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Showing posts from March, 2008

Volvo's BLIS

A while ago I blogged about my new favorite car being a minivan - more specifically, the new Chrysler Town and Country. While it's an excellent car, it is more suited for hauling around the family than for use as a commuter. My current commuter, a two year old Chrysler PT Cruiser, is great and I hope to have it for another eight years or so before I start thinking about replacing it. However, after a friends wife got into a car wreck (she was not hurt) and the friends response was "Thank goodness she was in a Volvo!", I started to wonder.

When I purchased my PT Cruiser I was basically thinking about how cool it looked, how roomy it was, and how fun it was to drive. What I wasn't thinking about was safety. So, after hearing about my friend's wife, I started thinking more about safety. For hauling the family around, I'm really happy with our Honda Odyssey. We've had one totaled and everybody in the car was fine (just bumps and bruises). However, what…

The Levels of Motivation

I have this emerging theory on how to motivate people. Looking at the greatest world leaders, how did they get people to follow them? How do we get people to follow us? How do others get us to do things? When you do something, what is your primary motivation? Is it fear? love? duty? Which is the most powerful?

The following is a list of common motivators in order from least to most powerful.

5. Guilt - Guilt is a lousy motivator. I promotes slothful action and can even engender resentment. Although it may work for short-term tasks, those looking for long term results would be better served to look elsewhere.

4. Fear - Fear is only an effective motivator in the short term. When people act out of fear, it builds resentment and animosity. They will look for ways not to complete (i.e. to escape) their tasks. Granted this may not be universally true, but in general fear is a lousy long-term motivator but an excellent short term one. I also think that fear's effectiveness is …

Healthcare: Part II - More Insurance Reforms

About a year and a half ago, I blogged on healthcare or, more specifically, insurance. Looking back, I still agree with my main ideas but there's more. As I have learned more about the insurance industry and government regulation of it, I've learned more about some of the limitations that could be fixed. So here are some more ideas on fixing insurance in America:

1) Extend insurance deductions to all of the insured. Right now, if you get insurance from your employer, your premiums are taken out pre-tax. However, if you're buying your own insurance, you are taxed on the money you spent. Yes there are tax deductions for insurance, but I don't think it's the same (I actually hope I'm wrong here but I assume I'm not). Therefore, ALL insurance premiums should be untaxed, not just ones through your employer.

2) Eliminate employer contracted insurance policies. Insurance isn't a free market. I don't get to choose my insurer. I have the choice of th…

X-Prize for a 100 MPG Car

No sooner has Tesla Motors started production of their electric car, then I find an article on CNN.com about an X-Prize competition for building a car that gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon or better. The award: $10 million. How's that for motivation.

There are two categories for this prize: mainstream and alternative. According to the CNN article:

"Mainstream cars must carry four or more passengers and have climate control, an audio system and 10 cubic feet of cargo space. They also must have four or more wheels, hit 60 miles per hour in less than 12 seconds and have a minimum top speed of 100 miles per hour and a range of 200 miles."

"Alternative vehicles will be required to carry two or more passengers and five cubic feet of cargo, have a top speed of at least 80 miles per hour and have a range of at least 100 miles."

What a cool concept. Here's a $10 million incentive to build something we need anyway.

Go X-Prize!

The Electric Car

On March 17th, the Tesla Roadster went into production. This is the first production electric sports car.




It goes 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds and gets the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon. Best of all, IT LOOKS SO COOL!!!!

I wish I could afford one but I don't see that ever happening. However, their next project is called the Whitestar - a four door sedan at about half the price. That puts it in the $50k range which is still more than I can afford but hopefully, they will sell well enough that competition will emerge and prices will come down so that, in 10 years or so, when I finally drive my PT Cruiser into the ground, I'll be able to replace it with something electric.

Why electric?
No emissions/pollution
No dependence on foreign oil
Fewer moving parts - less things to wear out - more reliability
Less maintenance - no oil changes, etc.
Better mileage/much lower cost of ownership
They're just cool!
Living in a city with a large "brown cloud" makes me very aware of pollu…

Consumerism Goes Medical

Our society is getting pretty messed up. We are developing a culture of selfishness and we're being egged on by the retail industry, the car industry, the housing industry, and the MEDICAL INDUSTRY?! Ok, perhaps not medicine itself but the medical finance industry. Here's my pearl of anecdotal evidence.

A little while ago, my wife needed to have some dental work done (a bridge replaced). Turns out that this is an extremely expensive set of procedures on the order of several thousand dollars. Well, since I'm not at the point where I have that kind of money laying around, we opened an account with a company called Care Credit. They're big thing is that they'll defer interest for up to a year to give you a chance to pay off your debt. This looked like a good deal and, based on our experience, I would recommend it to people with unexpected medical bills. All in all, I've been pretty happy with it.

Well, along with monthly bills, also came a monthly newsletter…

Congressional Pensions - My Bad

The Arizona Republic has an article about Represenative Renzi being able to keep his pension even if he goes to prison. While the merits of whether or not he should keep his pension are debatable, I'd like to focus on the actual pension. You see, I'd always thought that legislators got their full salary for the rest of their lives. Turns out I was wrong. Way wrong.

According to the National Taxpayers Union, "Renzi, who has served five years in Congress, would be eligible for a $15,000 annual pension in 12 years" (quoted from the article). That's a far cry from his $169,300 annual salary for being a congressman. It appears that the federal pension program is like any other pension program, you have to put a lot in before you can get a lot out.

So I guess my dreams of winning an election and being set for life are pretty much gone ;)

I originally found this on The Espresso Pundit.

Governor Vetos Spending Freeze

The Arizona Capitol Times just ran an article (subscription required) stating that Governor Napolitano vetoed a legislative bill that would freeze government spending. In a year where we're about a billion in the hole, you'd think any relief would be welcome. Well think again.

In her veto letter, the Governor stated that she vetoed the bill because it wasn't "a comprehensive plan developed and approved by legislative Democrats". Are those the requirements? At the rate we're going, a comprehensive budget bill looks as likely as comprehensive immigration reform. That's not to say that our legislators aren't working on it. They're working very hard on it but there are some pretty fundamental ideologies that are getting in the way. The Democrats want to borrow enough money to get us through while the Republicans want to cut programs (yes, I have massively oversimplified it).

So here's the problem: the Republicans have the majority so they can…

Oracle's Direction for PeopleSoft

There are a lot of people out there wondering what the future of PeopleSoft will look like. The answer is: "I don't know." But I do have some guesses. Based on what I know about Oracle and their current direction along with some logic of my own, here is what I think the future holds for PeopleSoft:

1) Say goodbye to the PeopleSoft Application Servers. Right now the PeopleSoft Application Server environment is redundant. It serves up web pages from a java application server (WebLogic, WebSphere, or OAS) that pulls its information from a C application server (BEA Tuxedo) that gets its data from a database (Oracle, SQL Server, etc.). Catch the redundancy? I predict that Oracle will merge C application server into the java application server. This will create a PeopleSoft stack that will more closely mimic Oracle's current offerings. It will also allow (or force) you to monitor and control your whole stack from Oracle's Grid Manager. One tool to manage all o…

Arizona's Autism Insurance Law (Steven's Law)

There is a bill wending its way through the State Legislator that requires insurance companies to cover services for autism. It's called Steven's Law or HB2847 and SB1263 (you can look them up on azleg.gov). Basically it covers diagnosis, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and behavior therapy (ABA).

When I first heard of this bill, I was a bit skeptical. Maybe that sounds odd since three of my four children have an autism diagnosis, but I'm not a fan of regulation. At first glance it seemed to be aimed at forcing insurance to cover whatever fad-of-the-week treatment somebody wanted to use. That just didn't seem like a very good idea. However, after doing some research on azautisminsurance.org and actually reading the proposed legislation, I became convinced that, sadly, this is indeed necessary.

One of my main fears was that the bill might require insurance to cover any "treatment" without regard to how effective it actually is. Ho…

The Autism Vaccine Ruling

I first heard about this from an article at huffingtonpost.com. The title boldly stated: "Government Concedes Vaccine-Autism Case in Federal Court - Now What?" Now what indeed. Well let's take a closer look shall we.

First of all, contrary to what the title implies, the government did NOT admit that vaccines cause autism. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the article is wrong. In fact it does a very good job of explaining what is going on. The government admitted that the vaccinations aggravated a pre-existing condition the girl had. This condition, known as a mitochondrial disorder or Mt disease, is what caused the problems. The aggravation of her Mt disease manifested with symptoms consistent with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That's what happened.

To me, this says a few things. First, it reaffirms my premise that ASD is not a single condition but a group of conditions that have similar symptoms. As research progresses, I believe that scientist…

Our Best Kept Money Saving Secrets!

WARNING: May contain excess amounts of cynicism.

I got an email from Costco today that was entitled "Our Best Kept Money-Saving Secrets!". I'll admit right now that I'm a Costco junkie. I shop there more than just about anywhere else and, judging from the amount of people I see there, a lot of people are like me. So when I see an ad for Costco's best kept money-saving secrets, I'm immediately intrigued. What does Costco recommend for saving money?

So I click on the link provided only to find a list of things to buy. Not just regular things to buy (you know stuff you use every day), but luxury items. Excuse me? OK, how is buying a "Natural Stone Pond and Waterfall Kit" for $799.99 (pictured left) a money-saving secret? How about " Sympathy Heart, Red Roses" for a mere $279.99? This is a money-saving secret? It seems to me that Costco has fallen into the frame of mind that most other retailers are trying to push onto consumers, name…

So Who's Going To Be President?

I was surprised to see that Hillary Clinton was able to win both the Texas primary and the Ohio primary. I really thought that with Barak Obama's momentum that he would carry at least one of those states. Guess that shows how much I know...

So, who's going to win? I'll give you my predictions but bear in mind that my record on predictions isn't that good. After all, I predicted that:

1) John McCain's candidacy was doomed before the primaries even started (granted a lot of people made that mistake).

2) That Barak Obama would be more of a fringe candidate and not a serious challenger (I actually thought John Edwards had a pretty good chance).

3) That Mitt Romney would do much better than he did (after all, he's intelligent, understands economics, has a history of turning around businesses, etc. - what's not to like?).

So, based on those and my many other mis-predictions, you can take these thoughts with a grain of salt. So here's what I think:

1) Barak Oba…

Arizona's Employer Sanctions Law Seems To Work

The Arizona Legislature recently passed a law that punishes employers for hiring illegal immigrants. It uses fines and the loss of one's business license to "encourage" companies to only hire legal workers. So far, it seems to be working.

When I originally blogged about the immigration problem, I voiced my opinion that border enforcement would not work until we removed the incentive for illegals to come here in the first place. Basically, if they can't find work, they won't come. Well, Arizona's Employer Sanctions law went into effect March 1st and it seems to already be working. The East Valley Tribune recently published a story about school enrollments going down and apartments being vacated due to illegals moving out of the state to avoid prosecution under this law.

Although the long term effects of removing the illegals without any way to replace them with legal workers is still up in the air, the new law looks like it's having the effect that was …