marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
WHY is it SNOWING outside?

I am not amused. SEASONS...you are fired.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Phoenix)
I have a moment in between things, in part because of the rain causing an impromptu study hall rather than doing various sports outside, to mention my weekend jaunt to Madrigal. The winner of the betting pool about me getting lost, kind of, is [livejournal.com profile] russiandude, as I did make one phone call to [livejournal.com profile] bitsyboo but not for directions! I have to say the GPS worked perfectly, though it was a little finicky with the inputting of the address on Camp Road. Still I managed to get it working and probably ought to have followed the alternate routes it suggested rather than the Google directions as Route 84 was terrible per usual.

There was a lot of traffic in parts (because well Connecticut sucks), and the rain was coming down in TORRENTS and I inched past two completely totaled cars. People really ought to drive more safely when it's raining so hard. Even so, because I had left NY really early I made it to the site with plenty of time to spare. I even got to help set up. I left at around 11:30 on Saturday and relied exclusively on the GPS to get me home. In fact it was better that way as it directed me to the Merritt Parkway which has various 24 hour gas stations along the way. I had to pull off and snooze for an hour or so to keep on going, plus I could snag some caffeine. I made it back home at around 3:45 or so. Another nice thing about the GPS is that it projects your time of arrival. It was amusing to inch it back from 3:55 to 3:45 but it took a lot of speeding. ;)

As for Madrigal itself )

Be well.

Taking Bets

Apr. 3rd, 2009 08:45 am
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
Armed with printed out directions AND a GPS, yet driving solo, will I be able to make it to the Madrigal site? Arrive at site but be late 2 hours? 3? More? Make your bets!

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
Ah ha! Now there is evidence that my brain is indeed in rapid decline. Soon enough I will be uh...more incoherent.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
I've mentioned before in various conversations about how in regards to various issues people often break down into three distinct groups. These are sweeping generalizations, but hear me out. Generally there's a group in favor, a group opposed, and the vast majority who are indifferent but can be influenced. Often the groups in favor/opposed have some vested interest or an ideological position that says this is the "right" thing to do.

Now as for the large indifferent group, sometimes influencing in one direction or another is done through better awareness, but it is often done through the pocketbook (and perhaps before/after passage of new laws come into play). Consider that the civil rights movement gained lots of mileage out of marches and speeches and the repression/acts of southern police/national guard but some serious changes occurred as a result of boycotts (the bus boycott in Montgomery Alabama by Rosa Parks for instance). Consider that a number of states are now thinking of rescinding the Death Penalty not because of any moral issue or even as support for the Death Penalty remains strong in some areas, but because of the costs involved with all the appeals and the facilities themselves. Personally I'm in favor of a gas tax to put gas at about 4 dollars to incentives people to get more fuel efficient cars, increase investment in alternate energy, and fund our rampant spending/bailouts. The economic nudge is immensely powerful in shaping public action and ultimately public opinion years down the road.

However, the economic nudge also has problems. Major car companies now find that their hybrids and the like aren't selling like they predicted. Jobs are outsourced overseas. Companies can take advantage of these economic times (and even perhaps have an incentive) to purge specific people (in this case the pregnant and the elderly) from their ranks. Here's an excerpt from the article:

Ms. Grossman is among the lawyers who suspect that some employers are now using the law’s laxity and the dismal economy to tacitly discriminate against new or expectant mothers. She and other experts urge women who suspect such discrimination to seek legal counsel.

“Some employers are using the economy as a pretense for laying off just one person,” Ms. Grossman said. “And very often that person is pregnant or the oldest employee on staff. The economy may be the legitimate cause — or there may be discrimination.”

Last year the number of pregnancy-based discrimination charges filed with the E.E.O.C. was up nearly 50 percent from a decade earlier, to a total of 6,285. That number seems likely to rise even higher this year.


So hard to prove this sort of thing. It's like if a non-white family wants to be part of a co-op can they prove that at the board debate race was a factor? Not if nothing is written down. The board could just say they didn't feel they "would fit in" here or that their finances were somewhat suspect. Cynical yes, but it happens.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
It's so hard to argue with people who cite holy sources. Makes me think of jihadists or Ann Coulter's desire for crusade. Demonize away people. To be fair I do think the Israelis have a right to intervene to stop rocket attacks. However they don't really consider how their blockade/enforcement of a ghetto in Gaza causes some of their problems. They also have to consider the proportional response. Artillery attacks and white phosphorous seem a little much in civilian areas.

Oh and check out this letter of resignation written by an AIG manager to the CEO of AIG and published in the New York times. Clearly the writer has his own biased view of how things went down, but it gives a new perspective to the argument. These two passages were striking to me:

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

.....

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.


Be well.

Pleased

Mar. 24th, 2009 12:25 pm
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
Clearly my poor data entry skills have further atrophied as using Turbo Tax to do my taxes ended with me owing a huge amount of money to the Federal and NY state government. A trip to an accountant ended with me owing far far less as in several hundred dollars less...even with having to pay the accountant fee. Well worth it! If Turbo Tax is giving you blues, it may be useful to see a tax preparation professional. I am pleased.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
This makes my brain melt.

A.I.G. is effectively suing its majority owner, the government, which has an 80 percent stake and has poured nearly $200 billion into the insurer in a bid to avert its collapse and avoid troubling the global financial markets. The company is in effect asking for even more money, in the form of tax refunds. The suit also suggests that A.I.G. is spending taxpayer money to pursue its case, something it is legally entitled to do. Its initial claim was denied by the Internal Revenue Service last year.

Basically AIG is suing for 306 million dollars worth of tax deductions/repayments from the government...but...it is suing...the government...that is giving it/already given it...so much money...and...ARRRGHGHHHGHGHGH!!H@L!@!L@J!!!!

....yeah.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Fencing Paul)
Good for these women taking steps to defend themselves. The crazy part of this article are the stats cited from the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights.

Harassment is...

Experienced by 98% of foreign women visitors
Experienced by 83% of Egyptian women
62% of Egyptian men admitted harassing women
53% of Egyptian men blame women for 'bringing it on'

And then the author of the report is quoted as saying: "Most of the people we questioned said there wouldn't be such harassment if women dressed in a modest way. But when we questioned women on what they were wearing when they were abused more than 70% said they were wearing a headscarf."

I find the 98 percent statistic a bit hard to believe...but maybe? I mean it's not like this country is a paragon of correct behavior(I just recently saw a CBS broadcast about sexual assaults in the U. S. military which stated that about a third of women serving have been harassed/attacked and the cases are WOEFULLY underreported and prosecuted by the J. A. G. corps...with the punishments in the military code of justice not really comparable to civilian punishments.).

Look even in a place where people expect to be hit on/flirted with such as a club or party or whatever there are still appropriate forms of behavior. People need to keep it to those venues first of all and second think about what happens afterward...and perhaps try to consider it from the perspective of the individual whose space/person is invaded. Even in the one in a million chance that the advance is reacted to appropriately, what does it say about the person making such an advance? Keep grabbing until you get lucky? I don't think so, and neither does the law.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
Though it was only four 10 minute periods and with no full court press...the FACULTY HAVE PREVAILED 62-29. I swear those 7th and 8th graders only know how to shoot three pointers. As one of the other teachers mentioned, "They watch the sportscenter highlights, not the entire game." The faculty didn't shoot a single 3. I myself had only about 6 points but plenty of assists, rebounds, and decent defense. It's not just about skill, it's about hustle. Go faculty!

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
Recently there was a crackdown on the Sinaloa cartel across the United States that resulted in 755 arrests. This pressure on the major drug cartels continues to mean they fight each other, and the Mexican authorities, ruthlessly. What's depressing is how Americans are not only the biggest market for the drugs, but we also blatantly arm the cartels. Northern Mexico becoming an "autonomous" region under control of drug cartels, kind of like how it is in parts of Pakistan, is so not acceptable. Assault weapon sales need to STOP. Mexican citizens are living in absolute fear and their military/law enforcement is getting outgunned. At this rate we will have to deploy more than just national guard troops but actual combat veterans to the Mexican border and even perhaps have to get involved militarily.

Oh and I'm feeling better. I checked more specifically for symptoms of Lyme disease, and it doesn't seem to be the case. I only mentioned it because one of the fencers has a long term chronic case, but it's not contagious from just being around people. It's more that what he was describing in terms of tiredness and aches/pains seemed similar. Thanks for the well wishes though.

The fencing season is over!...kind of sad that it feels like a weight is lifted from my shoulders...but coaching is so different from competing. It's also tough to do that on top of teaching. Blah. Maybe I'm just getting cranky in my "old" age. ;)

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
Cars )

Sickness )

Teslas )

Oh and it sounds like Madrigal was a good time for people? Wish I could see the War Golem and Winter Lord costumes. They sound really cool. It's been so long since I LARPed...but the season is just around the corner. Ugh I can't even think about doing that right now.

Be well.

Word Meme

Feb. 18th, 2009 06:21 pm
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
I've posted on too many to not reciprocate.

Describe me in one word... just one single word. Positive or negative.
- Leave your word in a comment before looking at what words others have used.
- Then post this meme to your own journal, if you feel like it.


Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (smallrus)
If I ever hear/read/watch/talk about anything related to a "Chosen One", I will need to laugh.

Be well.

Harbinger

Feb. 15th, 2009 02:16 pm
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
This articles makes me wonder about the state of Iraq in 2-5 years. Will there be a seriously authoritarian government? Will there be new rounds of bloodshed? It seems to some degree that the American presence is clamping down on these ethnic tensions (though there were lots of cases of ethnic cleansing being done in various neighborhoods/regions to make them more "pure" be they shi'a, sunni, or something else). How will Iran, Turkey, and other countries in the region respond? Ugh such a mess.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
Hey lawyer folks! What do you think of this story? I wonder why only Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina require juveniles to have representation when they appear before judges. Would requiring juveniles in other states to have representation overwhelm the system? Not enough public defenders? Do juveniles get better deals generally when they waive counsel?

Oh and those judges are pretty damn low. Profiteering off of juvenile sentences? It's like a white collar version of a child sweatshop.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Arthegall Inverted)
I've been worrying about this for a while but the Director of National Intelligence Blair at least is highlighting the problem. Putting aside the moral and ethical issues of fleecing Americans and the world for all their cash, the people involved in the financial crisis have made things a whole lot less safe. There were already projections of wars for land, water, food, and other natural resources. Now because the U. S. has destabilized the global economy, instability and terrorism will rise.

These people are so stupid it's unbelievable. Even by their own warped standards they should have known better. Will you be able to pry natural resources out of third world countries? Not if a rabidly anti-American government is elected or wars have flared up in once stable regions. Will you be able to sell your products as you once did? Not if rampant protectionism rises at home and abroad and jobs continue to degrade.

These companies need to have their executive ranks shredded. The "trickle down" of wealth has turned into a torrent of bad advice, unstable economy, and severely weakened American power/prestige/ability to be a positive force in the world.

Be well.
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
I hadn't thought about survivor's guilt in the context of corporate culture but I can see how it makes sense. The statistic of increased turnover at companies even during a recession as a result of layoffs is interesting.

Be well (especially those of you who have had to go through this experience...at least according to the article talking it out may help and it's okay to have these feelings.)
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
I don't know why I'm posting this kind of crafting meme, as I'm not really the crafty type.

"The first five people to respond to this post will get something made (might be a CD mix, short writing piece, poetry, etc....I really need to think about what I could do). This is kind of outside the "crafts" paradigm but is still "crafting" of a sort.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
- You will get something.
- No guarantees that you will like what I make.
- What I create will hopefully resonate with you.
- It'll be done sometime this year.

Post this in your journal if you wish. No requirement there.

Be well.
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