Category Archives: Politics

Tariffs will hurt makers and encourage offshoring.

There was a time when my job depended on my skill wielding a soldering iron and diagnosing computer hardware failures. I haven’t done that in ‘a while’ but I do still build electronic circuits now-and-then.
I occasionally build prototype devices for a client and when I do the vast majority of the parts come from China.
The new tariffs proposed by the current administration will increase my costs by 25% on this parts. However, these new tariffs do not apply to finished consumer goods, like TVs, cell phones, and the gadgets I’m likely to be building. So I have two choices; pass along the increased cost of components to my clients, or, pay a company in China to build the gadget for me and import it as a ‘finished good’. Neither of these are good outcomes for the US Economy.
I’ve linked an article below from a well known ‘maker’. He presents the case in greater detail and also includes info. on what you can do to influence these new tariffs.

How to engage a fanatic?

I read an opinion piece today that spurred me to write this post.

I struggle with this very question quite often. I am not one to “un-friend” someone simply because I don’t agree with them or their views. I’m quite curious by nature so I am driven to discover the roots of their views. However, most often what happens is that I am shouted down, accused of being “preachy” and/or “being out of touch with the real world” and/or my personal favorite “that’s your college education talking”. When I emphasize that I really want to understand how they reached their viewpoint I am accused of trying to bait them.

My formative years were spent on and around farms in rural Michigan. I’ve lived in a small tent in the woods while searching for work; I’ve had to choose between eating and affording the trip to work; I’ve watched the last of my food go down the kitchen sink because I didn’t own a colander to drain my spaghetti. That is my real world.

I get it that you’re angry and frustrated. You’ve got my attention so stop yelling at me and let’s talk about it.

Beware… Political opinion ahead…

I look forward to this election being over but not for the reason you may think. I look forward to being able to read my social media news feed without banging my forehead into my keyboard in frustration as I read something one of my ‘friends’ regurgitated from the various spew-fests that pass for political discourse these days.

SAY something! Fer freck’s sake do NOT just repeat/repost/share something posted by the PR machine of ‘your guy’. Ask questions! Demand detailed answers from EVERYONE. When they say ‘We have a plan…’ ask to see it. Do not let them gloss over it with something like “the details are still being worked out…” or “I’m not going to get into the details here…”; put-up or shut-up.

I have a news flash for ya — Both sides lie. Both sides spin the ‘facts’ into a frothy, cliché rich slurry that bears meek resemblance to reality much less Truth. If we continue to let them get away with it they have will have no reason to stop.

Question everything! Read everything and then make up your own mind — don’t let a punditainer tell you what to think. To do otherwise is truly un-patriotic.

Stream of Consciousness will participate in the ‘SOPA/PIPA Blackout’ on Jan. 18

Stream of Consciousness will go dark from January 18, 2012 at 8:00 am Eastern US time through January 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm to protest SOPA/PIPA and Internet Censorship. You can learn more here.

The FrameAlbum website and frame feeds will NOT go dark and will continue normal operations.

Much has been written on how obscenely bad this legislation is to the health of the internet, and our Freedoms in general. I won’t bore you with my weak attempts where others have done so well. I encourage you to read for yourself and to contact your congress critter and let them know that this is hinders innovation, destabilizes the internet, is NOT effective and damages our Freedoms.

Is being a ‘straight talker’ good, or bad?

I recognize that I’ve been posting exclusively about FrameAlbum here recently but the title of the blog is ‘Stream of Consciousness‘ so you can’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉

I received a comment today where the person thanked me for being a ‘straight talker’.  I took it as a complement.

I’m an engineer; in my world there is ‘the truth’ and then “that thing that isn’t the truth”.  If something is ‘red’ then tell me it’s ‘red’; don’t tell me “it’s a very dark, complex shade of pink with overtones of blue but if you see it in just the right light it’s orange” because you think I don’t like red.  Frankly, I can’t bring myself to say ‘something is x‘ when clearly the opposite is true, regardless of the audience.

Unfortunately in today’s political arena ‘straight talk‘ has come to mean ‘dumbing it down for consumption by the masses so that it appeals to their emotions rather than thoughtful reasoning‘.

Most every sound bite I’ve heard that was labeled as an example of ‘straight talk’ was such a brain-numbingly obvious platitude that I couldn’t help myself from throwing up in my mouth a little bit.

I’ll make Government more efficient!” – Really?  Do you honestly believe that in ~235 years of having a go at this democracy thing that we haven’t reached some sort of efficiency equilibrium?  No, really, I prefer inefficiency and would vote against anyone who supports increased efficiency

We will take Our Government back!” – Back from whom, exactly?  Last time I read the Constitution it said that ours was a government of ‘We the People’.  One must be a citizen, therefore an American, to vote.  So we’re taking it back from the American People to give to… the American People?  I’m confused…

I’ll make the tax code simple!” – I don’t even know where to begin on this one.

In every case the candidate is simply saying what the audience of the moment wants to hear. Have we, as a Nation, become so afraid of the truth that we’ll vote for no one that dare speak it? When a candidate does dare veer off message and a bit of truth leaks out it’s labelled a gaff and the blathering Punditry goes into high-gear claiming that the candidate just committed political suicide.

No, I fear that something even more distressing is true; that we are not willing to vote for someone who is not 100% in agreement with our views. I don’t think (most) politicians are stupid; in fact I believe most of them are quite intelligent.  So intelligent in fact that they have figured out that to get/stay elected they can’t possibly take a solid position on anything as it would give some group a reason to vote for ‘anyone else’.  Have you ever tried to get a Yes/No answer from a politician?  I have — I believe that if you look in the dictionary under ‘futility’ the entry reads ‘that overwhelming urge you get to smack something when you ask a politician a Yes/No question.’

If you want to earn my vote give direct, clear, unequivocal answers to questions.  When someone asks you “Which part of an Oreo is you favorite?”  You had better say “I love the rich creamy filling!” or “I love the crispy chocolate wafers!“.  If you respond “I like them both equally and here are 4,000 words about why you are an idiot if you don’t agree with me.” you are dead to me.

Give me the straight facts about what you believe — I will not agree with you 100% of the time but at least I’ll respect you and I might even vote for you.

Congress, can you hear me now? Work on stuff that matters!!!

When I first read this I thought it was a joke and after reading it again, I’m sure; it is.  But not the funny kind.

A California rep. who clearly spends way too much time watching TV has proposed a new federal law to limit, are you sitting down?…  the loudness of TV commercials.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (“CALM-A” — Are you fracking kidding me?  Who makes up this stuff?) proposes to require the FCC to “prescribe a standard to preclude commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the program they accompany.”.

Now before I launch into a three page discussion of how ‘loudness’ is a completely subjective concept and is dependent on the perception of the individual I’ll hold my breath, count to 10, and stifle the urge to throttle yet another well meaning but clueless legislator that is attempting to establish controls over something they are utterly unqualified to determine.

Ok, so I had to count to twenty.

I’m willing to let it pass that Rep. Eshoo feels that her having ‘grown tired of being blasted off my couch’ is a reasonable basis for new federal legistation.  I’m also willing to let it pass that she is obviously trying to make some political points by addressing a popular ‘complaint’ of her constituancy.

However, I’m not willing to let it pass that she feels it’s appropriate to spend Congress’ time considering this meaningless drivel when we are faced with two wars, a World economy in the worst shape in human history, collapsing real estate market, millions of people in the street due to home foreclosure, millions more forced to choose between food and healthcare, historically high unemployment and Earth’s climate on the verge of meltdown.

It not only defies explanation, is so obsurd to be insulting to those with even a hit of wits about them, it borders on a criminal disregard for the responsibility of her office.