Sunday, May 12, 2013
Mother's Day is a day of gratitude, a day to express appreciation for the care and love that most of us receive from our Mothers. It is a good day to recognize the role that our Mother's play in shaping the central ideas of our lives. Some of us embrace the same central ideas held by our Moms and Dads. Some of us run from them, and from their ideas. Some of us embrace the central idea that we saw them reaching for, even if they never quite firmly grabbed hold of it. And some of us embrace a central idea that Mom and Dad never would have expected, not because of rebellion, but because they left it to us, sometimes as abdication of their responsibilities and sometimes as active encouragement that we seek the truth on our own.
This central idea is the core of our life philosophy and world view. It may be humanistic, theistic or something else, but except for those of us living in utter confusion, we all have one. A central idea of Buddhism is that the goal of life is to break the cycles of death and birth by following the five principles. A central idea for the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, was an unknown god "in him we live and move and have our being". To the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus, we are the offspring of this unknown god. The central idea of Paul the Apostle was we are the creation of a knowable God who broke the cycle of death on our behalf, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and yes, in Him we live and move and have our being, to the end that we may obtain the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is also the central idea of my life, on which, yes, I have a sometimes weak, mortal grasp. It is an idea that my Mother pointed me toward, along with many others to whom I will ever be grateful.
What is the central idea of your life? Breath it in. Let it flow through every fiber of your being. Live it out. If you cannot fruitfully live and move and have your being in it, with love, joy, and peace, you may need a new central idea.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Neighborhoods, companies, organizations, and families often have unique ways of communicating that can be difficult for outsiders to decipher. Sometimes called "speech codes" these patterns contain unique idioms, vocabulary, usage, and even grammar. Acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon form elements of a speech code known to the readers of the Wall Street Journal.
Listed below are examples all appearing on the front page of today's WSJ, in order of appearance. Some are unique to business and finance. Some are common idioms, but codes nonetheless. I've also included a few unusual phrases.
Do you speak the code?
VOL., NO., WSJ, DJIA, NASDAQ, NIKKEI, STOXX 600, 10-YR. TREAS., B of A, MBIA, "soured securities', SEC, Pa., CEO, S&P 500, "the bill faces hurdles", "a string of rulings", EU, "private-equity firms", PG&E, KPMG, NATO, "storefront pot shops", "stop and frisk", "Researchers made bits of human bone", FDA, greenback, ICAP, CFO, "Obama is held back by risks on Syria", "Turkey's economy is getting hairier", "Turkey's emergence as a place for facial hair transplants", "be-whiskered boom", "troubled incinerator project".
Finally, this isn't coded or unusual language, just something worth repeating, "The SEC also took issue with Harrisburg officials for doing what many public officials often do: Putting a good face on a difficult situation."
Saturday, April 13, 2013
HFC / Beneficial, what were you thinking?
- Household (HFC) Companies and Beneficial Companies are part of the the HSBC Group, one of the largest financial services organizations in the world.
- They have a huge customer base in the United States.
- April 15, 2013 is this year's deadline for most U.S. taxpayers to file their federal and state income tax returns.
- Some taxpayers need to include certain information on their returns related to their accounts with HFC / Beneficial.
- Sometimes, those taxpayers misplace their paperwork.
- Consumers have come to rely upon customer-facing web sites to get information they need when they misplace their paperwork.
- HFC / Beneficial's customer-facing web site is down for maintenance on April 13 and 14, the two days immediately preceding the tax filing deadline. Automated and live operator telephone services are also unavailable.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
That was a dream I had early this morning. If you're like me, you have many different kinds of dreams. Some are frightening. Some are funny. Some are just inexplicable mash-ups of recent events, ideas, and emotions. Some, like this one, seem to tell a story with a point.
When you find yourself adrift in unfamiliar circumstances, consider the forces that brought you there. Understand them. All of them. Work to reverse them. Swim upstream for a while, if you have to. Soon, a solution, a familiar landmark, or a clear course will become apparent. Then, just keep on paddling until you are safely home.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
If you're in favor of legislative transparency and accountability, don't look for it in the so-called "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" passed yesterday by the Senate to avert the "fiscal cliff."
What's in the 157 page Senate budget bill? Contrary to media over-simplifications, it's not just about individual income taxes. Those are just in Title II. There's a lot here that changes very little.
Title I - General Extensions
Title II - Individual Tax Extenders
Title III - Business Tax Extenders
Title IV - Energy Tax Extenders
Title V - Unemployment
Title VI - Medicare and Other Health Extensions
Title VII - Extension of Agricultural Programs
Title IX - Miscellaneous Provisions
Title X - Budget Provisions
A few observations...
- There is no Title VIII. Odd. Why? Is that where the spending cuts were supposed to be?
- Title IX, section 901, "Strategic Delivery Systems" has the following provision: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, is amended—
(1) by striking ‘‘that’’ before ‘‘the Russian Federation’’ and inserting ‘‘whether’’; and
(2) by inserting ‘‘strategic’’ before ‘‘arms control obligations’’.
What does this mean? Why is it part of this bill?
- Title IX, Section 902 denies Congress a cost of living pay raise in 2013. Good.
- Title X is the "kick the can down the road" section, extending spending authorizations in large, vague buckets, (Section 1001), a seemingly random modification of one rule about Roth IRA accounts (Section 1002) and most significantly, absolving Congress of accountability for the balanced budget effect of the bill (Section 1011):
(a) PAYGO SCORECARD.—The budgetary effects of this Act shall not be entered on either PAYGO scorecard maintained pursuant to section 4(d) of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.
(b) SENATE PAYGO SCORECARD.—The budgetary effects of this Act shall not be entered on any PAYGO scorecard maintained for purposes of section 201 of S. Con. Res. 21 (110th Congress).
A Personal Reaction
It's time for both parties, the White House, and both houses of Congress to stop campaigning and start governing. Is this the best they can do, beyond the last minute, with two years to work on it? We, the people, deserve a better work product from our government leaders. They are simply not doing their job.
Read It For Yourself
You can find the full PDF of the bill here.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
- There is no gun control. There are a lot of guns out there. Many of them are in the wrong hands. Whether you believe gun control should exist, or should not exist, the fact is, it doesn't exist in any effective form.
- According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Connecticut, where yesterday's horrific tragic took place, and its neighboring states of Massachusetts and New York are all among the more restrictive states with regard to gun ownership. (Brady, 2012)
- According to some studies, violent crime varies INVERSELY with legal gun sales. Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Thomas Baker has crunched the numbers in the state of Virginia, and has determined that gun sales in the state have climbed 73% since 2006, while the number of violent crimes involving guns has declined by more than 27%. (NRA, 2012)
- A loophole in the federal law requiring criminal background checks allows sales at gun shows to go forward without a check. This accounts for 40% of all U.S. private gun sales. That's just a poor work product from the legislature. (CSGV, 2012)
- Fortunately, there are "not enough" mass shooting incidents to draw reliable statistical correlations with anything. (I know. PLEASE don't take the first words of that sentence out of context.) Common sense might say otherwise, but the numbers aren't there to draw sound quantitatively-based conclusions about violent media exposure and other potential influences.
- Mass shooting incidents, especially in the otherwise comfortable affluent suburbs get in-depth media attention, but they are statistically insignificant compared to the scourge of gun violence on our city streets. The daily killings in our cities receive relatively little attention in most outlets. A notable exception is the Huffington Post's Chicago Gun Violence stream. (Huffington, 2012a).
- On a single night in Chicago (Monday, 12/3/12), there were 11 shootings overnight. November shootings in Chicago were up 49 percent over 2011. Through 11 months, shootings were up 11 percent and homicides were up 21 percent. (Huffington, 2012b)
- Guns are designed to kill. Don't create specious arguments against gun control by comparing gun violence deaths with traffic fatalities, for example. Cars do not have a lethal primary purpose.
- "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." may be a time-worn cliché but it has some basis in fact. We cannot blame inanimate objects for the evil actions of broken people and the soul-sickness to which we are all susceptible.
Retrieved from http://www.bradycampaign.org/stategunlaws/
Retrieved from http://www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/gun-show-loophole
Retrieved from http://home.nra.org/#/nraorg
Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/chicago-gun-violence
Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/04/shot-waiting-for-bus-chic_n_2237596.html