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Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 04:00 PM PST

Forced Kissing

by BostonActuary

Recently a few post have mentioned that "forced kissing" is a form of "sexual assault."

This is an issue of semantics; is a particular item a member of a set constructed by humans to help categorize reality. The membership in such artificial sets is somewhat arbitrary and shifts over time.

Categories such as "weapons of mass destruction" can be used to misinform rather than inform. The first thing that comes to many people's mind is an H-bomb.
Unfortunately, some people seem to be using the broad category of "sexual assault" to obfuscate rather than clarify. The first thing that comes to many people's mind is rape.

Even more troubling is that the category of "forced kissing" seems ill-defined.
Let us explore some examples below.

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Thu Nov 13, 2014 at 08:51 PM PST

Republicans & Social Security

by BostonActuary

Some of the important facts that the Republicans in the House and Senate will be considering when they study Social Security:

1. Billionaires do not need Social Security for themselves and their families.
2. Social Security taxes reduce corporate profits.
3. Currently Wall Street does not benefit from the huge amount of money in the Social Security Trust Fund.
4. The current cap on the amount that is taxed for Social Security benefits the 1%;
it is of even greater benefit to the 0.1%.

The Ratpublicans will probably lie and commit mathematical malpractice in an attempt to sell whatever they come with.
However they deserve some credit; for a change they will be considering at least some things that are true.


Sun Nov 09, 2014 at 10:08 AM PST

Martha Coakley

by BostonActuary

Martha Coakley lost the election for governor of Massachusetts.
Some have criticized her as a poor candidate.

Martha Coakley was the Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts because she won the primary with about 42% of the vote.
Maybe if someone else were nominated, such as Steve Grossman or Donald Berwick, they would have won the election for Governor.

The party convention gave Grossman 35%, Coakley 23%, and Brewick 22%.
However, it was those who voted in the primary who gave the nomination to Coakley.
(I voted for Berwick in the primary.)

This is the way the democratic process works, you end up with the nominee from those who choose to run selected by those party members who come out to vote in the primary. Sometimes this results in choosing a candidate who is less likely to win the general election. This has certainly happened to Republicans in various states.

While it is far from perfect, I think this system of choosing nominees is better than the alternatives.

The most common accusation is driving while drunk, but domestic violence is a big problem. Some 28 percent of the arrests in the database were for driving under the influence, with 202 incidents. Other frequent categories of charges include assault and battery (88 cases) and drug-related offenses (82). This data is also a reminder that domestic violence has been a problem among N.F.L. players since long before Ray and Janay Rice got on that Atlantic City elevator: There have been 85 charges for domestic violence and related offenses since 2000.

Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 12:28 PM PDT

Ray Rice

by BostonActuary

I am not defending Ray Rice.

He did a terrible thing.
This is a huge country, so on that same day many others did worse things.

Ray Rice was punished by the legal system.
One could discuss given all of the details of his particular case whether or not the result was appropriate.
Rather what I wish to discuss is whether his employer should impose additional punishment.

If Mr. Rice were instead a truck driver or a factory worker,
would his employer likely fire or suspend him over this incident?
I suspect the answer is no.
If you think that in this alternative situation he should have been fired or suspended, I would like to hear why.

The reason Mr. Rice was suspended and then fired was arguably because he is broadly in the entertainment business. The public's reaction is important to an entertainment business. As a business decision the NFL's various actions make some sense to me.
(I am not defending the actions of the NFL.)

Nevertheless, I am somewhat troubled by a man losing his job for something that has nothing directly to do with his job performance. (In this case, there is a very short career length and very limited alternative employers.) I thought that the legal system is supposed to provide such punishment.

I am in the minority, but I would have had little problem with Ray Rice continuing to play. (No I am not a big fan of him nor a fan of his team.)

I am not defending Ray Rice.


Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 07:42 PM PDT


by BostonActuary

Extant is a new series on NBC.
If you are into science fiction, I would give it a try.
So far I would give it a very preliminary grade of B, with an interesting premise and lots of room for interesting plot development.

Pet peeve below the fold.

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Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 12:49 PM PDT

Unlimited Liability

by BostonActuary

Corporations are not people.
However, for profit closely held corporations have the rights of people according to five rightwing injustices, without any of the responsibilities of living persons.

When a business is incorporated it gets certain benefits, among them limited liability for the owners. Why not change this? As "people" they should be treated that way for liability.

A possible new federal law: the owners of closely held corporations would be able to be sued for any actions or liabilities of the corporations, without the usual protection incorporation provides. In addition, the owners of closely held corporations could be punished directly for violations of the law by the corporation, including but not limited to fines and imprisonment.

Just one possible idea to level the field between "living persons" and "corporate persons."

It would nice if we could somehow deport, imprison, execute, stop and frisk, call for jury duty, etc. "corporate persons" as is done to "living persons".


Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM PDT

Republican Mass Murderers

by BostonActuary

By denying Medicaid expansion in their states, many Republicans are denying health insurance to many constituents. By voting or campaigning to repeal "Obamacare" many Republicans are trying to take health insurance away from many constituents who have just gotten it for the first time.

If a Republican were to succeed in repealing "Obamacare," how many people in his state would lose health insurance?
How many of those people would be expected to die each year who otherwise would not?
(In some states, it could be hundreds.)

A Democratic ad should put in the correct numbers for a given state and attack that Republican. So far a mundane boring truthful ad.

They should not stop there.
Truthfully label that Republican an (attempted) mass murderer.

Senator _ is trying to kill hundreds of __ians each year!
You can stop him! Vote no on Senator _

More generally, much more ruthless tactics than currently used by Democrats, without copying the rightwing tactic of continual lies, could help get more Democrats elected.


Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 06:35 PM PST

Selective Anti-Science

by BostonActuary

Many rightwingers are anti-science, or at least speak as if they are.
However, this seems to be mostly involve issues related to important economic issues (global warming) or religious issues (evolution.)

Over the last decade, there has a lots and lots of planets discovered orbiting other stars.
Amazing! Not too long ago there were no known examples.

I do not believe this has been decried by any rightwingers (or if so not very many.)
I can see no economic interests who would have a reason to stir this issue up with paid propaganda. Maybe it is just a matter of time before some religious leader decides to way in on this "hoax."

However, I suspect this will not make it to the top of the anti-science crusaders list, unless and until signs of intelligent life are found out there.


Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 11:59 AM PST

Corporate Taxes, A Battle Lost

by BostonActuary

In theory the federal government collects income taxes from corporations.
In the case of large multinational corporations, we have been fighting a losing battle.
They have numerous accounting tricks to reduce their tax bills very substantially.
These tricks are not available to most ordinary Americans or small corporations.

Thus on the one hand, we are not getting much revenue.
On the other hand, we are rewarding clever tax avoidance and giving larger corporations a competitive advantage. Also there is continued incentive for large corporations to "purchase" from Congresscritters tax advantages for themselves.

The federal government can try to keep up with and prevent some of these tax avoidance procedures, in some cases changing the tax laws or regulations. However, even if they are able to counteract some of these gimmicks, new gimmicks will be invented. With continued globalization, we are fighting a losing battle.

I am sorry to conclude, that the best thing is probably to declare this war lost.

A proposal below the fold.

Continue Reading

Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:50 AM PDT

3 Points, Social Security

by BostonActuary

There are three points driving the "debate" about Social Security in Washington D.C.

1. Billionaires do not rely on Social Security.

2. The portion of Social Security payroll taxes paid by employers reduces corporate profits.

3. Currently Wall Street makes no money off of Social Security. If Social Security were privatized, Wall Street would make tens of billions of dollars per year.

While I may not like it, these points are behind a lot of what we hear from politicians and in the media.

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