Archive for November 2018

Another Glibertarian Encounter

At a Meetup recently, I met a recent transplant from Louisiana. He was here to escape from religion. He also said he was a libertarian. I blogged a few years ago that I met a libertarian that did not seem crazy, but I am back to my default position that most people who go around calling themselves “libertarian” are generally either lying to themselves, or to the rest of us.

This guy claimed he was sick of “both parties”, but he spent a lot of time criticizing Democrats and defending Republicans. He also said he generally votes for Republicans. But don’t call him a Republican, because he is so not a Republican! (I think he is on one of the panels of the “24 Types of Libertarian“, but NOT the Libertarian Bingo Card.)

He went on and on about how he was sooooo much smarter than his co-workers who loved Beto O’Rourke, but could not explain why they are voting for him. (Hint: He is not a theocrat, as Cruz is and his father most certainly is; if you are an atheist, that should be good enough.) He had some nice things to say about Ted Cruz.

Personally, I do not think Ted Cruz is as smart as everybody thinks he is. One of the reporters on the Texas Tribcast said she thought that Cruz was smart because he will always give the same answer to the same question. That is not intelligence, that is rigidity. He seems to have the same opinions at 47 as he did at 17. There is the type of intelligence that can think of 100 ways to try to get a square peg into a round hole, and there is the type of intelligence that realizes pretty quickly that maybe trying to put a square peg into a round hole is not a good use of your time. Ted Cruz seems to have a lot of the former.

Granted, like most conservatives, Ted Cruz can show some plasticity at times. Ted Cruz loves to drone on and on about how we should follow the intent of the Founding Fathers. Yet after rulings on gay marriage and the ACA that he did not like, Ted Cruz thought there should be retention elections for the Supreme Court. I guess following the Founders is fine up until you get a ruling you do not like. (A note to originalists: If you can change your mind when you do not like how things are going, then don’t get upset when the rest of us change our minds when we don’t like things.)

Actually, I do think conservatives are consistent. They want power, and to make people they do not like suffer. If they seem to be contradicting themselves, use “Cruz’s Razor” and see how it compares to that.

Anyway, like most conservatives, Cruz might seem smart, but ultimately he believes in his revealed principles, and will ignore any evidence against them.

This glibertarian said he was basing his opinion of Ted Cruz’s intelligence based on what he heard from Cruz’s professors at law school. I said I was basing my opinion of his stupidity based on Cruz’s words and actions. The glibertarian had no response to that.

He also said he liked Ted Cruz because Cruz fights for his beliefs. I guess he does, if he believes he is a liar, his wife is ugly, and his dad assassinated JFK. Not only did Cruz not stand up for himself against Donald Trump, he asked Trump to campaign for him in the recent election. If Ted Cruz won’t stand up for himself or his family, what makes you think that he will stand up for you?

I have tried to keep an open mind about libertarians, but a lot of times if you keep them talking, they are just Republicans who do not want to call themselves Republicans.

Big Jim will stand up for his beliefs, but won’t push them on others.

Stela of Amenemhat and Hemett, Middle Kingdom, early Dynasty 12 (about 1956–1877 BC), at the Art Institute Of Chicago, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On The Austin Water Shortage

Recently, there was a warning from the City of Austin that residents should boil water before using it for cooking or consumption. There was a lot of flooding upstream in the rivers that feed into the other Colorado River, which put a lot of silt and solids into the water.

Here is a quote from the link above:
This has been an unprecedented event in Austin Water’s more than 100 years of delivering water to Austin residents. Historic flooding created water that showed over 100 times the level of silt and solids typically than found in our source water. This dramatically changed the way our treatment plants needed to operate to produce high quality water, and decreased the amount of water the plants were able to filter. This required us to slow our water treatment process.

What really bothers me about all of this is that I have not been able to find any information about what they are going to do about this in the future. Climate change is happening now, folks. These floods are just one of the effects, and I think they will become more common. There will be more “unprecedented” events. So how will the city deal with this going forward?

Will they install more filtration systems? I watched a press conference on YouTube, but I did not hear anything about future preventive measures.

I did use the water to brush my teeth the first day. I did not know about the boil order until I got to work. Checking the city’s website to see the status of the water supply is not part of my daily routine.

My apartment complex has had some water issues and they have had to shut off the water several times, so to an extent I was not too bothered by the general ban. When the complex shuts off water, even showers and laundry are unavailable. I have started buying more metal water bottles to store water for shutoffs. When I first moved in, the water was getting shut off every week. I asked them what was going on, and they pulled the old “blame the government” card. The problem with that argument is the place I lived in before was also within Austin’s city limits, and that complex never had water problems.

Several restaurants were affected. Five Guys in Austin were completely shut down that week, and Whataburger only had drive-through.

I have a few more points related to this incident.

Point 1: The mayor’s press conference was first streamed on Facebook. I really wish the world would stop using Facebook, especially governments at all levels. Constituents should be able to get information on government web sites without logging into some other web site, particularly a company that most people do not trust. Do not use Facebook, do not empower Facebook, do not do anything that puts money in the pockets of Mark “privacy for me but not for thee” Snakerberg.

Point 2: I have had a few conversations in the past couple of weeks in which other people mentioned how crazy the weather has been lately. My brother in New York said that there has been no fall this year. In another conversation, one person mentioned that there are more hurricanes predicted, and again their state did not have much of an autumn. I did not say much. I found it interested that nobody said something like, “I guess climate change is really happening.”

Point 3: There were a lot of people on Twitter making the same tired joke that they will just drink more booze. This brings up two things. First, as Kristi Coulter pointed out, alcoholics and addicts are everywhere in our society. Second: As I have mentioned on this site, so many people in Austin think they are so edgy, and so original, and so “weird”, but they really are none of those things. Just people repeating the same stupid stuff, and thinking they are the first person to do so [1]. You could call it the “42 fallacy”: whenever there is a gathering of sci-fi fans or skeptics, if the number 42 comes up, somebody almost always makes a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and they think they are the first person to ever do that. Or that it hasn’t lost its charm after 30 years. It did, about 29 years and 364 days ago.

If you think you are smarter than everybody else, try acting like it.

Note 1: Or they think that Austin is “weird” because there are a lot of people here who would not fit in whatever crazy little church town they are from in the middle of nowhere in Texas. The fact is, there are people in a LOT of places who would not fit in you little crazy church town.

Big Jim hate cliches, and likes being prepared.

“View of Toledo” by El Greco (1541 – 7 April 1614), at El Greco’s site, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

2018-10 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for October, 2018.

The monthly dividend income came out to $1130.39. The yearly income total for 2018 through the end of the month was $4606.91.

The income for October, 2017 was $341.83, and the yearly income for 2017 through the end of October was $5138.63.

So I am behind where I was last year, but still ahead of where I was two years ago.

Again, the payouts from some of the funds that should have been at the end of a “C” month spilled over into the following “A” month. I doubt that December’s payout will spill over into January.

I interviewed for a job this month. I decided not to go forward with it for a variety of reasons. This means my current 401(k) is still sitting in ordinary index funds, not in dividend funds. I am still learning new technology on my own time, but on the other hand I am in no rush to add stress to my life. Still, having all that money in dividend funds would be sweet.

I asked HR if I could move it, and they said I could only take it out if/when I leave the company. I wish I could leave for a week, move it, and come back.

We shall see how dividends do going forward. I know it is hip to predict disaster, but between trade wars, Brexit, general conservative stupidity and rising interest rates, it is obvious the good times will not last forever. How will dividends do during the next recession? Who knows? They generally do better than the general market (they did in the dot com crash and the Great Recession), but every downturn is different.

I might hold off on buying a commodities fund. I have no idea how commodities do during downturns. My first guess if they don’t do too badly. People still need to eat. But I also know I am not an expert on this stuff.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each October from 2011 through 2018:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2018-10 $4606.91 $1130.39 $561.66 $583.77
2017-10 $5138.63 $341.83 $566.34 $556.11
2016-10 $4541.79 $281.09 $508.05 $496.43
2015-10 $4056.72 $312.23 $459.42 $438.15
2014-10 $3236.89 $243.87 $368.19 $340.32
2013-10 $2558.86 $184.81 $295.19 $291.08
2012-10 $2650.92 $225.14 $285.46 $284.35
2011-10 $2330.68 $208.90 $258.17 $238.44

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for October, 2018:

  • Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF: $201.69
  • Vanguard International Dividend Appreciation ETF: $33.05
  • Vanguard Global ex-US Real Estate ETF: $50.03
  • Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF: $272.77
  • Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF: $407.14
  • Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF: $117.99
  • Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF BND ETF: $37.46
  • Vanguard Total International Bond ETF: $10.26

Big Jim is still growing.

“The Triumph of Religion” by Γύζης Νικόλαος (Nikolaos Gyzis) (1842 -1901), assumed allowed under Fair Use. Religion is not endorsed by this website; we actually advocate people abandon fairy tales. It’s just a nice change of pace from walls of text.