Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Stupid Anti Communism/Islam/Socialism Meme

Image may contain: 4 people, text

I've been seeing this one a lot...and I have something to say about it:

It is not Communism, Islam or Socialism that binds these threads together, it is the quest for power and control over more and more people by megalomaniacal dictators. Communism, Socialism and Islam are simply the chosen methods of these particular evil people...Protestantism, Catholicism, Christianity, Democracy, and virtually every other "ism" has been used for the same ends with proportionally similar death tolls.

This is a warning against government power more than a warning against any particular "ism".

The natural progression of government is to take more and more power (always with the best of intentions). Eventually, this power will be abused, and people will be killed to defend that power. Don't think it can't happen in America, and don't think millions of guns are a sure prevention of it - those guns could just as easily be used in support of a revolt that ends up with an even worse dictator in power. Right now they are simply a deterrent against the worst abuses by our current government.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Singapore Trip Lessons

I slapped this together to send to someone I met in a bar who was going to Singapore soon. Not exhaustive, but useful if you need some good places to eat, stay and do fun stuff:

Where to Stay:
            Orchard Road Area, with close walk to either the Orchard or Somerset MRT Station
            We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Orchard Rd.

Orchard Rd Area:
            TONS of shopping above and below ground.
            EAT:   Ya Kun Kaya Toast is a must do (only eat Kaya Toast from Ya Kun)
                        Food Court in basement of Paragon Building has a good food court with a Ya Kun Kaya Toast, So Pho So Good, a Dutch Baby Place, Din Tai Fung which are all good food choices.
                        JiBiru across the street has a great beer selection and good food.

Must Do:
            River Cruise – Catch at Clarke Quay. There is a Thirsty Beer Shop in the Liang Shopping Center which is just outside of the Clark Quay Shopping Area (Clark Quay has two walkways that cross in the middle. If you take a left in the middle as you walk away from the river it lead to the Liang Shopping Center across a street. Cross the bridge to Boat Quay and walk along the river for some cool food places
URA Center Model
            Chinatown – Might want to set aside at least two days if you are going to be in Singapore for a while. Make sure to see the Buddha Tooth Relic, Heritage Center, Food Street, Maxwell Food Center (best hawker stand), Sri Mirraman Temple, Chinatown Center, URA Center (Singapore City Gallery with huge scale models of the city). Chinatown is the best place to get large volume, really cheap, cool but crappy gifts for people you need to get something for, but don’t want to spend a lot of money on.

            Little India – Quick in and out – try eating at a hole in the wall.
Coud Forest Waterfall
            Cloud Forest – this is actually in a huge area with giant fake trees, air-conditioned rain forests with water falls and other really cool stuff.
            Botanical Gardens – Mainly for the Orchid Gardens
            Night Safari – Book ahead and consider a tour. This is one of the few places you need a taxi or bus to get to. They have a pretty cool buffet dinner there.
            Explore and don’t be afraid to just wander in some random place for food.

Other things:
            Sentosa Island
            River Safari
            Singapore Museum
            Arab Street
            Japanese Gardens
            Chinese Gardens
            Mt. Faber
            Harbour Front
Haw Par Village – almost made this a must do but it’s very weird but huge. It’s basically a crappy statues history of Chinese Myths. The 10 hells exhibit is disturbing and hilarious. It’s very close to an MRT station so you can do it quickly.

Food Names to Look For:
            Seng Fa Bak Kut Teh (Seng Fa is the chain, Bak Kut Teh is the food (pork rib soup))
            Fish and Chips
            Lassa (a drink)
            Nasi Lemak
            Kopi (Malaysian coffee with sweetened condensed milk)
Chicken and Rice
This is where you get Chicken and Rice at the Maxwell Food Center

Kaya Toast (very soft boiled eggs that you mix with soy and pepper and did toast in)
Chili Crab
Consider pre-booking a day trip to Johor Bahru in Malaysia. You will want to book ahead. It’s cool for cheap stuff, batik, weird food and the drive across the causeway.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


I have a lot to say on this subject but haven't organized my thoughts well. I have notes below the *****, but you should ignore those. I'm just going to use this post as a catch-all for gun thoughts.

My current policy beliefs (only minimal justification here - more later):
1. The Federal government's activities on guns should be limited to preventing states from infringing on the Constitutional right to a gun.
2. I believe the Constitutional right to a gun includes the right of any law abiding citizen to own any gun that is available to the police and National Guard of the State they are a resident. I believe this is the principle behind the "well-regulated militia" and enshrines the right of defense against a tyrannical government as well as self-defense. I think this extends to safely carrying your gun from one state to another in which it is legal, across states where it is not with ZERO risk of prosecution (so long as the gun is safely stored and locked and no more than a few days are spent in the state it isn't legal.)
3. Deprivation of this right beyond a few days prior to initial licensing requires due process. You can't take a gun away without the gun owner having a chance to respond before a proper, impartial authority and doing so must only be for the minimum time needed. Some of this would vary from state to state, but the basic due process idea stands across all of them.

The rest of the list would be at a state level - different states can do different things - and these suggestions would be for my state. Federal assistance would be provided when sales cross state lines or with background checks.

3. We need to find a way to allow solid background checks without unduly restricting the ability of one citizen to sell to another.
4. Concealed carry licenses should enshrine a large amount of training, but be available to most people willing to put in the effort.
5. I have thoughts about a "super" concealed carry where someone who is willing to subject themselves to extensive and intrusive background checks and a ton of training would be allowed to carry their weapon into traditionally "gun-free" zones.
6. Licensing fees should be reasonable and accessible to most people. In principle, if a government assists poor people with access to things like food and healthcare, there should be some process to reduce fees for gun access to poor people (this is a little fuzzy because if you're poor, a gun should be low on the list of "necessities" but who am I to judge a person's priorities.)

Everything below this line is just shorthand notes to think more about.

What is Effective Gun Control?

Same guns as cops and NG
Defending against tyranny
Army won't fight us (illegal as well)
States can restrict guns by restricting their police

Enforcing current laws

Keeping guns out of the wrong hands

Preventing mass shootings - what can we do, will it be effective, is it worth the cost.

What would it take to make America a gun-free or low gun society? What would the cost be?

What would it take to eliminate gun violence

Respect for rights

What do we do about idiots with guns (that aren't clinically diagnosable as such)

We glorify violence - even movies and stories with "pacifists" ultimately require them to fight to win out over "evil" or save someone. Peaceful means never work.

Private sales

No fly lists and other protections must have due process

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

October 2018 Charleston Restaurant and Bar Visits

Azul Park 3
Coda del Pesce MP 5 1
Container Bar NK 4 2
Daps NK 4 2
Edmunds Oast NK 5 4
EVO Park 5 3
FIG DT 4 1
Kickin Chicken Var 3 2
Orange Spot Park 4
Papi's Taqueria MP 4 2
Park Café NK 4
Sunflower Café MP 3
The Brew Cellar Park 4 4
The Codfather Park 4 2

Columns are Restaurant, Location, Rating and Beer Selection Rating.

Locations: Park - Park Circle, DT - Downtown, NK - North of 17 Downtown, Var - multiple locations, MP - Mount Pleasant.

Rating - 1 to 5 scale (5 being best (gotta be perfect to get a 5))

Beer rating:
0    No beer or little good beer (or a bad brewery)
1    Below Average (or a mediocre brewery)
2    Some locals and other good brews (or an OK brewery)
3    Excellent (or a good brewery)
4    Best (or a great brewery)

Container Bar is a cool bar that brings in food trucks. All the great things about food trucks with none of the issues with them.
The new Kickin' Chicken on Dorchester is having growing pains, so we gave them a bit of a mulligan.
Daps is great for breakfast type meals and great drinks.
Coda Del Pesce is still the place to go on IOP
Azul has some really good, inspired Mexican
The Brew Cellar is still the place to go for beer variety in Park Circle (sorry Commonhouse)
EVO still the best pizza and beer combination in town (Love Pork Trifecta - take some home and have it for breakfast with a fried egg on it!)
Edmunds Oast might be the best beer+food combo in town, or possibly the best restaurant period (try to sit at the chef's counter).
Orange Spot has a great Thai Tea
FIG was still really good, but the ribeye was just not that great this time, hence a downgrade from 5 to 4.
Papi's is the IOP place to go if you want faster and less expensive, but still great.
Park Cafe has awesome brunches.
Sunflower cafe was good, but not special.

Didn't get everywhere we wanted due to a great visit to Iceland. Might post about those restaurants.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

20181101 Election Predictions

20181128 FINAL UPDATE:

With the Mississippi runoff in the books, I nailed the Senate prediction at 53 R's. I was one off on the governors - so within my error band.

The House will either be 234 or 235 D's, so either 1 or 2 outside of my error band.

Not too bad.


It might be a little early, but I have pretty much settled on the content and methodology of my predictions, so there's really no reason to wait. I obviously reserve the right to revise should there be major events or polling changes between now and the election.

The governor elections are little more than a guess, but the Senate and House I study to a pretty in-depth level. The Senate gets more individual detail simply based upon the number of races to analyze.

I don't pick individual races (though that's almost what you have to do in the Senate). Instead, I predict the makeup of the Senate, House and the number of governors from each party. Independents are included with the party they caucus with or their basic ideology.

Here are the predictions:

Senate: 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats (+/- 1)
House: 207 Republicans and 228 Democrats (+/-5)
Governors: 26 Republicans (+/-1)

We'll see how I do...

20181107 UPDATE

Still waiting on 3 Senate Races and 12 House Races.
Could be dead on in the Senate but looks like Dems did better in the House than I predicted, but I still have a chance of staying in my margin of error.

20181108 UPDATE

No movement on House and Senate - gonna be a while.
For the House, the final number will be between 223 and 236.  I need 3 of 5 toss-ups to go the R way if I am to stay in the margin of error.
Senate is looking like a 53 - exact match! But it's still plus or minus 3. I can afford one race not going the way it's leaning.
Governors races will be either 26 or 27 Republicans so I got that one within the margin of error (the remaining one will likely go red and make it 27 - so not exact.

On Corporate Accountability (or lack thereof)

“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” …


In the Corporate world, the responsibility is theoretically there, but to whom and to what end? What’s really missing is accountability. After all, as another adage goes, this one from economics: people respond to incentives. Absent proper incentives, no amount of responsibility overcomes a lack of accountability. True negative incentives do not exist in the Corporate world. CEO’s, CFO’s and Board Members never face any real, personal punishment for their actions. Absent this, normal incentives produce poor behavior in the pursuit of profits. This should not be surprising. Until the decision makers in Corporations face personal accountability, Corporations will place profits over responsibility.

First a little history: The introduction of Limited Liability is one of the great inventions in the world of business. As Deirdre McCloskey discusses in Volume 2 of her seminal work on economic history: Bourgeois Dignity, it is one of the ideas that changed the world. The ability to shield your personal assets from forfeiture due to a business failure was one of the critical factors in the massive expansion of business innovation and revolution that resulted in millions worldwide being lifted out of abject poverty (137). But slowly, over decades, a problem emerged. The Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision essentially bestowed the rights of a person onto Corporations (Collins). We can debate if the decision was right or wrong, but the idea of Corporate “personhood” highlights the great missing piece: you cannot hold a Corporation accountable in the same way you can a person. Certainly, you can fine them both, but try putting a Corporation in prison and the problem becomes clear, as Smith and Howat point out in Justice Inc: “companies have no soul to be damned, no body to kick.” (110).

Corporations have shareholders – being a Corporation encompasses the LEGAL duty to the shareholder to maximize profits and increase the value of the stock. Even with the most ethical of Corporations this requires a short-sighted approach. They are required every quarter to report on the past year’s profit, and then make projections towards the future. Investors and reporters follow these projections with all the fervor of sports scores and election results – and the stock price responds. Corporations respond to incentives – and shareholders are a BIG one. So influential, in fact, that the temptation to cheat becomes almost impossible to ignore. Absent any real repercussions, the inevitable happens – Corporations begin skirting the rules, and then breaking them. The term “Paper Tiger” was coined to describe this: “Developments in the law are making the corporate form more opaque and allowing the agents who animate it to escape individual accountability for their actions.” (Nelson). 

A few years ago, a judge did try to hold a Corporation accountable for egregious actions, though in a Quixotic way: He sentenced the Corporation to jail time. As discussed in the article by Farber, “The Judge resorted to this extraordinary sentence, he said, because he didn’t know how else to impose a meaningful punishment on a corporation that could easily afford to pay the maximum fine.” (18). Obviously, the Corporation spent no actual time in prison, despite engaging in a price fixing scheme between Pepsi and Coke resulting in over $1,000,000 in illegal revenues way back in 1988.

One significant recent example: UBER. Not the bad press about a poor culture with regard to employee treatment – though that’s pretty bad as well. What happened was they got hacked. In early 2016, hackers accessed the personal data of over 600,000 drivers and 57 million customers and demanded $100,000 from UBER to delete the data. UBER paid the money, and waited more than a year and a half to inform their drivers of the breach. Now they will pay a settlement of $148,000,000 to all 50 states and the District of Columbia (Bloomberg). This is in addition to past settlements involving misleading advertising for drivers and illegal use of texting. One estimate is that they’ve been sued 433 times. But they keep skirting the law. No Corporate officer went to jail or received a personal fine.

Then there are the banks. Bank of America has been fined 20 times for over 57.9 BILLION dollars. Wells Fargo has been fined 39 times! (Smith and Howat 112) Governments respond to incentives as well. Putting a Corporate officer in jail gets headlines, but fining a company puts money directly into the pockets of government agencies charged with regulating these entities. As Smith and Howat put it: “Public authorities have become addicted to revenues from corporate fines.” In essence, as they further discuss, fines effectively act as a Corporate “get out of jail card.” (112). One can easily see how this leads to MORE bad behavior and not less.

The solution remains as obvious as it is difficult to implement: Hold Corporate officers and boards personally accountable for the actions of their companies. Fine them, jail them or file injunctions against them serving as officers and/or board members. Politics, working out the details and piercing the veil of “plausible deniability” all stand in the way of a successful policy being implemented. Then, once the policy exists, high powered lawyers and political connections will further stand in the way of justice. But there’s no question that the system as it exists now fails to serve the average American.

Corporations and the concept of Limited Liability are the foundations upon which the modern world economy has been built. Billions of people have escaped poverty and First World citizens can access hundreds of modern wonders unimaginable in the past. That makes it important that we not screw the current system up while trying to fix it. Clearly though, the ability of any American to list a dozen Corporate criminals, all of whom escaped real justice, and many of whom are serial offenders makes it obvious that something is very wrong. Until the true decision makers in the Corporate world face PERSONAL repercussions, shareholders will always win over customers and employees.

Works Cited
Bloomberg. 12 April 2018. 4 October 2018. <>.
Collins, Robert. SCOTUS Blog. 9 July 2013. Blog. 5 October 2018. <>.
Farber, Daniel. "Corporate Punishment." New Republic 26 December 1988: 16-18.
Lee, Stan. Amazing Fantasy #15. New York City: Marvel Comics, 1962. Comic Book.
McCloskey, Deirdre. Bourgeios Dignity: why economics can't explain the modern world. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010. E-Pub.
Nelson, J.S. "Paper Dragon Thieves." Georgetown University Law Center (2017): 871-941.
Smith, Alexander and James Howat. "Justice Inc: Examining the Criminalization of Corporate Conduct." Harvard Kennedy School Review 16 (2016): 109-115.