Cuba

“Obama is in no way abusing his power as president in anything he’s doing here.”
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I agree. Our Cuban policy is a relic left over from containment, which is no longer relevant. Case and point, our second largest trading partner is China, so our position toward Cuba is totally hypocritical. Time for a change. Also, glad to see Rand Paul came out with support for the move.

Poll on Florida’s Amendment #2

A poll released Monday shows that 88 percent of Florida voters support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, bolstering the arguments of advocates who have placed a constitutional amendment on the November ballot seeking legalization.

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, indicates widespread support across political and demographic lines — Republicans and Democrats, men and women, young and old — for legal medical marijuana if it is prescribed by physicians. The constitutional amendment needs approval from 60 percent of voters to pass.

The Quinnipiac poll found that legal use of medical marijuana was supported by 93 percent of Democrats, 89 percent of independents and 80 percent of Republicans. It was supported by 92 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 and 84 percent of voters ages 65 and older.

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For me this comes down to the people’s right to individual freedom. Government shouldn’t have the power to interfere with the decisions people make about how they live their lives, provided your activities don’t negatively affect the people around you.

Snowden Backlash

It’s the institutions that need to demonstrate respect for the public they allegedly serve. If Snowden or any other American is skeptical of institutional power, it is not due to any personal failing on their part. The lack of respect is a direct outgrowth of the bad behavior of the nation’s institutions, behavior that has undermined Americans’ trust in them.

Link

Taxes go up in California again

* Raises California’s sales tax to 7.5% from 7.25%, a 3.45% percentage increase over current law
* Imposes a 10.3% tax rate on taxable income over $250,000 but less than $300,000
* Imposes an 11.3% tax rate on taxable income over $300,000 but less than $500,000
* Imposes a 12.3% tax rate on taxable income over $500,000 up to $1,000,000
* Imposes a 13.3% tax rate on taxable income over $1,000,000

I don’t think people who live there realize just how much they pay for the privilege. When I moved down to Florida I was blown away by the difference in cost of living, and the costs just keep going up. Not my problem! 🙂

Colorado’s Amendment 64

Pot legal in Colorado

Opponents warned that the law — despite its 21-year age minimum — would set Colorado and Washington on a collision course with the federal government and encourage teenagers to use marijuana. It is still unclear how much will change. The streets here in Denver and across Colorado are already lined with shops, their windows decorated with green crosses and pot leaves, advertising all-natural plant treatments and herbal health aids.

We have a similar scene here in Florida, only it’s not pot these stores sell, it’s liquor. The “health aids” advertising is simply a side effect of how these initiatives get introduced, Colorado has had medical marijuana laws for some time now. In the end, it all comes down to individual rights. Congrats to voters in my home state, they did the right thing.

Another election goes by

Another election, another government that won’t be able to fix anything.

In 2007, the federal government came close to balancing its budget – the deficit that year was 161 billion. At that time the outstanding public debt (debt we have to service through interest payments) was 4.9 trillion dollars.

Fast forward through the insanity of 2008 through 2012. Now we have public debt equaling 11.4 trillion, and a budget deficit for the fiscal year of around 1.2 trillion.

Today we have two political parties, neither of which has a solution to above problem. If you turned the entire problem over to either party, they wouldn’t be able to fix it. Take for example the looming fiscal cliff which entails tax increases on the rich, middle class, and poor, including payroll taxes, income taxes, and investment taxes, from two different administrations (one democratic, one republican), and spending cuts in the systems both parties hold dear – entitlements and defense.

The total annual revenue generated by these changes – between 500 and 700 billion dollars. So even if we jump off the cliff, we still walk away with 500-700 billion dollar budget deficit.

One thing I think we can count on – neither party will let this happen. There is one thing these two groups can agree on, the best solution is to kick the can down the road some more.

So now let’s fast forward four years. 1.2 billion dollar annual deficits continue and the public debt continues to grow. At the current rate, we’ll add an additional ~3 trillion in serviceable debt, assuming we don’t hit another recession, which is entirely likely over the next four years. I’d say the odds are good we’ll add at least 4 trillion, give or take a few hundred billion.

So where are we in four years?

Serviceable debt increases to 15.4 trillion. The work force will have continued to decline thanks to the baby boomers hitting retirement. Social security continues to eat away more than it takes in. Medicare costs continue to rise around 6% each year… and the kicker –

The historical mean for serviceable debt in cases where FED interest rates aren’t zero bound is around 4%-5%, and the average maturity is around six years.

Under these conditions, we would see our debt service increase by around 500-600 billion. In 2007 our debt service was 250 billion.

If you go back to 2007 and add an additional 500-600 billion – we would have run a budget deficit between 650 and 750 billion dollars. This was under a republican president, with a democratic congress. Raising taxes on the rich doesn’t fix this. Lower defense spending by a few hundred billion doesn’t fix this. Cutting discretionary spending doesn’t fix this. Cutting entitlement spending doesn’t fix this.

The last congess had the chance to address this, it was called Bowles-Simpson, but nobody got behind the deal, including the current president. There’s no reason what so ever to expect a change of heart with a 2% popular vote split.

I don’t really know what will happen, but I’m not going to sit idly buy and hope for the best. You shouldn’t either.

Netgear WN3000 Universal WiFi Range Extender Review

Short summary: I can’t get this thing to work and will likely return it. Updated, it’s sort of working now. See updates below.

This is unfortunate because the device has most of the features I was looking for – easy router config and connect, MAC address filtering, and all the normal forms of connection encryption.

I was unsuccessful in connecting an XBox 360 and two different tablets (Win8 and Android). All devices failed to aquire an I.P. address. The extender also does something funky with virtual mac addresses I was never able to figure out. (Speaking of which, what the heck is a virtual mac address? The internet doesn’t have a good definition.) Another complaint, the web based admin interface seemed buggy, clicking on the main sectional nav links didn’t spin the throbber in my browser, and sometimes the interface I selected simply didn’t come up. One last complaint, the documentation through the web based admin interface wasn’t very good. One of those classic cases where the person who wrote the docs didn’t have good english skills.

Overall Netgear has a useful little device here if they work out the connection problems. The device had strong signal from various parts of my house, it connected to my WPS router with zero effort, and it had the security features I wanted. However getting a pc, tablet, or xbox connected to it should “just work”. It didn’t, and the support docs and support web site were of little help.

Update – I managed to get this working by performing a system reset. Basically, plug the device in, wait for green lights, then hit the device reset button using a paperclip. I then went through the same process of getting it connected to my router using WPS. After which I was able to connect via a Windows 7 laptop and the XBox 360. (However, I received a warning from the xbox about NAT issues which concerns me. Does this device have issues with UPnP?) Also, the xbox test connection process was very slow. I’ll run with this for a bit and see how things go. If the connection speeds are bad or I have issues with games, I’ll likely still ditch the unit. Linksys sells a similar model, I might try that product out if the Netgear extender totally fails to impress.

Update 2 – More connection problems, this time with an android tablet. The tablet connects and attempts to get an IP address which it seems to accomplish, but then it immediately loses the address, and attempts again. This cycle goes on continually. With all the issues I’ve had, I think in the end this device is going to be a waste of money. I am not impressed.

I did figure out the virtual mac address thing – the device maps a virtual address to the address of a device connected to it. If you use mac address filtering you’ll need to set up filters for both addresses on your router and the device itself. Kind of a pain really, since you have to maintain two lists. For devices connected to the extender, you’ll need to add the device address and then add the virtual address to your router. If you want to be able to connect to both access points simply add both addresses to both lists.

PRO:
1) easy router set up
2) mac address filtering and encryption

CON:
1) major issues with getting clients connected
2) Mysterious NAT warning on the xbox
3) Android connection cycling
4) buggy web based administration interface
5) crummy web site support