Month: December 2013

The Solution Regarding Property Taxes in Providence

So I read this article where it predicts doom and gloom because 40% of the properties in the City of Providence, Rhode Island are non-profit and therefore not subject to property tax. It includes schools, hospitals, civic organizations and churches.

Now the theory behind the whole non-profit thing is interesting. It was done to encourage those institutions to get a leg up. It was not intended for it to remain in place. This is particularly true of the hospitals and schools hereby known as meds and eds. They may still fly with non-profit but they’re making money hand over fist.

But here in Providence you have Johnson & Wales, my alma mater making threats that they’ll relocate the whole kit and kaboodle to one of the other four cities they have a campus in, and even allude to the fact that Charlotte made an offer and they refused. Thing is, the eds while for example Brown University complains that its endowment suffered from the stock market thing. Yadda yadda. You’re still making money and building all over the east side of the city.

And the hospitals – dear god the hospitals. Just near me there’s Roger Williams, VA and then the big complex with RI Hospital, Women and Infants, Hasbro Childrens. And need I mention RI Hospital is also a Level 1 trauma center. Ok, all well and good.

And the churches – there’s a church every couple of blocks.

The article in the link above also mentions that this problem isn’t just one we’re seeing here in Providence.

 

Now I’ll offer my solution. Stop with the Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILOT. Stop with mayors always going begging to the  meds and eds. Instead why not tax them on the property regardless if it’s used for educational purposes or medical or church or not. Do it at a reduced rate. Right now the maximum rate is $36.75 per thousand. Why not start with the schools, charge them half that or $18.38. For medical let’s say $10 per thousand, and I’ll be graceful and say the churches pay $5. Just doing that would raise a whole lot of money.

New Mexico Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality

This is another remarkable day – before the year is even out the Supreme Court in New Mexico has now said the state has no valid reason to deny same sex couples the rights and benefits of marriage.

The year 2013 has been incredible. Here in RI we got marriage equality through the legislature. That surprised the hell out of me. Plus Delaware went, and I believe this puts us up to 17 states now. That’s 34% of the U.S. that now enjoys full marriage equality.

More corroboration for an earlier post on why the south is a stinking cesspool of conservatism

You have to read this piece in the Atlantic. They basically mapped census data on high school and college graduation to the map of the U.S.

Here’s a key map of high school graduation, the darker orange indicates high rates, lighter lower rates:

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Now here’s college baccalaureate rates:

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Now a while ago I had posted maps of internet penetration and political voting patterns. I wrote this back in June of 2013, some six months ago but it bears comparison.

The first map is internet penetration:
ImageNow we look at the 2008 Presidential Election:

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And just for fun let’s look at 2012:

ImageNow here’s the synthesis of all this. The northeast and west coast are some of the most wired areas in the country. Where I live you have oodles of wired, wireless etc. But the south, and I’m not talking way down deep south but northeast North Carolina. Wireless service absolutely falls down, and wired service is sparse. Plus education is a mess. I see the differences in my education and that of my SO’s and there’s a stark difference. Plus you always have these idiots in the south yammering on about inserting creationism into high school classes.

We need a second American revolution, one that educates and wires (or wirelesses) the south. Part of it is because large swarths of the South are also extremely impoverished. So better teaching, better school boards, and more connectivity is needed.

Ten Books Meme

So here are my ten:

1) Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein

2) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy – Douglas Adama

3) The Adolescence of P-1 by Thomas Ryan (You can read the whole book by clicking the link – it’s sort of heavy on IBM 360/370 jargon but the basic principle is easily readable.

4) Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

5) The Dreyfus Affair – Peter Lefcourt

6) A Queer History of the United States – Michael Bronski

7) Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

8) The Number of the Best – Robert Heinlein

9) Christopher and His Kind – Christopher Isherwood

10) Job: A Comedy of Justice – Robert Heinlein

The Annual Xmas Angst

It’s all because the only ones we really get presents for are the kids. Our nephew is easy – he’s a boy. Do a search on Amazon.com for “Boys toys” and you get all the fun science and weaponry toys. Search on “Girls toys” and you get all craft, makeup, etc.

This is what inspired me to write this post. I find the gendering of toys to be sort of odd. I bet there are a lot of little girls out there that would love the science and weaponry, and equal number of  boys who love the crafts and makeup. Why not encourage that?

Granted, I understand the craft part but to me the craft is electronics and putting circuits together. Not so easy to transmit that to a kid. I believe I have mentioned before I learned how to solder wires and components together when I was six years old. That plus encouragement from family cemented my love of things electronic, including computers.

And like I said, the nephew at five years old is easy. I can connect to my five year old self plus Keyron’s Mom knows EXACTLY what he wants too. So click, bing, boom and done.

The girls on the other hand – technically our nieces. We really only see them once in a while. Rarely talk to them. The nephew on the other hand – we talk to frequently and what falls out Keyron’s mom clues us in.

Yes indeed, it’s a lot easier to shop for boys when you’re a man. And I’m happy to say that the entirety of our purchases this year all come from Amazon. Every last bit. Spent $200 in total and got a pretty good haul. And everything will be there before the holiday. Nice!

 

LOL – The NHTSA Finds Speeding an Issue on U.S. Roads

Now this is sort of funny to me. I’ll explain why:

First the speed limits on highways and secondary roadways are set ARTIFICIALLY LOW. Yes you hear me. Let’s address the highways first. Those highways were designed to accommodate speeds in excess of 70MPH.

And down at the very bottom of the article, the group most likely to speed is 16-20 year old, and I just bet they’re mostly male.

Here’s the thing – I’ve been licensed for 32 years. I’m told by friends that I am a very confident driver. And I do like speed. And I dare you to drive I-95 south once you get past the City of Providence – if you’re not doing at least 70MPH you’re going to have people on your bumper or worse.

And let’s face it – the 55PMH and 65MPH limits found in most states are stupid. I love how on Route 64 in North Carolina the speed limit is 70MPH now. So some states are bucking the assholery of the NHTSA and the like. Because artificially low speed limits are only revenue enhancers and nothing more.

And for that 16 to 20 age group – make them take more drivers ed hours. And just ask the military – they have simulators for everything. Maybe every state, every school has simulators that a student must log say 100 or 200 hours on before they’re granted a license.

Bryan Fischer is trying to save my soul?

How presumptuous!

First of all Fischer makes a huge error in his ASSUMPTION that hell exists. Through my studies I’ve found what we’ve been sold about the afterlife and hell is only so much hooey.

Second of all I find it highly offensive that he’s worried about my afterlife – if in fact such a thing really exists. I go on the principle that it doesn’t exist, that you get one chance to do it right and that is the end of it.

And lastly – Fischer himself violates a hell of a lot of Biblical proscriptions so I’d make the presumption that his ass isn’t headed for any heaven. Because if hell doesn’t exist, it’s highly probably there’s no such thing as heaven either.