Friday Quote- Frederick Douglass

13 Jul
July 13, 2018

To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

Why Aren’t You Rubes Taking Risks?

12 Jul
July 12, 2018

Via Peter Grant, I stumbled across this little gem from CNBC about how those poor/foolish homeowners aren’t taking out HELOCs. Don’t they know that home equity is supposed to be used to fuel consumerism.

For those unaware, Home Equity Lines of Credit are loans made against the portion of the home the owners have already paid off. They were advertised heavily in the early aughts for doing all sorts of things such as bill consolidating (taking out new debt to pay off old debt), doing remodeling on the house, sending kids to college, etc. Pretty much any big ticket item could be financed through a HELOC. After all, the housing market just kept going up.

Until it didn’t. And people were now underwater in their homes. With a variable interest rate HELOC. Many lost their homes. Some still haven’t recovered after a decade.

Now the housing market is heating up again, and the same damn fools are telling consumers that they should tap into their equity again. All that value tied up in real estate and houses instead of being used to take out loans. People just don’t understand how they could make their new home value work for them.

Or maybe the people are being smarter than the “experts”.

Reason Article Barrage!

11 Jul
July 11, 2018

Cleaning up some open tabs. As my readers should know, Reason magazine is where I get a lot of my news and analysis.

California Supreme Court Rules Impossible Laws Are Constitutional Basically, the court says impossibility can be a defense, but does not invalidate the law. Okay, I can understand that concept in theory, but it has real world costs for people forced to defend themselves from overzealous prosecutors enforcing this bullshit law. This is the kind of legal wonky ruling that reduces confidence in legal thinkers.

Illinois Court Rules That Police Can’t Arrest A Person For Carrying a Gun Without Checking For Valid Permit. This kind of balances out the previous article. I’d say I was surprised it came out of Illinois, but their courts have been much better on RKBA than the legislature.

A federal judge has blocked Tennessee’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court fees without first determining if the debtors are too poor to pay. This is a good step to remedying the vicious cycle of fines, suspension, jail that plagued the lower income communities.

Reason Is Concerned That the Recent Loss by the Southern Poverty Law Center Could be a Threat to Free Speech. I understand the concern that defamation suits can have a chilling effect on speech, which is why I support strong Anti-SLAPP laws. I will also admit to my own schadenfreude against the SPLC.

DC Taxes the Hell Out of Ride Sharing to Prop Up Broken Metro System. In my trips to DC, I’ve never had to deal with the numerous issues plaguing the Metro. That being said, with the coming changes in vehicles (automation and electric), I can’t support additional taxes to rail that is on its way out, much less an agency as troubled as the Metro.

Metal Tuesday- Black Stone Cherry- The Key

10 Jul
July 10, 2018

Black Stone Cherry is right there on the line between hard rock, southern rock, and metal.

Week of Highs and Lows

09 Jul
July 9, 2018

The personal life was a rolling through hills and valleys last week. Some of this my readers may already know from my posts last week.

Last Sunday was the birthday, and I received a lot of well wishes on the Book of Face, and some Amazon monies. Since The Girlfriend’s birthday and mine are so close, we decided to hold off any major celebration until the weekend after Independence Day.

I had a short week at the day job as I was taking off Thursday and Friday. It was still the beginning of the month, so I still had my monthly reports to get out. So, like the Bloodhound Gang lyrics, “Short and hard, like a bodybuilding elf.”

Tuesday night, The Girlfriend took our newest cat Rose to the vet. The cat came to me originally as a foster from my sister-in-law, and we decided to just keep her. She was a feisty, bossy little thing that was always hungry. We discovered part of the reason after taking the cat to the vet. Cancer. So, we decided to give that little cat the best home she could have until the disease took her. Which it did on Tuesday.

Wednesday was momentous, not because it was Independence Day, but because it was Cat Moving Day. Due to jobs, logistics, and houses, The Girlfriend and I decided that it would be best for me to move down to her place in Parrish than for her to move up to northern Hillsborough County. Wednesday was the day I moved my two cats down to be introduced to hers. Yes, we have a lot of cats. No, I’m not going to tell you how many. Yes, it’s less than ten.

Then came Wednesday night. With heart pounding in my chest, I popped the question. The Girlfriend is now The Fiancée.

Thursday was busy. The Fiancée’s niece moved in a few weeks ago after she left her husband. The niece asked if we would mind if she switched from the bedroom at the front of the house to the spare room at the back. This actually works out well, as it forced a purge and consolidation to turn the spare room into a bedroom and the bedroom into my home office. It was also a lot of work.

Friday was The Fiancée’s birthday and we celebrated by exchanging gifts. With the moving, we agreed to a $20 limit on gifts this year. I got her a cute coffee mug, and she got me a sign to go on the door of my new home office. Friday we also announced to the Facebook world we were engaged. The Fiancée has a lot more FB friends than I do. After celebrating, we did some quick shopping and then back to work. This was capped off with the AC going out Friday night, and the repair guy not being available until Saturday morning. Shakes were obtained from Sonic and multiple fans set up. It was a long, hot, and sweaty night. And not in a good way.

Saturday morning involved waiting for the AC guy to show up, fix the bad capacitor, and enjoy the rush of the first cool air in fifteen hours. Then more work. For the record, the desks we bought from Target went together so easily, I was almost suspicious. I also highly appreciated how the small parts were bundled by assembly step rather than one big bag.

Saturday night was a combination birthday/engagement dinner hosted and cooked by The Brother and Shooting Buddy. Both of them are into molecular gastronomy, and this was one of their chances to pull out the stops. The main course was a chicken breast with bacon glued on one side, grilled, and topped with a pepper jack cheese sauce. High end stuff. After dinner was board games and convivial company.

Yesterday was more work in the morning. The day was capped off with a birthday/engagement party at her parents’ house. Good food and good people. And more Amazon money. Which is good because Prime Day is a week away.

I’m on leave for the next couple of days while I do work on my house to get rid of stuff and box up stuff going down to my new home. It’s going to be weird for me to be in the house without my two fur balls getting underfoot.

It was a very busy week. On the good news front, my two cats have assimilated (or dominated) into the household with minimal growling, hissing, and spitting. We haven’t had any real fights. On the bad side, The Fiancée and I have had some frustrations as we get used to living with each other after living independently for years. Sometimes life decides to cram a month’s worth of moments into a week.

Friday Quote- The Girlfriend

06 Jul
July 6, 2018

Yes.

I guess she’s now The Fiancée.

Union Dues

05 Jul
July 5, 2018

So, we now have the US Supreme Court telling public sector unions that they can’t force employees to pay dues because those dues are used for speech that the employee has no say in or actively opposes. Some are calling this the death of unions, which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing. I’m hoping it will force a change in how unions operate.

I think public sector unions need to be abolished or substantially overhauled. There’s a governor on private sector unions in as much that if they have to balance the firm’s survival with their demands. Management has to balance the unions’ demands with the survival of the firm. Neither can force a third party with violence to support both the survival of the firm and the unions’ demands.

However, I can also understand wanting to band together to prevent management from forcing bad pay and working conditions. I also understand how the government, in its role as an employer, may want to have one negotiation covering as many employees as possible instead of hundreds or thousands of individual employment contracts. So, how to address all of these competing concerns?

My solution would be forcing a wall between the union’s bargaining activities and its political activities. I’m thinking how the NRA must separate out its political activities (by way of the NRA-ILA) and its educational activities. The bargaining fund could only be used for bargaining activities with management, and not be used for political donations or speech. A fee per employee could be assessed because each employee is using the union services for that bargaining. Any other service that the union would provide (health care, pension, grievances) should be through non-compelled membership. If union leadership wants to ask for political donations to support candidates, then those donations should be in a specific political fund for those activities.

There is a union at the day job. I don’t want to join it both because I dislike how they handle employee-management relations as well as just disliking public sector unions in concept. I’d be more willing to pay a fee for bargaining if I knew that it wasn’t going to be used to pay for speech that I strongly oppose or advocate for employees that really need to leave government service.

Maybe this ruling will force the changes I want to see.

A Rose By Any Other Name

04 Jul
July 4, 2018

Last night, we had to put down our cat Rose. I say we because The Girlfriend and I discussed the possibility earlier, but in the end, she had to tell the vet to end the cat’s suffering.

Rose came to us as a foster back in May. Last month, the vet told us the reason she wasn’t eating was because of cancer. We knew she didn’t have long, but it was still kind of sudden. I thought we would have another month with the bossy little cat.

I know that in time the things that cat did that infuriated me will become the things that gave her personality and charm. Including waking me up at oh-dark-early because she thought it was time to feed her.

I’m glad we could give her the best home we could for her final days. I just wish there were more of them.

Metal Tuesday- Sabaton- Kingdom Come

03 Jul
July 3, 2018

Sabaton doing a cover of a Manowar song? Hells yes!

I Thought Gentrification Was Bad

02 Jul
July 2, 2018

The “common wisdom” is that gentrification is bad because it pushes out the poor original residents by raisining prices and taxes beyond what they can afford. That may be less common wisdom and more urban myth according to this article from the Economist.

Gentrification is actually a boon to original residents as it brings in better stores with more goods, and increases the quality of local services.