in the top screw.  Now tighten everything up, tight.

Test the light a second time, everything should work peachy keen.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bad management and restructuring

I want to do a quick blurb about bad management and corporate restructuring.

Bad managers cut costs by laying off people, closing remote operations, etc, without examining the real basis for the underlying profitability issues.

Typically there are three or four costs, employee specific costs, remote operation costs, corporate overhead costs and materials costs.  The key is to look at these costs individually and accumulated.  A lot of lazy accountants are too stupid to understand statistics so they work off of median and mean, which are easily generated  numbers.  The good bean counters work off of modalities, which tell us a lot more about what is going on.

For example, what is the individual performance modality?  This is where we take all the workers and create a histogram of their gross income generation.  In production, this is pretty much equal.  But, in other businesses, this can be radically different.  This modality curve defines my minimum expectation for worker income generation.  The curve should be skewed to the high side, meaning that the modality will be below the average gross income generation.  This is because high performers skew the curve.

What is the cost per income generating employee of the remote office?  Again, I would do a histogram of all the remote offices and look at the modality, not the mean or the median.

Corporate cost per employee should be the lowest of these three numbers, if it isn't, corporate costs need to be reduced.

This is actually basic processing statistics, the modality becomes critical and the mean/median are only important in their relationship to the modality of the process.

Looking at the modality curve, the analyst has to compare the width of the modality curve to 2 sigma.  Using the lower of 2 sigma or the width of the curve, it is fairly easy to set up lower and upper boundaries for process control, everyone producing below the lower boundary is let go, every remote office which costs more than the upper boundary of their modality curve is restructured to reduce costs. 

The total of the employee, remote operation and corporate overhead costs must be lower than the low boundary of the individual employee income generating modality.  This way, income generation is protected, costs are cut and profits increased.

Once individual performance standards are determined using modalities, everything else becomes obvious.  Then management can look at high performers and figure out what they are doing, then train others so that the modality begins shifting closer to the mean.  Done right, continuous improvement strategies result in process optimization.

This is all basic, Business 101, Processing 101, stuff.  The problem is, people are usually too arrogant to pay attention to the basics and figure they can do things better than the last thousand people who did it.

So, when you hear about a corporation that is restructuring, are they protecting gross income generation?  Are they protecting the corporate overhead (their salaries and perks, executive dinning room)?

Look at the financial services corporations that the United States bailed out and then handed over the future of health care to with "Obamacare".  Most of these guys didn't change their overhead, they depended on charity to protect their overhead.

Income in the States is multi-modal, there is a "line" with multiple "bumps" in it.  Each "bump" is a curve modality.

So what did those political decisions do?  Well, they reduced the amount of the three lower income modalities in the United States, which decreases the amount of money consumers have to spend in a consumer drive economy.

In other words, by implementing Obamacare and other corporate protections, the Obama Admin is protecting the high income modalities and damaging the lower income modalities.

Constitutional Equality

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and the rest of these morons are really missing the point of our constitution and the intention of the founding of the United States.

Our Declaration of Independence stated it very well when Thomas Jefferson, and others, wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Like most people who have ideals, this nation has constantly failed to live up to these ideals.  The nation was born into genocide and slavery, fought an unconstitutional war to eliminate slavery, has dealt with segregation, discrimination, prejudice, intolerance, hatred, all institutions based on the ideals of superiority instead of our original stated intent of equality.

Over the centuries this nation has constantly moved towards the ideal of equality our Founding Fathers envisioned.  That is how it should be.

Yes, the circular logic applying the Separation of Church and State is flawed.  There is no foundation for a majority intent for such a Wall when States had State sponsored religions.  We accept this Unconstitutional Wall because the majority believe in equality.

Yes, Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant who suspended the Constitutional and fought an Unconstitutional War to end legalized slavery in the United States.  We support and supported that decision because the majority believe in equality.

In 1964 over half the Democrats and 3 Republicans voted against the Civil Rights Act, but, that act passed and Lyndon Johnson signed it (under duress) because the majority believe in equality.

Yes, we have also elected horrible presidents, like Andrew Jackson, who acted out their genocidal fantasies causing the deaths of thousands, if not millions.  Yes, we have enacted horrible discriminatory laws which destroyed thousands, if not millions.  Yes, the United States is directly responsible for at least two genocides that have killed millions of ethnic peoples.

Time and time again, the majority has eventually rejected these behaviors and the majority has supported actions which have supported the legal equality of all peoples.

It is true we do not always live up to our ideals and this is evident in the political popularity of closed minded bigots and the glorification of genocidal president Andrew Jackson on the $20.

I have faith in the people of the United States because, while we have a history of genocide and discrimination, we have a long history of the majority supporting the belief that all people are created equal.

I believe God wants equality.  I believe God wants us to treat others as we treat ourselves, to love others as we love ourselves and as long as the majority of the people of this nation continue to move to support the ideal of equality, I believe God will protect us.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Gay Marriage and Religious Freedoms

The ruling on Gay marriage is going to get interesting, especially in light of the opinion presented by the Texas State Attorney General regarding the right of government employees to refuse marriage licenses on religious grounds.

This opens a can of worms, for example, prostitution was used as a form of religious worship for many thousands of years, and there are religions in the United States which engage in Temple Prostitution, can Police Officers, and other officials, refuse to enforce laws against prostitution?

In addition, as I have mentioned before, the legal incorporation of the "freedom of religion" clause in the First Amendment to the states is actually unconstitutional, based on circular logic and is justified by the personal writings of someone who was not involved in the writing of the Federal Constitution, but, who was involved in the Virginia State Constitution and whose personal correspondence reflected that.  All the rulings incorporating the very specific , "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion..." to the various states will eventually be over turned.

In case anyone didn't actually ever learn to think for themselves, the Reynolds ruling applying the prohibition of establishing religion to the various is states is circular logic.  SCOTUS used a law that prevented them from making a law (Congress shall make no law...) to make a law (ie, you can't make a law) that they were specifically forbidden from making.  Pretty stupid actually.

So, states can have state sponsored religions, just as they had at the time the Constitution was ratified.  Jefferson's wall has no real foundation and will crumble eventually.  That could mean a state in the U.S. with Sharia Law....

However, Jefferson also points out something else interesting in the Danbury Baptist letter, the difference between social responsibility and religious responsibility.  " I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

For example, can civil servants refuse to work on Sunday?  Can someone have a natural, religious, right that opposes their social duties?  Can a fireman, police officer, correction officer, etc, refuse to work on Sunday?

The answer is, people are hired with the understanding that they can perform the job for which they are employed.  If someone's natural, religious duties prevent them from performing the position in which they are employed then they should seek employment in a position which is compatible with their religious beliefs.

If someone cannot work on Sunday, they shouldn't take a job where they have to work on Sunday.  Replace Sunday with Sabbath if you like.

I believe SCOTUS will have to, eventually, rule that people who accept civil service positions where they are required to perform duties which may conflict with some religious beliefs are free to either accept the position or reject the position, however, they cannot accept a position knowing that they will be required to violate some of their religious beliefs and then refuse to perform duties, which are required by their position, based on their religious beliefs.

It will be interesting, and fun, to see how all this plays out in the courts.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Yesterday I was riding my motorcycle and I pulled up behind a van with a sticker on the back.  Guy Fawkes face with the words "revolution" under it.  I started laughing so hard I almost fell of my motorcycle.

Guy Fawkes was the principle in an event in England called the "Gunpowder Revolution", or the "Gunpowder Plot", a failed attempt to kill off the entire government of england with a shit load of gunpowder.

Wait, this gets better.  The government Guy was trying to kill was King James, you know, King James of the famous King James Bible, the first widely produced Bible in any language except Latin.  The "Protestant" king.  The English King and the House of Lords which had presumed to revolt against the excesses of the Catholic Church.

Guy Fawkes was a catholic religious fanatic, a counter revolutionary trying to put the world back the way it was before the Protestants revolted against the Catholic Church.

There was this movie, "V", and the protagonist, a nut case who tortured a young woman because he wanted to force her into seeing things the same way he did (which makes so much sense!), wore a Guy Fawkes mask.  While I think the move was ridiculously stupid, the subtle irony of a terrorist wearing a Guy Fawkes mask working against a conservative Christian government did not escape me.

It has, however, apparently escaped the vast majority of people including Anonymous, who hide behind the mask of this counter revolutionary, and others who see "V" as a revolutionary film.

The movie "V" really isn't a movie about revolution, it is actually a pretty sick commentary on the ignorance of people and their willingness to destroy each other based on ignorant ideologies.

One of the major ironies of the film is that both V and the Conservative Christian Government believed torture was an appropriate means to an end, so regardless of which fascist was in charge, people were tortured.

The writers and directors put so much subtlety in this film, most people apparently missed it.

But, this momentum of ignorance generated by the film is amazing.  Will anything good come of it?

No.  In fact, seeing Guy Fawkes face above the words "Revolution" reminds me of nothing so much as "Idiocracy".

I like movies, and I know they are fantasy.  The influence that movies, television, music, and video games have on the thought processes of people can not be overstated.  I'm no psychologist, and even if some did have a reasonable theory about this issue I probably wouldn't buy it.

People adopt ridiculous and hypocritical ideologies presented in film because they are ignorant and have no capacity to think and reason.  This is nothing new, people have had a lack of an ability to think for thousands of years.  Some of us think slightly more than others, but, all of us show an amazing capacity for ignorance.

If we are going to have a revolution, it should be a revolution of knowledge and the ability to think critically.

Fat chance of that happening while we still have counter revolutionary Guy Fawkes around trying to blast us back into the "Dark Ages".  He just might get us there yet.

Amazing ignorance in the news today

I'm a kind of a news junkie, I like reading the news.  I generally find it pretty funny, the things people do that make almost no sense to me.

The uncle of the wacko accused of shooting up the church wants to be the one to execute his nephew.  With such a "loving" family I have no doubt why the nut case hated the world.  I suppose I could be wrong, there is evidence that fetal biology causes predispositions for violent and erratic behavior, those are predispositions though.....

In an incredible example of the application of one of the most sacred legal principles in the United States, presumption of innocence, the Governor of South Carolina is insisting on the death penalty for the wacko accused of shooting up the church.  Isn't it wonderful to live in a nation where we say one thing and do another?  Hypocrisy in action!  So glad to live in a nation where the concept of being innocent before being proved guilty in a court of law is such a highly esteemed legal principle that it is effectively and publicly ignored!  Let's have a quick trial followed by a swift execution!

You know, the United States could drop the hypocritical pretense and just admit we live in a totalitarian police state, even if we have nominally democratic elections.  The rest of the world knows it already, why we live in pretense I will never know.

In an effort to decrease the supply and increase the demand for, and profitability of, illegal ivory, U.S. Customs is crushing illegal ivory in the belief that they will, somehow, decrease the demand for illegal ivory.  Personally, I don't see that working any more than burning up; drugs has worked.  The economic law of supply and demand tells us that as supply decreases, demand  increases and the price increases.

And people wonder why I am amazed at ignorance.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stupid management mistakes

I was just chatting with a friend who is a little concerned about her job, and she should be.

One of the biggest mistakes management makes is allowing overhead to spiral out of control.  It is really crazy, but, once overhead starts spiraling out of control, bad management will usually cut expenses primarily in profit generating areas and maintain unprofitable support structures.

Look at Sears, Chrysler and American Motors.  All were doing fine, until they bought huge mega-headquarters and screwed themselves by increasing overhead to the point where they couldn't generate enough profits to cover the overhead.

At a company I used to work with, we had three divisions, mine, Ricks and Dena's.  Ricks wasn't making a profit, but, management believed they would eventually (bird in the bush) so even though Dena's and my divisions were creating cash flow, they cut resources for us and gave them to the people who were not generating cash flow in excess of their costs.

This sounds stupid, but, bad management will often try to restructure profitable areas while maintaining unprofitable areas of the company.

Always cut the non-cash flow generating portions of a company to the bone.  Don't mess with the parts of the company that are generating cash flow.

This is a big deal.  Anything that is not generating cash flow becomes a burden.  Book keepers, accountants, janitors, secretaries, empty office space, executives.

The next one is harder, what contributes to cash flow?  The controller of the company I used to work for had us going to the office manager to get pens and legal pads towards the end.  My cost to the company was like $2 a minute, it literally doubled the cost of a pen and paper for me to go through the office manager.  Did that process of doubling the cost of pen and paper save money?  No idea really, but, I doubt it, unless there are thieves stealing them and taking it home for their kids.  As much as I used my computer, cell phone, white board, etc, I still use paper and pen occasionally because it helps me think to draw out a flow diagram.  I'm kinesthetic so holding stuff helps.

Look around the company, and they messing with cash flow generating employees?  Sales, production, shipping, programmers, etc and leaving the office alone for the most part, the accounts, secretaries, executives, office space, etc?  Are there divisions that are not generating enough cash flow to pay for themselves?

This is tricky, can a division pay for itself, but, not the corporate overhead?  For example, suppose there is a plant that is generating enough to cover it's own costs, but, only covers 25% of its share of the corporate overhead.  Bad management will shut it down or restructure it to try and pay for the bloated overhead.

If they shut it down, percentage of overhead that the rest of the company pays for increases.

Say there are four plants, one corporate head quarters.  Each plant generates 2 million in revenue.  Corporate costs 2 million to run.  3 plants cost 1.5 million to run.  1 plant costs 1.75 million to run.  The corporation is losing 250K per year.

Close the plant that costs 1.75 million, their costs are too high, Chinese competition is killing us!  Now the corporation is losing 500K per year.

Ok, so lets restructure the plant to reduce costs.  Now the plant only costs 1.5 million to run and it only generates 1.8 million in revenue.  Now the corporation is losing 200K per year.

I have a better idea, cut that $250K from head quarters first.  Then restructure the plant.

Here is the key, and it is pretty easy.  Look for the variability.  If the cash flow is variable, that is the problem.  If the time it takes to generate cash flow is variable, that is a problem.

The problem is always overhead and failure to manage that overhead.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The lack of logic and critical thinking skills

The older I get, the more amazed I am at what seems to be a centuries old lack of critical thinking and logic skills.  I am, as always, most amazed when I don't think things through.  The second most amazing thing is when groups of people, communities, nations, etc, engage in acts which denote a complete lack of critical thinking.

Take Anonymous and their adoption of the Guy Fawkes mask.  The most cursory research would have informed them that they were adopting the image of a fascist religious fanatic who wanted to destroy the fledgling and progressive Protestant Church, encouraging a return to the oppressions, the inquisitions, of the Catholic Church.  Yet, this group, supposedly working against oppression who, in fact, simply engaged in the fascist oppression of those whose opinions disagreed with their own, just as the Catholic Church which Guy Fawkes loved had done for millennium.

How about the "intellectual" disdain for religion?  The most cursory examination of the last thousands of years  during which billions have experienced spiritual incidents involving a higher power would indicate that, while wildly different, the common threads of spiritual existence and a higher spiritual power would cause even the lest intelligent to at least consider the possibility of spiritual existence.  Instead, "intellectuals" often totally reject the possibility of a spiritual existence, choosing to believe in their own understanding and the delusional nature of the majority.

Or believers in the "Wall of Separation".  Here we have a wonderful piece of circular logic in which the Supreme Court used a law, "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion", which forbids the creation of a law, to make a law, "you can't establish a religion" which they are forbidden to make.  As if that isn't bad enough, the jurists who developed this wonderful piece of ignorance used the personal writings of a man who was not involved in the writing of the Federal Constitution to determine the "intentions" of Founding Fathers who typically resided in States which had state sponsored religions before, during and after Constitutional ratification and whose intentions could not possibly have been to prevent the various states from legalizing state sponsored religions.

Then we have the dogma associated with Einstein's theories of relativity which tell us that velocity is relative to the perspective of the observer and proves, mathematically, that mass cannot achieve the speed of light, even though from the perspective of a photon, traveling at the speed of light from the Sun to the Earth, the photon is standing still and both the Earth and Sun are moving at the speed of light.

How do large groups of supposedly intelligent and educated people engage in such follies of ignorance?

I get that we all make mistakes.  I know that I screw up all the time.  Sometimes people gain enjoyment from humiliating me when I make a mistake, sometimes people correct me politely and many times I correct myself.

But, how do thousands, millions, even billions, of people totally ignore logic and critical thinking to adopt positions based on circular logic, or a lack of research, or arrogance, and adopt ridiculous ideologies?

I get the individual mistake, but, examining the "Wall of Separation", how do millions of educated and intelligent people over hundreds of years dogmatically accept this historically unsupportable circular logic?

And, why, when confronted with the truth, do people usually reject the truth in favor of ridiculously illogical dogma?

I can only believe that people do not know how to think and that it is the rare individual alone who is actually capable of thinking.

Instead, like Aristotle's geocentric theory, people depend on the charisma of an individual to "teach" them the truth.  When Aristarchus challenges that truth, presents the facts of heliocentricism and is shouted down as an idiot, the charismatic dogma continues on for thousands of years.  Not based on logic or intelligence or critical thinking, but, based purely on charisma and people seeking to be like the one who is charismatic enough that their opinion trumps fact.

Aristotle was not a great thinker.  Aristotle, like Hitler, was a great and charismatic orator.  Even today people "worship" the opinion of the charismatic speaker while they ignore the facts presented by the thinker.

People choose not to think.  People choose ignorance.  People choose to follow or lead, oppressed or be oppressed, rather than work together as equals.

And that is sad.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

How life changes us.....

It is kind of funny how life changes us without our ever knowing.  This term in a class, they made a big deal about Paleo-Americans finding their away around places they had never been.  I didn't think of it as an issue at all, and it reminded me......

My last few months in the Army I was stuck in a Cavalry Platoon with this Second Lieutenant named Givens.  At the time, I didn't think much of him.

One night we were out on a training patrol in some chunk of desert I had never been in and I was, as usual at the time, drunk off my ass.  Lt. Givens and the sergeants were leading us in the wrong direction, so I figured I would split.  Someone noticed and the stupid platoon sergeant was actually calling my name.  We were in opposing force territory and the last thing I wanted was to spend the night being interrogated as a POW, so I popped up behind the guy and he proceeded to chew my butt for "getting lost".

I, very carefully and with the greatest respect (not), explained that they were lost and I wasn't going to wander around some frickin desert all night.  This prompted the platoon sergeant to gently explain that he didn't believe I had a clue where I was so I pointed out three incredibly obvious landmarks that had escaped their highly trained notice.  (the light glow over installations).

Now, for some reason They let me lead the platoon to our objective.  Maybe because they figured that they could stop me if I led them in the wrong direction, maybe they figured I would prove I had no clue where I was at and I would make a fool out of myself, for whatever reason they got out of my way and let me loose.  Good decision.

Lt Givens received a letter of commendation for allowing a drunk 19 year old without a map or compass lead his platoon through an unknown hunk of desert patrolled by an opposing force to an objective in record time.

Instead of thinking of Givens as a dumbass who couldn't read a map or compass, I now think of him as a rather astute manager who was smart enough to delegate, even though what passes for common sense would never have conceived of allowing me, drunk, without a map or compass, to lead a platoon to its objective in the middle of the night.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe he just expected me to crash and burn after making him and the sergeants look like fools for pointing out how I knew exactly where I was, but, one of the choices I have made over the years is to try and assume the best about people.

So, while the circumstances haven't changed from that night back early 1980, my understanding of what kind of managerial ability it takes to place confidence in a drunk, 19 year old discipline problem with a chip on his shoulder the size of Everest has changed dramatically.  Lt. Givens now impresses me in a way few people have.

Ain't that a kick?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cost of foods, stupid government and EBT

I have been doing a lot of reading about Food Security and Food Resource Management and the USDA Food plans.

For the most part, everything I have found is pretty useless. For example, the "Thrifty Food Plan" from the 2007USDA Food Plans report tells us that a male between 50 and 71 years old needs 38.88 pounds of food per week.

Alrighty then!

When I was a poverty level single father with three kids I had to do food management.  The first step was to find a suitable number of recipes for about a two week period that; I could cook, could be ready about a half hour after getting home from work, that my kids liked and that I could make changes to so that things would not get too monotonous.

Meal planning was important, I focused on nutrition and prices.  How many calories, how much fat, protein and carbohydrates per meal.  How much did the meal cost?  Usually protein was low, fats and carbs high.  

Once I had two weeks of meal planning done, 14 breakfast, lunches and dinners, I made shopping lists.

Once I knew what I was going to purchase, I collected coupons and reviewed sales papers for grocery stores in my area.   I reviewed what foods I already had in stock. This allowed me to make up store specific shopping lists so I could minimize my costs.  This part took a few hours every week, but, was worth it because it paid me more than I made at an hourly wage.

Next, transportation to stores.  Usually I had a car, if not, I had to call friends to take me shopping or I had to walk with my kids.  I worked very hard at keeping a car running, insured and licensed.

I used to write a date on everything I purchased.  I used a black magic marker and wrote the month and year.  Generally, anything over a year old I threw out.  Not always though, it depended on what it was.  Cans I kept longer, up to several years.  Boxes less time.  I bought bulk beans and rice and then stored it in metal "popcorn" cans.  I made a lot of my own spaghetti sauce from either canned tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes, depending on what was cheaper and what I had a taste for.

I cooked a lot of stir fries, stir fried kielbasa with celery, carrots, and any other vegetables I had.   Stir fried chicken, stir fried pork, whatever was on sale.  I used a lot of different sauces, terriyaki, curry, salad dressings, marinades, anything I could buy on sale and some turned out better than others.

The problem I see with modern food resource management is that these things are not taught in a holistic, all encompassing, sense.

If the USDA would like to really help, create a bunch of real meal plans that fit within their "Thrifty Food Plans".

Build an entire month, thirty days, of meal plans, recipes, shopping lists, that working parents can use.  Cost out the shopping lists.  Figure out a criteria the way I did.

Meals have to be balanced (use Food Plate recommendations).  Meals have to be cooked within 30-45 minutes of a cold start or slow cooked with the same total prep time.  Total shopping list costs have to fit within the budget of local food stamp amounts.  No fresh food can be kept in house for more than a week, and less is better since a lot of "fresh food" does not last that long.  Shopping has to be done primarily on weekends.

Amounts purchased and used in recipes and meal planning have to coincide with amounts available.  People can't purchase 6 hot dog buns, so no shopping lists with "6 hot dog buns". 

Yeah, such a project is fricking overwhelming.  If the fricking government can't do this, why would anyone assume that anyone else can?

How are the recipes managed?  Essentially on a per calorie cost.  Suppose lettuce is a component in a meal for four people which should total about 2400 calories total, or about 600 calories per person.  The average amount of per person food stamps per month is $143 bucks.  People need about 60k calories per month, (2,000 per day).  That translates into around $0.0024 per calorie.  For a meal of 2400 calories, about $5.76 total can be spent on the meal.

Bet your mouth just dropped open.  Welcome to the reality of Federal Government food budgets and why such plans do not exist in reality.

Because our Federal Government is living in LaLa Land, and the suggestions for healthy food can't be met with the current budgets, people are going to eat cheaper calories like Little Debbie snack cakes, which run about $0.0013 per calorie and sugary drinks which can be even cheaper per calorie.

Until the government can provide realistic menu plans and shopping lists which can be used with their budget process there isn't any reality in any plans to restrict EBT food purchases

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fascism, censorship and intolerance

This last term at school I dealt with some seriously fascist teachers.  Fascists never self-identify as fascists, they self-identify as "guardians of right" and they bully, censor, intimidate, extort and even kill people whose opinions, ideologies, comments, expressions, disagree with "what is right".

Throughout history Fascists have always failed, because they never know when to stop.  Some fascist hacker takes offense at some celebrity mouthing off about another celebrity and the hacker extorts behavior the hacker believes is "right".  Doesn't care about civil rights, freedom of speech, freedom of anything.  After all whatever the fascist believes is "right" and anything contradicting or disagreeing with the fascist is Hate Speak!

"You have a borderline offensive opinion!"

I have no clue what that means.  Fascists can't define what is right, they can only define what is wrong.  For example, a fascist might say, "you have to treat people with respect", while they are invading people's privacy and extorting behaviors from them, but, only from the "bad people".  What the fascist really means is, "You have to treat the people I respect with respect".

The truth is, people who run around invading the privacy of other individuals have no respect for other individuals.

There is a lot of chatter these days about invading peoples privacy.  We aren't talking about institutional privacy, like the secrets governments keep from their citizens.  We are talking about personal privacy.  We are not talking about working to effect cultural change, we are talking about deliberately damaging people.

Not only people.  Suppose Anonymous had been around during the 1950s and found the radical ideas of revolutionaries like Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X offensive?  People claim, "of course that wouldn't happen, anonymous supports revolutionaries".  No, they don't.  They support those with whom they agree and they damage those with whom they disagree.

We are not talking about rocket scientists here.  They adopted the image of a religious fanatic who was attempting to destroy religious revolutionaries.  Probably because the image was used in a popular cult film about a guy who tortures a woman so she can learn from the same perspective he had when he learned.

I mean, really, do you think there is enough torture in the universe for two people of different genders, raised in totally different backgrounds, totally different experiences, totally different world views, to achieve the same perspective?

The thing is, fascism is always blind to its own evil because they always believe they are "right", no matter how many individual civil rights they trample on and no matter how many damaged people they leave behind.

Hitler convinced the German people that they had to fight against their oppressors.  France in particular had treated Germany very severely after WW1.  Hitler convinced the German people to believe in their own "rightness" and to rise up against oppression.

That is fascism.  Doing horrible things in order to damage the people who have wronged the fascist or the allies of the fascist.  Narcissists who feel they are hurt beyond what is "fair" become vindictive fascists.  In the mind of the fascist there is no "damage", they are just making things equal, fair.  Of course, the concept of "fair" is based on their own ideology.

It isn't fair for people with different ideas to express them.  Different ideas must be stamped out!  The world must be turned into some kind of robots, always behaving in the way that the fascist believes is "right".

And the chatter is not becoming more tolerant or more focused on the abuses of corporations.  The rich just pay off the fascists as a cost of doing business and the fascists take their money and focus on taking out their petty vindictiveness on people.

It sucks, but, people haven't changed over thousands of years and nothing is going to change.  There are networks of people today that could help change the world and they are focusing on petty and vindictive stupidity.

Monday, February 02, 2015

String Theory, Statistics, Wormholes and Acceleration

The more fiction I read the more amazed I am at the lack of understanding of authors.

The movie Interstellar was fun, but, the science pretty much sucked.  Why would a wormhole orbit anything?  Why would gravity influence it at all?  How would gravity influence it except to collapse it?

Suppose for a moment that we could figure out a way to create a wormhole within the influence of gravity and we could stabilize it so that it remained in a constant relative position and velocity to a planet.  Big assumption, when was the last time someone saw a photon in orbit?

Suppose for a minute that we figured out how to link the wormhole to another solar system.

Suppose we overcame the variations in velocity between the two solar systems and moving from this solar system, which is moving at a velocity relative to the center of the universe, into a different solar system moving at a different velocity relative to the same center of the universe.  The energy required to accelerate or decelerate to match velocity and orbits would be enormous.

Suppose we overcame the gazillion to one odds and actually found a planet on which life could exist, but, had not developed or had developed in such a way that we decided we had authority over it as Europeans decided they had authority over the Americas.  Assuming we believe we are intelligent enough to identify intelligent life, which I believe many incorrectly assume already.

Even if we can get past all of these hurdles, my question is, should we?