Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fox-Trot -OR- Justifying My Blog

8/18/2011 10PM: I updated this entry with the new browser and blogging tools I mentioned in the entry above.

Cumulonimbus clouds producing a drenching thunderstorm over Prince George's County, Maryland, as seen over L'Enfant Plaza, Washington, D.C., 5:45PM, Aug. 15, 2011.

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OK, so it is the case that so far my work / home computer arrangement is working out, except it turns out we really aren't allowed to have Firefox, which means I will have issues with justifying sections of text because Internet Explorer justifies the entire damn entry even when attempting to justify a single paragraph (or sentence).

I tried to find a way around this by typing in the actual HTML code in "Edit Html" mode rather than using the justification icons (left, center, right) in Blogger's compose mode. However, it didn't work, so for now, I cannot justify the text unless I justify the whole damn entry.

I think we may use Google Chrome, but I've yet to download / try that browser.

Distant storm clouds as seen from the 1500 block of U Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 7:20PM, Aug. 15, 2011.

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That aside, I was able to update my computer at work today with a needed Microsoft service pack and install other updates, though it took an hour or so (delaying even more my Nebraska compliance cases!). I got home around 630PM and had a text from Chris T. asking if I'd like to meet at Pines of Florence, which of late has been practically my hangout. This the restaurant on Connecticut Avenue north of Dupont Circle and just south of the Taft Bridge that is actually in a 1950s-era apartment building.


Glasses (including the empty wine one -- the house chianti is pretty good) on the table at Pines of Florence, Washington, D.C., 8:24PM, Aug. 16, 2011. 

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Chris -- who is probably soon to move away to a new and VERY different city and start a new life, at least for a period of time -- and I had a really, really nice dinner and time talking.

Oh, yes, so Wall-P has a new robot friend:

His name is P2$2.

Funny thing about P2$2: It works overtime according to the following rule: 2 hours for every 100 points the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls over a 200 point fall. It worked at least 12 hours overtime last week (and actually more like 20).


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Lastly, Michael Lind today had another great piece in Salon: How to End the New War Between the StatesThe article is best summed up by the question he poses a bit over half way through it (with some random pics): 

"Is there an alternative to these two Ponzi schemes -- the red state economic Ponzi scheme of luring talented people whom the red states themselves are incapable of producing, and the blue state demographic Ponzi scheme of encouraging mass immigration to replace the flight of native and naturalized citizens from excessive taxes and overburdened state and local welfare systems?"

Lind then writes:

"The blue state model hasn't truly failed, at the federal level, because it hasn’t been truly tried. Conservatives to the contrary, America’s national welfare state is not an example of social democratic big government. The only significant purely federal social insurance programs are Social Security and Medicare. The other major programs are mostly poorly functioning federal-state hybrids, like unemployment insurance and Medicaid, or welfare programs run through the tax code, like the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, subsidized private savings (401Ks and IRAs) and employer-provided health insurance.

"Because the federal government can borrow money in economic downturns more easily than the states, federal-state hybrid programs like unemployment insurance and Medicaid tend to be dragged into crisis in recessions by state revenue shortfalls, at the very moment they are most needed. And what Christopher Howard calls the 'hidden welfare state' of tax expenditures like employer-based health insurance and the home mortgage interest deduction is grossly wasteful and inefficient, as well as unfair -- the more money you make, the more money you tend to receive.

"If conservatives really cared about economic efficiency, they would support Ronald Reagan’s proposal to completely federalize Medicaid -- and, by the same logic, to completely federalize unemployment insurance. And they would argue for phasing out inefficient and indirect subsidies, particularly those that enrich parasitic middle-men, like the money managers who skim fees from tax-favored retirement savings accounts, in favor of simple, foolproof, purely federal, tax-based social insurance programs along the lines of the successful Social Security program, whose long-term funding problems are minor. (Medicare’s problem is the combination of taxpayer subsidies with the absence of the medical price controls -- 'all-payer regulation' -- that other countries use to keep medical costs down).

"Campaigns by the center-left to create or maintain state-level or city-level systems of welfare and progressive taxation that are more generous than the national average are well-intentioned but almost certainly doomed by the race-to-the-bottom dynamics of American federalism. The energy of the center-left would be better channeled into campaigning for two major national reforms: transferring all social insurance and welfare functions to the federal government and reviving a version of the popular and successful federal revenue sharing program of the 1970s that was abolished during the Reagan years.

"These two reforms would contribute greatly to leveling the playing field in the competition for residents and businesses among the blue states and the red states..."

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Moonlit starry night sky over the ruins of a medieval castle near Veszprem, Hungary, Aug. 13, 2011 APOD.

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OK, that's all for now, except this: 

Frasier Quote:

Frasier: "Roz, just what IS a sump pump??"
Roz: "If you need one, you'll know."

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My next planned update will be later this week.

--Regulus

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