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my days at the office
My warped views on poker, politics, and life
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5th-Nov-2014 07:50 pm - It's a Right, Right World
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It has been a while since I wrote, but let's start with the tsunami that happened last night. When Maryland elects a Republican governor:

Yes, the current governor passed a tax on rainwater. If outgoing Maryland Governor O'Malley is really considering a presidential run, that little tax will come back to bite him. (Along with 39 other taxes he increased.)

Closer to home--well, in my home state--veteran political analyst Jon Ralston predicted the Republicans to do well. He predicted Governor Sandoval to get 73% of the vote, the GOP to win all but the Attorney General and Secretary of State race, the Margin Tax to be voted down (64% no), and Congressman Steven Horsford (D) to sruvive his reelection race. He also predicted the Republicans to barely win the State Senate and make gains in the Assembly--perhaps getting to 22-20 in favor of the Democrats.

He was wrong.

The GOP did superbly well. The Democrats lost every race for statewide office. Republican Crescent Hardy defeated Congressman Horsford. The State Assembly will be 25-17 Republicans over Democrats. (It may even be a larger margin: Two of the Democratic candidates were ruled ineligible last week. I don't know if they "won" but they cannot serve!). The GOP did win the State Senate 11-10.

Why did this happen? Lots of reasons:

1. The economy. Forget the stock market; that's not relevant for most Americans. The economy might be in "recovery" but it's a paper recovery that hasn't impacted many. Americans don't perceive themselves being well off.
2. Obama's policies. Obamacare is despised by Americans. That's a fact. And it's just one of several policies that Americans don't like.
3. The Democratic candidates were the "dumb and dumber" party this year. Remember Tood Akin? Well Democratic Senator Mark Udall's campaign was so one-track that he lost. Combine that with good GOP candidates, and you have a nice recipe.
4. Climate Change. All that money spent on something Americans don't care about and many Americans believe is not happening (that is, anthropogenic climate change).

Will Obama start compromising? I doubt it. One thing he'll have to do is take a stand on legislation. Expect the Keystone Pipeline to pass in January, and for other legislation held in Harry Reid's roach motel (legislation comes in, but it never leaves) to come out.
5th-Oct-2014 12:35 pm - A Debate About the Undebatable
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Climate science is settled. Those of us who are skeptics should be skewered at the stake, etc. Via Watts Up With That is a debate on climate science.

I turned a year older this past week. I guess I'm getting old -- What's the date when we turn a year younger?

Cal 60, Wazzu 59.
Wazzu's quarterback, Connor Halliday, set the record for most passing yards in a game (734) in a losing effort. Cal's quarterback, Jared Goff, threw for 527 yards. Trevor Davis ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns. Best of all, shock of shocks, Cal is in first place in the Pac-12 North. Now, I don't expect that to last (after hosting UDub next week, Cal faces UCLA, Oregon, at Oregon State, at USC, Stanford, and BYU), but it's nice for the moment. Indeed, if not for a Hail Mary, Cal would be undefeated....
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What's a streamer?
Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant's concentrated sun rays — "streamers," for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.

Yet another case of unintended consequences. And investigators want a stop on a larger plant until the impact of this one is known.

Purdue University (my father's alma mater) is doing something different: Students have the first tuition freeze in 36 years, a 10% drop in food (dining hall) prices, and possible textbook savings.
8th-Jul-2014 07:13 am - On Pokerz
russ barge 2001 looking down
I haven't posted in two months, but it's been very busy for me. The stupid FBAR stuff reared its ugly head back into online poker, and various other things hit my workload hard.

Although I wanted to play the main event, I decided not to -- just way, way, way too much work. Next year is almost certain.

I did brick all the WSOP tourneys I did play. In PLO8, I played for six hours and didn't scoop a pot. That's incredibly hard to do, but I managed that feat!

At least the cash games caused a break-even summer :)

ObamaCare is still, well, beloved by the people:

Just wait until the group plan increases hit in one to two months.
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This should be a very good year for the GOP. The Benghazi scandal is flaring up again, with out-and-out-lying by the White House:

Or as Jonathan Karl put it on Twitter,
@PressSec says @rhodes44 email not released bc "explicitly not about Benghazi." It has section entitled "Benghazi"

As always, it's the cover-up that gets you....

Meanwhile, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) compared Black Republicans to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. Interestingly, a Black Republican is running for Congress in my district (in Nevada).

And here's an ad for Monica Wehby; she's running for Senate in Oregon:

Your tax dollars at work:

What does “Disruption” mean to DC?

When Evan and Will got called in to meet with the Postmaster General they were joined by the USPS’s General Counsel and Chief of Digital Strategy. But instead, Evan recounts that US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe “looked at us” and said “we have a misunderstanding. ‘You disrupt my service and we will never work with you.’” Further, “‘You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren’t our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers.  Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.”’

According to Evan, the Chief of Digital Strategy’s comments were even more stark, “[Your market model] will never work anyway. Digital is a fad. It will only work in Europe.”

This is about Outbox and the US Postal Service. Unfortunately, everything in this article--and it should be read from beginning to end--makes perfect sense. It's also nice to know that digital is a "fad."
18th-Mar-2014 07:00 pm - Oh no!
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Something not good for my waistline is coming soon to a location just 3.5 miles from my home: EggWorks (aka the Egg & I) is opening in Summerlin.
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PJ O'Rourke filed an amicus curiea brief with the US Supreme Court on Susan B Anthony List v. Driehaus It makes hilarious reading. Here's page 4 (note that numbers within the text from 6-9 are footnotes):

Everybody knows that the economy is better off under [Republican/Democratic] 6 presidents—who control it directly with big levers in the Oval Office—and that:
President Obama is a Muslim.
President Obama is a Communist.
President Obama was born in Kenya.
Nearly half of Americans pay no taxes.7
One percent of Americans control 99 percent of the world’s wealth.
Obamacare will create death panels.
Republicans oppose immigration reform because they’re racists.
The Supreme Court is a purely political body that is evangelically [liberal/conservative].8

All of the above statements could be considered “truthy,” yet all contribute to our political discourse. Laws like Ohio’s here, which criminalize “false” speech, do not replace truthiness, satire, and snark with high-minded ideas and “just the facts.” Instead, they chill speech such that spin becomes silence. More importantly, Ohio’s ban of lies and damn lies9 is inconsistent with the First Amendment.

6 Circle as appropriate.
7 47 percent to be exact, though it may be higher by now.
8 Again, pick your truth.
9 Amici are unsure how much torture statistics can withstand before they too run afoul of the law.

There's plenty more, and the entire brief is well worth reading. And "Two Pinocchios out of five is OK, but three is illegal?"

More on the civil rights front. Houston has issued a "cease and desist" order to Uber to stop something that has to be blatantly wrong. Yes, the City of Houston wants to stop Houstonians from communicating with the city. I am not making this up.

This is likely my last blog post until April 15th. This tax season is an early season, with tons of work already. I'll be back in mid-April.
25th-Feb-2014 07:26 pm - Quality Is Our #1 Dream
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Two things brought this to mind today. First, I had to return two products today. I bought a bag of blueberries at Costco, but when I got home the bag was torn and blueberries started dripping out. The return at Costco? No problem, of course. This is the first time I've ever had a problem with a food item from Costco (and I've been buying food at Costco for 20+ years). Costco in Summerlin on Tuesday mornings is uncrowded.

On the other hand, I received a gift of a portfolio (notebook), with a return slip. I have about four portfolios, so I didn't need another. Back to the store it went. Here's the conversation:
"Why are you returning this?"
"I don't need it. It was a gift, and I have four portfolios."
"Ok....[2-minute pause]...I need a manager's approval. I'll be back shortly."

Thank goodness for Twitter--I went through my Twitter feed for five minutes. It took another five minutes once the manager got there....

I got this book for the Holidays (and I'm keeping it). You can order this from the catalog:

or this:

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I keep hearing from my friends on the left that Democrats will be able to run on ObamaCare. I offer the following rebuttals:

Case 1: Minnesota Lawmakers went to an ag symposium in North Mankato.

The question: "I thought the Affordable Care Act would save $2500 per family. What happened?"

After Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Walz looked at each other, laughter broke out in the room.

Rep. Peterson quickly picked up the microphone to say, "I voted 'no', so I'll let these guys handle that," to the applause of the crowd.

Case 2: The following advertisement is running in Michigan:

Polls are showing the Republican candidate for US Senator ahead in Michigan.

A five-year-old gets a letter from the IRS. His mother responded. The IRS then writes back:
Dear Mr. Smith: we don’t recognize Susan F. Smith as someone authorized to discuss your tax file. If you want Susan F. Smith to be authorized to discuss your return we suggest you go online and submit form 8892 and form, etc.
Via viralnova, take a look at what his parents did (and I agree completely with it). It's a classic.
13th-Feb-2014 07:39 pm - WSOP Time
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The schedule for the WSOP came out, and this is the year that I'm likely to play the main event. I can afford it, and I want to do it sometime. Here are the events I'm thinking of playing:

Sat 5/31 11am Millionaire Maker $1500 NLHE
Fri 6/6 10am Seniors $1000 NLHE*
Thu 6/12 12n $1500 HORSE
Fri 6/13 4pm $1500 7-stud 8-or-better
Tue 6/24 $1500 PLO8
Sun 7/6 $10,000 NLHE

For those who don't remember, last year my air conditioning died the week of the Seniors event (the blower motor went kaput). It was replaced on the day of the Seniors event so I couldn't play.

All thoughts appreciated. I might consider backing for the main event; thoughts on that are especially appreciated.
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