Dracil’s BlogJournal

October 27, 2010

Fair Tax: Supporting the Rich and the Poor on the Shoulders of the Middle Class

Filed under: Controversy, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — dracil @ 6:14 pm

This is just warmup.  I want to write about the Taxes are Theft idea and general thoughts about government spending but I’ll start with the Fair Tax first.

The idea of Fair Tax is to abolish all federal taxes and replace it with a national 23% sales tax.  And then give some money back based on the poverty line (adjusted for marriage and kids).

The biggest problem with Fair Tax is the assumption that your income = your expenditures.  This is only really true for the poor.  As your income goes up, the percentage of expenditures to income goes down.  Oh, the Fair Tax people will say rich people buy more expensive things and it all works out, but there’s still a limit to this.  Even if you eat lavish expensive meals all the time, there’s still only so much food you can eat in a day.

So what’s the net effect here?  The situation for the truly poor won’t really change.  The rich will pay even less since instead of paying a percentage on income, they pay a percentage on their much lower expenditures.  Since the Fair Tax claims to be revenue neutral, guess who’s footing the bill?  The middle class.  It also means their 23% number is total bullshit.

Except, it turns out their 23% number is bullshit anyway, because it’s intentionally misleading.  The 23% sales tax does not work like regular sales tax.  It means for every $100 you spend, $23 of that goes to the government and you only get $77 worth of goods.  What does that work out to in terms of what people normally think of when they think of sales tax?  It means for every $100 worth of goods you buy, you pay an extra $30 in taxes (30/130 ~ 23%).  So this is really a 30% sales tax.

I actually completely glossed over that myself until I read the FactCheck analysis of it: http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/unspinning_the_fairtax.html  Lots of good stuff here too.  Worth a read too so you know the real numbers and consequences of what these Fair Tax people are proposing.  TL;DR: If you make between $15,000-$200,000 your taxes will go up.  If you make over $200,000 your taxes will go down.  Is that what you expected and wanted from something called the Fair Tax?

It does have its merits though.  It does mean no more annoying tax day.  And it closes some tax evasion, especially with people who make money in underground economies that still buy stuff from normal stores.

But to actually be practical and not simply widen the income gap (a term noticeably absent on a lot of Fair Tax proponents’ sites), it would probably need to be set to something like 50% and with a lot higher prebate.  Unfortunately, all this does is shift who carries the burden.  And the people above the (pyramid shaped) curve will still continue to increase the income gap with anyone below the curve.  The only point where this won’t happen is at 100%.  And well, we know what THAT’s called.

August 29, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. me

Filed under: games, movies, Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — dracil @ 11:08 pm

I guess some people want me to blog, so I’ll write something.  It’s not like anyone really reads my Google Buzz, which usually gets reposted on Facebook anyway, and Facebook is not really suited for long posts.

So I saw this the week before my birthday as part of an early birthday celebration.  I think it’s now one of my favorite movies and I wouldn’t mind watching it again in theaters and will almost definitely buy the blu-ray when it comes out.

It’s a travesty that Vampire Suck is doing better than this.  What a sad state the world is in.

Anyway, since I became a little obsessed, I got the original comic books and the game and finished both within the week.  The comic book differs quite a bit from the movie after the third ex-boyfriend.  Some of the events also get shifted around for the movie, lines are said by different characters, and so on.  But otherwise it’s a pretty good adaption.

The video game follows the comic book for the most part, with some liberal interpretation to make the stages and bosses interesting, and also so you can play a bunch of different characters, not just Scott.

The first ex, I think all three mediums were awesome.  The second ex, I think the movie was the best.  The third ex, I think movie won out there as well.  The fourth ex, the comic book gives some more backstory and other characters, so I think the comic book wins there.  The fifth and six ex, comic book wins.  The movie’s fights for them was just dumb and boring.  The seventh ex, the movie was more fun, though it had a bit of a cliched lesson thing.  Comic book was a bit convoluted for this one, and almost deux ex machina in feeling.

Because of the additional backstory, the characters also make a bit more sense in the comic books which was just glossed over but still worked out okay in the movie.

The video game for the most part gets the same ratings as the comic book as far as plot goes, with bizarre endings, buggy crashes, 4-player co-op and a fun leveling system and a nice old-school feel that’s been missing from most modern games.

Both the movie and game had some nice music.  Obviously the comics do not have music, but it does come with lyrics, guitar tabs, and music suggestions the author used for inspiration.

August 23, 2009

Monthly update

Filed under: Controversy, religion — Tags: , , — dracil @ 12:18 am

Alright, let’s see, haven’t blogged in a while. *looks at one line summaries of what he’s supposed to blog about*

going away party
movies with jenny and lin
fanime meetup 2

Ok then.  So going away party, Aug 1.  It was for David and Joyce.  Joyce to Seattle, David to NY.  We decided to meet up at Berkeley since that’s where it all started.  Had some fun with the “death star” sculpture.  Saw Eric’s photo on one of the banners.  Then we had dinner at Chez Panisse since we’d wanted to go there for a while but never did it so it was our last chance.  Then we went to karaoke and I got annoyed at Music Tunnel’s new system.  If I enter in “a” in Japanese in the title search, I do not expect to be greeted with a blank screen. :P  We loitered around a bit more and then parted ways.

I’ll do the second #fanime meetup next.  This was August 15.  Met up with them at the bart station, and after almost losing people a few times, we finally made it to Japantown.  The actual event was sorta blah, but it was cool seeing Amano (who did FF artwork) and bumped into BayAnime people there.  We then ate at Shabu-sen for lunch before loitering for several hours in Japantown and parting before dinner.

Finally movies.  Wanted to watch Harry Potter, but Jenny hadn’t seen the previous one, so August 8, we used a card she had to rent out HP 5 and Coraline and watched it at her place with Lin.  I thought I would’ve been bored but I guess not.  And Coraline was a cool horror movie for kids.  Today, we actually went and watched HP 6 in the theaters.  But first, I went to the SF Street Food Festival and waited a long time for Jenny to show up (:P) then waited an even longer time to get to the end of the line to get Pizza Frita from the Pizzeria Delphina booth which turned out to be too salty.  I also got onigiri from Onigilly which wasn’t bad.  We met up with Lin at the Farmer’s Market at the Metreon and had our lunch before watching the movie.  Despite knowing about The Event, I still thought it was kinda moving when it happened.  After that, we had dinner at Katanaya and their BBQ pork is so good.  Then we went to find Jenny’s ex-roommate to give her her birthday card, which led to an interesting experience of Scientology.  We tried to be polite and just watch their vid, but the receptionist was kinda pushy so I pushed back, and I think she probably deemed me as a SP, or at least labeled as “very skeptical” which felt a lot like codeword for “avoid this guy, he’s bad news” :P

The ironic thing is, I’d actually be interested in watching their video (the same way I watch Creationist videos).  Just leave me alone and don’t try to start trouble yourself and we’ll all be happy. :P

July 26, 2009

VAMPS

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dracil @ 3:18 am

A waste of $4.5 and 4.5 on free tickets to VAMPS that I won at Fanime.

First my review of the venue (The Regency Ballroom):

$1.50 for the two bottles of water they confiscated at the door.
$3.00 for making me coat check my bag because I had a “professional camera” (DSLR) and only “digital cameras” are allowed.

If you’re gonna coat check my damn bag then don’t grab and throw my water away without warning.  Also, when you do that to people, I’m not gonna pay $5 for your water inside.

Also, be consistent on the photography rules.
1) The MC actually said no *flash* photography allowed for the band, despite what your sign and security guy said.  Get it straight which it’s supposed to be.
2) If flash photography is not allowed, then it makes even less sense to force people with DSLRs to coat check those given those are the type of camera that can have the big ass lenses that don’t require flash in the first place.

Fire your idiot security.  Or management.

Next, my thoughts on the band/event itself.

1) A couple hundred people jumping on the floor = earthquake
2) What is up with those weird hand gestures.  Some people looked like they were having an epilepsy with the way they were shaking their hand. :P  Seems like most people were doing the satan sign  (index and pinkie) and the love sign (index pinkie thumb) with their hands, though looking at his videos on Youtube, I think this is a US thing as these weren’t nearly as common in those vids.  Hyde himself only did peace/victory (index and middle), which is more commonly mimicked in the videos.
3) Only two or three people with glowsticks.  Only one of them with a cyalume.
4) Again, girls seemed to get more in the mood.  Suspect boy band phenomenon a la Alice Summerthing.
5) Hyde talking in the middle was cool, through his Engrish.  :P  The best part was him noticing that SF has a Hyde street.
6) Hyde drinking and then spitting the water on the crowd, then tossing the water out of the water bottle at the crowd.
7) Lots of instrument switching.  KAZ would show off each new one.
8) One song I think had the bass player acting like a puppet.
9) They also did some covers.  Trouble – Shampoo and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – Beatles.
10) Needed to use my headphones as earplugs.  They were selling earplugs for $1 at the coat check.
11) I felt a little like the guy in this K-On clip.

The gist of the video is: She’s rejected by the guy she likes because he likes wild girls.  So she changes for him.  But in the end, he tells her she’s gone too far and she’s rejected again. :P

July 22, 2009

Recent Saturdays

Filed under: Uncategorized — dracil @ 1:38 pm

7/11 – Bayanime karaoke meetup.  Bunch of people from BAUU showed up as well.  They picked Fillmore Karaoke which is a meh place AFAIC.  Very few Japanese songs, which is weird given this is an anime group.  A bunch of us ate at On the Bridge again.  The waitress this time wasn’t as good.

7/18 – Jenny and Nick’s birthday.  After much panic trying to get food from the restaurant and catching the Muni on time (came pretty much at the same time), ended up being delayed for over an hour because there was a train wreck at West Portal station.  Incredibly aggravating.  Lots of strangers.  Not many BST people left.  Learned, played, and won Race for the Galaxy.  Would not teach that to new players.  I find I don’t have much patience nowadays.  Parlour games were basically hide and seek and tag.

July 7, 2009

Recent events

Filed under: Uncategorized — dracil @ 11:46 pm

Two weekends ago, I was supposed to go help volunteer at the API Equality booth on Saturday.  They never showed up.  I walked around but didn’t really feel like taking pics.  Sunday, decided I didn’t really want to be in the crowd so didn’t go to the parade.  I notice several days later they’d left a message saying they didn’t have a booth so it had been canceled, but that we could join them for the parade if we wanted to.  Don’t think I would’ve really wanted to. :P

Last weekend, met up with Jenny and her friends in Moraga to watch fireworks.  I think for once, I may actually have fireworks pictures not obscured by cloud/fog.  Though the wind still creates some odd effects.

Today, met up with #fanime people.  Meeting people from online is a bit odd but people were friendly and we had fun.  Without my guidance, they ended up taking the very scenic route through SF. :P  We met up at Pacific Catch for dinner.

June 23, 2009

Alice Summerthing 2009

Well.  As usual food there is overpriced and not that good.  Why do I always decide to eat there though? :(

Was still eating lunch when Parachute came up.   By the time I got sorta close they’d just finished.  Waited for Sugar Ray, who were kinda entertaining.  Then I napped under a tree away from the crowds and got sunburnt (the shade moved) while Matt Nathanson was playing, and didn’t stay for Gavin Rosdale.

The concerts and the crowd was generally pretty mellow.  Which was actually kinda disappointing as I was trying to see if there were songs which were suitable otagei.  Sugar Ray did eventually do a couple rock songs that I felt would work, but nobody’s put a video up of that.  The DJ they had was fun though.  But generally, the crowd responsiveness felt sort of lukewarm.

I mean, compare with :P

Though watching the videos now from further back, looks like the girls were getting into the mood.  Maybe it’s a male-band thing.

Someone had a huge-ass $5000 lens attached to a full-frame camera.  Another photographer next to me joked about how that lens cost more than his last car. :P  I think that was probably overkill for the concert.

Also, thank goodness for earphones doubling as earplugs.  Don’t think I could’ve been able to withstand standing so close to the speakers for so long otherwise.

Not directly related, but I got a voicemail from Radio Alice the previous week thanking me for listening to their radio/going to their site and inviting feedback.  It was definitely a personalized call though as they were trying to say my name and talking about butchering the pronunciation

June 16, 2009

BayAnime, Bird Nest, Ankle

Filed under: Uncategorized — dracil @ 11:34 pm

Saturday I met up with people from BayAnime in Japantown.  First meeting for the group actually.  I’ve been looking for some group to expend my excess energy ever since Fanime so this is a good thing.  I actually met some of the people before I reached the meeting place (On the Bridge).  I actually thought they might’ve been going to it beforehand, but it wasn’t when they mentioned On the Bridge in their conversation that I was sure. :P

Anyway, 13 people showed up.  Food was actually pretty good and with proper portions for the price.  The waitress also gave us all a free soup or salad because of such a large group.  The owner talked to one of the group members a bit in Japanese, and then later gave us all some marshmallow with chocolate-filling for dessert.  Very good service.

Pretty varied backgrounds.  SFSU anime club co-presidents, someone from Gaia Online, Sailor Moon, people who’d gone to Fanime.  A lot of people were working (or even came from work) so I didn’t feel like the age group was too young.  Lots of interest in gaming too.  Got a beardog pin.

Sunday, while outside, I saw a bird nest on the ground.  Thought about putting it back in the tree, but unfortunately it had flipped over when it fell so the two eggs were cracked.  A boy walked by and asked me what it was, when I told him, his instinct was also to put it back in the tree.  I liked that pure, innocent nature, though he too gave up when I told him the eggs were already cracked.

Today, went for my 6-month checkup on my ankle.  X-rays look good.    I still have a little stiffness when I lift my ankle-inward.  Doctor said there should be improvement up to a year, and my surgery was in October, so it may still get better.  Still weird seeing all that metal in my leg.

June 13, 2009

Dine about Town and Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dracil @ 9:31 am

Thursday I went to Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine with Jenny for lunch for Dine About Town.  The appetizer sampler was nice in its variety (Sampler Trio – Crunchy Golden Lobster Potsticker, Teppanyaki Seared Shrimp and a daily Sushi Bite).  I liked my main course, which was “short ribs” (Honey Mustard Garlic-Charred Beef Short Ribs – Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Natural Sauce) though it had no actual rib.  Jenny had fish (Roy’s Classic Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi with Lobster Butter Sauce) which she thought was a bit dry.    The dessert was Hawaiian Passion Fruit Tart which we thought was meh.  She doesn’t like fruit, and I thought the fruits were too sour.

After work, we went to see Up in 3D.  Story itself was kinda touching but predictable in all aspects.  The 3D effect was well-done.  Haven’t actually seen 3D movies since I was a kid at Disneyland and the glasses were still red and blue.  I guess the glasses they have now are basically polarizers.  I wonder what would happen if I used my camera polarizer, would it work, or are the 3D effects tuned for these glasses?  We did notice that without the glasses, everything looked blurry, and fast moving things didn’t look smooth.  The glasses were also a bit uncomfortable, hanging out further out on my nose than my normal glasses, making it feel weird/itchy.

June 3, 2009

20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square and the Chinese censors are running amok

http://www.danwei.org/net_nanny_follies/twitter_domain_blocked_in_chin.php

http://www.danwei.org/net_nanny_follies/chinese_websites_under_mainten.php

Those are the two main articles to look at.  The funny thing is, while trying to post these links on Xiaonei, I ran into some interesting censorship.

The link to the second URL, the google spreadsheet link inside it, a tinyurl link to the spreadsheet, and the words “tiananmen” and “中国网站维护日” all cause the following error to pop up:

“请不要发布政治敏感内容、色情内容、商业广告或其他不恰当内容”

Edit: Looks like even “June 4″ and “20th” is blocked.

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