December 11

The Meaning of Investment

 

beanie baby bad investment

A Bad Investment

Communication is the basis of a society and how we get things done.  Communication can take many forms:  documents, drawings, symbols, numbers, and words.  The words of language have, in large part, specific meanings and a commonality of definition that allows us to communicate with each other.   So, when I see words being used to define things opposite of their original meaning I get extremely distressed.  Nothing good can come of it and it may lead us to riot, chaos, and eventually, destruction of society altogether.   Case in point is the constant and purposeful modern mis-usage of the word “investment”.

In modern media, the word “investment” has been re-defined to mean something that is expensive.   I have seen this use of the word every day on television, in magazines, and in my local paper.    I’m sure there’s more than mere coincidence that its increase in use is inversely proportional to the closeness of the holiday shopping season, but I digress.   In real life, “investment” and “expensive” are not synonyms.   Some investments may be expensive, but not all.  And things that are expensive are not always investments.

Here are some of the items I’ve seen just today:  $1000 handbags called “investments” on a news/television program, a $50k automobile as an “investment” in a local paper, and $1M boat as an “investment” in a magazine.    Nothing could be further from the truth.  Absolutely none of those items will be worth more after purchasing them .

TheFreeDictionary.com’s definition of “investment” is as follows:  Property or another possession acquired for future financial return or benefit.   But the trinkets we are being told to buy in advertising are not investments, they are luxuries.   They will not accrue in value or have any potential to pay off future dividends as real investments can.  They will only depreciate.   Luxuries are not things we need, they are things that make us happy.  So, shouldn’t those things be good enough to make us happy to purchase them on their own?  Shouldn’t they not have to be talked up as an “investment” as an additional incentive for us to buy them?    Yes, they should and the word “investment” has been misconstrued, and re-defined to trick you psychologically.  I should know – I used to be a salesperson who sold high ticket items.   One of the first things we learned to do was explain to our customers that these expensive luxuries were “investments”, when there was no possible way they would make money from them in future outlays.   The psychological block that made a person want to save their money is lifted when they believe they will get a future return for parting with a large sum of money right now.   Now the use of the word in this way pervades every aspect of popular culture, not just the seedy showroom floor.

The word is used to make a consumer feel good about buying something “expensive” because calling it an “investment” implies that it will accrue value over time or allow you to profit.  It softens the blow of forking over hard earned money for something you don’t really need in the first place.   So remember this anytime someone comes to you and wants you to make an “investment” in the future.  Remember this the next time you hear about student loan forgiveness as an “investment” in our nation’s future, subsidies in housing and Obamacare as “investments” in America   –  Remember that somebody’s just trying to sell you something you don’t need.

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November 12

16 year-olds should never be allowed to vote

the LA times is a rag I clean my windows with

16 year-olds should never be allowed to vote

if newsprint had clickbait, then this story in the LA Times on election day would be at the top of a ‘Ten dumb Democrat ideas’ list.   A 16-year-old is as good as an 18-year-old — or a 40-year-old — at votingis an Op-Ed piece by Larry Steinberg with a lazy argument that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.   Yes, they are as good at the physical act of voting.  Heck, I think 16 year-olds can tie their own shoes as well as I can, but it doesn’t mean they are qualified to make a decision on everyone’s future.

Larry seems to think that 16 year-olds  ,” are perfectly capable of making informed and reasoned political decisions”, and are being , “denied the privilege of voting.”  That statement tells me immediately that LArry does not know enough 16 year-olds and doesn’t remember being one himself.   He seems to think we know a lot more about adolescents than we used to, no doubt from his own ‘research’, so, therefore, they should make decisions on who should make laws and enforce policy.   His rationale?

“Over the last 40 years, there has been occasional discussion in the United States about lowering the voting age, an idea that has been gaining popularity around the world. In parts of Europe and much of South America the voting age is 16 or 17. The United Kingdom is debating allowing 16-year-olds to vote, and the discussion has picked up steam following Scotland’s recent referendum on independence, in which those 16 and older were permitted to vote — and did so in great numbers. Studies of elections in countries that permit 16-year-olds to vote on state and local matters find high turnout in this age group as well.”

I don’t know where he’s lived in America for the last 40 years, but  it may have been an insane asylum.   I can’t think of a single, rational person (or one who is capable of abstract thought) that has raised this idea over the last 40 years in America, so, I’m starting to think that all of Larry’s friends may be imaginary.  At the very least, I must believe that Larry has no children who are of this age, nor spent any time with groups of them for any period of time.

16-year-olds are interested in a few things.  Things like cars, sex, spending money, and sex.  Not necessarily in that order.  In very few instances are they able to determine what is best for them, their future,  or best for society in general.  I don’t care how hot or cold their cognition is, they simply have not had the life experience necessary to make adult decisions.  Decisions like paying the phone bill,  taking out a mortgage, buying a car they can afford to maintain, paying income taxes.   Why don’t they think about these things?  Because their parents are still doing their laundry, paying for the roof over their heads,  saving for their college funds.   Teenagers don’t worry about saving for retirement, life insurance,  or filling out a schedule C.  Why should they be allowed to make political decisions that affect those aspects of life?   They shouldn’t, and there’s no good argument otherwise.  Larry’s argument consists of a few non-salient points:

- Some people have thought about letting 16 year-olds to vote

-Some countries have let them

-The age of majority is a blurry line

-They usually have a good turnout

-Some bullshit about hot and cold cognition

My wife is an English teacher and I’ve been privileged to read some of her student’s work.  I even taught high school for a time and can honestly say I’ve read better arguments from actual 16 year-olds.   I’d still never allow them to vote in anything other than their own sphere of influence which is their own high school.   Maybe, one in 50 is competent and lucid enough about his own existence to be granted the privilege of voting, but that’s a high estimate.   I’m guessing psychology professors have not much else to do but sit around and think up absurd theories and rationales for them to justify their phony baloney jobs and compensate for not being real doctors.  Unfortunately, to the detriment of thinking people, Larry has a bullhorn in the LA Times where he can broadcast crazy ideas to the world via the internets for free and act scholarly.

Just read his ‘scientific’, and contradictory description of the abilities of a 16 year-old mind while exercising “Cold-Cognition”:

Cold cognition is relevant to matters such as voting or granting informed consent for medical procedures, for example. Adolescents can gather evidence, consult with others and take time before making a decision. Adolescents may make bad choices, but statistically speaking, they won’t make them any more often than adults.

Informed consent on what a surgeon will do to your body in an immediate sense is a lifetime of difference than what a politician will do to your future safety, wealth , and freedom.  A 16 year old has no real concept of the latter, only the former. And even regarding the former, he doesn’t know much.  He doesn’t really understand his own mortality or the effects of medical treatment because he thinks he’s going to live forever.   Next, Larry completely contradicts himself in the following paragraph:

A later age of majority is more sensible for matters that involve hot cognition, such as driving, drinking and criminal responsibility. Here the circumstances are usually those that bring out the worst in adolescents’ judgment — they frequently pit the temptation of immediate rewards against the prudent consideration of long-term costs, and occur when people are emotionally aroused, and are influenced by their peers. For these sorts of matters, the age of legal adulthood ought to be 18.

Temptation of immediate reward versus long term costs.  Immediate reward is exactly what drives 16 year-olds, NOT long term costs .  And that’s exactly what you need to overcome to be considered an adult and make voting decisions that affect other adults.    Something tells me Larry has recently written a paper on the Cold-Hot thingy and wants to promote it in the local paper.  But his lack of honesty and argument has done nothing to convince me that this is a real idea.    If anything, Larry has convinced me the age of majority should be INCREASED to 21 years of age.  No drinking, no involuntary conscription, and no voting until 21.  Or, at least, no voting until you’re no longer claimed as a dependent on your parent’s tax return.   Larry should take his research and go back to the asylum, where the inmates are obviously running the place.  And that’s exactly what we’d have if all the 16-17 year-olds got to vote.

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October 20

The Junk ‘Science’ of Dr. Joe Perrone and Anti-Marijuana Propaganda

a junk “science” doctor

Dr. Joe Perrone is the chief science officer at the Center For Accountable Science (link), a project of the nonprofit Center for Organizational Research and Education, which is supported by businesses and foundations, including those in the hospitality, agriculture, and energy industries.   They have a mission statement on their webpage that reads:

Every day, consumers are inundated with headlines and talk show segments warning about how the products in their pantries, medicine cabinets, refrigerators, and under their sink could give them an array of terrifying diseases. In many cases, these scary stories vastly overstate the actual risk, causing unnecessary alarm.

The Center for Accountability in Science provides a balanced look at the science behind these news stories and examines the organizations behind the effort to scare consumers.

So, I find it extremely curious that doctor Perrone takes aim at the marijuana legalization lobby in his recent article in the New York Post, The junk ‘science’ behind the marijuana legalization movement, and shotguns a headline attack against their claims that marijuana is “safe”.

Let’s understand that Mr. Perrone is not a medical “doctor”.   He is a doctor of science.  So, I’ll concede that he knows more about junk ‘science’ than I do because, after all, I’m just a caveman.  Your ways frighten me, so I’m glad to have smart people like doctors tell me the correct sciences to believe as truth.    Let’s also state that I’m sure doctor Perrone is a fantastic person.  He probably has everyone’s best interests in mind when he decides to propagate longstanding old myths about marijuana use while claiming the new myths of harmlessness are false and “junk science”.   I wholeheartedly agree with him that substances abused can be detrimental to anyone’s health.  But the premise of his article says that marijuana advocates claim the drug is “safe”, and “harmless” and that it’s wrong to claim those things.    Here’s a quote from the article:

The problem is that marijuana is not, in fact, “harmless.” Proponents are spinning the science — casting pot as a threat only if used improperly, much like a car — for the sake of advancing their political agenda.

The problem with his citations is that no one ever claims marijuana is harmless, and certainly never in any scientific way.  In the first link to sources, marijuana is simply claimed to be less harmful than alcohol.  The second claims “harmless” in the context of being “not lethal”.   Neither is a used in a hyperbolic, mythical, or scientific sense as Perrone implies in his article.  Actually, he implies nothing of the sort – he overtly refers to it as “junk science”.  Since it was not a scientific claim, the premise of his article seems to be invalid.  Yet he goes on to describe the study he has read (LINK) claiming the dangers of marijuana are real and shouldn’t be ignored.  Unfortunately, no one has ever said there weren’t dangers of abusing marijuana.  He’s using claims of “harmlessness” in a different context to disprove them in another context.    There is a fundamental misrepresentation of the context, so we cavemen like to refer to that as a false presumption, and the resulting argument as a straw man.  Or perhaps, in this case, a cave man argument.

I would expect more from a doctor than to make such an error in logic, but then, he must have his own political agenda to advertise.  I’m sure he relies on his doctoral background to assume you won’t notice how he manipulated the meaning of his source material.  He continues his scare tactics by telling us more about his buddy’s study:   “…driving after smoking pot approximately doubles the risk of a car crash.”   What he fails to mention is this, which is taken directly from the study he quotes:  “…cannabis users who drive while intoxicated increase their risk of motor vehicle crashes 2–3 times [20] as against 6–15 times for comparable intoxicating doses of alcohol. Cannabis use was estimated to account for 2.5% of traffic deaths in France as against 29% for alcohol.”   So, you are 400% more likely to be in an automobile accident while under the influence of alcohol than under the effects of marijuana.  In fact, you are %100 more likely to get in an automobile accident while driving than while sitting on your couch.   And you are %1000 more likely to die in your car crash when drinking alcohol compared to marijuana.  Facts are cool, aren’t they?  Yes, especially when you focus on parts of facts and then take them out of context.    The nice thing about reading the actual synopsis of the study is that they include the words “suggests strongly”, which means they are careful to not claim a direct causal link, whereas dr. Perrone fails to do this.   When you omit these carefully conceived words, you imply the causal link implicitly.  

I could go on, but that might defame the reputation of Mr. Perrone, who, I hope,  uses more rigor in his day job than when moonlighting as a columnist.   I’d also like to say that any substance, when abused, can be harmful.  Although, asprin is determined to be relatively “safe” by the general public and the medical community, too much asprin will kill you, and no one gives asprin to children.   This is not a scientific claim, and should not be used as the basis for an argument by portraying my claim as “junk science”.   Of course the effects of  marijuana warrant more study and analysis – no one would doubt that.   But using lies to argue that someone else is lying is bad form, especially for a doctor – especially a non-medical one.

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October 17

To Protect Us From Ebola, Foreign And Domestic

outbreak central

To protect us from enemies, foreign and domestic – a catchy, time honored tradition, but obviously not important enough to restrict travel to and from West Africa. The clarion call from some Democrats and Republicans for President Obama to do this simple task has fallen on deaf ears as the President has said he will not do so until the WHO reverses it’s position on restricted travel. My question is, thusly: Why don’t the Senate and House draft a bill making it the law of the land? Why wait for an executive action to prevent this devastating disease from destroying our safety, our lives, and our economy? Force the president’s hand, get off your lazy, fast asses, and do some real work in Congress for a change.  They control the regulatory agencies, not the President.  They regulate and fund the bureaucracy, not the president.  The President can act, but chooses not to.  Congress could act, but would rather blame the president instead of using their own authority to do so.   Any other tragedy elicits a Congressional action – why not this one?  If it can only save one child from a needless, violent gun death, emergency legislation is always proposed. After every mass shooting, or any other crisis, we hear the need to protect our children. Let’s take Obama’s own words on the Sandy Hook crisis and apply them to the potential Ebola crisis:

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know. But what’s uppermost in my mind is making sure that I’m honest with the American people and with members of Congress about what I think will work, what I think is something that will make a difference. And to repeat what I’ve said earlier — if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step.”

What happened to this type of resolve when it comes to potentially saving the lives of thousands of American children from a far more insidious threat?  I’ll tell you the difference between a non-discriminating virus and an indiscriminate teenage shooter:  A lone gunman kills arithmetically.    He can only shoot a limited amount of people before he runs out of bullets.  The victims don’t turn around and start shooting more people, which is exactly what happens when a virus is the perpetrator.   And before the tragedy of death, our whole society could easily be affected – just from the perceived threat of Ebola spreading throughout the country.   Fear will spread much more quickly and devastatingly than the actual disease.  Children being held home from school, out of fear, will stunt their education.  Fear will keep people from working, travelling, conducting commerce.  The economy to implodes.  Recession follows as  markets collapse.  Fear will be the harbinger of disaster, well before death arrives.

Here’s another whacky opinion from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who is obviously smoking the mari-juana by proxy:  (she) agreed with the administration’s logic that blocking travel would make it harder for the U.S. to help contain the outbreak in West Africa. Failure to contain it there, she said, would put Americans more at risk of Ebola.   “There’s no such thing as fortress America when it comes to infectious disease,” she said. “The best way to stop Ebola is going to be to stop this virus in Africa.” … “Experts from Doctors Without Borders have told us that a quarantine on travel would have ‘catastrophic impacts on West Africa,’ ” she added.  (via – The Blaze).   Catastrophic impacts on West Africa?  Like what, a serious economic impact?  How about dying from a hemorrhagic virus, killing a majority of your population, and spreading it worldwide?    From the Blaze article, we learn the House Dems agree with Obama.  But, the Republicans control the House, so it would be an easy task to introduce emergency legislation to restrict travel.   And that travel restriction doesn’t have to be absolute.  We could exempt military and humanitarian aid group members from the ban.   We could regulate the restrictions, by law,  to go TO the affected areas, and place more rigorous restrictions coming OUT of the affected areas.  That’s not being unsympathetic, it’s just common sense.  The problem is that politicians here don’t seem to have any backbone to do it, only big mouths.  The time to act is NOW, before the tragedy occurs, not in the aftermath.

Another point I need to get straight in my mind is when traveling from abroad, I’m not allowed to bring in fruit from another country because it could bring in disease and wipe out the indigenous plant population of the US.   If I want to bring a pet into the US from abroad, I have to have proof of vaccinations or my pet gets quarantined for 30 days.  But if I want to travel to and from Liberia, all I have to do is not have a temperature of 101.5 ?   When the preponderance of evidence shows the incubation period of Ebola would allow travelers to enter this county up to 21 days before displaying symptoms, I’m not understanding why there’s no mandatory quarantine for all West African travelers coming into the US.   Obviously plant and animal life are more important than people – according to the CDC and the WHO.   This is the first epidemic I’ve ever heard of treating without a quarantine, and that restricted access will only help spread the disease further.   I can’t make up the ridiculousness of this dichotomy, it’s too insane and difficult to comprehend.

Therefore, I need someone to think FOR me.  I need the politicians that we elected to do the jobs we elected them to do, and pay them handsomely do do In the aftermath of tragedy, politicians and especially congresspeople are always quick to think for us, react to our emotions, and promise action.  This time, we just get the buck passing.  Congress passes the buck to the President, Obama passes to the WHO.  No one has to do anything because there’s not yet a tragedy.  And we need a tragedy to trigger a response.   But this “no such thing as fortress America”  does not invalidate the moral requirement of our government to build a defense.   A defense to protect us for enemies, be they a foreign army, a terrorist group, or a microscopic killer that can wipe out our economy and our population.   The best defense is a good offense works in football, but this isn’t football, this is real life, where the congress and the president are charged with both and have done neither.  If it could save one child, or a million, shouldn’t somebody do something now instead of when it’s too late?  Call your congressman now.

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October 12

Being Black in Sandusky Ohio

I know, it’s tiresome to see tough, blue-collar police officers abusing their authority on a daily basis but these cops deserve the ringer for the illegal behavior they display in this viral traffic stop shown here:  <LINK>

An even more interesting read is the comment section on PoliceOne.com where some members have no problem affirming their belief that this was a lawful arrest and proper behavior for officers. Note that SOME members, who are police, actually do comment that what they did was not proper. Just because it was a lawful traffic stop does not give officers probable cause to do anything they please. First they claimed that they had probable cause because the driver was nervous. As if being nervous was an irregular behavior by a civilian during a traffic stop. Then they brought out the K-9 unit and claimed the dog indicated. Forcing a dog to indicate is a simple process and used frequently as a source of probable cause.

Should we even mention that the sun can clearly be seen above the head of the officer making contact with the passenger who is recording?  It is not dusk, it is not “twilight”, and it is most certainly not dark which would require headlights.   The primary reason for the traffic stop is invalidated by the video.   The non-uniformed officer that shows up at the end of the video with the red shirt and badge around a chain on his neck is most likely the narcotics officer who was, no doubt, the head of this “sting” operation, or the point man who was profiling cars to be stopped for made up “violations” such as driving without headlights in the daytime.   And, as stated numerous times by the arresting officer, police seem to think that during a valid traffic stop they area legally allowed to do whatever they please. This is not the case as they need probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to determine ALL of their actions as legal. failing to ID a passenger is not automatically probable cause.  Here are some other notable quotes:

“You look exactly like someone who has warrants…”  –  you’re black

“…now you’re obstructing an investigation”  –  an illegal investigation based on an invalid traffic stop

“Everyone’s gettin’ arrested. It’s as simple as that.”  –  a false arrest based on no evidence

“You’re gonna come outta that car one way or another.”  –  a final intimidation tactic that gets the woman driver to submit to protect her infant in the back seat

Officials said the case was reviewed by prosecutors and they determined that the officers “acted lawfully”. But one has to wonder, had they not been black, would they have even been pulled over in the first place. Clearly stopped during the daytime for not having headlights on is a method of intimidation and probably a ruse to fish for suspects on the highway, profiling them as they drive past a checkpoint. Something police “task forces” like to do to add to their numbers at the end of the month. Just go driving on the 20-24th of any given month and you’ll always see an inordinate amount of local, county, and state police on your highways and local streets trolling for “offenders”. They may insist there is no such thing as a quota system, but we all know that’s how they gauge officer performance: arrest numbers, ticket numbers, confiscation dollars, and contraband quantities.

It seems Ohio police will make up laws when ever they feel someone is suspicious in every and any situation. And you don’t have to be black to be the target of police abuse of power.
Listen to this guy who is interrogated by an officer during a stop

He attempts to trick the driver into admitting he smokes weed and that he has weed in the car numerous times and that he should have his car searched. He does this by being a “buddy cop” and using a passive question instead of a direct primary question. This is why it’s always important to never answer questions. They are ALWAYS fishing for a reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Thankfully this guy is having none of it. I’m sure this guy is just lucky and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s white. Wait, doesn’t having a disc golf bag give them probable cause to search and detain, bring in the drug dogs, and make all occupants exit the vehicle and identify themselves?
 

 

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