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Who: Kimball Corson. Text and Photos not disclaimed or that are obviously not mine are copyright (c) Kimball Corson 2004-2013
Port: Lake Pleasant, AZ
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Why the Minimum Wage Matters
Kimball Corson
12/04/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Why the Minimum Wage Matters

As studies show, an incrementally higher minimum wages has not lead to substantial unemployment for that reason. Why? It is simple.

Doing away with the minimum wage would only allow top and middle management to skew the wage and salary pie of their companies all the more in their favor and against the workers below them.

The belief that workers are compensated according to the value of the marginal product is naive and displaced by the politics of competing firms which run a conscious parallelism on wage and salary practices among and between firms.

It is the piece of our capitalism that is most badly broken and a reason American capitalism should be replaced by the mix capitalism/socialism approach used by the Scandinavian counties.

Republican Jackasses
Kimball Corson
12/04/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Republican Jackasses

In their zeal to protect the rich from a tax hike, it seems many Republicans are following Grover Norquist and are quite willing to toss the United States over the fiscal cliff and push America into depression. A few split out, but at present, not enough.

Obama has a coherent enough plan. It is not the one I would have chosen, but that was to be expected. Regardless, it is responsible enough. Obama is insisting on tax hikes for the rich which too is a responsible way to address the deficit, especially in light of the Congressional Reporting Service study suppressed by the Republicans. That report shows that tax cuts do not lead to economic improvement as the Republicans contend, but only further skew the already badly skewed distribution of income.

The Republican's are fast becoming the bain of America's existence and the reason for its declining status in the world. But the rich don't care. All they want is more money. It is perverse and so is the party that serves them.

A Civil War in Egypt: Is It Possible?
Kimball Corson
12/02/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

A Civil War in Egypt: Is It Possible?

Islamist Hassan Saif Abdel-Fatah steh, pictured above, is as evil as he looks. He is a prominent religious fanatic in the Muslim Brotherhood. His close colleague, western educated Egyptian President Morsi, wants to force through an strict Islamist theocratic constitution, but the secular opposition is holding massive demonstrations in protest. Both sides are unwilling to compromise, and the frustration could spill out into violence on the streets.

Last Friday, President Morsi issued decrees that granted him authoritarian powers and gave the controversial assembly drafting the country's new constitution virtual immunity from the courts. On Thursday, he signed the draft constitution that had been composed by his fellow Islamists after the angry liberal members of the body had withdrawn from it in protest. Egyptians will now vote on whether to accept the draft constitution in a national referendum that must be held within 30 days.

The draft contains several vague, controversial articles that would allow Muslim clerics to make decisions that effect Egyptians' private lives. Liberals, secularists and Christians fear that Egypt could soon become a religious dictatorship. And the fact that Morsi wants to ram it through without making any concessions has only heightened their worries.

Abdel-Fatah and the Muslim Brotherhood show no signs of comprehending why there is a surge of resistance to them throughout Egypt. They cannot fathom why part of the population is outraged over what it says was a power grab. The Muslim Brotherhood members view themselves as the good guys. And they write off anyone with opposing views as a backer of the old Mubarak regime. Many Citizens are criticizing Morsi's and Abdel-Fatah's ruthlessness.

My guess is we have much trouble ahead. Religious extremists are problems every which way we turn.

Rampant Bellicosity
Kimball Corson
12/02/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Rampant Bellicosity

One day after the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly (138 to 9 with 41 abstaining) to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to an observer state, a senior Israeli official announced Israel was going forward to build new settlements in east Jerusalem.

The planned settlements would and are intended to separate the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem. That, in turn could prevent the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state in the area.

Why am I not surprised?

The Israeli Conflict and Jewish Historical Revisionism
Kimball Corson
11/30/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The Israeli Conflict and Jewish Historical Revisionism

I am not an evil fellow at all, nor one with no heart -- as has been suggested. I am an objective guy who looks at things some others don't want seen or cannot see and who then speaks out. Here I go again.

In a nutshell, here is what the Middle East conflict is all about at base. It is a simplification, but unlike many simplifications, it does capture the essential elements and the core of the truth as viewed by those involved. The United Nations, led mostly by the British, who had a governing mandate in Palestine until the Partition, decided the Jews needed a homeland after WWII. The Brits and other nations were not interested in assimilating sizeable numbers of Jews after the war and the Jews themselves wanted to return after the Diaspora to the religious holy lands which they contend, as God's chosen people, were promised to them. So the UN divided the Palestinian region of the Middle East into two areas. One for the Jews, to establish Israel, and an area for the Palestinians. The Palestinians and the Arab world disagreed with this taking of land from the Palestinians for Israel -- that is, with the partition -- and have jointly vowed to destroy Israel and the Jews with it. They view Jews as the worst of infidels.

However, Israel did not acquiesce with the partitioned area accorded to it under the 1947 UN Partition Plan and has sought to expand its area at the expense of and to the ire of the Palestinians and other Arabs. Israel acquired the northern Palestinian lands during the 1967 six-day war started by Egypt, Syria and Jordan. But Israel has also expanded its territory by invading the Palestinian putative territory usually nearest Israel, destroying Palestinian villages, killing some Palestinians and raising Jewish settlements on their land in the place of their former villages. There are some 3000 new Jewish settlements in the Palestinian's territory, most established basically in this manner. The displaced Palestinians have, for want of a place to go, been pushed into camps, to join those displaced by the war. They remain in those camps because the surrounding Arab nations refuse to assimilate them, correctly believing that would only aid the Israeli cause.

The accompanying maps show the extent of Israel's activities in appropriating for its own use Palestinian lands. A current 2012 map would be worse yet. The scope of the land misappropriation is substantial.

This taking of land is contrary to international law. But Israel has not proceeded under international law. It has accepted the counsel of various Rabbinic councils and has proceeded under Jewish Talmudic law on taking of lands and possessions from Goy (non-Jews), which is allowed when the Jewish people militarily occupy a foreign territory. Here, however, there is not a military occupation of the Palestinian's territory. That would require much more. To overcome this hurdle, the Rabbinic councils have ruled that superior military might coupled with the ostensible ability to occupy the area in question permits a "constructive taking" of the Goy land if Jews will thereafter occupy it and Israel will provide security for the land. The Israeli government has accepted this advice and has proceeded accordingly.

This position and Israel's actions in accordance with it have only further enraged the Palestinians and the Arab world and caused them to redouble their vows of Jewish/Israel annihilation. That we have an impasse is understatement.

The UN Recognizes Palestine
Kimball Corson
11/29/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The UN Recognizes Palestine

The UN General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state. The move was strongly opposed by the US and Israel but passed overwhelmingly by a vote of over 130 nations. It is seen as a stinging rebuke of Israel and its patsy, the USA. Exactly what additional legal rights Palestine gets is immediately unclear but is a matter to be decided by international courts. The new status will however give the Palestinians more tools to challenge Israel in those courts for its occupation activities in the West Bank, including the building of settlements on putative Palestinian lands and it will help bolster the Palestinian Authority.

The Assembly vote was 138 countries in favor, 9 opposed and 41 abstaining. US and Israeli arm twisting did not work and more tended to back-fire. World patience with Israeli and its cohort, the US, is wearing thin, as the vote makes clear. You can bet some of the 41 abstentions had their arms well twisted, but dug-in. The vote showed impressive backing for the Palestinians at a difficult time. Palestinians celebrated in Gaza and elsewhere. Americans and Israelis had little to say about the matter.

Both sides claim to want a two state solution, but as Israel's settlement activities make abundantly clear, Israel wants Palestine to have a little itty-bitty state and Israel to have a nice, big and prosperous state with most of the resources and other advantages. Fair is not a word in Israel's vocabulary.

Why and How I Do What I Do
Kimball Corson
11/28/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Why and How I Do What I Do

Someone recently asked what made me happy. I had to think a minute, but came up with this: 1) constant warm weather near a warm ocean; 2) minimal clothing, including no shoes; 3) good food and company; 4) intellectual stimulation; 5) good sex; 6) minimal significant work; 7) sailing alone on the open ocean on a many day voyage; 8] good health; 9) my cat; 10) enjoying my several hobbies; 11) plenty to read and think about; and 10) writing occasionally. To accomplish this I live on a boat and sail around the South Pacific now and the world, more generally. I am a simple fellow in this regard. Too, I aim low. I want to be satisfied with my life as I very much am. Nirvanic happiness is too ambitious; it even sounds like something you have to work for.

I was then asked how I could swing this life style. I explained, in another life I was an economist/lawyer out of a top school, worked hard, retired early, knew exactly what I wanted, had been planning for it, and went directly to it. Am 71 now but in good health, strong and energetic. Because of the boat size (42 ft overall), I accumulate little stuff and instead focus on ideas, places, reading, observation and people. Have been sailing for ten years plus, have lived in more than seven countries around the world for more than a year, before or during this adventure. Additionally, I have visited many, many places. I already have most all I need so it takes little for me to live. Work is only on the boat and dinghy. For what I have done in life that I value, see my reverse bucket list at http://sailblogs.com/member/thewanderer/?xjMsgID=237586

I have a tiny carbon footprint. I mostly use the wind to sail and get from place to place. I have now sailed alone many thousands of miles on several oceans and seas. I do have a 45 hp diesel engine inboard for when the wind dies and I don't want to roll around waiting for it to pick up. For electricity to run my refrigerator, appliances, lights and such, I have 500 watts of solar panels, a wind generator and a 700 amp hour gel battery system. For when there is no sun or wind, I have a free standing generator and a 180 amp alternator on my engine to run appliances and charge my batteries. I use very little gas and diesel. With what I have onboard, I have a range of over a 1000 miles just on fossil fuels, assuming no wind at all. I have a water-maker and rain catching system onboard, 100 plus gallons of tankage, and a hot and cold running water system, so water is no problem. I provision for trips, but also have a month's stock of food - mostly freeze dried dinners - on board and I can fish, as well. So, like electricity and water, food is no problem either. Food is my biggest budget item because I eat out a lot and I eat well when I am in port, but still it is peanuts.

What is not to like? I love the life, EXCEPT when things break and I have to fix them. I am a minor expert on diesel engines, pumps of all kinds, electrical issues and all else attending an ocean going boat. You have to be. You also have to be able to improvise. Usually, there is no help nearby, especially on the open ocean or in a port with no supplies (most more remote ports). Self sufficiency is key and that is off putting to many who are afraid of things or lack confidence or a strong willingness to learn. Some people are simply too fear driven or too timorous for this life style. Well, I must run -- I have a water pump that just died and it requires I fix or replace it.
----
[Photo: Navy shot of tsunami generating volcanic eruption.]
______

On the good sex part, I have received a number of inquiries elsewhere and responded as follows: good sex (often enough) is the normative ideal in my schema of happiness. Practically, at 71 and balding, it is a hard ideal to attain especially if you are fat adverse and sailing the South Pacific; are sailing anywhere and are not into prunes with blue hair your own age; and are not in a liberal Scandinavian country were sexual mores are more sensible and intercourse more prevalent.

All that said, surprisingly enough, I still do well for my age among younger women but I can't really find them outside of the more civilized, advanced nations of the world. Africa sucks. The South Pacific sucks. In the Latin, Catholic countries, there are many beautiful, younger women, but the second things become physical, they are taking you home to meet their parents and off to church. Europe and the Scandinavian countries are good, but I am not there yet and pirates in the Gulf of Eden are making it hard for me to get there. As I say . . . the normative ideal.

2011 Per Capita GDP by Selected Country
Kimball Corson
11/27/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

2011 Per Capita GDP by Selected Country
(in current US dollars)

(for those too lazy to look through the listing below)

United States $48,442
Switzerland $80,391
Sweden $56,927
Netherlands $50,087
Norway $98,102
Ireland $48,423
Finland $49,391
Denmark $59,684
Canada $50,345
Australia $60,642


See, our capitalistic system is not so productive as these capitalist/socialistic mixed economies. On your mark, get set, and go with your excuses.

National Prosperity and Happiness Are Closely Linked
Kimball Corson
11/27/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

National Prosperity and Happiness Are Closely Linked

Recall our list of the ten most prosperous countries of the world (which does not include us; as per the Legatum Institute's annual survey), with a + sign behind those that follow the Capitalistic/Socialistic prescription I have urged:

1) Norway +
2) Denmark +
3) Sweden +
4) Australia
5) New Zealand
6) Canada +
7) Finland +
8) The Netherlands +
9) Switzerland +, and
10) Ireland

Ireland, Australia and New Zealand could all be added but with a weaker plus sign.

Now consider the ten advanced countries which are most happy according to a recent Gallup poll. They are, in order:

1) Denmark
2) Sweden
3) Canada
4) Australia
5) Finland
6) Venezuela
7) Israel
8) New Zealand
9) Netherlands
10) Ireland

Why are we not surprised. So the Capitalist/Socialist prescription also leads to the most happiness as well. Again, we lose out.

More Proof Capitalist/Socialist Mixed Economies like the Scandinavians Can Do Better than the US Capitalist Economy
Kimball Corson
11/27/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

More Proof Capitalist/Socialist Mixed Economies like the Scandinavians Can Do Better than the US Capitalist Economy

I have already explained why, using the Swedish example. See, http://sailblogs.com/member/thewanderer/?xjMsgID=248526

But here I want you to see how much better the Scandinavian mixed economies are doing. But first recall our list of the ten most prosperous countries of the world (which does not include us; as per the Legatum Institute's annual survey), with a + sign behind those that follow the Capitalistic/Socialistic prescription I have urged:

1) Norway +
2) Denmark +
3) Sweden +
4) Australia
5) New Zealand
6) Canada +
7) Finland +
8) The Netherlands +
9) Switzerland +, and
10) Ireland

Ireland, Australia and New Zealand could all be added but with a weaker plus sign. And this ranking is notwithstanding the economic and social troubles in Europe and the on the continent which we don't have as such, at least yet.

Now chase those countries down in the following table and compare them to the US. We come off badly in comparison to these mixed socialist/capitalist countries. We are ideologically driven to the point where we just don't get it. We mindlessly rail on against Socialism, but, look!

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD

Several things are noteworthy about the socialist/capitalist approach here. First it is not ideological. It includes deficit spending and supply side tax policy. See my note above on the Swedish example. Second, it is proactive. We tend to be reactive or worse, not active at all. Our output gap is almost $10 billion a day and nothing is being done about it. Third, political parties, in a coalition, are working together. Our simple two party system doesn't. (We need proportional voting, but are constitutionally blocked. Our's seems to be a checks and balances stalemate system.)

America is falling badly behind and we just don't get it. Our view and thinking is just too narrow.

Sensor Size Comparison for Full Size DSLRs to Ultracompact Cameras
Kimball Corson
11/27/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Sensor Size Comparison for Full
Size DSLRs to Ultracompact Cameras

Sensor size is not everything, just as megapixel count is not everything either, but both do matter and when well implemented each can be an important indicator of quality. "Well implemented" is the key and the trick and that is hard for consumers to evaluated without much technical background. There, reputable reviewers are a big help or, better yet, a consensus of reputable reviewers.

On the other hand, high MP counts can be vary problematic if not well implemented. The hardest implementations attend very small sensor sizes and very high MP counts. Only sheer design genius can save the day there and it is more rare than manufactures think. Ultracompacts, which have to have tiny sensors are the most typical victims here.

Don't be at all put off by MP counts in the range of 10 to 16 for cameras with somewhat larger than the smaller two sizes of sensors. But be leery of image quality claims for the smallest sensors with 17 and up MP counts. It is a question of what can be reasonably done.

A word to the wise.

The Conclusions of the Suppressed Congressional Research Service Report Which the GOP Doesn't Like
Kimball Corson
11/24/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The Conclusions of the Suppressed Congressional
Research Service Report Which the GOP Doesn't Like

CRS Report R42111, Tax Rates and Economic Growth, by Jane G. Gravelle and Donald J. Marples. This report attempts to clarify whether there is an association between the tax rates of the highest income taxpayers and economic growth. Data is analyzed to illustrate any association between the tax rates of the highest income taxpayers and measures of economic growth.

Advocates of lower tax rates argue that reduced rates would increase economic growth, increase saving and investment, and boost productivity (increase the economic pie). Proponents of higher tax rates argue that higher tax revenues are necessary for debt reduction, that tax rates on the rich are too low (i.e., they violate the Buffett rule), and that higher tax rates on the rich would moderate increasing income inequality (change how the economic pie is distributed).

Proponents of lower tax rates are incorrect. Proponents of higher rates are correct. Consider the historical data.

Throughout the late-1940s and 1950s, the top marginal tax rate was typically above 90%; today it is 35%. Additionally, the top capital gains tax rate was 25% in the 1950s and 1960s, 35% in the 1970s; today it is 15%. The real GDP growth rate averaged 4.2% and real per capita GDP increased annually by 2.4% in the 1950s. In the 2000s, the average real GDP growth rate was 1.7% and real per capita GDP increased annually by less than 1%. There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth.

Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. The share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. The evidence does not suggest necessarily a relationship between tax policy with regard to the top tax rates and the size of the economic pie, but there may be a relationship to how the economic pie is sliced.

In other words, there is no evidence to support the GOP theory of trickle-down economics, but there is evidence to support a trickle up theory of economics at work. Of course, on reading this GOP Congressmen went nuts. They don't like the facts because they do not fit with their preconceived notions -- notions which by the way happen to favor the plutocratic rich. Once again the GOP becomes anti-science.
_____
These conclusions are well known in the mainstream economics profession. What is unusual here is they come from the Congressional Research Service. Similar to coming from the Congressional Budget Office.

GOP Sophistry at Work
Kimball Corson
11/24/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

GOP Sophistry at Work

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper's findings and wording.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader and other Republicans raised concerns with an economic report that questions a central tenet of conservative economic theory: that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

The decision to withdraw the report, made in late September against the advice of the agency's economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. It remains withdrawn and suppressed.

The GOP doesn't like economic analysis any more than they like other forms of scientific analysis. They like to suppress results which do not fit with their ideologically driven, preconceived notions. They are against scientific analysis in virtually every quarter. Name one legitimate area of science they support and extol. It is zip. Everything contrary to their preconceived notion and ideology is biased, bad science or political dreck. It is a foreshortened, wormy view.

Mind Link
Kimball Corson
11/24/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Mind Link: Daughter and Her Dog in the Car. (excellent photo by husband, Jason, I presume)

SONY DSC-RX-100 vs the Canon PowerShot G1X
Kimball Corson
11/24/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

SONY DSC-RX-100 vs
the Canon PowerShot G1X (a top 4/3rds camera; not a compact camera)

Faster lens f/1.8 vs f/2.8 on G1X
Around 40% faster aperture; Better in low light

Faster rapid fire 10 fps vs 1.9 fps
Around 5.5x faster continuous shooting; Take photos in rapid succession to capture motion

Much better dynamic range 12.4 ev vs 10.8 ev
More than 10% better dynamic range

Much better macro lens 50 mm vs 200 mm
4x closer macro focus; Take great close-up photos

Higher resolution screen 1,229 k dots vs 920 k dots
More than 30% higher resolution screen

Better overall image quality 66.0 vs 60.0
10% better image quality

Significantly higher resolution 20 MP vs 14.2 MP
More than 40% higher resolution; Capture more detail, good for large prints

Much more highly reviewed by consumers 87.44% vs 77.34%. More than 10% more highly reviewed

More photos per charge 330 vs 250
80 more shots; Longer battery life

Automatic panorama Yes vs no

Color depth 22.6 bits vs 21.7 bits
Almost the same

Sensor size (mm squared) 117 vs 243 in G1X (4/3rds size)
Largest other than in DSLR's (usually 329 there) -- 21 typical in ultracompacts

Optical viewfinder no vs yes

Flash hot shoe no vs yes

Lighter 213 g vs 390 g
Around 50% lighter

Thinner 36 mm vs 65 mm
More than 40% thinner

Smaller 102 x 59 x 36 mm vs 117 x 81 x 65 mm
2.9x smaller

Price $648 vs. $699 (Amazon)

 

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