Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Things I Want

After watching some of the protests and realizing that it is close to Christmas, I have some things that I want. These are some realistic things, and nothing stupid and unobtainable like a Cirrus SR 22, or a Cessna Corvalis TTX.


Beretta P4X Storm

These are just cool. Rotating barrel gives the .45 ACP pistol the same recoil and muzzle flip of a 9mm. Easier to keep on target after the single shot and makes close grouped accelerated pairs with a .45 ACP an attainable goal for the occasional shooter. At $640 it is a little pricy, but a fun shooting gun to have.

Springfield M1A1

This is the civilian version of the best battle rifle the United States of America ever produced, the M-14. It is the last rifle that was made when people knew what to expect when they pulled the trigger on a rifle. It was also the last rifle that was made when extreme accuracy, not how much ammo you could carry, was the cornerstone of a rifle.
This rifle is in .308, and has a fiberglass stock. I like the fiberglass rather than wood, because wood can rot, fiberglass can not. I like the .308 because I can shoot 7.62 NATO rounds through it (a rifle chambered for .308 is designed to take higher pressures than one chambered for the military 7.62 NATO round, so you can shoot both rounds through the .308 rifle, but only 7.62 rounds through a rifle designed for 7.62 rounds.)
I like this kind of rifle because it is good for everything. You can realistically hunt with it (you will NOT be hunting with anything that is in a 5.56, you can't put it down in one shot, the 5.56 was designed to be super duper light so that solders could take more ammo in to battle, where the primary goal is to wound, not kill your enemy), because the round is big enough, and accurate enough to take down anything that you hunt for food, i.e. deer. It is a semi-automatic rifle so it can be used in a self defense situation if things go bat shit crazy where you live i.e. New Orleans after Katrina, Los Angles after the riots, etc. It has a decent rate of fire, a good sized magazine, and packs enough punch to dissuade anyone from coming too close.
At $1,300 it is a bit of a pricey toy. I have real trouble trying to explain to the wife why I need a rifle for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. Doctors have no imagination.


War Black and White Gi

War is a Brazilian Gi company. They are the first of the "second" generation Gi companies. Second generation, because they were founded by guys who trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and designed their Gis specifically for their sport, rather than recycling the same gis that were used for Judo and Karate. They also have the unique practice of preshrinking all of their cotton pieces. This means that you don't have to buy one size up when ordering the gi to compensate for shrinkage after washing. On top of all of this they make a very good gi... and the black and white makes it look very bad ass.
This gi is a bit expensive, at $155.

Maui Jim Big Beach Sunglasses

Maui Jim makes the best sunglasses in the entire world. Polarized and optically perfect, wearing a pair of Maui Jims is like getting an eye massage the entire time. New frames at Maui Jim are made of titanium and are super light weight. You can tie the frames virtually in knots, and it will snap back in to proper shape. They are simply kick ass!!
At $300 you might think that they are a very expensive pair of sunglasses. You are wrong. There are few things in this world that are worth more than what you pay for them. Maui Jim sunglasses are just such a product.


Microsoft X-Box 360
Seriously, I want to play Halo and Gears of War... I don't have one and for $200 I can get an older model with less disk space. Couple that with my computer running Media Center and I have DVR.

Asus Zenbook

Finally, an Intel box that can match up with the iMac Air in terms of size. In terms of hardware, the Zenbook blows it away. I don't think that this would be a very smart investment, however, because with the release of Windows 8 in the next year or so, most portable notebooks like the Zenbook will be going to more of a tablet form factor. There will always be a need for computers with physical keyboards, but my guess is that, that particular need will be fuffiled with a keyboard attachment on to the tablet.
This guy comes in at about $1,350 for the 13" screen i7, 12GB RAM loaded version.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Herman Cain 9-9-9

A lot of press has been put out there about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 program. What is it? What does it mean?? Essentially, it is Herman's plan to flatten out and simplify the tax code. It works like this, first you completely throw out the existing tax law. Get rid of all 2,500+ pages of it. It is all gone now, and we start from scratch. The initial plan is to replace the existing tax system with a flat 9% tax on all corporate profits, a 9% tax on all income, and implement a 9% consumption tax on all goods and services sold in the United States. Simple right? Sure is.

Let's start with the pros of this plan. The number one driver of corruption in this country is its asinine tax law. Tax deduction for that, tax credit for this, surtax on that, and a partridge in a pear tree. Congresspeople and Senators get their campaign contributions from people who are primarily looking to work the tax system. A small break here or an increase on a competitor there makes these contributors HUGE money on the back end, so kicking a few thousand dollars in to a campaign that will be friendly to your cause come vote time is very helpful. Cain's plan, initially, gets rid of that by flattening out the tax system so it is equal and fair for everyone.

Next, the U.S.A. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It drives up the cost of doing business, therefore many business that would love to locate in the U.S.A. locate somewhere else, like Mexico or the Caribbean. With a 10% corporate tax rate, that would put the U.S.A. at the very low end of the world's corporate tax rates. Suddenly the U.S.A. looks like a very attractive place to do business.

One of the very high points for the 9-9-9 plan is the elimination of all secondary income taxes. This is from things like dividends, bank interest, and other investments. Why is this a good thing? Because, under the current system, the Government "double-dips" you by taxing you income from wages, then AGAIN hits you on income that comes from things that you bought with post tax money, like investment dividends and savings account interest income. What this also means is that repatriated money, that is money that is currently held in tax free foreign bank accounts, comes back to the U.S.A. How much are we talking? We really don't know, but the lowest estimates are in the $13 TRILLION range. Serious cash. The last government stimulus was almost a trillion dollars. Just think what a boost $13 trillion would be. The consumption tax broadens the tax base and makes sure that, in the words of President Obama, "...everyone has skin in the game." There are provisions in the 9-9-9 program to make sure that the super poor do not pay income taxes, but the consumption tax ensures that every body is paying something in to the system. It also means that those that are in the country illegally, and currently do not pay taxes, and those visiting our country contribute by paying the consumption tax.

My very favorite part of the 9-9-9 plan is that it would take a 2/3rds majority of both houses of congress, and a presidential signature to raise any of the three taxes, or add new ones. Only a simple majority is needed in both houses, and a presidential signature for a reduction or elimination of the three taxes. This holds Congress directly accountable for tax raises, and makes any type of raise very difficult to get accomplished.

Now the cons. First, and the biggest in my opinion, is that it opens Pandora's box when it gives the government both an income tax and a sales tax with which to screw us with. This is NOT a good thing, and, I believe, that only one type of taxation system should be allowed at any one time. Having both can open the door to some very serious problems.
Herman's thought is that the 9-9-9 will open the door to the FairTax, however I don't believe that he can get two major tax overhauls done in one or two terms as president. My thought is that if you are going to base your campaign on a major overhaul of the tax system, go whole hog and work a repeal of the 16th Amendment, and implement the FairTax. Herman does not think that he can get a repeal of the 16th Amendment done right away, so the 9-9-9 plan is the closest thing to it. I am very worried about it.

Now the BS that the Liberals will use to try an discredit the 9-9-9 program.
First we need to go over the natural enemies of the 9-9-9 program just to filter them out before we can get to their arguments. Tax programs like 9-9-9, flat taxes, and the FairTax takes power from the central Government, and gives it back to the individual. Those that dislike individual liberty will be the natural enemy of the 9-9-9 program. Groups like the left wing of the Democrat party, Socialists, and Communists. Their goal is ultimately state control over the monetary system, therefore any type of transfer of power to the people is against their interests.
The lobbing, accounting, and tax preparing industries will also come out against 9-9-9. These businesses rely on the complexity of the tax system to sell their services, with 9-9-9 they are pretty much unnecessary, and you can be sure that they will fight to keep their hold on what they make their livelihood on.

Ok, to the arguments. First, Warren Buffet will not pay taxes with 9-9-9. This one is not true. Warren Buffet will pay taxes on his salary at the exact same rate as any of his employees. "Yah, but that isn't where he gets his money!!" Again that is true. Most of Warren's money comes from what he did with his post tax money. He invested smartly and made billions. This money, like that of his employees, will not be taxed. The Warren Buffet argument comes down to what the opposing sides define as "fair" and "equal." Those that support 9-9-9 will say that equal means equal. Everyone pays the same percentage no mater what. Those against will argue that equal means changing the percentages because some have more than others. HA! 9-9-9 has a contingency for that. For most part, Warren Buffet excluded, the rich consume lots of stuff. They also consume more expensive stuff. The poor don't consume as much, and they buy cheaper stuff. The consumption part of the 9-9-9 plan will force the rich to pay more for their excess, and for their expensive luxury. Those frugal, rich or poor, will not pay as much in tax as those who spend.

HA! the opponent of 9-9-9 says, the consumption tax will hurt the poor. Some of the poor that do not pay taxes now will end up paying taxes. No doubt about that. 9-9-9 will make some of the 54% of Americans who don't pay taxes join the taxpayer rolls. However it won't be as painful as it seems. Anyone who gets a pay check knows that there are some taxes that are taken out of everybody's check, regardless of how much you get paid. Social Security tax is one that immediately comes to mind. Most of the time the poor receive their tax money back at the end of the tax year with their tax refund check. The 9-9-9 program will immediately hand them 15% back in their pay checks, as the government will no longer be taking the 25% or more out of their pay check as if they WOULD be paying taxes at the end of the tax year.

But... What about my tax deduction that I get for my house? Only charitable donations cont as deductions in the 9-9-9 plan. Won't this crash the housing market? Name me one person who buys a house for the tax break... Seriously, the investment of a house is not in the tax savings, it is in the appreciated value in the the home when it is sold later on. AND the reduction in the payroll tax more than makes up for the money gained at the end of the tax year by the housing credit.

********Added 10/19/2011 After Debate*******
But Herman, I already pay 8% in sales tax to my state and municipality, if your 9-9-9 plan went through I would pay 17%!
I had hoped this little bit of idiocy would burn itself out under the weight of its own stupidity, BUT if you over estimate the stupidity of the American people you will never be disappointed. This argument is, of course comparing two dissimilar things. It is like saying you don't want to remove a dog's spine, because a worm doesn't have one.
First one is a federal tax, the other is a state tax. The two are separate from one another. That should be your first stopping point, however we will continue using a comparison that everyone knows. You pay federal income tax, and you pay state income tax. If you combine the tax rates of the two separate taxes, surprise surprise, your overall tax rate is higher than both your state and federal maximums. By combining both the state sales tax and the new federal income tax you, surprise surprise, get a higher sales tax than either of them. However, a large part of your federal income tax is gone, thus you pay less in overall tax. If your state does not pay sales tax, like New Hampshire, you STILL won't pay state sales tax. Just as now if your state does not charge income tax, you SITLL have to pay your federal income tax.
The GOOD thing about a consumption tax is that people see it. If taxes are raised a percentage on your income tax, that you get removed from your pay check, you don't really notice it. However, if you raise the sales tax a percentage point, people see it every time they buy something. It holds the government accountable, and reminds people, with every purchase, that it is THEIR money that Washington is spending.
******** END ********* Added 10/19/2011 After Debate*******

All in all, I hate the 9-9-9 plan. I like the FairTax. But because the 9-9-9 plan puts in to place some of the policies of the FairTax, I hate it less than I hate our current system.

Oh, and for those of you who think that Herman can't possibly get elected... The latest Rasmussen poll begs to differ.

Herman CAIN 2012 web site

Thursday, October 13, 2011

iOS 5

I installed iOS 5 on my iPhone 3GS. It was a rough start, but I am happy with the end result.
For the last several iterations of the iOS on my 3GS has really slowed it down. The latest 4.3.5, slowed down my phone so much that I was thinking Apple was purposely slowing down the 3G series phones to force them to upgrade to the 4S. Unlike Microsoft that benifits from speeding up old hardware, Apple requires new products to be moving all of the time to keep their stock price up, and their company solvent, as no one can install their OS or use their software on anything other than Apple provided hardware... and Jobs said that Bill Gates was too uptight.. So slowing down older hardware would be right in their best interests, and therefore not a large logical leap to assume it was happening.

With iOS5, I found that my phone not only performs much faster, the battery life and the signal strength seem to have improved as well. I can't yet tell about calls dropped, as I have not had the time to really test that particular annoyance of the iPhone out completely. Weather this is simply a new algorithm used to compute the signal and battery strength I have no idea. I do remember seeing my signal strength greatly improve when I installed iOS4, only to be disappointed later when I found out that Apple was displaying strength greater than what the strength really was. This could be more of the same, but I want to believe that Apple has improved their software and thus found ways to improve their power usage, and to detect signal.

The new features are very welcome, especially the new camera features. The camera can now be accessed from the locked screen and you can take a photo by pressing the up button on the volume hard button. Infinitely easier to take a photo of yourself using this method than trying to find the soft button. I would always miss and end up in the photo album...

The new notification center is also very cool. You get a plethora of app data in there accessed by simply pulling it down from the top where the clock usually is. I know this is a feature they stole from Android, but it is a welcome addition.
Being able to choose how notifications are done is a great change as well. You can have your less important push notifications sent to a banner rather than to the non modal alert box. Very nice very good.
Apple is pushing iCloud, but I really am not very interested in that. I might be later, but right now... Meh.
The final new feature that I really like is that you no longer need to attach the phone to iTunes to update the software. This is a BIG help. However it kind of spooks me, because of my experience with updating my phone to iOS5.

During the install, my phone crashed, and I had to restore it back to factory preset, then I had to restore my settings and Apps. Then I had to put those apps back in to their folders. That took a long time and it sucked. Double sucked... If I were performing this update with out iTunes, would I be out of luck? With iTunes, I get a backup and I can restore the phone to somewhat of a state that it was in before. With out iTunes, will the phone just puke and then be dead? Something to think about... I know you are thinking, what about the backup that is made on iCloud. Think about it, what if I do a phone update somewhere I don't have access to a computer with iTunes for some time. Without the computer, I can't set the phone back to factory then do the restore of the phone. Will the phone just be toast until I can find some computer to plug it in? Or does the phone update by throwing everything in to memory... Sounds very inefficient, and lots of security problems come immediately to mind, but that never bothered Apple before...

All in all, good update, and I reccomend it for all of the iPhone 3GS users out there. With this update I think I can put off getting the next version of the iPhone until iPhone 5 comes out.