Thursday, 27 December 2012

08:02 – With only four days left, it looks likely that we’ll go over the “fiscal cliff”. My bet is that congress will extend the Bush-era tax rates for the middle class, while allowing the other tax increases and spending “cuts” to occur, except perhaps extended unemployment benefits. The core problem, out-of-control spending on social programs and the military, won’t be addressed. As we’ve seen in Europe, politicians are quite capable of ignoring unpleasant realities for years or decades on end, if that’s what it takes to continue getting them re-elected.

09:19 – We met our goal of selling 250 science kits for CY 2012. The goal for CY 2013 is 500 kits, which I think we’ll be able to do. Of course, the bulk of those will sell in the second half of the year. The first four months of the year will be slow, and we’ll use that time to prepare for the pickup in sales volume that starts in April/May and then turns into the rush in July through October.

Barbara has more time available during the winter months because she’s not doing yard work. So, starting the first of the year, we’ll be labeling bottles and envelopes, thousands and thousands of them, and putting together subassemblies for the various kits. We’ll start with a first pass of 60 to 90 sets of each. Once those are complete, we’ll do another batch of 60 to 90, and keep repeating that until we run out of time.

Many of the chemicals in the kits are stable indefinitely, so we’ll also fill those bottles ahead of time. Some chemicals are stable for years rather than decades, so we’ll hold off on filling those until closer to the time they’re needed. Overall, my goal is to have as much work done as possible by the first of July to allow us to assemble 300 kits on-the-fly in addition to having 100 or so kits ready to ship.

73 thoughts on “Thursday, 27 December 2012”

  1. It’s the fault of the voters (and non-voters) as well. A lot of people just like being lied to. I’ve been reading that the cuts if the US goes over the Cliff are real cuts, not just a reduction in increases in spending.

    On another topic, it would appear that there’s an atheist in the Vatican! Have a look at the post at Jerry C’s site. He thinks it might be Ratsie himself… 🙂

  2. There are many atheists in the Vatican. I don’t think I’ve ever known a Jesuit who wasn’t an atheist.

    No, these are not cuts in the sense of spending less than before. They’re “cuts” in the sense of spending more than before but less than the projected/intended increase. We desperately need zero-based budgeting.

  3. “I don’t think I’ve ever known a Jesuit who wasn’t an atheist.”

    From your lips to God’s ear. They went seriously downhill from the 50s and 60s onward. Their founder has been spinning in his grave.

    Our pols, like those in Europe, will keep kicking the can down the road as long as they can, until we run out of road. I give it 3-5 years, tops.

    We have us a serious snowstorm up here in Retroville today; I am “working from home” with my RHEL laptop, parked next to my Xubuntu 12.10 laptop parked near my Ubuntu 12.10 desktop. Oh, and I have a Windows 7 vm on the work laptop. Somehow, though, I’m not getting nearly as much done as Chuck down in Tiny Town. (that sucks about your daughter getting docked pay, Chuck; someone needs a severe beating.)

    I may do a little recon up the hill into the “city” (St. Albans City, pop. maybe 8k) to see wussup with the 4x V8 truck later…make sure our town, city and county employee drones are on the job.

  4. It is not voters who are responsible. Studies show that overwhelmingly, they want fiscal responsibility. But when you have politicians of both parties who IMMEDIATELY abandon their promises, once they set foot in Congress, it is pretty hard to change anything.

    The Tea Party is a perfect example. They have not changed anything, and the majority have voted against legislation that would have fulfilled the promises they made to get elected. One or two people in the House and Senate who do what they promise, is not enough to effect change.

  5. Agreed, Chuck; I predicted that the Tea Party goofballs would do exactly what they did once they got to the intoxicating atmosphere of Mordor, it’s like a vapor that seeps into their brains and souls immediately on arrival there. They, and their predecessor Republicrat and RINO rumpswabs have repeatedly betrayed us and stabbed us in the back, while the Evil Half of the War/Money Party will be in power for another four years to wreak as much damage as they possibly can. A pox on them all.

  6. Regarding being docked pay for arriving late, one of my pals told of working at a place where starting time was 7.30 am. Not 7.31 am. 7.30 am, or earlier. The first time you were late you were docked 15 minutes pay. The next time it happened you ended up “exploring new empolyment opportunities”, as they say.

  7. Feinstein and Schumer have a literal armed militia surrounding them wherever they go. If they are so adamant that no one be able to have guns, why don’t they lead the way by taking away the guns from their bodyguards?

    I wish Bill Cunningham would coach the million+/year, totally inept and inarticulate NRA head, Wayne LaPierre on how to meet the anti-gun contingent head-on. Cunningham has been on WLW longer than Rush Limbaugh has been on talk radio. Like me, Cunningham abandoned the Republican party years ago. Here’s a link to a podcast of the first hour of his Sunday night show last week, which was exclusively about guns. He just decimated the anti-gun folks, point-by-point.

    And the RSS feed to the rest of the show.

  8. The uber-strict pay-docking stuff is only applied to folks on the low rungs of the economy, much worse stories of that coming out of the big-box warehouses, mainly in the Midwest. At one place if you were one second late on your first day you were gone. Bathroom breaks for fifteen minutes, once or twice per day, but it takes that long just to get TO the head so you get docked there, too. And, if you mind all your P’s and Q’s like a good little do-bee and work like a fucking demon on steroids for six months or a year and your pay starts to get too high, they dump your ass into the street; you’re too expensive now and cutting into some exec’s greens fees. And these guys now laugh at us while they do us this way. It’s funny to them to see people suffer and eat shit.

    Libtard hypocrisy on the gun rights front is nothing new at all; been going on for years. Akin to the old skool busing controversies of the 70s; the usual suspects pushed busing down ordinary peoples’ throats but sent their own kids to private schools. And it was the kids who suffered; from vicious racial strife and hatred, gang warfare, violent crime, and a total joke of an education.

  9. Well, I don’t disagree that the lot of an unskilled worker is not a happy one. The latest trend, amplified greatly by ObamaCare, is to get rid of as many FT workers as possible and replace them with PT workers with flexible hours. Flexible from the employer’s point of view, which computerization is making easier. If an employer expects a busy time for, say, two hours first thing in the morning, an hour at lunch, and two hours in the late afternoon, they’ll hire a PT worker or workers to cover those five busy hours and only those hours. A PT worker might have to go to work two or three times a day. And often they have to be on call for all intents and purposes, having to come in at a moment’s notice. That makes holding another PT job almost impossible, not to mention getting child care. Unfortunately, that’s the harsh new reality. It really isn’t any wonder that a lot of low-skill people, even if they’d actually prefer to work, end up sitting back and collecting welfare checks.

    This isn’t going to get better any time soon. It’s going to continue getting worse, as companies shed as many FT jobs as possible. As I’ve said before, jobs are never going to recover to their previous levels, let alone increase as the population grows. We’ll have a relatively small percentage of gainfully-employed people and huge numbers of unemployed at the welfare trough. Of course, government “workers” are in reality unemployed as well, so we can expect their numbers to continue to increase dramatically.

    And, quite honestly, I don’t see any real alternative. Without welfare, government jobs, and other transfer payments, having huge numbers of people unemployed and with no prospects of ever being employed is an imminent revolution with the fuse burning.

    The only solution I see is the Guaranteed Minimum Income, whereby every citizen (regardless of need) gets a guaranteed annual income from the government. The GMI has been advocated by a lot of people across the political spectrum, from Keynes and Galbraith on the far left to libertarians like Friedman and FA Hayek.

    That’s why I keep arguing that we need to do everything possible to automate production, because ultimately all that matters is that we produce goods in huge amounts with as little labor as possible. If only 1% of our population is truly productive, it doesn’t matter if they can carry the other 99% without even noticing. We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress. That’s why STEM is not just important, but vital.

  10. Hi Bob, are you trolling on this GMI thing? The fraud on it would be breathtaking. The fraud on earned income tax credit is apparently amazing at the ingenuity of people:
    Doesn’t France have a minimum income payment for people? How is that working out?

    However, I would like to see Medicare and Medicaid merged and opened to all citizens. I am very tired of negotiating heath insurance for our group of employees. But, everyone should have some skin in the game in the form of co-pays. And if a doctor or facility wants to be private, it should be allowed.

    One of my sister-in-laws got laid off last Friday with little prospects for more work. She will go back to the temp service and work occasionally. I suspect that companies are shedding workers as fast as they can due to the aforementioned uncertainty in the new taxes and potential federal spending cuts.

    BTW, she was trying to explain unemployment to me. The 99 week unemployment is not straight unemployment. There is some sort of Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 thing going on and that is here in the Great State of Texas which is the worst state for unemployment payments. She also said that there is some sort of EEOC payments also that she qualifies for by being 50% Hispanic. I was quite confused by it all.

  11. Imagine operating an insurance plan that costs over $900 per month per person to operate, requires you to pay at least $299 for every day you spend in the hospital and expects you to pay 20% of every doctor bill. To make matters worse, there is no out of pocket maximum and it doesn’t cover prescriptions. Finally, they keep the price down by only alllowing doctors to charge 80% of what most other insurances pay. Which means in some parts of the country, it can be very difficult to find a doctor who will take this insurance.

    Who in their right mind would want such an insurance plan?

  12. It looks like the Master Plan is to have maybe 1% of the population continuing to rule through another 5% or so of the “managerial elites,” and perhaps a further 5% or so who actually run the machines and tech systems that keep the whole ball of wax rolling. The remaining 89% will be the vast herd of subservient cattle to be milked for occasional menial labor that isn’t handled by the massively massive prison system and for the endless corporate wars around the globe.

    The masses will be kept docile by a carrot-and-stick approach, of course; bread and circuses on the one hand, and penal labor camps/torture/execution for the problem children. As a longtime professional problem child, I can expect to either be funneled off to a lethal-injection gurney or firing squad, or otherwise go out in a blaze of revolutionary glory. Or maybe we’ll win and I can become Military Governor of New England and the Maritime Provinces. SteveF will be my counterpart in the Vampire State and Nova Caesarea, and Bob can have the Carolinas. We’ll send greg some gunz and he can run Oz. Texas we don’t have to worry about.

  13. Yeah, Chicago is the best place to be unemployed. LOTS of our money flowing OUT there.

    I believe the nature of the place has as much to do with success/failure in the political/economic realm. Whether it is a success or failure in France or Germany does not mean it will do the same here. Actually, having been close to France for a long time, I don’t think France is representative of anything. They don’t think or act like the rest of the world does,—even their movies are weirdly constructed, as they do not think in the same linear fashion as we do,—so whatever happens there has little transference to anywhere else. Although the food is exceptional. Around this part of the country, people eat mashed potatoes and meat dry with no sauce or gravy. Yuck! I don’t think I ever had a meal in Europe without sauce or gravy of some kind on it. And the sauces vary immensely. Here, it is chicken or turkey gravy, or au jus. That’s it! I have had meals over there with as many as three different sauces on the same plate—each widely different than the other. Chewing through dry food just is not my cup of tea. But like ice in Germany, I can’t get no gravy or sauces around here.

    Meanwhile, they cancelled my Amex card on the 24th, and I still do not have the replacement. I did not really think it would be delivered on Xmas day, as I was told by Miss Bangalore, but I did think it would come yesterday. And UPS has screwed with the tracking info. Yesterday it said “Out for delivery”. By 17:00, it said something like ‘returned to facility due to circumstances beyond UPS control’. That little message is now gone, and was replaced by “Destination Scan”. “Out for Delivery” again today, but so far—nothing.

  14. Hi Bob, are you trolling on this GMI thing? The fraud on it would be breathtaking. The fraud on earned income tax credit is apparently amazing at the ingenuity of people:

    No, I’m entirely serious. I don’t see any alternative if we’re to avoid a complete collapse of society and a bloody revolution.

    What fraud? The whole idea is that every citizen gets a check from the government for the same amount. There’s no means test. Bill Gates gets the same check for the same amount that you and I get, as do the people who are currently very poor.

    Read what Friedman and Hayek have to say about GMI. I mean, my own preference is for pure (and I do mean pure) capitalism. From each according to whatever he is capable of doing and decides to do, and to each according to how well he competes with everyone else in the free market. But the problem with that is that you end up with a whole lot more really, really poor people and just a few rich ones. That’s fine, as long as the rich ones can defend themselves against hordes of poor ones, but that’s not a stable society.

  15. “Around this part of the country, people eat mashed potatoes and meat dry with no sauce or gravy. ”

    That’s just CRAZY! WTF is WRONG with people out there???

    We sorta live close to France here, too; Quebec is about twenty miles from our front door and so we get to play around with some traditional French, Quebecois and Acadian dishes, most of which have some kind of sauce thing going on. I am big on sauces, and next time I’m out in the Tiny Town area, i.e., probably never, I will whip up some sauces for ya. We do NOT like the local Quebecois specialties like the gross melted cheese they dump on their pommes de frites and don’t ever order a frigging hamburger from these people unless you need an extra frisbee or coaster. But their meat pies are delish and their coq au vin and the bread and pastries are outta this world.

  16. No, these are not cuts in the sense of spending less than before. They’re “cuts” in the sense of spending more than before but less than the projected/intended increase. We desperately need zero-based budgeting.

    That depends on the program. For example, the authorization for NASA for the current fiscal year was lower than last year, so losing 10% or so is a real cut, on top of inflation losses. In fact, the current budget is over $1 billion less than the peak in 2010.

    The big question is when the cuts will be applied. My current (and as of 11 AM tomorrow, former) employer was told that the cuts will not happen for a month or two. Combine this with the fact that taxes can be rolled back any time by Congress, and we don’t face a cliff, but a slope that leads to cliffs at various times for each area facing cuts.

  17. And some quick Googling and wikipedia searches show that under the current administration, science funding seems to be flat or declining. (So much for the White House being big supporters of STEM careers.) NIH and NSF sponsor about 20-25% of science funding in the US, so it’s not insignificant.

  18. Hey, the Indians put great sauces on their chicken and goat also. My local “Cafe India” has an amazing red sauce with large chunks of chicken in it. Just cries for the naan to be dipped in it. The same with the curry chicken. I always scoop extra sauce just for my naan.

  19. What fraud? The whole idea is that every citizen gets a check from the government for the same amount. There’s no means test. Bill Gates gets the same check for the same amount that you and I get, as do the people who are currently very poor.

    I often maintain the the USA is the world’s largest social experiment for 320 million people. The GMI sounds OK but in practice, people will game it somehow.

    Of course, the GMI is just an extension of Social Security into a common payment for all. I also maintain that Social Security is getting ready to be means tested.

  20. I don’t care for Indian food; can’t even stand the smell and curry makes me gag. In my IT “career” I often had to smell the stuff being cooked up in microwaves by certain colleagues all hours of the day and night and would retch and have to go outside for fresh air. Don’t care for Asian stuff, either; had my fill long ago, where it originates.

    Give me oldtime New England Yankee stuff, Tex-Mex, Italian, and selected French and German and I’m good to go.

    One of my brothers and I are debating whether to start grabbing our SS money as soon as we are eligible at 62 rather than wait longer and watch our lords temporal piss it all away before we get ours. Thoughts from the cognoscenti here?

  21. OFD, why didn’t you just tell the offending colleagues, “The smell of your food makes me sick,” and then barf on them?

  22. Hi OFD, I think no matter what, the Social Security tax cut will not be extended into 2013. It was a stupid idea to begin with and there are no backers to extend it. It will probably fund SS more by over $110 billion in 2013. I think that this is a good thing.
    Plus, I highly suspect that SS will be taxed on all income in the near future instead of just the first $110,100 (the 2012 max amount).

    In order to take Social Security at age 62, you would have to basically retire as they take away your SS when you make a certain amount before your normal retirement age. See
    for more details.

    You do know that Social Security is the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, right? Makes Madoff look like a piker. Those three? trillion dollars in USA tbills in the SS lockbox are a joke. The same for the three? trillion dollars in the Medicare lockbox. Every dollar that I put into SS and Medicare, my parents and my FIL take out the same day.

    BTW, I find it fatally funny that Medicare expenditures increase Social Security expenditures. The more you spend to extend people’s lives, the more you gotta pay them for hanging around. Sounds like a huge Catch-22.

  23. I was too a nice a guy back then to do that to offending colleagues and may have even been temporarily brainwashed by the notion of Diversity as a deity. Those days are gone now.

    Thanks for the tip, Lynn; not sure what we’re gonna do, depends on how long we can keep working as corporate drones baby-sitting machines and whether we can also develop other means of making a living doing stuff we like meanwhile. I’m too old to be a secret agent or NFL tight end but am looking into becoming a Tex-Mex chef as a front for a new career as an assassin. I’ve been making lists….

  24. Reminds me of the argument I suggested 20 years ago to a friend who worked for R. J. Reynolds, regarding tobacco lawsuits.

    1. The government claims that smoking cigarettes causes cancer. Either they are right or they are wrong.

    2. If they are wrong, there is no justification for the tobacco companies being liable for anything.

    3. If they are right, the liability of the tobacco companies should be offset by how much they’re saving the government and insurance companies, which have to pay pensions for much shorter times and have much, much lower medical bills to cover.

    In fact, I told Steve, if R. J. Reynolds’ cigarettes actually do kill people young, the government should be giving RJR a public service award. All told, the tobacco companies must be saving the government literally hundreds of billions of dollars in lower SS/Medicare/Medicaid payments.

  25. I have been close enough to doctors in the family—and a couple of smokers—not to believe anything but that a lifetime of smoking causes loss of the lungs’ capacity to do its job, and ends up exacerbating the end of life into a debilitating, painful few years. My aunt and uncle recently moved into assisted living. I have lunch with them a couple of times a week, and two people there (whom I know from my childhood) are former smokers. They are confined to electric wheelchairs, wear those concentrators 24/7, hardly have enough breath to speak, have to have the staff cut up their food because they barely have the energy to eat, let alone cut their food, and they desperately wish they had never touched cigarettes. As my daughter in-law the doctor maintains, not everyone is hit equally as hard by a lifetime of smoking, but no one who smokes escapes being adversely affected in a way they would not have, had they not smoked. In fact, the only two women I know personally who died of breast cancer, both smoked as teenagers, although both quit before having children. Studies show women who smoked as teens are far more likely to get breast cancer than non-smokers.

  26. OFD quit the ciggies in 1978, after approximately six years or so of doing a pack a day. Cold turkey.

    No one else in my family has smoked, except my late dad, who smoked a pipe most of his life and died eventually of early-onset Alzheimer’s at 71 fourteen years ago.

    Of course, we can use Robert’s old argument to gin up another public service award for government for sending so many of its young people off to wars where they get killed and save even more money, long-term, there.

  27. Seems Intel and Microsoft are conspiring to prevent anything but an M$ OS from being installed on new computers. With the introduction of Win8, computer makers are abandoning BIOS for a UEFI database that will ONLY boot Windows.

    One guy in that thread maintains that XP phones home at every boot-up.

  28. My wife was never a smoker and she successfully fought off stage 2b breast cancer at the age of 45. But she did go after it hard (mastectomy). I am not a smoker either.

    My maternal grandmother died 5 years ago of lung cancer (age 87). She never smoked. My grandfather was 3 packs a day though until 1975 (died in 1979). I am sure that the second hand smoke had nothing to do with it (sarcasm). Just took longer for her to get it.

  29. I don’t mind people smoking cigarettes in public, just so long as they’re outlawed first. It would be considerate of them to wear a bullseye over some vital organ too.

  30. OFD wrote:

    “OFD quit the ciggies in 1978, after approximately six years or so of doing a pack a day. Cold turkey.”

    I never really got started, thankfully. I had a total of about two packets between the ages of 10 and 15. In the early Eighties I had a few puffs on a cigar (a cow-orker’s wife had just had a baby), and that was it.

    I’m not really interested in taking up smoking a pipe or cigars, but at least I don’t find the smoke from them objectionable. I haven’t set eyes on a person smoking a pipe or cigar for about 20 years methinks.

  31. Lynn wrote:

    “Hi Bob, are you trolling on this GMI thing?”

    It’s so crazy that I think he is having a lend of us. Problem is I can never tell when he’s serious and when he’s making stuff up out of thin air and rolling around on the floor laughing at our gullibility.

    I’ve never bought the idea that only the cognitive elite will have jobs in the future. It’s not in society’s interests to have lots of people with nothing to do, even if their basic material needs are being met.

    1. “The devil makes work for idle hands to do.” Bob just has to observe Colin to see the truth of that. If people aren’t doing gainful work it’s less likely that they’ll interact with others, and their lives will lose definition.

    2. The 99% on handouts will not be getting as much as the 1% who are doing productive work. That’ll result in feelings of envy, jealousy, end even more entitlement.

    3. There’s lots of work the non-elite can and should do, and would be able to do. Yard work, cleaning, pet care, fixing your car, etc. Stuff that people in Bangalore can’t really do. Some of those jobs just have to be done by people on the scene.

    4. I think Bob, and others, have been commenting on how jobs are returning to the first world from India and China because of QC issues and rising wages and costs in the third world. I’ll buy something from China if it’s cheap and reliable. Trouble is, reliability is often missing. I expect call centres to trend towards being located in the first world because of the accent problems, amongst others. And as Third World countries continue to develop the elite there will be working in more challenging and satisfying jobs, rather than being in a call centre. That means that less qualified people, whose memories aren’t as good, whose problem solving abilities aren’t as good, whose English language skills aren’t as good. This will accelerate the trend.

  32. Problem is I can never tell when he’s serious and when he’s making stuff up out of thin air and rolling around on the floor laughing at our gullibility.

    Yeah, that’s why you don’t want to play poker with me.

  33. Speaking of rolling around on the floor laughing and pre-eclampsia, years ago we were having dinner at a restaurant with Mary and Paul and I was telling them about an article that had appeared in the MSM talking about the reduced risk of pre-eclampsia for pregnant women who fellated their partners and swallowed the semen. Then I delivered the punchline: “but the article never mentioned that it had to be the father’s semen”.

  34. Yeah, I remember. You said Mary lost her dinner when you said that just any old guy’s semen wasn’t good enough. It had to be the father of the foetus.

  35. Seems Intel and Microsoft are conspiring to prevent anything but an M$ OS from being installed on new computers.

    Apple has been doing this since they started with computers. Why is this such a big deal with Microsoft and not with Apple?

  36. Apple is one company. Here we have two companies colluding in restraint of trade.

  37. Here we have two companies colluding in restraint of trade.

    That has been going on for years with large computer systems. Yet no one complained and just accepted it. If a hardware company wants to make a product that will only run one OS that is their decision. I can run W8 on other platforms without difficulty. There are devices available that will only run some variant of Linux yet no one complains about such a practice. There a multiple hardware devices that will only run embeded Windows and no one complains about such practice. It’s not like that particular computer is the only computer you can purchase.

  38. OK, lets do the GMI math.
    1. Assume 320 million people in the USA (it will rise rapidly when people discover you can get a check for breathing)
    2. Assume that 80% of the population is an adult
    3. Assume that children will not get a check (this is a bad assumption)
    4. Assume that the check is $1,000/month

    320,000,000 x 0.8 x 1000 = $256,000,000,000 per month = $3,072,000,000,000 per year

    Wow, instant doubling of the federal expenditures. Can I assume that we would drop unemployment, food stamps and social security? If so, the net cost is about 2 trillion $/year.

  39. I’ve never bought the idea that only the cognitive elite will have jobs in the future. It’s not in society’s interests to have lots of people with nothing to do, even if their basic material needs are being met.

    Me either. Someone still has to sweep the floors, paint the walls and fix the plumbing. That takes an amazing amount of people.

  40. “Assume that the check is $1,000/month.”

    Yo, that ain’t gonna cut it, homie. A grand a month is $250 a week, and hell, I spend dat much on pretzels, Moxie and ammo.

    This plan is DOA, Bob.

    We gon have a revolution and civil war, sooner or later, and I’d just as soon get it on sooner.

  41. OK, lets do the GMI math.
    1. Assume 320 million people in the USA (it will rise rapidly when people discover you can get a check for breathing)
    2. Assume that 80% of the population is an adult
    3. Assume that children will not get a check (this is a bad assumption)
    4. Assume that the check is $1,000/month

    320,000,000 x 0.8 x 1000 = $256,000,000,000 per month = $3,072,000,000,000 per year

    Wow, instant doubling of the federal expenditures. Can I assume that we would drop unemployment, food stamps and social security? If so, the net cost is about 2 trillion $/year.

    Doubling? How?

    Let’s assume that it’s $1,000/month for every citizen, including children. (Although there’d probably be a limit on how many children could claim the payment. Say, one for each man and one for each woman.)

    320,000,000 citizens * $12,000 per year = $3,840,000,000,000

    which is about what the federal government admits to spending now. That $3.8 trillion allows them to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government retirement and health care benefit programs, and every other welfare/entitlement program, which is the vast bulk of the budget. Except military spending, which needs to be cut by 90%+ anyway, if not more. I’d like to see us get down to less than 50,000 military personnel total. Call it 20,000 for the Army (with the Air Force rolled in) and 30,000 for the Navy (with the Marines rolled in). That’s actually more than we need to defend ourselves, but not enough to allow the government to continue these ridiculous foreign excursions. And let the Army and Navy compete on stuff like space and air power. Other than a couple of boomers, take away the Navy’s ability to do anything more than defend US shores. We have no need of a blue water Navy.

  42. Well, Bob, with all them cuts in DOD, you will have to give up the idea of running for national office in this country, and your seditious talk of “ridiculous foreign excursions” will get you as excommunicated as Ron Paul and possibly some prison time. You walk a dangerous road, my friend…

  43. That $3.8 trillion allows them to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government retirement and health care benefit programs, and every other welfare/entitlement program, which is the vast bulk of the budget.

    OK, now I know that you are pulling my leg. You might be able to get rid of SS, food stamps and unemployment with the GMI but all of these other programs have stalwart supporters and hooked users. Medicare and Medicaid alone (about 1.2 trillion $/year if I can figure this out) pay for the health care of some 80 million people (25% of the country). Good luck in replacing those with a simple GMI payment.

    As for reducing the army, navy, marines and air force from 1 million men to 50,000, I’ve got a problem with that. I like having the most expensive and best equipped military in the world. The second best military in the world is called “The Losers”. I might support a 50% cut in the military though.

  44. We can do a 90% cut and still have the best military in the world. Even just with what the federal government admits to, we probably spend more than the rest of the top ten combined. (I haven’t looked that up, but if it’s not true it’s not far off.)

    Besides which… “Losers”? We’re not going to lose if someone is foolish enough to attempt to invade the US, even if we had no military whatsoever. They’d be throwing their troops into a well-armed meat grinder. And we have no business at all fighting overseas. None. Ever. Let the rest of the world go to hell its own way.

  45. Agreed with Bob on the 90% cut and no more foreign misadventures. If someone wants to invade us, good luck with that. They will end up like the fantasized nightmare visions some folks have of hordes of crazed zombies fleeing the cities and tearing up the countryside; they will all be shot to pieces in a matter of days.

    Of course Bob and I will have adjoining prison cells for even mentioning, let alone advocating, such drastic and fearful cuts. Ron Paul got shown the door real fast and sandbagged even faster, and he’s a national figure and serving Congress dude.

  46. Regarding Dave’s question as to when to take Social Security, they have it figured out that no matter when you begin, you will get about the same amount of money over your expected life. But the catch is that, when you start, in order to get all of the payments, your income is then limited to about the poverty level demarcation which is currently around $14k/yr; if you earn more, you won’t get all the full SS money due to you. An accountant friend says he tells everybody that if you have a good paying job, stick with it as long as possible—even past retirement, if possible. If you give up your job, and SS is lowered, then you likely will not be able to make up the loss by going back to work. Nobody is hiring retired people except Walmart, and they are not doing nearly as much of that anymore. Stay at the job, he says, and figure a starting point for yourself when you will put ALL the earnings of at least one spouse aside for at least several years. Then when you retire, if SS is cut back, you have that reserve to fall back on.

    My friend says he has people who come to him after retiring from a good-paying job before they were required to, then find the cost of living rising so fast that they cannot make ends meet anymore in retirement (or more likely, they probably did not bother to calculate how much they needed to live on, being in such a hurry to be retired), they cannot go back to their good-paying job, and my friend has to help them figure out how to sell off their assets (house, second car, vacation cabin or RV, etc.), and come up with a way to continue to live and pay their bills. Don’t leave that job until you are required to, he says. Every year that passes, good paying jobs are harder to obtain and are more valuable. Chances are that even if you retire later than your parents, you will live longer than they, and thus still have the same number of years in retirement—or more. So you are not short-changing yourself, even if you are tempted to believe you are, by judging your retirement age against your parents’.

    A couple of my friends took early retirement at 62, because they were convinced by scaremongers that if they waited, SS would be jerked from us altogether. Well, we all reach the magic age next year, and SS is still there. They each receive $900/mo. One pays $700/mo in rent, and has no other income. How they live on such limited income is beyond me. Neither has worked in a place that garnered them a retirement plan.

  47. Thanks, much, Chuck. I will pass this info on to siblings forthwith, who’ve been considering, like me, WTF to do in the next few years in this economy. I don’t love my job but I like it OK most days and can find enough to do and learn to make it halfway interesting while I pursue other interests outside work. Whether I should bother ramping up on the Next Greatest Thing in technology is another question I am pondering, since I am already inside the door, so to speak. We at this level know full well the PHB manglers don’t know shit about what it is we do and don’t care. But we’d at least like to have our ducks line up technologically speaking if we have to make a move.

    Thanks again, and best wishes down there in tropical Tiny Town.

  48. Hi Chuck, AMEN! Well said! Do not retire from your good job until they throw you out the door and yell never come back! Being a Walmart greeter sucks. Although the guy who works the sporting goods in our Walmart is about 85. He and I have talked about ammo availability several times while I was *looking* at the ammo cabinet. I have no need to buy ammo cause I have no guns…

    I’ve got a friend with a good desk job at Bechtel who is 67 and wants to retire badly. He has been there for over 35 years and his back bothers him so bad some days that he uses a walker. I have been telling him to hang in there because of the growing storm on the horizon. He obviously agrees with me somewhat because he still gets up and goes to the office.

    Hey OFD, did you see last Sunday’s Dilbert about PHB motivation?

    BTW, I’ve been wrassling with one of our servers all afternoon and come to find out that it’s memory somehow got fragged in the four hour power outage last weekend. 16 GB of Corsair Vengence in the trash can, glad I had a spare set. We ran Memtest86 on it and had so many failures that the bad memory addresses were scrolling faster than I could read them. I do not understand why a limited hardware item like this could get fragged and nothing else.

  49. Good ol’ Memtest86; we have several CD’s floating around our office of these; amazing we’re still using DOS-based programs for RHEL servers. Of course we still have to load CDs one by one for firmware upgrades before doing the actual RHEL upgrades most of the time. Kills several hours when ya have half a dozen racks full of them. Bring reading material and/or your fave music device.

    PHB motivators where I work generally consist of the unsaid, i.e., that we’re just damned lucky to even have a job, period. Once in a blue moon I get an attaboy but then it is almost always coupled with an additional task or responsibility unloaded on me. It’s like that great flick “Office Space” from a few years ago; “Uh, Dave, thanks for covering the trouble ticket queues and also covering for so-and-so last week. Uh…I need you to also cover for her from here on out, especially when she’s feeling overwhelmed or gets backlogged…thanks.” Only female up here on the team, with multiple decades on the job and a real PITA like they all are in my experience in IT. Would throw her mom under the bus to keep doing her de facto operator gig for another five years.

  50. Why would a server be using memory advertised for overclocking? A real server should be going in the opposite direction, keeping everything well within specs. In fact a real server should be using ECC memory, which means a server chip-set and CPU.

  51. Why would a server be using memory advertised for overclocking?

    Cause I am cheap and only have two servers here in the office in Fort Bend County. My web server is in a web farm in Pittsburg. Our inside servers are just a couple of desktops, one running Windows XP Pro x86 and the other running Windows 7 x64 Pro. I used to run Windows 2003 Server but just dont need the bandwidth since I split our office server duties.

    I wish that I could run some variant of Linux on our servers but each one of our servers has some Windows specific services running on it, cvsnt and Act!.

    And I do not overclock my machines. My best wishes to those who do so.

  52. Don’t leave that job until you are required to, he says.

    Well, I was required to today. Laid off after 26.975 years at my current job. Been half time for the last year. Fortunately, we have healthy 401(k)s, paid off cars and house, no other loans.

  53. Condolences, ech.

    Did you normally receive year-end bonuses and you missed out on account of not being there at the end of the year? One trend that I’ve noticed anecdotally, but concerning which I’ve seen no studies, is laying off people just before they’d receive their Christmas/year end bonus. That might just be a thing among the blue-collar, skilled or semi-skilled employers up around here, or it might be the Next Big Thing.

  54. Yeah, that sounds about right; dump people just before they would get bonuses. Gigantic organization I work for does similar shit with various angles on the various retirement “packages” they “offer.” If there is any new wrinkle that the suits can gin up to screw the lower peons they will do it in a fucking heartbeat. It used to be because it meant actual increased monetary reward for them; now it’s that PLUS the ecstatic joy they get in fucking people over.

    Excusez mes terribles et violentes français, mes amis, mais je suis tellement sanglante irritable quand je vois cette merde, encore et encore.

  55. Oh crap, I forgot about Chuck down in tropical Tiny Town:

    Entschuldigen Sie meine schrecklichen und gewalttätigen Französisch, meine Freunde, aber ich bekomme so verdammt gereizt, wenn ich diese Scheiße immer und immer wieder zu sehen.

  56. Coming up this weekend: Fun With Google Translate, hosted by OFD in North Pole, Retroville, Vermont where it is 12 degrees currently and blowing snow from the Lake.

  57. Snow? What’s snow?

    It’s in the 30s here in Adelaide. Celsius… 🙂

  58. I’m sorry to hear that, ech.

    I’m glad that at least you’re in a lot better financial shape than a lot of people who find themselves jobless with no notice. I hope you’re able to find something else quickly.

  59. I think much of the letting people go right before Xmas is not really intentionally malicious, it is just unthinking. Top execs are looking only at the business plan for next year and wanting to get everything in place by 1 Jan. For some reason, TV generally uses a calendar year that begins/ends in April or June, so people were laid off going from spring to summer.

    My first time being fired came after many years of working for many different places. Big surprise, because I had solved many problems for them, reduced costs significantly, and had ratings that were leading the networks in the markets where we were opposite them. Actually, that was also the only time I was ever fired, but the people there were beginners at TV. They eventually went bankrupt. During my separation negotiations, I was warned by a company representative that if I contacted an attorney for any reason whatever, they would dump me on the street with nothing. Being the son of an attorney, I had already been in contact with one of the best employment attorneys in New England, who coached me in how to proceed, but never became known to the company I was being fired by.

    One thing I did learn from that experience was to get busy immediately in finding other work. Since we anticipated another move, and the job tenure was so short, we had done nothing to the house, so I took 6 months to fix it up to sell. Big mistake. It took me another 6 months after that to find the next job, and no one understood why I had been out-of-work for 6 months. That raised alarm bells with prospective employers that something was wrong—even though I got enough severance to be able to focus on that renovating fulltime until it was done.

    My cousin in Belgium was laid off from a sales job with a handsome severance package. He was going to sit out for a while, but after I gave him my experience and urged him not to do it, he got a job driving taxis at night (he should have been born in America, because he loves to drive) and looked for work during the day. Within the month, he was hired by a competitor of his former company at a substantial increase in salary and commissions, plus he got a company car. He has thanked me a couple times for urging him to find other employment right away.

    As for Lynn’s friend with the back problem, I have seen over and over how having to be active, keeps us going, instead of deteriorating. My aunt and uncle recently moved to assisted living. My uncle has always had a knee problem from an auto accident when he was a teenager, but got by with only occasional use of a cane—until they moved to assisted living. Now he requires a walker no matter what. Their activity level dropped dramatically, as now they only have to get to the nearby dining room to eat. I suspect your friend will have more problems when he stops working and slows the pace of his activities.

  60. “…no one understood why I had been out-of-work for 6 months. ”

    Poison. Still. ‘Why have you not immediately found another job the very next day?’ is the question, apparently. Jobs are just all over the place out there and no one has any excuse for not finding one immediately. And it has to be at least equal to the job you lost; no driving cabs, working security at night, short-order cook stuff.

    I had thought this attitude was only found with the older generation, like my MIL, who grew up in the 40s and 50s and that’s what you did: lose a job and immediately grab another one and keep working; God forbid an idle moment or a negative cash flow. But employers and recruiters even now apparently have this same attitude; you should have found something right away and if not there must be something WRONG with you.

    When I and several other drones got dumped from our jobs at a large corporation a couple of years ago, I immediately went to work 30-40 hours a week on my job search tasks, keeping a journal of everything I did, job leads, names, phone numbers, emails, etc. and hammered at it constantly. It still took me four months to line up my current gig, and even then the process itself with HR cretins and interviews occupied several weeks of that period.

    If I lose this gig, I will jump right back into that activity again, but it will be in an even tougher job market, although I see that the IT field, depending on geography, is still a little better than other areas of endeavor.

  61. Hi ech, sorry to hear of your job loss. Don’t know what your experience is but is hiring if you are here in the Houston or Austin area. For some reason I think that you are in the Houston area.

    I cannot decide what is going on for 2013. Things are decidedly taking a breather with all of the new Obamacare taxes and all the fiscal slope uncertainty. One hopes that the economy shrugs it off and goes back to work in January. One thing that I am fairly certain about is that I think that Obama wants to roll back 100% of the Bush tax cuts. That is the only way that he can fund all of his giveaways.

  62. It is going to take most of the year for effects of Nobama’s do-nothing fiscal plans to take hold. Some of the elements do not even come into effect until June or later. But as one conservative pundit noted, Republicans are so divided, that it is not likely they will have the ability to hold the line with Nobama.

    What is really unbelievable, is that the default is higher taxes unless legislation lowers it. Things should be exactly the other way around.

  63. Thanks to all for the good thoughts.

    Did you normally receive year-end bonuses and you missed out on account of not being there at the end of the year?
    Nope. No bonuses for worker bees at most aerospace companies. Normally, they wouldn’t have laid me off until next month – there is a company policy that no layoffs happen in December, unless mandated by government contract terminations. I was supposed to be on the payroll until 1/31, burning floating holidays and my remaining vacation for the month, but the “No December Layoffs” rule was waived this year -without telling managers. HR called my boss and insisted I be laid off this year. The only impact on me was I’ll have to pay the full amount for insurance for January.

    Fortunately, I have been here long enough that I have retirement medical available to me. It’s not cheap, but it will cover the wife and I and my daughter until she gets benefits at work. The daughter is a vet tech that works in the large animal ICU at the Texas Heart Institute. She takes care of pigs, sheep, calves, etc. that have had heart procedures. They are working on growing new livers from stem cells, repair of heart attack damage with stem cells, new artificial hearts that don’t wear out, etc.Very cool stuff.

    As for job prospects, I have none here in Houston. I’m an aerospace systems engineer and there are lots of us on the street due to layoffs from shutting down the Shuttle program, finishing the space station, etc. LockMart has plenty of jobs in other cities, such as Dallas and Fort Worth, but I have an elderly mother here in Houston and can’t move.

    I’ve decided to do freelance screenplays. I almost majored in film in college instead of Physics and Astronomy. I took a course in screenwriting last year and got encouragement from my instructor, especially for my dialog. My brother freelances in the film business as a set decorator, and I’ve pitched him my three ideas. He thinks they are viable and will pull in a few favors to get me a meeting with an agent next year. My wife is semi-retired, but can go back to full time if needed. Even with Obamacare kicking in, there is a demand for anesthesiologists. So, with owing nothing and a 6 months of expenses sitting in a savings account, we’ll be O.K.

  64. Good deal, ech; sounds like you have your you-know-what together real well.

    I’m a worker bee at a huge corporation here in northern Vermont and could get sacked any day or not for years, nobody knows anymore WTF is gonna happen with their jobs. So working on off-Grid skillz and also freelance screenplay but it’s nowhere near pitching to anyone.

    Best wishes from Retroville, VT.

  65. I just thought that I would amen the find a new job as quickly as possible advice. I have hired about 30 people over the last 20 years and I must say that I respect people jumping back into the fray as quickly as possible.

  66. Yeah, best thing is to kickstart yourself the minute you get the bad word. Start immediately with the job search thang, that minute. And do it 40 hours a week like a regular job. Keep a journal, a diary, whatever ya wanna call it, of everything you do for that search; names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, interviews, time and money spent, biz cards, etc., etc. This is important; you have something to show other members of the household who may perhaps be interested (and critical). And you have something to show yourself after a month when you haven’t found a goddam thing and you feel like you’ve done nothing.

    Apropos of that, more yak today at work about rumors about layoffs coming; my office-mate recently was showing some Mexican folks around his operations and he was saying today they’re gonna be taking over the stuff he and his colleagues do. I thought: Mexico? The failed state to our south? Where there are body parts and heads all over the fucking landscape? We’re gonna outsource American tech jobs THERE???

    And then I remembered that I live in Mirror World, Bizarro World, where everything is exactly opposite the way it ought to be. Silly me.

    So I am refurbishing and editing the resume, preparing the boiler-plate cover letters and thank-you letters for specific editing; assembling the stack of ‘networking’ cards; updating my Linked-In and other online junk; etc, etc.

    OTOH, the vast majority of minutes I spend on the job are hands-and-feet inside the security-clearance raised-floor data centers; a warm body operated by a sentient homo sapiens sapiens with a clearance is needed in there. We shall see. In the meantime I see that a huge retailing company in Bentonville, Arkansa is looking for “multiple” SUSE Linux sys admins. Do they have water moccasins down there???

  67. somehow missed the “s’ on the end of Arkansas. Weak, fat, furiously fast fingers….

  68. You need to go check out Amazon for a new job if needful. Although they use Sun Sparc servers with a massively modified version of Solaris and Oracle. Amazon is positioning themselves to take out Wal*Mart with their new same day delivery in the top 20 USA cities. My UPS brother-in-law was telling me that UPS is their delivery partner and is moving to a seven day operation on their big distribution centers.

    Arkansas is the king of the water moccasin states. Except Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. However, Arkansas is also the king of the copperhead states. Except Oklahoma. My parents bought a new home back in 1968 outside Norman on two acres (Dad was a prof at OU). We had to keep hoes by the back door and the front door due to all the copperheads.

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