Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Weekly Bits and Pieces 16 Oct 2013

We're at Day 16 of the government shutdown. I don't think our leaders are embarrassed by this. I think they are all simply posturing, except for the tea party ones, and nobody likes them except their constituents.
The debt ceiling needs to be raised by midnight tonight. The GOP could change their collective minds. Nah. Congress could raise the debt ceiling without doing anything to curtail spending. Democrats are pushing that line because they don't want to be blackmailed by Republicans. Nah. The two parties might agree to a short-term deal. Which is no resolution at all, of course, except to push the issue further into the future and put off making a concrete decision for a government going broke and out of money. But they'd wave a flag, pound their chests and declare victory. Yes, they would. They surely would. We might see no deal, and our government would essentially run out of credit. That's less likely to me, because it sounds like failure to everyone, even those who only remotely follow the news. But they might.
A company in this kind of crisis is bankrupt, and with cooked books is illegal, but we won't pursue that line of thinking. I mean, if I go there, we'd have to admit that Social Security is the world's largest Ponzi scheme, and we know those are illegal.
Oh, and in case you haven't heard yet - hello? Republican leaders? Funds for the Affordable Health Care Act are not dependent on the budget process, so we must still follow the mandates of Obamacare. Why did you use that as your pivot point?
Our budget problems aren't the only issue either. The USA has hit its borrowing limit and we're facing default - our debt ceiling.
Some sources say there might be a compromise that is acceptable, but we don't know until the elephants and donkeys start working together.
Interestingly enough, this article mentions that Republicans want a provision that "would force Congress, the president, and many other administration officials and staff onto ObamaCare without additional subsidies." Well, finally! I feel that if our government officials pass a law, they need to live within its mandates.
Foreign government officials see us pretty clearly. They know that we have been overspending since the 1970s. Why don't our own officials see the problem? More candidly, why haven't they done something about it in the last forty years?
This article lists four ways a debt ceiling crisis would impact us individually. Well, certainly expect the stock market to drop. In August of 2011, the last time we faced a debt ceiling issue, the stock market dropped over 15%. Even if you think you don't have money that will be impacted, many retirement funds are linked to stock market investments. There's a reason our personal buying power is the same now as it was in the late 90s.
On the plus side, some government sites are opening again, on local budgets instead of federal. The Statue of Liberty is available again to tourists.
Oh, and Social Security is expected to see a slight increase (less than the cost of living, of course).
We probably won't actually see a default. Unlike private citizens and companies, the government is adept at printing money when it's needed. And there isn't a single politician willing to lose his job because he told his constituents we need to cut Social Security and Medicare.  No, the government will continue to fund much of our country's expenses with money we don't have, somehow shown as income in an add ledger created by politicians, not by accountants.
For those accountants out there that would like to see the daily balance sheet for the government, here's one. Those big numbers? They are in millions of dollars. Yeah…
Some people are even more pessimistic than I am, anticipating a global recession. I think that foreign governments will simply find another currency to use as the global standard. That will hurt us, but will hurt the world less.

If you ever thought of chucking it all and becoming a dual citizen, this is a pretty simple, straight forward article detailing the pros and cons. You'd still have to pay US taxes, by the way, even if you live elsewhere.
Of course if things get really bad, you can survive in the wilderness on lizards and squirrels. This 72 year-old did, for 19 days. He probably didn't even know there was a government shutdown!
The amazing thing about the dancing bear is not that he dances so gracefully, but that he dances at all. In the Cardinals vs Dodgers game, that wasn't quite enough. Security escorted the dancing bear from the stadium.
Terrafugia says they will have a flying car in the skies in just two years. Just in time. Our roads are getting pretty bad in the neighborhood.
An eighteen foot long, four hundred pound leviathan from the depths of the sea surfaced on the coast of California. Dead, of course.
Young adult fiction is more prevalent than ever. I even think they are fun to read, and some make good movies. I guess I long for the simple days when life was too much a burden for a teenager.
You're being tracked by the government agency NSA. Or someone. Or everyone. Get used to it. Get over it. But if you can't, here's a good article about how they do it. Sounds like Young Adult Fiction, doesn't it?
Former President George W. Bush had a 95% blockage in one of his arteries. He had a stent put in last August to alleviate the problem. We don't hear much from "W" lately. He's gotten smarter and is staying out of the news.
The fifth intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (say that ten times fast) just issued a dire report. Look for the weather to change drastically, it says.
Oh, okay. I will.

It wouldn't be a weekly update if I didn't say something about Apple™! They are having another event on October 22nd, where they are expected to announce upgrades to the iPad line. I was thinking of buying a new machine, but I should wait a week and see what else they announce.
Wired says the same thing, only in less words.
Speaking of Apple, some of their phones are suffering the Blue Screen of Death with the new iOS 7. That's a little funny - make your OS look like Windows and it acts like Windows!
With only a goal of $25,000, this Kickstarter project plans to create a watch that will countdown until I die. Since today is my 56th birthday, maybe I should toss some money at that project and get one!
I might be better off with the one-minute beer cooler at the bottom of the article, though.
I'm still trying to figure out how to play my PC games and have full Mac functionality. Aside from having two different machines (both pricey, I might add), I might be able to use one machine for both purposes. This guy evaluated Parallels, VMWare and Bootcamp on a Mac. You don't need this article unless you struggle with my problem (gamer with an aging Mac and no games). I need this link!
Poor me! Such a tough decision to make! This guy doesn't say whether he had a computer during the year he lived without money. There are some interesting lessons here. I wonder if he's still living this way?
These folks choose to live on about $5,000/year. Of course, that's a choice, which is entirely different from someone who doesn't have an option. They are intentionally poor. There are some lessons here, though.
The guy who wrote this has to be from the USA. You should see some of the thirty-five things he missed about the USA. Honestly, I'd miss some of them too. What he doesn't mention (and we knew about in Africa) is the lack of toilet paper. Of course, the guy without money (see above) used strips of newspaper, but they didn't even have that in Africa!
I might want to visit Iceland. With just over 300,000 people they have more books published and read per capita than anywhere else in the world. My kind of people. Of course, it IS Iceland - I'm not sure what else there is to do there. They probably have a book on that, though.
Scott Adams was pretty successful with his book(s). Most people aren't (including me!). He talks about how he tried for success and failed, then succeeded. Clever guy.
If you're into art and love jewelry then Anna Silberstein's jewelry might interest you. Silberstein, by the way, translates to Silver Stone.
Ever wonder how a cat sees the world? Me either. This guy did, though.
There is a drug therapy that might eventually help MS patients. Science continually amazes and delights me.
Worried about gas prices? You need a motorcycle. Too dangerous (that's yes for most of us)? Then how about a three-wheeled cycle that looks a bit like a car? You have to look at the pictureIt can be yours for less than seventy grand.
Iron Man is coming closer to reality with the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS. The power pack is the problem. We don't have a portable ARC reactor.
Rumors say that Marvel is planning five new television shows. Of course, DC is expected to add Flash to its Green Arrow show as well. It's all good for viewers, I think.
Finally, I didn't get to go to New York's Comic Con and you probably didn't either. These guys did, and they posted some pictures. Some are worth looking at.

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