Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Some good news for a change

I've got a job offer incoming.

Unfortunately, it's going to take a week or two to go through "the process", but tentatively, it looks like in a few weeks,  I will be gainfully employed once again

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dog Sick and Swollen

So by around Thursday last week, Mel and I both started feeling a bit of the dreaded travel crud; but were able to stave it off (mostly) through sheer energy and determination... and the wonder of modern pharmaceutical medicine.

By the time we had to get on the plane Sunday though, we were both full on sick. Head and chest filled with crud, joint pain, light fever, the whole thing.

The fact that we were both running on serious sleep debt, to add exhaustion to the mix, certainly didn't help.

The last two days at least I've been able to sleep it off some; but Mel has ben working. She got sent home early today as too sick to work.

My added complication is that I wasn't able to take my diuretics most of last week (two days out of seven). Combined with all the sitting in cars and airplanes I did, I managed to gain over 30lbs, and swell up my hands, feet, and face, quite thoroughly.

Normally a few days back on the diuretics would take care of such a situation; but you can't take diuretics when you're sick like this, because they'll dehydrate you, and thicken your mucous.

At this point, my hands and feet are so swollen they actually hurt to touch; and I'm going to need to start back on the diuretics in the morning no matter what.

Oh and I have a final job interview for one of my potential new jobs tomorrow, so, yay...

Wish me luck or something.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Home, dry, and frikken exhausted

We pulled into our driveway at 1:30am today; 90 minutes short of seven days from our departure, having traveled about 2400 miles by plane, and another 1500 miles by car.

In the midst of that, I managed to get a TOTAL 6 night sleep hour count of 14; including two 40+ hour days (both of which also included several hundred miles of driving). 

More to come later. For now, Mel and I are going to collapse into our beds and not leave til forced by angry mobs. 

Don't call me today, or I WILL wreak vengeance upon thee. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Homeward Bound

Well, it's 8:30 on a Sunday... beautiful out, sunny, breezy, cold... A perfect late winter New England day.

This has been an odd and interesting week, and I'm going to be writing about it a great deal in the next few days; but for now, it's time to finish packing up and checking out.

We're actually going to head to the airport twice today; first time we're swinging through, and picking up Ambulance Driver, to take him to lunch.

Actually, we're secretly hijacking him and taking him for a full Irish breakfast with my family, including fresh sodabread baked by my tiny Irish grandmother.

I figure AD, me, and my dad all in the same room ought to be fun.

Then we drop him off for the afternoon with TOTWTOTYR so they can hang out for the afternoon, before the second New England blog dinner of the weekend, tonight at Polcaris in Saugus.

Unfortunately, after a final afternoon visit with family, we will be flying out, just as they are all meeting up;  reaching Idaho around midnight local.

What a week man...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blogdinner in northeastern Massachusetts

Mel and I, JayG and hopefully a half dozen others (lots of interest so far not a lot of confirmations) will be having a blogdinner meetup in northeastern Mass, this Saturday, around 7pm til whenever.

I'm leaving the restaurant pick up to JayG since I haven't eaten at a restaurant north of Boston and south of Nashua in 13 years. He should have a pick for us later today, and I'll update the post then.

UPDATE: The dinner will be at Angela's Coal Fired Pizza in Saugus, MA.

Theres another dinner on Sunday for Ambulance Driver. Unfortunately we're flying out at 6pm so we won't be able to make it to that one, thus a second dinner on Saturday.

If you're going to be in the region and want to drop by, let either me or JayG know via email or comment.

Monday, February 20, 2012

One hell of a long day... but in some respects, still a good one.

So, it's 2335 eastern, Monday.

My body, in theory, thinks its 2035, but in reality I'd say it has completely lost the ability to judge the passing of this strange thing called... Time.

Mel and I have been awake since 0735 pacific, Sunday; and have been traveling since 0300 Pacific Monday... No point in trying to sleep for a couple hours late Sunday night just to wake up more groggy and disoriented, and then have to drive to the airport.

37 hours.

She's finally asleep. I've probably got a ways to go, because although most of my days are now good days in terms of pain, inflammation, and edema; days that I spend 4 hours driving and 6 hours sitting in the torture devices they amusingly call "economy class seats" (there's three lines in one) in airplanes are most definitely NOT good days for those particular issues.

Basically from the elbows down I'm one big inflamed and swollen sore spot.

However, it was still a good day in one very important way:

I was able to make my father truly happy for a few minutes; in a way that wouldn't mean much to anyone else... but to me, to him... it means more than I could ever say in words.

I'd gladly deal with ten times the pain, to be able to do that. To do it in a week when there is so much pain, and hurt and anger going on in my life...

...Well, no matter what comes later, this is now a good week.

Anyway, I'll write about it some time later this week, hopefully with some pics. For now I've got to take my diuretics so I can deflate the waterballoons I call my hands and feet; and some anti-inflammatories and painkillers.

Hopefully after a few hours... removing excess fluid... I can try to get some sleep, so in the morning (LATE morning, trust me) we can get a running start at all we need to do while we're here in Boston.

Testing Google+ integration

I haven't really done much with Google+ since it started up; mostly because most of my friends and family only use facebook. Also, when Google+ was started, there wasn't a simple way to automatically crosspost from my blog into G+. Then Google did a stupid thing and removed the post to plus function from its websites, (you can only +1 things, and even then only on some sites, or with certain browser plugins) and I basically ignored it from then on. Well, they came up with a way to automatically crosspost some time ago, and I finally got around to testing it now, with this post. Let's see how well this thing works shall we?

Shippin up to Boston

Mel and I will be in Boston, the surrounding area, Connecticut, and New Hampshire; from late afternoon Monday the 20th, through late afternoon Sunday the 26th.

We're going to try to visit with some of my family, celebrate my mothers life as we can.

Our schedule isn't firmly set, and probably won't really get that way. We're pretty much going to have to take things as they come.

Unfortunately, my family wont be able to gather together as a group, so I'm going to try to visit people individually as and when I can.

Also, unfortunately, I haven't managed to reach everyone to tell them my plans yet. We had all assumed we were going to have a group gathering this week, but plans for that fell through. Unfortunately I had already made unchangeable travel plans, and Mel had already taken the week off for bereavement leave; and we're certainly not going to waste the money canceling the trip.

We're staying near 95 and 128, for convenience of travel.

We need to visit friends in Nashua on Wednesday evening, and at some point we are going to try to head up to the Lake Winnepesaukee area... Maybe Wednesday morning, to hit Nashua on the way back. Thursday morning we'll be heading down to Hartford and visiting with friends.

I'll need to be in Marlborough, Quincy, and Waltham during business hours, at least a few hours each; though I'm hoping to be able to do more than one in a single day.

Also Mel has never really seen or done anything in Boston, and she'd like to do that at least one day. Maybe go to the aquarium or the science museum. If the weather cooperates, maybe do the trolley tour thing.

Basically, we expect to be all over the entire region for the entire week.

Saturday afternoon, or Sunday late morning/afternoon (our flight's at 6) and I'm hoping to try to get at least a few of my family members together at some point.

Saturday night we're trying to have a blogger meetup dinner, probably in northeastern Mass (I've got JayG signed on so far, and have several invites out. If you're a blogger or reader in the region and want to join in, drop me a line).

So, if any friends are going to be around where we're going to be, and want to get together, drop us a line.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The only one you can "Beat" in a salary negotiation, is yourself

A poster on the guncounter forums pointed me to this article on salary negotiation:

Salary Negotiation: Make More Money, Be More Valued

I thought it was interesting and useful enough to share; and more than a little relevant to my current circumstances.

However, I also wanted to point out a few things the article didn't go into, or to my mind, didn't go into enough.

Unfortunately, I have recently conducted two unsuccessful salary negotiations. Unsuccessful in both cases, because both companies set a certain expectation of skill and career level coming into the interview process, but decided to try to pay at a lower career/skill level rate once it came time to negotiate.

We're not talking a small difference either; we're talking a 30% plus difference, such that their max rate for the position was below my "I can pay my bills with this" level.

I found out later talking with some contacts, that they had gone through similar issues with those two companies (both are contracting agencies). Apparently these positions have gone unfilled for a long time, because the companies have painted themselves into a corner where they can only bill so much, but the skillset and experience they need to complete the jobs are priced by the market at higher than they can bill, never mind what they are willing to pay.

That's one of the first points I wanted to bring up that wasn't addressed in the linked piece.

It's an unfortunate fact of life, that often, companies are VERY unrealistic as to what they need to pay, to get the skills and experience they need (or at least that they are asking for). Not only that, but they are often very pissy about it, acting as if you should be grateful for the opportunity to be stupidly underpaid.

DO NOT accept a job with such a company, unless you are desperate to pay your bills, and plan on finding another gig as soon as possible. Trust me, no good will come of it.

My personal recommendation, is never take a job whose takehome won't cover your bills plus 20%, AND never take a job for more than 10% below market.

You might think you can get in, wow them, and get paid what you're worth through raises in the first year or two. While that was once true, it hasn't really been true for years. These days, in most companies the only way to get more than 3%-5% a year, is to change jobs.

There is a very strong impulse to be polite in our culture; particularly when you are trying to make a good impression on a new prospective employer. A lot of people don't want to ruffle feathers or "create a bad impression" etc... in being a tough negotiator on their salary.

This feeling is entirely wrong.

You certainly don't want to be "difficult" or unreasonable, but you are negotiating for your primary source of income. If you don't ask for what you are worth, the person you are negotiating with will not respect you, and if you get the job, they will not value you as highly as you should be valued.

The linked piece mentions this, but I wanted to bring it up again for more emphasis.

There IS one major thing, which they kinda touched on but didn't specifically emphasize enough to my mind:

In a salary negotiation, the only person you can "beat" is yourself. It's not about you winning, and the company losing. If you approach it that way, you WILL be the one losing.

A salary negotiation is about coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement. A two way handshake where you are both happy with the result, and HOPEFULLY both feel you got a good deal.

Understanding the current market value of your skillset, and the position you are applying for (or for renegotiation at raise time, your current position),  your direct net economic value to the company, and your requirements for compensation, are critical to achieving the win win position.

If you don't understand what the market is paying for your skillset, or for the skillset the company is asking for (very experienced people will often find that most jobs they apply for will only use a small portion of their skillset), you need to start researching.

There are literally hundreds of web sites where you can find these things out, even for very obscure and specific skills and positions. And there's always your network of colleagues and contacts with similar skillsets and experience (and you absolutely should use their knowledge and experience to help you).

Basically, If you can't find salary data, and benefits comparison, for your skillset and career level, you aren't looking very hard.

Also remember, there are a lot of considerations other than cash compensation. The cost of living, and general quality of life in your home area (or relocation area) is a HUGE consideration. So is the amount of free time you'll have with the job, the benefits package, the non salary compensation (bonuses, profit sharing, benefits offset compensation, non-cash premiums etc...).

All of these together add up to the total package value; and it's the total package value you are negotiation. The salary is just one part of that total value.

The next part of the question is your actual cost to the company.

Your cost to the company as an employee is, as the linked article said, typically somewhere between 1.5 and 2 times your gross salary. Assume 2x for the purposes of negotiation.

Your cost to the company, must be offset by sufficient value to make you worth hiring.

Your value to the company, in revenue, cost avoidance, or cost savings; must be at least 3x your gross salary, and preferably 4x or more, for the company to realize enough value from its expenditure on you to reach a breakeven proposition (at least for large enterprises. Small businesses generally have lower overhead per employee, and also have a lower level of realized value where it's "worth it").

So, for a large enterprise, 3x is about the minimum realized value to cost multiplier for a reasonably well managed company, and smart management tries to get over 7x if they can.

That multiplier turns into a revenue per employee number; which is one way analysts judge the profitability and earnings potential of a publicly traded company.

A well managed, efficiently run company will have a MINIMUM gross revenue per employee of about $200,000. Very well managed companies are often into the $1 million or more.

Pepsico, which has very large manufacturing and transport operations (which are very inefficient business sectors overall), has an average salary of about $70,000 per year, on an average revenue per employee of just under $200,000 per year (slightly under 3x).

They are a "worst case" example, of an operation that is highly profitable, but simply cannot be much more cost efficient. They don't have any wiggle room in their employee cost, because of their huge legacy overhheads and structural inefficiencies (which are not really fixable); but they have spent decades pounding those costs down to the point that they are as efficient as they possibly can be.

Google has an average salary of about $140,000 per year on an average revenue of about $1.9 million per employee (about 13.5x). Google is a "best case" example, of a company with extremely high gross productivity, and an inherently cost efficient structure, and business segment. It's nearly impossible to be more efficient than Google; and they have a LOT of wiggle room on their employee costs.

What all that breaks down to is YES, seriously, in order to be worth hiring someone at $50,000, that person has to generate at least $150,000 or they are a at best a breakeven proposition to the company; and at least $200,000 to really be worth bothering to hire.

If you want to make $150,000 you need to be worth $600,000.

There are only two common exceptions to this rule of thumb (lots of uncommon exceptions in odd market corners though):

  1. If you are an independent contractor on 1099 or corp-to-corp, where the company you are contracting with has no benefit or tax burden associated with you, and no (or minimal) office and facilities cost to employ you. In that case you only need to provide 2x your gross salary to be a net positive value (or even 1.5x in a very small, very efficient operation, and you are relatively highly compensated).

  2. If you work for a company that provides your services as a service to other companies (a contracting agency, professional services organization or consultancy); in which case they can make money (barely) at about 25% over your gross costs to them.

    So if the company can charge $150 an hour for you, they can start making acceptable money on a gross cost of $120 an hour. Remember, there's still about a 20% overhead even on a 1099, and about a 35% overhead on a W2, presuming they are reasonably well managed and efficient; and that has to be factored into the gross cost.

    That's for very well managed, very efficient companies. A lot of places aren't so well managed, and they may have another $5 or even $10 an hour in costs; and they'll need to pay less accordingly. You will NEVER see a contracting company take less than $25 an hour on their gross cost for your labor, and they'll try to take a minimum of $35 to $40.

    Given this, if they're getting $150 an hour from the client, they're going to want a maximum labor cost of $110 an hour, but may go as high as $115, or in dire need $125. That includes your wage plus the overhead of about 20% on 1099 and about 35% on W2, so the highest they're ever going to go is something like $105 on 1099 and $95 on W2, and much more realistic is $90 1099 and $80 on W2. 

Now remember, these are the maximums they will want to pay you and still make good money off your services. They're going to want to cut that down a bit and make more money off you; and that's not exploitation, that's business.

Most companies will try to start their negotiating position at about 1/2 what they think they can make money on. So, if they can charge $150 an hour for you, and they start making money at a gross cost of $125 a hour, they're going to want to start their negotiation at around $65 an hour W2.

You know that they can still make good money on you at $85 an hour W2.

You know that the absolute maximum they could possibly pay is $95 an hour, and that's unlikely.

Those are your negotiating boundaries.

If you don't know what rate they're getting from the client, a decent rule of thumb is to take the salary of a full time permanent position in thousands, cut it in half, and that's the maximum dollars per hour they are going to want to pay you on W2.

It isn't necessary the maximum they WILL pay, but it's the maximum they will want to pay. The absolute maximum they WILL pay, is a little more complicated, and is based on how much they can charge the client, and how little they are willing to take over your rate.

On that contract they're probably charging the client about 1.5x to 1.75 times the permanent salary (though it may be as little as 1.35 to as much as 2x), divided by 2000 hours.

So, on what would be a $150,000 a year full time position; they're probably charging around $125 to $130 an hour, but may be charging as much as $150, or as little as $105 (if it's that little, it's as a loss leader or special rate for a big client, and the normal percentages go out the window. You'll probably get a max of about $65 W2 for that, about $5 more than you would max out at otherwise).

If they're charging $130, you might be able to get them up to $85 an hour 1099 but they're much more likely to top out around $80. If they're charging $150 though, you may get from $90 up to an absolute max of around $105 (again, that top number is if they're both desperate, and extremely efficient. $95 is much more realistic). On W2, you've got a range topping out at $95 or so if they're desperate, and getting $150 an hour; going down as low as somewhere in the $65-75 range if they're only getting $125 or $130.

Thus, the most they're going to want to pay you W2 is $75, but you MAY be able to negotiate up to $95; and the most they're going to want to pay 1099 is probably $90, but you may be able to negotiate up to as much as $105.

Now, one more thing...

How do you figure out your economic value to the company?

Honestly, this one is about understanding your business, not just your job, and it's something I can't help you with.

That said, it's something you ABSOLUTELY MUST be able to evaluate,  and to communicate to others. You don't necessarily need to be able to put a hard number to it (though it's very useful if you can), but you need to be able to at least understand and estimate it to within a reasonable approximation; unless you can clearly communicate that the number is well over 4x your cost to the company.

If you can't communicate your value, you will never be paid what you are worth... or anywhere near it; and you will never reach a senior level in your field.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2,556 days

2,556 days, 3,385 posts, 2,586,108 unique visits, 3,660,432 unique page views...

Yes, today is my 7 year blogiversary; which is roughly 4 gajillion in blog years.

Actually, since the average "active" blog lasts two years, I suppose the "blog years" works out to about 39 years (based on U.S. average life expectancy) per year, so my blog is now 273 years old.

That would explain why it's not quite as vigorous or "regular" anymore...

3,385 posts... and man I generally write long posts so there must be at least a couple million words in there. Honestly I have no idea how many, but given the dozens or maybe hundreds of 10,000 word posts I've written (and a couple of 20,000 word posts), and the at least a thousand (probably more) 2,000, 3,000, and 5,000 word posts; I think it's at least 5 million and it wouldn't surprise me if I'd written 10 million words on this blog over the past seven years.

Given the average novel these days is around a hundred thousand words, that's something like 50 or 100 novels worth of blathering.

It's been an... interesting... seven years.

In the last seven years I've acquired a wife and two children, spent five years in one job (something I'd never done before), moved our entire life from Arizona to north Idaho, lost my mother and my brother, gained over 200 pounds, lost over 120 pounds of that, and developed cancer (which I am still fighting).

I met my wife six months after I started this blog, and we've been together since three months after that.

It's just... absolutely bewildering to me how different my life is today, from how it was on February 14th 2005. I could never have predicted this.

Thank you to all my readers, and all my friends. I've said this before, I do this for me not for you, but I appreciate everything you've given me, done for me, experienced with me... My life would be far poorer without you.

...and I have a question for you:

For my long term readers, or for newer readers who have read the archives, what do you consider to be my best post of the last seven years, and why?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Mother is Gone

My Mother, Jane Elizabeth Dinsmore, passed on just a few minutes ago.

This has been coming a long time. She's been very seriously ill for some years.

Three weeks ago, while she was hospitalized for a stroke and a seizure (unfortunately not her first stroke, or even her tenth), they discovered that one of her cancers had come out of remission, and metastasized, and there was no possibility of treatment.

She has been in terminal care for the last few weeks. Last week she stopped taking nutrition, so we knew it would only be a few more days.

My Aunt Maureen has been with her the whole time. I can't even imagine how hard this is for her. I can't thank her enough for being there when I couldn't.

I was at least able to say goodbye to my mom over the phone before she lost the ability to understand.

My mother was only 55 years old, and had spent more than half her life fighting cancer.

I first knew about her cancer when I was 7 years old, but by then she'd had it for around 2 years. The first time was breast cancer. The doctors had told her she didn't have long, and that she should get her affairs in order, so she told me she was dying, and that I would live with my grandparents, and I had to take care of my little brother.

She went off all treatment, and wanted to live or die on her own terms. A few weeks later, she went into complete remission, and stayed there for years.

That's how the last 30 years has gone. Every few years, she would get sick, she would go through treatment, it would look bad, then a sudden remission. It must have been... maybe 7 times I think? Honestly I can't remember. She has had breast cancer, skin cancer, throt cancer, lung cancer, spinal cancer, and brain cancer.

After the spinal and brain cancer, the blood vessels in her brain were severely weakened, and she started having aneurysms, strokes, and TIA. That was... about 9 years ago now? We thought she was going to go then. I moved back from Ireland in 2003 to be closer to her then.

But like always, she fought back, and she got better.

Only that time, she didn't really.

Since 2003, she has been ratcheting down. Each time she'd recover, but a little worse than she was. Each time she had a major episode, it looked like she would go, but she would somehow fight out of it... but shed be further down the ladder than she was before.

At one point, she lost a very big chunk of her memory. At another time she went blind for a while, though her vision came back, severely degraded, but back nonetheless. At one time she lost the ability to speak... but she got it back.

Finally after 30 years of fighting her body, tonight it was finally too much.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Morals, Ethics, Law, and Force

Some folks have a particular problem of reasoning, that makes them do something I (and other libertarian types), find quite irritating.

There are three sets of "rules" for life if you will:

  • Morals
  • Ethics
  • Laws

Morals are those things which are right or wrong, because your conscience tells you so. They are internal to the self (though they of course may be built on, and guided by, the teaching and precepts of others; morals are by their nature, internal).

Ethics are the rules that are set before you by an organization or entity, to which you belong; but which are not subject to coercive force. Rules of professional conduct for example.

Laws are the rules which are set forth by a state (or other governmental entity), and which are enforced with the coercive force of the state; up to and including physical restraint and violence.

The problem I'm speaking of is the foundation for the most dangerous words in any language "there ought to be a law".

A lot of folks... probably just about everyone, on some subjects at some time in their life... have a problem confusing that which is or should be legal or illegal, with what is or should be ethical or unethical, or what is or should be moral or immoral.

This is a reasonable thing to be confused about. In a free society, that which is illegal should be illegal because it is either immoral or unethical; malum in se, it is bad because it is bad.

All too often though, things are illegal simply because they are illegal; malum prohibitum, it is bad because it is prohibited.

Taking this precept, the people who have this problem I find so irritating, then extend it further, to its inverse. They believe that which is immoral, or unethical, should also be illegal.

That doesn't necessary follow.

Yes, anything illegal should be immoral or unethical (or both); but not everything immoral or unethical should be illegal. Only those things where the coercive force of the state is absolutely required to correct or protect, should have the force of law behind them.

For example, most personal behavior which is immoral or unethical, should not be subject to the coercive force of the state. Infidelity is a matter between you and your partner, not you, your partner, and the state.

Unfortunately, for many, this impulse is uncontrollably strong. They simply cannot accept that what they believe to be immoral or unethical behavior, can be allowed to happen; and in their world view, we must use the coercive force of the state to stop it.

I simply cannot abide this view.

It is, in all seriousness, dangerous.

Giving the state the power to prohibit anything someone believes is immoral, would be disastrous to liberty. Who is the arbiter? Certainly not the majority, who are more tyrannical than any dictator. Certainly not an elect few. No-one has the wisdom, never mind the authority, to make such decisions, and any attempt to do so is tyranny of the highest order.

We must simply accept, that people will behave badly, illegal or not. They will do and say things we find disgusting, or reprehensible. We are not required to put up with them doing so around us, we can exclude them from our lives and our property (I'm all for shunning and exile); but we can't bring the coercive force of the state to bear on them.

That's the ugly side of liberty. Believing in liberty, means believing in liberty for everyone, even the immoral, and the unethical.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Impossible Ideology, False Dichotomy, and Unacceptable Conclusions

This post is a clarification of an ongoing theme I've addressed before... and which has been addressed many times before by myself, by other bloggers, and by scholars like Victor Davis Hanson, and Thomas Sowell.

I'm talking about the "Stupid or Evil" false dichotomy.

Those of us with a libertarian, or economic conservative bent (social conservatives seem to suffer from this tendency as much as liberals, just in a different area), frequently have a huge problem understanding why "Progressives", liberals, socialists etc... keep advocating and even implementing clearly nonviable ideas, against all past results or evidence.

How anyone can still, not slightly, but whole heartedly, and with the entire force of a government behind them; implement socialist ideas? The entire 20th century stands as incontrovertible evidence that socialism, in any form, in any way, for any reason; is not just a failed political system, but a horrible idea in general.

And yet, millions of people around the world still advocate for it passionately... even kill or die for it.

When we oppose these people, or these ideas, they declare us to be "stupid" or "ignorant", "delusional", "defrauded and manipulated by evil/greedy masters" or simply "evil" ourselves.

The question here is not one of fact, it is one of ideology; in a belief structure where the political is the personal, and political ideology substitutes for tribal identity, or religious faith.

For these people evidence, and reality, are irrelevant. Something is true not because of evidence, reality, or history; but because their ideology says it must be true. Something is false not because evidence says so, or because it doesn't work; it is false because it differs from the ideology.

This behavior is maddeningly baffling to those of us who attempt to use reality, history, logic, and a healthy appreciation for the law of unintended consequences; as a guide for our ideas and our actions.

Warren Meyer over at Coyote Blog, put up a post this morning, that put me in mind of this particular topic again (emphasis mine):
"I am perfectly capable of believing Drum honestly thinks that further deficit spending will improve the economy this year. I think he’s nuts, and working against all historic evidence, but never-the-less I believe he is sincere, and not merely pushing the idea as part of some dark donkey-team conspiracy. Why is it that he and his ilk, from both sides of the aisle, find it impossible to believe that their opponents have similarly honest intentions?

I mean, is it really so hard to believe — after spending a trillion dollars to no visible effect, after seeing Europe bankrupt itself, and after seeing the American economy begin to recover only after crazy stimulus programs have mostly stopped — that some folks have an honest desire to see economic improvement and think further stimulus programs are a bad idea"
Yes, it is impossible.

It is impossible, because they are arguing from ideology not from reality. They believe in what HAS to be true, because their ideology says so; not what reality, or experience, proves to be true.

Their ideology is core to their perception of their identity, and their sense both of self worth, and the worth of others. Their judgement and reason are based on it. Everything is filtered through this ideological prism, because it HAS to be, for the health of their own psyche.

For someone whose entire perception of self worth depends on their adherence to an ideological precept ("I am a good/better person because I believe this morally better thing"), then anyone who disagrees with this precept must be stupid, ignorant, defrauded, deluded, or evil.

There is no room for honest disagreement in this. To preserve their self worth, and sense of identity, there can be no doubt, and no acceptance of any possibility of error. There is one true path, which they follow, and anyone who deviates from it is apostate.

If therefore, one cannot dismiss opponents of their ideological precept as stupid, ignorant, defrauded, or deluded (and in the case of clearly intelligent, well informed people, presenting reasoned arguments against your precepts, you obviously cannot); the only thing you can challenge is their motives.

Your opponents MUST KNOW that you are right, that your ideology is right; since they are intelligent and well informed, and of course any intelligent and well informed person (such as yourself) can see your ideology is clearly morally superior (just as you did).

Therefore your opponents must be evil, or at best venal and self-interested.

It simply must be that way, because any other conclusion is unacceptable.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Lilyhammer is a must watch

If you are a netflix subscriber, you need to watch Lilyhammer, right now.

For those who haven't seen anything about this yet, Lilyhammer is the first independently produced show specifically for Netflix (in cooperation with Norwegian television), and I have to tell you guys, it's great.

How great?

Well, I watched all 8 episodes of it in the last 12 hours.

I won't spoil anything here, I'll just say it's the best comedy drama I've seen in a long time.

Every once in a while, being an insomniac has a fringe benefit.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Last Minute Prediction

Kickoff if a couple minutes away, and my prediction for the superbowl tonight is...

27-21 Patriots

Vegas is saying 28-25 pats.

UPDATE: Well... I was half right

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Bacon... Milkshake?

One of the benefits/ drawbacks of working in a bank is that quite often you see the same people day in and day out. The manager of the local Jack in the Box is one of those people I see every day, and I actually like to see on a daily basis.

On Wednesday he came in and by the luck of the customer line draw I ended up helping him that day. That conversation is how I found out about a new limited time item on the menu, the Bacon Shake.

Tonight I ran over to ye olde Jack to pick one up for a very intrigued Chris.

 First off, there were no signs up for this concoction, at least as far as I could see. I asked the person at the drive-thru if there was indeed such a thing (it wouldn't have surprised me if he was pulling my leg after all) and sure enough it does exist.

As Chris said, "imagine smoked vanilla ice cream topped with maple syrup and a few shakes of salt."

Does it taste exactly like bacon? No. Does it taste like someone took the essence of smoke and bacon and waffles with syrup and blend it together? Yes.

It is a very odd, very compelling taste. We couldn't finish the entire shake though, as there is such a thing as too much smoked ice cream.

Jack in the Box gets 3.5 out of 5 stars for taste, and 7 out of 5 stars for an awesome concept.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

So, So Very Revoked

demotivational posters - MAN CARD: REVOKED
see more Very Demotivational

Unfortunately, I (Mel, not Chris) already knew such things existed. No, pantyhose for men is not a hoax, in fact you can buy them here (found while looking for stockings for myself, thankyouverymuch.)

Despite the wide availability, somehow I think I'll still be the only adult in the family who wears pantyhose to work.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

So, 9 months out, my prediction for the 2012 election

So, some of y'all might have noticed that we're having an election this year.

You know, like anyone who isn't actually dead and buried (and even then, if you're in Chicago...).

Given that it's just about 9 months out (next Tuesday to be exact), I figure it's time to gestate a prediction on the election.

As of now, this is the state of the countries presidential preference, according to the various polls being used by (a site which has proven in the past two election to be somewhat left biased in their poll selection, so if anything it's probably a little stronger for republicans):

I disagree with some of those being listed as swing states. I think there's about ZERO chance that Virginia, South Carolina, New Hampshire, or Florida, will be voting Obama this year, and Pennsylvania is so Anti-Obama they may actually drag him down in other sates.

Oh and Obama is only polling significantly over 50% (as in out of the margin of error) in TWO states right now.

Which two?

New York and Hawaii.

Even California, Minnesota, and Massachusetts are all at 50% or so. EVERY other state is below 50% support for Obama. Even New Jersey. Pennsylvania is down to about 35% support for Obama.

Yes, my prediction here is assuming the undecideds break almost entirely against Obama, but I believe that's exactly what is going to happen in most states.

So, here's my guess for the final result:

I'm pretty confident that, presuming nothing insane, ridiculous, heinous etc... happens between now and november, that I will come within 20 votes, and I am moderately confident that I'll be within 10 (the only state I see as particularly iffy here is New Mexico).

Oh and for anyone holding out hope for a miracle, or a revolution... stop, please. It's not going to happen, and it's just making Obamas chances better. The republican party nominee IS Mitt Romney.

Not "will be" or "might be"... IS.

Ron Paul is never going to be on a Republican presidential ticket. Nor Newt, nor Santorum or any of the other sideshow candidates (yes, I choose that word deliberately).

Get over it, and get used to voting for "not Obama".