6.23.2019

The "Four-Square" process - savvy auto buying



Dealerships Rip You Off With The “Four-Square,” Here’s How To Beat It

Excerpt:

Former used car salesman Alan Slone grows a conscience and reveals one of the major strategies dealership use to screw you when buying a new car. At the heart of it all is the “4-square,” a sheet of paper (sample above) divided into four boxes: your trade value, the purchase price, down payment, and monthly payment. This is supposed to help you and the dealership come to an agreement, but as you’ll see, it’s really more akin to three-card monte dealer’s deck of cards. Many, but not all, dealerships use this tool. Here’s 5 tips to get you started, and then a very detailed breakdown of how the dealership manipulates buyers with the four-square.
7 tactics car salesmen hope you don’t know

Excerpt:


  1. Playing out the clock
  2. Psychological profiling
  3. The pressure of the ‘impending event’
  4. The ‘porcupine close’
  5. The ‘Ben Franklin close’
  6. The ‘alternate choice close’
  7. The trip to the back office
Comment: Image from the 2nd article. I'm not in "the market" at this time because:

  • I'm happy with my 17 year old truck (it needs a new rear bumper - someone ran into it in a parking lot and left without leaving a note
  • Our main vehicle is about 3 years old and has a lot of life left in it
My tips:
  • Separate "the trade" from the purchase
  • Either arrange financing in advance or pay with cash
  • Search for the car you want and the price on the Internet
  • Control the clock
  • Be willing to walk away 

6.21.2019

On God and Mammon



4 Dangerous Attitudes that Sway Our Hearts Toward the Love of Money
Four Common Pitfalls with Money
  1. The first is ingratitude. A grateful heart is a heart at rest. A grateful person is aware that he deserves nothing of all he possesses and enjoys. Because of this, he daily counts his blessings and is thankful for the little things that would otherwise be taken for granted. The unthankful person does just the opposite. He keeps telling himself that he deserves more than he has. Because of this, he is way more aware of what he doesn’t yet have than of all the things he has been graciously given. This causes him to live an entitled and demanding life. Never quite satisfied, he easily justifies a wasteful and selfish use of money.
  2. The second ingredient is need. This is one of the most poorly and overused words in human culture. The majority of what we are able to tell ourselves we need, we don’t actually need. We all are very skilled at loading our desires into our need category, and once we have, we think it’s our right to have these things, and therefore it’s appropriate to do what is necessary to posses them. So we waste all kinds of money satisfying needs that aren’t really needs, all the while feeling quite comfortable, because if it’s a need, it seems right to acquire it. So with closets bursting with more clothes than we can wear and refrigerators filled with more than we can eat and houses bigger than we actually occupy, we are still able to tell ourselves that we are needy. And because we have told ourselves that we are needy, we will spend more.
  3. The third thing that weakens the defenses of the heart against the love of money: discontentment. Because I am not grateful for all the things I have been given and don’t deserve, and because I have misdiagnosed need, loading many things in my need category that are not needs, I am a constantly discontented person. It is virtually impossible to be satisfied with what I have, so I am on a constant quest for more. Since I am on a constant quest for more, I tend to spend more than I should to satisfy myself, but because my discontentment is rooted in ingratitude and misunderstood need, spending more won’t solve my problem. So, I end up spending more than I have, because what I am trying to do can’t work. Contentment isn’t a money problem, a possession problem, or a location problem; it’s a problem of the heart and therefore is not solved by spending.
  4. The final ingredient that works with ingratitude, need, and discontentment to set up your heart to misappropriate money is envy. If you are unthankful and convinced that you deserve more, if you have been able to convince yourself that you need certain things that you do not have, leaving you deeply discontented, you will invariably look over the fence and envy the person who appears to have what you have not yet been able to acquire. Envious people are always taking account. Envious people are always comparing. Envious people are constantly placing things on their “she has, but I don’t” list. Envious people regularly feel that they have been given a bad deal, so it is right for them to use their resources to settle the score. Envy will cause you to be both self-oriented and foolish in your use of money.
It is ingratitude, neediness, discontent, and envy of the heart that cause us to be all too money conscious, all too self-focused in our use of it, and all too liberal in our expenditures. If we persist on that course, our life really will end up being “money, money, money,” no matter how much of it we actually have. We need to continue to remind ourselves that the problem with money is not that it exists. The problem with money is not that we have too little or too much. Money problems are always heart problems; they’re deeper than the size of our paycheck and the specificity of our budget. Money can be a blessing or a curse.
Comment: Image source

AR-15 Whac-A-Mole

Gun Makers Adjust Rifles to Skirt Bans

Excerpt:

“They all shoot the same,” said Norris Sweidan, the owner of Warrior One Guns & Ammo in Riverside, Calif., where the walls are lined with AR- and AK-style rifles modified to be legal in the state. “These people that are passing the laws, how many of them do you think have actually shot a gun?”

In response to mass shootings, Democratic presidential candidates including former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris say they want to renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. Governors from Rhode Island and Virginia are pushing them too.

But the proliferation of guns sold legally that operate nearly identically to banned models shows how difficult it can be to make firearm restrictions effective.
Comment: The lesson from the Wheellock



In 1517 and 1518, the first gun control laws banning the wheellock were proclaimed by the Emperor Maximilian I, initially in Austria and later throughout the Holy Roman Empire.

6.18.2019

Address Plaque project



Address Plaque 14" x 9" Scalloped- Cast Bronze

Replacing:


Comment: On order. The current one is 15 ½ x 5 ½

On that "content of one's character"


The troubling legacy of Martin Luther King

Excerpt:

At the Willard Hotel, King and his friends’ activities resumed the following evening as approximately 12 individuals “participated in a sex orgy” which the prudish Sullivan felt included “acts of degeneracy and depravity . . . When one of the women shied away from engaging in an unnatural act, King and several of the men discussed how she was to be taught and initiated in this respect. King told her that to perform such an act would ‘help your soul’.” Sometime later, in language that would reflect just how narrow Sullivan’s mindset was, “King announced that he preferred to perform unnatural acts on women and that he had started the ‘International Association for the Advancement of Pussy Eaters’.” Anyone familiar with King’s often-bawdy sense of humour would not doubt that quotation.

Comment: No comment needed

Worth mentioning: NYTimes: OCT. 11, 1991Boston U. Panel Finds Plagiarism by Dr. King




A committee of scholars appointed by Boston University concluded today that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized passages in his dissertation for a doctoral degree at the university 36 years ago.

"There is no question," the committee said in a report to the university's provost, "but that Dr. King plagiarized in the dissertation by appropriating material from sources not explicitly credited in notes, or mistakenly credited, or credited generally and at some distance in the text from a close paraphrase or verbatim quotation."

Despite its finding, the committee said that "no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King's doctoral degree," an action that the panel said would serve no purpose.

But the committee did recommend that a letter stating its finding be placed with the official copy of Dr. King's dissertation in the university's library.

The four-member committee was appointed by the university a year ago to determine whether plagiarism charges against Dr. King that had recently surfaced were in fact true. Today the university's provost, Jon Westling, accepted the committee's recommendations and said its members had "conducted the investigation with scholarly thoroughness, scrupulous attention to detail and a determination not to be influenced by non-scholarly consideration."

The dissertation at issue is "A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman." Dr. King wrote it in 1955 as part of his requirements for a doctor of philosophy degree, which he subsequently received from the university's Division of Religious and Theological Studies.

6.15.2019

6.14.2019

Farewell Dionn



December 18, 2017

June 14, 2019

Dear Dionn,

I remember the first day I saw you in the radiation waiting area – such a warm inviting smile! You made me feel comfortable, although inside me was fear and apprehension. I was a bit afraid to reach out to you. Would it be appropriate? Would it be welcome? Of course, you were so kind! And day by day, I would see your welcoming face that started my day! I did not know how ill you were. I did not know the rigors of treatments and surgery that lay ahead for you.

Now we find ourselves nearly a year and a half later. Thank you for inviting me to your “Peace Out Farewell.”


I’m a bit nervous even as I write this: what should I say? How might I encourage my brother? I trust this helps! Kathee and I had a little McDonald’s picnic at Medicine Lake park at lunch today. We read John chapter 3 and these verses are always an encouragement to me: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Not to be morbid, but of course having cancer I think of death daily. I wish I did not. I think about gravestones, my funeral, my burial location, and more.

A common Roman era military grave epitaph is: “fui quod es, eris quod sum”. Translated is: “I once was what you are, you will be what I am”. This is even on some modern graves:

Of course, it speaks of our common destiny – I will die!

40 years ago, a close friend John D died of Leukemia. Soon I will join him. But what awaits the Christian? I know you know! John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’”. Our Lord is the God of the living: Jesus: “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” (Luke 20:37-38)

My friend, John D, though long dead (he was 26) and buried, has been alive with Jesus these 40 years! I look forward to seeing him again! What will that be like?

The Scriptures inform us in at least four passages:

There was Paul “caught up into paradise” (2 Corinthians 12) who saw “surpassing great[] …revelations” and “heard things that cannot be told” (12:1-ff)

Isaiah saw:

Ezekiel (chapter 1)saw:

John saw (Revelation 1):

Dear Dionn, I must tell your that I love this life so much that I do not want to leave. But my day will come. And I am convinced, that I will see the Lord as Paul, Isaiah, Ezekiel and John have. This is the glorious future that awaits the Christian!

With much love! Jim


5.23.2019

On "stare decisis"



Thomas and Breyer’s ‘Stare’ Contest - Their sharp disagreement about precedent reflects different worldviews that go far beyond abortion.

Excerpt:

Beginning with the Warren Court in the 1950s, bold and audacious justices began making up law out of the Constitution’s “emanations, formed by penumbras”—literally, gas and shadows. As Justice Thomas has objected, the court invented rights that sharply curtailed the traditional order-keeping authority of police and teachers, making streets, schools, and housing projects in poor neighborhoods dangerous, and depriving mostly minority citizens of the first civil right—to be safe. The justices have even trampled the Bill of Rights, sanctioning campaign-finance laws that curtail the political speech at the core of First Amendment protections.
Comment: Important read. Ask yourself - should Dred Scott v. Sandford have stood? Then consider Roe v. Wade.


5.21.2019

My USAToday '15 minutes of fame'





More baby boomers stay in their homes as they reach retirement, skipping downsizing

Excerpt:

Jim Peet, 70, of Plymouth, Minnesota, may seriously consider selling his 3,300-square-foot house but not until he’s 80. Peet, a retired information technology professional, and his wife, Kathee, flirted with downsizing several years ago, largely to reduce maintenance hassles, but found that a condo in downtown Minneapolis would cost more than their house. They also shopped for a similar-sized house in Tallahassee, Florida, but backed out after realizing they didn’t want to be so far from their family.

In fact, their kids and grandchildren generate a consistent hive of activity in their house. “It’s just so comfortable to entertain people,” Peet says. “The kids run from the living room to the kitchen – I love watching them.”

Peet, who uses a walker because of a spine-related injury, also appreciates the support of decades-long neighbors. Recently, he says, a neighbor helped him when he fell from a chair.
Comment: Nice mention. How I was contacted. Responded to this:


5.19.2019

Joenonymous in the Anthropocene Age

Rambling Through Time

Excerpt:

The world is old beyond comprehension, and our story on it is short. The conceit of the Anthropocene, the supposed new epoch we’re living in, is that humanity can already make claims to its geological legacy. But if we’re to endure as a civilization, or even as a species, for anything more than what might amount to a thin layer of odd rock in some windswept canyon of the far future, some humility is in order about our, thus far, infinitesimal part in the history of the planet.

Astronomy gets much of the credit for decentralizing the role of humans in the story of the cosmos, but just as Edwin Hubble placed our island universe in deep space, the geologist James Hutton placed us in deep time, gawking in awe in 1788 at the chasms of history that confronted him in the rocks at Siccar Point on the east coast of Scotland. mammoths and giant ground sloths. We walk past Broadway to Riverside Park, eventually hitting the Hudson River.

We’ve already put more than a thousand centuries behind us, but we’ve got a long way to go. So we march up the West Side Highway and cross the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey. Despite our sore feet, and having covered untold millenniums over several miles, we’re stupefied to learn that we’ve scarcely gone back a million years — an all but insignificant amount to geologists. In fact, we haven’t even emerged from the pulsating ice age that has waxed and waned for the past 2.6 million years.

The scale of the task dimly dawning on us, we push on, trudging along the rumble strip of Interstate 80 in New Jersey, battered by gusts of passing tractor-trailers. After walking for more than 24 hours we make it clear across the state, stumbling into Pennsylvania. Morale now collapsing, we’re further gutted to learn that walking as the crow flies 300 miles across the Keystone State won’t even bring us back to the age of dinosaurs.
Comment: Image Source. I am basically a young earth creationist (I believe in the revelation of Adam and Eve). But I found the article interesting because I had never heard of the concept of the Anthropocene Age. Related is the Great Acceleration/ "Joenonymous" is a contraction of "Joe" (as in "average Joe" and "anonymous"

5.18.2019

When Turkey Destroyed Its Christians



From 1894 to 1924, a staggered campaign of genocide targeted not just the region’s Armenians but its Greek and Assyrian communities as well​

Excerpt:

Between 1894 and 1924, the number of Christians in Asia Minor fell from some 3-4 million to just tens of thousands—from 20% of the area’s population to under 2%. Turkey has long attributed this decline to wars and the general chaos of the period, which claimed many Muslim lives as well. But the descendants of Turkey’s Christians, many of them dispersed around the world since the 1920s, maintain that the Turks murdered about half of their forebears and expelled the rest.

The Christians are correct. Our research verifies their claims: Turkey’s Armenian, Greek and Assyrian (or Syriac) communities disappeared as a result of a staggered campaign of genocide beginning in 1894, perpetrated against them by their Muslim neighbors. By 1924, the Christian communities of Turkey and its adjacent territories had been destroyed.

Over the past decade, we have sifted through the Turkish, U.S., British and French archives, as well as some Greek materials and the papers of the German and Austro-Hungarian foreign ministries. This research has made it possible to document a strikingly consistent pattern of ethno-religious atrocity over three decades, perpetrated by the Turkish government, army, police and populace.

The concentrated slaughter of Turkey’s Armenians in 1915-16, commonly known as the Armenian genocide, is well documented and acknowledged (outside of Turkey, which still bitterly objects to the charge). But the Armenian genocide was only a part, albeit the centerpiece, of a larger span of elimination that lasted some 30 years. Our work provides the first detailed description and analysis of the 1894-96 massacres and the destruction of the region’s Greek and remaining Armenian communities in 1919-24 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish republic.

The bloodshed was importantly fueled throughout by religious animus. Muslim Turks—aided by fellow Muslims, including Kurds, Circassians, Chechens and Arabs—murdered about two million Christians in bouts of slaughter immediately before, during and after World War I. These massacres were organized by three successive governments, those of the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, the Young Turks and, finally, Atatürk. These governments also expelled between 1.5 and 2 million Christians, mostly to Greece.
Comment: When a country is majority Muslim - Christians die!

5.17.2019

The Vacuous Promise of Living in Outer Space





Enjoy Outer Space! I’ll Stay on Earth.
Excerpt:

Are we really all going to go live in outer space? Budding space Wonka Jeff Bezos had a big event last week to say it’s coming, that his rocket company Blue Origin will help make it possible, but—not to sound like an intergalactic wet blanket—I’m on the fence about abandoning Earth, and schlepping off to the stars. Yes, I know I may not have a choice: that overpopulation, climate change and cable news may eventually make our current planet an impossible place to live. What I’m asking is: What if it’s optional? What if living in outer space is a choice? I’m not sure I need to go.
Comment: Images: 1st, 2nd

5.15.2019

4270 Cottonwood

4270 Cottonwood

My neighbor's house goes on the market soon (I think next week)


Comments:
  • Predict that it goes on the market for $ 379K (prediction date = 5/15/19)
  • And that it sells for $ 360K

Update: On the market today (5/20) for $ 375:


5.06.2019

Heroes



Lori Kaye, 60, Who ‘Thought of Others Before Herself’ - she took bullet to save her rabbi’s life

Excerpt:

Lori Kaye loved greeting cards; she had one for nearly any occasion. Whether a birthday, anniversary or condolence, someone leaving on a trip or returning from one, Kaye pulled one out from her vast collection, wrote a message and delivered the card.

“She knew what everyone was up to, what was happening in their lives, and she cared to make them feel special,” shares her longtime friend, Teresa Lampert. “She was an incredible person.”

Kaye was killed on Shabbat morning, the last of the eight days of Passover, during the anti-Semitic shooting attack at Chabad-Lubavitch of Poway that shocked the nation. She had just stepped out into the lobby to check on the children’s group in the playground when the attacker burst into the building and shot her. Kaye, a woman remembered for her kindness, sensitivity, enthusiasm and generosity, spent her last minutes on earth in the lobby of the synagogue and community center she had done so much to see into reality.


The UNCC student who died charging a gunman received military honors




Excerpt:



The University of North Carolina at Charlotte student who died after tackling the gunman in last week's campus shooting was remembered at a memorial service with military honors on Sunday, where close friends and family recalled a humble young man who loved the outdoors and was kind to everyone he met.

Authorities have said that Riley Howell, a 21-year-old ROTC cadet at UNCC, charged the shooter after he opened fire with a pistol in a classroom last Tuesday, saving the lives of others.

Howell was killed, along with 19-year-old Reed Parlier of Midland, North Carolina. Four others were injured.

"Maybe it was God that moved the levers, that put Riley in that classroom on that day, at the exact time for the purpose of saving others," said Kevin Westmoreland, the father of Howell's girlfriend, Lauren.

"It was not out of character for him," he said, "and maybe someone in that room is here for a greater purpose, and it was Riley's destiny to sacrifice himself for them."




5.05.2019

Minesweeper - Addictive


  • I bought for my Mac when Kathee went out of town last week
  • I played it hundreds of times
  • Remember when it was in Windows 3.1?
Update on 6/10: I don't think I've ever seen an "8" before:


5.02.2019

Tactics for Atheists



Tactics for Atheists

Excerpt:

Consider this scenario. An atheist engages two Christians on a sidewalk and begins to gently and genially engage them about their beliefs. Their initial, breezy assurance begins to fade, however, as they falter in the face of carefully-worded questions about the things they think they know “by faith.” The atheist gives no evidence for atheism. He gives no evidence against Christianity. Instead, he only does one thing. He asks questions about “faith” as a way of knowing. He remains calm and friendly as the discussion closes, but by that time one of the Christians is visibly uncomfortable.
Comment: Good read

4.17.2019

Draw


  • I made a critical mistake and lost my Queen early in a Knight fork
  • At this juncture in the game, Black is up by:
    • 1 Pawn (8 to 7)
    • And the Black Queen to my White Knight (6 points)
    • 7 Points total!
    • There's no way White can win
    • But I have a very good defense. Eg 
      • The Black Bishop is locked in
      • All of the White Pawns are on Black spaces (impervious to attack)
      • My White Bishop is really mis-positioned but is protected by my Knight
    • For the last two dozen moves, I have moved my King: G1 to G2 ... G2 to G1
  • It's a draw
  • If I were Black:
    • I would have maneuvered the Black Bishop to a position to attack and exchange with the White Bishop
    • And then tried to open up the H column

4.12.2019

Lost Rook to foolish mistake - come from behind


  • Kathee out grocery shopping - played a nice game of chess
  • As the title indicates, I lost a Rook midway through the game but managed to struggle back
  • At the time I lost the Rook, Black had 2 Rooks, White 1 Rook + 2 Knights. 
  • Two Knights and King played defense while remaining Rook picked away and protected Pawn to Queen advance.
  • I didn't need two Queens to win, but sometimes I'm merciless

4.05.2019

Will never be Won


  • I play about 4-5 games of chess a day. 
  • My win rate is about 20%
  • One has to be completely error free against a computer because a computer will never make a mistake
  • (one of the joys of playing against the average human, it that they will make a mistake and one can "blow it open")
  • The above is an error free game. Tit for Tat
  • If I had a Knight ...
  • Last game of the day!

4.02.2019

On Mutual Fund Expenses


  • One might think that 1.19% is reasonable (and perhaps it is). But consider this ...
  • If one has $ 100,000 invested in this ... it's $ 1,190 every year!
  • GGBZX is a classic "fund of funds"
  • And what are the components of GGBZX?

  • For a true expense ratio of 2.02%
  • Contrast the expenses of SPY
The Oracle of Omaha made a very public bet with Protégé Partners on December 19, 2007, that over the following 10 years, an unmanaged S&P 500 index fund would outperform a collection of five high-profile fund-of-funds. Buffett won the bet... and it wasn’t even close. The S&P 500 returned a cumulative 125.8% (or 8.5% per year). The hedge funds delivered cumulative returns ranging from just 2.8% to 87.7% (0.3% to 6.5% per year). And remember, this time period includes the 2008 meltdown.

4.01.2019

Blitz



3.29.2019

Fell behind but Won


  • On points, Black was ahead:
  • Equal on Pawns (6)
  • But Black had 2 Rooks to my 1 Rook & 1 Knight
  • Nice protected defense for the White King at A2