atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#5088: Must be nice to have SOLVED EVERYTHING ELSE!

Senator Mark Kirk is nominally a Republican Senator from Illinois. I say "nominally" because I stopped considering him "my" Senator after he voted with the Democrats for some gun control measure or another, because that kind of thing was emphatically not what I had in mind when I cast my vote for him in the election that elevated him to his present post.

Being registered as a Republican in IL I occasionally get spam e-mail from his office, and I haven't bothered to unsubscribe because most of the time his spam is harmless nonsense.

Today is different:
Why are we spending taxpayer money on this?

Dear Mr. [Fungus],

You might be surprised to know that the federal government sets aside millions of your hard earned dollars each year to pay for office space, staff, travel, and other expenses of former Presidents. Just last year, Presidents Clinton and Bush collected $2.2 million at taxpayer expense. This is money that could be far better used to pay down our $19 trillion national debt.

To limit this wasteful spending, I introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) called the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2015. The bill would cap the annual allowance for former Presidents at $200,000, far below levels spent in recent years.

This week, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the bill, which now awaits consideration by the full Senate. I look forward to voting for this legislation and taking a small step towards reducing our national debt.


Sincerely,

Senator Mark Kirk
Formatting removed.

So, Senator Mark Kirk and his crony Joni Ernst are sponsoring a bill which will save the federal government a whopping $1,800,000 dollars. $1.8 million. "This is money that could be far better used to pay down our $19 trillion national debt," he says.

Specifically, it could pay down 0.001% of it. And that's being generous with the rounding.

The Senate has nothine else it needs to worry about? It has time to worry about 0.001% of the national debt?

This is what I hate about the GOP: they concentrate on stupid crap and then trumpet it as if it's some big deal.

So I went to his web site and submitted the following comment:
Sir:

I recently received your mass e-mail titled "Why are we spending taxpayer money on this?"

I'd like to know why the Senate is wasting time on something which will reduce the national debt by 0.001% (being generous with rounding up!) when there are other areas of the budget which contain much greater examples of waste and fraud. At a time when the federal government is spending three million dollars a minute on welfare and other transfer payments, introducing a bill which saves $1.8 million annually is nothing more than an egregious waste of time.

Sincerely,
[Atomic Fungus]
For fuck's sake.

* * *

Karl Denninger talks about the pension fund thing I discussed yesterday, with the headline "Math is a Bitch".
The problem is that these "funds" claimed they could earn 7, 8, even 9% forever without fail. That's impossible; were to be "possible" it would mean that your cost of living would double every six or seven years, and you'd be broke anyway.

In other words these "funds" were a Ponzi scheme and like all Ponzi schemes they look good when you start, because few people are drawing and most people are paying into them. But the inevitability of arithmetic gets you in the end irrespective of what you'd like to have happen.
Exactly. It sucks to be us, but that's exactly how it works, because we're the ones on the tail end of the viability of a lot of the Ponzi schemes that were sold to the US in the great age of socialism.

* * *

Here's how you know a man has useful skills. Og got the news this past week that he's losing his job effective March 1, but he's already got three good job offers.

Me, I would probably take the "work from home" one, but that's because I hate commuting.

* * *

So, at work there's this car. It's a gold Chevy Cavalier, year uncertain, and it's been sitting in the same parking spot for six months.

I think it's been that long. I noticed it one fine autumn day during training, and it has not moved since then. It has a couple of warning stickers on it. Its driver's side window is half open. It's clearly abandoned, waiting only for a tow truck to haul it away...and it has been waiting for half a year.

I'm tempted to go over there some "weekend" with a tow dolly and a come-along and haul it off, myself. If nothing else it'd fetch a pretty penny as scrap. For damned sure you wouldn't want to try to resurrect it without replacing the entire interior, considering how long it's been open to the elements.

I suppose by talking about it here, the universe will notice its oversight and the car will be gone soon. Well, that's how it goes.

* * *

Tonight I did something I rarely do: I lugged out my old electronics kit and dug through it.

I was looking for an LM371 variable voltage regulator, hoping to find the central component of the power supply I want to build for my MP3 player; but there isn't one in there, worse luck. But as I looked at the things in there I started thinking about what it used to be like to build circuits, hauling this huge-ass tackle box into school every time I had a lab class. It contained everything I needed, including my DMM, various tools, soldering iron, desoldering iron, solder, logic probe, logic pulser, and a plethora of test and scope leads. And all the parts--resistors, capacitors, ICs, everything needed for this or that lab. Twenty years ago that thing sat in the back of my car, always ready to be hauled wherever I needed to take it.

After putting that thing away, then, I looked at something else, a circuit I built in June of 1994. I know the date because it was a custom-etched circuit board, and I'd signed and dated the thing with the resist ink pen. I have no idea what the circuit did, but I laid it out myself and soldered everything to it. It's the only time I ever made a custom PCB that did anything.

In the same box is a modem I built for one of my Communications classes. "Communications" in the electronic sense, not media and that nonsense. Building and understanding the hardware which makes modern communication possible, things like fiber optics and modems and channel capacity and Smith charts. The modem is a fairly low-speed affair, built more to familiarize the student with the operating principles of a typical Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter (UART) than to be a serious communications system. It worked--I could send and receive serial data--but I have no real use for it now, and I could probably safely dismantle the thing if it wasn't so pretty. Here's something I put together, a complex machine that worked, and I'm loath to take it apart.

I need to find my digital clock, the one I built for the Digital Circuits II lab final project. With a square wave source of the right frequency I could make that thing into a usable clock.

...but over the past few days I've been thinking about buying a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino, and if I did I'd need breadboards and other things to tinker around with the thing. You probably see where this is going.

Could be worse, though.
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