Archive for October, 2011

Jewish Students Create Fire Hazard By Leaving Ovens On All Day

Posted in judaism on October 31st, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – 5 Comments

via Diamondback Online.

When sophomore English major Danielle Goss kept her oven on Oct. 20 while she wasn’t using it, she wasn’t trying to create a fire hazard — she was trying to cook food while still observing a religious holiday.

Goss and her roommates had been celebrating the Jewish holiday Shemini Atzeret and were following a rule rooted in Jewish tradition that forbids any electric power source to be turned on or off during the holiday.

Thankfully, no one was hurt.  Religion is one of the best ways to get people to do really stupid things.  I pretty sure that humans did not have electricity over 2.000 years ago.

As a result, they had kept their oven on a very low temperature for the day, allowing them to cook when necessary. But after South Campus Commons officials learned of the practice and conducted inspections of every apartment, they turned off more than 35 stoves and ovens that had been left on unattended.

Can you just turn the oven on if it is gas?

“I was really upset because I was supposed to make two different meals that I’d promised my friends I would bring,” Goss said. “And we couldn’t cook in our apartment all of a sudden because once the oven was turned off we couldn’t turn it back on.”

Just eat some damn cereal.  This is so silly.  You can’t turn it on but you can get the food, prepare it, put it in a pan and put in on a burner or open an oven door.  All of that is work!

Officials from Capstone, the company that operates South Campus Commons, and students are now struggling to address the problem.

What struggle?  Just don’t do it.  Duh!

“This practice is just too risky,” Dennis Passarella-George, the Resident Life Department’s assistant director for housing partnerships, said yesterday. “It’s a fire hazard to leave your oven and stove on unattended, and we can’t have that happen.”

Unattended?  Where do they go?  Walking sounds like more work that pushing a button!

The issue began Oct. 19, when a Commons Building 1 resident complained of smelling gas,

WTF!  I thought they were electric.  Leaving gas on is really, really stupid.

according to Capstone’s Commons director, Gina Brasty. Upon investigation, maintenance workers found the source of the problem — an apartment with its oven and stove on, unattended. After turning the appliances off, officials believed they had solved the isolated incident.

However, a routine inspection of kitchen and bathroom floors in the same building the following day found multiple units also had ovens and stoves left on low power while unattended. This was enough to prompt an emergency check of every Commons unit to see how many residents had been leaving these appliances on.

“At that point we were very concerned for the life safety of our residents,” Brasty said. “This threw the entire staff off; we were very concerned and very surprised.”

After discovering the 35 unattended ovens and stoves, Capstone management sent an email to all Commons residents the morning of Oct. 20, reminding them to make sure appliances are turned off when not in use.

But for Jewish students observing the slew of holidays that come every fall, keeping appliances on allows them to cook when they otherwise would not be allowed to.

So… Don’t cook!

“I think what Commons has to understand … is why so many people had their burners on,”

No they don’t.  You cant put others at risk and I don’t care why.

Goss said. “It’s not just people were lazy and didn’t turn their burners off; we had a purpose for it. Most everyone who had their burners on had been doing this for a long time, and I think everyone knows what they’re doing.”

Since the issue arose so suddenly, Resident Life officials began working with Hillel staff members late last week to brainstorm solutions. So far, officials said that little progress has been made but they are actively working toward a solution.

“This is an issue, and we have to manage it,” said Cindy Felice, Resident Life’s South Campus associate director. “There are solutions to it; we just have to find them.”

Yeah – cold food.

“We’re going to have to see how we can educate our residents better,” said Passarella-George. “I don’t know what the answers will be though.”

Education!  Yes, teach them that religion is a scam and we can all move on.

For now, some students said they will continue to leave their stoves on,

Fuck everyone else!  Some old book says I can’t push a button.  Hey?  Is putting out a fire work?

UW-Madison Atheists Send An E-mail To Every Student And Get Some Fun Responses

Posted in atheists, Students on October 31st, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off on UW-Madison Atheists Send An E-mail To Every Student And Get Some Fun Responses

Via AHA! (Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics at University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Today, we sent out a mass email to all of the 40,000 – 50,000 students on campus.  This is a service provided to all registered student organizations willing to cough up $100 for it… and it was worth every penny.  In less than 24 hours, we recruited 86 new members to our email list, added 63 people to our Facebook group, and our blog traffic spiked by about 100x.  Hey new people!
For those who missed it, here’s what our mass email looked like:

Are you an atheist, agnostic, skeptic, pastafarian, or otherwise nonreligious student?
Come join Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at UW-Madison this Fall!
AHA is a great way to meet fellow nonbelievers here on campus, all while getting involved in the secular movement.  Our meetings will be every Wednesday at 7 PM in 155 Van Hise.

We hope to see you there!

In the meantime, join our email list for info regarding upcoming
meetings and events by simply sending a blank email to this address.
And be sure to check out our Facebook group.
Additionally, if you’re blog-savvy, we have one of those as well.

Pretty innocuous, yes?  Tens of thousands of people calmly tolerated this minor intrusion into their life, deleted the email, and then proceeded to move on with the rest of their day.  Others could not resist the urge to share their disagreement, pity, and anger with us.  I’ve taken the liberty of organizing the best of these replies into a few rough categories.  As you will see, some messages unfortunately could belong in multiple groupings.
No attempt was made to correct grammatical errors.

Group 1: Seems to have a problem with the shift key.

  • Never send this e-mail to me AGAIN!
  • GOD ROCKS! Good luck on judgment day!
  • I do believe in God, please REMOVE ME FROM THIS EMAIL LIST!

Group 2: It’s the thought that counts, I suppose.

  • I’ll pray for you.
  • I am not interested, but will keep you in my prayers.
  • Hello. Please remove me from your email list, thanks. Also, I am sorry that your club has such beliefs, that is an unfortunate way to live. I will pray for you.
  • Take me off of your email list…. God loves you.
  • just want to let you know that GOD still loves you, and we are all his children.

Group 3: Looks like someones got a case of the Mondays!

  • why is this being sent to my email. do you even know if i’m religious or not. your club is stupid.
  • You’re group sucks. You’re going to Hell!
  • Ummm…. I’m a religious jew. Don’t send this crap to me.
  • I am a Christian. Take your ignorance elsewhere.
  • This is bull shit. Evil only exists in this world because of the absence of GOD. Take me off this email list please. Hope you enjoy your non-belivers party, losers.

Group 4: Missing the point, badly.

  • Don’t email me these requests.  If you choose to be “atheist,” then you call yourself god. Please take me off whatever list you have created.  Thanks.
  • Why is a group like this needed?  Is it something you fear or do you just hate christians that much to want to exclude them?
  • the secular movement? really? more like popular culture- lolkatz- don’t send your stuff here
  • Feel free to never send me emails again. I don’t need to hear this kind of stuff showing up in my mailbox. I’m a faithful Christian and I’m sorry that you’ve lost your way.

Group 5: Bat shit crazy.

  • You live in a nation under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  His miracles surround you every day. Open your eyes.  The only person that would die for you are the men and women of the US Armed Forces and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Get with the program fools and stop spreading this useless shit.  There are real problems out there.
  • I just wanted to let you know that Jesus loves you and he is coming back soon. All will bow down and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Have a blessed and wonderful day!<3

Keep in mind these messages are all coming from students at the University of Wisconsin.
Folks, we have a lot of work left to do.

IRS Raises 2012 401(k) Limit To $17,000

Posted in Money Monday on October 31st, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – 2 Comments

NOTE:  This post is part of an ongoing education series.  This information is for educational purposes only.  This information does not constitute investment advice.  No rational person would make investment decisions based on a blog post.  Please consult with your financial advisor before taking any action.

via Kiplinger’s

You’ll be able to contribute up to $17,000 to a 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans or the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan in 2012.

The limit for the last few years has been $16,500.  So if you are fortunate enough to make quite a bit of money in 2012 you can set aside $17,000 in your 401(k).

Workers age 50 and older can continue to make catch-up contributions of up to an extra $5,500 for the year, the same amount as in 2011.

So, if you are over 50 you can contribute $22,000 in 2011 and $22,500 in 2012.

The maximum IRA contribution limit for 2012 remains unchanged at $5,000 ($6,000 if you are age 50 or older by the end of the year). But the income eligibility limits to deduct IRA contributions have increased. Single filers and heads of household who participate in a retirement plan at work can deduct the maximum IRA contribution if their modified adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less and a partial contribution is their income is up to $68,000 (up from $56,000 and $66,000 in 2011). Individuals who do not participate in a workplace retirement savings plan can deduct their full IRA contribution regardless of income.

“…do not participate…”  read as does not have a workplace plan available.  If you choose not to participate but it is available then the income limits do kick in.

My simple rule of thumb is that if you save 10% of your gross income per year for 30 years and make 10% return per year, you will have more income per year after retirement than when you were working.

The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good – Robert Frank

Posted in Finance on October 30th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – 1 Comment

via The Diane Rehm Show.

For centuries, economists have believed in the power of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” to steer the markets. But the global financial crisis and a rising income gap has many reconsidering Smith’s theory: that competition channels self-interest for the common good. One economist proposes a new intellectual giant of economics – Charles Darwin. He argues the naturalist’s understanding of competition describes economic reality far more accurately than Adam Smith . And he warns that failing to recognize that we live in Darwin’s world is putting our economy at risk. What Charles Darwin can teach us about economics.

I’m not convinced of his idea but, I want to learn more.  I have ordered his book but have not yet read it.  I really liked the interview and you can listen to it via the link at the top of this post.  You can also read the transcript here….

My favorite part of the whole show was this….

My target really is the movement libertarian, I call them. The people who embrace a very naïve vision of Adam Smith’s invisible hand — one that says that we don’t need government at all. We can just let markets handle all the tasks that are to be done, vis-à-vis banks.
The “Market” cannot handle all of the problems.  I love capitalism but it must be kept in check.  Capitalism without oversight leads to monopoly!
I completely agree we need to regulate them tightly. They shouldn’t be so big that if one fails it threatens… …to take down the system…
I think the phrase “too big to fail” is two words too long.  If a bank or broker or insurance company is too big to fail then it is just too big and must be split!
…but I don’t think it was the subprime Fannie Mae activity that was the sole cause of the housing crisis. People campaigned for — the banking industry made very donations to the Congress. They bought banking deregulation as a consequence. Those deregulations allowed banks to lend in ways that wouldn’t have been considered prudent in earlier times. They convinced themselves they had rich customers who had a lot of money to park.
We do need to change the way politicians get funds to run for office.  The temptation to do as your donors wish instead of what is best for your district or the country is too great.

For President – I May Choose The Candidate From Massachusetts

Posted in politics on October 30th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off on For President – I May Choose The Candidate From Massachusetts

I want Elizabeth Warren to run for president.  Below is some text from Mother Jones.  It appears that she is getting really popular.

This is a photo of a volunteer meeting for Elizabeth Warren, who is leading the race for the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts:

This looks more like the kind of crowd you’d see at presidential volunteer meeting late in the campaign than a rally for a Senate candidate 13 months before the general election. It sure looks like Warren has her base fired up. That’s not all: On Wednesday, Alan Khazei, perhaps Warren’s strongest opponent in the Democratic primary, dropped out of the race, all but ensuring Warren wins the nomination and has a unified Democratic party behind her for an epic November 2012 showdown with Brown.

Via Mediaite.

As Mother Jones’ Nick Baumannpoints out, a turnout like that would be impressive no matter what, but for a US Senate race that’s still 13 months away? This photo might as well be a hoard of Orcs large enough to make Gandalf crap his pants.

Here is the viral video of one of her in home talks.  In this video, she talks about the debt crisis and taxes on the rich.  I love it when really smart people agree with me.  Can we get her to run in 2016?

Text via Lybio.

[Elizabeth Warren]
My favorite part of looking at this hole, we got in this hole – one billion dollar – one trillion dollars on tax cuts for the rich under George Bush, we got into this hole 2 trillion dollars on two wars that we put on a credit card for our children and grand children to pay off. And we go into this hole 1 trillion dollars on a medicare drug program that (a) was not paid for and (b) is 40% more expensive than it needs to be because it was a give away to the drug companies. So we just have – that’s just 4 trillion right there! So part of the way you fix this problem is like: “Don’t do those things.”

No seriously, you know I hear all this warfare – whatever – NO!~ There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. NOBODY! You built a factory out there – good for you! But I wanna be clear, you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. Source: You hired workers – the rest of us paid to educate – you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maroting bands would come and cease everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did, now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea, god bless, keep a big hunk of it, but part of the underling social contract – you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.


Penn Jillette Creates Atheist 10 Commandments

Posted in atheists on October 30th, 2011 by Phil Ferguson – Comments Off on Penn Jillette Creates Atheist 10 Commandments

Via USA Today.

1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.

2. Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings. (Let’s scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra— but when your house is on fire, I’ll be there to help.)

3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)

4. Put aside some time to rest and think. (If you’re religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you’re a Vegas magician, that’ll be the day with the lowest grosses.)

5. Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children. (Love is deeper than honor, and parents matter, but so do spouse and children.)

6. Respect and protect all human life. (Many believe that “Thou shalt not kill” only refers to people in the same tribe. I say it’s all human life.)

7. Keep your promises. (If you can’t be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don’t make that deal.)

8. Don’t steal. (This includes magic tricks and jokes — you know who you are!)

9. Don’t lie. (You know, unless you’re doing magic tricks and it’s part of your job. Does that make it OK for politicians, too?)

10. Don’t waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it’ll make you bugnutty.