Blog Archive

2017-04-17

Dreaded Taxes [UPDATED] - by Rev. J.T. Smith

It's that season again: Tax season.  No one likes having to pay them.  And whenever we hear politicians promise to somehow cut or lower them, we instinctively love the idea.

Then again, we don't like having to pay for things like phone bills, car repairs, rent/mortgage, or any of the other bills that keep our needs met either.  Unfortunately, if you don't pay the phone bill, then no phone service for you.  Don't spend the money on the car repairs and maintenance?  Then you're out a working car.  (This becomes an even bigger issue if you live in a rural area with no available public transportation.)  Don't pay rent/mortgage?  Then you're either rich, living with very understanding friends/relatives, or you're homeless.

The problem is that the same concept also applies to taxes as they are in fact what pays for all of the services that are all too often taken for granted: Police/fire/emergency services, roads and their accouterments and maintenance, public schools, et al.  And the taxes are meant to ensure that all of us chip in, thus lowering the cost per individual.  As usual, we have politicians who are looking to privatize all those services in order to “lower taxes.”  The fact is that the wealthy want to lower their own taxes, at the expense of everyone else.  It's similar to the concept of “trickle-down economics.”  While it might sound good on the surface, the reality is quite different as history has demonstrated that those latter ideas simply don't work.  By privatizing what would otherwise be public services, we’re effectively paying more money for what amounts to less services as that is what allows the corporations to make more money, and the bottom line of profits will always matter far more to corporate America than people’s lives.  And the politicians who push for privatization are really in the pockets of those corporations and the exceptionally wealthy through the lobbyists who are metaphorically whispering in their ear.






This can be changed, it can be fixed.  Sadly, it won’t happen overnight; but, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  We need people in every level of government who want and are willing to push for tax reforms that forces those who can afford it (e.g. earn/receive $300,000 per year or more) to pay more in taxes in that they have more available to pay, as opposed to always sticking the working poor with the bill as is done now.  Not only those wealthy people, but  corporations also need to pay their share.  “Each and every year, we lose $100 billion in revenue because large corporations and the wealthy are stashing their profits in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other offshore tax havens.  That has got to stop.” [Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt)]  What's more, as Senator Sanders has also noted: “At a time when we now spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we can make judicious cuts in our armed forces without compromising our military capability.” 





Really, cutting America's military spending in half, which would still result in greater spending than the next top three countries combined, along with forcing corporations and the super-rich to pay their fair share of taxes including on all of the money they have tucked away in other countries, would easily cover the social safety net, the desperately needed infrastructure repairs, the salaries for emergency services, fully fund top notch public education as well as college tuition, and still have money available to lift everyone in this country out of poverty.


























A very strong message that we must send to every level of government, especially to those politicians who constantly cry about government spending, is that the Government is not a for profit business but is rather a non-profit organization that is meant to serve ALL citizens regardless of age, biological gender, gender expression, transgender, skin colour, ethnic background, physical ability or disability, sexual orientation, or any other grouping of citizens we might think of that I've missed.


We can begin to bring about the changes needed by first making certain our voter registrations are up to date.  When election time comes around again (Presidential, Congressional, Gubernatorial, Mayoral, etc., et. al.), we vote in those who would push for and through the above mentioned changes in taxation practices.  In the interim between voting cycles, we can still band together and push for change.  Join local activist groups or start your own.  Write letters to the editor, write and sign petitions.  And follow the advice of Hillary Clinton when she said at National Partnership's 2012 Annual Luncheon on June 26, 2012, “Get organized, get involved, and don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.”




 

by Rev. J.T. Smith

2017-04-16

Hey Star Wars Fans, "Traveling through hyperspace isn't like dusting crops, boy!" - A message from Rev. J.T. Smith

Everyone who's a fan of Star Wars knows the [in]famous quote from Han Solo about the Kessel Run:


And ever since everyone and their cousin harps about how a parsec is a measure of distance, not time,

And yet the die hard Star Wars fans completely miss the importance of a seemingly unrelated Han Solo quote:


This matters to the topic of the Kessel Run.  What apparently every astrophysicist fan of Star Wars has either failed to remember or failed to shout loud enough, is that is EVERY celestial body in the universe is in constant motion in relation to each other, and they're all in motion at different speeds thanks to their interconnected gravitational forces.  All of this combined makes for an ever changing maze of hazards.  A fact that was reflected in the entire quote:

Han Solo: "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?"

Traveling through hyperspace only LOOKS like they're traveling in a straight line.  In reality, it's more like the astrographic/gravitational equivalent of driving at high speeds along an American Interstate highway (ignoring the exit ramps, obviously) or the autobahn (same deal with the exit ramps).  The best navicomputer will calculate the shortest route because the shortest workable route will be the fastest route.



The above is especially true if every ship in Star Wars travels through hyperspace at the same speed.  If you notice, not once in the Star Wars movies is there a speed reference through hyperspace analogous to Star Trek's warp factor 1 - 9.99.

So yes, a parsec is a measure of distance and not time; but, if you realize that "as the bird flies" doesn't apply in interstellar travel then you'll realize that the shortest distance required to get from point A to point B means you'll make the trip in a shorter amount of time.





- Rev. J.T. Smith

2017-04-14

Batteries Are A Bad Idea For Fueling Vehicles by Rev. J.T. Smith



I am in no way supporting Big Oil with what I'm about to say as petrol as a fuel is an environmental disaster.  There is no denying that at all.

That said, batteries are not the right way to go either for several reasons.

One of which is that batteries all wear out eventually.  Just look to your mobile phone and you'll realize this.  Then again, far too many feel a desperate need to always have the latest and greatest product and update their mobile phone every year or so.  A fact that manufacturers don't only realize but actively count on and encourage this behaviour.  Consumerism at all costs.  Great for the bottom lines of corporations around the world but utter shit for the environment.

Car companies, including Tesla, are counting on this short-sighted behaviour too.  Though of course they won't admit it as that would be bad for sales.

One of the more subtle ways of encouraging this is to place in the instructions that come with the device, including electric cars, the notion that batteries supposedly no longer develop a memory the way nickle-cadmium [Ni-Cad] batteries used to so you should recharge them once they drop to 15% rather than run them flat first before recharging.  They tell you this, not because they really want you to get the most life out of your battery (FYI, there's zero profit in it for corporations for you to not have to replace the batteries sooner!), but because they want to sell you more batteries and/or a new device sooner.

These days, the only thing that's kept around longer than the rechargeable batteries that run them are vibrators.  Then again, a dead vibrator is still a dildo. 

Now, I grant that lithium ion [Li-Ion] batteries don't develop a memory the way that Ni-Cad ones did, they do still develop that memory only over a longer period of time.  Longer enough, the manufacturers figure, that you'll be throwing out your old device and replacing it with a new one before the battery will no longer hold a charge.  But if you really want your rechargeable batteries to actually last as long as they can before they're permanently dead, then you should always run them until they're flat before you recharge them and you should recharge them until they're fully recharged before using them again.

In the meantime there's still the matter of the fact that it still takes hours to fully recharge a battery from flat (the more powerful the batteries, the longer it takes to recharge them); and as noted earlier, if you don't run the battery to flat prior to fully recharging completely you will shorten the total overall life of the battery.  (This is the end result of the aforementioned memory.)  I know this for a fact by taking two identical modern mobile phones (I inadvertently got two identical handsets, one from each of two people, due to my previous mobile phone dying completely after 4 years of service, and I kept the second as a backup) and ran the first one battery to flat every time prior to fully recharging.  That handset started getting a bit worn so I started using the second handset fresh from the box.  Only with the second handset I decided to go against my better judgement and started recharging every day or so regardless of how low the battery was.  The end result was that the battery of the second handset ended up needing to be recharged as often after one year as the first one did after two hours.  Now, neither handset will last 24 hours before going flat. And unlike Top Gear, who would fake things to get their end result, I didn't fake any of it.  That's because batteries typically lose approximately 80% of their capacity after a couple of years.

Regardless, if you do decide to keep your electric vehicle for long enough, you'll have to deal with the battery.  While some companies like Nissan are trying to make it that you would only have to replace a bad cell rather than the entire battery replace the entire battery, it's currently more common and more likely that your dealer won't be the ones to deal with individual cells; so you'll still end up having to replace the battery outright to keep that car going the way petrol fueled vehicles can currently.  At which point you have a piece of trash that still contains components that still can't be recycled; and that, in turn, continues to have a toxic environmental impact.  Yes, more of the components can be recycled, but the cost of lithium is low right now because the relative demand is low currently, but that'll change over time.  And all of this presumes you'll still be able to get a matching replacement battery when the time comes, anyway.

I fully acknowledge the fact that petrol fuel is an environmental disaster, but one of the advantages of a liquid fuel is that as long as the engine/motor still uses that fuel then it doesn't matter what shape the fuel tank takes as long as it fits into the hull of the vehicle.  And replacing a liquid fuel tank is a lot cheaper than replacing the battery on an electric vehicle.  And one of the beautiful things about classic cars is that we can still drive them now, decades after they were manufactured.  If the trend of throwing away battery operated devices, either as soon as or before the batteries will no longer hold a charge, then things like classic car shows will be a thing of the past.  Classic car shows aren't  singing the praises of Big Oil; they're showcases of lasting and durable engineering and works of art created from metals.

Even more troubling than the technical issues, there's still the slave labour and environmental problems inherent in the manufacture of batteries.

We would do far better with a hybrid car consisting of a hydrogen fuel cell backed up with solar panels.  But thanks to irrational fears due to a misunderstanding of just what downed the Hindenburg, it'll be a long time before this is more widely accepted.  And thanks to current economics, it'll be cheaper to replace an entire vehicle than only the battery when the battery can no longer hold a charge.  Batteries are a stopgap measure at best.

by  Rev. J.T. Smith