Tuesday, July 18, 2017

3 new laws America needs

1)  All money confiscated by the police must fund Legal Aid Society.   There is nothing wrong with police confiscating money from criminals, the problems is letting them spend it on themselves.  They want to take the jewelry off of little girls, then they have to spend it to defend accused criminals.

2)  No political district may touch one that is more than 10% different percent of the top party, nor can it be entirely surrounded by another district.  That is, if a district is 80% democrat, then it can not touch another district that is less than 70% democrat, and must touch at least two such districts.  This rule makes gerrymandering much much more difficult.

3) No jail for failure to pay.  Any fine, bail, or other payment less than $3,000, may be fulfilled by community service, at the request of the person required to pay.  Said service will be paid back at the federal minimum wage, so if the federal minimum wage was $8/hour, then a fine of $800 could be paid with 100 hours of community service.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How You Can End Spam

Ending spam is possible.  Any email provider can do this without any regulation, neither government nor industry help is needed (but they can help).

The underlying issue is that spam is anonymous on multiple levels.  We can't tell who sent it, or how they got your email.  They need to get your email from somebody.   With this system,  we can easily figure out how they got your email and attack the problem at that end.

All current emails look like this:
The username identifies which specific person you are sending the email to, the url identifies which server will do the last mile.

My plan uses a new standard, an email address with three parts. Put a tag in the middle.  I suggest using a "!" to separate it, just as the @ separates the username and the url.  It doesn't have to be a "!", in fact, if different domains use different symbols, it enhances the security (by making it harder to tell what is the username and what is the tag).   "!" works particularly well in this example because we can pronounce it as 'bang', just as "@" gets pronounced as "at".

Parts of my new enhanced email address:


Your email server strips off the !tag@url.com and delivers that email to username, but also does the following.

1)  Check to see if you have an active folder for all "!tag" emails.  If it exists, it places that email in that folder, and moves that folder to the top of your folder list.

2)  Then checks to see if you have an inactive folder with !tag.  If you do, it knows that email is likely spam and puts it in your spam folder, labeling it as "inactive tag".

3)  If you don't have any folder (active or inactive) for that tag (or it has no tag), it goes in a general "untagged" folder.  When you open that email, it immediately asks if you want to create an active folder or declare it spam (creating an empty folder for it and then making that folder inactive.) 

Example:  you are username "jdoe", and your email server url is gmail.com.  Enron asks you to give an email address.  You respond "jdoe!enron@gmail.com"  When your sister asks for your email, you tell her your email is "jdoe!family@gmail.com"

If Enron sends you real email it goes to your Enron folder.   But suppose Enron get hacked (and admits it) - suddenly you start getting viagra spam addressed to jdoe!enron@gmail.com.  Not a big deal, you tell  Enron that your new email address is jdoe!enron1@gmail.com and you make !enron inactive.

Now suppose Enron actually makes it a practice of selling email accounts.  When jdoe!enron1@gmail.com starts getting spam, you know where they got your email. 

Your IT admin guy can call them up and complain, you can start a twitter war site page complaining about Enron selling emails, and/or (if your government has the right laws) you can sue them because you have evidence of what they did.  Legitimate businesses will quickly bow to pressure and stop selling emails.

If enough people do this, the practice of selling emails will die out.  Sure, people will still scrape emails and sell hacked emails, but we made it harder for them and easier to go after

But it doesn't matter if this doesn't happen.  You already know they are selling your email address and can stop communicating with them.  Just let their emails go to your spam folder.  If they can't be trusted with your email, they probably can't be trusted for any other purposes.

Also note, your email is automatically folder-ed for you, with a minuscule amount of extra work on your part (thinking up tags and clicking "active folder" when the first email comes in.)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Texas voting, Likely vs Registered voters

In the past I have talked about how Texas is primed to flip from Republican stronghold to Liberal territory, mainly based on the growth of Hispanic population, along with long term trends such as senior citizens slowly dying and younger voters turning more liberal.

Recently (early September 1-11, of 2016), there was a poll done by Texas Lyceum, that has some interesting results.  As always, they do a lot of questions, and several different analytical methods.

The one they concentrated on was the "likely Voters, who do you prefer out of the four candidates",  There, Clinton came in at 32% vs Trump's 39%.  Johnson got 9% and Stein got 3%.   Trumps minute lead of 7% is ridiculous for a GOP candidate in Texas.  For comparison purposes, in 2012, the actual poll results were: 4,555,799 votes for Romney (57.2%), 3,294,440 votes for Obama (41.4%), 8,110 votes for Johnson (1.1%) and 24,450 votes for Stein  (0.3%).

Yes, Johnson and Stein - the candidates for the Libertarian and Green party - ran in 2012, just as they are running in 2016.

But that is not the whole story.  First, note that the poll is likely voter, not registered voter, not actual voters.

Likely voter is something that the POLLING company determines.   Good polling companies base it on answers to questions such as 1) Did you vote in the last presidential election? 2) Did you vote in the last non-presidential election. 3) Did you know where people in your district have to go to vote? 4) Rate your chances of voting.     Not-so-good polling companies try to do calculations such as x% of Democrats voted last time, so x% will vote this time. 

Second, note that lots of people will give their 'real preference' in a poll, but when it comes down to actual voting in the election, they will not vote for a third party candidate unless that candidate has over 20% of the votes in the polls.  That is, they only vote for a third candidate if they think they have a real shot.

Digging deeper into the polls, we find some more interesting answers, rather than the heavily biased "likely voters, out of four".

First, let's do the Clinton Vs Trump vs Johnson vs Stein, all registered voters.  That makes it 30% Trump, 29% Clinton, 10% Johnson, 3% Stein.  That's a big deal for Democrats.  Johnson and Stein stay about the same, Trump loses a lot, Clinton loses a moderate amount (those losses are 'undecided', not surprising in unlikely voters).  But most importantly it means a LOT of the people that are unlikely voters do not like Trump.   A heavy get out the vote effort from the Democrats in Texas could easily take the state.

Now lets' ignore the people that got less than 2% the last time they ran.

Likely Voters - 42% Trump, 36% Clinton.  not much difference there, Trump still wins by 6% rather than 7%.

But Registered Voters: 35% Trump, 39% Clinton.   Here we have a huge win for Clinton.  She finally beats Trump.

The problem is, that involves the registered voters that are unlikely to vote.  The Democrats really need a HUGE Get Out The Vote program to take Texas back.

Also note, a similar thing happens For the US Congress and Texas state representatives elections, although not quite that extreme (i.e. 31% dem vs 32% rep among registered voters).

The Democrats need to create a new, superior get out the vote program in Texas.  It should be the single most important priority for the DNC.  It has to do so in direct opposition to the GOP's attempts to stop people from voting in Texas.

It probably needs to be lead by a charismatic Hispanic Texan born Democrat.

Monday, September 19, 2016

How to Fix America's Schools

America's pre-College education, ages 10-18 have well known issues. 

We have some of the world's best Universities, and some good early education, focusing on creativity and learning, rather than memorizing facts.  Primary school does OK (Elementary school), but our Junior High and High Schools have major issues.

These issues are complex.  But most of them can be summarized with one word:  Money.  Mos schools are paid for out of local taxes, particularly property taxes.  This leaves certain schools cash poor.  Worse, those schools are often from poor neighborhoods so their parents do not have the skills to compensate for the school's problems.  Sometimes the parents ARE the problems - drugs, crime, etc.

I am liberal capitalists.   My solution to the United State's education problem is simple, apply capitalism properly.  The key word there is 'properly'. 

People often confuse capitalism with money or money obsession.  As such they falsely think the problem is to either throw more money at the education problem, or worse, take away money from the schools that are doing poorly.

This is wrong.  Money is simply a score keeping method.  It is used to tell who is winning and who is losing, not to solve a problem.   No teacher ever got into teaching for the money.   Not even in the most corrupt, school systems run by the worst possible unions (and most unions are run by good people).  In the worst cases, some people got into education for the job security and perks (summers off, retirement plans) of teaching, but never the money per se. 

Capitalism is not about money, it is about competition .   As such, to fix the education system, you need to properly reward those that win the competition and to properly correct those that fail.   Money ends up rewarding or punishing the kids, not the school.

To reward or punish the school (rather than the kids), you need to increase or decrease the number of students attending the school.

Take a school system with 10 schools.  Rank all the schools, into five rankings (1 being the best, 5 being the worst).   Also, create a minimum and maximum number of students per school.

If a school is ranked 5, reduce the number of incoming freshmen students attending that school by 20% of the maximum (by shrinking their district).  This will reduce the number of students attending a 4 year institute by 5%.  If the total number of students falls below the minimum, that school closes down.   Non-tenure people are fired (they may apply for a job elsewhere), tenure people are moved to other schools.  We can put in rules to let parents request that siblings stay together.

Similarly, schools that do well (ranked 1) and are not at maximum, increase the number of incoming students by 20%.    

When a school is closed down, we spend a summer fixing up the school, replace text books, etc.   We bring in a new principal, and hire all new teachers, with a rule that NONE of the old teachers may work there.  They can work at other schools, but not this one.   All the new teachers must either be new hires or transfers from a school of rank 3 or better.   One year bonuses will be offered to induce transfers.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

What the People Respond To.

There is something that losers do (as in people that have lost, not people that are unworthy)  - complain about the test being unfair.  Sometimes they are right - the test is unfair.   For example, if you are entering a swimming contest, but they include the time it takes to take off your clothing and put on your bathing suit, that's unfair.

But more often they are wrong, the test was fair, they simply didn't understand what the test was.  This is most often the case with politics.

The politicians complain about either the media not covering or the people not caring about their point.  This proves they don't deserve to be president.   The people have no obligation to understandor believe you, you have an obligation to understand the people.

When you complain about no one covering or caring about your opponent 'corrupt' activity with an AIDS Charity guess what - that means you are wrong about their behavior being out of line.  Frankly, America doesn't care if a Secretary of State gives access to monsters that have given large sums to an AIDS charity.   We are fine with that.  

When you complain about being treated unfairly for your own relatively minor sins involving word choice, guess what - if they people don't vote for you because of it, that means the people think YOU ARE WRONG.  It is not a minor sin, it is a big one.  They are the ones that make that judgement call, not you. 

One of the major advantages of Democracy is that it forces the politicians to pay attention to the people, not the other way around.  Voting is not a test of the people that they win or lose, it's a test of the politician and the politician is the one that wins or loses.  (The term in office is the test of the people).

Part of the problem is the friendly bubble.  When you run for office you surround yourself with people that think you would be a good candidate. This makes understanding and playing to your base very easy.

But it also can make understanding and playing to the undecided and opponents very hard.

You have to know what they care about.  You can't convince them to change their mind using the same techniques that work on your base.  Your base believes what you say without evidence.  Your base disbelieves what the opponent says even if they have evidence.  The independent voter looks on you as if you are the liar, at least as much as your opponent.

Trump's techniques don't work at all on the independent voter.  Which is why he is going to lose.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Future of the Republican and Democratic parties..

It's up for grabs.

The problems with both parties are rather obvious - and dramatically different.

The Republican party is imploding.  It can't win a Presidential election, even when their competitor is Hillary Clinton - someone they have been gunning for more than 20 years.  Hillary is likely to win this election with the highest unfavorables ever.   That's how bad the GOP is doing - they can't beat a woman that nobody likes.

Why?  Because they over-promised to a small, motivated group and totally failed to deliver.   There is a fatal flaw in GOP strategy - cultivating a fanatical base that is far more radical than the US in general.  While that will help them win congressional districts and state representatives, allowing them to gerrymander at will, it pisses off the majority of the population, so they have no chance to win the Presidential race which means no Supreme Court Judges.  Most likely, sometime in the next 8 years, gerrymandering will be outlawed, by a 5:4 supreme court vote.  After that, the GOP in it's current form is dead.   Even without that issue, it will fall apart.

Currently, they have created a constant revolution in the lower ranks against the party leaders.  T Party candidates like Cruz get overthrown by Trump radicals objecting to the T party 'insiders'.  And two years from now, some new group will continue the process, throwing out the Trumpers and replacing them with some other new, radical group.

This dooms the dying Republican party to become an 'also ran' party.   When I say "dying" I mean it literally.  Every year their base will die off, while the Democrats increases.  More young, more black, more Hispanic, more Muslim, and more gay voters while the old, white, straight, male, Christian voters that used to dominate politics become an endangered species. They have already lost the majority of the population, they maintain their congressional majority via gerrymandering, which has limits and will be outlawed.

Which leaves the REAL dispute about the future of our country in the hands of the Democrats.  Hence the fight between the Conservative Democrats - aka Hillary Clinton - and the Liberal Democrats, aka Bernie Sanders.

That split isn't going away, it's going to get worse.   While the GOP descends into a death spiral, the Democratic party is likely to bifurcate into two parties - the Conservative Dems and the Liberal Dems.

This won't happen as long as the GOP is around to unite us.  We despise the elitist strategy of the GOP, catering to the politically motivated rather than giving the majority what they want.   As such, the Democratic party has attracted everyone that can't stand their "obey us way or be a traitor" philosophy.    But we are a disparate group with big differences.  We can only stay together as long as the big GOP unite us against them.

Is it possible for the GOP to save themselves?  Unlikely.  The quite truth is that Hillary Clinton was the candidate THEY should have put forward.  She occupies the real 'center-right' that they claim to represent, while being female and connecting to minorities.    The GOP's attempt to demonize the conservative branch of the Democrat party has made it impossible for them to regain their rightful place as the center-right party.

As they try to be a far right party (while claiming to be a center-right one), they slowly bleed voters to the Democrats.  The real question is what will happen after it's gone too far.  I see 10 years as the max.   If Hillary Clinton wins two consecutive terms and we get a third Democrat President after Hillary, that's
it.  By then either the GOP will implode or the SCOTUS will have outlaw gerrymandering, killing the GOP.   Once that happens, the GOP's bubble will pop faster than any stock market bubble.

For maybe six month the Democrats will relish their power - then the infighting will go from shouting "Hillary" over the Bernie Brothers chanting whatever they chant to outright revolt.   The Democratic party will split, Bernie and his successors will split off to form the first truly Liberal party we have had since Jimmie Carter, while Hillary and her successors will split of to form a real center-right party.  Only the far right nut-bags will remain with the GOP, making them a 3rd party, akin to the Libertarians.

Is there any way to stop the Democrat party from splitting after the GOP dies?  I doubt it.   Honestly, it may be for the best - the Bernie people do not like the Hillary people, and they deserve a political party of their own.  Then maybe we can have real political change in America.

But please note, the Democratic party will only split AFTER the GOP is dead.   But that shouldn't be long now, they are about to get their asses handed to them on a platter. 2020 is the real question - will Hillary (or Kaine, Hillary is getting old) be able to get re-elected.

With the right economy (a short recession in 2017, followed by three years of improvement), we will get a solid 16 years of Democrat ruling the white house and own the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.

The only question will be how liberal the ruling party ends up.   Most likely it will be the conservative Democrats still in charge, but perhaps we can get enough liberal ideas to rejuvenate our government.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Advantages of Outsiders

Job interview for an 'outsider'.


Hi, my name is Donald and I would like to apply for the job of CEO of your company.  Here is my resume.

- I notice you have never been a CEO before.   What makes you think your experience as Mayor in anyway prepared you to run a business?  Running a business is not the same as being a politician.

Well, they are both managerial positions, I'm sure I can pick up anything I need on the job.  Besides, I have to be better than your last guy - he ran the business into bankruptcy FOUR times.  And look at the IRS scandal - how could engage in such unusual tax practices?  I have never declared bankruptcy and have no tax scandals at all.  That's not the kind of man I am -  I would never take those particular tax risks. Especially when I have such cool, new innovative ideas that the IRS has never heard of before.

- True, but you ran a city that was given a set budget and never had to file taxes.  Basically I have to take your word that your new tax strategies are legal.  

Perhaps, but notice my main competitor, Hillary, has been severely yelled at by the IRS and her tax issues were declared faulty, even if she was not sentenced for any crime because they had no evidence of intent.  The IRS has never yelled at me for any of my tax strategies.

- But the reason you have never failed is because you have no experience.  You can't get away with claiming your methods are better if you've never tried them.  I'd have to be a complete idiot to trust someone that has no experience actually implementing their program, simply because they have never failed. 

Look, do you want to go with someone that's had proven problems, even if they didn't get arrested, or do you want to go with someone that has no experience at all, so can't possibly have proven problems? It's that simple.

- The thing is, you have no experience, so even if you honestly and truly believe your plane will work, because you have no experience, your own opinion about your plan is worthless.   It's like asking a first time pilot how well he thinks he is going to do - he doesn't know how hard it is.  Tell you what, tell me your plan, and I will have it looked over by tax experts.

Oh, I can't do that.  If I tell anyone the plan, our competitors will hear about it and take steps to prevent it from happening.

 - Then talk about something that isn't a secret, or give me an example of how you would fix another company problem.

I'll get back to you on that later.   Look, your company doesn't work.  I, being an outsider, can at least try something new.

- But our company DOES work - we have a real profit.  Yes, it could be better, but we are still looked up to by most of the outside world.

Trust me, ignore the statistics that show your company's doing well both economically and lower workplace accidents.  Doesn't it FEEL like your company is doing poorly?  So shouldn't you try something new?

- But the math says our feeling is wrong,  and it's not just something new it's untested with WILD claims.  I'm sorry, but we can't go with someone with no experience, no record, simply because our other main choice has made some mistakes in the past.  Frankly, Donald, even if we feel bad about our economy and safety, things are going OK.  It looks like we will hire Hillary.

OK, so when do I start?  And when should we talk about salary?

- Goodbye and good luck with your search.

Where are you going?   What's going on?

Outsiders are a great idea for the Senate and Congress.  They have experienced colleagues there that can ensure we don't screw things up too badly, and for that same reason, they need that innovation.

But Presidents are different.   He is the top guy, no one can really tell him no, as he appoints his own men.  That particular job needs someone with real experience in politics.  Business is too different, among other things we encourage businesses to fail, while we want a more conservative approach to government.

As such no sane person truly wants an 'outsider' to be President.  We need someone that has at least spent a couple of years in a political job - congress, senate, governorship, or at least mayor of a large city.  That gives him the back ground necessary to judge his own ideas, as well a record for us to judge him (or her) on.