General Thoughts browsing by category


You’ve got to hear this . . .

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

I recently found this great song. Part of the song is a computer simulation voice (the same voice Stephen Hawking uses), reciting a poem. It starts with the “Footprints in the Sand” poem, and adds a great ending, expressing what has always bothered me about that poem.

The song is called The God Who Wasn’t There. by DJ Madson. Check it out. There used to be a free MP3 download, but that link was taken down. So you can find in on iTunes.

Sounds Good to Me

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

We have a bunch of TVs hanging from the ceiling in front of the exercise machines at our Y. I was on an elliptical machine this morning, and watching the history channel. Glancing around at the other TVs during a commercial, I noticed a headline on the FOX news channel about Anna Nicole Smith’s estate. Apparently her will wasn’t in order, and the IRS will get most of her fortune in inheritance taxes.

In another showing of their distain for middle class America, FOX called this a debacle, as if this windfall for the IRS was a bad thing.

Anna Nicole Smith’s estate going to the IRS sounds good to me, because that is a small dent in the national debt. Now, my children’s tax obligation will be just a little bit smaller. It’s also better for society. Anna Nicole’s child, who should get what’s remaining, will still get enough to be comfortable her whole life. Without the obscene fortune, this child has a chance to be forgotten by the media, and live her own life.

Also, the money will benefit the economy far better if spent by the US government than if hoarded by Anna Nicole’s estate. The money will move through the economy, paying salaries, buying supplies, paying benefits, or paying down the debt. The recipients of the money will then further move the money, fueling the economy. The money will move now, instead of sitting in trust funds waiting for the child to reach age.

The Price of Gas

Monday, May 8th, 2006

The price of gasoline is based on the price of a barrel of oil, or at least that’s what the oil companies tell us. Some simple calculations show that today’s high gas prices aren’t strictly based on the price of crude oil.

A 35 gallon barrel of oil produces 19.5 gallons of gas, the rest goes into other petroleum based products. Gasoline doesn’t carry the majority of the value of the oil, since diesel and heating oil cost about the same as gasoline. Therefore the raw materials cost for a gallon of gasoline is at most 3% of the cost of a barrel of oil.

Back in 1996 the price of a gallon of gas was about $1.20, and the price of a barrel of oil was about $20. Back then, $0.60 of the price of a gallon of gas was the raw material cost, the other $0.60 went to everything else (taxes, transportation, refining, marketing, etc.). Now it’s $2.90 a gallon of gas and $65 a barrel of oil. That works out to $1.95 for raw materials and $0.95 for everything else.

Even at the exaggerated rate of 3% a year, inflation would raise the price for everything else to $0.81. Over these ten years, due to improvements in such things as refining technology and distribution logistics, and the fact that inflation was nowhere near 3% a year, the “everything else” should stay steady or even decrease.

Therefore the oil companies are using the high cost of a barrel of oil as an hollow excuse. Crude oil is high, and that should make gasoline prices high. Yet these simple calculations, and the record profits of the oil companies show that they are gouging you and me.

First post

Sunday, January 8th, 2006


This is my first post, and I don’t have anything to say. Yet . . .