Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beware W10 Upgrade

Like last years "upgrade" MS again messes everything up. Printers down, software needs re-configuring, and all the "goodies" must be manually disabled. In my opinion these are truly evil folks. All I want is my computer to run what I use it for. No games, just work. Is there any way that these demons can just stop it! An operating system is really simple, did one fifty years ago. Okay, a bit more complicated, but folks, stop it with all the crashes!

Hint: Stop any "upgrades". Unless you really like spending days fixing what they did.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Letter on Tax Proposals

Senator Cory Booker
359 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Booker,

Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen
2306 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3011

Dear Congressman Frelinghuysen,

As a constituent I would like to give my opinion regarding the proposed Tax Plan. Specifically as relates to deductions.

Local Taxes and Real Estate Taxes are by Personal Choice

Despite the high tax burden in New Jersey for both income and real estate taxes, I and many people have made that choice. That is especially so for those in high income brackets for whom this tax is discretionary. If I do not like it I can move. Lower income people do not benefit from this deduction, especially given the proposed increase in the standard deduction. Thus, any elimination of this would not benefit the wealthier but the contrary.

Charitable Deductions Benefit the Wealthy. They are by choice and all too often are Government subsidized ego trips.

Charitable deductions are also discretionary. The new tax proposal allows them. They benefit the wealth. The allow for the pyramids built in the names of donors and via complex tax benefits allow near in write offs while sheltering significant incomes. Now I make substantial donations primarily to cancer research. However I do so anonymously and would continue to do so no matter what the tax situation is. Many however want their names in lights as well and benefitting from this deduction. Thus, charitable deductions benefit the wealthy much more than anyone else. The benefits are both financial and ego building. Ego gratification should not be subsidized by the tax payer. Especially the poorer ones who cannot even afford healthcare.

Medical Expense Deductions Dramatically Burden the Poorer and are Highly Regressive. They are not by choice but are true calamities.

As a result of the ACA I have seen healthcare costs explode for the middle class. Ballooning insurance and exploding deductions. Then along comes a medical crisis and the costs truly explode because none of the plans provide truly catastrophic coverage. People and families suffering a health crises now face a financial crisis. I have seen many family and patients die of this disease and have seen the financial burden that they have had to bear. 

Yes it happens that the new tax proposal will take this away from these poor people while allowing the rich to maintain massive healthcare plans paid for with tax deductible dollars at the corporate level and getting massive deductions for their "charitable" yet ego building deductions. Here the poor are truly underwriting the rich! Frankly this is grossly immoral and reflects in my opinion the total disconnection between the current administrations financial analysts and the real world. Goldman Sachs has not clue how a truck driver lives. A child gets Hodgkin's disease or leukemia and they are driven to bankruptcy. I have seen this again and again. While this is happening the rich and their "donations" go to fine dinners and tell each other how wonderful they are.

Entrepreneurial Capital Gains and Hedge Funds do not Equate

I have spent several decades in venture capital. I have personally started and developed near a dozen companies and have invested in and overseen a total of thirty-five. In all cases I not only took the financial risk but conceived of the idea, structured the company, raised capital, operated the entity and monetized the result. Hedge funds are merely financial intermediaries. The entrepreneur is wedded to their concept and creation, twenty four hours a day. The hedge fund operator may at best attend a board meeting and collect a check. As such the tax code should incent the entrepreneur and tax the hedge fund operator as normal income.

Not only do we have the above problems in the Administration's proposal, but the wealthy would  get the benefit of eliminating the Estate Tax. The poor would see no benefit there, nor would the middle class. The middle class clearly bear the burden of this proposal and those 1% folks get a massive tax cut, paid for by the Middle Class. I feel this to be grossly immoral.

I am asking that you consider my concerns as not just those of a single constituent but reflective of the many who cannot voice what they face. Medical Expense should be inviolate. It is the least that we as a society can do for those in need. The others are by choice. If you keep one, just one, keep the Medical Expense for the millions who will benefit during times of need.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Programmers and Programming: Getting a Package

There is this push to have everyone learn to code. Frankly that is wrong. The issue is to have everyone learn to think. Take as an example UPS and their on-line system. Now if you have a delivery and a number for tracking you can go on-line and hold the delivery, for a fee of course, until a later date. Sounds good? No.

What they do then is hold every delivery, not just the one you asked and paid for and they then charge you this modest fee for each and every one. A massive amount you never thought about.

Then you try their on-line remedy. It comes back and says you cannot use them you must go back to the web page and use the command that got you there in the first place and thus an infinite loop.

The code is all correct. It does what some human told it to do. But, and this is the key issue, the human had no idea how other humans use the system. Namely the human did not think.

Coding is not what has to be inculcated in our students. Thinking is. That is the hard part. There are four parts to developing software.

First, the requirements. What do you want done and why.

Second, the design of the process to ensure it does what is required under all anticipated conditions and in the event it does not it hands the system to a human to remedy and then reiterates this back to the designers for a change.

Third, coding. That is the old typist role. Just type in the required steps.

Fourth, the fault checking. This is the hard part. You spend time finding all your mistakes; coding and logical. You seek all the things that can go wrong. Then FIX them.

Of course you then do this again and again. You need smart people, and it is often a burn out job. But if you want your business to succeed then you must do this. If you do not do this then you have a real problem. Look at UPS. In my opinion they are not only clueless but careless. Why the Post Office is even better, now!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Obesity and Cancer

The CDC has released a report on obesity and cancer. In its MMWR they provide some details. They note:

Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk of 13 types of cancer. These cancers account for about 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overall, the rate of new cancer cases has decreased since the 1990s, but increases in overweight- and obesity-related cancers are likely slowing this progress. About 630,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with a cancer associated with overweight and obesity in 2014. About 2 in 3 occurred in adults 50- to 74-years-old. The rates of obesity-related cancers, not including colorectal cancer, increased by 7 percent between 2005 and 2014. The rates of non-obesity related cancers declined during that time.

This is not a startling new fact. Ten years ago when discussing changes in Healthcare financing, I wrote extensively about this. Obesity drives up free radicals and free radicals result in both methylation and BRCA and PARP repair defects. Thus massive DNA errors and in turn many malignancies. It would be of interest to see how many X rays would equal a certain BMI in terms of cancer risks. But that notwithstanding, we now accept the risk of cancer from obesity.

But the real problem is that we penalize pre-existing conditions but not obesity. Those who are obese will soon be costing us trillions. That is real money and money we do not have. The real-real problem is that many of these obese are young people. One need just walk into any shopping mall or airport and one sees them all over. Worse, in looking at hurricane relief efforts, there is massive obesity in those being rescued, and worse yet in many of the first responders. This will lead to massive healthcare burdens as time goes by. Furthermore these burdens can be chronic thus burdening the system for long periods.

To again reference the MMWR:

Overweight- and obesity-related cancers accounted for 40% of all cancers diagnosed in 2014, and varied substantially across demographic groups. Endometrial, ovarian, and postmenopausal female breast cancers accounted for 42% of new cases of overweight-and obesity-related cancers in 2014, which is reflected in the higher overall incidence of overweight- and obesity-related cancers among females. For cancers that occurred among both males and females, however, the incidence of most cancers was higher in males.

 This problem demands some response. Now.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Weapons are a complex technology to assemble then add to it a delivery system such as an ICBM and you have a technology which takes expertise that exceeds what most nations have. Russia got its head start by use of spies in the Manhattan Project. China via Russia. Now we have North Korea and we wonder.

The tables below depict at a high level the elements of an ICBM nuclear weapon. It is a real high level but raises questions. The entries are based upon my assessment of the potentials and can be referenced back to multiple reliable sources. (For example see: The Los Alamos Primer, Serber, Univ. Cal Press, 1992) The entries reflect my personal opinion based upon my prior exposure during the CTBT discussions in the late 1970s.

These Tables depict the high level elements of such an integrate system. I have not done work in this since the late 70s on the CTBT with the Soviets but one suspects that not a great deal has changed.  

The question is; has our Government entities performed such an analysis and if so then one suspects that the threat can be mitigated by asserting who supplied what. North Korea is incapable of many of the elements needed. Just not enough people or lacking in fundamental elements. Thus a threat from them is athreat from those facilitating them.

It is worth an analysis. So where is the press on this one?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

New Jersey Gets No Respect

As usual, the NY Times has a piece degrading something, this time it is New Jersey. The writer states:

Anyone who has ever driven on the New Jersey Turnpike knows that, at a certain point in the road, the entire Manhattan skyline appears to rise from the surrounding marshland like a close-yet-so-far Land of Oz, both tempting and terrorizing with its mysterious jutting cutouts. To traverse this roadway, as ... surely did as a young man, was undoubtedly to exist in a constant state of aspiration and alienation. No matter one’s personal glories, for those who call New Jersey home, and especially those who reside in Northern New Jersey, it’s difficult to forget that one is still not from “the city,” as the landmass across the river is known. Overcompensation tends to follow. Blind arrogance is an occasional byproduct.

Now I was not born nor bred in New Jersey. It was Staten Island, and yes for those in the rest of NY City Staten Island is a Borough and is NYC! Thus I was born and bred, whatever that means, in New York City. I did spend time in New Jersey, riding my bike across the old Goethals Bridge, down to Route 1 and out to the old Newark Airport, Lockheed Constellations and all. We did have a ferry to NYC, and a ferry to Brooklyn. No one really ever went to Brooklyn, it was also a little ferry, and an ugly one at that, not the grand ferry to Manhattan.

Residing in Northern New Jersey is also interesting. You see that from the Morris County line to the California border, county by county, it voted Republican. Not saying that it was all Republican but it is interesting to note the dramatic difference.

The above mentioned article, an ad hominem attack on someone allegedly born and bred in New Jersey, Livingston I believe, it is an adjacent town but a different county, all Democrats, is also an attack on anyone in New Jersey. Now New Jersey is not that bad, in fact it can be very livable. The people are generally friendly, similar to Staten Island. We had our notables on Todt Hill, "death" hill if you read Dutch, and in my town we had a similar family, if you get my gist. So it was like home.

The only problem in New Jersey is taking a train to New York City. It was easier to travel from St Petersburg to Moscow during the Russian Revolution than getting from my town to NYC. But then they had a Communist Revolution we have Amtrak and New York State. Go figguah.

For the many who may have never been in New Jersey, or for those limited to the Turnpike or Newark Airport, try a trip west. The Delaware river, the rising hills, the forests and preserved lands, go south to the pine lands. Not too bad. And unlike NYC, one can escape from New Jersey quite easily. We have roads. At one point the Turnpike has a total of sixteen lanes, yes eight in each direction. Road maintenance is at night so as not to slow traffic. That is the opposite of Connecticut, where two lane roads are closed at random times to trim a tree, resulting in hours of delay. Or the same in Pennsylvania.

So to the writer who seems to have an inferiority complex of birth in New Jersey, give it a rest! You had no choice, I did. It sure beats Connecticut!

Oh yes, "blind arrogance", it seems that the arrogance is on the other foot, the one who wrote this piece.