The origin of the Young Earth Creationists

So I’m reading Chris Impey’s book “The Living Cosmos” when I run across his mention of the origin of the young earth crowd.

It happened in 1654, James Ussher said that the genesis of Earth occured at 9:00AM on October 23, 4004BCE. And of course this was refuted by James Hutton in his “Theory of Earth”. But lot of good that did us. We still have morons around who believe that a 354 year old fiction is reality.

Just thought you’d like to know where it came from.

Why is the RI Budget $33.6 Million in the Hole?

Something appeared in the local rag which tells a story of why RI is $33.6 million in the hole.

Check this out:
Each company below received more than $1 million in Rhode Island tax breaks for the year ended June 30.

Name Amount
CVS $17,230,650
Fidelity Investments (FMR Corp.) $10,049,844
Brotherhood Productions* $5,484,600
Bridesmaid Productions* $4,144,901
Hachiko Productions* $3,006,463
UTGR (Twin River) $2,406,595
Bank of America $1,742,621
Total $44,065,674

* Movie/TV production companies
SOURCE: Based on report by R.I. Dept. of Revenue’s Division of Taxation

Tax breaks for business
The R.I. Dept. of Revenue studied six different types of state tax breaks to see which businesses claim them and how much those businesses receive:

Tax Break Summary Number of Recipients Total Amount
Tax rate is reduced a certain amount for every 50 new employees hired. 12 $21 million
Sales tax break for construction of new facilities. 13 $18.2 million
Tax credit for companies that film movies or TV shows in state. 4 12.8 million
Tax credit for business in distressed area “enterprise zone” that hires new employees. 87 $1.8 million
Tax credits as incentives for innovation and growth generally involving science and technology. 4

Total $54.1 million

For year ended June 30, 2008
Source: R.I. Dept. of Revenue’s Division of Taxation

Now that you’ve seen the data, let me say a few things.

Should you so desire, you can total up the tax savings and tax breaks to come to a total of about $98 Million dollars. And the state is in the hole a third of that amount.

Next, why the hell do companies like CVS Caremark and Bank of America need tax breaks? Last I looked they haven’t exactly been beneficial to Rhode Island, they just take and take and take.

Then there is the Twin River property. The state through it’s ineptitude managed to completely destroy the economic feasibility of what could have been a premier gambling establishment.

Twin River was once Lincoln Downs. They used to have regular dog races there. Then someone got the bright idea to install Keno machines, then video lottery, then slots, and I’ve heard they now want to add table games.

But RI in it’s greedy grubby little fashion takes almost half the cut of the profit. Any company providing the service is automatically at a disadvantage since they have the debt service and the state gets half the take. A better solution would be to give the Narragansetts management over the facility. Then they get their casino that they want so badly.

The other thing that bugs me in the tax break section is that science and technology gets a measly $300,000 in breaks. If you ask me that chart is upside down in the last column. Leave the left hand columns as is but take the amounts in the right column and flip them upside down. Pump $21 Million or more into Sci/Tech and watch things take off. Providence by its nature is a science and technology incubator. We have vibrant groups like Providence Geeks, DC401, etc. on the computing and electronics front but we need much more. The RI Nexus is a good first step.

One of the problems I see is academia. It needs to step into the 21st century and become the incubator for the next great societal change. And in dealing with academia over my career I’ve found that they have their set way of doing things, and heaven help you if you try to change it.

So instead of growing science and technology we keep pissing away money to big companies and movie and tv production firms. And if one looks at their representative government, you’ll find that we the citizens have no voice in their actions. Instead people who proudly call themselves lobbyists do the bidding of their corporate masters. Personally I’m of the opinion it should be open season on the lobbyists and their corporate masters. We need to send a very clear message to our ELECTED representatives that they will do OUR bidding and not that of a corporate entity which I consider a fraudulent legal entity.

There are many things causing the RI deficit and the prime candidate is tax breaks. And to Governor Carcieri, no it’s not the state employees, and no it’s not the immigrants. Look back inward and see the real problem, unmitigated greed.

My first nephew

It had to happen eventually, and sure enough it did. I’m now Uncle Tony.

The bundle of joy arrived this evening around 7PM. He was 6lbs and his name is Kamorre (Or Keymorre)

Let the bespoiling begin.

Hacking the Virgin Pedometer

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Apparently one of my office mates is a very competitive sort. So I have to pull a fast one on him. I setup my Arduino to pulse pin 13 ever 10ms. I then took that output and put it across the magnetic reed switch on the pedometer. I know, I know, I could have done a magnetic coil but what's the fun in that?

Falling energy prices

How come diesel fuel and heating oil prices are still up over $4 per gallon. Don’t give me the shit that it’s because the fuel today was bought on futures. That’s bullshit and we all know it. But what this article does prove is that the price of a barrel of oil is manipulated by speculative bidding. That’s a serious no-no in most trading circles but because of the Enron Loophole, they don’t have to report transaction in the oil spot markets.

Nice huh? That’s the other thing, recently National Grid asked to drop an increase in natural gas prices by 4.6%, but then they want to increase the distribution charge by 5.4%. I’m just a little miffed on that one because I have to question, what the fuck have I been paying distribution charges for over these years that National Grid has owned the energy market in Rhode Island?

Sort of how we’re all paying for the burial of high tension lines that once stood over India Park. National Grid fought tooth and nail not to have to pay the cost, but yet they kept collecting distribution network charges from us like they’d done for years prior.

As I’ve said before, the deregulation of the energy markets in Rhode Island were from the perspective of the consumer a very stupid move. It gets worse, even though National Grid does business in Rhode Island they’re a NATIONAL company, so who regulates it? It certainly isn’t our Pubic Utilities Commission since they have no enforcement teeth when it comes to electricity and natural gas distribution.

Push the pendulum back, eliminate the Enron loophole and put the regulation of electricity and natural gas suppliers back in the hands of the state regulators. Don’t stop there, give the regulators the power to impose enormous fines for screwing over the ratepayers.

NEW YORK – Oil prices sank below $106 a barrel Friday as a jump in the U.S. unemployment rate signaled to traders that Americans might keep paring back their energy use to save money.

The Labor Department said the economy lost jobs in August for the eighth consecutive month — and at a faster-than-expected pace. The unemployment rate spiked to 6.1 percent from 5.7 percent in July, above the 5.8 percent rate that analysts forecast.

“There’s been a terrific amount of growing concern about the outlook for demand globally,” said John Kilduff, senior vice president of risk management at MF Global LLC. “Today’s employment report emboldened that concern.”

Light, sweet crude for October delivery fell $1.93 to $105.96 a barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after falling to $105.13, its lowest trading level since early April. Since surging to a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11, crude has dropped by over $40, or more than 27 percent.

What could possibly stanch the drop is a cutback in production. Investors are waiting to see if OPEC decides to restrict oil output at its meeting next week in Vienna in response to the two-month plunge in prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has indicated it may take action to defend the $100-a-barrel level for crude.

But with the dollar on the rebound, many analysts say even a production cutback could prove ineffectual in boosting oil prices.

The dollar weakened modestly against the euro and pound on Friday after the employment report, but rose against the yen. The dollar’s recent comeback has helped accelerate oil’s price decline. Commodities were bought by many funds to hedge against inflation and weakness in the U.S. currency, so when the dollar rebounded, funds unwound those hedges, thereby driving commodities prices lower.

The jump in the dollar and the decline in oil has also been driven by signs of economic weakness in developing countries around the world — particularly those in Western Europe.

“It’s sort of a race to the bottom among the leading economies — Europe is ahead at the moment. That’s pumping up the dollar, or making the dollar economy seem much less worse,” Kilduff said.

Heating oil futures fell 5.59 cents to $2.9678 a gallon on the Nymex, where gasoline prices dropped 6.19 cents to $2.6785 a gallon. Natural gas for October delivery edged up by 4.1 cents to $7.363 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, October Brent crude fell $2.25 to $104.14 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In addition to economic indicators and OPEC, traders are keeping an eye on storms developing in the Atlantic. Forecasters do not expect Hanna, Ike or Josephine to head for key oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, but the hurricane season is not officially over until the end of November.

The Energy Department’s weekly U.S. oil inventory report released Thursday showed a decline in gasoline inventories last week that was smaller than expected. But the report also showed surprising drops in stockpiles of crude and distillates, which include diesel fuel and heating oil; analysts had expected increases.

U.S. gasoline demand has been hovering about 1.6 percent to 3.1 percent lower than a year ago, but demand for distillates is still higher than a year ago, according to Peter Beutel, head of the energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover.

Meanwhile, distillate imports are at their lowest level in years, he wrote in his research note.

“If any rally gets going, distillate is likely to lead it,” Beutel wrote.


Associated Press Writers Alex Kennedy in Singapore, Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary, and Joe Bel Bruno in New York contributed to this report.

The whole Immigration Debate

Today the Providence Journal had an article about a man from Guatemala who came here to RI, was here for over 25 years and only got caught when the governors goon squad raided the state courthouses and arrested the cleaning crews.

It got me to thinking. The guy has been here for so long, paid taxes, raised a family, in general he’s done what every citizen usually does. He does the jobs that we won’t do, or don’t want to do. And this is our way of thanking him.

I was talking to a guy at the bus stop today and he brought up the immigration subject. I told him that we’re placing the blame on the wrong people. I explained that the prime beneficiaries of immigrant labor are businesses and they pay off the politicians to turn a blind eye to shoddy employment practices. I could tell he was interested, because I related it to the attacks on state employees. Turns out his girlfriend works for the state and I explained that I used to and that I never would again because I don’t like being played as a scapegoat by asshole Republicans like Gobernador Don Carcieri. (Or is that Governatore???)

Not long ago the ProJo ran a series of pictures of Italian and Irish immigrants building out the natural gas distribution system in the late 19th century. I think to the fact that part of my ancestry is Italian, that if my great grandparents hadn’t migrated here back in the early 1900’s where would I be? Talk about an existential crisis. My great grandmother naturalized in 1937, my great grandfather never did.

There’s a whole history of my family that I only discovered when I was older, like the naturalization fact. I knew that both my grandfathers served during WW II, one in Europe the other in the Pacific theater. It’s funny all the stuff you find out later.

I have some memories of Grandma Vincenzina and it’s funny that even today I hear certain Italian phrases and the memory comes flooding back. It’s why watching the Soprano’s was so much fun. I got the inside references in that show for more reasons than just the linguistic stuff.

Never thought I’d find myself agreeing with a Roman Catholic Bishop but Tobin actually gets it. And I get it too, business would prefer to break the back of employees so they exploit immigrants. Nice isn’t it.

MBTA Stuff

So for the past few weeks I’ve been riding the Providence to Boston MBTA commuter. And I find myself searching out a car that has WiFi every time I ride.

Apparently MBTA is the first transit company to install WiFi on its commuter rail. I think it serves a dual purpose though since this has also happened at about the same time they rolled out the Charlie Card. I was trying to think how they could use a stored value Charlie Card on a commuter rail and then it hit me, just use a wireless device that the MBCR (Mass Bay Commuter Rail) employees can swipe the card against. The side benefit is we commuting schlubs get WiFi out of the deal.

Then from Boston I take the Red Line down to Braintree. Yes it’s a long commute but well worth it.

Anyhow here’s what I noticed. They tend to treat the older Red Line cars more gently. Those are the ones that are white with the red stripe. The newer cars are stainless steel with a red stripe at the bottom. The newer cars also have the LCD destination signs and for stop announcements there are the red LED signs and the automated voice. Interestingly that picture is taken at the station where I get off, Braintree. Both sides are used for inbound so that lower part that says “Next Train” lights red. When a train is about to leave a loud bell is rung and you’ve got about 30 or 40 seconds to get on the train before it starts for Boston.

As I was saying, the older cars are treated more gently. They’re rattle traps so they tend to keep the speeds under 40MPH, while they push the newer cars up past 50MPH.

I also found out an interesting fact. They only have a three hour window to do track repairs on that line. The service starts off at about 5AM and ends at roughly 1AM. So you’d think they have four hours but they have to make sure all the cars are in the barn and then power off the track, then roll the repair car out and then do their work.

Part of the reason is because the subway system in Boston is the oldest in the nation.

But it makes me wonder, how did Boston end up with such a great transit system and Providence got the shit end of the stick? Up until about 1950 we had trolleys that ran on power supplied by overhead catenary and the train station in Providence was a hopping place right up until then. Here’s a photo of one of the tracked trolleys and then one of the trackless trolleys in 1946. By 1950 they were all gone.

But then that’s when the highway projects started, and GM and Standard Oil started National City Lines to get transit companies to use buses that burned diesel and went through tires like crazy. And of course it’s why RI’s transit authority RIPTA is in such dire straits today.

I’d like to see the MBTA absorb RIPTA, along with GATRA and SEPTA. Make it one humongous regional system. The MBTA commuter already runs into Providence and soon it will run to TF Green airport in Warwick. Plans are also on the board for stations in Wickford and Westerly. That will be nice.

But it’s going to take a while for that to happen.