All posts by Paul Danger Kile

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Amanda & Jack Palmer: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

(Originally posted on 2016-05-05)

Amanda & Jack Palmer cover Richard Thompson‘s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning if this video. The video is quite good. The art is by David Mack of Kabuki fame. Watch it.

I was aware of the Dresden Dolls, but I didn’t start listening to Amanda Palmer until after she married Neil Gaiman, because: Neil Gaiman. I suspect that this true for many people. Most of her music is pay what you want so there’s every reason to buy it if you like it, and pay exactly what it is worth to you.

Here’s what a stock Vincent Black Shadow looks like. The image is by brett Jordan:

brett Jordan’s Vincent Black Shadow, licensed via Creative Commons

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Telemann Concerto for 3 oboes and 3 violins B flat major (c. 1740)

(Originally posted on 2016-05-06)

This video is from The Academy of Ancient Music. It’s Telemann, so it’s baroque. If like baroque music then you need to check it out, if not, then you really need to check it out.

It’s awesome. It has melodies that simultaneously create chords (not harmonizing, separate melodies, on separate instruments).

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Wal-Mart Employees In Cages!

(Originally posted on 2008-02-08 as /archives/137)

101 Dalmations Halloween Costume
101 Dalmations Halloween Costume

Only kidding!  I used to sit on the other side of this contraption.  It’s part of a 101 Dalmatians Halloween Costume, that someone thought was a good idea, but I thought, “It looks like they have those poor office workers working in cages.”

A lot of what you probably think about Wal-Mart is wrong.

My “quotes” (below) are paraphrases of things that I have heard or read recently.

“Those Walton Family members made [insert number here] dollars and they are not giving anything back.”

You see Wal-Mart people giving back to society a lot in Northwest Arkansas.

“But they give nothing back to my state.  All of that money goes out-of-state, and none of it comes back.  There is this guy named [insert name here] that goes around and talks about this.  He holds up a [insert brand name here] sweater and says, ‘This sweater has $0.75 of labor, and $1.00 of materials, and Wal-Mart sells it for $20.00.'”

I don’t know what Wal-Mart’s markup currently is, and if I did, then I couldn’t tell you.  Let me say this though: back when I was training to be an Ames manager (My training store’s picture is on Wikipedia!) I was taught that discount department stores typically shoot for 10% markup in aggregate, and that large chain grocery stores typically shoot for 3% markup in aggregate.  You can bet that Wal-Mart is shooting for the lowest number possible.  The above sweater example isn’t close to either of those numbers.  Also, materials and labor aren’t the only costs of doing business, but all of any given retailer’s costs of doing business are typically covered by a small margin.

“But Wal-Mart is making all those products.  I know, because you can see their name on them in the store.”

They buy the products from all of the same vendors that every other company does.  Each mature industry typically only has a few big players.  That’s where Wal-Mart gets the products from: mature companies in mature industries.  The folks that work in the Wal-Mart distribution centers could probably tell you who those companies are if they weren’t so loyal, and/or didn’t all sign non-disclosure agreements.  And no, store-brand products aren’t lower quality.  It’s not like factory foremen are running around saying, “We gotta do a worse job on this batch of soap: it’s going in a store-brand box!  Do worse work!”

Another aspect of “they buy the products from all of the same vendors that every other company does” is that Wal-Mart is the wrong target for your anger about how things are made.  If you don’t buy a given company’s product at Wal-Mart, then you will probably end up buying it somewhere else, because there are very few large companies in any mature industry.

“But Wal-Mart uses price pressure to force those companies to lower their quality!”

Price pressure begins when a product becomes commoditized.  This happens with, or without, Wal-Mart.  That’s why XBOX 360 games have almost the same exact price at every retailer.  Xbox 360 games are not a commodity.  Yes, I know that Microsoft sets the price of Xbox 360 games, but that just proves my point.

“But companies like Wal-Mart have made it so that manufacturing is moving overseas.”

Wal-Mart cannot have stores overseas, but refuse to purchase products oversea, and yes, Wal-Mart does have stores in China, Mexico, and many other countries.

Besides: manufacturing is not all moving overseas.  In 2005 the U.S.’ share of global manufacturing was still 21.1%.  That’s right: more than 1/5 of manufacturing revenues world-wide go to the U.S.A.  How much does China manufacture?  8%  (source: FP Quiz, Foreign Policy Magazine September/October 2007)

As a matter of fact our trade deficit shrunk by $100 Billion over the past year.  That means that US exports are increasing dramatically relative to imports.

But what about all of those closed textile mills in North Carolina?

The jobs are somewhere else in the U. S. of A.  Obviously: that’s no comfort to the folks that want to stay in their current hometowns.

To be continued: next I will talk about the stock market and how the money made there has nothing to do with any company’s markup: they are two separate and distinct things.

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How to Easily Simulate A Painting

(Originally posted on Jul 13, 2015 as /archives/10491)

This thumbnail is a cropped version of the image that is automatically posted to Facebook when you click the Facebook icon at the link.
This thumbnail is a cropped version of the image that is automatically posted to Facebook when you click the Facebook-share icon on Anita Farmer’s post. It is not my image.

For an excellent tutorial on how to easily simulate a painting via Photoshop blend layers please see Anita Farmer’s Beginner’s guide to transforming your photo into a watercolour masterpiece.

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My KISS Story

(Originally posted on 2016-06-08)

By Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz (KISS) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I went to see KISS at the Glens Falls Civic Center in the 1980s. My seat was on the floor (where the hockey ice would be) way in the back, the seats in front of me were roped-off and watched by security. This kid walks up to the security guard and starts messing with him. While he is harassing the guard he looks at me and says, “What are you waiting for? Go!” So I go up to the stage.

When the concert starts I get crushed by bodies, but I know all these KISS songs, because I used to play them on bass; Robert Pulsifer, a guitarist, made sure that I knew them. So Gene is in front of me, and I am doing air-bass identical to what he is doing. All the people around me push back, and give me room (weird), and now I can really pretend to be Gene Simmons right in front of him. He is singing and watching my hands. Between songs they switch places, but before-going he leans over the bouncer pit and flicks his tongue at me.

That’s what KISS fans were like. They will crush you to get closer to the band, unless you need room. Also, they will mess-with-security for a stranger.

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The Fastest Woman On Earth Attempt -and- Where Will Our Future Pilots Come From?

(Originally posted Aug 1, 2015 on as /archives/10506)

Here’s a video about becoming the fastest woman on Earth

I dig land speed record videos.

What’s with the fighter-pilot-oxygen-mask?

Is it for cooling (not oxygen) like on a racing helmet?

Pilots use oxygen to fly unpressurized planes at high altitudes. Why do that? If there’s a stronger tailwind up there, then they can save time and fuel. I read a story about a check-delivery-pilot that did this, but became oxygen-deprived by mistake. Most military flying requires oxygen masks too.

A commercial pilot is not what many people think it is.

(The rest of this post is USA-centric.)

The people that fly for the airlines, need an Air Transport Pilot License (ATPL). The ATPL requires 750 to 1500 hours (depending on your training) of flying. The people that we usually call “commercial pilots”, are actually ATPs. The commercial pilots license is different.

Where will our future pilots come from?

That check-delivery-story reminded me of my concerns about where the USA will get its future pilots.

How does a pilot get 750 to 1500 hours of experience, which is just one of the requirements for the ATPL?

  • Delivering our checking-acount-checks from bank-to-bank at night. The “Check 21 Act” of 2003, made it legal to send scans of checks. So no more “flying checks”. Two-billion dollars of flights (per year?) are now gone: “poof”.
  • Fly as an airline co-pilot, but now they also need an ATPL (as-of July 15, 2013).
  • As a flight instructor
  • Charters
  • Corporate aviation
  • Plane rental, but that’s expensive; 1500 hours costs $112,500 to $600,000. (at $75 to $400 per hour for small non-turbine planes).
  • The military
  • Etc.

Without check deliveries, and non-ATP co-pilots, where will get enough pilots with enough hours? I have no idea, but it will become a problem without some future change.

For More See:

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Proof Of Citizenship Is Not Trivial For My Child

(Originally posted on Nov 25, 2015 as /archives/10617)

This is from Episode 10 of “The Newsroom” by Aaron Sorkin. In it, Jeff Daniels, as Will McAvoy, takes on the Tea Party.

In it he says, among other things:

Dorothy Cooper is a 96 year old resident of Chattanooga Tennessee and has been voting for the last 75 years.  This year, she has been told she can’t.  A new law in Tennessee requires residents to show a government issued photo ID in order to vote.  Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a driver’s license, because Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a car. Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a passport; a vacation abroad was never in her future.

In Kansas It’s Far Worse

In Kansas we need to show proof of citizenship to vote, and to get a driver’s license: not just ID.

If you are a US citizen, then your child becomes a US citizen as soon as they become legal residents. The combination of your proof of citizenship, your adoption papers, and their proof of residence is proof of citizenship.

However: in my experience government employees are not familiar with this law, and do not know how to read this law, and will demand that you produce the Certificate of Citizenship for foreign born adopted children.

In Kansas, in order to get a learner’s permit, so that my child can drive, required me to educate four levels of management at our DMV. It escalated to the highest level. It took many hours of time, over a couple of days of time, to get this done. That’s with extremely helpful people. If they weren’t so helpful, it would have gone much worse.

Natural born citizens can use a birth certificate, but it costs $550 for any person that is already a US citizen, but wasn’t born in the USA, to get citizenship papers.

In our case naturalization was automatic when my daughter was adopted by her American mother. INS doesn’t automatically provide proof of citizenship for adopted children, but adopted children are naturalized citizens. It was very difficult to convince the DMV though: I needed to convince four levels of management that a foreign birth certificate, and adoption papers, are proof of citizenship, because of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. (Ironically, Sam Brownback’s children have the same status.)

My child, who is a US citizen cannot vote without that $550 piece of paper, because: Sam Brownback.

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Here is the video.

Here is the transcript. I copied it from DAILY KOS, and they copied it from the video:

Good Evening, I’m Will McAvoy.  Today is Monday, August 8 [2011].

And this past Friday, for the first time ever, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the US Treasury.  You would think that would be tonight’s top story.  Or you might think it would be the Dow closing down 634 points on its worst day of trading in 3 years.   Or the austerity riots in Europe.  Or any statements of the Republican candidates running for president. Or the President himself.  But it’s not.

Tonight’s top story is a woman named Dorothy Cooper.  

Dorothy Cooper is a 96 year old resident of Chattanooga Tennessee and has been voting for the last 75 years.  This year, she has been told she can’t.  A new law in Tennessee requires residents to show a government issued photo ID in order to vote.  Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a driver’s license, because Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a car. Dorothy Cooper doesn’t have a passport; a vacation abroad was never in her future.

Tennessee isn’t alone.  At this moment,  33 states have proposed or already adopted the same voter id laws that have disqualified Dorothy Cooper from the one fundamental thing that we all do as Americans.  It’s estimated that 11% or roughly 20 million people don’t have government issued voter ids and will be disenfranchised this November.   Why?  To crack down on the terrible problem of voter fraud.  Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who is about to enter the presidential primary race, is serious about cracking down on the problem:

>Video of Perry:  “Making sure that there is not fraud, making sure that someone is not manipulating that process makes all the sense in the world to me.”<

Me too.  Because voter fraud is such a huge problem that during a five year period in the Bush Administration, when 196 million votes were cast, the number of cases of voter fraud reached…86.   Not 86,000.  86.  Here’s what that number looks like as a percentage of votes cast.  .00004%.  Four one hundred thousandths of a percent.  This would be called a solution without a problem, but it’s not.  It’s just a solution to a different problem.  

Republican’s have a hard time getting certain people to vote for them.  So life would be a lot easier if certain people just weren’t allowed to vote at all.  I’m ashamed to say that 32 out of the 33 voter id laws were proposed by Republican legislators,  and passed by Republican controlled statehouses.  And signed into law by Republican governors.   I am not ashamed to say that I, however, am a Republican.  And that brings us to tonight’s second story.

I’m what the leaders of the Tea Party would call a RINO:  Republican in Name Only.  And that’s ironic because that’s exactly what I think about the leaders of the Tea Party.   Because the most conservative Republicans today…aren’t Republicans.  

Republicans believe in a prohibitive military.  We believe in a common sense government.   And that there are social programs enacted in the last half century that work but that there are way too many costing way too much, that don’t.  We believe in the rule of law and order and free market capitalism.  The Tea Party believes in loving America but hating Americans.  Tea Party Congressman  Allen West of Florida.  

>Video of West:  I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama bumper sticker, I recogonize them as a threat to the gene pool. <

 They believe in loving America, but hating its government.  Conservative activist, Grover Norquist.

>Video of Norquist:  I don’t want to abolish government,  I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub. <

And they believe that anybody who disagrees with the Tea Party has sinister anti-American motives.  

>Video of Herman Cain:  The objective of the liberals is to destroy this country.  The objective of the liberals is to make America mediocre.  <

Most of all, you must never, under any circumstance, seek  to reach a compromise with your opponent.  Or do any of what Democrats and genuine Republicans both call ‘governing.’  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

>Vidieo of McConnell:  Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.<

And one other plank in the Tea Party platform.  If you are poor, it means that you are either too lazy or too stupid to be rich.  Here’s Andre Bauer, Tea Party Leader and the Lt. Governor of South Carolina [McAvoy read’s Bauer’s words] :  My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.  You know why?  Because they breed.”

It’s almost hard to believe that Republicans can’t get Dorothy Cooper to vote for them.

During Tea Party rallys and in campaign speeches, we’ve been told that America has been founded as a Christian nation and if the founding fathers were here today, they’d tell us so.  Here’s John Adams in the treaty of Tripoli:  “As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”  And here’s Thomas Jefferson:  “…that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.”  And here’s the first amendment to the US Constitution:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

What’s more frightening than the perversion of our great history is that sensible strong smart Republicans, the very men and women who should be standing up to radical fundamentalism, are so frightened in losing primary battles to religious zealots that they’ve thrown in the towel on sanity.  So we get this:

>Video of John McCain:  Yes, that the constitution established the United States as a Christian nation.<

It’s ironic because the biggest enemy of the phony Republican isn’t Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama.  It’s this man.  [image of Jesus Christ].  He said ‘Heal the sick.  Feed the hungry.   Care for the weakest among us.  And always pray in private. ‘  

On screen behind McAvoy while he reads:
–    Ideological  purity
–    Compromise as weakness
–    A fundamentalist belief in scriptural literalism
–    Denying science
–    Unmoved by facts
–    Undeterred by new information
–    A hostile fear of progress
–    A demonization of education
–    A need to control women’s bodies
–    Severe xenophobia
–    Tribal mentality
–    Intolerance of dissent
–    A pathological hatred of the US government

They can call themselves the Tea Party.  They can call themselves Conservatives.   And they can even call themselves Republicans.  Though Republican’s certainly shouldn’t.  But we should call them what they are:  The American Taliban.  And the American Taliban cannot survive if Dorothy Cooper is allowed to vote.  

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