Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Little Economic Reality

No politics in this post, just a few interesting facts:

2006 Federal Budget - $2.7 Trillion

Projected 2010 Budget - $4 Trillion

2006 Statistics

Number of filers earning more than $200,000 - 3.8 million

Taxes paid by filers earning more than $200,000 - $522 billion (62% of all income tax)

Taxes paid by filers earning the top 1% of income - $408 billion (40% of all income tax)

% of Income earned by the top 1 % of earners - 22%

Other interesting facts

In order to fund the 2010 budget projection ($4B), the government would have to take 100% of all taxable income from everyone earning more than $75,000.

President Obama promises not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000.

President Obama promises to cut the deficit in half by 2012.

(Sources IRS, Wall Street Journal, President Obama)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bashing Obama?

No.  Actually, I'm not bashing the President.  I don't really know enough about the case or the evidence behind it to have an opinion.  I got accused of bashing because of my post yesterday, but that person missed the point, as did probably most of the Obama supporters who read it.  It was actually bashing them.  Let me explain.

The post was written and posted to to be exact.  So if the democrats are against the President on this decision, what does it have to do with other Obama supporters?  Just the fact that this posting is an example of intellectual integrity that has been missing from the opinions of many of the President's supporters.  The site had a problem with the CIA's interviewing skills and GWB's handling of the facts.  When the new President used the same strategy, they still objected.  Good for them.  I disagree, but they are being consistent.

What I would love to know (and never will) is how many Obamers made excuses for the President or reacted with some additional negative feelings to this writer, or maybe just choose not to consider it at all?  It is a very human thing to do, though not smart or honest.

So what was your reaction?  That's rhetorical.  I don't really care to know.  I think in most cases I already do.  That is one that is best if asked of yourself.  My hope is that this exercise might have bleed some arrogance and politics from the Debate (the general debate) and added some healthy skepticism about the motives and methods of those who govern, be they GOP or Dem.  Staking your position on issues is fine if you have some reasoning behind your decision.  Binding you politics to one man is dangerous and frankly un-American.

Read Otis

If you don't read Rapid Eye Reality, you are missing out.  Go read this now:  Classic!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Can you guess what website posted this?

On the Binyam Mohamed Case:

"...“Why the heck is President Obama protecting torturers?” <name redacted> writes, “Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability — resoundingly and disgracefully.”

What makes this particularly appalling and inexcusable is that Senate Democrats had long vehemently opposed the use of the “state secrets” privilege in exactly the way that the Bush administration used it in this case, even sponsoring legislation to limits its use and scope.  Yet here is Obama, the very first chance he gets, invoking exactly this doctrine in its most expansive and abusive form to prevent torture victims even from having their day in court, on the ground that national security will be jeopardized."

So who wrote it?  Answer tomorrow or acknowledged in the comments.

In any case, it looks like the "Change Bus" ran off the road in just 22 days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Impressions of Korea

  • This place is very hilly, Even mountainous at times.  The weather has been cold and foggy since I've been here, though I'm told that it could get up to 70 or down to 0.  Sounds a lot like Charlotte.
  • This is no third world country.  They've got money and like showing it off.
  • it is very hard to believe the Korean War (that's what they call it, too) was 50 years ago.  I see no sign of it in Seoul.  The base where I am working was built by the Japanese while they occupied Korea in the first half of the last century.
  • The Koreans really hate the Japanese.  Really.  They are not found of the Chinese either.
  • It has been mentioned to me more than once that If the north invades, most of us would not survive 15 minutes.  There are thousands of missiles pointed at Seoul.  It hasn't bothered my sleep yet.
  • The people have something of a complex about foreigners.   I can't blame them. They have been occupied for most of their history, something Americans know nothing about.  They seem desperate for unification and independence.
  • It would help if the cab drivers spoke more English or if I spoke more Korean.  Apparently neither is about to happen anytime soon.
  • This hotel, the Millennium Seoul Hilton, is the best hotel I've ever stayed in, hands down.  The room is outrageously stocked with everything I could need.  There are 8 restaurants on-site.  The staff is attentive, almost to extreme.  Example, the breakfast buffet in the executive lounge (for us diamond members :) ) never seems to run low on anything.  All of the food is topped off before it gets halfway down.  I've yet to sit down before being asked if I wanted coffee.  Absolutely excellent, except for one little thing.
  • They don't seem to know what "Do Not Disturb" means all of the time.  Twice I've left the room with the sign on and they've made my room anyway.  it is an error of giving more than great service.  I can overlook it as long as nothing disappears from my room.
  • I wish they had more choice in beer.  We are much closer to Australia.  Where is the Fosters?  Cass beer is OK.
  • Finally, something that fascinates me even though I have no desire to partake.  Sex seems to be wide open here.  It is illegal, but as un-enforced as speeding in Charlotte.  One of the alleys in the main tourist area of town is known as "Hooker Hill" and you cannot walk past many of those bars without being 'encouraged' to stop in.  You can go to many barber shops, juicy bars (Google that one if interested), massage parlors, and lounges and openly proposition the girls there and I'm told that even if they don't do such things that they won't really take offense.   If only poker were so open here.

That's my impression anyway.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Pictures from Korea

Seoul Hotel View

The View from my hotel room which gives a pretty good impression of the weather here.


The wrapper from the cigar that made me barf.  Cuban cigars suck if you ask me.


The standard in stocking a hotel room.  I've never seen anything like it.



A bad picture of Itaewon, the tourist shopping district of Seoul.  Sorry, no pictures from the nearby Hooker hill.


Diorama from the Korean War Museum.

 100_0322 100_0323 100_0314 100_0325

More from the museum.


I have no idea how they arrived at this.


Neither Korean nor American.  Or is it both?


Old gate.

It has been a very interesting and rewarding trip so far.  Even so, I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I got Won out the Yang

I feel like I've got Won coming out the yang right now.  I checked out the only legal poker room in Korea tonight, the Paradise Walker-hill Casino in the Sheraton Grande (you know when they can afford that extra 'e' that you are walking into a high-end joint.

I started with a quick buffet dinner.  I didn't bother to check the price.  It was a buffet in Korea.  There were kids running all over the place and the food wasn't special.  How expensive could it be?  Well, the buffet itself was almost $50 American.  Add on the $7 beer, and I was 1)glad I'm on per diem and 2) that I hadn't paid for a meal all day, otherwise I'd have been quite upset.  I asked and found out that it was the cheapest place to eat other than the casino bar, so really didn't make a difference.

Next it was off to play some poker.  They spread only 1000/2000 no limit poker.  That sounds so cool to have played in a game that big until you do that math.  One American dollar brings over 1300 Korean won, so we were really playing smaller than $1/2. So we were really playing $.72/1.45.  It still played pretty big.  Also, I didn't bring bankroll money and didn't want to convert any more into won than I had to.  I started with 200,000 when the rest of the table bought in for 500,000.

I played as tight as I could, treating it like a tourney with a 4 hour first level.  If I lost those chips I was done.  I got down to about 100,000 and won a few small pots to get back to around 170,000.  The big hand came when the board flopped with three clubs including the A.  The fellow to my right bet me all in and I called with the Kc.  This fellow was in the middle of an even night when he should have been way up.  Earlier, he had been sucked out one when a case 2 hit on the river making his opponent a set of 2s to crack his pair of Kings.  Anyway, the turn was a red card and the river was a beautiful 2c.  I was now up about 120,000 and feeling much better.

It turns out that the guy that I won the chips off of and I have a mutual acquaintance.  He was wearing an Asia Poker Tour jacket and I could tell that he knew how to play well, so I asked if he had played in the APT events, and he said that he did.  I mentioned that I know several people that cover tournaments for a living and he asked if I knew F-Train (he used FT's real name which I now know thanks to Facebook).  That is so cool to step into a poker room half-way across the world to meet someone with only one degree of separation.  (F Train, Ron K says thanks for being his fan).

I ended the night up 100,000, so I'm sitting on about 360,000 Koreas Won which I can't turn back into dollars until Friday at the airport.  I'm sure that won't cost much.  Anyway, it was fun.  Tomorrow it is back to work.  Four more days until I head home.  I'm looking forward to that.