Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May is Bus Month?

I usually post about the venerable VW Thing, my current dream car (ok, I've been pining for quite a while)...

Today, I used my go-to searchtempest to see what's for sale on craigslist and found some good ones. If you are looking for a VW Bus, let me say that as a former owner and longtime lurker on The Samba.com and elsewhere, these are very reasonable deals!

First, a local bus for $7000 that's slightly overpriced with the clear holes in the driver's floor, but generally appears to be worth it:

Another Ohio candidate for comparison in a little better shape inside asking $9500, about where the market is right now (especially with a complete interior).

On the lower end of things is a very affordable but rougher than I would want (even though it's running) 71 bus for $3000 down south. If I was 20, I'd buy this today.

For comparison, $3000 can get you this.

In the $2000 range, you get a mystery wrapped in an enigma:


Now, this is nice and at $6400 it's a great deal. If you are looking for a bus, buy this one, even though it's brown! LOL.

This doesn't show the interior, but if it's there at all, this $6300 running van is the best deal on a camper you're likely to see:

Other than maybe this deal on thesamba for $5900. If I had the cash, I'd already be headed to Virginia.

Another contender at $6500 is this blue bus in New Jersey, but the lack of interior photos or closeups scares me a little.

Lastly, this is so cool. $24,000, and that's reasonable for a single cab in this condition!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March is Thing Month.

Ok, it's not really Thing Month, but I haven't posted a silly post in a while, and there are some Things on the Samba that are still relatively inexpensive (and the usual crazy priced ones).  So, even though we all know that I've been trolling sites that list THings for years, I still haven't saved a dime towards buying one...

Nevertheless, here are some.

This yellow thing  for an asking price of $6500 is a pretty good deal, the work listed is pretty impressive (the brakes, for example) even if it still needs work. The days of a $2000 runner are long gone. **4/11 update, sold!**

Another 73, this nice looking (from a distance) white Thing is listed at $7500, but isn't ready to drive away. **4/11 update, down to $7350**

Stepping down in price, $4500, and noticeably worse, is this orange Thing with a dented fender. Still OK with me! **3/14 update, price down to $4000*** if only....  **4/11 update, back up to $4200!

Compare this to a Thing that's been on the Samba for several years. I post it here because I've been trolling these long enough to know that he started asking $2500 for this a while ago.

Now, it's $5500 FIRM. I laugh, I laugh, and yet wished I'd bought it when I wanted to 3 years ago.

This one used to be $5500 but is now $7500. Keep trying, dude.

This all reminds me of a green and white Thing that kept getting re-posted in Craigslist and The Samba for all kinds of prices.
I posted that laughing at the reposting , and I assume it finally got sold.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

School Shootings, Who's Fixing Anything?

There's so much to say and so much being said, but I want to start with this question:

Who's job is it to make your kid's school safe?

Is it the President's Is it Congress's?

I would propose that it's your school, school district, school board, and your responsibility to make your kid's school safe.

It is certainly not the NRA's job, or Marco Rubio, both of whom (Dana Loesch in the NRA's role) were jumped all over at the CNN "Town Hall" last night on CNN.

**edit - now we know just how badly the local sheriff's office failed and what a tool (elected Democrat) Broward County Sheriff Israel is. It was his job. 

Seriously, Columbine was in 1999. Since then, there have been all these school mass shootings (and I personally limit my discussion to the mass shootings, as the little individual gun incidents are fundamentally a different type of thing entirely) and there has not been substantive change since then. Why not?

I would suggest a different way of looking at the situation. I've mentioned the famous story of the statistician brought in to help with protecting bomber planes. I think we need to stop looking at the schools where shootings have happened and look at the schools where they havent'.  Don't look at what the kids that made it out alive did to survive, look at what the victims did and learn to not do that. That's more applicable in other types of crime scenarios maybe, but still, I think we are just looking at it backwards, even if I'm not sure what the better view is. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy may also avoided at all costs, as we assume meaning to clusters of data that may just be random as ignore other data that may be contradictory yet helpful.

I offer this story as one step in that direction.   My question is, do the students feel like it's a prison rather that a school, because I am not an advocate for that.

As I've said, when I was a teacher in the early 2000s, I floated the idea that having some teachers armed on a rotating basis so that even if the students knew who the "school marshalls" were (I never had the thought to compare them to the air marshalls, which is a great communication win) they wouldn't know which teacher or teachers were carrying on any given day. Glad to see the world has caught up with me.

The president's suggestion that some teachers be armed has led to the predictable howls from the lefties, including teachers in my feeds. If I were the type to engage them on social media, I'd say this:

If that's how you feel, then know that you aren't a teacher that either should be or will be asked to participate in the program. One additional reason is that you don't know that teachers are already armed, you really aren't informed enough. Lastly, three teachers in this most recent school shooting (Stoneman Douglas) sacrificed their lives for their students, one of whom was a CCW holder, another a veteran and Navy reservist while the actual officers cowered, so absolutely I would trust teachers to defend their students with deadly force more than the people you want to, and more than you do. Aaron Feis, Chris Hixon, and Scott Beigel are heroes, the Broward County Sheriff and Deputies are not.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Who Pays Taxes, 2013-2015 Numbers

I haven't touched on this in a while, and I am continually frustrated by the IRS data being so many years behind. Here's where I got the data.

Here we go:

It's hard to read, but let's focus on the last lines and do some math, as they report this information the exact opposite of how we want to see it.

In 2013:

The bottom half of wage earners account for 11.49% of the total AGI in the country and paid 2.78% of the total income taxes.  Flip that and the top half paid 97.22% of the taxes.

The top 25% reported 68.1% of the AGI and paid 86.27% of the income taxes.

The top 10% reported 45.87% of the AGI and paid 69.8% of the income taxes.

The top 1% earned 19.04% of the AGI and paid 47.8% of the total income taxes.

I'm not rich, but I think there's no argument that "the rich" aren't paying their fair share of the taxes.

**** i found up to 2015, and it appears that the top 1% is paying more...

As you can see, the last column of the Total income tax share is trending downward, meaning that the top 1% must be increasing, paralleling the change in their portion of the AGI. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


So, this is a work in progress, but in talking about the latest film in the franchise, we can see a growth, an evolution in the way the Force is depicted, and I'm ok with that. In IMing with a colleague about it today, I traced some of the changes in the way we've seen the Force depicted and came up with one new thought.

Before that, though, let's set up a parameter or two.

I am an OG Star Wars nerd, but I've never been hard core. I don't have collectible toys, I don't have minutiae memorized, and I haven't read all the stories that are out there in the Expanded Universe (almost none, actually). I did have a best friend in 1977 who's father worked on the movie, so we were into it from before it was released. I saved the serialization from the newspaper and a SciFi mag from back in the day, I was also gifted some stuff, like a towel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, and a set of Ralph McQuarrie concept art prints, but that's about it.

So I come to this with a lack of some info and a wealth of other info, armed with an English Major's predilection to rely upon the story (movies) itself and nothing else to critique and source my ideas from.

The Force, this energy that surrounds us and all things, that moves through us, manifests in different ways for different folks, apparently. Not all Jedi are adept at the Mind Trick, for example, much less catching force lightning and balling it up and throwing it back at you.

More than once discussing the new movie with it's new astral projection/corporeal force ghost/Force FaceTime incidents, I've argued that the progression to new and different force abilities was established as described above and explicitly introduced by Yoda in Revenge of the Sith when he says the Qui Gon has found a way to communicate from the other side and that he has training for Obi Wan in his exile. Unprecedented as far as we know, maybe even a quantum leap of Jedi/Force knowledge/ability, if you will. On a side note, sad that the ability to cheat death that Anakin sought was to be found in the Light after all, not the Dark, as the serpent promised (it's all a metaphor for our Judeo-Christian stuff, right?).

For me, then, it's not at all difficult to accept these exceptional, rare Force talents, unrefined yet powerful, come upon this newer, more powerful version of the kind of communication that Luke and Leia clearly had, that Ben felt when Alderaan was destroyed, that Yoda felt as the Jedi were being slaughtered. To discover that this new Sith leader found a way to connect Rey and Ren, to create the link that they used isn't unprecedented, it's a natural evolution. They are the two most powerful that Luke ever encountered.

Now, the new bit that inspired this rant is another quantum leap. Yoda had years to work out the force ghost thing, as did Obi Wan based on Yoda hearing Qui Gon from beyond the veil. Years to train.

Anakin (Darth) got there in a day. One day. The force is strong is his family, after all.

Rey gets swept into the stream and discovers power unrealized. She and Kylo quickly get this connection that who knows how long it took Snoke to figure out and magnify it.

But guess what? Luke strides right past their momentary manifestation and, after having Yoda manifest bodily and hit him in the head (again), pulls the biggest trick of all so far. Not surprising that it cost him his mortal form, is it?

One last thing I also like: the Jedi were blinded about what truly bringing balance to the force was, they thought it was to "end the Sith" but there is more to it, right? Luke says that Rey went to the dark and wasn't afraid of it. I would suggest because (like Harry Potter) she is good, she isn't tempted at all, but rather seeks to know but not use or profit from it. She is balanced.

I'm intrigued with where the story is going, and that's a good feeling.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Twitter Is Sensitive And Haz Feelingz

Well, here’s an interesting lesson in Twitter dynamics.

I am a nobody on Twitter, really. I follow and am followed by a small number of people. I’ve tweeted a lot, sure, but it’s just me yelling in the wind (much like on this blog).

Until last night’s Bengals-Steelers Monday Night Football game. **update, Shazier looks to be improving nicely.**

I decided to quickly tweet when I wasn’t surprised by Ryan Shazier getting hurt when he led with his helmet on a tackle, because he has a clear history of doing that, and grabbed a video of the hit on Giovanni Bernard in 2015 that actually caused a rule change, actually called the Ryan Shazier rule (they even had a graphic prepared and talked about it (and the Carson Palmer and Hines Ward rules) on the broadcast in the second half). This was as the incident was developing, so I made sure to include in my tweet that I hoped he wasn’t severely injured on the play:
*typo alert, “hit” was typed to be “he” but #fatfingers

I also made sure NOT to #shazier, but apparently it doesn't matter if you are searching for keywords (so why hashtag anymore?)

So, you can already see that a few (lol) people “liked” the tweet, but more people didn’t. 44 fine folks chose to comment, a pittance in most twitter lives, but more comments by far than any tweet I’ve ever tweeted (out of 10.7K)

BTW, the link is just spam, it’s to a Aliexpress hoverboard for sale.

Here are the ones twitter labeled as offensive:

Bonus points to the last guy for correct use of “you’re." I even "liked" a couple of the tweets to show I was a good sport.

I reported a lot of the abusive tweets, but all the emails I got from Twitter seemed to agree that none were bad enough for action. Oh well.

I know way too much about twitter and humans to engage any of these folks other than “liking” a few of the tweets. Twitters emails agreed with that plan. LOL

I should point out that pretty much all of the commenters are similarly low-impact tweeters like myself. One guy had over 1000 followers but has only tweeted about that many times, so this is all small potatoes.

It is, however, my potato field, and I really didn’t enjoy getting talked about like this. I mean, I’m over it, but I’m also surprised by how many people actually clicked on my profile to find personal things to insult me over.

I get it, but I’d still like to explain to some of them that I’ve said the same-ish thing about Burfict: keep leading with your head and your career will be cut short, dumbass. That I’m actually a nice guy. At least I'm honest enough to admit that as much as I hate Hines Ward, I'd have wanted him on my team.


The thing is, the empathetic me that is upset I upset people is also inside the guy that believes what I said was harsh but correct. Shazier has made a career out of these types of hits, and its likely cumulative damage that tweaked (still hoping that’s all it is) his back last night. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the Steelers’ Burfict, you know what I mean? He hits hard, on the edge or just over it, and he's the emotional leader of the defense. Both team's defense suffered when these guys left the game. Well, the Steelers fans love him more that we love Burfict, but there are other reasons for that. I’ve talked/tweeted about these tackles in general, how one team changed the way they tackle (more rugby style) and how successful that’s been (that article actually contrasted them with the Bengals, to my chagrin). 

So, sure, sorry I said “Aw” at the start of the tweet, but pointing out a player’s habitual hitting style after he got hurt using it and providing video evidence of what I pointed out, nope, not sorry for that.

I did click on some of the commenter’s profiles and I find one guy that’s a die-hard Buckeye fan (Shazier played for Ohio State) (oh, and this is a shitty thing to do, dick, trying to get me unfollowed)

also whined about a very reasonable tweet essentially saying the same thing:

Seriously, dude. Grow up.

Speaking of that, the only other one I feel like pointing out is this kind soul in a young guy:

Personal insults? Check. Assumptions based on profile pic? Check. Best part is his profile is all Jesus-y:

He’s a kid, I’ll leave it at that. He did retweet JuJu’s hit on Burfict, so there’s that. #onlybadwhenithappenstoyourteam I guess.

I guess I’ve dipped my toe into the muck. It’s yucky.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Subtlety and Deeper Thinking About Current Events

I have little to say about the whole Harvey Weinstein mess, because so much has been said fairly well that I don't think I have much new to contribute. He's a pig and he's not alone.

I've been interested in what other have said, actually, as some interesting little bits of cognitive dissonance have surfaced in some comments. For instance, clothing mogul Donna Karan, said
 'I think we have to look at ourselves. Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it's been a hard time for women. 
'To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? 
'And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?' 

 'I don't think it's only Harvey Weinstein. I don't think we're only looking at him. I think we're looking at a world much deeper than that.' 
'Yes, I think he's being looked at right now as a symbol, not necessarily as him. I know his wife, I think they're wonderful people, Harvey has done some amazing things. I think we have to look at our world and what we want to say and how we want to say it as well.' 'You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble,'
Now, she messed up here, obviously, because he has no one to blame but himself, but I think she voiced a rather conservative idea that there are larger issues about our culture and how we portray, dress, and define what it means to be female. Can you believe she had the audacity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, sexualizing our girls from an fairly early age might be a bad idea? One of my never-to-be-said-aloud arguments against some feminist thought is similar in that it's hard to be a guy in these times when we aren't supposed to so much as notice that a woman is attractive and has body parts that are well-formed, unless we are supposed to notice how pretty/sexy/attractive a woman is when she wants us to notice it. 

For example, whenever I hear "how dare you even notice that a nursing mother whip out a life-giving food supplier for her nursing child, I mean, this is EXACTLY what breasts are for," I want to reply, "did you never, ever, ever use that breast for your pleasure? Did you never, ever, ever dress to highlight your chest for any reason whatsoever? Did you never, ever, ever, consider buying or not buying, wearing or not wearing a garment because of how it made your torso look?"

See, it's more complicated than "Harvey is a rapist, that's all you are allowed to say." He is, and yet, that doesn't make Karan's other point invalid. As I've said, two things can be true at the same time.

I also hate to bring this up, but let us not forget that there are women who do take advantage of these situations to forward their careers and interests. I've told the story of working at a concert venue and the gross security guys getting all kinds of offers from girls to get backstage. There is such a thing as groupies. So, while this guy is a pig, there were probably also girls that threw themselves at him at some point. Ewwwww.

Jane Fonda had some comments that included this:
 “We have to be helped by men. It’s important to know that not all men are predators. There are good men and the good men have to stand up and defend us and embody other ways of being. We have to believe the women who come forward. We have to speak out.”
Now, here is another conservative idea, right, this idea that men should be chivalrous, should not just mind their own business "because girlpower" but rather act like men.

I would suggest that the emasculation of men over the past 40+ years has actually made it worse for women in a few ways, one of them being that guys like Harvey Weinstein, maybe would have gotten his lights punched out by guys like Brad Pitt had he not been educated away from that type of masculinity (kind of like how all the years of attacking capitalism has made the real problem, crony capitalism, much much worse).

Anyway, I'll finish by saying that all the people slamming the victims for not speaking sooner have no clue what it's like to be a victim of the kind of harassment these folks were. If you've sacrificed (not just risked, but actually had to sacrifice) your livelihood to call out someone, maybe you can share that and blame them, but I won't. I've learned too much about this kind of stuff as a teacher and coach (and what to look for to identify victims) to blame them. Read a book before you spout off.

We have issues as a culture. It's a shame that valid points about it are lost in the shuffle of the valid outrage over this guy's disgusting behavior. I hope that as we root out the sickos in Hollywood (and other industries) these other issues can be confronted as well.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Trump Is In Their Brains

So, this gets retweeted or liked into my twitter stream:

He gave a very reasonable answer, that he was a little busy to be bothered with Twitter in light of the bombing.

My response was this:

That's the thing, isn't it? The media is obsessed with Trump and has been for some time. As they say, he's living in their head, rent-free. It's why he won the primaries against better conservatives and Republicans.

Now, don't get me wrong, I know they had no choice but to cover him and his, uhm, antics during the campaign, because they had to as he was running for President. See how smart he was? Free coverage because the media had no choice but to cover him. They couldn't ignore him, as critics wished they would (which would work with, say, Westboro Baptist, to make them go away), because that would be negligent as he already was news worthy. Brilliant manipulation on his part.

BTW, if you aren't aware of Scott Adams' ongoing dissection of the rhetorical and persuasion tools that the Trump Team has been using, you're missing an education on what's been going on. I don't even agree with him on all his points, but he isn't a Trump fan or defender (as the folks who hate Trump are painting him), and he is seeing the manipulation for what it is. (of course, this could be me in a moment of confirmation bias because I also thing Trump is playing the media like a fiddle).

Back to the point (and there is one).

I have long held the belief that when we've experienced something, we tend to adopt that (or those, if it's plural) experience into our lens, our perspective through which we interact with the world. A simple example of this bias I think about is the old red car metaphor. It's not just red cars, per se, it's the familiarity bias and observational selection bias working in tandem to make you think that "now that I have a red car, I see them every where. There must be more red cars being made then before." Nope, you're just paying attention to them. Indeed, what we attend to creates our reality.

Another version is the sudden appearance of pregnant women everywhere when your wife becomes pregnant. (hint: they were already there). A more serious example I think about is racism. If you are black in America, you have experienced it, and that makes you see it everywhere, even in situations where it isn't present.

All of this is to say that Trump as so successfully implanted himself into the minds of his detractors that they can't refrain from checking his Twitter feed, because, well, they have to because he's already newsworthy because he's the US President. Note: I don't follow him on twitter. I don't have to (or want to), mostly because he gets retweeted into my timeline so much. Argh.

So, we have "Trump-Glasses" wearing idiots like the reporter that thought that (because the lens/perspective through which he or she sees everything is smeared with Trump) asking the London Mayor his thoughts on a Trump tweet was a reasonable, worthy, or necessary question.

I have written and talked about my Trump thoughts, feelings, and impressions. I don't like the guy, but I have enjoyed how he has played the press, driven the leftists insane (literally, in some cases), and shone a light on our electoral processes like the primary system and electoral college. I think he's a progressive and crony capitalist at heart and that scares me. But what really scares me is the way his detractors and enemies (which includes the majority of our media types) have become so consumed by their hatred/fear/disgust that they are literally blind to their own obsession with him and things like his tweets that it's literally all they appear to think about.

I think he should keep tweeting, seriously. It's how he talks to his base without the media filter, and I guess that's why they can't help report on it, to try to control it, to shape his message like they would if they were the quote-conduit. If would serve them better to ignore the tweets and not make them into news stories, frankly, but I'm not giving them that good piece of advice. It's too much fun watching them lose their minds.