Saturday, April 30, 2011

First blog from wireless device

I'm blogging from an iPad right now as I return from Pennsylvania to drop off Little Brother. I'm just getting the hang of this device; it's an adjustment to get used to using two keyboards (one for qwerty and the other for numbers).
Now I've got a bit to write about; first off is the DC Special Election that occurred on April 26th. Turnout was higher than expected (I got to participate). Surprising enough, the Republican on the ballot, Pat Mara, came within 1,200 votes of winning over the widely recognized Vince Orange. That is a 5% spread in a highly Democratic city.

Next is our own school elections. Seniors don't vote in these, but it was interesting to see that the students elected the kids with the "too cool" attitude. They are the people whom the Seniors "like, but..."; this nonchalant attitude swill give the second place candidates a heavy say in how things are run.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Golf Carts

Each year, more and more houses are built further and further away from city cores and reliable transit services. While many developments are intentionally planned for walkability to a "town center", many homes are built out of this range. Then consider this: how many car-enabled residents would value the two-minute drive over the twelve-minute walk? Then consider the implications for the non-car enabled- say, younger teens. Are we sure that all of these pre-adults want to "endure" the round-trip walk? (Take Mom's taxi service out of the picture for now). Simple solution- bicycles. As I believe, most American kids have one in their garage. Bicycle infrastructure- either a wide shoulder for the road or a wider sidewalk, and bike racks in good repair- would enhance this transportation mode's appeal for all, and increase younger teens' sense of mobility.

In the meanwhile, as developed areas have continued to sprawl, States have been raising minimum driving ages, although the trend has cooled off in the past year. (Thankfully, the Allstate-insurance sponsored National STANDUP Act failed after the last election). What this has likely led to (I should find evidence or uncover it myself) is that teens are probably spending more time at home. Furthermore, another issue with higher driving ages is reduced employment opportunities because of lack of transportation. I suspect that the decrease in teen (ages 16-19) summer employment is at least in part directly linked to this issue. (Mama and Papa have been your chauffeur for so many years now...).

Working close to home has its perks, but America has a mobile workforce, teens traditionally included. If the teen is lucky, he or she will find a job within their means of commuting- by foot or bike. So how do we extend the mobility range of pre-licensed teens? Give them powered wheels. Easy-to-use and maintain powered scooters and mopeds are practical options that can give "reliable transportation" to more teens, thereby increasing their competitiveness in the entry-level job market. Such scooters are common in Europe, although less so in America.

Part of this is a culture thing- in days past, before 17 yo driving ages and passenger limits- teens in high school probably had little problem finding a ride, so there wasn't too big of a suburban teen market. The next thing is that a number of states require license plates on select classes of scooters and licenses for operators. However, in many states, golf carts, even when driven on a public street, are exempted from these vehicle and operator licensing requirements- and are ubiquitous in a number of communities. So perhaps we could see more of these vehicles around in the future.

Note that I did not list socioeconomic implications on the diffusion of teens in the workplace: many licensed teens don't have access to cars due to economic factors. The effect of this can be quite pronounced; at a park where a car is a virtual necessity to access, the high-school aged waterfront lifeguards were clearly a standard-deviation-plus above socioeconomic norm even for the tony County the park was in.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

That Empowering Time of Year Again

Every year on April 17 since age 12, I've been getting more rights and privileges. A while ago, I tried to find a comprehensive list online, but I couldn't find one. Here are a few benefits of growing up that I've compiled for people from ages 12 through 35:

12- sit in the front seat of a car.

13- COPPA doesn't apply anymore- that means you can get an online life! Also, pre-registration of voters and organ donors.

14- eligible to work part-time, fly commercial alone, get a glider pilot license, minimum age to be charged as adult in some states, get married in some states (with parental consent, of course).

15- be a lifeguard, sit in an airplane exit row, get authorized on a credit card, take aspirin, fly alone on most airlines.

16- There's quite a bit of things you can do; a lot of them are related to 16-y-o's making adult choices. Some include eloping to Elkton and get hitched, w/o parental consent in some cases, moving out of home, saying adios to school in most states (editors note: Use this option to make learning work for you; not to slack off!), age for a standard marriage in a number of states, adult membership in many social clubs, work a full 8 hour day/ 40 hour week, take a Fed Reserve tour, register to vote (if 18 by next general election), get a driver's license, full-privilege ATM card and checking account, qualify to work in a number of semi-skilled professions such as pool operations and entry-level shipping jobs, get a pilot's license, get an adult passport, cross international borders without a notarized letter of consent, participate in a blood drive w/ parental consent in some states, use a weightroom or spa or sauna without an adult, participate in certain vices pertaining to the ATF's domain (though not purchase them).

17- watch an R-rated movie without an adult, participate in a blood drive (w/o parental consent), vote in a primary (some states), join the military.

18- Voting, signing forms yourself, graduating from young driver restrictions, and participating in behavioral surveys is just the start. Essentially you get all the adult goodies except as below...

19- clubbing age, and marriage age in some states and, yep, some states raised the tobacco purchase age. Intent? Keep high school kids out of these activities.

20- this is when you're an adult in East Asia (20 by the Western or Eastern age-counting system?).

21- clubbing age in a number of areas of US, legal etoh purchase age in US, rent a car or hotel room, sign a mortgage in some states, CDL in some states, some heavy machinery licenses, get a concealed weapons permit.

23- become a commercial pilot

25- lower rates on insurance and , become an US House Representative

30-become a Senator or Governor in many states

35- become President or Vice President

And then we have what I'll call the AARP-type benefits that kick in at 55 with Senior Discounts and adult living communities.

My birthday is tomorrow, or later tonight by grown-up terms. I had plans to attend a Landon-endorsed rooftop event to dance my way to legality, but it was cancelled due to rain. In lieu of this turn of events, a friend invited me to go clubbing tonight. "Well", I said, "I'd have to wait 'til midnight. I'm done with teen clubs- over the line". "No, this party starts at 2(am)". Now how would I stay on good terms with my parents if I clubbed my sleeping time away? So I've spent this night at home, tonight feels like a last bachelor party for me- a final night unconstrained by adult responsibility. Yet, shouldn't I be on the edge of my seat waiting for midnight to hit to indulge in legal-aged excess? While I'm not biologically 18 until 8:15pm tomorrow, I'm legally adult in less than 2 hours. Some of the privileges I've already enjoyed, such as signing a waiver for an event on April 30th. Some I will enjoy soon, such as voting in DC's special election on April 26 (single votes hold more sway in special elections!). I'll keep my readers up to date as I exercise these privileges.

Next up: Golf Carts for Suburban Early-Teens!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Astrodyntech Found Another Way

It's my ethical obligation to let readers know that I posted my most recent post on April 1. In reality, no corporation has created a mass migration for the purpose of getting a corporate candidate into Congress. However, I must say that my last post was not all fiction; corporate-backed candidates do sit in Congress, and at much less of a cost to corporations than Astrodyntech's grand plan. Nevertheless, wouldn't it have shock value for a big corporation to form a political party?

The President of Astrodyntech got results back from a study which uncovered that other corporations and big companies got the people and policies they wanted into office with the following:

Lobbyists- hey, Mr. Congressman; if you vote for this, you'll look smart.

Setting up a magic show: big companies make it rain- for example, everyone likes more jobs in town. Attribute these jobs to Mr. or Ms.' policies, while he or she is running for office, and you make a friend.

Private Industry does it better, and at a lower cost- Everyone wins: the politician, the taxpayers, and the big companies, especially.

Flat Tax Rate- this is part of the next point, but wouldn't Average Joe like a simpler tax return? The millions of small...uh... lots of businesses in America would like that too.

Trickle Down Economics- This policy's popularity is a product of the following point: the IRS has a monopoly on government based wealth spreading, but the free market will spread the wealth. It's got to happen, right?

Fear of monopolies - Competition makes a better product. If one organization collects your tax money, how do you know that it's being collected in the best way possible? Outsource the IRS to the highest bidders. Sell the right to collect taxes from w million number of people at up to xyz rates. That's a contract Astrodyntech would love.

While these candidates fall under two big tents, the GOPs and the Dems, rather than carrying outright the name of a corporation, it's a small detriment in comparison to the huge costs of maintaining an under worked plebiscite in a company town.

Now there are enough political blogs, and plenty of them have IP addresses originating from the Washington, DC Area. It's about time I step off the political bandwagon. Next topic if nothing supersedes: Golf carts- a Suburban 14-Something's Upcoming Necessity?

Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1: Astrodyntech Bids for 1st Corporate Seat

Residents of the DelMarVa peninsula have been wondering about the sudden increase in moving trucks coming through their part of the woods. In March of 2010, according to exclusive and anecdotal reports, Astrodyntech opened shop in Delaware, and accepted applications over 230,000 people from all over the world. These people then were required to relocate to company housing in rural southern Delaware. Observers note that this mass migration was just in time for the decennial census, and that this mass influx at this time was both economical for the fledgling company and just large enough to win Delaware a second seat in the House.

Since then, the company has moved another 110,000 staffers to this new boomtown. It is becoming apparent that the redistricting board made a pinkie-swear with the President of Astrodyntech to not "gerrymander" the new boomtown by keeping it in one cohesive Representative District. Delaware is not one of eleven states that is required to report such redistricting to the Feds, as per the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Says Delaware State Historian Angie DeFlow, "Ever since the DuPont family started making chemicals, our state has always sold out to corporate interests". VPOTUS Joe Biden, formerly a US Senator from the State, released the following statement regarding the feds' response: "We have no grounds to invade their property until we have a warrant, which we don't have. We're really curious, though, so we'll jump on the next opportunity. An example of an opportunity might be a coworker coming to the cops with a workplace smoking violation. Then the Labor Department can get in there and see what's going on; but for now, our administration holds nothing against Astrodyntech". Says Delaware Governor Jack Markell: "It's a great opportunity for all Delawareans to have such an influx of new talent and new investment. For us, it's no small wonder that Delaware would be the breeding ground of democratic innovation. By the way, come some time and enjoy our tax-free shopping". Marylanders are wondering with envy why this debacle isn't playing out across the Mason-Dixon Line. Although the Maryland State Senate Leader declaimed this Astrodyntech maneuver as a "desecration of democracy", Lisa Gladden spoke with tearful eyes, as if this debacle was a missed opportunity for Maryland.

Astrodyntech is a privately held corporation which was incorporated in November 2008 in the State of Delaware. Main shareholders include many politicians and ex-politicians at all levels of government, not to neglect Halliburton's hefty share in the enterprise. Regarding the controversy that has arisen regarding the number of power players who hold stock, the President of the Company stated that "We're paying our team members 25 thousand a year, each, plus benefits, for cushy work. If we were paying to play, we could've bought that Illinois seat from Blago back in '09 for 600 grand". The company, asides from these brief comments, has remained mum and kept a low profile, and employees are dedicated to a confidentiality policy, with not whistleblowers coming forward yet.

Based on those figures provided, Astrodyntech will pay out around $7.5 billion in payroll this year. Considering the real cost for the Company, though, we estimate that three-quarters of those funds go back into the Company through rent, the company store, and work they actually get from their stiffs. The employees now are mostly occupied with building this new city; but once everything is built, one can only wonder if the stiffs will spend their days loafing around the grounds.

Residents of Delaware have mixed views. Pizza shop owner Donatello "Buddy" Rissoto, 38, states: "So here's a company that started in the middle of the Great Recession, and now has 300,000 some employees. They (Astrodyntech) deserve something". Another commenter, retiree Jake Barnes, 76, takes a different view: "Look, a survey in the Sassafras High School News reports that the name Jack Markell doesn't ring a bell to a third of the students, a good number of them who are registered voters. Thank you, If the survey had asked for the Governor's name, I suppose half the students couldn't answer correctly, one l or two. By the way, he's their Governor! Politicians are taking advantage of dimwitted, angry, voters. Back in my day, by the way, the voting age was 21, not 17. Yes, I said 17; and I fought in Korea, too."

Just today, a candidate for the 2012 2nd District Election emerged from the largely secluded boomtown. The Astrodyntech party was officially recognized a few days ago by the state. The petition for recognition of this party came in with significant bump over the required signature count. Pundits state that, at least 75%, closer to 90%, will have to vote their boss into power if she is to win. This high threshold is based on predictions for high voter turnout as citizens will want to counter the corporate candidate in this historic Election. The pundits also predict that a number of the signatories on the party's petition just wanted to see this party become legitimate, but will have cold feet at the voting booth.

The candidate stated that she, who has given no identity other than Astrodyntech so far, will most likely align with Old Time Republicans, but says that she looks forward to the day that "the movers of the American Economy, financiers of public education, wars, welfare programs, subsidies, Social Security and Medicare, and American Civil Society", what we think is codespeak for large corporations, will get a fair say in the democratic process. "It's been "look out for the little man" for a century now. Let's change the tide".

Says economist Jack Johnson, "The success of Astrodyntech relies on the outcome of the election. What the employees realize is that, if the company doesn't win, the leadership will declare corporate bankruptcy and walk away scotch free. If this happens, then all the little guys and gals are out of work. We are certain that the staff is being coached about this is in the daily 'employee meetings'". There is a stock benefit in employees, which Johnson says is a cruel ploy to get employees to politic harder for this corporate candidate than they otherwise would. In summation, no Republic has lasted forever; this may be the start of the fall of democracy in America". But, Johnson also quips, "If Astrodyntech was thinking straight, they might've gone for a lower turnout midterm election. On that thought, they'd have gone for a low population state like the Dakotas to get the bang for their buck: the two Senate seats would've come for free".