Happiness

This just in: There was a bit on CBS this morning about happiness.  I thought I would look into a few other studies and summarize my takeaways today.

First of all, what stood out the most for me was the absolute absence of Material Wealth in any study.  I could not find anything that said the bigger your house, the happier you are.  The “I got more so my happiness is greater” type of thought is a belief in something that just isn’t true.

We tend to worship the Trumps of the world because they have wealth and thus, power.  I’m not one to get biblical but this, to me, is akin to Worshiping False Idols.

What does cause happiness?  In no particular order…

  • Spend time every day being grateful.  A lot of effort is not necessary but more seems to be better.  For example, before you go to bed a night, think of just 3 things you are grateful for.
  • Spend time socializing.  This means spending time with other people, in the flesh.  Texting is not the type of socializing the studies refer to.
  • Perform random acts of kindness.  Hold open a door.  Give a compliment.  Whatever it is, make it spontaneous.
  • Change your perspective.  You have everything you need to be happy, right now.  You are in the right place with the right people, or lack thereof.  To be happy you need to only change how you are looking at things.  I know this can sound impossible.  How can I be happy when I am in mourning from losing a family member or pet?  Maybe the “happiness perspective” is to acknowledge how strong the love was that could result in such grief.

There are several other things but to me, they are all variations of the short list above.

There is one last step…

Don’t expect to be happy by accident.  Sure, it can happen and does happen all the time.  However, if you find you are unhappy, the above steps are “action” steps that can take you from where you are to where you want to be.

Time to save the world…

Up, up and away…

J

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Economics of a Bully

This just in:  Trump’s tariffs have started a global trade war in which there are no winners.  Not unless you call the smug satisfaction Trump gets when he is bulling someone a “victory.”

Here is what tariffs do.  They are a tax on an imported good.  For example, if China once sold a cell phone in the United States for $400, then a 25% tariff would increase the cost of that phone to $500.  We put a tariff on China and Americans pay more for goods they buy from China.

To be clear…the tariff on imported goods is a tax on Americans.

If this is true, why would anyone implement tariffs?

Setting Trump aside for the moment, there are times that tariffs are practical.  For example, let’s suppose China has a huge technological and cost advantage when it comes to producing solar panels.  Let’s also assume that the United States would like to encourage the development and production of solar panels domestically.  Since China has such a huge advantage and can sell panels much cheaper than we can make them, any company in the United States that produces panels will not be able to compete.  Their panels will not be as advanced nor as cheap as those from China.

Enter the tariffs…

By putting tariffs on Chinese solar panels, their panels will now cost Americans more to buy.  In fact, the Chinese panels are now so expensive that we will buy American panels instead.  This allows a domestic industry to survive and grow.   Eventually, we will be on par with China and the tariffs, no longer needed, will go away.

So, the tariff increased the cost of solar panels but in exchange, we got a foothold in a huge global market for our domestic panels.

Let’s bring Trump back into the picture.

As president, he is allowed to unilaterally implement tariffs up to 25% if it is in the interest of national security.   For example, to protect an American industry that contributes to defense.

What Trump has done is to impose arbitrary tariffs on China, the E.U. and Canada without any clear rationale.  No one, including those in this cabinet, know what it is that he is actually trying to do.  No one can tell us what the “national security” issue is.

And what’s worse, those countries he is imposing tariffs on don’t know what he wants.  They don’t know what he is trying to negotiate for.  He says things like “China is treating us unfair” without clarification.  He puts tariffs on Canadian milk as if this will prevent a national security breach.  He puts a tariff on German cars and leaves the E.U. to scratch their collective heads in confusion.

Trump does all of this for two reasons.  The first being because he can.  The Republican Congress has indicated to Trump that they will not challenge any issue he wants to take on.

The main reason for tariffs is that Trump is a bully.  He puts tariffs on counties for the same reason the biggest kid in 3rd grade beats up on the other, smaller kids.  He is mean and insecure.  Being a bully is the best way he has come up to deal with this.

So, the world is entering a trade war because Trump basically needs a nap.

And as the result, Americans will pay more for many for the products they buy every day.

Vote in November and get the Republicans out of our house.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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Putin’s Spanking Room

This just in:  Trump is headed to Europe to meet with NATO, the UK and Putin.  I’d like to share a few thoughts and predictions about this.

But first, let’s look at Trump’s achievements while in office thus far.  Perhaps this will tell us how high or low to set the bar for this week’s expectations.

First of all, we must remember that he is an expert Deal Maker.  If you are not sure, just ask him.

Deals he has backed out of…

  1. The Trans Pacific Partnership whose purpose was to increase markets overseas for U.S products.
  2. NAFT whose purpose was to increase markets in Canada and Mexico for U.S. products.
  3. U.N. Human Rights Council whose purpose is to monitor and address Human Rights around the world.
  4. The Iran Nuclear deal whose purpose was to eliminate Iran’s ability to create a nuclear threat to the world.
  5. ON the verge of exiting the G-7 economic summit because they hurt his feelings.

Deals he has made…

  1. Under his congress, he passed a tax law that adds trillions to our national debt in exchange for…nothing other than millions of tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country.
  2. He claimed to have made a deal with North Korea and even announced that his 2-hour meeting with Kim -never missed a meal- Jong Un resulted in a complete end to the nuclear threat.  Notable is that North Korea seems to disagree with this completely.

Major accomplishments…

  1. For no apparent reason, pushed for the separation of immigrant parents and their children as they sought to flee violence in their own countries.
  2. Refused to support a “Breast Feeding is Good” resolution at a World Health Assembly; stunning the rest of the world.  His rationale….”Baby food makers are people too.”  Never, ever underestimate the power of the Baby Food Lobby.
  3. Everything else he has done has been through Executive Order, including the tariffs that are set to cripple to Global economy.  He has also dismanted of nearly every regulation put in place to protect our environment.

Now….About his overseas trip that starts today…

He meets with NATO in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday.  He has managed to alienate nearly every member in this organization. NATO is the single most successful peace organization in the history of the world.  Trump, on his very own, has created an atmosphere where they fear even meeting with him.  They know he is Putin’s boy and fear that any plans they make will be relayed to Putin when he and Trump meet a few days later.  My prediction:  Trump will continue to alienate NATO.  He will boast about how well everything went and then ignore it when other members claim he is a turd.

We have to remember that Trump lives in a world that exists only in his mind.  There is no “Better and Cheaper healthcare.”  There is no “Denuclearization of North Korea.”  There is no “Better Trade deal that is more fair.”  He’s claimed all of these and yet, all are demonstrably false.

After NATO, Trump goes to the UK where he is universally hated.  He will mostly avoid London where protesters will be filling the street.  There will be a giant balloon of Baby Trump flying over the city.  We have to remember, the U.K. is our biggest and closest ally…and they hate the president of the United States.  My prediction is that he will do whatever it takes to piss of the UK even more.  He can’t help himself.  Making others angry or fearful makes him feel strong.

This brings us to Putin…

Trump and Putin will meet in Helsinki a week from today.  Reportedly, Putin has set up a Spanking Room where he will administer whippings to a fat cheeto dressed in black leather.

Eventually, he and Trump will reach an agreement where Trump tells him everything he knows about NATO and Putin tells Trump how to behave on a wide range of issues going forward.

So, there you have it.

Trump’s experience tells me that my Expectations Bar needs to be set very low.  In fact, I think I’ll just lay it on the ground.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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Dogs, Dinner and Democracy…

This just in:  Another year brings another 4th of July to my desktop calendar.  I wonder how many people will hang a flag in front of their house and think, “There.  I’m a patriot.  Mission accomplished.”

I tend to think there is more to being patriotic than that.  Just like I think there is more to being a good person than going to church and then proclaiming myself a Christian.

But first…I have to tell you about something my dog did that I found extremely impressive.

My “small” dog is a Labrador.  Now, if you have ever had one of these, you know that they will not only eat anything that fits it their mouths, but they will do so with what I can only describe as Extreme Gusto.

So Echo, my dog, needs to take a pill.  Pills and pinecones are the only thing on her “Do Not Eat” list.  So, to get her to eat this pill, I put it in a handful of kibble and let her gobble this out of my hand.  As expected, she attacked this feast and gobbled everything down…then as she walked away…she stopped just long enough to spit out the pill.

I was impressed.

Now a bit about dinner.

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary.  We went to a fairly swanky restaurant.  We’d never been there before.  They had a small menu with about 7 or 8 items on it.  Of course…I went with the Pork Belly.

My wife wanted the Duck. The following conversation ensued…

Wife:  I’ll take the Duck

Waiter:  We don’t have Duck

Wife: But it’s on the menu.

Waiter:  I know but we don’t have any Duck.

Me:  When will you have Duck?  I’d like to know so we can get it next time.

Waiter:  We have Duck.

Me:  I don’t understand.

Waiter:  It’s on the menu.

Me: Okay…so my wife will take the Duck.

Waiter: We don’t have any Duck.

This is a true conversation.

My wife, Erika, ended up with some sort of eggplant thing.

And finally, my take on patriotism…

Keep in mind…this is just my opinion…

If you posted your flag and felt that you’d fulfilled your patriotic duty…then great.  However, if you did that and then went in and watched Fox News and cheered for Trump and the Republican Party…then I’m going to have to call “bullshit” on your claim to patriotism.

If you support Trump and the Republican Party, you are either a racist/evangelica (hate non-whites and/or non-Christians or your are intellectually lazy.  (You may have noticed that I have taken off my gloves.)

If you cheer when Trump says, “The Democrats want MS-13 to come into our country,”  then are easily manipulated.

Here is a link to a study that shows Democracies around the world are on the decline.  The United States took the deepest dive over the last 2 years…the Trump years.

If the only thing you are doing to stop this decline is hanging a flag…then you are part of the problem.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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The insanity of Trump’s economics

This just in:  It has been said that economics is a “soft science” because the outcomes of certain actions are not always predictable.  In fact, there is an entire field of economics known as Behavioral Economics, that tries to find out why this is so.  This diversity of outcomes from a repeated experiment is why we find several economic opinions that all differ with regards to nearly any given topic.

But there are some things we can count on, either by observation or irrefutable logic.  On these types of issues, the economic world is in nearly unison with their recommendations.

One such issue is Trump’s fantasy world of economics.  Nationally and abroad, the absurdity of Trump’s actions are astounding anyone that is paying attention.

Let’s look at a broad view of what I mean.

I will lay this out in steps, trying to put order to something that is nearly random.

  1. Trump wants to deport millions of illegal aliens.  These are people that have raised families here.  They pay taxes.  They commit crimes at a much lower rate than others.  And, this is important, they are filling many of the jobs that most of us would not take due to the low pay.  Trump’s policy of deporting these people is, in large part, justified by “They are taking away jobs that belong to U.S. citizens.”  Somehow, Trump is saying that for every field hand we deport, a high paying job is Silicon Valley opens up.
  2. Trump, and the Republican Congress passed a tax bill that takes from the nation as a whole, and gives to the vastly rich.  There are two ideas behind this: (1) Rich people will hire us to mow their lawn if they have more money.  This is known as Trickle-Down economics and is the most widely disproven economic theory there is.  And (2) Corporations will use their tax breaks to raise wages.  This makes the assumption that corporations are benevolent.  Instead, companies exist to make a profit.  If they already have employees that come to work for $x per hour, why would they pay more?  In fact, they didn’t. Instead, they are in the process of buying back company stock which has the effect of enriching shareholders, not workers.
  3. Trump cut subsidies for Green Energy, one of the fastest growing industries in the world today.  Many of the jobs in this industry are good paying.  Instead, Trump is investing in coal and other fossil fuels; an industry that is rapidly shrinking.
  4. Trump dropped out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and is now threatening to drop out of the World Trade Organization.  There is no clear reason for doing this but the outcomes are certain.  These are the exact steps one would take if they wanted to reduce the amount of goods we sell overseas.  Confusingly, Trump complains about the Trade Deficit all the time.  He thinks its a bad thing (it’s not) and then he does the exact opposite of what it would take to increase exports.
  5. Trump is putting tariffs on everyone that pisses him off.  As president, he can levy a tariff as high as 25% if it is deemed necessary for national security.  So,  suddenly, Canadian cheese imports are a threat.  The result of this is two-fold.  First, is causes our trading partners to levy counter-tariffs against us.  These counter-tariffs raise the price of our goods overseas.  Harley Davidson is a good example of this.  Tariffs placed on their product means they will sell fewer of these  overseas…unless….they move the factories and jobs overseas…which is exactly what Harley Davidson is doing.  Secondly, we now pay more for good that are imported.  If we put a tax on imported steel, then everything that uses imported steel will cost us more.  Already we are seeing spikes in goods like automobiles.

In summary, Trump touts jobs and then does everything he can to eliminate them.  He claims he is putting more money into the hands of the middle class and yet, they small amount we all get from the tax cut is quickly eaten up by the higher prices we are paying for anything imported.

And here is the kicker.  Europe, China and the rest of the world want to make this stop.  they actually want to know what it will take to make Trump stop this Globally Destructive behavior.

The thing is, even Trump doesn’t know what he wants.  The conversation goes like this…

Trump:  Here are some tariffs on the rest of the world.

The World: What can we do to make you change your mind?

Trump: I have no idea.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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The Good, the Bad and the Orange

This just in:  A quick shout-out to all my peeps that missed me on Facebook while I was away.  I missed them too.

Now for the good….

In Thailand, 12 youth soccer kids and their coach were exploring in a cave when it started to rain.  The rain flooded the cave which is apparently several miles long.  For 9 days, people searched for the group hoping that they found some sort of “bubble” to hold out in until rescue came.  Today, they a were found.  All of them are alive.

As for the Bad…

I went to see the Beach Boys at the Marin County Fair.  I should not have done that.  Yes, I can now say that I saw the Beach Boys sing California Girl.  The music, while familiar, was sung by voices that should have retired a long time ago.  I feel bad saying that but hey, if you want to stay in the game…then stay in the game.  Don’t fade away into the sunset on stage in front of a few thousand fans.

I must admit, part of my frustration with the Beach Boys had nothing to do with the music.  Someone in front of me had a plate-sized cinnamon bun topped with ice cream.  It had to be about 10,000 calories.  I thought about reaching over and grabbing a handful…then blaming my wife, but there were too many witnesses….all of whom were also eyeing this delicacy.  So, I stood there drooling as the Beach Boys struggled to remember the words or even the day of the week.

Now for the Orange…

The two biggest “How is Trump Failing Today?” stories are: (1) His lawyer, Michael Cohen is apparently flipping and will now spill the cheetos on Trump and (2) Trump is now thinking of getting out of the World Trade Organization because the rest of the world agrees with every educated person in the United States that “Trump’s Tariffs are going to ruin the global economy.”

There is a ton of news on Trump.  None of its good.  Here is a link to Reddit.  If you follow this link, it will take you to hundreds of stories from hundreds of sources, all of which say something like “Trump is the worst at everything.”

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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A Return to Facebook

This just in:  I left Facebook on May 1st and took the next 2 months off.  I seemed to have survived just fine.

My plan was to come back and start all over.  I would “friend” very few people; mostly those of a like mind.  Instead, Facebook hooked me up with everyone that I left behind.  This is a bit of a problem since one of the reasons I left was that I got tired of reading one Russian produced meme after another.  A surprising number of people I grew up with will believe just about anything.  In many cases…it’s the Dunning-Kruger effect on steroids.

I intend to be blocked and to block in abundance.

I’m still not into conspiracy theories.

I still think “Thoughts and Prayers” have zero impact on gun control.

I still believe that science is a real thing.

And I’m certain that Donald Trump is a corrupt con man.

So, not much has changed in the last 2 months.

So…what’s on my mind today?  I know that may not be important to you but it’s why I blog in the first place…to put it down on paper so my head won’t explode.

On Netflix, the SciFi show “The Expanse” has to be one of the best things out there.  I read where the SciFi channel had to drop it because, even though it was popular, the production costs were just too high.  In steps Jeff Bezos (Amazon owner).  He is a big fan of the series and is now footing the bill for season 4.

Pork Bellies are good with anything.

Radiatore pasta is the best pasta to eat when covered with chili and cheese.

On the Trump is an idiot page….(yes, I still do this)

Two weeks ago he met with Kim-Jong-Haircut of North Korea and announced that he’d solved the nuclear crisis.  Last week he said North Korea has already sent home the remains of 200 MIA from the Korean War.  Now, it looks like North Korea is actually accelerating its nuclear program AND….no, it turns out North Korea has not returned any remains.

Trump has managed to take the immigration issue and make it worse.  I won’t go into all the details because it has be blanketed by the news already.

Trump’s genius economic mind, the one that caused him to declare bankruptcy over and over again until Russian banks bailed him out, came up with the idea of tariffs.  For no apparent reason, he has started a trade war that will raise costs and cost jobs…around the fucking world!

For no reason at all…

Trump’s economic advisor went on television and bragged about how well the new tax plan is working.  It’s causing record economic growth and shrinking the deficit.  When the entire world pointed out that this was false, he changed his story to “Well, we think it will happen in the future.”

Meanwhile…common wisdom says that when a new president takes over, the economy still belongs to the previous president for one year.  The reason for this is that economies don’t change overnight.  So, the stock market continued to grow and unemployment continued to drop during Trump’s first year.  This should rightfully be put on Obama’s record. However, after 1 year, starting in 2018, the stock market has had its worst year since 2010.  Economists around the world are starting to talk about the recession that will come.  They blame 2 things for this: (1) The Republican Tax cuts for the rich and (2) Trump’s trade war.

Watch this bit on Trump by Jon Stewart.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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