Saturday, September 29, 2012

Who Pays?

I was hanging out with a bunch of younger guys yesterday afternoon as they cut weight for their tournament the next day.  When you are cutting weight, it can take some time, and you do light exercise to keep your body temp up and to keep the sweat rolling.  It can get boring, so various topics come to the front of the conversation.  We came upon the interesting topic of who pays in various situations.  I found it interesting, because I am decidedly old school.  I grew up on the farm with traditional, excuse the phrase, middle class Mid-Western parents.  Most of the guys at the gym are "new school" in that they grew up in various cities and are from various economic classes and household types.  The majority are from singe parent (mother) households in the lower range of the economic middle class.  Being from Oklahoma City and other Southwester Cities the Latin influence is very strong.

So...  who pays?  I found that there were some very different thoughts about this.  So different, in fact that it borders on a distinct cultural shift between the younger and older generations.


My view on dates is that the man ALWAYS pays.  No exceptions.  Ever.  It is absolutely unthinkable that there be any situation that the woman would pay for the date.  

The younger view was that the first date would be paid for by whomever did the asking out.  Subsequent dates would be "dutch" or both would pay their own way.  The exception to this rule was if there was a large economic disparity between the two people and the expense of the date's location.  The more expensive the date, the more the it was assumed that the man would pay, or if the man made a great deal more than the woman, then he would always pay.  

I found the new view to be emasculating.  I would expect that my view comes from the traditional notion that the man paying for the date shows the woman his ability to take care of her financially.  If both parties are paying, how can I demonstrate that I can provide for the woman?  One of the primary purposes of dating is removed from the social construct.


When I go out for drinks, with friends not in a date situation, I expect that we will pay for rounds of drinks.  I buy the first, you buy the second, he buys the third, so on and so forth.  If food is ordered, even if it is communal, it is paid for by the orderer.  

Their thought is that everything is divided up between all parties at the end of the session, or separate checks are to be made out for everyone.  

I can see why this view is popular, with computerized POS systems it is easy for the wait staff to create separate checks, and it is fair that everyone pays for what they consumed.  But...  part of the fun of going out for drinks is buying and receiving drinks from your friends.  If I just pay for my drinks, again, the social construct of gift giving is not exchanged.  Sure it is fair, but it is the same as if we were strangers in the bar.  Not friends sharing time and libations.

Dinner With Select Group

This is where things got a little heated.  My view on dinner with a select group of friends normally just two or three couples, is if I have invited you, I pay the bill.  Dinner is my gift to you for sharing your company.  If you insist on paying your way, I find it to be an insult, and I will likely never ask you to dinner again, and I will be reluctant to accept a dinner invitation from you.
If you invite me out I expect to pay my own way, however if you say that you will pay, I will give you a perfunctory "Are you sure?"  Then accept the gift of food and drink from you.

The other view was insistent that everyone pay their own way.  It seemed too much like showing off if one person paid for everyone.

I have  very difficult time coming to grips with this view.  I invited you out.  I asked for your company.  I pay.  I don't see the other view that this is showing off.  It is a gift of food and drink.  Not me showing off.  I invited you out for the very reason that you share my good fortune.
It is the same if you have invited me.  I share in your good fortune, accept the gift, and am simply happy to have you as a friend.

Dinner With a Large Group

This was the only time that we all agreed.  Having dinner with a large group of people at a restaurant, that is not some sort of formal event where the restaurant is not catering the event, think pre-nump meal,  it is convenient and acceptable for everyone to get separate checks and pay their own way. It is too expensive, and excessively difficult to deal with splitting the check up at the table.  Better to simply announce separate checks and use technology to figure it out.  The large group is not the intimate gathering as the select group, the social construct is a party of communal gathering, not an exclusive event.

I am obviously a dinosaur.  The traditions are changing, and I must change with them.  However, I will still attempt to pay in select groups.  I will still feel offended if I am not allowed to.  I will still attempt to pay for rounds of drinks.  I will still feel left out if I am not allowed to, or if a round is not bought for me.  I no longer date so I don't think I will have that issue in the future.  But if I did, I would NEVER let the woman pay.  There is only so far you can go...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Am I Being Detained?

Check out this "freeze" drill done at PHX airport by the TSA:
I can't tell you what this is about other than a group of government employees flexing non-existent power.  If you want to fly, you must submit to a search.  After you leave the security check point, you are covered under the 4th Amendment again.  What does that mean?  It means that the TSA does NOT have the right to detain you without due process or without Probable Cause. 
If you are confronted with this absurdity, simply ask the question "Am I being detained?"  If the answer is "NO" keep on going.  They do NOT have the right to detain you, so don't let them.  They don't have the right to check your drink in the gate.  Don't let them. They only have the power that we give them, and if you let them...  They will abuse it.

BTW, this is a section of the Government directly under the control of the Executive Branch.  They are under Homeland Security, which is a cabinet level department.  So, yes President Obama is directly responsible for these unlawful detentions.  Why no questions about them????

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The 47%

Mitt Romney said that 47% of Americans will vote for the President because they are dependent on Government, and that they have a victim or entitlement mentality.

This is a view that is held by many on in the Republican party.  I don't think that the number is that high.  Certainly, there are 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax.  Many of those 47% actually get money in the form of a Tax Refund that come from a negative tax liability from tax credits.

I went on to Facebook and to other forms of social media to take a look at what was being said, and to try and dissect the mindset that some of these people who were dependent on the Government.  I come at this little unscientific social experiment with my own mind set of disdain for any government assistance, what so ever.  I actually spent my self nearly in to debt paying off my wife's student loans when they were forcibly taken from the private banking institution we were lending from and put in to Government hands.  Interestingly enough, the government still believes that I have a balance on these loans, even though I have letters and receipts saying that I do not.  I expect to be fighting them for quite some time.

I digress, I went on to the various liberal web sites, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, The Daily Kos, and watched what was being said on Facebook sites.

What I found was extremely interesting.  An amazing amount of people openly deceive themselves on exactly what dependence is, and vociferously deny an entitlement attitude while obviously displaying one.  Another vocal group has no idea what a tax credit is, how they work, but are positive that the rich have more than they do.  Nearly everyone, conservative or liberal, have very little idea what the tax brackets actually are, and almost everyone knows the difference between income tax and capital gains tax.  The fictional "effective" tax rate is bandied about like some sort of mythical sword that slayes the evil hording Smaug that is "the rich" (Little Hobbit reference for you there, apt in this context, no?)
What I also found very very interesting was the definition of who was "rich."  Almost to a man the liberals said that anyone making over $250,000 a year was rich.  When asked where they got this figure, they all said from the government.  When informed that the government has no such distinction, they go absolutely insane.  If anything, the government says that if you make $388,350 a year you are rich, because that is what puts you in to the highest tax bracket.  But nowhere, in current law, does it say that $250K is the line between "rich" and...  well...  no one can define what is the "class" that limits on $249K.  It isn't middle, because $249K is still a lot of money.

So, in to this land of no definitions I went.  My main problem going in was this acceptance of no definition of terms.  The phrase, "Everybody knows" is thrown about as a definition, or as if this is its own evidence.  I have to admit that my arguments were sometimes completely stymied by my instance that terms be defined.  Apparently, it is acceptable now a days to derive conclusions and form entire world views on things that have no solid definition.  I don't know how this is done, but...  wow.  It is evident that Science was not a strong subject for well...  the entire Internet.

Anyway getting back to my very unscientific findings. I broke down the people receiving assistance and voting for the President in to three groups:

  • Receiving assistance, and not working, or caring to ever not receive assistance.
  • Receiving assistance, but working.
  • Receiving assistance, but not knowing that they are receiving assistance.

The first two groups had very similar arguments for receiving their assistance.  They were too injured/fat/lazy to work and needed money to live.  Or they couldn't find a job, or they were caring for dependents that they needed money for.

When directly asked by what right they had to my earnings, many said that they weren't taking my earnings, they were being "given" money from the Government.  One actually said they were being given money directly from President Obama.  I ignored this person entirely, because...  well... they are a moron and you can't have an intellectual discussion with stupid.
Learning that these people thought they were receiving money not from me, but from the Government pointed to a fundamental misunderstanding of how Government gets its money.  When told that my tax dollars went to fund their gifts from the Government, arguments switched to "Who is going to take care of my children/father/mother?"
This is a fundamental emotional argument.  If I say "You" I am a heartless person who only wants to see children and old people dead in the street.  This is, of course, not true, but it is very effective at shutting the faint of heart up.  Since I don't care, I did say YOU, and dealt with the fallout.   

Those that received assistance, but were working had an other interesting, but false, claim to the money.  They claimed that they "worked hard" and deserved the money because they could not afford their lifestyles.  It was because they "worked hard" that they felt that I and the rest of the tax payers "owed" them something.
I have never really dealt with this kind of argument before.    These people were serious.  One said that he worked harder than any CEO, so he deserves the money that the CEO makes.  I admit this kind of thinking is absolutely foreign to me.  I can not make the logical connection between hard work at a low paying job and the CEO owing me more money than they are willing to compensate me for the job that I have done.  My brain just shorts out there.
The ones that receive assistance, but don't know they are receiving assistance have one of two mental issues.  They either have convinced themselves that they are not receiving assistance, and can not be told otherwise, or they don't know how their taxes work so they don't know that their tax refund is not actually money that they paid, it is negative tax liability coming back to them.

If you are looking to buy votes, there is nothing better than a tax credit to do it.  The people who pay taxes get to pay less tax, and the people who don't pay taxes get government money put in to their pocket.  How do tax credits work?  Well say you have a tax liability of $1000, and I have one of $0.  We both receive a tax credit for $100.  Now your tax burden is $900, and mine is -$100.  You cut a smaller check to Uncle Sam, and I get a $100 check from the Treasury.  But you didn't pay any tax!!!!  Yup, I didn't, but I am still owed the "credit."  Many of the Bush Tax Cuts are set up this way.  Those that do not pay tax, are still getting money.  This is one way that you receive government assistance without knowing it.

As far as pointing out that someone has an entitlement mindset...  I actually found it a lot of fun reading what these people were trying to say wasn't an entitlement mindset, when it obviously was.  Many of them went like:  I don't have an entitlement mindset.
But, you feel you owed, or entitled to the money you receive.
No, but I need it because I work hard, need for kids/mom/dad/dog/iPhone, etc
What would happen if that money went a way.
I would raise holy hell.
That isn't you feeling entitled, or like a victim because you need to take care of your insert care thing here?
No.  Because who would take care of my cat?  give me an iPhone? pay my house payment?  I need the money
But that is the definition of an entitlement mindset.
No.  Because I need these things.

A lot of fun was had when probing these people's finances and what they had in their houses.  All had a computer.  All had a car.  All had very nice large screen TVs.  All had air conditioning.  All had cell phones with data plans.  All had WAY more than enough to eat.  All went out to eat at least once a week.  All had access to or outright owned one or more game console.  All had cable or satellite television.  All had broadband internet connectivity.  NONE thought that they needed to give up any of these luxuries, because they were receiving government assistance.  The mindset was overwhelmingly along the lines of "Everybody has these things, why shouldn't I?"

A familiar counter argument or justification for the assistance was that "everyone" receives government assistance in one way or another.  Roads, public works, police force, military protection, etc.  This argument should fall apart when it is pointed out that these services are public services that are shared, and that the assistance to the individual is a transfer of property from one private party to another private party.  That distinction is lost on may of these people.

At the end of the day, there is a stark difference in thinking between myself and those that receive government assistance.  I will go out of my way to avoid the chains of government servitude.  Others willingly embrace the slavery that comes with government control.  I want to live free, they simply want to live in a land where Big Brother takes care of them from cradle to grave.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Defense and the Open Mind

I was talking to one of the boxers at the gym the other day, and he mentioned how he would like the Muay Thai guys to incorporate more head movement in their sparing.  He noted that there isn't a lot of head movement when they spar, and they could benefit from learning some.  I agreed that learning boxing head movement is an excellent idea, but it wouldn't be incorporated as much as he would want.
Why? Asks the boxing guy.  It keeps you from getting your head punched off.
Well, I said, lets get in to the ring and I'll show you...

Boxers love head movement.  It is one of their primary defensive movements.  It makes the head hard to hit, as well as setting up body position for power punches.  Check out some head movement training:

You should notice something very important.  While his upper body moves very well, his lower body remains stationary.  Since the boxer does not have to deal with kicks to his legs, he has no worries about keeping a strong base with his legs while moving his head around.

When a boxer meets a Muay Thai practitioner in the ring, what happens?  The boxer does what boxers do in their contests, attempts to set the jab and establish his movement.  The Muay Thai practitioner does what they do in their contests, attempts to establish distance and land low kicks to establish determine the opponent's base.

After the first exchange, the Muay Thai practitioner sees that the boxer has no intention of checking kicks, so the power kicks start to drop.  The boxer is confused and tries to establish the jab, leading to more weight put on the front leg, making the low kicks that much more devastating.  The Muay Thai practitioner now uses the teep to establish distance, and can use head kicks as the boxer is now dropping their hands to block low kicks.

My boxer buddy didn't really think that this would happen, so I, again, got the pleasure of introducing another boxer to the low kick and the teep.  One thing though...  Boxers are tough.  If they have stuck with boxing, they can take punishment.  You have to make sure that your kicks are placed correctly and that you are moving to the side when you kick.  If you don't, the boxer will launch a right hand counter that will put you on your ass.

The lesson from this? Not that MT is better than boxing. But that you need to use the correct defense in the correct situation. Put those MT fighters in a boxing bout with the very same opponents, and I guarantee a different outcome. My boxing buddy simply toys with me when I am just using my hands. My stance is way to upright, and I have very little body movement. However, if my boxing buddy learned to check kicks, and to move correctly in the MT ring, I have no doubts that he would be dominant.

Feel your opponent out first keep your defense ready so that you can take advantage of his weaknesses. If you go in with the simple mindset that "this" is the way to fight, you will be beaten sooner rather than later.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Things That are Putting Me In a Funk

It's the silly season and things are getting silly.  I hate disinformation.  It drives me insane.  Make your points without lying.  Use the FULL context when quote someone.  You can still make all of your points.  You don't need all of the crap!!!

Anyway here are some of the top myths and outright lies that drive me insane:

President Obama is a Muslim 
No, he isn't.  He is a Christian.  A religion isn't like your genetic make up, you can change it just as easily as you change your socks.  In the case of the President, he went to a Muslim school, just like an Atheist kid goes to a Christian school.  They go because it is a good school.
By the way...  Who gives a rat's ass if he was a Muslim??  Didn't we all declare in a loud voice when Kennedy was elected that the religious practices of the President doesn't effect how he does his job??

Differences between Income and Capital Gains taxes
This one really frosts my cake...  A guy like Mitt Romney, a rich guy, pays in the 35% bracket on all of his INCOME.  That means that his INCOME from accepted sources, salary from a job, interest on bank accounts, rent on real estate, etc are all taxed at a rate that is commensurate with that income, in Romney's case, that is the very very top bracket of 35%.
Money made on investments, however is taxed differently.  Because it is not guaranteed money i.e. you are taking a risk with it, it is only taxed at 15%.  This is NOT a loophole.  It is the law.  Income and investment gain, are different.
However many like to lump these tow together and say that the combined amount is the "effective" tax rate.  It is absolutely false.  It is wrong.

The deficit can be solved by raising revenue
The United States of America borrows $0.40 of every dollar it spends.  If you confiscated every penny of every person making over the arbitrarily picked number of $200,000 you wouldn't be able to make up the entire deficit, you could only close about 77% of it.  This is just the deficit, we aren't even touching the full crushing weight of the National Debt.  The fact is that the deficit and debt problems are SPENDING problems.  The Government can not live within its means.  Spending must be drastically cut before any real gain can be made.

Republicans/Democrats are ignoring victims of hurricane/earthquake/bombing/hot pizza mouth burning
Look...  nobody likes suffering.  Nobody likes it when somebody gets hurt.  Just because one group likes guns, doesn't mean that they want shootings to occur.  Just because one group wants drugs to be legal, doesn't mean they like junkies.  Making political hay out of tragedy is just sick!