Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Horror

So I'm really wondering if I ever should have gotten into pet pigeons. Is everybody else's experience just a bottomless well of tragedy? My last two 'pretty pigeons' - the ones from the first batch of 9 - let their chick die last night. They've been good parents. They laid two eggs. I added another egg that a pair had abandoned when they flew away just to see if it would work. One hatched and the other two were bad. The baby had grown to a little butterball about 3 inches long in a month or so, with keratin-coated feathers starting to poke out all over, and its crop was always stuffed full.

I had noticed they weren't sitting in the nest all the time any more, but I saw them down there frequently. I knew this was entirely the wrong time of year to be raising a chick, but I had no idea that they didn't have any instincts to keep a cold baby warm. This morning there it was, slumped over dead. Neck flopping, mouth open, cold as a stone. I was actually angry at the parents, who I like and anthropomorphize probably more than is healthy.

I used a post-hole digger to make a quick 8-inch hole in the edge of the yard and brought it out. I really took my time looking it over, sitting there over the hole in the dirt, and wondered at just how big it had grown from the little pigeon-egg sized wiggly-worm it was just weeks ago. In the end putting it in the hole was too much for me right then. I rationalized I was laying it out for Puff and Rooty to say goodbye to. And it was so cold. I put it under the brooder bulbs out away from the nest so it could go out warm at least.

I can see into their big enclosure through my east picture windows, and later in the morning I sat there for awhile watching the parents. I wanted to see them emoting, grieving for some reason. Puff was just standing at the food dish absent-mindedly stuffing his crop. Then I thought I saw the baby move. And I stared at it. Then it did move. And I stared at it. From that point on I'm not entirely convinced I did not suffer a trauma-induced hallucination. I went outside and turned the baby right-side-up in a little nest made out of soft cloth, this time exactly under the center of heat from both bulbs. After several minutes it was moving around so much I figured out it was uncomfortable from the heat. I repaired Lazarus to its nest and did a bunch of obsessive things to heat and measure the temperature of the nest chamber. Rooty and Puff started taking interest immediately and both came over and fussed around with the nest and shoved yet more food into baby's little crop. And it just sat there with its head up and barely-openable eyes shut when they went away. Here and there giving a little twitchy turn of the head like nothing had happened.

So when I get home from work tonight I'll do my best to not be shocked by whatever I find. A dead bird. An extra bird. A mass pigeon suicide, somehow by hanging, because that would be the most outlandishly horrific-looking. I really should have figured out, after the raccoon attack, the pneumonic death in my hands with failed mouth-to-mouth, the mass fly-away - in these TWO MONTHS - that I should not be getting so attached to these birds. Some people are slow learners.

This post also appears on a pigeon forum, where it was written by some guy who is exactly the same person as me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Progressive Tax Brackets Explained to Me

This post is in response to my earlier, erroneous post.  I don't have much I want to say, really, but I did want to share another snappy spreadsheet:

This just illustrates that the amount of money you take home always increases as your gross income increases.  This pretty picture shows the same thing.

The lines aren't perfect, as we have quite poor resolution with our limited number of data points.  Still, the idea is clear. You make more, you take home more.  Nobody is being punished.  No one has ever been punished for making more money.  People are stupid.  That's about all there is to say about that.

Progressive Taxes Explained to an Unemployed Libertarian - Now Rendered Pointless By the Commonest of Tax Knowledge

Note - The following post has been rendered pointless by the commonest of tax knowledge - shared by the very first person to read and comment on the post (thanks again).  See this explanation to learn what I just learned.

I'll post a follow-up to this that is not completely wrong at some point.  Until then I will just remind the reader that this information has no value, other than scant crumbs of humor, by placing big red notes hither and yon.

"I'm a republican and/or libertarian and think that a progressive tax scheme punishes those who succeed. I want to understand why smart people roll their eyes and stop talking to me when I voice this opinion, but I truly cannot grasp basic mathematics. Can someone help?"

Your wish has been granted, my selfish numerophobe friend! Step right up!

The idea that paying a higher percentage in taxes because you make more money is the same as being "punished" is dumb, and there's no excuse for saying it out loud if you are not dumb. I know we've all worked at a JOB with folks that honestly didn't understand how percentages work, because we've all worked at lots of different JOBS besides the JOB we are currently working at. These folks sometimes see a higher percentage of pay taken out when they work overtime and say things like, "I don't know why I bother, I'm losing money working more." They don't know math, and there is nobody there to translate it out of math language. I totally get that, and most of those people we have worked alongside with are good folks. But anybody that can look at a picture can understand this:

Again:  This shit is completely wrong.  Read the wiki linked above to see why.  Nobody ever makes less money.  Ever.  Handsome spreadsheet, though.  You can see a correct spreadsheet similar to this at the response post.

I do not know any more about taxes than what you have to know to do your own returns if your own returns are very simple. I used no math beyond arithmetic and algebra. I'm sure there are tax rules I don't know about and this is not taking into account deductions of any kind, etc., etc. But here is the upshot: with the exception of the narrow band of income just above the income cutoff from one rate to the next, IF YOU MAKE MORE MONEY, YOU TAKE MORE MONEY HOME. This satisfies the basic need of 'MORE! MORE! MORE!' that seems to be the only important consideration when making decisions of any kind, and therefore cannot, in any sense of the word, be described as punishment. 

The paragraph below is all doo-doo.  I'm still proud of the judiciously metered anger, though.
So, in this example, if you make within $11,949.23 of the cutoff of $388,350.00, you take home less than or equal to the amount you would have taken home at the lower tax rate, AND THEREFORE YOU ARE BEING PUNISHED!! Some tips for someone making $400,299.23, who feels like they are being PUNISHED for making that extra $11,949.23: 1) Donate exactly that amount to the selfish asshole charity of your choice and take the deduction. 2) Take leave without pay from your JOB for 2.99% of your ~2080 man-hours that year (about 1 1/2 weeks) so you can go volunteer for the campaign of some selfish asshole. But be advised: if you follow either of these PUNISHMENT-avoioding paths, YOU NO LONGER GET TO WHINE AND BITCH ABOUT BEING PUNISHED. Just as you do not get this privilege if you do not make within the RIDICULOUSLY NARROW-ASS BAND OF INCOMES referred to above AT YOUR GOD-DAMNED JOOOOOOOOOB.

See response post.