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Gender: Male
Hometown: San Diego/Ca/Nuevo Pacifica
Home country: U.S. of A.
Current location: Planet Earth
Member since: Mon Aug 20, 2012, 03:39 PM
Number of posts: 7,504

Journal Archives

The Big Reason Why Agents and Editors Often Stop Reading

The Big Reason Why Agents and Editors Often Stop Reading
As a reader, a writer, and an agent, I read thousands of stories a year—or at least the opening pages of thousands of stories. And, all other things being equal, the reason I most often stop reading is a lack of narrative thrust.

Narrative thrust is the taut building of story, beat by beat, scene by scene, chapter by chapter, using the complexities of plot and character to propel the story forward in a dramatic arc that peaks at the climax. You must write each scene so that it leads logically to the next, as if you were connecting a model train, car by car, presenting story questions as you proceed down the track, pushing the action forward to its inevitable, if unpredictable, ending.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Tue Nov 24, 2015, 10:13 AM (6 replies)

Social Security: Summary of Major Changes in the Cash Benefits Program

How we do things in our system is important. While researching on line to show how Social Security was not the magnificent program form day 1, that we improved it over time, I discovered this. It is a great historical document.
Social Security: Summary of Major Changes in the Cash Benefits Program
Title II of the original Social Security Act of 1935 established a national plan designed to provide economic security for the nation's workers. The system of Old-Age Insurance it created provided benefits to individuals who were age 65 or older and who had "earned" retirement benefits through work in jobs covered by the system. Benefits were to be financed by a payroll tax paid by employees and their employers on wages up to a base amount (then $3,000 per year). Monthly benefits were to be based on cumulative wages in covered jobs. The law related the amount of the benefit to the amount of a worker's total wages covered by the program, but the formula was weighted to give a greater return, on payroll taxes paid, to low-wage earners. Before the Old-Age Insurance program was actually in full operation, the 1939 amendments shifted the emphasis of Social Security, from protection of the individual worker to protection of the family, by extending monthly benefits to workers' dependents and survivors. The program now provided Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI).

For most of the history of Social Security in the following decades, changes to the program were ones of expansion. Coverage of workers became nearly universal (the only large groups remaining outside the system being employees of state and local government who have not chosen to join the system and federal workers who were hired before 1984). Congress established the Disability Insurance (DI) program in 1956, and, for aged and disabled Social Security recipients, the Medicare program in 1965. Both these programs were financed in whole or in part by additions to the payroll tax rate, which increased periodically, from 1.0% of pay on employees and employers, each, in the 1937-1949 period, to its present level of 7.65%. The types of recipients eligible for benefits were expanded over the years, and benefit levels were increased periodically. In 1972, legislation provided that, beginning in 1975, benefits would rise by the same percentage as the cost-of-living.

Beginning in the late 1970s, legislative action regarding Social Security became more concentrated on solving persistent financing problems. The OASDI trust funds would have been exhausted in the early 1980s if legislation had not been enacted in 1977 raising taxes and curtailing future benefit growth. In 1983, Congress passed additional major legislation that restored solvency to the OASDI program. Recently, worsening projections of financial shortfalls (in 2023 in the DI program, 2037 in OASI and DI combined) again have refocused attention on the solvency of the program. The most recent enacted legislation has provided increased incentives for disabled recipients to return to work, and has repealed the earnings test for recipients above the full retirement age.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Sat Nov 21, 2015, 11:37 AM (1 replies)

Guys in thousand dollar suits worried about people living from paycheck to paycheck

Be still my fucking heart.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Oct 28, 2015, 07:39 PM (2 replies)

These Florida Tea Partiers plan to set up a secret vigilante court to arrest — and possibly execute

These Florida Tea Partiers plan to set up a secret vigilante court to arrest — and possibly execute — Obama
Florida county is considering changes to its charter review board after two elected members have focused on punishing political enemies through extralegal tactics instead of government business.

The Sarasota County charter review board typically proposes minor changes to the county charter when they meet three times a year, but critics say two of its members — Pat Wayman and Steven R. Fields — have been using their positions to usurp authority from other elected officials, reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The pair have voted to establish a “people’s common law grand jury,” which sovereign citizens and other anti-government extremists have proposed to investigate and prosecute government officials for treason — which, as they frequently point out, carries a potential death penalty.


“A people’s common law grand jury can, without any probable cause, go into any nook or cranny of government — local, state or federal — research anything that’s going on and root out corruption,” Dowdell said. “We want to government to recognize the contract we call the constitution, and start obeying the law. It’s very simple.”

You think you've the craziest thing anyone can consider, and, bam, this comes up.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Oct 21, 2015, 03:41 PM (28 replies)

Scientists find link between comet, asteroid showers and mass extinctions

Scientists find link between comet, asteroid showers and mass extinctions
For more than 30 years, scientists have argued about a controversial hypothesis relating to periodic mass extinctions and impact craters -- caused by comet and asteroid showers -- on Earth.

In their MNRAS paper, Michael Rampino, a New York University geologist, and Ken Caldeira, a scientist in the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, offer new support linking the age of these craters with recurring mass extinctions of life, including the demise of the dinosaurs. Specifically, they show a cyclical pattern over the studied period, with both impacts and extinction events taking place every 26 million years.

This cycle has been linked to periodic motion of the Sun and planets through the dense mid-plane of our galaxy. Scientists have theorized that gravitational perturbations of the distant Oort comet cloud that surrounds the Sun lead to periodic comet showers in the inner solar system, where some comets strike Earth.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Oct 21, 2015, 11:58 AM (10 replies)

CIA Debunks Gowdy’s Allegation That Clinton Email Contained Classified CIA Source

CIA Debunks Gowdy’s Allegation That Clinton Email Contained Classified CIA Source
Oct 18, 2015
| Press Release

Cummings Calls on Gowdy to Apologize to Clinton

WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy to correct the public record after the CIA debunked Chairman Gowdy’s accusation that Secretary Clinton sent an email containing "some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but human lives.”

The full letter is online here and as follows:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On October 7, 2015, you sent me a 13-page letter making a grave new accusation against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Specifically, you accused her of compromising national security and endangering lives.

The problem with your accusation—as with so many others during this investigation—is that you failed to check your facts before you made it, and the CIA has now informed the Select Committee that you were wrong. I believe your accusations were irresponsible, and I believe you owe the Secretary an immediate apology.

It appears that your letter was rushed out to the press to counter the public firestorm caused by Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s stark admission that Republicans are using millions of taxpayer dollars to damage Secretary Clinton’s bid for president. However, your letter only provided further evidence of this fact.

No one should be surprised that Gowdy is a scum sucking bag of feculent frog testicles.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Mon Oct 19, 2015, 09:14 AM (0 replies)

When the story starts with a falsehood, in the first sentence,

The rest can not be trusted.
The server was not on her basement.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Fri Oct 16, 2015, 02:07 PM (0 replies)

The CNN Democratic debate transcript, annotated

The CNN Democratic debate transcript, annotated
Tuesday night, five candidates participated in the first Democratic debate: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee. We've posted the transcript below, with insight from the crew here at The Fix as well as the Fact Checker's Michelle Lee.

Click or tap the highlighted part of the transcript to see an annotation; if you would like to leave your own annotations, make sure you have a Genius account. Post staff annotations will appear by default; others are in a menu that you can see in the upper right when you click or tap on an annotation.

To kick off the debate, Anderson Cooper introduced himself, Juan Carlos Lopez, Dana Bash, and Don Lemon. Cooper then welcomed each candidate to the stage.

If we are going to discuss what they said, this makes it easier to do right.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Oct 15, 2015, 05:58 PM (0 replies)

Singing while black: Oakland choir threatened with ‘nuisance’ fines after tech workers enter

Singing while black: Oakland choir threatened with ‘nuisance’ fines after tech workers enter neighborhood
embers of a black church choir are blaming an influx of affluent tech workers for their group facing thousands of dollars in fines.

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in West Oakland received a cease-and-desist letter from the city threatening them with $500 a day in fines plus a $3,500 nuisance fee, CBS San Francisco reports. Church members believe the sudden complaints about the choir are due to the fact the area is becoming gentrified.

“Kind of hard to believe because we’ve been here about 65 years in the community and all of a sudden we get some concerns about the noise,” Thomas A Harris III, the pastor at Pleasant Grove, told the local CBS station.

The church just happens to be in a neighborhood full of the Victorian homes that characterize the Bay Area, and they’re being snapped up by wealthy tech industry workers, church officials told CBS.

“Those persons who are just new arrivals should not come and try to change the culture that existed before they arrived here,” George Holland, president of the local NAACP branch, told CBS. “We cannot have people come attack churches about music.”

Gentrification is a problem in many formerly minority neighborhoods that have become new enclaves of the affluent.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Oct 15, 2015, 05:51 PM (2 replies)

Just how do we break up the big banks. Anti-trust laws are unlikely to be addquate to the jog.

The question was asked in another post about the consequences of breaking up the big banks. While thinking about how to phrase that answer in pleasant way, I assumed that Anti-trust laws would be used. The Attorney General could do that job through the courts and it would be unnecessary to deal with an intransigent Congress. The problem I've found is that the sources I see all hold anti-trust laws as inadequate to breaking up the big banks.

I am neither a lawyer nor an economist. I don't play one on television. I do not have the money to stay and Holiday Inn Express.

Son anyone with any expertise, or even an opinion, chime in on how we break up the big banks.

Can antitrust laws break up big banks?

Breaking Up Big Banks
The idea of breaking up big banks to make them smaller has support from some influential people. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D–Ohio), who serves on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, said that “Sanford Weill is one of many banking industry experts who have observed that too big to fail is often too big to manage.” Sheila Bair, the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, agrees with Weill. “I think these banks are too big to manage centrally. They’re too big to regulate, and they don’t produce good shareholder value, either. There’s a lot of value to be had if they were broken up,” Bair said.

I believe that new laws must be passed by Congress to carry out the goal of making banks smaller. As a practical matter, the current antitrust laws can’t be stretched to do the job. The new legislation could be simple: The scope of the antitrust laws could be expanded with relatively few added sentences.

Unfortunately, it is more likely that any new legislation will follow the modern style and be complex, involving modifications of the massive Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The large and complicated Dodd–Frank statute, signed into law on July 21, 2010, in response to the nation’s recent financial crisis, has as its primary goals increasing financial stability of banks and avoiding systemic risks to the national economy. Reducing bank size or serving competition goals is simply not the main point.

And from "The Economist View"
Using Anti-Trust Law to Break Up Banks that are Too Big to Fail
Simon Johnson wants to apply anti-trust laws to financial markets and use it to break up banks that are too big too fail. More vigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws is something I've been pushing here for a long time, and as I explain below I agree with this idea, but as I understand it, current anti-trust law is inadequate for this task (particularly on dimensions such as connectedness and systemic risk). So it will likely take Congressional action before we can proceed.

The reason for bringing this up is that I want to amend remarks I made in the past. I have said that there is no single villain in this crisis, no one person, not one change in the law, etc., that caused this. It was a combination of things. But as I think about it more and more, I'm not so sure. The reason? According to the story I've been telling about why the crisis happened, there were incentive failures at just about every step in the process. Homeowners had no recourse loans giving them one way bets on home values, real estate agents are paid in a way that causes them to maximize the value of sales, mortgage brokers faced no long-run consequences from bad loans, real estate appraisers had incentives to validate sales, ratings agencies were paid by the people whose assets were being rated, CEOs and upper level management had incentives to maximize something other than shareholder value, there was a lack of transparency giving insiders an advantage, it goes on and on.There is not a single step in the process that wasn't compromised by an incentive or market failure of some type.

Looking at this at first, I concluded that it was all of these things, and more, that caused the crisis, and that it could have been stopped at any one of these steps. Had anyone at any one of the steps from the sale of the house to the complex securities traded in the shadow banking system said no, we're not doing that, the money could not have kept flowing through the system and blowing up the bubble. For example, if the mortgage brokers would have taken personal losses on mortgages that later went bad, they might have refused to finance them, and the money could not have been passed upwards to the shadow banking system where it caused such big problems. But instead, the brokers simply passed the contracts along, sliced and diced as necessary, to the next person in the finance chain.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Oct 15, 2015, 05:05 PM (8 replies)
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