blueollie

26 March 2011

Workout notes
I ran my Bradley Park course: two cornstalk loops followed by a 1 K loop. This time it was 1:01:52; I was 1:04:36 on the same course 3 weeks ago. The good news: this was an easier effort. I had thought about racing a local 5K, but I don’t want to push it while I have vertigo.

Shoulder notes
Running seems to make my shoulder ache a bit. I have to stay with the rotator cuff exercises. It feels better this week than it did when we were at Mayos.

Vertigo Notes
Vertigo didn’t bother me during my run though it was there during the rest of the morning. It is very mild. But this is NOT the sort of dizziness that one gets when, say, you get up too fast. This is a “the world is spinning” sort of feeling; very much like motion sickness or sea sickness.

Posts

Science
Check out the animal camouflage series at Conservation Report. The following is one of several photos at this link:

Click the photo to see the larger image at the website as well as see the other photos. They are impressive.

Mathematics
John Milnor wins the Abel Prize. Milnor is a very impressive mathematician: he is also a Fields Medalist. His work is broad and deep and ranges from geometric topology to dynamical systems. I got to meet him and I got to tell him that one of my papers dealt with an answer to a question of his. He is widely quoted in the book A Beautiful Mind (about John Nash).

Nuclear Power This photo essay shows part of what must be done to disassemble a nuclear power plant.

Religion/Atheism
This punchy video shows how someone is judged according to whether they are a Christian or an atheist (yes, I know that there are many other choices). Of course, this sort of thing can happen if someone is a member of a group of people that you like or a group of people that you don’t like; e. g., if a Democrat person does X he/she might be judged differently than if a Republican does the same thing. Of course, this depends on who is doing the judging. 🙂

(hat tip: Friendly Atheist)

Humorous video “I don’t know how it works” is NOT proof that your deity exists. This is a humorous take on this based on Bill O’Reilly’s “tide goes in, tide goes out” statement.

Economics
Do corporations pay taxes? If not (or if the pay little), how do they get away with it? Here is how they do it, in a nutshell:

But it’s the tax benefit of overseas operations that is the biggest reason why multinationals end up with lower tax rates than the rest of us. It only makes sense that multinationals “put costs in high-tax countries and profits in low-tax countries,” says Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation. Those low-tax countries are almost anywhere but the U.S. “When you add in state taxes, the U.S. has the highest tax burden among industrialized countries,” says Hodge. In contrast, China’s rate is just 25%; Ireland’s is 12.5%.

Corporations are getting smarter, not just about doing more business in low-tax countries, but in moving their more valuable assets there as well. That means setting up overseas subsidiaries, then transferring to them ownership of long-lived, often intangible but highly profitable assets, like patents and software.

As a result, figures tax economist Martin Sullivan, companies are keeping some $28 billion a year out of the clutches of the U.S. Treasury by engaging in so-called transfer pricing arrangements, where, say, Microsoft’s ( MSFT – news – people ) overseas subsidiaries license software to its U.S. parent company in return for handsome royalties (that get taxed at those lower overseas rates).

They do the same thing in states and they brazenly play the “do what we want, or we’ll take our ball elsewhere”:

So why isn’t Illinois doing better when it has thriving companies like Caterpillar that still call it home? Maybe it’s because of an environment that doesn’t encourage new investment.

When asked recently by Neal Cavuto on Fox News about the recent tax hike pushed through by Gov. Pat Quinn, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman observed that “having the 36th highest tax rate, overall, out of 50 states in the U.S. is not good, and it doesn’t promote job creation.” He went on to add that while the company is not aiming to leave its home, Illinois will have to compete hard for new investment.

When companies stop investing in a state, their workers take the first hit, whether they’re unionized or not. Because members of public-employee unions draw their pay and benefits from governments, there is a much longer delay before they feel any pain from an economic downturn. Sooner or later, however, a declining private sector will mean a declining tax base, and a squeeze on public finances.

That’s exactly what’s happening in the Midwest, once the heart of American industry. The more successful business leaders have largely done what Caterpillar has done: expand operations to friendlier climes. Governors and mayors, however, are stuck. Their employees work for public monopolies. The only time a governor gains any bargaining leverage is when the money well runs dry, and overly generous public pay and benefits begin to crowd out core government services such as education or law enforcement.

In the midst of tough budget negotiations forced by tough economic times, Mr. Tillman hopes that public-sector unions may finally learn something the members of Caterpillar’s UAW had forced on them a while ago: Without growth, there will be nothing to fight over.

“We can fight over the pie,” he says. “But first we need to bake it.”

(from the Wall Street Journal; this article is behind a pay-wall but can be accessed in full via google)

This is going to be a game of whack-a-mole: corporations, no matter how successful they are, will continue to try to make even more. So it is up to government to close all of the exits and loopholes…which is all but impossible.

One thing I’d say to the person who wrote the article: if there is no one to buy your pie, there is no use in baking it. We have a demand problem in the United States.

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March 26, 2011 Posted by | atheism, Barack Obama, economics, economy, energy, humor, injury, mathematics, nature, political/social, politics, running, science, shoulder rehabilitation, sickness, superstition, training, wealth, world events | Leave a comment

24 September 2010 posts

Science
Yes, time dilation occurs in our own rooms…though the time differences are a tad small. 🙂

But you know, physics has conquered the classical problems; that is, those problems that you can see directly around you.

Biology and Evolution
Do you want to see how long ago our common ancestors diverged? Recursivity advertises our distance from the moose.

Animal Camouflage: well, this is really mimicry; here is an ADULT fly that looks like an ant larva. This example comes from Jerry Coyne’s blog.

Politics

Liberal bloggers to the White House: punching hippies won’t make “the base” more enthusiastic. What this means: when it comes time to make calls or to raise money, Democratic politicians love liberals. But on the campaign, they run AGAINST those liberals, and in policy, they ignore liberals and sometimes ridicule them in public. Well, the hippies are getting tired of getting punched.

Politics No, the GOP won’t meet their stated policy goals. But they might well stop any of our problems from being addressed. As Paul Krugman writes about the GOP’s new “pledge”:

The “pledge,” then, is nonsense. But isn’t that true of all political platforms? The answer is, not to anything like the same extent. Many independent analysts believe that the Obama administration’s long-run budget projections are somewhat too optimistic — but, if so, it’s a matter of technical details. Neither President Obama nor any other leading Democrat, as far as I can recall, has ever claimed that up is down, that you can sharply reduce revenue, protect all the programs voters like, and still balance the budget.

And the G.O.P. itself used to make more sense than it does now. Ronald Reagan’s claim that cutting taxes would actually increase revenue was wishful thinking, but at least he had some kind of theory behind his proposals. When former President George W. Bush campaigned for big tax cuts in 2000, he claimed that these cuts were affordable given (unrealistic) projections of future budget surpluses. Now, however, Republicans aren’t even pretending that their numbers add up.

So how did we get to the point where one of our two major political parties isn’t even trying to make sense?

The answer isn’t a secret. The late Irving Kristol, one of the intellectual godfathers of modern conservatism, once wrote frankly about why he threw his support behind tax cuts that would worsen the budget deficit: his task, as he saw it, was to create a Republican majority, “so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.” In short, say whatever it takes to gain power. That’s a philosophy that now, more than ever, holds sway in the movement Kristol helped shape.

And what happens once the movement achieves the power it seeks? The answer, presumably, is that it turns to its real, not-so-secret agenda, which mainly involves privatizing and dismantling Medicare and Social Security.

Realistically, though, Republicans aren’t going to have the power to enact their true agenda any time soon — if ever. Remember, the Bush administration’s attack on Social Security was a fiasco, despite its large majority in Congress — and it actually increased Medicare spending.

So the clear and present danger isn’t that the G.O.P. will be able to achieve its long-run goals. It is, rather, that Republicans will gain just enough power to make the country ungovernable, unable to address its fiscal problems or anything else in a serious way. As I said, banana republic, here we come.

The wealthy: Bill Maher speaks his mind:

New Rule: The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration must be publicly vilified by the Obama administration. It’s so hard for one person to tell another person what constitutes being “rich”, or what tax rate is “too much.” But I’ve done some math that indicates that, considering the hole this country is in, if you are earning more than a million dollars a year and are complaining about a 3.6% tax increase, then you are by definition a greedy asshole.

Surf to read more…it is worth it. 🙂

September 25, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, biology, economy, evolution, physics, political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, wealth, whining | Leave a comment