Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stupid Statement of the Day

I've been saving this up all day. As if some of the voter interviews from the Democratic primary weren't enough to make West Virginia look bad enough, along comes West Virginia Racing Association President John Cavacini.

West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Resources is working on a plan that garnish the winnings of casino gamblers who owe child support.

"A person could actually come to the casino, purchase $2,000 worth of chips, cash out $1,000 worth of chips, and it would look like he won $1,000. But the truth is, he lost $1,000. There's no system in place that would compute winning and losing."

What makes this so incredibly stupid is who gives a shit? Take the fucking deadbeat's money and give it to the kids that the deadbeat is not man enough to support. Maybe this will keep skumbag deadbeats out of fucking casinos that they have no damn right to be in the first place! Impound the frigging car they drove to the casino with!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

High Gas Might Be a Good Thing, Maybe Now We Will Do Something About it

I was pretty young at the time, and I don't have a high opinion of much of what Jimmy Carter did as a President, but one of the things that I thought was a good idea was promoting and making research money available to alternative energy projects. He did this not as a feel good, tree hugging environmentalist, but to help insure we were never at the mercy of OPEC ever again. I have always thought of it as a matter of national security.

Ronald Reagan did not think this was a good idea and cut all that funding because the Arabs, at least the ones with oil, were our friends again. I remember my father explaining to me at the time that the free market viability of alternative energy would determine whether or not private industry would develop those technologies.

But one thing put in place at that time also helped make gas cheap: CAFE standards increasing the miles per gallon expected from autos. That ended in 1987, but its effect lasted through the nineties. It worked so well in fact, that Americans then decided it would be a good idea for every family of 3 to buy a 5000 pound SUV with atrocious gas mileage.

When the CAFE standards were attempted to be raised in the nineties, I distinctly remembered the impassioned cries from a certain side of the aisle which said that the ONLY way to increase MPG is to make cars less safe. I'm sure that was the concern and not shilly pimping for certain industries who might be negatively effected by such a move. But I thought it gave short shrift to the engineering capability of Americans.

So now we find ourselves in the same boat. If only our resolve to fix this problem had not dimmed in the intervening time since those gas rationing seventies, those "years [it would take] to have an effect" would be behind us instead of in front of us. Sure we could drill some more for this finite resource, but we are only delaying the inevitable. There is only so much of it and the rest of the world is demanding more of what is left.

The fight with environmentalist was not conceded, it was merely determined that at that time environmental costs outweighed the economic benefits. It was an easier choice to make before $135 barrels of oil were a fact of life. I would be that ANWR oil is as good as gone now.

Price controls would be disastrous because it would, once more, lessen our resolve for energy self reliance. I've seen editorials in the Sun poo-pooing solar energy, and instead promote nuclear energy, without noting that the cost of solar panels has been cut in half in the last quarter century and they have increased in efficiency. I remember, because I never finished the LTTE that I started in response to that staff written editorial.

While I'm not anti-nuclear energy, I don't seem to understand how the Sun's editorialists don't recognize that we might not have nuclear energy if it were not for a massive government subsidy called The Manhattan Project. Perhaps the key is to figure out how to use solar energy to kill people. It would then get all the research money it needs and there would be solar panels on every home within a decade.

I'm of course being slightly sarcastic, but the bottom line is that we, as a nation, made this bed and now we lie in it. Manipulating the price back down might be politically expedient, but we would once again lose our will to shake off our junky-like dependence on other oil producing countries, the majority of whom want to destroy us.(Libya, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, and let us not forget the birthplace of 3/4ths of the 911 hijackers, Saudi Arabia).

Friday, May 02, 2008

(non)Blogging Excuses and a Yet Another Response

Although I haven't been doing any blogging since Febuary, I have been writing some shit. Mostly in other peoples blogs. I"ll probably try to collect some of it up and post it, either for my later amusement or for further ponering.

I still love the Murray Ledger message board. Not really because of the content, but really just a chance to engage other members in the community.

The Paducah Sun has created a few blogs for there writers and I have posted a few comments in them.

They got me fired up to write a letter to one of their editors (as opposed to a Letter To The Editor), and we had a respectful exchange that I would like to get around to documenting.

I try not to miss the steady blogging Grimsaburger, whose thoughtful postings and my own responses to them sometimes would probably preoccupy my lunch time even if I didn't know her.

But todays post is going to be about my response to this exchange on the Murray Ledger Message Board:

If anyone thinks that the war in Iraq is protecting America from "bad guys" they may be from outer space.

the sleeping gringo

He was answered by:
Sleeping Gringo. You do not know what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing to stem the religious zealotry against the 'infidels", the non-Orthodox Muslims. Become informed before you comment.And as always, if you don't like American policies, move somewhere else. God Bless the USA and all Servicemen and Servicewomen who serve in uniform.

Been there, done that

This was my response on that:
While I would agree that 'the sleeping gringo' may be short on any substantive claim, YOU might not know what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing to INFLAME the religious zealotry against the 'infidels". I think we could both could agree that people in other countries don't think exactly like Americans. For being able to speak about what we don't agree on, God Bless the USA and all Servicemen and Servicewomen who serve in uniform.

For the "we got to fight them over there so we don't fight them over here" crowd I have a question. Would the Hamburg Cell, the 19 guys who were implanted here by Bin Laden himself for 9/11, have done anything different if we had invaded Iraq in the summer of 1999? I don't think so. They will attack us at the cost of their own lives and I'm not so sure that where our troops are deployed even enters into that equation.

Personally, I think that America's greatest defense against that is to make sure this country keeps being the most free "land of opportunity" that this world has ever seen. We need to live in an America where the terrorist they send over here to infiltrate us would decide they would rather get a job, make a decent living, and raise their kids up in a safe environment like Murray than fulfill such a mission. Extremists are hardly ever successful where oppression is uncommon and economic opportunity is abundant.

Seven years ago, 19 deluded men were convinced otherwise. 300 million Americans weren't. Those terrorists had already lost before the first tower fell. That is true regardless of where our troops are deployed. I have nothing but respect for those who wear the uniform, and from that respect I feel a sense of duty as a citizen to question the policies which put them in harms way, because they themselves have voluntarily subjugated that right to fulfill a duty to their country. I will never cease to be grateful to those that have done that but that freedom they are sworn to defend is worth absolutely nothing if I am ever unable to "like American policies" or "move somewhere else".

Man, I hope that came out alright.

Be my luck they wouldn't even publish it.


What the hell am I doing this for anyway?

I've recently thought in hind sight it was probably inappropriate to create a tag called S.T.A.R.O.M.B., but I won't dwell on it. I have posted nothing since Febuary because A) Sprintime is the busiest time of my year, B) the last thing I want to do in the busiest time of the year is type on a friggin keyboard when I get home, and C) I of course really don't give a shit if I publish things on my blog.

C) there is kind of actually for my mom and dad. I have had conversations about from both of them about crazy people writing crap on the internet that really nobody else could give a crap about and the motivation for doing so. My prime motive is really to keep like a diary or journal for myself so I can remember things that might have been happening. Or to look back on what I might have been thinking at a particular time.

So to me its just kind of like a diary that I keep when I want to keep. But google has to keep up with it. :-)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Figuring Out My Traditional Tax Deduction

I wanted to know where and how and what I needed to document to take the tax deduction on the money that I'm putting into my Traditional IRA that I just opened. But with my wife getting a raise this year, I know that I'm dangerously close to the cutoff where the deduction is phased out for people participating in an employer sponsored plan(ESP), such as my SIMPLE-IRA. About the last part, apparently none, that is reported directly to the IRA. About the first part, (ironically, because of the phrasing, found on is line 32 on the 1040.

But where was the cut-off? As I interpret IRS Publication 590, what I think it boils down to in my case, a married filing jointly, is this. Take the upper limit they give you, which in my case is $103,000, subtract your Modified AGI and multiply the result by 0.2. For $83,000, it is the full $4000. For $90,000 AGI its $2600, and for $100,000 AGI, it is only $600 dollars a year that can be deducted. You can still put more in up to the limit of $4000 for 2007 (it goes to 5K in 08), it is just not deductible on your taxes. The numbers are different for people who file singly or separately, or who aren't covered by an ESP.

So in going forward, I will need to consider this possibility if our income rises. Since I only have $100 a month going into it currently, I should be good for awhile. But this is not something I had anticipated when I decided to work towards bringing my SIMPLE-IRA contributions down and putting more into a self directed IRA, while still deferring the taxation on that same amount of money. Which is the only reason that I even consider it in addition to the Roth, except with regard to the idea of earning money on Uncle Sam's dollar for a change.

It is an interesting quandary. Compared to some previous periods in my life, it is a actually a good quandary to be in. It is indicative that the good Lord has been good to us, even if the IRS hasn't.

[Update: 5/2/08] I closed the sucker. I got tax deferment with the simple IRA and no-tax with the ROTH. Bases covered.


S.T.A.R.D.O.M.B.*, Part Deux

I have found that the biggest trouble with debating politics with rednecks is how they have that savant-level mastery in the fine art of completely missing the point. In response to yesterday's post on the Murray Ledger board, I got this response:

Since you think Obama is qualified because he has 4 years in the US Senate and 8 in the IL senate, I wasn't sure what he was in in the IL government. I guess because I never heard his name till he run for the US Senate. Anyway, wouldn't that make McCain more qualified since he's been in the US Senate longer. I'm not crazy about McCain but not being liberal, I will have to vote for him. Obama is the most liberal voting person in congress.


The great thing about a moderated message board is that it forces me to be more tactful than I might be otherwise. Restraint and tact were what I was going for in this reply:
Jay, the point was in comparing political experience. If I had thought longer about, I could have said Eisenhower, who never held a political office at all before becoming President, although Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in WW2 would count as some major experience in my book.

I never said length of political career was a good indication of anything. But if you actually feel that way, you would have to concede Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were more "qualified" than John McCain, something I'm sure your are not willing to do, and neither would I. I guess if Fox news says the Obama is the most liberal member of Congress it might be true.

However I have noticed that particular label seems to follow whoever is the biggest threat to the Republicans at the time. In 2004 it was John Kerry, then it was Hillary, now its Obama, and what I find insulting is that they actually expect us to believe it when there are far more bona fide liberal whackos out there like Kucinich, Barney Frank, and the previously mentioned Ted Kennedy.

Tomorrow, there will be another "most liberal member of Congress", and maybe one day you will realize that by using and buying into such rhetoric you have been manipulated by the right wing media to an extent far more sinister and extreme than what you could have ever been by the so called left wing media. But I won't be putting money on that happening.
When will I learn to just keep my mouth shut?

Hopefully never. ;-)

*S.T.A.R.D.O.M.B. = Stooping To Answer Redneck Dumbasses On Message Boards

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The S.T.A.R.D.O.M.B. Sees No Sign of Abaiting

More excitement from the Murray Ledger Message Board.

A guy calling himself "History Lesson" tried enlighted one of the previous posters who thought the Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves at the thought of a Congressman getting sworn in on a Koran. To which another redneck replied:
That may or may not be, History Lesson. No one can deny, though, that the only ones who don't have religious "freedom" are the ones that were here first.
I tried to let it slide. But I have a sore spot for fellow Americans who think they are losing religious freedom, just because they get called bigots for using terms like "Godless Sodomite".
Citizen, I would deny that the only ones who don't have religious "freedom" are the ones that were here first. Who has stopped you from going to Church? Who has denied you from ever saying a prayer anywhere? Who has confiscated and burned your Bible? Prayer in school?

Usually the folks that fear the overwhelming role of Government in our lives are the first to bemoan the loss of State-sponsored prayer in our schools, and would also be the first to complain if their children were led in prayer by Catholic Priest, or a Jehovah's Witness or for some, even a woman. I say if you want your children to pray at the start of each school day, you should be hitting your knees with them before they get out the door.

Merchants saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is usually done in the spirit of inclusion to all people and not as part of some secular humanist plot to remove Jesus from public view. To imply Christians are persecuted in this country is to make a mockery of every true martyr for Christ and the truly oppressed. Unless I misunderstood your statement, and by "the ones that were here first", you are talking about the Native Americans, in which case I might be agreeable, but I still think they are doing OK.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Healthcare rant

When I think about how America might adopt Universal Healthcare, I don't think it will come in the hands of Liberal Socialists wanting to style our healthcare system after Canada or Great Britian. I think it will be in response to the callous greed of the Health Insurance industry. Things like this. It will be the outrage of the multimillion dollar bonuses of CEO's in charge of companies who deny coverage, or who rescind coverage on uninsurable people.

Stooping To Answer Redneck Dumbasses On Message Boards

This is what passes for excitement for me I reckon.

I had to go off on some redneck on the Murray Ledger message board. You never know with them what is going to get through and what won't (the moderator, not the thick skulled head of rednecks), so I will post it here for posterity. This particular redneck named Julie is...well, just read it:

First she says this:
I wonder if most of the Christian people considering voting for Obama have considered the fact that he was born and raised by an Atheist and a Muslim?!?! His mother did not believe in God and his step dad sent him to a Muslim school. A part of me (crazy as it may sound) wonders if he was not born and bred to assume the roll of President to totally screw our country over. When you look back at 9-11 they used our own planes to destroy us from the inside out. Why not use a person to do the same thing. Obama keeps talking about CHANGE but has nothing to say what he will do. I also have a problem with the fact that he calls himself an African American... the last time I checked I was just an AMERICAN! I think all of us should drop the Asian American, Hispanic American, and African American. Because if you are not proud to be just an AMERICAN....they should all go back to where they came from. I will not vote for anyone no matter what color of their skin if God is not their leader first and foremost. If they are pro choice, what kind of Christian does that make them? The Bible I read says Homosexuality and Murder are sins, and I won't vote for any one that does not stand for the Bible. The Bible says "if you are not for me you are against me" people need to remember that when they vote
"Homosexuality and Murder", what a pair! I might have left her alone if she also included the abominable sin of having sex with menstruating women, which I feel is the single most, least talked about sin in the Bible. Or if she'd just left it at that, but she had to continue. In response to some other voice of reason calling her out , she replied to them:
....I did search before I posted so please don't insult me. I will not vote for Obama either. When you go to his web site and it lists the church he attends if you search that church on line you will also find their mission statement where they basically swear their allegance to Africa. Also, on Obama's web site it talks about his past and he did attend Muslim school. I think everything we experience in life effects us, and I personally will not take a chance with this man. He has no experience what so ever.I hear the word change, but he says nothing about what or how he is gonna bring change about....SOMETIMES Change is not what it is cracked up to be

Yeah, change like black people getting the right to vote. I felt compelled to answer. I had had enough:
Julie, I am almost embarrassed to answer your post. But the Christ I worship has the power to redeam and bring salvation to anyone, regardless of their upbringing. While many, even on this board, have stated that they feel his conversion to Christianity was politically expedient, some have said as much about our current president, as well as many other politicians.

I can only wonder if the same part of your paranoid mind that imagines Obama was "born and bread" to destroy America from the inside out would find it more likely that the Communist brainwashed John McCain into being a Manchurian Candidate during the six years he was held in their captivity. But that would probably be harder for you to accept because McCain is a White American. McCain is also an Episcopalian, which has recently taken some positions that someone like you would probably find just as offensive as Obama's church allegedly has, but that seems to give you no pause.

Personally, I think African Americans are entitled to be called whatever they want without it being a slight to their patriotism. After all, less than a mere 50 years ago, it was usually something far less flattering, you know back when they weren't able to even vote around here? Or even have their white murderers brought to justice because the all-white juries of the time would not convict them? Ever heard of Medgar Evers? You should be proud they are claiming their American identity because not so long ago America didn't claim them. You might not belong to a culture that you can be proud of in addition to your being American, but you have absolutely no right to deny anybody else that pride, and still call yourself a freedom loving American. I notice in your list of hyphenated-Americans you only included people of different races, but left out Irish Americans and Italian Americans, both of which are groups with the same strong cultural pride of those groups you mention. I'm sure that was just a lapse in memory and not a reflection of your biases.

As for "no experience what so ever", his 8 years in the Illinois Senate and 4 years in the US Senate give him a political career 85% as long as John F. Kennedy had when he became President. In conclusion, the Bible also says among the things that the Lord hates are "a lying tongue,... a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. It also says that too.
Wouldn't it be nice if politics was just about discussing Ideas logically, and with facts? And less about the spreading of baseless propaganda? Oh to dare to dream.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

My Message to Citibank

Wow, I just realized I haven't posted anything in almost two months. I'm such a lame blogger. Not that I really give a shit about that. But maybe I should try to do a little better there. I've just been so damn busy. But anyways, here is an unacceptable rant. It was deemed unacceptable by Citibank. Apparently if you want to bitch them out, you must limit it to 20 lines, what ever a "line" is.

But while setting up my monthly payment it just started to fly all over me that they don't have automatic monthly minimum payments to set up. So I tried to tell them about it. But they wouldn't have it, I guess they don't have the time. Assuming whoever might read this does, here it is:
Dear Sirs: // <-- I actually didn't bother with a salutation. While I am currently enjoying a very low interest rate on the balance that I owe on my CitiBank account, I do feel compelled to register a complaint. This is the only credit card that I have which does not provide a means for either a set amount to be paid each month automatically, or for the minimum payment to be paid automatically. Just so you know, I am becoming ever more and more unsatisfied as a credit card user and have started using my newly acquired, interest-bearing(!) debit card from ING for almost all of my monthly expenses. I don't have to worry about changing terms, payment dates, whether or not I have to pay by the payment date or at least a couple of days before. I am starting to find it hard to believe that the only reason Citibank does not provide the functionality to at least schedule payments more than one month into the future, like Chase does, or automatically schedule the minimum payment to be made, as I get with Bank of America or any affiliate of CheckFree, is that they want customers to occasionally forget to make their online payments so that they can ding them a fee. I plan on having this debt paid off in less than one year. If you have not added this feature to your website within that time, it will factor heavily on whether or not I will keep this account open, and continue to do business with CitiBank. I'm sure that this will little communique will have little influence on your decision to do so when you are probably making so much money with those dings, and the automatic rate increases that would most certainly come from it. Just be aware that I'm sick of the ever changing service agreements, I'm sick that you people would engage in Universal Default and penalize someone for what could be the accounting mistake of a competitor at the expense of a customer, I'm sick of online account management that I feel doesn't help me do the single most important thing I want to do, which is to pay my bill on time, aka pay you people money I owe you. Personally, I don't put roadblocks on people trying to pay me what they owe me. But for all I know doing the opposite is a good a way to run a credit card business, but it does seem counter intuitive. The bean counters might even have some formula as to what level you can make your customers unhappy without affecting your bottom line. But for what its worth, you are probably going to lose this one or at the very least maintain an empty account, no big deal I'm sure.
I worked on that particular composition and they were just not interested. Oh well, at least I know now how much they actually care about this particular customer. Somewhat less than 20 lines of text. Oh man, I can't wait to pay those usurers off.

[Update] My mistake. They replied and I was all upset for nothing. They DO have AutoPay. They just apparently don't want anyone to use it, since they don't display it anywhere in my account settings or like in the "Pay Bill" Section. They might now want you to know this if you are a CitiBank customer, but if you know that their system is called "AutoPay", and you do a search in their Online Answers section for that word you can get some information about it. They are going to mail me a form to fill out, mail it (the old fashion kind) back to them, have some buffoon type my application into the internets and in a month or two I should have AutoPay set up. Ain't the wired up, electronic information age great? This is the same level of service that I would have expected in 1990. Ain't the wired up, electronic information age great?