Category Archives: Other

Wow – what a heart tugging story – well worth reading

Cranbrook, BC is one of my favorite small towns. And after this, it still is 🙂

But then, as he looked at the young woman who had taken his dog, he says he recognized an old version of himself in her eyes.

“She was very evidently hooked on drugs,” he said. “I gave her a hug and she said, ‘Why would you hug a piece of s**t like me?’”

Morton told her: “I was addicted to drugs for years. I know what you’re on. I know what you’re doing. I completely forgive you.”

Instead of giving her the reward money, for fear she would spend it on drugs, Morton asked whether he could pay for her to go to rehab.

She said yes and the pair hugged, crying together.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesperson Sgt. Chris Manseau confirmed the story to CNN.

Source: When a woman stole his dog, this man didn’t press charges. Instead, he’s paying for her drug rehab – KTVZ

And it gets better but you have to read to the end to learn of the other person who he and friends also helped.

I’m still smiling 🙂

Cutting back

Over a week ago, I stopped logging my state’s Covid-19 data and doing my own analysis. The state discontinued releasing data on weekends and holidays. Kind of felt like they’ve decided its over.

I began thinking of making fewer posts here and have cut down in the past week.

This blog was intended as a diary of the inconsistencies and contradictions I was seeing over the past 18 months. I’ve accomplished that goal – to record the insanity.

I have tagged some hidden posts for future follow up to see how past forecasts turned out – and might post those when they go live (these are marked for follow up out to 2022). Otherwise, I am thinking of cutting way back unless something really significant occurs.

What were they thinking?

What an idiot:

“They were hoping, the federal government was hoping, they could sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated,” Berenson said at CPAC, eliciting uproarious applause from the conservative audience.

Source: Fauci Deplores ‘Horrifying’ Moment at CPAC When Crowd Applauded Anti-Vaccine Speech

Their brains are dysfunctional.

I admit I am a brain injured idiot with no relevant experience here; I make observations and ask stupid questions. But … what’s their excuse for such absurd comments and crowd reaction?

Related – I do not know many people with confirmed Covid-19 cases – just a handful. However one, who is younger than me, spent 3 days on a ventilator and about 10 days in the hospital. I have said repeatedly, Covid-19 is a real disease – my criticisms are about inconsistent, contradictory, illogical and frequently incoherent public health responses and messaging to the point that public health no longer has credibility. But Covid itself is real. Vaccines are real and do work very well.

Executive Order on “right to repair” may have broader “ripple” effects

US President Joe Biden will soon sign an executive order that will give farmers the right to repair their own tractors, said Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary in a press briefing on Tuesday. This is a shot in the arm for the activists who have been seeking legal protection for individuals engaging in repairs at local stores instead of having to send them back to manufacturers every time.

Source: biden executive order to allow self tractor repairs

Pilobulus

This outside my usual interests but just saw that the dance company Pilobulus was in the news.

In my tech career, I worked with one of the co-founders of this dance group. Its neat to see that the group, founded in 1971, is still going 50 years later, now working on methods to help seniors exercise too.

The story focuses on delivering “balance exercises” to the elderly via streaming services and live over Zoom. Great idea!

That is of interest to me since, due to recent diagnosis of serious knee problems due, in part, to past injuries – much of my physical therapy exercises are focused on balance to strengthen many muscles in the lower half of the body. Two months ago I could not walk more than 200 feet due to the knee injury – yet two days ago I did a 4 mile walk and will soon be increasing that distance as part of recovery.

Physical therapists are miracle workers!

Read the whole thread

About 100 years ago, a new theory emerged from science, was endorsed by “experts”, promoted by politicians and the media, and laws were passed because of this theory. Those who opposed this theory were reactionary and ignorant.

Read the thread to learn what this theory was about – and realize we are today going down the same paths as before in a variety of subjects.

Home buyers beware: “27% of Americans regret their quarantine DIY project, study finds”

The study found 27% have quarantine DIY regrets, with 3 in 4 saying it took “too long” and more than half (57%) saying it “cost too much.”

The average cost of home-improvement projects during the pandemic was $3,797, with 30% of respondents saying their budgets ranged from $1,000 to $5,000, the study found.

About a third of respondents were disappointed with their results (32%), while 12% said their projects were too complicated and they should have hired a professional.

Source: 27% of Americans regret their quarantine DIY project, study finds | NewsNation Now

Having owned many homes, I have seen THE WORST of home DIY projects by incompetent home owners. Wow – the above is a warning to home buyers to check everything twice, three times, even more – to uncover ceiling wiring under the insulation, to check every plumbing connection, to verify absolutely everything.

Ouch

This quote originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph which is pay walled. Another version appears here, however.

SPI-B are the initials for the Scientific Pandemic Influenza group on Behavior. The “SPI-B provides behavioral science advice aimed at anticipating and helping people adhere to interventions that are recommended by medical or epidemiological experts.” The SPI-B is a subgroup of the SPI-B&C, where C is “Communications”.

Another SPI-B member said: “You could call psychology ‘mind control’. That’s what we do… clearly we try and go about it in a positive way, but it has been used nefariously in the past.”

Basically, a science-y sounding group of dystopian expert propagandists who engage in unethical practices.

This does not inspire confidence in public health – the contrary, it says they engaged in non-transparent manipulation of the public.

California dependent on international immigration for growth

“Our demographers anticipate we will return to slightly positive growth 12 months from now as the pandemic is brought under control and we see changes to immigration policy,” he said.

Source: California population falls for first time after pandemic losses

California has been losing population because more people move out of California, than move in, to/from other states. The state is now dependent on international immigration for retaining or growing its population.

Adopting Scandinavian social benefits and taxes in the U.S.

For something unrelated, I was researching some of the “social benefits” programs in Norway. This is my summary of what I came across – which may be sort of accurate or not.

What I found interesting is that this is nearly identical to what the Democrats have proposed for the U.S. (I am not a member of any political party.)

Some of the benefits already exist in the U.S. (Social security, for example) while others are new (“free college”).

Vacation

  • 25 days paid/year
  • 31 days/year at age 60+
  • Many jobs have negotiated more days of vacation

Education

  • University education is free, even for foreign students studying in Norway.
  • University graduate education is free up through PhD level.

Health care

  • Almost 100% coverage for health, dental, medical transport. Also includes coverage when traveling in the EU.

Maternity Leave

  • For mothers: 80% pay up to 59 weeks, or 100% pay up to 49 weeks.
  • For fathers: 15 weeks paid leave.
  • Either can then take up to one year unpaid leave beyond that.

Child Care

  • Heavily subsidized for children age 0-5 (nearly free)
  • Subsidized (but not free) for older children

Sick Leave and Disability

  • 100% pay up to 12 months, then 66%

Taxes

  • Standard and personal deductions (similar to US)
  • Then, 22% flat rate to US$22,000, then rises progressively to 33% at about $100k (that also includes costs of health care)
  • 8.2% social security
  • Property taxes
  • Value Added Tax (25% sales-like tax, and 15% VAT on food)
  • Capital gains tax flat 22%

A person making 55k / year will pay 24.7% in taxes or 32.9% including social security.

A person making about 100k and up will pay about 33% or 41.2% including social security.

Of course, on top of that, you pay 25% VAT (sales tax), property taxes and other taxes/fees.

In the U.S., social security tax is 12.4% but most workers only see 6.2% as the other half is, basically, taken out of income by the employer and used as the “employer’s contribution”.

The U.S. Federal tax scheme is progressive, without the large flat rate starting level. However, some states, like Oregon, have a largely flat rate 9 to 9.9% tax for most income and capital gains. Some cities also have additional income taxes. In worst cases, this can add 10-20% to the U.S. tax burden. It’s important when comparing taxes to try and identify all of the possible taxes: municipal income taxes, state income taxes, federal income taxes, state and federal capital gains taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, social security and Medicare taxes. This is why comparing one nation’s taxes to another is hard to do.

When all of the taxes are added together, it is apparent that taxes on Norway are very high. In Denmark, it is common for wage earners to pay 40% to 70% of their total income in taxes (those are not marginal tax rates but actual percent of income). The average Dane pays 45% of their entire income as income taxes.

There is a proposal to raise the U.S. capital gains tax to 39.4%, almost twice that of Norway. Economists say the maximum economic opportunity comes below 28%; after that, people change their behavior and the government gets less than expected and economic growth is harmed.

Another proposal would raise inheritance taxes for some to 61%. Since some states also have inheritance and/or estate taxes, these could raise the effective “death tax” to 70 to 80% of the estate value. Basically, the government would confiscate the majority of one’s wealth at death – this could make it difficult for some family businesses, including farms and ranches, to be continued into the next generation.

The Democrats have a tiny majority in the House and 50:50 in the Senate and some of them claim this gives them a mandate to restructure the U.S. into a high benefit/high tax scheme like those of Scandinavian countries.

Wealth Tax

  • In Norway, wealth of more than US$60,000, has a 0.7% (to city) and 0.15 (to state) or 0.85% of amount > $60k. That means for each dollar equivalent over US $60,000, you would pay 0.7% of that wealth to the government.
  • There are proposals in the U.S. for a wealth tax, albeit at far higher levels of wealth, for now.

Social Security Pension Program

  • 8.2% pay check contribution in Norway
  • Can retire at age 62 with 40 years work contributions. Can count work from age 13 onward.
  • Everyone eligible for retirement at age 67.
  • Pension based on “basic pension” + supplemental, based on years worked.

Scandinavian Social Benefits and Taxes Model

In the U.S., in 2021, the Democrats are proposing the U.S. adopt a Scandinavian social benefits and taxation model. Basically, a clone of the Scandinavian model.

Of the above, here are the proposed changes to the U.S., as best I can tell.

  • Vacation – no change
  • Health care – ACA subsidies extended, but not otherwise making fundamental changes. Some Democrats would like to implement a so-called “Medicare-for-All” concept (unrelated to Medicare except for the name) but this is unlikely to occur.
  • Education – free community college, and free tuition for families earning less than $125k, eliminating existing student loan debts
  • Maternity Leave – proposed family leave law
  • Child care – free pre-K school
  • Sick Leave and Disability – no change
  • Taxes – proposed 39.4% capital gains tax, proposed higher taxes for high income earners, discussion of 3% wealth tax on high wealth (various numbers of $10 and $50 million and higher)
  • Social Security – no changes

No guarantees on the accuracy of the above information. I was compiling this for some “back of the envelope” understanding – not necessarily accounting level accuracy. I thought this was interesting and chose to share it here on the blog.

UPDATE MAY 20, 2019

Child care tax credits ($300 per month per child) are likely to become permanent, to cut childhood poverty. That is the stated goal of proponents. Again, as noted in this post – the Biden Administration’s goal is for the U.S. to adopt Scandinavian-like social benefits programs and Scandinavian-like high taxes.