Tag Archives: rant

Are our demographics engineered for moral hazard?

For all of the hand wringing about the $700B bailout, the Feds have put our nation’s children on the hook for about $8T (and counting) without a single vote from Congress (who, by the way, is doing everything they can to do as little as they can so that they can avoid political liability that comes with actually doing anything). I have a feeling that if (a) Americans weren’t so constitutionally apathetic and (b) ignorant of what is happening, there would be marches in Washington, Greenwich would be burning, and people in Manhattan would be throwing bricks through every piece of tinted glass on Wall Street. Hell, this country was started by enraged citizens chucking tea in Boston Harbor because they felt they were being unfairly taxed, and now we sit around doing nothing while HALF OUR GDP is spent to bail out the criminally stupid (and sometimes just plain criminal) without due process.

Maybe not enough people care about the debt burden on our nation’s children because the only people who are having kids these days are the bottom half of the income ladder, who pay no federal taxes. The upper half is too busy working dual incomes (about half of which goes to the government) to have kids (I don’t remember the stats, but the birthrate is well below replacement).

So, the people who pay for the government have no interest in the next generation, and people with an interest in the next generation have no stake in the government. Exactly a recipe for bad government and massive public debt.

Text messages cost more than sending postcards!

The going rate for a text message is now $0.20, up from $0.05 a year or so ago, a puzzling increase given that every underlying component of communications technology has become cheaper over that time. Given that a text message is billed both for sending and receiving (which should be criminal) this means that it costs a total of $0.40 to complete a text message between parties. It would be cheaper to buy a postcard, print out that message on the postcard, and then have the USPS physically carry that postcard 3000 miles across the country and deliver it right to somebody’s doorstep.


Tazer Man!

The following is best read in a voice akin to that of Don “The Voice of God” LaFontaine:

IN A WORLD where people have forgotten their manners, made deaf to their fellow citizens by ipods sprouting from their heads, apathetic to those around them: one man stands alone, willing to fight for truth, justice, and the social contract. Impoliteness is his enemy, and his weapon is 24,000 volts of pure blue truth. Mild-mannered electrical engineer by day, by mid to late evenings he roams the streets of Boston, seeking vengeance on those who are unaware of the fact that they are not the only people on the planet. He is… Tazer Man!

A man at the mall stops right at the top of the escalator, deciding that would be a good place to continue his cell phone conversation, clueless to the people piling up behind him. Zap! Man down! He won’t need to charge that cell phone for another week. Thanks, Tazer Man!

It’s rush hour. A group of three teenage girls are gossiping cluelessly in the doorway of the Red Line subway, oblivious to the passengers trying to push by them before the door closes. Zap, zap, zap! No, he does not dial down the voltage for the young! “The younger they are, the more they gotta learn,” is Tazer Man’s motto.

A stock broker in a BMW sees the “left lane closed” sign, but does he merge? No, he drives past half a mile of people who don’t think they’re above everybody else, and cuts somebody off right at the last minute. He thought he got away with it. Maybe the last hundred other times, but not this time. Not today. Today he cut off the wrong guy. BMW guy doesn’t know that there is a complete electrical circuit between the metal interior door handle of a 2002 BMW 330Ci coupe and the chassis ground. But you know who does? Tazer Man does! ZZZZZap! Now two people know. Good thing leather cleans up well.

A twentysomething rides by on a skateboard. He stops at the front door of a bank, and quickly slaps a sticker on the side of the building, advertising his band “Shades of Moon.” Tazey has a special setting on his ‘gun’ for people like this. It’s called “Nobody cares about your stupid emo band so quit defacing public property with your infantile self-promotion.” Just kidding. That would never fit. It’s just called “High.”

When a broken social code has seemingly left us with no consequences for asocial behavior, Tazer Man is here to show us that there is a price to pay, and that price is 45 seconds of pain and possibly momentary incontinence. So the next time you are in public, remember your manners. And if you ever forget them, you may hear the faint whining hum of an electrolytic capacitor charging. That’s the sound of justice brewing, and it’s the last thing you’ll remember for about two and a half minutes.

Another reason to keep my degree from the University of Colorado a secret

It’s not so much that people at CU smoked pot, skied and climbed rocks, or that I have a problem with any of these activities in and of themselves, it’s just that from what I could tell, that’s pretty much ALL many of them ever did, professors included. While the grad students were, in some cases, the smartest people I’ve ever met, half-heartedly attending the school seemed to just be a way for people with a modicum of self-respect to legitimize what would otherwise be a lifestyle more commonly experienced by people living out of VW vans in the parking lot of the local tobacco accessories store. So it is with bittersweet nostalgia that I read a recent Daily Camera article about the annual 4/20 celebration on campus. A choice excerpt:

CU freshman Emily Benson, 19, of Kansas City, said she thinks the decriminalization of marijuana will become a hot topic in the upcoming political season and said she felt part of something bigger than just a smoke-out on Sunday.

We’re at the starting point of a movement, she said. This is a big part of the reason I applied here, for the weed atmosphere.

Although CU junior Max Lichtenstein, 21, isn’t into marijuana or smoking, he also felt Sunday’s event was a chance to do something “bigger” than himself. He passed out 126 Rice Krispies treats with messages attached asking that they act out against the injustices in Darfur…

“I just like being generous and doing nice things,” he said. “I’m like a good Samaritan.”

I should have known public image would be a problem when I found out that the school slogan was “Minds to Match our Mountains.” Publicly comparing their students’ brains to a mass of granite really makes one wonder if the administration knows what they’re doing. So does the fact that the last three major publicity events I’ve read about the school have been this story, hookers for the football team, and campus riots over beer policy. Thanks, CU, for continuing to ensure my degree continues to be so valuable in the market. Maybe your slogan should be “Minds to match the font size you’ll want to use to mention our school in your resume.” After this article, I’m down to 7 pt Helvetica, placed with an asterisk down at the bottom of the page.