Saturday, October 29, 2011

Washington State Initiative 1183, My Thoughts

After initially signing this initiative, which was written & sponsored by Costco, I began to have second doubts when I began hearing that micro-distilleries in Washington are generally against it.

Check out Dry Fly's thoughts here

It seems that if this bill passes, it may harm the micro-distillery industry here.  And, that is the opposite of why I signed this in the first place.  So, I'm voting against it.

So, if anyone who works for the WA state liquor stores is listening, here is what I as a consumer am looking for in your service:

1)  Better Selection
I'm a Scotch collector.  The Scotch selection in Washington is limited compared to other states and provinces, such as BC, Oregon & California.  I should not be required to order an entire case if I wish to place a special order.  I can barely afford one bottle, let alone a whole case of collector level Scotch.  Perhaps you can create an online order for people who want to place special orders & show how much of the case is already claimed by other people.  Once all the bottles are claimed, then order is fulfilled.

2) Better Hours
I see you are already beginning to work on this.
Right now your hours are:
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (58 state stores open on Sunday)

Please increase the number of stores open on Sunday & keep the stores open until 11 on Fri & Sat.

That's pretty much it for me.  However, other people feel pretty strongly about these


3) Lower prices
I'm fine with your prices, but when I'm out of state, I'm tempted to get liquor that I can't find at all here for cheaper than most of what is available.

4) The ability to legally order spirits on-line from out of state or country sources
You have a monopoly.  I wouldn't mind if you had good selection.  Either break your monopoly & enable us to order from other sources, or increase your selection.

Your West Seattle store & the private charter stores such as Clearview Spirits & Wines are a great start.

Let's keep with these improvements, and then maybe the voters won't get fed up and go for the next corporate sponsored ballot measure.


Sláinte,
Troy McFarland

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fair Tax: My first impressions

I have a friend who really enjoys political discussion on his Facebook page. Unfortunately, he also posts about 15 things a day, so it's hard to keep tabs on some of the conversations. Anyway, he is a fan of the 'fair tax' idea (a progressive flat tax system that does not tax business investment) I visited their website Fair Tax, and as I read about it, I wrote down my thoughts on his page. So, they may not be as wonderfully well written or thought out as most political analysis on the web*, but here it is in raw form. Other posters have had their names reduced to initials for privacy.

In a nutshell;
1) It still is not nearly as fair as I had hoped (prebate value will vary depending widely on where you live)
2) It might be somewhat simpler than our current system
3) It would likely encourage business growth for companies already in business, but I wonder if it would help new businesses spring up or stifle new businesses
4a) I'd be more likely to support the no tax on business part if there was a way to make this only apply to businesses that keep most of their jobs in the states (to encourage more US growth)
4b) Alternatively, they *could* tax businesses, and make the overall tax rate a bit lower.


FB entries:
Troy,
Please explain your idea of "a flat tax and progressive fair tax." Because the flat tax has been shown to affect the poor the most, I'm interested in how the progressive part of your tax plan would balance that out.

JC,
Go look at fairtax.org.....it's the best way to address your questions for flat/fair tax..... Troy: Thanks, will do

Troy,
@ JC & @JB, I skimmed fairtax.org, and will look into it more soon. One thing that concerns me is that the sales tax rate at the store is different for different people. How will the store owner know which level to charge someone? (I need to look into the 'prebate' part more) Because, it would really suck if a poor person had to let every cashier know their income level when they are in the checkout line. Going to look into that part more.

Troy,
Ah, found it here: Fair Tax Prebate FAQ It's money paid in advance to lower income people, and then they pay the same tax rate at the stores as everyone else. People could game that a bit, and if the table becomes out of date lower income people would get taxed more than when the system is put in place. Also, the table does not appear to take in consideration local variances to things such as housing & gas, which can be huge. Nor does it take into consideration massive price fluctuations on gas, which tends to be seasonal (anyone here buy gas right before labor day?) If it *did* take in consideration local variances, then people could really game the system, particularly those with long commutes to work, or those who have an address in San Francisco, but spend 5 months a year working in Portland as part of their job. I think this is one of the reasons they didn't include it. It would get too complicated. Either way, it doesn't seem as fair as I had hoped when I first heard about it. But, it may be more fair than our current system (which isn't saying much). Now off to research actual annual tax that someone making $250+ k would pay with this system compared to what they pay now. Fun site!

JC,
Please do troy, I haven't seen anything that would have them give their income level, the tax charged would be the same to everyone, and everyone would get the prebate.....

Troy,
"the tax charged would be the same to everyone, and everyone would get the prebate...." Got it, I just want to do a little bit of work on whether people that make more money would continue to spend more money under this new system. One potentially funny side effect would be for the super wealthy to slowly replace their worn out spendy cars with Hyundai's as a form of tax evasion ;) Or, maybe they'd just do what I do, and drive one vehicle for 14+ years before buying a new one.

Troy,
One contradiction on their page regarding running a business: They estimate that this type of tax system will simplify paperwork, and encourage more international businesses to open up shop or move here & domestic businesses would have an easier time with paperwork and TAX FREE BUSINESS purchases, thus encouraging more business growth. And therefore, less paperwork means no need for the IRS However, because this could be an easy way for people to evade taxes (make a fake company, and buy goods for their own home with them), there would be an institution created to ensure this does not happen, with a much higher chance of being audited than with our current system. So, sounds to me like both forces cancel each other out, and I doubt more domestic businesses would spring up under this plans for those reasons stated alone. Maybe other benefits of this tax system would encourage it.

Troy,
Finally, I'm confused about their own graph that represents where revenue would be gathered.They say the same amount of tax would be gathered, but in every category listed in this graph, the amount is less: Fair Tax revenue Graph Although they *do* say more people in each category would pay taxes, such as illegal aliens & visiting tourists (just like I do when I go to Canada if I forget to fill out the exemption paperwork) Not sure I buy that counter argument.

Final thoughts on fair tax for now:
1) they imply that it would stick to 30%/23% but from what I have read, the number can automatically shift to keep it revenue neutral to today's amount of tax. I did not see anything to deal with inflation.
2) They claim it's a bipartisan bill, but I only saw one Dem senator & and 1 Dem rep out of 70 co-sponsors. Not saying it's not a good bill, just saying that their own site is deceitful on this point.
3) I could get behind the 'no tax for items bought for business use' if there was some provision that it be used for a business who keeps their most of their jobs in America. This would be potentially hard to implement, but if it could be implemented, it would help more US citizens get hired, rather than be outsourced

*yes, that is a joke.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Driving today and saw two deaf people in an argument in the car next to me. Needless to say, the driver couldn't get a word in edgewise.
First blog post from my IPhone as a text message

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I've finally figured out my Politics!

This just in from a Facebook post.  Special thanks go out to a "conservative anarcho-libertarian" for helping me find my voice

"CAL" From what you've said here, I agree with your basic tenet. There is an aristocrat class screwing the rest of us. on that we agree. We obviously do not agree on who 'they' are. I will tell you what we share: we both Value education


"CAL" ‎...We both Value Art, Human relationships, Laughter, Freedom, Truth, Free Will, Personal Accountability and Inspiration. That should cover the basics... otherwise, I'm a conservative anarcho-libertarian, I think everyone's screwed up, but mostly those who would submit to the collective......that's where it starts...


"CAL" ‎...the people that worry me the most are those who are most eager to tell others what they SHOULD be doing. Clean Your Own Porch. If you've got the Truth, it will find It's way...

"CAL" God Bless You and Yours. Happy Mother's Day.

Troy McFarland
‎@ CAL: The things you mentioned in your last four posts I also value. And I also am frustrated with the dualistic two party system and left/right mentality present in the US. Particularly when I've seen other systems work better in other countries. The extremes of both sides are absurd.

However, forced between having to choose between the two, I would reluctantly lean towards the liberal side. Because the extremes of Conservationism and Libertarianism are heartless and soulless. The difference as I see it:

Conservatives: "On hard times? Probably because we underfunded your school systems, and took away your health care. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Can't do that? go fuck yourself."

Liberals: "On hard times? Did you go to the schools and take training programs that we generously support? You did? Still no job? Unemployment run out? Now you can go on welfare."

Me: "On hard times? Did you go to the schools and take training programs that we generously support? You did? Still no job? Unemployment run out? Stopped looking for work? Go fuck yourself."

I should also expand it to "Keep voting for people and policies that shoot yourself in the foot? Go fuck yourself and why don't you move to one state and secede. You're bringing the rest of the country down."

Libertarians: "Who is John Galt? No really, it's well written. Go see the film" ;)

Finally, while I'm no communist, I truly value community. Not only do I cherish my friends and family, at my work (a private corp nonetheless!) we've found that through teamwork, we can create much greater things than any of us ever could have done by ourselves.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What the Heck Does This Troy Guy Look Like, Anyway?

Good question.  Here's a shot of what I looked like a couple of mornings ago.  I really need a haircut, and was enjoying the bangs in my eyes.  You know that head pointed down & eyes looking up thing that the girls do on dating sites?  I don't think it works so well with the guys.  This first shot is post-Photoshop (lightly touched).  As always, click on images for larger versions :)




Here's the raw image:

I gotta admit, there's bags under my eyes in the morning.  Not very flattering.

Here's my shot I'll use if I want to run for office, or impress the Republican crowd:




Here's a good one of the family:

One right after a dust storm at Burning Man before my daughter was born:  (goggles just removed)


And finally, a shot of me in a funky golf tournament outfit taken two years ago:



Oh yea, and here's me climbing the downtown REI indoor rock strcuture thingy.  Only after I climbed it did I notice it looks like a huge studded penis.  Honestly!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Firesign Theatre: Duke of Madness Motors DVD-ROM review

Because I preordered, I got my copy of Duke of Madness Motors a bit early!  And for only $45, including shipping!

My review on Amazon.com is here CLICK ON THESE WORDS FOR LINK (OBVIOUS, HUH?)

But, Amazon, won't let me tell people where you can actually buy the set (they don't like it when you link to external sites).  They just say that it is not available.  Well, I certainly can do it on my own blog!!
Here's the link to order, so get it NOW!!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Below is my full review that I posted on Amazon:

First off, this is not a DVD video. This is a DVD-ROM chock full of MP3 audio files. As such, there is no region code. It can be played on any computer and many DVD & Blu-ray players. This is a little odd, but stay with me; this is the best decision they could make for this release.

And, it comes with a book. But more about the book later.


THE DVD-ROM
This one disc contains over 80 hours worth of mp3 audio files from the radio broadcasts of KPFK-FM. If they tried to put this on CDs it would take almost 70 of them! I don't have enough shelf space for that. It would have cost many times current price to release it, making it unobtainable for many. For this project, a DVD-ROM makes the most sense.

The great thing about this is that I can copy the mp3 files onto my computer & listen to them at my computer, on my iPod, at work, etc. For those without a computer (I'm sure there are a few Fireheads out there without one at the moment), many blu-ray & DVD players will play this disc. My Blu-Ray player, a Sony BDP-S470 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, plays this disc fine. There are five folders, and the folder names do have spaces in them. This *might* be an issue for older players, but I doubt it.

So, why are they making it even easier to 'share files' with other people? Aren't they afraid that many fans won't buy it & 'borrow' it instead from other fans? I don't think so. Here's a few reasons I can think of why that is not the case:

1) Among MANY other things, this set contains the incredibly rare 12 LP set that was sent out to other radio stations. When I could find that set on eBay, it used to go for $100 alone. The 12 LPs originally sold for $225 for commercial broadcast & $110 for closed circuit college stations. And, the 12 LP set is less than 1/4 of the total content. The price is very affordable for the insane amount of material.

2) It comes with a full color book written/designed by Taylor Jessen, with photo collages by Phil Proctor. Taylor's work is incredible. (he's the same person who edited and restored/remastered the audio. All 80 hours of it. Truly a labor of love) The book alone is worth the price.

3) Fans of the Firesign Theatre are on the most part, good-hearted people and realize that the 4 or 5 crayzee guys are not ultra-rich, and certainly are not going to get ultra-rich with the price point on this collection. They are not ripping anyone off here. This is a huge gift to the fan base. Many of us have been waiting for our entire lives for this. Heck, I tried for years just to get the 12 LP collection. This is so much more than that.

So, how does this compare to their other material? The quote on the back of the book by Richard Metzger sums it up best:

"This is comparable to being a James Joyce fanatic and finding not just one notebook where he's working out the themes he'd develop in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, but an entire crate of 'em... A countercultural treasure of the highest order"

If you are a first time listener to Firesign Theatre, I'd suggest you try out some of their more polished albums first. The most accessible is How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All? Just as classic and more accessible to newer audiences is their more recent work Give Me Immortality Or Give Me Death or Firesign Theatre - Boom Dot Bust, which predicted the dot com bust almost two years before it happened.

The most similar album to this collection is Dear Friends. It is an excerpt of this huge treasure trove.


THE BOOK
I mentioned before that this also comes with a full color, 107 page book. It contains the aforementioned photo collages by Phil Proctor (which are really, really great!), an essay about the group, new interviews, and run downs of everything on the discs. These linear notes take up almost 40 pages. The collection is that big.

You can find pieces of the Deputy Dan Coloring Book in here, a cartoon of Bringing Up Father (you already know which one), and did I mention photo collages by Phil? Some of them contain nude images, but I would not call any of them obscene.

Now get on it and do it every day! Pick up this DVD & Book collection today!