Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do We Exist?

René Descartes once declared, ""Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am), Based on today's scientific research it may be equally plausible to state "I am because I think"

Check out today's article "Experiment begins to see if the universe is a 2D hologram"

Here's a short video that may explain this more clearly



My Take On This
This opens up a lot of possibilities. The foremost being the assumption the universe is infinite may be incorrect. Experiments in quantum physics suggests objects can be in two places at the same time. That is until we try to measure them. That is when one of them will seemingly disappear.

Rather then go into a super long explanation, let me put it this way. The eye cannot see itself. What can be observed is it's implied reflection. Let me expand on that. The essence of human thought cannot be measured either, only reflected on.

In a nutshell, there is no way possible we can state unequivocally we exist other then as a reflection of how our mind (whatever that is) interprets things or itself. Emphasis on "interprets".

Just what if "itself" is actually a projection in of itself just as the observable universe around us?

If everything we understand is nothing more then a dimensional projection the mind "interprets" as three, it means there is no actual time nor distance. All that exists is in one place at the same time, just as quantum theory suggests. No end. No beginning. Only the now. Even the illusion of the individual I am would be part of this hologram. In short what we consider being real or not real is only an interpretation in-of-itself which may or may not exist. Hence the eye cannot see the eye.

Meet BabyX, the virtual TODDLER that learns like a human-- "The artificial baby girl is being developed by the Auckland Bioengineering Institute Laboratory for Animate Technologies in New Zealand... Her ‘brain’ is in the form of a computer algorithms."



So Just What If?
All of us are nothing more then a higher species' software design. This takes us right back to the false assumption just because we "think" doesn't mean we actually are. It's then possible to conceive the universe is neither infinite nor anything we observe (including ourselves) actually exist as we may assume it does.

This all leads back to, if this be so, then who created them? Well maybe that's what they are trying to find out. If indeed we solve this riddle will they unplug us? Or shall they (if they exist) and us have achieved the true purpose of the first who set this in motion and have no further need of either?

In Conclusion
     (1) Self awareness doesn't prove a damn thing if that which has been created has been programmed sophisticated enough to "think" it is.

     (2) If indeed we are a product of whatever goes on, will we be allowed to go beyond indefinitely what we may have been created for?

     (3) Will it turn out what we think of God as our "creator" be far different then what the human mind could have ever imagined?

Before anyone blows off this theory of us existing in a so-called holographic world, we need to somehow prove otherwise. Ignorance and denial this is possible doesn't make it so.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DWB (Driving While Black)

Curtis Shannon says "On December 26th 2013 at 9:30pm, I was driving home from work. I purchaced a pizza pie from a local pizzaria so my wife wouldn't have to cook. She was still adjusting to the mother's life, our only son was only 5 months old at the time. Just before I got home, a police cruiser pulled behind my car...
I urge people to follow that link for the rest of his accounting of what happened next.

He also posted a video


Commentary
I truly really tried to ignore all the crazy ass stuff cops are doing. I'm sure it doesn't speak for the majority who consider themselves "peace officers". However more and more everyday we're seeing ever increasing reports of cops behaving badly. I don't know who the hell is training these guys, but once they were taught how to "deescalate" rather then "escalate" in these situations. It's as though too many have a "it's us versus them" attitude. This needs to stop!

If this trend continues we're going to have a problem. Maybe we already do. Choke holds, tasers and the firing of bullets have become all too common place. Respect is a two way street. Good policing depends on the public's help and trust. It only takes a few to spoil it for all the good police work that is done otherwise.

It's a sad day when citizens fear cops almost as much as the criminals. Sometimes, in some cases, it's hard to separate which are the bigger threat.

It's not enough people are now recording these violations on their cell phones. I'm calling for a federal law that would require all police and their patrol cars be equipped with video cameras. There's no better way to keep everybody honest. That day cannot come soon enough.

A Few True Stories (from separate cities)
My ex wife use to clean several banks at night. I will not mention the city, but she noticed a disturbance outside. It seems two cops had a guy cuffed out front. While she didn't see what led up to it, she did notice them slamming his head down onto the hood of the patrol car several times which left him bleeding. When she banged on the bank window they both looked up. It was at that point they both gently took the man to the back seat of their patrol car holding his head down as if they didn't want him to bump it on the way in.

At another bank a cop used to park out in front and stare at her for long periods while she worked over several nights. He even had the balls to knock on the front door and asked to come in to "talk". He would not go away after she told him to go away. She eventually called the Pa, state police who then came out and told this cop to bug off. When she talked to the bank manager (a female) the next day she was told this same cop use to come in and try and hit on her tellers.

Then there was the time I managed apartments at a rather large complex. One of my more troublesome tenants already occupying one apartment, his parents and sister another wanted his brother (a cop) to move into yet one more. That would make it four apartments who were making my life hell. After his brother (cop) was denied I was threatened by him and found a used condom full of semen stretched around my outside door knob the next day. A few weeks later this cop was fired and wouldn't have had a job to pay the rent anyway.

I have several other cop stories that I will leave for another time. The point is several of these cowboys need to be sent packing before the public loses trust in them. If it's not too late already.

Sometimes the only thing that separates a bad guy from the good one is a badge. I certain about the first, but not entirely convinced about the other.

See Also:
Georgia county refuses to pay medical bills after SWAT tosses grenade into baby’s crib

Video shows police shot Ohio man ‘on sight’ as he leaned on toy gun in Walmart


Burger King Moving Into Canada

By AP Published August 26, 2014, "Burger King says it struck a deal to buy Tim Hortons Inc....The deal would create the world's third largest fast-food company with about $23 billion in sales... The corporate headquarters of the new company will be in Canada, which stands to help lower Burger King's corporate taxes...

3G Capital, the investment firm that owns Burger King... Last year.. teamed up with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway to buy ketchup maker Heinz as well."


Commentary
During the Vietnam war a whole bunch of kids escaped the draft by moving to Canada. They were labeled cowards and traitors. Where's this same outage when companies do it?

It's a damn shame when companies like these enjoy the same rights, privileges and economic wealth that comes with being in the United States, but refuse to help pay for it. Even though "Burger King will still operate out of Miami".



Monday, August 25, 2014

Companies Making A Jackass Out Of Taxpayers

Congressional Research Service Data Shows, "47 U.S. corporations have reincorporated overseas through corporate inversions in the last 10 years, far more than during the previous 20 years combined, according to new data compiled by the Congressional Research Service. In total, 75 U.S. corporations have inverted since 1994 – with one other inversion occurring in 1983."

Microsoft Admits Keeping $92 Billion Offshore to Avoid Paying $29 Billion in U.S. Taxes

Cash Abroad Rises $206 Billion as Apple to IBM Avoid Tax , "The multinational companies have accumulated $1.95 trillion outside the U.S."

Everything You Need to Know About Corporate Inversions


Commentary
Don't expect to see this in the main stream media since it's owned by some of the very corporations gaming the system.

Nearly each and every day we are told how government can't afford education, social security or healthcare (including those for our veterans). How increasing the minimum wage will hurt businesses. Well I'm here to tell ya, none of that is so.

I don't intend to make this post too long so I will give one example of another way how we're being conned. It concerns our 401k's. Most workers can contribute up to $17,500 in 2014. Up to about 15% of their income.

These 401k's are nothing more then returning our pay back to the very corporations from which we were paid in the hopes we could make a couple of buck$ for our retirement. So not only are all too many corporations not paying taxes, receiving taxpayer subsidies but also taking a portion of what they pay their employees sent right back to them.

What if Social Security were redesigned that all this money was going to it instead?

Well I'll tell ya.
Everybody would end up getting the same amount of money (or more) after they retired they once did while working.

I tried to find a link listing the companies who (unlike us) aren't paying taxes, but have been unsuccessful. About the best advice I can offer is buy goods and services from local small owners whenever possible.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

10 Companies Avoided Paying $60.5b Federal Taxes

According to Bill Moyers one company even got $535 million in tax rebates though it paid no income tax at all!

According to a 'Americans For Tax Fairness 2013 report, "America’s 35% tax rate is the highest among industrialized nations, but very few companies pay anything like those rates. Total corporate federal taxes paid fell to 12.1% of U.S. profits in 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The average profitable company in the Fortune 500 paid just 18.5% of its profits in federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonpartisan tax research organization. Dozens of large and profitable companies paid nothing in recent years..

.. In 1952, under Republican President Dwight D Eisenhower, corporate income taxes were nearly a third of the federal government’s receipts but had declined to less than 10% by 2012. This is due to a corporate tax code riddled with loopholes, perks and preferences won by corporate lobbyists and backed by millions of dollars of campaign gifts to Members of Congress."


Commentary
Among just those 10 companies federal taxpayers are on the hook for $60,500,000,000 more on the national debt along with it's accompanying interest. Overall it cost the U.S. Treasury about $90b a year in lost revenue.

An argument can be made companies don't pull this money out of a hat. They'd instead pass it along to it's customers. Indeed they do. However a very large chunk of these profits now come from their international operations overseas. In other words the entire amount wouldn't be passed down to American consumers alone.

Another gigantic tax loophole concerns how CEO's are paid.

According to the AFTF report, because of congressional legislation passed back in 1993, they are exempt from having to pay taxes on any of their 'performance based' earnings. This is why you see the largest portion of their compensation coming from being issued massive shares of stock. According to the report this tax loss amounts to about $8b a year.

There are a couple of other things you should be aware of. They only have to pay taxes on them when they cash them and only on any gains made from the time they were issued. They are taxed at whatever the current 'capital gains tax' is at that time. Obviously one which is a much lower rate then they would have to pay otherwise if it were considered salaried income.

WAIT DON"T GO AWAY. That's not all there is. Get this, the companies that issued shares of stock to them get to deduct the value of them from their taxes. It's like printing your own money!

I SAID DON'T GO AWAY. Let me run this little scenario past you. Suppose a CEO is looking to getting out. I'm not saying this has happened, but it can. This CEO begins to do a lousy job. The board fires him. Usually these honchos, unlike you or I, are given extremely large severance packages. Thus rewarding someone for doing a lousy job.

This usually happens when a company's earnings stays flat or even loses money. What follows is the value of shares in such a company also remain flat or fall. Like I said it may have or not happened, but there's a huge incentive for a CEO looking to get out for a number of reasons. Remember what I said about them only having to pay taxes on their shares when they gain value. Why wouldn't a CEO be tempted to do a lousy job?

Here's what could happen. (1) He or she could be offered an over the top 'severance package" up front. (2) The CEO could conceivably keep share prices down while he/she is still at the helm. Which would make it a fantastic time to unload his/her shares (they never paid for in the first place) with no tax consequences.

This explains how some wealthy people pay lower rates then you or I. Our current tax laws on corporations and those who run them are filled with more loopholes then a block of Swiss cheese.

This also explains why tax rates for most individuals are the way they are. It's because few at the top are paying their share. Yet, many of the very same people are advocating for even greater tax reductions for they and their corporations. Some companies aren't paying anything at all. The way I understand math, nothing from nothing is still nothing. How can anyone give them a bigger break then that?

Never mind. Sorry I asked. This is how..
     "The Average American Families Pays $6K a Year in Big Business Subsidies""The Cato Institute estimates that the US federal government spends $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. That’s an average of $870 for each one of America’s 115 million families..

It does include payments to 374 individuals on the plush Upper East Side of New York City and others who own farms, including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Ted Turner. Wealthy heir Mark Rockefeller received $342,000 to NOT farm, to allow his Idaho land to return to its natural state.

It also includes fossil fuel subsidies, which could be anywhere from $10 billion to $41 billion per year for research and development. Yet this may be substantially underestimated. The IMF reports US fossil fuel subsidies of $502 billion, which would be almost $4,400 per U.S. family..."


In Conclusion
All of this is like a board game we're all forced to play in which only dumb criminals go to jail. Smart crooks seldom do. They get elected, entrenched in commerce and set the rules.

When players get wise there's little they can do other then becoming like them or be the kind of person we hope never to become. As for me, I choose the latter.

NFL Has Lost It's Mind!

By Chris Morran | Consumerist.com, "According to the Wall Street Journal, the NFL has asked its final three contenders for the show — Coldplay, Katy Perry, and Rihanna — to consider paying the league, perhaps by contributing some of their post-event earnings."

Commentary
     Are you kidding me!

2015 Super Bowl ads will cost $4.5 million apiece for 30 seconds!

As far as I'm concerned I could care less who performs at the half time. If I wanted to watch a rock concert I would. This is about football. Second I'm not thrilled with either Coldplay, Katy Perry or Rihanna. Any performer who gives them a nickel is setting a terrible trend for the future. Not only that, how desperate are they?

In 2012 the super bowl brought in $470 million. A player in 2014 who was a "division winner that played in a wild-card game and went on to win the Super Bowl received $180,000 (or $45,000 per game), the largest possible share".

Why should any performer pay the NFL in 2015 when there's over a half a billion dollar$ dived up amongst TV networks, players and the NFL?

In my opinion any performer who pays the NFL is desperate. They may not be worthy of watching in the first place. Which is why my time would be better spent grabbing a snack, beer and talking about the first half among my house guests or at a bar.

If performers think half time is about them they are deluding themselves. Therefore deserve to pay whatever the NFL can take them for. Have I made myself clear?

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Stuff- I Can't Give It Away (UPDATE)

     (Originally posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014)


It's pathetic when I can't give my stuff away free




Two pieces of furniture I wanted to donate


I was under the mistaken impression if I called a couple of local charities they would swing by and pick up my donations It appears my stuff is so crappy it's not good enough for the so-called needy.

I have a wooden crib, high chair and playpen in near perfect condition. I've been told local agencies neither accept upholstered furniture nor baby stuff more then five years old. The wife also wanted to give away 22 VHS exercise tapes. That's a no-go too. However I did find one that will accept my 2 DVD players, 1 DVR, TV Stand and 23 audio CD's.. well la-di-dah for me!

As for the sofa-bed and loveseat, it's still in my finished basement. I will continue to use it every day for many more years just as I have been.

My Take On This Is...
So-called Lehigh Valley agencies for the poor would prefer perfectly good furniture end up in the dump rather then give it away. What's good enough for us (living in the West End) doesn't measure up to the standards of those living amongst Allentown's impoverished.



If this stuff is good enough for our asses, tell your clients to go get a job and work for this stuff like we had to. So much for us wanting to help out what I thought were people less fortunate then ourselves It now makes me wonder who really are the less fortunate. We or they?



UPDATE
FREAKING UNBELIEVABLE!

One of the charities finally came out. I called 3 of them (this one twice). When I explained this stuff was in the basement and they should pull around back for easy loading they told me they aren't allowed to either pull in back or enter my basement. Are you F*&KING ME!!!!

So now the hell with all of them. The crib, playpen, high chair, 2 perfectly good DVD players, DVR recorder 22 VHS exercise tapes, 23 audio CD's, clothing items, stacked snack trays, TV Stand, shoes/clothing and the outdoor motion display projector are all going to the dump. I figure this stuff is worth a couple of hundred buck$.

I don't want to ever hear again about the good work these Lehigh Valley charities supposedly do. Yeah I get it now. If I was giving them cash they'd be banging down my door. It's a damned shame I should have to kiss their ass rather then contribute to the already overflowing dumps.

I've never felt so insulted that I should have to crawl up their behinds to give away good quality (slightly used) stuff that I worked hard for and thought someone else could use. I learned my lesson. I'm not going to jump through hoops to give this stuff away when they act like they're doing me some kind of favor.

Nobody else cares if we fill up the dumps. Now I don't either. Congratulations for bringing this 66 year old up to speed on how the generations after mine now do things. From now on everything goes into the trash.. END OF STORY.

      Damned right I'm pissed!

Unlike people from my generation and those before, unless there's money to made by the people running these organizations they could give a damn less about their so-called missions to help the poor. A bunch of phonies.. the lot of them. I'm so done with my concerns over filling the dumps and the phony baloney bullshit about recycling items that others could use.

I tried. I know when to give up. I'm not going to frustrate myself another couple more weeks trying to do something nice for others when the deck is stacked against me. They say you're never to old to learn. Boy have I learned!

Cedarbrook Nursing Home Controversy

By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times, "County commissioners voted 7-2 across party lines last week to eliminate $3 million set aside in a capital plan for building improvements at the South Whitehall Township nursing home... The nursing home operated at a loss of $4.7 million in 2013."

David Robinson Reporter- Albany Business Review reports, "Nursing homes are basically losing money because Medicaid doesn't pay enough money to cover the amount of care delivered... Of the nearly 15,700 total nursing homes in the U.S., just 912 were public in 2012."


Commentary
As usual I have more questions then answers. Here's a few of them..* Has this whole funding shortage been contrived by the for-profit nursing home industry's lobbyists at both the federal and state level?

* Defying logic, how is it possible private nursing homes can do things cheaper, provide the same level of care and still make a profit?

* Should nursing homes be the responsibility of government? If so at what level? City, county, state or federal?

Here's How I Feel
George H.W. Bush rallied under the banner "a thousand points of light". The Clintons, "it takes a village". While I feel both value merit, what happens when families are either incapable or blow off their elders in their most desperate final days of need?

There will come a time for nearly all of us when we become incapacitated near our final days. Few will be fortunate enough to "die healthy" in our sleep.

Not if, but when that time comes should our amount of suffering be determined by our financial resources?

No one should value one's life over another's.

It's my view everyone deserves the same kind of care in our final days on this Earth. If families refuse to help or individuals can't afford nursing care on their own then government needs to step in to provide it. To do otherwise negates why governments exist in the first place. Which is to provide for the needs of it's peoples.

In my eyes any government that exist only to sustain itself over that of the needs of it's people isn't worthy of it's continued existence. Anyone got a problem with that?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

NIZ Finances Already On Shaky Ground?

PPL is spinning off its PPL Energy Supply unit.-- "The PPL unit is being rolled into the power generation business of energy investment firm Riverstone Holdings LLC, and it will become an independent and public corporation called Talen Energy, traded on the New York Stock Exchange... Talen Energy will be based in Pennsylvania, but a specific location has yet to be determined."

By Scott Kraus, Of The Morning Call-- "Allentown is engaged in a high-stakes effort to keep PPL Corp.'s soon-to-be-created power generation and marketing spinoff company Talen Energy in its Neighborhood Improvement Zone.... Losing roughly 600 PPL Energy Supply employees and the tax revenue the company contributes to support payments on the arena complex's $235 million bond issue would be a serious blow... PPL Energy Supply parent company PPL Corp. is listed in the authority's bond financing documents as one of five large taxpayers that together produce 72 percent of the tax revenue swept up in the zone to cover debt payments... If that were to happen, new revenues produced by Talen, over and above current amounts committed to covering arena debt service by PPL Energy Supply, could be used with ANIZDA's permission to help finance construction of its new offices, Browne said."


Commentary
So let me get this straight. (1) It might cost taxpayers another large chunk of change to entice Talon to stay here by constructing yet another building? (2) There will be less employees paying taxes towards the NIZ then we now have even if they do? (3) Rather then bring in more taxes from outside Pennsylvania we might lose more then we already had in Allentown? (4) PPL will need less office space?

While this may all be conjecture for the moment, even a optimum outcome will produce less tax revenue and the promised increase in jobs then what we had before the NIZ. Sure this sale might have happened with or without the NIZ, but the question is, after spending nearly $1B will the net result leave taxpayers' in Pennsylvania better off?

There is room for argument that at least we here in Allentown will offset the loss. However, Pennsylvania taxpayers were promised more jobs and businesses would come in from out of state. That has not happened so far The bottom line in all of this is while Allentown may be better off will Pennsylvania taxpayers be (as a whole) when all is said and done?

In my opinion the answer is obvious, they will not.

One Final Thought
     Bend over. I don't see how this will benefit electrical consumers either.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri Who Benefits?

That may seem kind of a odd question since it appears on the surface no one does. However, advertently or inadvertently several players financially benefit by continually fanning the flames of discontent. * First off it's the police themselves. Police are not salaried. They are paid by the hour. No doubt it will cost taxpayers $100,000's in overtime pay.

* 10's of TV reporters have descended on Ferguson. Everyone knows when they do there is a huge spike in ratings. The more they excite their audience the greater the ratings. The greater the ratings the more advertisers have to pay per minute/per viewer.

* Then there's the suppliers for tools of the trade. Tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, flash bangs, vests, shields, batons and even fuel suppliers for the vehicles.
It seems just about everybody makes out except the protestors. Let's talk about the protestors. I'm confused how so many have the time to run around in the streets all day into the night. Don't they have a job to go to? Apparently not.

Parents shouldn't be dragging their kids into the protest now that schools have been shut down. I know I wouldn't want my kids witnessing both adults and police behaving badly. I know I wouldn't let my kids grow up under the impression this is the way to act in society when people disagree.

There are no good guys here. Both sides are wrong. Police need to start acting like police and not a military force like it were some war zone. In many cases instead of calmly quelling a situation they are escalating it. So too are protestors who engage police when they do. It seems both police and the angry crowds are both chumming each other hoping to gain some sort of win in a no-win situation for either side. When crowds act up against police they lose the empathy and support more rational thinking people may have for them. Same goes with the police.

This constant media attention on every little thing goats both sides to become more confrontational. At this point media has now become part of the story rather then reporting on it. They've given this way too much over the top coverage. Live streaming minute by minute both day and night. Sticking a mic or camera into the face of every bad actor whether it be cops or some protestor is irresponsible journalism.

Hell reporters even managed to get in the action themselves by being where they don't need to be barking into their microphones. None of them would have been picked up by police had they set their cameras to photo or video the situations from balconies or on rooftops. By doing so they would be observing the situation rather then becoming participant in it.

The victim of the police shooting was no innocent. But he certainly didn't deserve to be shot six times and executed over a petty theft. On the other hand no cop (especially this one) would have taken out his gun had the suspect complied. If the suspect in the theft had a beef, take it up with his lawyer and a judge in court. Both were wrong.

Apparently blacks in Ferguson feel they've been treated unfairly by heavy handed cops. Perhaps it may or may not be so, but allowing some individuals to get up in cops faces, looting stores and screaming out in the streets into reporters cameras is just feeding the bears < pardon my pun

As far as I'm concerned everyone from protestors to police, including the media are an embarrassment. Nobody's acted responsibly from the get go. The suspect for what he did. The cop squeezing off six shots. Not the riot police nor people out in the streets screaming both day and night about what might have or not happened. They weren't there.


The country is going off it's rocker
I don't know whether it's the food, water or what it is, but people have become way too aggressive. We see it with the militarization of our police. More people having road rage. Others getting physical with cops in almost every encounter.

Shootings of every kind-- Random shootings. Firing a gun at a perceived home intruder which in too many cases ends up being unnecessary. In some cases even a member of their own family who came home late or got up to use the toilet ends up shot. Shootings in schools, work places and movie theaters.

Teenagers, both boys and girls, video taping fights (sometimes encouraged by their own parents).

The latest fad of going around and sucker punching complete strangers for no reason.

It seems too people are losing more and more self control. Teachers who can't keep their hands off of students. Even if it weren't legally speaking "consensual" sex in all too many cases we learn some teen students themselves agreed to it. In some instances even instigating it.

More and more of both our young and adults are acting up against authority even after doing something wrong. Thereby refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions.


In Conclusion
What's going on in Ferguson is symptomatic of changes going on in our society. The breaking down of self discipline and increasing aggressions towards one another.

So too the exploitation of it by media seeking advertising dollars spread thinner by more competitions to them then ever before.

Ferguson (with it's single death) is far less a concern then these others we face. If it weren't for media hype most of use wouldn't even be speaking of it (including me).

Each of us should reflect, act responsibly, hold ourselves accountable for each our own actions and hope we not fall victim to those who do not. That's all we can do.