We've detected that you're using an ad content blocking browser plug-in or feature. Ads provide a critical source of revenue to the continued operation of Silicon Investor.  We ask that you disable ad blocking while on Silicon Investor in the best interests of our community.  If you are not using an ad blocker but are still receiving this message, make sure your browser's tracking protection is set to the 'standard' level.

   PastimesDiscussion Thread

Previous 10 Next 10 
From: Brumar898/15/2010 8:59:59 PM
   of 3816
Toleration of gays a product of modern medicine?

Half Sigma recently bashed the gays. And by bashing the gays, I mean noticing the negative consequences of tolerance of homosexuality, both to homosexuals and to everyone else. Half Sigma blames the AIDS plague on homosexuals. I'm sure he's right - if there were no gays, there would be very few HIV+ people, at least in the West. And if homosexuality was still suppressed as it was in the past, most gays were still in the closet, and vice cops were keeping a lid on promiscuous gay behavior, the HIV epidemic would be much less prevalent than it is now. It might even be non-existent.

You can say that the problem is gay promiscuity or unsafe gay sex rather than homosexuality per se, but the two are hard to separate. Gay men are, first and foremost, men, with promiscuous instincts, and promiscuity is what happens when a bunch of naturally promiscuous people want to fuck each other. If women had the same inclinations as men, heterosexuals would be equally promiscuous (though still not as likely to transmit HIV because vaginal sex is less likely to do that), but they don't, so they aren't.

Besides the direct tragedy of people dying AIDS, the AIDS population is a reservoir of other diseases that can affect anyone. For example, the AIDS epidemic has played a role in the reemergence of tuberculosis, which can affect people who don't show up in the HIV statistics. Treatment for HIV and related conditions has been expensive, and not all of the expenses have been borne by the direct victims - tax dollars pay for antiretrovirals too. And HIV research has sucked up many research dollars that could have been spent on other things. Chances are that other people have died because the funding for research that would have saved their lives went to HIV instead, although there's no way to know who suffered in this case.

The price of tolerating homosexuality has not been cheap.

But it has been bearable. We have been living with all of these problems, are for most of us they are fairly minor concerns. The costs have mainly accrued to the gays themselves, and they show no indication of wanting to go back into the closet. Excepting the unlucky few heterosexuals who have suffered from AIDS or related illnesses, most of us have much bigger problems than the costs of homosexuality and HIV. I'm not going to say that I'm pro gay-rights, but the issue is unimportant enough to me that this is the first time I've mentioned it on this blog.

But what if there had been a gay rights movement 100 years previously?

Here's an excerpt from a bio of a "clap doctor" who specialized in treating promiscuous gay men:

n the mid-seventies, Sonnabend's office was crowded with people suffering from syphilis and gonorrhea of the penis, the mouth, the anus. Chlamydia was also rampant in the gay community. But there was a lot more than the clap walking through Sonnabend's door. Hepatitis B was almost epidemic, and even tuberculosis was making a comeback. Oral and anal herpes were so common they barely were worth a mention to those infected. Sonnabend thought the gay population, at least the slice of it he was seeing in the Village, was clearly sicker, with stranger diseases, than the populace at large.

In the late seventies, a new wave of disease hit his community parasites. Amebiasis, giardia lamblia, shigellosis, and cryptosporidium, a parasite that usually inhabits the bowels of sheep. These enteric diseases are caused when certain organisms get into peoples, gastrointestinal tracts. How they were getting there was no mystery. The parasites are present in fecal matter. Anal intercourse increases the chances of the parasites infecting one or both sex partners. But the growing popularity of rimming, or oral-anal intercourse, in the late seventies provided an almost perfect vector for these parasites to enter parts of the body unaccustomed to their presence.

Note that this was in the seventies, before the HIV epidemic.

1970s medicine was capable of treating or at least managing most of those diseases - a course of antibiotics would take care of most STDs. Being gay or living among gays was harmful, but tolerable. But, in an earlier era, unrestricted homosexuality would have been a complete disaster. Diseases that are curable with few pills would have been fatal or very harmful. More so when you throw AIDS into the mix. Prevention would have been much more difficult because there was no such thing as latex condoms. I'm not sure if they even had anything capable of making sex safe, but if they did, I'm sure it felt like f*cking a saddlebag, so people wouldn't have used it. Fecal parasites would have made their way into the water, so everybody would have suffered from giardia and other parasites spread by rimjobs.

I quote Michael Blowhard again:

Modernism: Endless experiments based in theory and speculation, very few of which work out. Tradition: Practices based in experience that almost always succeed.

Indeed, the gay rights experiment would have blown up in the faces of our ancestors if they had tried it. The traditional position is still right, but it's not as right as it used to be. Technology has enabled us to break with tradition at a tolerable cost.

"Us" meaning first-world Westerners. In poor countries, they're no more tolerant of gays than our "benighted" ancestors. I've spoken to people from rural, third-world backgrounds who absolutely loath gays and would consider it just to kill them. In their countries, medical treatment for giardia, chlamydia, or tuberculosis is harder to come by, let alone expensive, cutting-edge antiretrovirals. If they opened up bathhouses, the results would be about the same as they would have been in 19th century America. Is it a coincidence that they both couldn't handle and don't tolerate homosexuality?
I don't know, but it's probably just as well.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: TimF8/17/2010 11:38:16 AM
   of 3816
An Honest Politician

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: TimF8/18/2010 7:00:34 PM
   of 3816
Does the Declaration of Independence Prevent Women’s Suffrage?


Did you know that the first female member of the Congress was elected prior to the ratification of the 19th amendment? It is true that today, August 18, 2010, marks the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, ensuring the right to vote regardless of sex. But that does not mean women weren’t exercising this right prior to 1920.

The anniversary of the 19th amendment is an occasion to praise the women whose efforts in the suffrage movement secured this amendment. Too often, though, this praise becomes an invective against the Founding Fathers (who supposedly created a political order for the wealthy, propertied, and male), and injustice that was rectified by the 19th amendment.

This usual narrative about the Founding reduces the Founders to sexists, while both forgetting that women voted throughout the founding period and mischaracterizing the principles of the American Founding.

First, American women began casting their ballots long before 1920. As Vindicating the Founders: Race Sex Class and Justice in the Origins of the America shows, women voted in large numbers as early as the late 1700s and early 1800s. New Jersey’s state constitution of 1776 stated that “all inhabitants” who met the state’s age, property, and residence requirement were entitled to the right to vote. Records also show that women voted in New York and Massachusetts before and after the Revolutionary War. In her essay on the 19th Amendment from the Heritage Guide to the Constitution, Tiffany Jones Miller notes that both the territory and state of Wyoming allowed women to vote. Wyoming became a state in 1890, 30 years before the 19th amendment was ratified.

But more significantly, women’s suffrage was not antithetical to the Founding Principles. Its passage was not some kind of victory over the Founders, but something compatible with the Founding principles.

The Declaration of Independence was a revolutionary document, as it set forth a completely new grounding for government in human equality, natural rights, and consent of the governed. The famous words of the Declaration of Independence apply to men and women alike: when proclaiming that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” “all men” does not mean “all males.” Instead, “all men” is synonymous with “mankind” or “humanity.” The Founders recognized that women share in the common humanity, and therefore share those natural inalienable rights according to the Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Constitution’s language is, likewise, gender neutral. In fact, the 14th amendment (ratified July 9, 1868) was the first usage of the word “male” in the Constitution. The 14th amendment, then, became an impetuous for the 19th amendment, which would clarify that the principles of the American Founding and the Constitution did not prevent women’s suffrage.

When thinking back to those 17th century New Jersey ladies, we can understand the significance of the principles of the American Founding that enabled “for the first time in history, women of a political community shared with men the right, stated in public law, to select their rulers.”

The 19th amendment did not introduce a revolutionary concept into American political thought. The Declaration of Independence did. It articulated the principles of human equality, natural rights, and the consent of the governed, that enabled the citizens to select their political leaders. So, on this anniversary of the 19th amendment, we should not simply commemorate the amendment that codified women’s vote, but, more importantly, celebrate the principles that enabled it.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Oeconomicus8/19/2010 12:06:07 PM
   of 3816
It's not a crossbow and an apple, but this is still amazing:

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

From: TimF8/19/2010 8:29:10 PM
   of 3816
I Hand The Cashier A Ten Dollar Bill For A Five Dollar Purchase. She Gives Me Fifteen Dollars In Change.

What should I do? Should I call attention to her error and hand back ten dollars, or should I pocket the money and get out of the store?

I’ll be honest, at various times in my life, I’ve done both. On the one hand, we have the thrill of getting ten dollars! Beating the man! And perhaps a gnawing guilt…

On the other, if we give the money back, we have the feeling, “I’ve been a sucker.” And the pain of losing ten dollars. But no guilt – we did the right thing. Perhaps even a small satisfaction for having done so. I know which of these two courses I’d rather follow the next time someone gives me too much change.

Fortunately the government hasn’t the slightest bit of conscience. It keeps the money. As soon as it leaves the store, it laughs at the cashier:

The N.C. Department of Revenue is sifting through a backlog of 230,000 unresolved tax returns from as far back as 1994 that include cases in which taxpayers are owed money – but are now unlikely to get it.

E-mail correspondence obtained by The News & Observer outlined the problem, and it revealed a debate within the department over how to deal with longstanding cases where its computer system flagged returns to indicate taxpayers who mistakenly overpaid their taxes.

The e-mail messages also show that the department knew about overpayments but did not refund them.

Although some of the overpaid returns are old, most are brand new. Before 2009, policy at the North Carolina Department of Revenue was, whenever a taxpayer was marked by a computer as having overpaid his taxes, the money was returned.

Since 2009, the taxman has a more realistic policy: When a taxpayer overpays, the Department will stay silent, saying nothing. If the taxpayer realizes his error within three years (as required by statute), the Department will, maybe, grudgingly refund the money. Otherwise, the Department will spend the money on no-bid construction contracts, and laugh at how it put one over on the citizen.

Of course this only works in one direction: A citizen who inadvertently stiffs the North Carolina Department of Revenue will be forced to pay a penalty, may have his name tarnished as a tax cheat, and could get to enjoy an audit or worse. If not paid back immediately, the Revenue Department will react with the fury of the wounded innocent at being cheated of its rightful gains.

All of which may be perfectly legal, but is it right? That’s the question I’m here to pose: We teach our children to obey the government because, by and large, its laws are just. Because the government is disinterested in commerce, and has no profit motive, we teach our children that the government is more likely to be honest than some shopkeeper.

But if the government is just another shark in the marketplace, if the government just follows the law of the jungle, shouldn’t we teach children to obey the government out of fear, and for no other reason? Unless of course, they can get away with it? That doing the right thing is for suckers and sheep, if you’re smart enough?

That’s certainly the lesson that the North Carolina Department of Revenue is teaching their parents.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: TimF8/20/2010 5:09:46 PM
   of 3816
The Limits of Enforcement

Jul 27 2010, 10:19 AM ET | Comment
Most people I've talked to both on and offline are in agreement that requiring 1099s for equipment purchases is a pretty egregious waste of enforcement energy. But there are a few who argue that it's really, really important to crack down on tax evasion.

I will not defend tax evasion. But it's not true that we should, always and everywhere, crack down on this sort of thing.

Every time there's a policy debate, Waste, Fraud, and Abuse once again rears its ugly head, and we hear that we could save vast sums by eliminating them. Leave aside the fact that these estimates are, necessarily, very approximate; if we could count all the waste, fraud and abuse, we wouldn't have much of it. Even if the numbers are correct, they're only useful in some frictionless universe where we can easily eliminate 100% of the dreaded WFA.

Unfortunately, in our non-frictionless universe, eliminating these things is often very costly--and the smaller the transactions, the more costly it is. My favorite example of this is an office I once temped for--for one long, long week. Some office manager had decided that to cut down on the expense of supplies, each person would only get one of key things, like pens. In order to get a new one, you had to turn in your old pen.

Needless to say, this did cut down somewhat on the pen outlay. However, it diverted considerable employee energy into pen-loss mitigation strategies. As soon as one person misplaced their pen, pen theft blossomed. As did the gray market in pen security equipment. By the time I arrived, employees were spending a considerable portion of their day looking for ways to indelibly mark their pens as their own, and the rest of the time trying to steal someone else's poorly marked pen.

I don't know what they were spending on pens, of course, but I don't see how this could have been a cost-effective outcome. I assume that the practice was eventually ended, but their receptionist eventually came back from vacation (to a penless desk, of course) and I never learned the end of this sad story.

That's why drugstores budget for shrinkage rather than locking everything away, putting it behind the counter, or searching the patrons as they leave. It's why businesses do not actually attempt to make sure that every expense is 100% justified.

In fact, systems often need this kind of loss to reduce friction in the system; I've heard a plausible case made, for example, that without Medicaid fraud, virtually no one on Medicaid would be able to secure primary care outside of a hospital clinic. The reimbursement rates are simply too low.

In the case of the 1099s, at $1.7 billion a year I don't see how the increased taxes can possibly justify the enormous new compliance burden, especially when you consider that some of that burden will be a direct cost to the government in the form of IRS agents dispatched to untangle the inevitable false flags in the audit system. There are some bits of tax revenue it just isn't worth going after--even though, yes, it means that some small business owner, somewhere, is probably getting away with something.

williambswift in reply to willallen2

Actually, the $600 exclusion does not help - since it is $600 over a year, you need to keep a running total of what you spend in smaller increments to even know if you have gone over the $600 in many cases. Remember, only $12 per week will add up to $600 over 50 weeks.

huadpe in reply to James Hare
The $600 rule is rather trivial actually. I need to collect the necessary information from all my suppliers, in case later in the year I go back and get something from them later. I need to update my database to accept all this new information, which will cost thousands of dollars in man-hours. I need to get a TIN, since I don't want to have to give my social security number out to all my clients. I need to make sure the IRS keeps track of my TIN and association with SSN. I need to train my 2 employees to get this information from all vendors (some of whom may not be equipped/willing to provide it, e.g. buying a computer system off ebay). I need to figure out whether this applies to the broker or the salesperson (e.g. amazon marketplace or the vendor I find through it). All in all, I expect this to reduce my profits by something like 5 to 10%.

The 5-10% estimate is first year, mostly for the database update, after that maybe 2-4%. Also, how the hell do I 1099 my property taxes? As far as I know the city doesn't have a TIN I can use to 1099 them, and they don't like credit cards.

SgtFraggleRock in reply to Alan
But remember, this isn't a tax increase on those making under $250,000.

This? This is the "waste and fraud" that I'm told is the difference between surplus and deficit - if only I hand over my life to central control. This?

What's next? Are we going to track down babysitters? Maybe shadow married couples who go to movies or dinner and arrest them and the babysitter for tax evasion.

Yard sales? Are we going to send un-marked cars to yard sales and crush people for not paying their sales tax?

And don't forget kids selling lemonade.

It is infuriating to see this kind of noise dressed up by the fools we call "Congress and the President" to appear to be actually significant and relevant. These are red herrings, intentionally meant to divert us from the incompetence behind them.

Hey, this weekend I got a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts. My dogs were in the back seat, and the woman at the drive through asked if they could each have a Munchkin. I said "sure."

I feel so dirty now. No taxes were paid on that transaction...

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Brumar898/28/2010 7:22:46 PM
1 Recommendation   of 3816
Interesting - 20 things someone learned from traveling the world:

2 The media lies - you can really figure that out from here.

4 Americans not hated

5 Americans not as ignorant as you think or other folks are just as ignorant.

16 In developing countries, government is usually the problem.


17 English becoming the world language.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last ReadRead Replies (1)

To: TimF who wrote (3785)8/29/2010 12:36:25 AM
From: TimF
2 Recommendations   of 3816
Bean-Counters and Baloney
Thomas Sowell

The bean-counters have struck again-- this time in the sports pages. Two New York Times sport writers have discovered that baseball coaches from minority groups are found more often coaching at first base than at third base. Moreover, third-base coaches become managers more often than first-base coaches.

This may seem to be just another passing piece of silliness. But it is part of a more general bean-counting mentality that turns statistical differences into grievances. The time is long overdue to throw this race card out of the deck and start seeing it for the gross fallacy that it is.

At the heart of such statistics is the implicit assumption that different races, sexes and other subdivisions of the human species would be proportionately represented in institutions, occupations and income brackets if there was not something strange or sinister going on.

Although this notion has been repeated by all sorts of people, from local loudmouths on the street to the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States, there is not one speck of evidence behind it and a mountain of evidence against it.

Ask the bean-counters where in this wide world have different groups been proportionally represented. They can't tell you. In other words, something that nobody can demonstrate is taken as a norm, and any deviation from that norm is somebody's fault!

Anyone who has watched football over the years has probably seen at least a hundred black players score touchdowns-- and not one black player kick the extra point. Is this because of some twisted racist who doesn't mind black players scoring touchdowns but hates to see them kicking the extra points?

At our leading engineering schools-- M.I.T., CalTech, etc.-- whites are under-represented and Asians over-represented. Is this anti-white racism or pro-Asian racism? Or are different groups just different?

As for baseball, I have long noticed that there are more blacks playing centerfield than third-base. Since the same people hire centerfielders and third-basemen, it is hard to argue that racism explains the difference.

No one says it is racism that explains why blacks are over-represented and whites under-represented in basketball. Bean-counters only make a fuss when there is a disparity that fits their vision or their agenda.

Years ago, a study was made of the ethnic make-up of military forces in countries around the world. Nowhere was the ethnic make-up of the military the same as the ethnic make-up of the population, or even close to the same.

Nearly half the pilots in the Malaysia's air force were from the Chinese minority, rather than the Malay majority. In Nigeria, most of the officers were from the southern tribes and most of the enlisted men were from the northern tribes. Similar disparities have been common among various groups in many places.

In countries around the world, all sorts of groups differ from each other in all sorts of ways, from rates of alcoholism to infant mortality, education and virtually everything that can be measured, as well as in some things that cannot be quantified. If black and white Americans were the same, they would be the only two groups on this planet who are the same.

One of the things that got us started on heavy-handed government regulation of the housing market were statistics showing that blacks were turned down for mortgage loans more often than whites. The bean-counters in the media went ballistic. It had to be racism, to hear them tell it.

What they didn't tell you was that whites were turned down more often than Asians. What they also didn't tell you was that black-owned banks also turned down blacks more often than whites. Nor did they tell you that credit scores differed from group to group. Instead, the media, the politicians and the regulators grabbed some statistics and ran with them.

The bean-counters are everywhere, pushing the idea that differences show injustices committed by society. As long as we keep buying it, they will keep selling it-- and the polarization they create will sell this country down the river.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Brumar899/2/2010 7:02:19 PM
   of 3816
He's Mine! No, He's Mine!

You could be mine

How'd you like to be this Chilean miner? You're hoping and praying you're rescued from deep under ground, yet at the same time likely dreading the moment you see daylight since a couple of ladies are eagerly awaiting your arrival.
Hey guys, take your time.

One of the trapped Chilean miners is in no rush to be rescued -- because both his wife and his longtime mistress will be waiting for him when he finally sees the light of day.

Neither woman was aware of the other's existence until they met at a candlelight vigil for the miners
, The Sun newspaper of Britain reported.

Yonni Barrios' wife, Marta Salinas, was shocked to hear another woman shouting her husband's name at the gathering held to support the 33 men who are trapped 2,300 feet underground, the paper said.

They compared notes and figured out that they both had been shafted. Officials said the miners aren't likely to be rescued before Christmas.

Despite feeling "horrified" about her husband's cheating ways, Salinas, 56, has told friends she still plans to welcome Barrios, 50, back with open arms once he's freed, the paper said.

"Barrios is my husband. He loves me and I am his devoted wife," she said.

But she's not the only one who feels that way.

Susana Valenzuela, who's been his mistress for five years, insists she'll always be his soul mate.

"We are in love. I'll wait for him," she told The Sun.

Salinas clawed back at her rival, refusing to address Valenzuela by name.

"This woman has no legitimacy," she hissed.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read

From: Brumar899/13/2010 7:09:21 PM
   of 3816
Funny - French lover myth debunked - but wait, this is a BBC story so we probably can't believe it

French survey reports sex misery for most couples

A survey by one of France's oldest and most reputable polling and market research organisations has challenged the myth of the French lover.

More than three-quarters of Gallic couples have bad sex lives, the Institute for Public Opinion found.

More than one in three women said they had used excuses such as headaches, tiredness or children being nearby to get out of having sex.

Nearly one in six men said they had also made similar excuses.

France has long enjoyed a reputation for romance and the French have traditionally thought of themselves as great lovers, more amorous and flirtatious than most other Europeans, especially the British, the BBC's David Chazan reports from Paris.

But the survey of more than 1,000 French adults, who answered revealing questions about their sex lives, suggests the nation that gave its name to the French kiss could be suffering a loss of libido, he says.

However, help may be at hand, our correspondent adds. The pharmaceutical corporation which commissioned the survey says it is going to launch an information campaign this month for French couples who want to improve their sex lives.

Share RecommendKeepReplyMark as Last Read
Previous 10 Next 10