Once Upon A Time
There were all these things on the internet that people decided they knew, because they could google them any time they wanted.
Minds shrank. Brains atrophied. Board meetings became search-engine sessions among the members under 35.
Here are things that were not google-able on the date they were posted. What's that you say? Realities that were not included in the goo? I am shocked. Shocked I tell you!
Top Story: Post Office Solution! 9/18/11
Congress is seriously considering cutting back on postal services as a way to correct the Post Office’s running deficit.
As if by micromanaging the service hours they had discovered a real way to make things right.
Congressional band-aid solutionism strikes again!
Honestly, the ability for Congress to wake up in the morning, day after day, and look at their individual selves in the mirror thinking, “Gosh, you sure are smart and capable,” is a profound example of the irresistible pull of self-delusion.
Every one of them who does not stare at their own face and say something like, “Please, God, send me an answer to these messes, because I got nothin’,” is the enemy of the people, not its servant.
In other words, the open mind is much, MUCH more likely to be the right thing in the way of a representative or senator than the one who smiles confidently back from the mirror, satisfied with their own mindset. (Which opens up a whole uber-topic, but today, we’re here to talk about the Post Office Problem, not the ability for voters to think they’ve done their job by voting for an inappropriately self-confident sociopath.)
To those in national government tasked with solving problems, and who also have that ideal “open mind” to which I refer, know this: the solution to making the Post Office of the United States of America function correctly without having to be supported from the general treasury is right in front of you this instant.
The fix is just three words long. Three. Little. Words.
And we will tell those words to you in the course of this article. Then you will slap your forehead and shout "Of course!"
I will even construct a paragraph that lets you arrive at the solution on your own before I tell it to you. Just so you can have the satisfaction of having beat me to it!
When those three words are implemented, six-day postal delivery of mail, advertising, small packages and large packages will be assured to every citizen capable of opening their front door, or looking into their mailbox--no matter what delivery obstacles, weather conditions or inefficiencies lay in their path.
When postal service was established in this land in 1692 by Thomas Neale, it was in response to a grant from King William and Queen Mary to provide distribution of letters and “pacquets” within the colonies.
Later, Benjamin Franklin established the United States Post Office on July 26, 1775. A full year before the Declaration of Independence. Unified stamps didn’t appear until the middle of the 19th century. One of the first had a portrait of Ben. But I digress.
Flash forward to today. Congress is wringing its hands because the USPS is eight billion dollars in the hole. And the only solution they (Congress) can think of to fix it is to reduce delivery service.
Excuse me? The ultimate THING that the Post Office is, is delivery service. All that stuff that goes on in the back room is mere preparationrehearsal for the Big Show: Deliverance!
Observation: If Congress is this impotent, they deserve that stamp up near the headline.
I’ve got a better idea: Only people willing to sacrifice their lower legs, or already have lost them, somehow, should be allowed to participate in Congress. Those useless appendages simply take up too much room. Especially when the three magic words to solving this bull-spit crisis are so easy to speak aloud in clear air. Obviously those lower extremities haven't helped our representatives and senators to think--so off they go.
At least this legislator amputation-solution will be exactly as effective as their proposed USPS-service-amputation solution!
After all, Congress is convinced down to its undies that band-aid solutions are the only correct solutions to any problem. And after the stumps grow overno more band-aids will be needed!
If mandatory loss of lower extremitiesas an obvious gesture of public service willingness to the nationwere implemented, you’d get a much more thoughtful, much less self-serving class of legislator. Returning vets would likely become a greater portion. Not a bad idea. And they would have particularly interesting input the next time we decided to pick a war.
Arguments to support the USPS-service-amputation scheme include whining about how everybody is using the Internet and email so much that letters aren’t being traded around as frequently any more, therefore, lowered service won't be that big a deal.
Ahem. Not just a wrong answer, but a stupid answer.
Things you ORDER through the internet don’t appear in physical form magically in front of your monitor. We are transitioning into a new era that requires a hybrid of messaging and atomic delivery elements. Messaging is fast. Atoms are slow. And they require a uniform central-government solution to be uniformly applied to the people, of the people, for the people.
To make the Internet work as an ordering of goods system, Part Two of that idea requires a robust, efficient, trustworthy delivery of physical objects system. The USPS is a much better solution for that than UPS and FedEx. Those private services really want you to cough up twenty bucks per item, and if the Post Office delivery becomes problematic, they’ll gouge you for that in a heartbeat.
Private "pacquet" delivery schemes like FedEx and UPS are needed for things over a certain scale and rush urgency, but snail mail does not need to become speed-of-grass-growing mail, simply because three words were avoided by the Solutions Department.
The Post Office, which delivers somewhere in the neighborhood of 120,000,000,000 pieces of mail every year is $8,000,000,000 short of breaking even. Meaning that every single item it has delivered is somewhere in the range of fifteen cents short on its delivery charge. What to do? What to do!?
Did you get it? Are you on my page yet. Keep going...
Here are the magic three words. Too bad everybody in Congress couldn’t come up with them on their own. But by now you and I are beginning to realize that all those bathroom mirrors owned by our lawmakers are dysfunctional. The reflection in the mirror is lying through its teeth as it tells the observer how smart and capable they are.
The Solution. 1: Charge. 2: Appropriate. 3: Rates. Acronym: CAR.
Do this, and the whole bull-spit argument vanishes. Bump upespeciallythe junk mail rates. Under the principle of “You want me to be your delivery stooge? You gotta pay me to make it worth my while!”
Then stop charging us idiotic postage stamp rates that are impossible to compute in our heads. Forty-four cents? Are you insane? Goose it to 60 cents right this instant! Now you’re a penny over the fifteen cent deficit. Ten stamps: six bucks.
Jump it later to 75 cents per first-class stamp! Make it come out in easy-to-think terms. Four stamps for three bucks ($75¢). Five stamps for four dollars (80¢). Ten stamps for nine bucks (90¢). A buck each. Break prices on the dime or quarter. Stop messing with my head!
You should have made that last jump up to an even fifty cents per. If you had, we would be much closer to break-even right now. But nooooooo.
With creativity and technological advances, our three words are not so onerous as the Republicans in Congress think. Sure, that crowd is only happy when they are destroying something. And what better thing to destroy in the name of freedom than an institution older than the USA itself? A sharp stick in the eye of Benjamin Franklin is a sure way to gain political power.
Next, it could be your eye; so watch your ass, citizen!
Congressional Reality Strikes 9/4/11
In Islam, women are regarded with a historic sense of disdain. They are subjugated, under-educated and relegated to a lower position in society. Yet they manage money better, take care of the next generation of people better, care for the elderly better, farm better and provide for the future better than the men.
Both US political parties need to become more evenly distributed by gender.
Especially ESPECIALLY the Republicans, who rail against the practices they think they’re seeing in Islam, while perpetuating the worst practices of Islam within their own political party by a consistent factor of 300% more than is seen in the Democratic Party.
This is not an opinion. It is a mathematical reality.
Top Story: BS Season Ripens 8/21/11
And as we all know, there's nothing more bracing than standing downwind of primary BS.
Here are your choices: Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell. They're each kinda pretty, they're Republican and they're bat-spit crazy for politics.
I do NOT get it. How can the top three Republican women that spring to mind all share a congenital, over-the-top sense of inhumane reasoning skills?
Bachmann is convinced down to her tidy-whities that gay people are sub-humans and should be "fixed." And she has the Ph.D. to prove it. Except that she doesn't, and all her previous claims to Ph.D.-dom were lies.
Palin is convinced down to her Gucci shoes that quitting a governorship, quitting her day job at Fox and quitting any practice of making smart talk, are the three wisest things she has ever done. The fantastic documentary of her life and the millions of dollars at her elbow prove it.
And O'Donnell is convinced to the depths of her wiccan dabble that she's the sort of troublemaker that makes a difference. You know; because of her great brain.
Surely there are well-tempered, knowledgable, intelligent, humane female Republicans in the world? Female counterparts to, say, Ron Paul, who can open their mouths and breathe sanity into Conservative ideals without sounding like a Fox News clone?
Is there something in the Republican water that the top three Republi-femmes are somehow keenly allergic to, that produces this consistent vacuous state? The mouths are running, but there's no there, there.
Where's the Rachel Maddow of the GOP?
A Good Word to Know
It manages to pack into ten letters one each of the regular (always) vowels, and it sounds sinister at the same time. Sort of salacious, fallacious, audacious, vexatious and ostentatious all at once. But not particularly gracious, capacious or efficacious.
Mendaciousness is lying. Bullspitting. Intentionally spreading untruths to bolster an argument. "Given to or characterized by deception or falsehood or divergence from absolute truth."
Here's an exercise in mendaciousness. You alone can determine if it's mine or tonight's guest's.
Long story shortened:
I found this guy on the net who is the author of several books and has a Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA. And yet he spews this example about US taxes:
I am not kidding. He believes that example is a valid test.
He has chosen incomes that are for Family Onebarely getting by, and for Family Two comfortably settled in.
A better question might be how much cash could each family set aside as savings for the future?
Family One: Not much. Think cookie jar.
Family Two: Perhaps a hundred grand? More, if they lived as frugally as Family One must. After all, they have Two Hundred And Twenty Nine Thousand Dollars in cold, hard cash, left over after taxes.
The key to this lies in the use of "49 times more" to describe the two different cases chosen specifically to bolster this Ph.D.'s cherry-picked example. That's what mathematicians, like your first grade teacher, call a "multiplier" and while it is useful for many things, comparing tax payments as a proportion of income under tax rules is definitely not one of them. There are factors of deductions, expenses and tax brackets that make this a fool's errand. But I'm not the guy who has a Ph.D. in Economics.
Let's take a slightly different example.
∞, INFINITY times as much in taxes!
Are you beginning to see anything wrong with that guy's example?
He is John Lott. And he really does have a Ph.D. in Economics.
Worse, the Tea Party and Republicans love to quote him and his examples as if they indicated something worth acting on.
Surely he knows the precise level of misdirection this example has been crafted to cause. He wants you to respond to the key words "five times as much income" and "pays 49 times as much taxes," as if they were the core truths of something illuminating.
Never mind that the examples were selected purposely to make you mad. And as long as you don't think about it, he's got you. But what if you were to think?
I certainly know how to reduce the numbers until the example of infinitely more taxation becomes the central factor of the argument. He apparently feels that a Ph.D. in Economics prepares one to pull an example like this out of one's exhaust pipe.
But let's say I could pull out a figure that has Family Five earning just enough to pay only $10 in taxes, and Family Six, who earn five times as much, ends up paying, say, $7,000 in taxes.
Wholly Cow! They pay an outrageous Seven Hundred Times As Much (700 X)!!!!! It's enough to make a Ph.D. choke on his own invective! And it is enormously worse than Lott's published example. But it is an example so whacko that even a casual Tea Bagger (that's the official term for a Tea Party member who uses the term, "Obamacare") would raise an eyebrow over.
Clearly Mr. Lott doesn't want any reader to move away from being outraged over a 49 X factor into laughing at a completely rediculous comparison. That might cause unfavorable "thinking" and undermine his stated example.
The example he gives is so completely egregious that we are beginning to wonder about the value of his Ph.D. I mean, seriously. What would that Ph.D. committee think about this guy, now?
One thing's for sure; now we can see him as a Gold Medal winner in mendacious reasoning.
But if you read the entire Wikipedia article on him, you'd know that this was not the first time. Read the parts about fraudulent statistical evidence gathering and distribution.
Mendacious is as mendacious does.
Begging the question: How can you possibly compute the speed of a passing car with accuracyin your HEAD?
You can't. Unless you can multiply a number by two, and add two numbers together in your mind. And as everybody knows, you have to have the skills of a seven-year-old to do that, so why try?
This only involves your ability to drive at a constant speedany speedand complete four quick observations within mere seconds of each other. Warning. It involves a little in-the-head addition of two, two-digit numbers while driving. If that's beyond you; move on.
Sorry in advance for all of you who will be killed in highway accidents while trying to add two, two-digit numbers in your head.
Computing The Speed Of Passing Cars.
You're driving along, and some joker zips past you with reckless abandon. Probably in a swoopy, energetic BMW. Why you ^%$#@!! sun on the beach! You are a danger to everybody, etc. If only I could truly and accurately gauge your speed. You know, for the eventual trial!
Surprise, you can! Potentially accurate to within 1 mph, you can determine that ash-whole's speed. But only if you act fast.
First: The instant that jerk's rear bumper is even with your front bumper, you need to do two things: stabilize your speed without accelerating or decelerating, and start a count in your headat a steady pace"Zero... One... Two... Three... Four... Five!"
Second: At the stroke of the F in "Five!" you must note the exact spot on the highway in front of you that the speeding loon's rear bumper now hovers over. Compare it to a highway seam, or a dashed line, or a shadow, or a Bott's Dot, or even a random weed at the side of the road.
Seven (and a half-ish)
Third: You don't stop counting. You continue evenly with "...Six! ...Seven! ...Eight!..." or however much time it takes for your front bumper to catch up to that exact observed place on the road that the other guy was at on "Five." Usually it's somewhere in the six to eight range.
Fourth: Then you do a little math in your head, zipity quick, you compute that moran's actual speed. Now you know.
Oh, you wanted to know how to compute it? Here goes:
Let's say it took till about the 7.5 count. And your speed was 67 mph. That means the speeding cretin covered 2.5 more counts of freeway than you did in the same time you got to five. It took you 2.5 more counts to catch up to the spot he covered in five counts.
Each steady count does not have to be an accurate second. You can count quite leisurely if you wish. That might make estimating the fraction of a full count more accurate, too. But your pace must be very regular. Like counting beats in music.
Each full count represents a 20% speed increase over your own speed. At 67 mph, each count represents an increase of 13.4 mph faster than you (67 x 0.2 = 13.4) or one count would reveal his speed to be 80.4 mph. Two counts would reveal his speed as 93.8 mph. Two and a half counts would mean 93.8 + 6.7 = 100.5 mph.
The instance of 2.5 more counts is special. That's the point at which the other twerp was going exactly 150% of your speed. Two and a half times 13.4 faster than you're going at 67 mph. 13.4 + 13.4 + 6.7 = 33.5. Or half of your current speed also is 33.5. Either way you figure it, the math is inevitable.
Add your speed to half of your speed and you get 100.5 mph (67 + 33.5 = 100.5). Clearly a first-class danger to the life and limb of everybody else on the highway. Phone him in, Danno!
Or perhaps you caught up with that jerk's "FivePoint" just before the tick of "Seven." So you think 1.8 counts faster. Meaning 1.8 times 20% of your speed. Meaning 1.8 times 13.4 mph or just over 24 mph faster than your 67 mph. Your call. Do you give the Highway Patrol a wedgie* because you were passed at 91 mph?
It would have been better if you had been traveling at 60 or 65 or 70 because the math would have been easier to work in your mind.
Why does this work? Think of it this way: If you go twice as fast, you cover 200% of the ground in the same time. If you go 50% faster than now, you cover 150% of the ground in the same time. Both time and distance are linear, simple relationships.
So if the other guy goes 20% faster than you, you will get to where they got in 120% of the time. Their five-count distance is your six-count distance. And since six is 120% of five, now you know.
You could count to ten, then make your observation. That would be more accurate and each count would represent a 10% speed increase over yours, but the dipstick who passed you might be so far ahead you couldn't see his bumper exactly.
Tip: if you count to ten, do it faster.
* Short for getting their panties in a bunch. How dangerous is he? Is he doing 91 in a Porche? A Bimmer? A '62 Pontiac while weaving drunkenly? Your call.
© 2011 Buzz Mega Holdings. All rights reserved.
© 2011 Buzz Mega Holdings. All rights reserved.
Below: Polar Bear ready for sex.