Posts tagged ‘Thank God’

Thank God For The Internet

Reading about the Golden Dawn fascist party in Greece, I thought, "wasn't that the made-up terrorist group mentioned in Die Hard?"  It turns out I was wrong, it was Asian Dawn, but others have made this same mistake, and someone on the Internet was nice enough to write a whole article clearing this up.  Alan Rickman's eurotrash terrorist Hans Gruber is still one of my favorite movie bad guys.

GateGate

Thank God no one can see the future, because if you told me in 1972 that forty years later we would still be using the suffix -gate to denote a scandal, I might not have had the will to carry on.

Environmental Animism

This is from an environmental writer who criticises climate skeptics as being anti-science:

I can't be the only one who thinks about how strange cancer is: It seems sometimes like a giant "dislike" button the heavens push when humans engage in behaviors we weren't built for, even seemingly natural things like sun-bathing — until you remember that Northern Europeans didn't, evolutionarily speaking, have a lot of sun to deal with.

This notion that somehow cancer is a punishment from Gaia for our high-technology and lifestyle choices and eating habits actually seems pretty prevalent among environmentalists.

The author, in reporting on some really interesting research about cancer as an independent parasitic lifeform rather than a disease, makes this statement:

The new view depicts cancer as a new species — one for whom our unhealthy lifestyles are a growth market. Humanity's radical manipulations of nature can create just this sort of unexpected power vacuum.

The first nine words of this graf do accurately reflect the gist of the article he is linking.  The rest is pure fantasy and supposition, his own biases applied to his reporting.  He pretends it came from the study, but of course no such thing can be found in the source.  But we don't need any proof, because we know that cancer and parasites and all other unhealthy things only began with the incorporation of Dupont. Thank God the black death did not come along today, or I am sure it would be blamed on Exxon.

PS- by the way, interestingly enough, there is a school of thought that the black death was made far worse by climate change, in this case global cooling and the end of the Medieval warm period.  In the 1330's, the end of the warm period brought wet and cold weather which killed crops and caused great famines, which may have weakened the population for the black death a decade later.

It is really, really funny sitting in on a Medieval history course and having the professor have to say things like, "I know this is not what you hear in the news, but in the Middle Ages, warmth brought prosperity and cold brought death."

Thank God for the Internet

Without the Internet, I might have died without seeing Hungarian folk dancers demonstrating a bubble-sort algorithm

via flowing data

LOLing

I have to agree with Glen Reynolds that this is an awesome quote, from  a member of the teacher's union in Denver:

That’s your problem. You’re an entrepreneur, so you don’t work. You don’t know what work is until you get into an educational area.

Yep, some day I will have to stop loafing around and take on a brutal assistant principal job somewhere.  All I have to worry about is that every dollar I own (and more) is invested in my business and could disappear at any time if I make a mistake.  Thank God I don't have to sit around all day worrying whether the doctor that hands out no-questions-asked disability rulings will still be practicing when I am 45 and ready to retire.

I call this the "Dallas / Dynasty" perception of business, that businessmen just grab a phone call or two, go to a power lunch, and then head home to the mansion.

Update: Apparently this is a common misconception about entrepeneurs

The average number of working hours per week of a successful starting entrepreneur is seventy. This catches the typical American dreamer by surprise.

The teacher day:

Nor do teachers spend all of their time at school in the classroom. In fact, teachers spend fewer hours actually instructing students than many recognize. Stanford's Terry Moe worked with data straight from the nation's largest teacher union's own data - and found that the average teacher in a department setting (that is, where students have different teachers for different subjects) was in the classroom for fewer than 3.9 hours out of the 7.3 hours at school each day.

With several hours set aside at school for course-planning and grading, it strains plausibility that on average teachers must spend more hours working at home than do other professionals.

Not to mention, of course, summer vacation, Christmas break, spring break, fall break.... Oh, and the fact that they have lifetime job security because in public schools they can't be fired for even the most egregious incompetance

False Dichotomy

False dichotomy, via Mother Jones:

Faced with a world that can support either a lot of us consuming a lot less or far fewer of us consuming more, we're deadlocked: individuals, governments, the media, scientists, environmentalists, economists, human rights workers, liberals, conservatives, business and religious leaders. On the supremely divisive question of the ideal size of the human family, we're amazingly united in a pact of silence.

My guess is that the authoritarians at Mother Jones don't particularly care which is the outcome, so long as they get to wield the coercive power to make the choice for us.  Thank God these guys didn't run things in 1900.  Or 1800.  Or 1700.  Or 1600.  Or 1500.  Given their belief in zero sum choices and their complete lack of confidence in the power of the human mind to innovate, who knows what kind of sub-optimal world we would have been locked into?

Last One -- Thank God

My kids' middle school has a tradition among 5th and 6th graders that once a year each student creates a science model out of food.  The kids love it, because they get to eat them after each presentation.  But all we parents know how stressful science fair projects can be.  Trying to create a meaningful science display from only edible materials is really a pain.  We pretty much nuked the kitchen this Sunday and spent all day with this.  But it's the last one!  And it came out pretty well -- this is my daughter's "physics of the circus."

edible

PS - TGFF - Thank God For Fondant, a material used in making fancy cakes that you can think of as edible clay.  The materials here are graham cracker, Hershey bar, and sugar wafer stands, gum drop and lemon ball audience, frosted vanilla cake for the platforms, pretzels for the posts, licorice for the ropes, donuts for the cannon and the hoop, and fondant for the animals and people.  And two full pounds of royal icing to glue everything together.

PSS - One of the things you discover about food is that despite the incredible amount of quality control on its composition and taste, there is not much quality control on its construction properties.  Pretzel rods that always seemed straight enough turn out to be, when you come to actually build something from them, more warped than picked-over Home Depot lumber.  Ditto graham crackers.  Mini donut sizes vary tremendously.  Licorice tensile strength that always seemed fine turns out to be woefully inadequate.  And don't even get me started on gumdrop repeatability.

Thank God George Bush Supports Ethanol...

... because that may make it easier for the Democrats to summon the political will to kill ethanol subsidies, though don't hold your breath.  Certainly, though, the NYT, after years of cheerleading ethanol, may finally be coming around:

Congress must take a hard look at the effect of corn ethanol on food
supplies in the same way the new energy bill requires it to review the
environmental effects. It must move toward ending subsidies that will
become even more difficult to justify as oil prices rise and the costs
of producing corn ethanol decline. And it must press other wealthy
countries to do the same before hunger turns to mass starvation.

Via Tom Nelson

By the way, these problems with ethanol we are experiencing today were are inevitable as night follows day, yet we still had to blunder into it before we started questioning the economics.  The power of political correctness to trump science and logic is amazing.

Thank God The Government Was on the Job

Thank God the government and not the private sector is in charge of road design and construction.  Because those private sector guys just aren't accountable and might have screwed up.

First, I'd Like to Thank God...

There was a lot of thanking God for the Colts victory today.  I would love to see the losing coach come on TV after such an interview and say "you heard it -- God was against us.  What chance did we have?"

Update:  I would love to see this on John Madden's etch-a-sketch.  "OK, here's Grossman dropping back for a pass, he throws it across here, and BOOM, God knocks it right out of the receiver's hands.  First down Colts, game over."

Worst Music Video of All Time

Thank God for YouTube.  Now, the worst music video of all time is available again online.

Sedona Joins the March to Bureaucracy

Today, the town of Sedona, Arizona joined the ranks of government organizations trying to make business incrementally more difficult.  I operate campgrounds in the Sedona area, and as such I have already registered my business there with:

  • The federal government for social security and medicare taxes
  • The federal government for employee payroll withholding
  • The federal government for income taxes
  • The federal government for federal unemployment insurance
  • The State of Arizona secretary of state and corporation commission
  • The State of Arizona department for unemployment insurance
  • The State of Arizona department of revenue for sales taxes
  • The State of Arizona department of revenue (second time) for corporate income taxes
  • The State of Arizona department of liquor, for liquor license
  • Coconino County tax collector, for property taxes
  • Coconino County health department, for health inspection and certificate

I am sure this list is incomplete, but you get the idea.  I know for a fact that the town already has access to my business information, because they have access to the state department of revenue sales tax database that has all the data they want.  However, I guess so they can feel important -- they want to make sure I have THEIR approval to exist and conduct private transactions with the public as well.  Here is the only rational offered in their letter:

To those businesses operating in the City limits of Sedona:

Help Create Our Economic Future

To Create a viable economic future for Sedona, it is important to know what types of businesses currently exist within the community.  As of January 31, 2006, in order to create a database, all businesses operating in Sedona, or headquartered elsewhere and doing business in Sedona, will need to apply for a business registration.

First, we businesses are already creating Sedona's economic future, and this notion that a couple of people in a small town city clerks office can do anything to add to productivity and economic growth is the worst form of governmental hubris.  Second, though filling out a couple of pages may seem  too small to complain about, we operate in over 200 locations.  Thank God that most of them are in unincorporated area, or we would be filling out hundreds or thousands of pages a year just to help some city clerks with their "database". 

Third, it is interesting to note that Sedona is starting is campaign for their economic future by making doing business there harder.  Sedona reminds me a lot of Boulder, Colorado, where I used to live.  In Boulder, this kind of data request would be the harbinger of some massive new regulation program.  My best guess is that this will be the case in Sedona as well -- this database will be used to justify new regulations and taxes, not less.

I ran corporate planning staff groups at several large corporations.  Every time my staff guys had a new analysis they wanted to do, they often wanted to send out a new requirement to all of our operations managers to report some new data they needed for their project.  As their manager, I tried to be ruthless in defending our operating people, pushing back on my staff guys to find any other way to get the data they need, or to justify strongly the need to ask our folks to report yet another bit of data.  In most cases, the analysis did not justify the work or the data could be acquired some other way, a way that required more work of my staff guys but a lot less from the operating guys who really mattered.  This requests smacks of the exact same thing, except without the adult supervision to push back on their endless data requests.  (Other example here).

This all made me think of this, maybe because my mind works in strange ways. 

The Senate has introduced the "Digital Content Protection Act of 2006,"
a bill that will create "Broadcast Flags" for all digital radio and
television, leading to FCC oversight of all new digital media
technologies from iPods and PSPs to TVs and DVD recorders.

Under the DCPA proposal, digital media technologies would be
restricted to using technologies that had been certified by the FCC as
being not unduly disruptive to entertainment industry business-models.

Beyond my irritation at this whole broadcast-flag-FCC-power-grab raising its head again, it made me think about people's reaction to regulation.  In general, when people actually run into government regulation face to face, they hate it.  That's why with this broadcast flag issue you tend to see a lot of people who generally profess to be comfortable with big government suddenly freaking out, perhaps because this is the first time, beyond the drivers license office or trying to mail a package at Christmas, they every run into the true face of government.  Most corporations today are pretty good at sheltering customers and employees from the mind-numbing regulation they face. 

To all you guys who are fed up with the FCC, let me assure you as a small business owner:  The Department of Labor, Federal Trade Commission, Social Security Administration, Department of Commerce, and every state, county, and city agency you can think of is at least as overreaching and destructive.

The government:  Not to know it is to love it.

Update:  In the past, I have had a field day laughing at left-of-center groups who scream privacy rights at every occasion but support all the intrusion above.  Most recently, I have taken on NOW and the ACLU over this issue.

The Incredible Edible

I try not to impose too much of my personal life on this blog, but I couldn't resist showing off our weekend project.

This is my 10-year-old son's recent science project.  They are required to do a report on a subject (in this case, he chose the biology and physics of hitting a home run) and supplement the report with a model that has to be entirely edible - i.e. all made out of food (Seriously - what sadistic maniac thinks up this stuff?).  He and I worked most of Sunday on this, while mom laughed her butt off watching.  He presents tomorrow, and then the class eats it (who wants to bet that they will fight over eating the eye?)

Edible3_1 (Click for larger image)

Anyway, this thing includes cookie bones (we used foil for molds for the bones and bat) licorice muscles, gummi worm brains and nerves, cake baseball, chocolate bat, and fondant hand and eye (with almond nails).  Thank God for fondant - usually a smooth finish layer for cakes, it basically acts like edible clay.

Move over Martha, coyote is here!

Blogging in Las Vegas

I am blogging today from Las Vegas, here for the convenience store convention. We run a number of small stores in our campgrounds and marinas, and I am trying to figure out how to make these operations more sophisticated.

I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but I am always a bit self-conscious at a convention. The whole thing is so stereotypical from TV and movies and so predictable from past experience, it somehow becomes kind of a caricature of itself. I always feels like a bit of a schmuck walking around with my little badge and doing that predictable little dance with vendors.

Thank God, though, that I am not working the convention tables as an exhibitor any more. "Have you seen the new model T-1000?" Uggh. And the stodgy companies I worked for never even had booth babes.

Why can't I have a Workers Comp Insurance Deductible?

Today, we had another $300 workers compensation claim.

First, I will begin by saying "Thank God for the workers comp system in this country". Basically the philosophy of the system is this: Workers give up their right to sue their employer over workplace injuries in return for a guarantee of medical care and a defined benefit compensation system. Yeah, some states (like Florida, in particular) have some real fraud and management problems. In California last year, before reform, I was paying $20 in workers comp premiums for every $100 in wages -- and this despite having no claims the last few years. But, given the state of the lawsuit industry in this country, imagine the effect if workers could sue over every injury, large or small. Shudder.

As an aside, this issue has greatly affected the whole asbestos litigation situation, as detailed here. It can be argued that most workers' asbestos injuries are more likely due to poor protections on the job site, rather than any product problems from the asbestos makers. Asbestos using companies, after all, have known asbestos is dangerous since before WWII. In fact, navy shipyards in WWII were some of the worst offenders in terms of not using masks, poor ventilation, etc. But, since employers generally can't get sued over injuries (and its hard to sue the feds), lawyers concentrate on the "product labeling" argument and sue the asbestos makers into bankruptcy, which explains why litigation attorney's coach their clients like this.

Anyway, in many states, workers comp needs reform. Ahnold, for example, did a nice job of attacking this issue in California, and our company got an immediate 10% discount on our rates once the legislation passed. One thing that is never discussed and frustrates the heck out of me is the issue of deductibles. We get a lot of small claims (e.g. went to emergency room, got checked out, all was OK, went home). As with any kind of insurance policy, filing a lot of small claims this year is death on premiums next year. Workers comp is worse than most, as it has an experience mod system that guarantees that for every dollar in claims that goes out this year you pay an extra $1+ next year in premiums (in the next few days Coyote Blog will be starting a new series called "things they didn't teach me in business school" and the mechanics of workers comp will be one of the first posts).

Unfortunately, many states, such as Arizona, do not allow you to have a deductible on your workers comp policy. This is not an insurance company practice that might change with new competitors, but the law. So, we keep paying out small claims that probably drive up our premiums $2 for every dollar in claims.