Friday, November 05, 2010

U.S. Business Tax Rate LOWER Than China, India

According to a new report by Price Waterhouse Cooper, our effective business tax rate is 118th in the world!

Total effective tax rate
  • US : 46.3%
  • China:63.8%
  • India:64.7%
  • Brazil: 69.2%

This means that US businesses that relocate to India and China can't be going it to save taxes. They're doing it even though taxes are HIGHER.
Read for yourself. The relevant table is Table 14 startiong on page 86.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hope and the Ubiquity of Recycling

I remember radio ads opposing bottle deposits when I lived in Michigan, back in the late 1970s. "What's next?" said the snide voice, "You'll need a container to keep your empty bottles in. Then you'll need something for your mayonaise jars, and another one for your gum wrappers, and another for your sandwich bags. Where will it end?"
Where indeed? The deposit law passed and the world didn't end. The number of broken bottles in my neighborhood went to nearly zero (...admittedly I was living in a trailer park behind a booze store... .) The aweful spector of having to have separate containers for every kind of waste came not to pass. The sceptics were wrong.
I thought about that in trying to address this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:
"This week, find someone that doesn't recycle and help them get started. Perhaps a friend or neighbor doesn't know how ... so teach them. Maybe a family member doesn't know where to start ... so show them how easy is it to set something up. Look outside of your home and help someone else begin a recycling program."
Man, I was stumped!
I don't know anyone who doesn't recycle. Some of my friends and associates are more careful than others, but that's true in everything from driving cars to raising kids. Maybe therre are a few people so self-important that they don't take the time to toss their pop can in the "cans" bin, but these are few and far between, and their loutish behaviour is pretty much despised.
I thought about the places I went: stores, other businesses, libraries. All of them have recycling containers, perhaps because the cost of hauling recycling is a lot less than that of hauling waste, perhaps because they wish to attract the increasing number of customers who pay attention to green issues.
Either way, this evidence suggests that we have crossed a threshold: green is mainstream.
Environmental sceptics continue to decry the alleged high costs of fixing our planet. No doubt things can be done badly: there is no idea so great that it can't be screwed up in application.
But the history of the humble recycling container suggests that the sceptics are wrong.

Election Day: Open Post

Vote today, if you haven't already!

This post is a scrapbook of observations and links from today's election.

My niece reports casting her first ballot. Washington State went to all mail-in voting (with a few exceptions) this year, so we can take our time pondering the issues. She reportedly took a couple of hours to think it through carefully. Well done!

”kingKing County has a nice "I voted" badge. I hope counties do too. Go earn yours and display it with pride!

Twitter has a delightful #iVoted tag.

The Rossi whining has already begun. On a personal level, it's understandable; he lost in an insanely close race years ago, and that's gotta hurt. He blamed King County for his problem, which is a lot easier than admitting that when he sued, all the evidence submitted of voting irregularities pointed to a few Republicans (and one Libertarian) who'd cast illegal ballots (including one poor guy who cast his dead wife's ballot. She was a GOP PCO.) If you want people to believe you, Dino, you need to bring EVIDENCE!

That race spotlighted the need for reforms, such as a statewide database of voters. In 2008, only 2 out of several hundred thousand ballots cast in King County were unaccounted for, and in 2009 the record was perfect. So Rossi's free to exercise his right to sue if he loses ... although considering the flood of money he's getting from Karl Rove's secret donors, he's got a good shot at outpolling Patty Murray by demonizing her support for projects such as the Hansen dam repair ... but Patty Murray should welcome any evidence-based lawsuit. Facts have a well-known liberal bias.

Virus "HDDdefragmenter" found: open post

One of my computers has been infected with the HDDdefragmenter virus. It's a big pain! As I kill it off, I'll take notes here on how I did it.

First hint: if you get a message from ANYTHING called "HDDdefragmenter", you've got a problem. Do NOT cooperate with it. Fragmented drives ARE a problem, but this species of malware takes advantage of your natural and prudent desire to do something about it.

Steps I'm taking:
  • I googled for information.
  • I downloaded and ran StopZilla. No noticable effect except Stopzillan works the "dogpile toolbar" is infected; I authorized its recommended procedure. On reboot, same thing, that is, no progress..
  • I downloaded and ran AVG Identity Protection and ran it.
  • Scan is in progress
  • AVG reports some corrupted files and asked whether to quarantine or ignore. I'd prefer to have the option "squish messily dead" but settle for "quarantine".
  • I reboot machine.
  • Problem is still there: HDDdefragmenter gives me more fake warnings.
  • I open AVG dashboard, download virus updates, and run full scan. This took about half an hour, and found no problems. At the same time, HDDdefragmenter continues to send phoney error messages.
  • The computer is no longer connecting to the internet. Perhaps it's time to fry it and rebuild.
  • I left the machine unattended for a while and now it can't access the internet. Multiple boots, same problem.
  • I try purging old files, emptying wastebasket, reloading Windows 7
  • (Did I mention I have all my datafiles backed up to Carbonite? This gives me some confidence I'm not completely toast. Also, I have been relying on the cloud for file storage ... several email accounts have all my work)
  • Now Windows 7 is installed, but it doesn't connect to the wireless network. The network is fine (this laptop is accessing it) but the reloaded computer doesn't see it
  • I call the Costco Concierge (one of the benefits of buying the computer at Costco). They walk me thru a procedure for getting the drivers that are missing. I have to hook the computer up to the modem directly via cable, but otherwise it's just a question of point/click/wait over and over, until done.
  • The machine seems back to normal, except I need to reload my data from Carbonite. I don't want to do a full restore because I suspect at least one file is infected with that HDD thing (above). But I don't see a way to do this. Will it all be for naught?
  • After half a day, Carbonite has restored only about 800 files, less than 2%. And I'm concerned that it'll just restore the virus. So I stop the scan. I need to work
  • I reload Microsoft Office
  • I look for an antimalware solution, settling on Norton as being highly rated, and offering a 3-license pack, enough for the active machines in the house
  • When I try to buy Norton, it tries to peddle otherstuff by offering me a deal - two years at 220% or the price, with Norton Utilities 14.0 thrown in for free (I'm not I was paying $49.95 for one year and they offered two years at $115.95!) I remember Norton Utilities being really nice Way Back When so I was going to go for it, when my B.S. detector ran. In a separate window I research N.U. and didn't like what I found. I don't blame people for upselling but it is ELIMENTARY that the upsold product should be BETTER!
  • As I took the next step in the buying process, Norton threw something into my cart called "Download Insurance". WTF? I looked it up, and it was an even bigger scam than NU 14.0  Under ordinary circumstances, I would have cancelled the transaction right then, but, well, the malware protection I was buying *was* well-rated and the price was right ( we know why!) so I went ahead. But I'm not impressed.
  • The download was quick enough and I manually started a scan, then went to go make dinner.
  • When I came back, the screen was dark; when I tappd the mouse to see what's up, it was a Blue Screen of Death. WTF?
  • Restart, let Windows do its restore thing, now I'm back to a desktop. Dare I run Norton again?
Windows has been asking for n activation key for several days now, but it didn't accept the key on the sticker on the back of the machine. This is not entirely irrational bcause the Win 7 disk I got from MS for the laptop came as windows 7 pro whereas the computer came as windows 7 home premium.
I tried the Gateway Operating System Disc that came with the machine, putting it into the disc drive and running "setup"; it asked me if I wanted to reinstall the op[erating system and I said yes; it then said I did not have enough space on the system disc.
What appears to be the system disc is the E drive, which is "only" 100 MB, not enough to say "hello world!" with today's bloatware.
I noticed the os disc says it's windows vista, so I assume the product activation key wouldn't work anyway.


Monday, November 01, 2010

First Halloween in New Home!

The Narnia lamp got spooky!
Yesterday was our first Halloween in our new home. We decided to  haul out every bit of Halloween decor that had accumulated over the years, which was great silly fun. We covered the missing lens in the Narnia lamp with a thrift-store ghost for a very pleasing effec!

The weather cooperated and we got a couple of dozen trick-or-treaters. The first wave was of young kids. My favorite costume was a home-made knight's armor (with real cardboard close-face helm - very creative!) Later in the evening there was a wave of high-school kids. They were bold enough to grab several pieces of candy which was fine since the more for them, the less for us.

Can you tell: we're enjoying this neighborhood!

Hope Abides

There is always hope.

1. Victory is most easily attained by breaking the will of the enemies. The facists (I use this term in its technical sense; read a dictionary and you'll have to agree that's what the GOP has turned to) want to deny you hope, and their every effort is bent in that direction. Don't help them.

2. Polls based on landlines may be wrong; a solid get-out-the-vote effort could overturn the predicted return of the Know-Nothings to power in Congress and the subsequent two years of holding hearings on Obama's birth certificate, rather than on things that matter, such as global warming and jobs.

(If the Know-Nothings return to power, the people who will suffer the most are their own followers and I find rough justice in that; not hope per se but perhaps a little schadenfraude.)

3. Demographics. The GOP has come down squarely in favor of racist assaults on Hispanics, and this coupled with their history animus against blacks, Asians and Native Americans, are heading them toward minority status. Young people don't like GOP attacks on gays either. This effect has been masked by the domination of money in this election. Candidates such as Angle can outright refuse to answer any questions on matters of substance ... such as the foreign policy matters that are the special domain of the Senate ... because her allies run unlimited attack ads against her opponent, calculating that the loss of support among minorities will be offset by increased turnout among their fearful base. In the short run, they may be right but we whites will not be the majority forever.

4. Other nations will carry on our American ideals, as the United States dwindles in our domination of the world stage. In part this is an effect of the natural catching-up of everyone else, but it is also due to the squandering of the laborously accumulated wealth of the commons, built between the 1930s to 1980, by predators who accurately calculated that they could tap into that wealth, bit by bit. Perhaps when the predators have left our great nation a withered husk, they will move on to fatter targets and we can regain our freedom.

5. The human species is gaining in intelligence. I won't say individuals are, but as organizations we are vastly more able to share information and make informed decisions than ever before. This effect is masked as the aristocracy's privatized propaganda efforts are locally and temporarily successful but the species is learning.
Take, for example, the ACORN vs. Sherrod scandals. In both cases, faked video attempted to destroy good public servants to the advantage of the aristocracy. The first effort worked; the second failed (just barely) as the species, noting the earlier lie, investigated the new lie and squashed it before it did much harm. Now effectively everyone flags Breitbart's material as "unreliable"; he's still employable because "unreliable" is a positive qualification in many quarters, but only a fool would actually accept his word on any subject.

6. The human species is also gaining in emotional intelligence. The most important part of the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear is that the idea of sanity turned out to be very popular. Being afraid and unwilling to listen is not as popular as it once was.

There may be no way to persuade Beckists, who respond to poverty by saying "the poor should just find something to do", that this is an unrealistic attitude, fitting to a barbarian perhaps but unworthy of a civilization. The Know-Nothings can hurt our great nation badly, and will certainly try, just as they did in 1861 and 1929. But in the long run, they will fail, and the sooner if we respond to hostility not with more hostility, to fear with more fear; to violence with more violence; fearful angry violent people WANT a fearful angry violent response to confirm their POV.

So chin up! feel confidence, have a laugh.

There is hope.