Oct 31, 2009

Irish are Golden Tonight :o)

They look like the Irish of Old, great win at 40-14, the 6-2 Irish are now bowl eligible :o)


WooHoo, Beat Michigan :o)

Sorry in advance to Miss Alaineus.

The lowly 1-6 Fighting Illini pulled out a great upset at home today.  The first half was close, with Michigan up 13-7, and Michigan looked poised to score again, but the Illinois linebacker brought the Wolverine runner down at the one yard line.  After a four down goal line stand, the Fighting Illini marched 99.75 yards for a score and never looked back.  They scored 31 unanswered points. 

I am glad that Juice Williams has at least one really good game for his senior year. 

Sorry to Michigan fans, but that is just one team I cannot root for.

Halloween - Real or Reality TV?

Octomom Nadya Suleman just cannot stand not being in the spotlight. Here she is shown with her Halloween costume, a pregnant Nun, wrong on so many levels. To make it even worse, perhaps even worse than Balloon Boy's parents, she dressed all eight of her kids as devils.

This week in Time, James Poniewozik had an article titled Lighter Than Arrogance. Below is a quote from that article that I think pretty much sums it up:

"Modern media did not invent greed, eccentricity or lust for attention. What they did is monetize them. There have long been odd families and obscure men pursuing bizarre theories and cobbling together flying machines in their backyards. But only in the reality-TV era has unstable behavior become a valid career choice. Only now are questionable parenting decisions the stuff of a lucrative family business."

Partisanship at its Prime

The Michigan Legislature at work.

The person speaking is Republican, and the majority in the House is Democratic, so they can carry their agenda on their own.

So, here are some tax dollars at work as two play solitaire, one checks out baseball scores, and another is on Facebook.

This is an atrocity, and we need to stand up and demand more from our legislaturers!

Oct 30, 2009

Halloween Eve, Ready for some HORROR???

Courtesy of the Daily Beast, here is a listing of the top eleven Horror Movies, based on the picks of Martin Scorsese. The link provides a video clip of each movie. I have to admit, there are a few that we may need to get. His picks are:

The Haunting
Isle of the Dead
The Uninvited
The Entity
Dead of Night
The Changeling
The Shining
The Exorcist
Night of the Demon
The Innocents

So, what is your favorite horror movie, and are you going to watch one to celebrate Halloween???

Science Scene - Climate Declared :o)

STOCKHOLM — Shopping for oatmeal, Helena Bergstrom, 37, admitted that she was flummoxed by the label on the blue box reading, “Climate declared: .87 kg CO2 per kg of product.”

New labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods, from whole wheat pasta to fast food burgers, are appearing on some grocery items and restaurant menus around the country.

People who live to eat might dismiss this as silly. But changing one’s diet can be as effective in reducing emissions of climate-changing gases as changing the car one drives or doing away with the clothes dryer, scientific experts say.

“We’re the first to do it, and it’s a new way of thinking for us,” said Ulf Bohman, head of the Nutrition Department at the Swedish National Food Administration, which was given the task last year of creating new food guidelines giving equal weight to climate and health. “We’re used to thinking about safety and nutrition as one thing and environmental as another.”

Some of the proposed new dietary guidelines, released over the summer, may seem startling to the uninitiated. They recommend that Swedes favor carrots over cucumbers and tomatoes, for example. (Unlike carrots, the latter two must be grown in heated greenhouses here, consuming energy.)

They are not counseled to eat more fish, despite the health benefits, because Europe’s stocks are depleted. And somewhat less surprisingly, they are advised to substitute beans or chicken for red meat, in view of the heavy greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising cattle.

If the new guidelines are heeded, some experts say, Sweden could cut its emissions from food production by 20 to 50 percent. An estimated 25 percent of the emissions produced by people in industrialized nations can be traced to the food they eat, according to recent research here. And foods vary enormously in the emissions released in their production.

Earlier studies of food emissions focused on the high environmental costs of transporting food and raising cattle. But more nuanced research shows that the emissions depend on many factors, including the type of soil used to grow the food and whether a dairy farmer uses local rapeseed or imported soy for cattle feed.

Next year, KRAV, Scandinavia’s main organic certification program, will start requiring farmers to convert to low-emissions techniques if they want to display its coveted seal on products, meaning that most greenhouse tomatoes can no longer be called organic. For example, farmers with high concentrations of peat soil on their property may no longer be able to grow carrots, since plowing peat releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide; to get the organic label, they may have to switch to feed crops that require no plowing.

Next year KRAV will require hothouses to use biofuels for heating. Dairy farms will have to obtain at least 70 percent of the food for their herds locally; many previously imported cheap soy from Brazil, generating transport emissions and damaging the rain forest as trees were cleared to make way for farmland.

I think that if we are going to get ahead of this issue, we are going to need to change the way we think about even the simple things - carrots or tomatoes, chicken or beef. I know that there is more we can do, and we do more every year. I hope it will be enough.

Oct 29, 2009

Retirement Location - How do your taxes stack up?

Here is a link that will give you an idea of how your state, or a potential state location, will rate for your retirement taxes.

For a discussion, go here.

Penny Wars - United Way - Win/Win :o)

Penny weight is 2.5 - 3.11 grams depending on issue year.

250 pounds would be 37,800 pennies

The weight of a 5 gallon jug to be 230 - 270 pounds

For our local United Way campaign at work, on aspect was "Change Wars". Each Department had a gallon jug, and pennies were positive, and any silver or paper money was negative. Challenges were made, piggy banks were emptied, and the WAR was on. So what were the results?

The "War" may be over but the "Change" will be lasting - Although technically, the Maintenance Department lost the United Way Change Wars with an ending balance of -$327.41 (which allowed Training to sneak into victory with a positive balance of $136.74), their challenge to the rest of the station helped raise a remarkable total department donation of $2,732.69. Overall, the War netted $5,537.32 for the United Way. Many thanks go out to all participants for their generous and spirited engagement, which will go toward bringing positive and lasting change to our community.

The real winner here is, of course, our community. Our Goal this year is $315K, and while we are not yet there, we are closing in :o)

Update on 10/29/09. We raised $331K and exceeded our goal. We rock :o)

Oct 28, 2009

Bucko's Bucks - What Stocks to Buy

It has been a while since I have posted a Bucko's Bucks entry.

Back in May, in my now deleted Bucko's Bucks blog, I made an entry that discussed three potential recovery models.

The first was the "V", a quick turnaround. This fund "IYW" that I invested in was focused on technology, financial, and retail. My rule of thumb has been, 20% or more gain, sell. I have sold this one.

The second recovery model was the "U", a prolonged recovery. This fund "XLV" is focused on Emerging Markets, Health Care, and Corporate Bonds. This fund is positive, but in the less than 5% range.

The third and last recovery model is the "W", back to back recessions. This fund "IXC" is focused Treasuries, International Stocks, and Energy. This fund is positive, but is less the less than 5% range.

If you have been following the market over the past few months (with the exception of this past week), we have recovered 30% since the market bottom in March. So, if you were an investing person, where would you invest?

My investments are: Alcoa, ABB LTD, AIG, China Fund, Chevron, Ford, General Dynamics, General Electric, Home Depot, Hewlett Packard, IXC, Mcdonalds, Spyder Trust, AT&T, and XLV. I have recovered from the market bottom by selling Acuity, Pfizer, and IYW. Currently, I am down about 3% based on the losses this week.

Recent issue of Kipplinger agrees with Bucko on Alcoa, AT&T, Chevron, Hewlett-Packard, and McDonalds.

Kipplinger also recommends 3M, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, ExxonMobil, IBM. Johnson&Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft (Bucko recently sold), Pfizer (Bucko recently sold), United Technologies, and Walmart (Bucko sold last year).

So, tell me, where do you recommend investing???

Philosophical Phun - Comparitive Philosophy :o)

Comparative philosophy brings together philosophical traditions that have developed in relative isolation from one another and that are defined quite broadly along cultural and regional lines — Chinese versus Western, for example.

One benefit of comparative philosophy lies in the way that it forces reflection on the most deeply entrenched and otherwise unquestioned agendas and assumptions of one's own tradition. Another benefit at which its practioners often aim is that the traditions actually interact and enrich one another.

Chinese philosophy is “wisdom” literature, composed primarily of stories and sayings designed to move the audience to adopt a way of life or to confirm its adoption of that way of life. Western philosophy is systematic argumentation and theory. [Since the revolutionary war, our country has displayed the attributes of being contrarian, almost to a fault]

Is it right to say that Chinese philosophy is invitational while Western philosophy is argumentative? One answer is that there is a difference but that it is more a matter of degree than an absolute contrast. It was Aristotle, after all, who said that discussions about the good in human life cannot be properly assimilated by the young because they do not have enough experience of life (Nichomachean Ethics I.3). [I found this perspective quite interesting. I think there is a lot to be said for life experience before we can even begin to think of judging others]

It is true that much Western philosophy, especially of the late modern variety, and most especially emanating from the United Kingdom and North America, attempts to establish its claims through argumentation that is more rigorous than appeals to experience and explanatory power in the broad sense. [This has been true on both sides of the aisle. Republicans and Democrats both have shown their own ability to be bellicose in their beliefs and positions]

Confucianism is a perfectionist virtue ethic if such an ethic is distinguished by its central focus on three subjects: character traits identified as the virtues; the good and worthwhile life; and particularist modes of ethical reasoning. These three subjects are interrelated. The parallels to ancient Greek virtue ethics, medieval virtue ethics, and also to contemporary virtue ethics in the West are striking, and help to account for the renewal of Western interest in Confucianism.

A frequent criticism from the Western side is that Confucianism fails to provide adequate protection to those legitimate interests an individual has that may conflict with community interests. On the other side, some advocates of Confucian ethics criticize rights-focused moralities for ignoring the social nature of human beings and of portraying human life in an excessively “atomistic” or “individualist” conception of persons (e.g., Rosemont, 1986). Against those who argue that Confucianism does not protect the individual enough, it could be replied that the Confucian framework of responsibilities to others can afford significant protections to the individual and arguably addresses the human need for community and belonging better than rights frameworks (Rosemont, 1991, 2004). Another criticism from the Western side is that the dignity of the individual cannot be honored without recognition of individual rights. It has been replied, however, that dignity can lie in one's human capacity to participate in the distinctively human life of relationship and in living up to one's responsibilities to others (Ihara, 2004). [I think this difference if perspective provides exceptional insight into the difference in human rights perspective between the East and West]

In East Asian societies the importance placed on social hierarchy provides an outlet for the rich and powerful members of these societies to distinguish themselves, whereas in socially egalitarian societies such as the U.S., the primary outlet is through the accumulation of wealth, and hence the relative economic equality of East Asian societies as compared to Western societies such as the U.S. On the other side, a tradition that has tended to value the idea of social harmony at the cost of sufficiently protecting dissenters who desire to point out abuses of power or just plain bad thinking by authorities would do well to look at another tradition that does not value social harmony as highly but has endured and is vigorous. [At this point, I think we have something to learn from the East, we certainly could use more social harmony, even at the expense of individualism. No I am by no means a socialist, but I certainly do not agree with the degree of acrimony that our country is currently displaying]

So tell me, what are your thoughts regarding healing the rift we have in our country, between our Western culture and the Eastern culture. What will you do differently tomorrow to bring both sides together?

Oct 27, 2009

Jay Leno - NBC Anchor ???

Loved Johnny, but never been a fan of Jay Leno. I know that we miss the 10:00 drama slot, when edgier shows than what can be shown during kid-friendly time slots can be shown. It comes to me as no surprise that his ratings are tanking and that the affiliates are grumbling.

Jay Leno's move to prime time was viewed by some as a savvy show business decision. A popular, well-known comedian, the former host of the Tonight Show would provide NBC with a cheap, talk-show alternative to the network's previous line-up of dramatic programming, which is costly to produce.

After a solid start last month, ratings have a slipped to a quarter of what they once were. That has local news programs nervous, as they count on viewers of 10 P.M. shows to stick around for the 11 P.M. news. Viewership of 11 P.M. newscasts has tanked in more than three-fourths of the top 56 metered TV markets, falling an average 13% in the first four weeks of the season.

NBC's ratings slippage is leaving some local station managers to predict that the clock is ticking on Leno, and that he may be out of a job by February should ratings not improve. That would not surprise me a bit.

Currently, NBC is standing by Leno, saying that the reasons behind ratings fall are bigger than the lantern-jawed comedian himself. The strategy sounds similar to one CBS adopted when Katie Couric took over the CBS Evening News in 2006. However, it is one thing to mess with a 30 minute network news slot, versus an hour of prime time viewing, which leads into the evening news. Without the affiliates, the networks are nothing.

H1N1 Influenza, Just the Facts.

With the spread of the H1N1 flu, it is important that you take the proper precautions. Hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol‐based hand rub is highly effective in reducing influenza A virus on human hands, although soap and water is the most effective intervention. Below are some facts about this strain of influenza. Click the links for more information.

Visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) continued to increase in the United States, and overall, are higher than levels expected for this time of the year.

Total influenza hospitalization rates for laboratory-confirmed influenza are higher than expected for this time of year for adults and children. And for children 5-17 and adults 18-49 years of age, hospitalization rates from April – October 2009 exceed average flu season rates (for October through April).

The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) based on the 122 Cities Report has increased and now exceeds what is normally expected at this time of year.

Thirty-seven states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time. They are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. Any reports of widespread influenza activity in September and October are very unusual.

Almost all of the influenza viruses identified so far are 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses. These viruses remain similar to the virus chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, and remain susceptible to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir with rare exception

Oct 26, 2009

Are You A Good Communicator?

Imagine this scenario, you get home from work and you find your significant other on the floor, face blue, gasping for breath. You call 911 and give your address as "6969 Dee" street. 10 minutes later, there is still no response, because the ambulance was sent to "E" street. By the time the error is corrected, it is to late. While this is an extreme example, it shows the importance of proper communication.

In the Nuclear Industry, we have used three-way communication and the phonetic alphabet for years. It is starting to catch on in other industries as well. When you have important communication to make, please use the human factor tools below to make sure you are successful.

Three-way communication

Three-way communication occurs when a message is spoken, repeated aloud, and then verified that the message was correctly received. When using three-way communication be sure to use the receiver’s name to get his or her attention; slow down and speak clearly; the receiver should repeat the message back to the sender in his or her own words; then the sender acknowledges the message was received correctly.

Phonetic alphabet

Many letters in the English language sound similar. The phonetic alphabet uses standard words for letters to limit confusion.

A = Alpha
B = Bravo
C = Charlie
D = Delta
E = Echo
F = Foxtrot
G = Golf
H = Hotel
I = India
J = Juliet
K = Kilo
L = Lima
M = Mike
N = November
O = Oscar
P = Papa
Q = Quebec
R = Romeo
S = Sierra
T = Tango
U = Uniform
V = Victor
W = Whiskey
X = X-Ray
Y = Yankee
Z = Zulu

Here is the example commonly used in human performance training:

Sender: “Dan, I am going into the primary zone.”

Receiver: “I understand you are going into the primary zone.”

Sender: “That’s correct.”

Everyone benefits from clearer communication. Try using three-way communication and the phonetic alphabet with co-workers and see what a difference it makes.

Oct 25, 2009

It Is Official, They Are Crazy :o)

Well folks, you have been following the trials and tribulations of the schoolmarm and the auto-line worker. Are they simpatico? Will they get along? Will they find love in this fucked up world [that one is for you MissA]

We were Blogger friends with Miss Alaineus before she met Mr. Mischief, and have witnessed their budding romance. Beth and I offered encouragement where we could, because after all, we met on-line and were engaged four months later, so we knew anything was possible.

And today, we learned the Good News, they are officially engaged :o) So, go on over to Mr. Mischief and Miss Alaineus and give your congratulations. I know that at Nutwood Junction, we could not be happier. Are they crazy, I say yes, Crazy In Love. Congratulations you two!

She's A ManEater :o)

If you recall about a month ago, we went on a guided hike at a local Nature Conservancy location called Swamp Angel. One of the hikers was Botanist Scott, and we have started following him at Through Handlens and Binoculars, and based on an e-mail from him, I have started following him over at GetYourBotanyOn. We were fascinated by the carnivorous plants, and Scott has posted a couple of links to one found in Borneo that can/has digest rodents on the GetYourBotanyOn site. The PopSci site especially has a cool video of one of the pitcher tubes growing.

After watching the video of the new pitcher plant, I found the one below of a Venus Fly Trap plant. Spoiler Alert - it shows insects getting consumed :o)

Anyway, as I was watching the video, the maneater song started going through my head, so if it does for you, below is a video :o)

Sunday Silliness - Intimidation

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent, but you'd be a fool to withhold that from your superiors.

Oct 24, 2009

Irish Do It Again, Cardiac Kids For Sure :o)

The Cardiac Kids do it again, unbelievable. At least they sealed the deal at 1:28 vs. less than a minute.


Ground Round Day :o)

Today, we went and picked up our side-o-beef. We have found this to be the most economical way to do beef.

The live weight was 1190 lbs, so our half would be 595 lbs. The hanging weight (that is what the processing is based on) was 368 lbs, and we ended up with 205 lbs of meat (91 lbs hamburger, 47 lbs roasts, and 67 lbs steaks).

So, for a freezer full of meat, we paid $3.85 per pound. The beef is raised by one of my friends at work and it is hormone free and very lean.

Life is good sometimes :o)

Science Scene - Greenpeace Changes Stripes?

At a recent United Kingdom roof-top protest and a full-page advertisement in The Times, Greenpeace appealed to leaders of all political parties to "Please steal our policies."

But for the first time, there was no explicit policy against nuclear power. Instead there were stipulations for any new coal-fired power plants to come with full carbon dioxide abatement, and for renewables to make up 15% of all energy.

Greenpeace will surely continue to speak up for renewables in preference to nuclear power and maintain its tough scrutiny of all matters related to nuclear power, but the change in its stance was welcomed as a "positive step".

Oct 23, 2009

Thank You All :o)

Between my Bloggerville comments, and Facebook wall posts, I am humbled by our outpouring of Birthday Wishes.

A day like today makes one truly appreciate the ties we make on-line. Many of my Facebook wall posts are people I work with, and I say thank you to them.

As for our Blogger friends, we have met several, and look forward to meeting more in the year(s) to come.

We are going out to meet Jamie and Shawn tonight (part of the blogger friends we have met) for Gino's East (ChiTown style) pizza, and spirits.

But mostly, this Humble Pie is how I feel, I am deeply touched by your well wishes, and know that I am here for each and every one of you.

Have a great weekend :o)

Tomorrow Is Make A Difference Day, Can You Help?

Tomorrow is Make A Difference Day.

Sometimes contributing to a sustainable community is as simple as neighbors helping neighbors.

That’s the idea behind Make a Difference Day, celebrated nationally the fourth Saturday of each October. Observed this year on Oct. 24, this "national day of doing good" is sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine in partnership with the HandsOn Network.

Last year, 3 million people volunteered on thousands of projects in hundreds of towns around the nation.

This year, we contributed some fleece clothing to help those that will be struggling with the cold this winter.

It can be as simple as going through your closets and getting some things to donate to those less fortunate. Hope you get a chance to do something to help :o)

I don’t know U :o)

As the axiom “Water under the bridge” implies, what is past is past.

However, there are times when we take a moment to contemplate the type of person we are, the life experiences that have tended to mold us, similar to a blob of clay on a pottery wheel. As the sculptor works with loving care, the object starts to take shape.

As I look back today, on the anniversary of my birth, I see distinct eras in my journey.

The first era was childhood, the time of innocence and happiness. My Mom and Dad were still together, my brother and I were best friends, and there were few worries. We had a great house, a summer place in Florida, and took annual family vacations.

The second era was adolescence, a time marked by negative change and insecurities. My parents divorced when I was eleven, my Dad went bankrupt, and I started working at twelve, first delivering newspapers, then as a busboy, and when I was old enough to drive, delivering pizza. My teen and high school years were very forgettable – I was not good at athletics and was considered a brain, so my friendships were few and far in between. I was insecure, torn between my divorced parents, and was a sponge for any acceptance and affection that I could find. I think I was sustained through this time by my membership in a youth group (DeMolay). I lived for the weekends, spending time with my Dad and brother (and later my grandmother Nan), attending youth group functions and camping on the weekends. Come the end of my Junior year, it all changed. I was as far as I was going to go in the youth group because college loomed on the horizon and I was working multiple jobs. I was so glad to get high school behind me and move on and out on my own.

The third era was a welcome respite – a molding period you might say. I thrived at the University of Illinois, finding new friendships, learning how to study and apply myself, trying new things and developing my own ideas. If I could do it over again, I think I would have studied a little less and experienced the experience a little bit more. From a personal perspective, this was a lonely time for me, and while my professional persona was becoming fully developed, my personal persona was becoming more and more skeptical – there were hurts and disappointments that would stay with me for a long time.

The next era was a time of samo-samo and some new challenges. One of the things I had to do was to learn to channel my smart-ass-tendencies that had carried me through high-school and college, because I soon found out that that did not work so well in a shirt-and-tie environment. I made some lifelong friends, developed a love for San Francisco, and found out that your past can catch up with you. My career was going fairly well, my personal life was really a downer – I was so insecure in this aspect of my life. My high-school sweetheart re-entered my life at this point, and I glommed on to this like a kitten to a teat. There were some really good times and some new friendships, children were born, houses were purchased, but there were dark times as well – my Dad passed away, we relocated across the country and then relocated several other times, and I became financially distressed. This is the era where I realized that if you are not happy, you cannot make anyone else happy, and I made the toughest decision of my life – to leave my marriage (the easy part), but that meant that my children would no longer be part of my day-to-day sustenance.

That brings us to the current era, a time when I have found true happiness and peace. I have been in my current job for almost eleven years, have found a soul mate in Beth, and live on the dream property that my Dad and I always talked about as I was growing up. Are there regrets, absolutely, one of the biggest ones being the involvement I have in my children’s life. But does that define me? The short answer is no, it does not.

From the Blog of DB (a quote from Jesse Jackson), “Some wise one once said that we should be pulled by our dreams not pushed by our memories.” So why this long winded entry? It is because the person that I am now does not reflect the person that I used to be in many ways. I am loved by a wonderful woman, confident in my capabilities and plans, as successful as I need to be to lead us on to the next era, and most importantly happier than I have ever been. I am defined by possibilities and opportunities, not by regrets and what could have been.

The next era, all I will say is that my role model is my Father-In-Law, who retired at 55 and has never looked back :o)

Oct 22, 2009

Windows 7 - Is It For You?

Today is the day that the software company, that shall not be named, releases their new operating system. This is supposed to be an upgrade from Vista (wasn't that a great platform introduction, NOT). End of Rant :o)
The new release is supposed to be less needy, only alerts you to really important stuff, and is faster than Vista (like that is hard to accomplish :o).
There are other upgrades, including Media Player now accommodating iTunes AAC format, but some missing things also (Windows Mail, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker). So, use your existing ISP mail system and give Google Picasa a try.
Upgrades are $120, or $150 for a 3-PC Family Pac. Most likely there will be specials and discounts as well.
The real question is, Should I Upgrade??? Of course the answer is, it depends :o) If you find Vista sluggish and you plan on keeping your computational device for at least two years, then it most likely makes sense. If you use Windows XP, I say just bite the bullet and buy an new computer with W7 preinstalled.
Bottom line, if you currently run Vista, W7 will most likely work better, so are those extra 45 seconds [disclaimer: joke, no technical basis] in your day worth the upgrade, that is up to you.

Science Scene - What on a Shingle ???

In what could be a big boost for the fledgling building-integrated photovoltaic sector, Dow Chemical last week unveiled a solar shingle that promises to address two of the biggest issues hampering expanded solar deployment on homes—installation cost and residential aesthetics.

After two years and $100 million in development costs—aided by some $20 million in Energy Department cost-share funding—Dow Wednesday unveiled a thin film solar array that looks much like a strip of standard black asphalt shingles, albeit a bit shinier.

The Dow shingle utilizes copper indium gallium diselenide, or CIGS, cells that can convert about 10 percent of the solar energy hitting them into electricity. As with other thin film solar cells, CIGS panels have roughly half the conversion efficiency of conventional silicon-based solar modules, meaning rooftop arrays have to be bigger to generate the same amount of electricity.

Dow’s real breakthrough—if it is confirmed in field tests planned for next year—is that its “Powerhouse” shingle can be installed by roofers with the standard nail-it-in method used for regular asphalt shingles.

The arrays also plug into each other through a proprietary connector, eliminating the need for extensive wiring typically required for rack-mounted roof-top solar arrays; electricians still will be needed to attach the arrays to an inverter and house electricity systems.

A Dow system capable of providing 60 percent of an average-sized home’s electricity needs could cost around $27,000, with subsidies bringing the after-tax cost down to $7,400.

While optimistic about the new shingle, Dow officials made clear that a commercial roll-out of the new shingle is still more than a year away. They note that their pilot production facility has an annual output of only 3 to 5 MW, and they also plan extensive market testing next year to see if their research on installation and homeowner acceptance pans out in the field.

I hope this is just the tip of the iceberg for greener options for homeowners.

Oct 21, 2009

The Perfect Husband :o)

It ain't me, trust me :o)

Philosophical Phun - Pragmatic Arguments and Belief In God

Let me preface this entry by stating "It is important to recognize the distinction between theoretical moral arguments for theism (arguments intended to show that God exists), and pragmatic moral arguments for the rationality of theistic belief." This entry deals with the pragmatism for the rationality of theistic belief, and in no way is related to whether God exists or not. So, if you can make that distinction, please read on, if you are in a moral outrage that this is even here, please pass on by. For the full origin of this highly abbreviated summary, click here.

Pragmatic arguments have often been employed in support of theistic belief. Theistic pragmatic arguments are not arguments for the proposition that God exists; they are arguments that believing that God exists is rational. The most famous theistic pragmatic argument is Pascal's Wager. Though we touch on this argument briefly below, this entry focuses primarily on the theistic pragmatic arguments found in William James, J.S. Mill, and James Beattie. It also explores the logic of pragmatic arguments in general, and the pragmatic use of moral arguments in particular.

Pragmatic arguments are relevant to belief-formation, since inculcating a belief is an action. There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of pragmatic arguments that have to do with belief-formation. The first is an argument that recommends taking steps to believe a proposition because, if it should turn out to be true, the benefits gained from believing that proposition will be impressive. This first kind of pragmatic argument we can call a “truth-dependent” pragmatic argument, or more conveniently a “dependent-argument,” since the benefits are obtained only if the relevant state of affairs occurs.

Among the various versions of his wager argument, Pascal employs this Rule in a version which states that no matter how small the probability that God exists, as long as it is a positive, non-zero probability, the expected utility of theistic belief will dominate the expected utility of disbelief. Given the distinction between (A) having reason to think a certain proposition is true, and (B) having reason to induce belief in that proposition, taking steps to generate belief in a certain proposition may be the rational thing to do, even if that proposition lacks sufficient evidential support. The benefits of believing a proposition can rationally take precedence over the evidential strength enjoyed by a contrary proposition; and so, given an infinite expected utility, Pascal's Wager contends that forming the belief that God exists is the rational thing to do, no matter how small the likelihood that God exists.

The second kind of pragmatic argument, which can be called a “truth-independent” pragmatic argument, or more conveniently, an “independent-argument,” is one which recommends taking steps to believe a certain proposition simply because of the benefits gained by believing it, whether or not the believed proposition is true. This is an argument that recommends belief cultivation because of the psychological, or moral, or religious, or social, or even the prudential benefits gained by virtue of believing it. In David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, for example, Cleanthes employs an independent argument, “religion, however corrupted, is still better than no religion at all. The doctrine of a future state is so strong and necessary a security to morals that we never ought to abandon or neglect it” (Hume 1776, 87). Perhaps the best-known example of an independent-argument is found in William James's celebrated “Will to Believe” essay in which he argues that, in certain circumstances, it is rationally and morally permissible to believe a proposition because of the benefits thereby generated.

Unlike independent pragmatic arguments, dependent ones are, in an important sense, truth-sensitive. Of course, being pragmatic arguments, dependent-arguments are not truth-sensitive in an evidential sense; nevertheless they are dependent on truth since the benefits are had only if the recommended belief is true. In contrast, independent pragmatic arguments, yielding benefits whether or not the recommended beliefs are true, are insensitive to truth. Independent-arguments, we might say, are belief-dependent and not truth-dependent.

Phew, you made it all the way through, so tell me your thoughts. Are you outraged at the subject, are you intrigued by the implications to modern religion, are you contemplating the extension of the pragmatic arguments to other topics and applications?

Oct 20, 2009

RIP Victor Mizzy :o(

His funeral was today.

Victor Mizzy (January 9, 1916 – October 17, 2009) was an American composer for television and movies whose best known works are the themes to the 1960s television shows Green Acres and The Addams Family.

He also wrote the scores for The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Reluctant Astronaut, two very popular Don Knotts films in the latter half of the 1960s. Both scores possessed a sound which became billed as "The Don Knotts Sound". Mizzy released these scores on CD, complementing the DVD releases of the films. He also worked with Sam Raimi for the outtake music of Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3.

Mizzy was born in Brooklyn, New York. He had two children with his first wife, Mary Small, a singer who first earned the moniker "The Little Girl With The Big Voice" and was popular in the 1930s (as a child), 1940s and 1950s. One of her daughters, Patty Keeler, a singer and songwriter, often worked with Doc Pomus, a 1992 inductee to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
Mizzy died at his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California on October 17, 2009, aged 93.[1]

Science Scene - What Emissions Rules are on the Horizon?

I found the graphic at the left interesting as it provides a breakdown of our carbon footprint. There are rules and regulations, and/or legislation in our future, our costs will increase, but how much remains to be seen. Based on the information below, we need to push for legislation, but it could be a moot point if it becomes mandated under the EPA laws.

The EPA and Department of Transportation last month released a notice of proposed rule making that provides proposed emissions standards for cars and light trucks. The proposed standards are a response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, which requires the EPA to determine if GHG emissions “endanger public health or welfare” and, if so, to regulate them.

If the EPA’s proposed endangerment finding and vehicle emissions standards are finalized, that could trigger regulation of GHG emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act.

Utilities consistently state that they favor congressional legislation over EPA regulation [that is a shock, when did you ever hear utility companies say they desire legislation to regulate their industry?]. Congressional legislation is likely to be more balanced and flexible in its approach, which would mean lower costs for customers of coal-based utilities.

The potential for EPA carbon dioxide (CO2) regulation is somewhat disturbing news, and it begs the question, who will bear that cost – shareholders or customers. EPA regulation could be more expensive because it would likely involve plant-specific emission limits and may not include an allocation of emission credits similar to that proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill.

At this point, it is difficult to predict how costly compliance may be.

The debate and options will be evaluated over the next several months, especially as we near the time frame for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

Oct 19, 2009

2010 Olympic medals take recycling to a new level

How cool that the medals will be made partially from recycled computer components.

Super target: 2010 Olympic medals take recycling to a new level

Shared via AddThis

The Lending Club, want to join?

I have written in the past about Kiva, and what a great organization it is to help people in third world countries that are striving to help themselves.

Of course there is always brouhaha about how we need to help ourselves before helping others overseas. So about three months ago, I did some searching and reading, and more reading and searching, and came up with a good site where we can give a helping hand up to people in our own country.

This site is the Lending Club. I have made eleven loans, four of which have started paying back, and there have been no missed payments yet. I wanted to give this some track record and validate payments and statements, before I posted here. Borrowers need to provide credit information, their credit scores are posted, delinquencies are disclosed, and debt to income ratios are displayed. You can determine your own risk. I highly recommend this site.

This is a win-win, I get better than the 0.1% interest in my savings account, and everyday Americans get to consolidate debt and start to make inroads into financial security. Currently, my consolidated interest rate is 9.34%, nothing to shake a stick at.

If you decide to join, use the referral code "Buckoclown" and you will get $25 to get started. Disclaimer, this is not paid advertising and I get nothing if you become an investor.

I have set it up so that every two weeks I deposit $25 into both my Kiva and my Lending Club accounts so that I can help others get a step ahead to their dream. Hope you will join me in one or both of these causes.

Oct 18, 2009

Do You Like Football? :o)

As any of you that read Beth and me know, we take our football seriously. On Facebook, one of my high school friends posted this, and I just had to share it with you, especially since I know that some readers are not really that into sports. The title is "3 Reason Women Don't Like Foot Ball." There are three separate clips, so keep watching until the end. I sure am glad that my little woman likes football :o)

Kind of a lazy morning, but about 2:00 PM, I headed out to get some yard chores done. I love this time of year, not to hot, and still sunny. A shirt and jacket (the jeans are a given :o), and you are good to go. Today's main task was to fire up the chainsaw and cut up a tree that fell across our marsh path. Then, as long as I had the chainsaw out, I cut down a bush and a tree that were on the edge of the path to allow me to mow it a little wider.

Next was to fire up the blower and clear the leaves from the deck, the driveway, the front yard, and part of the back yard. After a good two hours, I came in and had worked up a nice little sweat. There is nothing better to me than toiling on our property. I try and get at least one task done each weekend, but soon the snow will be here, and then it will be indoor tasks and some workouts in the garage.

Tonight will be Da Bears.

Hope your Sunday was pleasant as well.

Sunday Silliness - Inspiration

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99% perspiration, which is why engineers sometimes smell really bad.

Oct 17, 2009

Irish Lose, but I still Love Them, Go Irish :o)

A valient effort by the Irish, but they came up a bit short.
Currently watching the listless Indiana Hoosier and Illinois Illini game, hoping someone will score before halftime :o)
Hope your Saturday has been good, and that you have a nice day planned for tomorrow.

All is well in Vagabondville :o)

Just a quick entry to let all know that DB over at Vagabond Journeys and Vagabond Tales is doing OK, he is experiencing some computer difficulties and expects to be back in business Tuesday or Wednesday.

As a side note, he has the greatest voice, a natural for radio and acting.

Looking forward to your return DB :o)

Economics Nobel - Where is the backlash?

I have to admit, I am flummoxed at the lack of outrage to an American winning the Nobel Price for economics. I have been sitting on the edge of my seat for the past five days, waiting for the backlash, but there have been no LimbaughAssBagger rants, no Becknutterbutter crying game scenes, no outrage and demands to turn down the award. What kind of accepting world are we turning into???

STOCKHOLM — Americans Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson won the Nobel economics prize on October 12th for their analyses of economic governance — the way authority is exercised in companies and economic systems.

Ostrom, a professor at Indiana University, was the first woman to win the prize since it was founded in 1968, and the fifth woman to win a Nobel award this year — a Nobel record.

The academy cited Ostrom "for her analysis of economic governance," saying her work had demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by groups using it.

Williamson, the academy said, developed a theory where business firms can serve as structures to resolve conflicts.

"Over the last three decades, these seminal contributions have advanced economic governance research from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention," the academy said. It said the American winners' research shows that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organization."

Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized," the academy said. One notable publication Ostrom wrote in 1990 examined both successful and unsuccessful ways of governing natural resources — forests, fisheries, oil fields, grazing lands and irrigation system — that are used by individuals.

Williamson of the University of California at Berkeley was cited for arguing that markets and hierarchical organizations, such as firms, represent alternative governance structures that differ in their approaches to resolving conflicts of interest. Issues of governance, or the rules by which authority is exercised in companies and economies, have been at the heart of the ongoing world economic crisis. The failure by boards of directors, for instance, to police excessive compensation, or prevent bonuses that reward excessive risk taking, can be considered a corporate governance issue.

I think that the honoring of these two individuals and their unique and timely theories is outstanding. Studying non-governmental structures and corporate organizations, and translating into useful models is worthy.

Oct 16, 2009

Couch Potato :o)

Have to say, I am looking forward to doing a little couch potato action this weekend. Saturday will be ND football and Sunday will be NFL football. As the weather gets cooler, it is nice to be inside where it is toasty warm. Hope you have a great weekend :o)

The picture is from our internal newsletter, and the couch racing is for a good cause :o)

VICTORIA, Texas -- Exercise normally gets under most couch potatoes’ skin. However, 12 AEP Texas employees, their families and friends actually turned racing couches into a sporting event at the Victoria Sweat Equity Challenge held this past weekend at Riverside Park in Victoria. Proceeds from the event will benefit Victoria’s Habitat for Humanity, which provides homes for qualifying low-income families. In all, several hundred community volunteers helped out with the various events, which included The Adventure Bike Race, 5K Run, archery, Children's Decathlon, Disc Golf Tournament, Obstacle Course, Paintball Tournament, and 12 other events.

Oct 15, 2009

Human Performance - SRK Framework

The Skills, Rules, Knowledge (SRK) framework or SRK taxonomy defines three types of behavior or psychological processes present in human performance.

Skill-based level: A skill-based behavior represents a type of behaviour that requires very little or no conscious control to perform or execute an action once an intention is formed. For example, bicycle riding is considered a skill-based behavior in which very little attention is required for control once the skill is acquired.

Rule-based level: A rule-based behavior is characterised by the use of rules and procedures to select a course of action in a familiar work situation. The rules can be a set of instructions acquired through experience or given by supervisors and former experience For example, hospitals have highly-proceduralized instructions for fire emergencies. Therefore, when one sees a fire, one can follow the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the patients without any knowledge of fire behavior.

Knowledge-based level: A knowledge-based behavior represents a more advanced level of reasoning. This type of control must be employed when the situation is novel and unexpected. Personnel are required to know the fundamental principles and laws by which the system is governed. Since personnel need to form explicit goals based on their current analysis of the system, cognitive workload is typically greater than when using skill- or rule-based behaviors. Engineering and design activities typically belong in this category.

You can see from the chart that the probability of making an error increases exponentially as you progress from skill, to rule, to knowledge based activities.

Oct 14, 2009

Run David Run :o)

Stockholm is not only the home of the Nobel Prizes, but also a place that DustBunnies should avoid at all cost.

The Swedes, those latter-day descendants of bloodthirsty Vikings, have found a new use for rabbits: heating fuel. Stray rabbits are being shot, frozen and then shipped to a heating plant to be incinerated.

Bunnies, despite a felicity for breeding, are not quite abundant enough to be a reliable fuel so Stockholm also ships dead cats, cows, deer and horses to the plant for processing. No word on whether the remains of man's best friend are also keeping Swedes warm this winter.

Here is the link for the full article "Burning Bunnies for Biofuel,

Sorry folks, this was so out in left field and so typical of "gripping" headlines that I could not resist. The absurdity of this article did tickle my funny bone though :o)

Just for the record, I do not endorse this practice.

Philosophical Phun - Artificial Intelligence :o)

The Chinese Room argument, devised by John Searle, is an argument against the possibility of true artificial intelligence. The argument centers on a thought experiment in which someone who knows only English sits alone in a room following English instructions for manipulating strings of Chinese characters, such that to those outside the room it appears as if someone in the room understands Chinese. The argument is intended to show that while suitably programmed computers may appear to converse in natural language, they are not capable of understanding language, even in principle. Searle argues that the thought experiment underscores the fact that computers merely use syntactic rules to manipulate symbol strings, but have no understanding of meaning or semantics. Searle's argument is a direct challenge to proponents of Artificial Intelligence, and the argument also has broad implications for functionalist and computational theories of meaning and of mind. As a result, there have been many critical replies to the argument. For the full original entry, click here.

I found this concept very interesting in our current information and technological age. While we may joke about people we know with faux intelligence, applying the true artificial intelligence question to computers is interesting. We have built cell phones that have more computing power than the first Eniac computer, and computers can out chess the masters. Will we ever be able to build a computer that will really be able to think, or feel, or reason. What makes our synapses so different than the silicon and gallium connections in the ever increasing powerful microprocessor?

Oct 13, 2009

Oatmeal Bars?

Earlier this year, when I went to the eye doctor to get my contacts and glasses refreshed, the doc indicated that I had cholesterol rings in my eyes, something he is used to seeing in people in their 50's. My cholesterol is borderline, in the low 2oo's, but this still was a shot across the bow.

He indicated that oatmeal has been shown to reduce cholesterol, including LDL (bad) cholesterol. The reason is that it contains soluble fiber, which appears to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Oat fiber also helps improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. And as if that was not enough, oats contain phytochemicals that help reduce the risk for heart disease and have other health benefits.

Not a big fan of early morning breakfast, I have been taking oatmeal square to work 3 of 4 times a weak. While not expensive (about $0.50 each), they are pre-packaged and have preservatives in them. I found a recipe for Peanutty Oatmeal Bars that I have asked Beth to give a try, and we will go from there.

If you are interested, here is the recipe:

1 cup cooked oatmeal

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 medium egg

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup chocolate chips (we will skip these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an eight-by-eight-inch-square baking pan,. Mix all of the ingredients together, and spread in the pan. Bake 30 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes, then cut into squares.

Pet Peeve - Obnoxious Cell Phone Use, Solved???

I know for one that I am getting really tired of how people use cell phones everywhere they go. Bathrooms, cars, restaurants, movie theaters, cars, restaurants, cars, restaurants... I know that there is a move afoot to potentially ban the use of cell phones in cars (at least for texting), since this has been proven to be more distracting than driving under the influence. The technology in this article also gives people and businesses another potential option to cut down on this distracting behavior.

Qualifier, if you are a courteous cell phone user, do not take umbrage. However; if you are one of those cell phone users that chats away on the freeway in the left-hand lane and are going below the speed limit, oblivious to anyone or anything around you; or if you are like Kenny Tarmac [Bob and Tom reference] and people within fifty feet of you can hear your side of your cell phone conversation - then please take umbrage :o)
This is news a lot of cheapskates aren't going to like, especially the kind of cheapskates who routinely poach on other people's wireless connection. There's now a paint you can use that will block Wi-fi from going through walls and into the arms of another, unauthorized, computer user. The University of Tokyo has developed a paint that is allegedly able to block radio frequency in higher spectra, where Wi-Fi and other, higher-bandwidth communications take place. Most Wi-Fi technologies operate at 2.4GHz; the Tokyo pain can reportedly block frequencies all the way up to 100GHz. A 200GHz-blocking paint is also in the works, according to this report.

Grumpy Wi-Fi owners might be rejoicing (presuming this stuff ever gets to the market, and isn't $100 a gallon). Likewise theater owners, who will surely be interested in squelching that pesky cell-phone problem once and for all (the paint also blocks in the lower frequencies that cell phones use.)

Oct 12, 2009

Science Scene - Morning Glory Phenomenon

The Morning Glory phenomenon is the result of the particular configuration of the land and sea on the Cape York Peninsula, in a remote part of Australia. The peninsula tapers off from about 350 miles wide to 60 miles as it extends north between the Gulf of Carpentaria to the west and the Coral Sea to the east. The easterly trade winds push the sea breeze across the peninsula during the daytime, which meets the sea breeze from the west coast in the late evening. The collision produces a wave disturbance moving inland to the southwest that is a key part of the cloud formation.

“Over the years we’ve developed a good understanding of them,” Smith said. “It’s no longer a mystery, but still very spectacular.” [meteorologist Roger Smith of the University of Munich, who has studied their formation]

As moist sea air is lifted to the crest of the waves, it cools and condensation forms a cloud. Sometimes there is just one wave, but Smith has seen as many as 10 together in a series.
“If you look at the clouds, it looks as if they are rolling backwards,” Smith said. “But in fact the clouds are continuously formed at the leading edge and continuously eroded at the trailing edge. That gives a rolling appearance.”

These clouds do occur elsewhere, including Munich, where they form about once in a decade. Cape York is unique because they happen regularly in the fall above the small town of Burketown. And they can also be particularly impressive there as well, growing up to 600 miles long. Pilots fly into the area every year, hoping to see the intriguing clouds.

Not many scientists study them, or really any weird clouds, because their very rarity makes them relatively unimportant for studying precipitation or climate. So, oftentimes, their formation is poorly understood.

Entry courtesy of Wired Science, click here.

Happy Columbus Day :o)

Columbus Day, holiday commemorating Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. It has been traditionally celebrated on Oct. 12 throughout most of the United States, parts of Canada, and in several of the Latin American republics. In the United States, however, since the observation in 1971 of the Uniform Holiday Act, it is celebrated on the Monday nearest to Oct. 12.

Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1905, and became a federal holiday in 1934. But people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other eastern U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event.

God Bless America!

Oct 11, 2009

Weekend, Where Did Thou Goest :o)

It is hard to believe how fast the weekends seem to slip by.

Yesterday, after the weekend morning coffee and paper, was mow/leaf mulch during the day, then over to Beth's sister Diana's place.

We played Wii Beatles Rock Band, and without a doubt, that was the highlight of the weekend. We went over intending to be observers, but we jumped right in on the first song and never looked back. Beth was on vocals, and I switched back and forth between guitar and drums. We did not get home until after 2:30 AM. It was a hoot and we are seriously thinking of investing in a Wii (we had previously played golf/bowling/tennis with our CA friends Kim and Steve, hi guys :o).

Today was winterizing of the yard (empty garden pond, turn off outside water, cover the patio furniture), then off to TGI Friday's to get our free Jack Daniels burgers and to use our $5 bites card that we got for a recent gift card purchase. It was a lot of food, and I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

We are now winding down watching the Colts, it should be a good game.

Hope your weekend was everything you wanted it to be :o)

Sunday Silliness - Insanity

It's difficult to comprehend how insane some people can be. Especially when you're insane.

Oct 10, 2009

Congratulations Mr. President!

After watching all the brouhaha about President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and sitting here shaking my head again at the divisiveness in our country by the vocal minority, I decided I must weigh in with an entry (I usually leave the political entries to Beth, she is a tad more vocal on this than I am LMAO :o). So here I present a bit of background, and my opinion.

When Alfred Nobel died on December 10, 1896, it was discovered that he had left a will, dated November 27, 1895, according to which most of his vast wealth was to be used for five prizes, including one for peace.

The prize for peace was to be awarded to the person who "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses." The prize was to be awarded "by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting."

To read more of the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, link provided courtesy of Sheria :o), who in her entry reminds us that President Obama has been talking of his philosophy of peace and dialogue for more than three years now, starting with his campaign. It was Sheria's entry that inspired me to make this entry, so thank you friend.

At the bottom of the history link, is a summary. I think this statement helps sum it up: "Different kinds of statesmen were awarded the Peace Prize, some for addressing global concerns, others for helping to solve regional crises, still others for the general principles they espoused. The human rights category was added to the list and gradually became perhaps the most numerous one."

An another quote: "...the Norwegian Nobel Committee has increasingly come to use the Peace Prize not only as a reward for achievements accomplished, but also as an incentive for the Laureates to achieve even more. This may be said to reflect the growing courage of the committee members or, perhaps more accurately, the increasing stature of the Nobel Peace Prize."

Peace has never been defined by the Nobel Committee, which I think is fitting as it means different things at different times. Regardless of how the minority in our country feel about President Obama, the world has hope that he can be true to his words and help bring about change. It is that hope, and President Obama's consistent rhetoric and demeanor, that in my opinion, has made him a worthy recipient of this noble honor.

Bucko's Bucks - A strong argument for a flat tax.

Warning: Rant and Controversial subjects ahead!

Fact: between 38% and 47% of households have no federal income tax liability. I found reading the below information on this statistic very interesting. While all workers pay into social security and medicare, not all workers have an income tax liability.

So as we have been sitting here over the past months, listening to all the LimbaughAssBagger and Beck-erButtNut followers, it is interesting to see that many of them actually contribute nothing to the funding of the operation of our country.

I see two potential solutions, some sort of minimum flat tax (for those above the poverty level) so that all contribute to our countries operation, or only those of us that are in the other 53% have a right to have a say or to complain in how the non-social security and non-medicare funds are spent. As an alternative, a national sales tax instead would be even more fair because it is a consumption tax, but this is a political non-starter.

I need to qualify this entry by stating that I have been a life-long Republican up until the last year, where I have now firmly entrenched myself in the Independent camp. I am a fiscal semi-conservative and a social liberal. I used to be very fiscally conservative, but now believe that there need to be some limits and responsibility for those of us fortunate enough to be middle class.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Most people think they pay too much to Uncle Sam, but for some people it simply is not true.

In 2009, roughly 47% of households, or 71 million, will not owe any federal income tax, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Some in that group will even get additional money from the government because they qualify for refundable tax breaks.

The ranks of those whose major federal tax burdens net out at zero -- or less -- is on the rise. The center's original 2009 estimate was 38%. That was before enactment in February of the $787 billion economic recovery package, which included a host of new or expanded tax breaks. The issue doesn't get a lot of attention even as lawmakers debate how to pay for policy initiatives like health reform, whether to extend the Bush tax cuts and how to reduce the deficit.

The vast majority of households making up to $30,000 fall into the category, as do nearly half of all households making between $30,000 and $40,000.

As you move up the income scale the percentages drop.

Nearly 22% of those making between $50,000 and $75,000 end up with no federal income tax liability or negative liability as do 9% of households with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000.

Of course, income taxes don't tell the whole story. Workers are also subject to payroll taxes, which support Social Security and Medicare.

When considering federal income taxes in combination with payroll taxes, the percent of households with a net liability of zero or less is estimated to be 24% this year, according to the Tax Policy Center's estimates.

A key reason why there is a zero-liability group at all is because the U.S. tax system is progressive. Those who bring in more money pay more than those lower down the income scale to support government functions such as national defense and social safety nets like Medicaid for those in need. That progressivity can be dialed up or down.

"Some think it's too progressive. Some don't think it's progressive enough," said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the center.

President Obama falls into the latter camp. He has proposed increasing the income tax burden on families making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000, while offering new measures to reduce the tax bite for most Americans making less. I personally believe that this bar is set to high. I think that those making $75K or above need to continue to pay their fair share, not to be more progressive.

One of Obama's proposals is to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for everyone except high-income tax filers, which was the group that derived the most benefit from those cuts. As a result, under Obama's budget, he would keep the ranks of the non-payers higher than they would otherwise be. I think we should let the tax cuts expire so we have less of a burden on future generations.

I think that there is a lot of confusion, or non-information about how our tax structure and funding of our government is achieved. It is easy to complain, but to really dig in and understand your part and your contribution, and to make your voice be heard accordingly is one of the rights we have in this country. Unfortunately, the right to complain is also one the is used very frequently, frequently drowning out the facts.

Oct 9, 2009

I am Shocked, Shocked I tell You :o)

Bet you thought that this was about our cool, calm and collected President being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize :o)

Nope, what I am shocked about is that Golf and Rugby are officially new Olympic Games sports, voted in by International Olympic Committee members today.

The sports will make their first appearances at the 2016 summer games which last week were awarded to Brazil and will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC stated: "Both golf and rugby are very popular sports with global appeal and a strong ethic," said IOC President Jacques Rogge. "They will be great additions to the Games."

The summer games have 28 sports. To make room for the two new sports, the IOC earlier jettisoned baseball and softball.

While I love golf, I would say that I do not believe that it is more of a sport than baseball. Interesting they took out two team sports and substituted an individual sport and another sport. One interesting fact is that both Golf and Rugby used to be in the Olympics, so they are returning sports that were once already there. Of course, baseball is a much more isolated sport than golf and rugby are, so perhaps in the bigger world scheme of things, they made the right decision.

What are your thoughts?