Saturday, September 22, 2018

Selected Questions- Answers From All Experts Astronomy Forum (Design of the Celestial Sphere)

Question: I've been learning  about the celestial sphere lately and wonder how it was originally designed? What exact considerations led to the form it has including the coordinates of Right Ascension and declination? - Curious in Michigan

Answer:  The celestial sphere, probably since antiquity, has been perceived as a sphere of infinite radius, only half of which we can see at any one time.  (The other half on the opposite side of Earth). Using it to fix on the distant stars, it also appears to be rotating in an east-west direction.  Basically, it is a result of projecting the Earth's own latitude and longitude lines onto the sky above - as well as the Earth's north and south poles - thereby yielding a corresponding sphere in the sky which has its own coordinate system- which can then be used to locate sky objects presumed to be on its interior surface.

Image result for celestial sphere
The projected coordinate corresponding to latitude are called declination, and those corresponding to longitude are called Right Ascension.  Given this, the "celestial equator"  would simply be the Earth's own equator (latitude 0 degrees) projected onto the sky sphere, while the North Celestial Pole is the projection of the Earth's north pole and the South Celestial Pole is the projection of the south pole.   These projections are shown on the accompanying diagram.

In effect, the "design" of the celestial sphere is such that if one were travel to one of the Earth's geographical poles, the corresponding celestial pole would be directly overhead (at the zenith).  If one were to travel to Earth's equator, the celestial equator would pass directly through your zenith.

Declination circles, like latitude circles, run in the east-west direction parallel to the celestial equator, starting at 0 degrees and increasing to +90 degrees (North celestial pole or NCP). Also decreasing in the opposite direction to (-90) degrees, or the South celestial pole. When one superimposes these lines one would envisage this more complete celestial coordinate system:

Image result

The other celestial sphere coordinate, Right Ascension,  corresponds to Earth longitude. Both longitude and Right Ascension circles run from pole to pole.   However, the 'prime meridians' are different. For Earth, the prime meridian of longitude is the same as the Greenwich meridian defined as 0 degrees. All longitude circles to the west, e.g. Barbados at 60 degrees W., are designated such that times are earlier than a calibrated clock reads at Greenwich.  All longitude circles to the east are designated as having later times than at Greenwich.

By contrast, for Right Ascension we need to use a specific abstract point in the sky, called the Vernal Equinox, to mark the meridian of origin.  This is the point at which the Sun - on its journey north (seen as a projection via the ecliptic on the celestial sphere) crosses the celestial equator. This is visible in the second diagram, where you will see the reddish line for the ecliptic (which is the projection of the Sun's apparent path onto the celestial sphere).  Bear in mind here, the Sun is not really moving across the sky.  It is only the appearance of such because the Earth is really doing the moving, i.e. orbiting about the Sun.  Hence, in a real sense, the ecliptic is the projection of Earth's own orbital motion onto the celestial sphere, but which is embodied in the Sun's apparent path.

The point called the Vernal Equinox -  as can be seen in the diagram - occurs on or about March 21 each year.  Now, the celestial circle of longitude which passes through the Vernal Equinox is defined as 0 hours Right Ascension.    Note here that Right Ascension is measured in hours and minutes (60 minutes being  equal to one hour), and increasing numerically from eastwards from the Vernal Equinox This would be continuously (unlike Earth longitude - which divides into E. and W. ) from 0h through 24 h.

Using the design conventions given here any astronomical object, planet, star, star cluster, etc. can be pinpointed by coordinates in the night sky.

Friday, September 21, 2018

FAHRENHEIT 11/9 - A Film Every (sentient) Citizen Needs To See

Image result for Fahrenheit 11/9
Let me say I was glad to read John Anderson's bogus, distorted WSJ review of Michael Moor'e new film  'Fahrenheit 11/9' before going to see it with wifey earlier today.  Reading Anderson's claptrap before  actually seeing the movie on the big screen showed me the WSJ clown didn't know what the fuck he was talking about. Indeed, I was led to conclude the author didn't actually see it but instead resorted to canned fishwrap the WSJ likely had on hand for previous Moore films - with a few tweaks and updates added.

But both Janice and I agreed, that contrary to Anderson's balderdash, i.e. that Moore "hasn't made an honest film since 'Bowling for Columbine (2002)'", this latest effort rings  with veracity in every scene, every segment.   To first set the stage here, the title derives from the fact Trump was appointed president at 2:29 a.m. on November 9, 2016.  Hence, "11/9"  The opening scenes show (in juxtaposition) the Hillary party in Philly - expectantly awaiting the confirmation of history (first female president) counterpoised with the initially dour atmosphere at the Trump camp - accompanied to the opening music from the 1976  film  'The Omen'.

As November 8th transits into the wee hours of November 9th, the real horror story begins, as first Ohio, then Florida fall to Trump, followed by Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan -  the scenes from Hillary's would be victory party now looking like a wake. Oh, and all her supporters' stricken faces appearing as if Satan himself had incarnated in their midst, as we behold in the reactions:  sobbing, convulsions,'s all there. For Janice, this was the most difficult part to watch.

The story then burrows into the particulars of the assorted horrors to which we've now been exposed, especially leading up to Trump's coronation.   From the unholy depiction of infamous Michigan criminal governor Rick Snyder (a Trump wannabe billionaire) - who brought on a "slow rolling ethnic cleansing" of Flint, MI -  e.g. by cutting off its water supply to Lake Huron and replacing it with the toxic Flint River (leading to thousands of cases of lead poisoning), to Obama himself actually showing up in Flint to sip its toxic water in a PR gag . That actually provided cover for Snyder, and left a hall full of African -American Flint citizens appalled.  That faux pas also tamped down any 2016 election response from Flint's minority voters - likely helping to toss the industrial Midwest state to Dotard.

Then there were the scenes of Flint subjected to a live fire exercise, with the Dept. of Defense using abandoned ramshackle bldgs. (in minority neighborhoods)  to unleash  bombs and mortars to practice "urban warfare".   A sad and sorry decision sanctioned by good ol' President Obama.  The scenes at the Dem Convention were also enraging as well as illuminating as we beheld each state, VT, RI, WVa, etc, respond to the delegate roll calls by shouting out false delegate totals, i.e. for Hillary, when Bernie actually took the states. Wonder why so many Bernie supporters never bothered to show up to vote, there you have it after that charade.

Moore also features segment after segment showing NY Times headlines pumping and humping for centrist or capitalist positions, including inveighing against "socialists".  None of the Times clips Moore interjects were fake or touched up.   Yes, The Times has been more out in the open with its criticisms of Trump now, but not always. (And they even botched it up again with a half -baked story misrepresenting a Rod Rosenstein sarcastic jab -  to Andy McCabe of the FBI -   re: putting on a wire, i.e. to get Trump using the 25th amendment.  All the Times butthead reporters did is provide ammo for Mueller's enemies and give Dotard a bogus excuse to fire Rosenstein.  Press like that we don't need, if they can't discriminate the sarcastic from the real!  N.B. The Times reporters who broke this malarkey also admitted tonight the sources they relied on weren't even in the meeting where Rosenstein reportedly made that remark.)

That is the other underpinning theme of Moore's film, the degree to which the corporate media - especially the electronic voices of CNN, NBC,  ABC, CBS had all been in bed with Trump from day one.  All the outlets saw a classic   way to keep viewers' eyeballs glued to their broadcasts while they're ratings soared and they raked in money. As former CBS head Les Moonves was heard saying: "This may not be good for the country but it's great for CBS!"  Yeppers,  profits over country.

The effect, as Moore shows, was to give Trump a gazillion hours of free advertising and air time, that helped his campaign immensely. How could it not?  At one point in the film, perhaps one of the more disgusting in the media segment, we see the gathered network lapdogs and cameras all surrounding an empty stage set for a Trump appearance, salivating with bated breath while Dotard keeps them waiting for more than a half hour.  The people's voices and protective "fourth estate"? More like trained dogs, so when Trump barks 'Jump!' they asked 'How high?'

Of course, as with other Michael Moore films, some levity was interjected at specific points, usually when the viewer is almost too distressed with Trump World's antics. One such example is after Moore tries to make a citizen's arrest of Michigan's governor Rick Snyder - but ultimately has to be satisfied with spraying his property using Flint river water,
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Now, let's look at some of John Anderson's complaints.

- "One of the chief plaints of 11/  9  - in which he trashes Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, The New York Times.  the entire Democratic establishment - is about the media's slavish attention to Mr. Trump in a movie devoted to Mr. Trump"

But see, the movie was not "devoted to Trump" but rather foursquare devoted to exposing all the ways our system broke down to pave the way for his bogus selection (by the Electoral college, see     .e. g.
So, from Obama's Flint MI hijinks, fake drinking its river water, and ordering a live fire exercise on Flint abandoned buildings, to HRC keeping a low profile in key Midwest states (WI, MI), to the D-establishment rigging the game against Bernie using the superdelegate system (and even more recently Dem centrist Steny Hoyer telling a young Colorado candidate from the 6th congressional district to get with the program) we see none of Anderson's "plaints" have a leg to stand on.

The last complaint about the media's slavish attention to Trump when Moore's film is about him is particularly enraging, given it conflates two separate elements: The media's genuinely giving Trump millions of hours of free air time during the 2016 election, vs. Moore making a single 125 minute film - of which maybe 20 mins. at most treats Trump's antics - but in a negative way, to inspire citizen response. That is why I refer to the film as an anthem to action, for progressives to get off of their butts and VOTE November 6th.  Moore's basic message  is simple: Don't "hope" for Mueller, or the press or (name your hero) to save us amidst the Trump nightmare. Get off your butts and do your part going to the polls this  November!)

- "There's more than a little bait and switch going on in Fahrenheit 11/9 and it raises the question of exactly what Mr. Moore is, other than a propagandist. He's not a journalist except of the aggregator variety."

But aggregators are critically important because they deliver point of view and a needed perspective. In this case of how our country is being adversely affected in multifold ways  The aggregator then in many ways is like the scientific researcher, say in solar physics preparing a paper on solar flare formation-  who first provides an array of  historical background snippets and examples.  These then pave the way to showing the value of the current work,  say offering a flare model based on current sheets, while also delivering an overall perspective of the flare phenomenon.

In the same way, Moore's collection of scenes - from the Snyder "emergency plan"  takeover of the Michigan cities of Pontiac. Detroit, Flint  and Benton Harbor, to the Flint water debacle itself, to the media's slavish treatment and use of Trump for ratings, to the striking teachers of West Virginia, and the Parkland school tragedy and kids response- all weave toward a coherent whole, a point of view that helps us understand what's going on in this country. 

If one looks at similar other efforts by aggregators, e.g. Josh Fox's 'Gasland II',   e.g.

One sees that the same method applies. To save time, and not have a 1,000 hour documentary, one selects the most meaningful examples and stitches them together in a coherent whole to forge a viewpoint.   The name for such a person who does this sort of thing then, whether Josh Fox or Michael Moore, is a documentarian.

- "Almost the entire movie is lifted from other sources, and then edited in a way that makes his enemies look as foolish as possible."

This complaint is really, truly imbecilic, because what he describes - at least in terms of using other sources- is exactly what the aggregator Documentary maker does!   It's what Josh Fox did too in 'Gasland' and 'Gasland II'.   So one wonders what planet Anderson inhabits.  As for the editing, there isn't a damned thing wrong with it, having myself seen many of the same scenes, e.g. of the lead catastrophe and brown water in Flint, on the nightly news.  Did Moore have the prescience to put the scenes together in a cogent way? Yes, of course! So what?  That is what he's there to do in order to underscore the account and provide a coherent theme for the movie, i.e. that we are in fire alarm mode with Trump's residency.  Besides, as Anderson then finally admits: "It's not as if Moore has no leg to stand on. ..his was the most prominent liberal voice warning of Mr. Trump's appeal to Midwest voters."

Jeez, on behalf of Mike, thanks for small favors, you blockhead!

And as if to support my contention he's a blockhead:

"And if Moore is going to castigate Mrs. Clinton for her various electoral missteps - shouldn't he mention that despite losing the Electoral College she won the popular vote."

He DID mention it, you fucking Dodo! In fact,  he devoted a whole 6 minute segment to it.   This featured the "baby coffins" full of the states' electoral votes being carted in for final verification and counting with Moore's voice over noting "and this should be the end of this"  and "the one who got the most votes  (Hillary) should be the one elected president"  - as is done in every other democratic nation, He also points out that the EC is a carryover from the "slave master" days.  He leaves little doubt that because of this asinine anachronism the Dems have seen presidential hopes crushed at east twice (including in the Bush v. Gore farce in FLA in 2000).

The most sensational tour de force is near the end showing Hitler in one of his many rants but mouthing Trump's own words, directed to his idiot base.  There is also a segment of the last days of the Weimar Republic before Hitler brought it down,  alternating with images of what's happening today, i.e. in separating the children of immigrants.  We also see Hitler using many of the same mass mind appeal techniques Trump is employing now   Pay special attention to the interview with Ben Ferencz - a Chief Prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials- and the fears raised now, especially in the Trump separation of children from immigrant parents which holds eerie similarities to how the Nazis did the same in their concentration camps.

Anderson - providing more evidence he never actually saw the film (or at least the whole film) also kvetches about the "casual reduction of Trumpites to Nazis."   But  Moore does no such thing. What he does is use a graphic showing the progression of putative democracy to despotism and how Trump hits every marker on it just as Hitler did, beginning with the lack of respect for minorities and outgroups like Muslims.  (The presentation features interspersed clips of assorted white Americans attacking black people in different venues, such as on gold courses and on buses) Also extending to vilification of the press and reporters as well as attacking the judiciary.  The very sort of things Hitler did leading to the Reich laws.   So the analogizing of Trump to Hitler is not off the mark at all.

Incredibly, Anderson also bitches about Moore's choice of a film poster,  e.g. "the poster for the film is a highly unflattering shot of the president's rear end, midswing at  golf course."  So WTF?  You want Moore to be dishonest and touch it up or photo shop it, fake news style? If you have a beef with the poster tell Fatty Arbuckle Jr. to lose a few pounds. (Oh, and maybe spend less time golfing at his properties!)

The most idiotic comment of Anderson's I saved for last, writing of Michael Moore:

"Some might even say he's the left's version of Donald Trump."

No, see uh... Michael Moore has a functioning brain!

The very fact a paid hack like John Anderson couldn't handle this film is reason enough to see it.  But in terms of content and insights (some of which not even Janice was aware of) any citizen who misses it will regret it, especially in the run up to the midterms.

Yes, The GOP And Trump Want To Give Even Bigger Tax Cuts To The Already Rich

It seems clear with every move they make the GOOPs are determined to toss this country into history's dumpster, certainly financially - as well as in their protection of Traitor Trump. But it is the first that concerns us here.  Namely the news,
House Republicans Move to Extend Individuals' Tax Cuts - WSJ

The feckless GOP plans are now to extend the existing Trump tax cuts, despite massively growing  deficits .  Clearly these poltroons believe that at least making a show for an extension will win them the hearts and minds of their GOP base- who will then turn out in greater numbers for the midterms. But I have news for them: that base doesn't care one way or other, they are already complacent with the crumbs they've received and will not turn out like the Dems.

Meanwhile we learn (ibid.):

"On top of last year's $1.5 trillion tax cut, the new proposal would reduce federal revenue by $613 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. Most of that cost is packed into the end of the  next decade and the cost beyond that would be much higher."

And bear in mind, that means your kids and grand kids will be paying the freight - mainly to support the lifestyles of the rich, the famous and the corporate - since they will reap the greatest rewards by the extension as they have the 2017 cuts. (Politifact has found that median income families received only about 6.6 percent of the $1.5 trillion tax cut, while 93.4% went to the corporations and top earners.)

In the words of Lloyd Bloggett, a Texas Dem quoted in the above piece:

"We have something that is truly disastrous headed our way and it's not just a hurricane."

What is it?  How bad? In a separate piece in the same issue ('Deficit Widens On More Spending'), we learn:

"The U.S.  federal deficit nearly doubled in August from a year ago, as government spending swelled and revenues decline".

And again, let us make note here the GOP's planned tax cut extension will starve revenues even more.

We also learn:

"The government ran a $214 billion deficit last month, compared with a $107.7 billion budget gap in August, 2017... the Treasury Department said Thursday."

So, even as the great jobs and growth narrative is spreading, we are being undermined by massive deficits, debt.    The biggest revenue -starving culprit?  The ill-advised cut in corporate income taxes.

As we further note (ibid.):

"Corporate income taxes in particular have dropped off. The Treasury said Thursday
gross corporate taxes have fallen 20 percent so far this fiscal year, while indiviudal
tax receipts are up 1 percent"

The loss in corporate tax revenue might  - in a stretch - be worth it - if the bastards paid decent wages to their workers, but as per my previous post, we know this isn't the case.  Worse, because the Congressional Budget Office now projects a total deficit of $793 billion for fiscal year 2018.

The "big picture" of U.S. debt isn't any better, as the CBO notes. As per a WSJ op-ed reveal (Sept. 15-16, p. A15):

"The U.S. owes $21.5 trillion of Treasury debt, the majority of which is scheduled to be refinanced in the next eight years. - disregarding the additional $1 trillion required by the 2017 tax reform and an estimated $100 trillion of unfunded entitlement spending ahead."

Incredibly, three days ago there we beheld one of the biggest tax cuts propagandists (Stephen Moore,  'The Corporate Tax Cut Is Paying For Itself', WSJ, p. A13) scribbling:

"Thanks to the magic of compounding the corporate tax cuts will yield more than $6 trillion in additional GDP over the next decade..."

But seems unable to reckon in that additional GDP growth doesn't translate to revenue growth, i. e. to pare back growing deficits as the CBO forecasts, though he does add:

"Perversely, because the economy is bigger now than expected, the CBO has revised upward  its estimated cost of the tax cut..."

Well, duh, of course they've revised it upward given - as pointed out above - corporate tax revenue has fallen off 20 percent this year, and will continue to fall off each year it's in effect.  In other words, never mind the GDP growth, it will not overtake the loss in revenue growth (including from individual income tax cuts).  But this is the sort of fantasy land we now inhabit where 'up' is down, and 'down is 'up'. Blame a lot of it on the lying landscape imparted by Trump and his pack of maggots,

Folks, let's not  accept bullshit or pretend: we are not swimming in a literal sea of red ink. In this environment the proposal of an extension of tax cuts borders on the derelict and criminal, and those pushing it need to have both their sanity and patriotism questioned.

See also:

Another Tax Scam for the Rich

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Curvature, Arc Length and Parametric Representations of Curves

One of the more important areas of higher mathematics involves finding the arc length of a curve, as well as the curvature.   A number of instructive examples are given in this post for doing so.  A logical place to begin is with the arc length formula (derivations can be found in any good Calculus textbook, for example, Thomas, Calculus and Analytic Geometry, p. 247).  For example,  an element ds of arc on a curve is:
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But in derivation terms - with dx and dy also shown as 'legs' of a right triangle:

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Where we treat ds as the differential of arc length.

ds2 =  dx2 + dy 2

Or:   ds   =   Ö (dx2 + dy 2 )  =    dx Ö [ 1  +  (dy/dx) 2 ]

This can then be integrated (between appropriate limits, say x1 and x2) to give the total length of a curve..   Thence the arc length  is given by:
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where the function f(x) defines the curve for which the arc length is evaluated between the points x1 and x2.   Consider then finding the arc length between x1 = 0 and x2 = 8 for the parabola section below:
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 For which we have:  f(x)   =   [(x)]½

Then evaluating the integral as shown, one obtains: s =   8.732

A more difficult problem involves a polar curve, i.e. a curve in polar coordinates such as:
No automatic alt text available.
This curve has the function:  r(q)  =  q  - sin (q)
And we wish to find its length between q = -p   and q = p .  

The relevant integral for the arc length for this example is:
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Performing the integration one then obtains: L  = 8.764

Which interested and energized readers are invited to check!

Parametric Representations:

In advanced treatments of curvature including determining the curvature of a complex curve, parametric representations are the norm. This usually entails taking the tangent T  to the curve at a point.  From this the curvature  k  of the arc can also be computed.  For example, one can give the parametric representation of a specific type of curve using:

x =  6 sin 2 t,  y = 6 cos 2 t, z = 5t

For which the tangent to the curve at a point is given by:

T = dR/ ds =  i(dx/ds) + j(dy/ds) + k(dz/ds)


i (dx/dt) (dt/ds) +   (dy/dt)(dt/ds) + k (dz/dt) (dt/ds)


dx/dt=  12 cost 2t, dy/dt = -12 sin 2t,  dz/dt = 5

Therefore, the tangent unit vector is:

| T |  =  1 = (dt/ds)2 [(12 cost 2t)2 + (-12 sin 2t)2 + 52]

|T |  =  1 = (dt/ds)2 [(144 + 25)] =   (dt/ds)2  (169)

So that: (dt/ds)   = 1/ 13 

And:  T   = 1/ 13   [12 cost 2t) i + (-12 sin 2t) j + 5 k ] dt/ds

The curvature can then be obtained from: k = | dT/ ds | 

Thus, any curve can be given by a parametric representation:   u1 = u1(t)  and u2=  u2(t)

For such a curve, consider now the distance between two infinitely near points on the surface, i.e. the distance or interval ds between two specified points.

Example problem:

A curve is given in spherical coordinates xi by:

x1 = t,   x= arcsin 1/t,    x3 =  (t2 – 1) 1/2

Compute the length of the arc between t = 1 and t = 2  


(ds/ dt)2 =    (dx1/ dt) 2  +  (x1 ) 2  (dx2/ dt) 2    +   (x1  sin x  2) 2 (dx3/ dt) 2 


(dx1/ dt) 2  =   1

(dx2/ dt) 2   = [ -1/  t2   / Ö {1 – (  1/  t)} = 1/ t(t-   1)

  (dx3/ dt) 2    = 2t/ Ö2(t-   1) =  t2 / (t-   1)


(ds/ dt)2 =     

1 +  t · 1/ t(t-   1) + (t ·  1/  t ) ·  t2 / (t-   1)

=   2 t2 / (t-   1)

Then the length of the curve is:

L = ò 1 2   Ö2 t/ (t-   1)1/2  dt = Ö2(t-   1) ] 1    Ö6

Problem for Math Mavens:

 For the parametric example with:

 T   = 1/ 13   [12 cost 2t) i + (-12 sin 2t) j + 5 k ] dt/ds,

 Find the curvature and the length of the curve from t = 0 to t = p

The "Rising Wages" Myth In Trump's USA And How It Originated

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The latest fulsome malarkey being propagated by the financial press and assorted pundits is that incomes are rising and Americans ought to feel more of a "wealth effect" than ever before. No one seems to mention how much of the current "deregulated" economy is still built on gig jobs, such as using Task Rabbit, and Uber here in Colorado - but still not earning enough to afford a median scale home in Denver (price: $549,000).   Or a median priced home here in the Springs ($355,000).

Why not? Because one would have to put together earnings from dozens of gigs every day to make enough money to afford such homes, or even a basic single bedroom apartment in Denver for $1,490 a month.  So the most the gig jobbers can manage is maybe- if they're lucky- finding a bedroom to rent in someone's home for $650 a month. That is now considered a great deal.

Oh yeah, the financial media is full of all the jobs going unfilled, but what are they exactly? In Colorado in general they include landscapers, agriculture workers, retail, restaurant wait staff (some 5, 600 positions vacant last month alone) and construction.  In the case of the wait staff one restaurateur even told the Denver Post he would immediately hire anyone "with a pulse"..  But still no takers, neither for line cooks. Why not? Well because one would need to earn at least $60,000 a year to afford even the most modest single bedroom apt. and neither job pays that much.

So, it was kind of laughable when on Sept. 12, the WSJ featured this editorial:

Trump's Income Bump - WSJ

In which it was claimed:

"Real median household incomes ticked up 1.8% to $61, 372 between 2016 and 2017 while the poverty rate dropped 0.4 percentage points to 12.3 % according to the Census Bureau. ...

Incomes increased across the distribution range with the share of people earning less than %15,000 declining 0.3 percentage points to 10.7%, the lowest level since 2007."

But how real is this income increase exactly?  When one turns to the front page of the same issue, one comes to an article by Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg with a similar leading header 'Incomes Rise, Poverty Falls Again' .  But when one reads between the lines, as it were, a different story emerges.

We learn, for example:

"Incomes have grown 10.4% in the past three years and last year's figure was the highest on record. But a change in  the way the numbers are calculated over time makes comparisons imperfect and census officials said last year's figure wasn't statistically different from income peaks in 1999 and 2007.

The result is that the typical American household's income is stuck where it was before the last two recessions.  The 2017 growth rate also lagged behind the previous two years."

In other words, last year's growth rate for income - the first full year of the Trump administration, saw less growth than the previous two years (for the Obama administration).  In addition, as the quote from the piece points out, "last year's figure wasn't statistically different from income peaks in 1999 and 2007."

WSJ columnist William Galston also reinforced this in his column yesterday (p. A13), writing:

"Most of the income gains from the post- Great Recession low of  $54, 700 in 2012 reflect increases in the number of people working and hours worked, rather than in hourly compensation for each worker."

Note that last part again, 'rather than the hourly compensation for each worker'.  In other words, most of the financial media that jabbers on about the great income surge is comparing applies and oranges. Galston supports that take when he goes on to write: "As we approach full employment income gains will be sustained only by rising wages."  In other words, rises in hourly compensation per worker.

Anyone else get the feeling we're being gamed here on the "rising" income issue? Maybe by media agents and sources committed to make Trump look better than Obama? 

The real reason incomes rose also was noted in the article by Adamy and Overberg, showing why so many workers really aren't that much better under the reign of Dotard:

"Incomes rose mostly because more people worked more hours and to a lesser extent because their wages increased."

And we also read:

"Some economists said they are puzzled that wages haven;t risen more quickly given the overall strength of the economy and an unemployment rate around 4 percent"

But we already know why, because most employers don't want to pay higher wages.  Recall in a January 10 post I cited a Denver Post Business column  (Jan. 7,   p. 3K, 'Don't Get Your Hopes Up For A Raise') from which  we learned first and foremost, companies would much rather give one off "bonuses" and leave out any permanent pay raises.  As the piece noted:

"Those one time bumps, whatever really precipitated them, don't mean higher wages are around the corner. ...And for now employers are in no hurry to raise them."

Why?  According to Paula Harvey, VP of Human Resources at Schulte Building Systems in Houston:

"Companies are really hesitant to give raises. When you give a raise, it's stuck in the pay system. It is something you're guaranteeing: it's becoming a fixed cost. "

Harvey insisted it's much better for companies to preserve "flexibility" so instead companies enact "variable pay". This can come in the form of one off bonuses - say on a per year basis- or if you are a stellar performer you can get a "bigger bump". Say equal to a half year's wage increase of 3 percent. (If you are a super star performer you have the optimal chance of getting a permanent good raise.)

But for the rest it's 'catch as catch can'.  In other words, permanent salary bumps are just too expensive and if "times get tough, the needed pay cuts hurt morale and productivity".

Despite the WSJ editorial's humping the income increase, it is mostly just a big myth, and nothing's changed since that Jan. 10 blog post.  Indeed, in The Weekend Financial Times we learn companies have been even more tightfisted. According to Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, insists that companies have contributed to personal financial insecurity in the first place by removing financial safety nets. She goes on to say:

"As well as keeping wages as low as possible they have shifted the risks involved in meeting retirement obligations by eliminating final salary pension schemes".


"My concern is employers can implement low cost, gimmicky financial welness programs, instead of putting real skin in the game - investments in employees in the form of higher wages and higher retirement contributions."

In other words, despite all the media hype and hoopla,  corporations, companies, employers are still getting the better of their workers.   William Galston's final words in his WSJ column are a sobering reminder that our income situation is no where as rosy as we've been led to believe:

"One thing is clear: Current policies offer little hope of reversing the steep decline in the share of U.S. income that flows to workers, Unless we change course, today's loss of confidence in a better future will persist."

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How Trump's Trade Follies Are Set To Clobber Americans' Pocketbooks - Right Before The Midterms

"Doh! I didn't know adding a quarter billion more tariffs would hurt my own folks!"

Let's concede that anyone with more than air between the ears knows this orange simpleton nicknamed 'The Dotard'  is a total putz, a loser - who doesn't know diddly. Especially concerning the idiotic trade war he's waging, even as we've learned he is ready to pile more hurt on ...fellow Americans.  Coming off Air Force One in Fargo, ND on Sept. 7, the Orange Baboon barked, in respect of his tariffs on the Chinese:

"There's another $267 billion ready to go on short notice, if I want!"

Oh yes, king of the world, "if you want".  If you want to crash the very economic growth you and your cohort are now bragging about, trying to get the clueless rabble to vote Reepo on Nov. 6th.  But perhaps not everyone in the Trump-GOP tribe is so sanguine about Donnie Dotard's trade antics. As reported yesterday in The Financial Times ('China Retaliates Against New U.S. Tariffs As Trade War Escalates'):

"The latest news has angered some within Trump's party, who worry over rising prices and shrinking exports for U.S. consumers and producers."

Adding this quote from Dave Reichert,  Reep Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee:

 "This places the burden on American families, manufacturers and farmers, who will pay the higher tariffs and bear the brunt of retaliation."

Well he is exactly correct, and too bad he can't educate his idiot Orange Overlord on the issue. We now know Trump plans to impose $200 b more on Chinese goods starting next week.  The new round of tariffs is set to start at 10 percent then rise to 25 percent on January 1st.  (There already exists 25 % tariffs on $50 b of Chinese goods.)  Trump then repeated on Monday his threat to add  tariffs worth $267 billion more on Chinese goods, making for a total of $517 billion.

This elicits the question of how exactly this ongoing trade war will hit American pocketbooks, in a time of continuing wage limits (See tomorrow's lead post).  Basically snatching whatever pitiful tax cuts people got, and probably a lot more out of their wage-starved pockets.

Start with sunglasses, given the U.S. imported about $1 billion of these items last year along with goggles and other eye ear.  China, indeed, is the top supplier of such items to the U.S.  This is according to data from the U.S. International Trade Commission. For example, Chinese -made Prive  Revaux sunglasses now sold at and priced at 29.95 may not be much of a bargain any longer.

China is also the top source for scarves and shawls and the second largest supplier of hearing aids according to U.S. trade data. The U.S. imported $4.6 billion worth of them in 2017 and another $606 million in T-shirts, tank tops and other casual shirts.  Given China has now announced 10 % tariffs that means you will be paying at least 10 percent more for all these items.

Dotard has tried to keep clothing staples out of the trade fight, given his base has many of them packed in their closets - and especially with midterm elections approaching. But he is too dumb to see the uptick in costs may well exact an even bigger political bite.  Thus, shoppers trying to keep warm this winter will likely not only see clothing prices soar at Walmart, but also at Burlington Stores and Macy's.  Well, hope everyone gets a terrific Xmas bonus because they will need it.

Meanwhile Chinese made gloves and mittens sold by Walmart and other American retailers are also on the list of targets as winter approaches and Chinese watches and jewelry may be next.

Beyond clothing, Apple has warned of higher prices on Apple Watches and AirPod headphones if proposed U.S.  tariffs are heaped on an additional $267b worth of Chinese goods, as Dotard warned in his Sept. 7 spiel.  More Apple products from iPhones to iPads will also likely see significant increases in price, according to Bloomberg News.

Why are Apple electronic products being hit so hard? Well, because Apple is deeply dependent on Foxconn Technology Group and other suppliers with operations in China. (Trump has since removed watches and assorted other electronic items from the tariff hit, obviously trying to appease some voters growing more uneasy with this nitwit.)

But hold strain! The biggest increases in price of all may be for Nike athletic shoes, as well as women's underwear. (Last year, Bloomberg notes that made-in-China bras, girdles, corsets, suspenders and garters sent to the U.S. were worth more than $1.2 billion.)

As I wrote, be sure you have a big Christmas bonus ready before you hit the retail outlets, or online ones, this winter. Thanks to Donnie Dotard you will need them, unless you're independently wealthy and are among the 1/2 of 1 percent who voted Trump because of his corporate income tax cuts.

Yes, Everyone Needs A Will - Even If You're Only 25!

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The death of soul singer Aretha Franklin last month again shed light on the issue of dying without having a will. In Ms. Franklin's case - though she lived to age of 76 (before becoming terminally ill with pancreatic cancer) she never bothered to prepare a will. Because of this oversight or lack of preparation, her four sons and other family members are now left with the potentially draconian task of trying to find out how many millions she was worth (or has salted away) and divvying it up. A process that could take years.

Was this fair to her heirs? Of course not! It was bloody selfish and myopic.  Especially given one of the singer's attorney's - according to an AP report - urged her repeatedly over the years to draft one. But she simply refused, never openly telling her lawyer (Don Wilson), "No, I don't want to do one." - but apparently just never getting around to it. The  classic procrastination syndrome, with perhaps a tinge of superstition.

In the same AP piece, we learn that Laura Zwicker, an attorney who specializes in estate planning, says she sees it too often in her work. As she aptly put it:

"People don't like to face their own mortality."

Yeppers, childish but true.   Especially of Americans who have mutated into global experts on trying to look 30 even if you're 75.   Also, experts at inventing and using euphemisms for death and dying, like "passing".

Another part of the problem for ordinary mortals is too many remain convinced they don't have enough assets to warrant preparing a will.  So, while they may be financially savvy on many fronts-  say like their IRA or 401(k) investments-   they revert to imbeciles when it comes to protecting their assets with a will.  They'd rather have them subject to severe scrutiny via probate, keeping family members on tenterhooks.

For the sake of example here, Janice and I completed our initial wills soon after we were married in 1975.  They have since been updated twice, obviously because  beneficiaries etc. change, as do one's assets. How old was I when I finished that will in Barbados? Well, all of 29!

 Let's grasp here that in a sense, everyone has an estate plan whether they realize it or not.  A given state's law makes this point a certainty and the only difference is whether you allow the state to dictate the dispersal of your assets, you collections etc. or YOU make the decision to whom the assorted items go.  Intestacy laws do vary from state to state but typically leave percentages of your assets to family members. 

Not having a will means that at your death the distribution of your assets is dictated by the inheritance laws of the state in which you are domiciled when you died.  So, if you really intended that collection of mint condition 1954  TOPPS baseball cards to go to your cousin Bobby-   but  croaked before you wrote it out in a will - sorry, it may end up in the hands of your brother Jack..  

 In the case example here, the collection of 1954 mint condition baseball cards represents the estate and today it could have a worth of roughly $14,000.  

Many younger people - not oldies - often also have various collections worth significant money but somehow overlook them. Despite having these assets, they neglect to prepare a will for their intended distribution . 

Perhaps the most unforgivable oversight is to neglect having a living will, including directions of what is to be done if you don't revive - say from some operation -- or perhaps a cancer treatment. In my case I needed to have a living will presented for both the 3d staging biopsy at UC Health in January 2017, and the focal cryotherapy in June, 2017.

As I wrote in my post of January 19, before the 45 stick biopsy under general anesthesia:

"Of course, before getting it done you are undergoing a full surgery prep, including being asked if you're an organ donor, and to leave an advanced medical directive (or living will) in case the surgery or anesthesia goes awry - or you hemorrhage."

Yes, it is true I was an older patient.  But, what if you -  as a much younger person,  say a woman of 25 or 26  -  learn you have breast cancer?  Well, you may then need to go under for some recommended operation (mastectomy?)  But it doesn't even have to be cancer, it could be just removing your gall bladder or appendix. Would you really choose to have any of those surgeries without an advanced directive, or living will?  Why, when it would mean possibly living years, decades in a vegetative state?  (At immense cost to your family.)

And look, if you went to the extent of preparing a living will why not go the 'whole hog'  and get a regular will done at the same time?  I mean, in any surgical procedure involving general anesthesia you are having to confront your mortality anyway. So why not man up, or 'woman up' and protect your assets too?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Calculus of Residues Revisited

Let f(z) be analytic on and inside a closed contour C as shown below, except for a finite number of isolated singularities: z= a1, a2, etc. which are enclosed by C.
No automatic alt text available.
Then:   ò C  f(z)  dz =      2 pi    ån k = 1    Res f (a k

We now want to elaborate this a bit more by reference to the diagram shown. In this case we consider the function f(z) is analytic inside and on the simple closed curve C except at a finite number of specified points: a, b, c, etc.  at which there exist residues:   a - 1  ,        b - 1 ,  c - 1      , etc.

In which case we can write:

ò C  f(z)  dz =   2 pi   [a - 1        +  b - 1          +  c - 1        + …………………….]

That is, 2 pi    times the sum of the residues at all the singularities enclosed by C. To ensure this, one would respectively construct circles C1, C2, C3 etc. as I have done with respective centers at a, b, c etc. If we take care to do this properly then we can write:

ò C  f(z)  dz =       òC1  f(z)  dz   + òC2  f(z)  dz  + òC3  f(z)  dz   +    ..........

ò C1  f(z)  dz   =   2 pi   a - 1       

ò C2  f(z)  dz  =  2 pi   b - 1       

ò C3  f(z)  dz   =   2 pi   c - 1       

So that:

òC  f(z)  dz =   2 pi   [a - 1  +  b - 1  +  c - 1   + ..] = 2 pi   (sum of residues)

Example 1:
Evaluate the integral:  òC   cot (z)  dz

f(z) = cot (z)

For which: ò C  f(z)  dz   =   2 pi   c - 1       

Re-write: f(z) = cot (z) = 1/ tan z

For which singularities occur at tan z = 0

Or: o, + p, + 2p,+  3p  etc.

Then Res f(z) =   1/ sec2 z ÷ z = + n p     =    1/ (1/ cos2 z)

= cos2 z÷ z = + n p     =    cos2 (np)  

And :  cos2 (np)    = 1   at z =  (2n + 1) p)/ 2
Therefore:    c - 1  =  1, and

  ò C  cot (z)  dz  =    2 pi   (1) = 2 pi   

Example 2:

Evaluate the integral:  ò C  exp (z)   dz  /  (z – 1) (z + 3)2
Where C is given by  ÷ z ÷    =   3/2 

Take the residue at the simple pole (z = 1) such that:
lim z
® 1   [ (z – 1)  exp (z)    / ( z  -  1) (z + 3)2  ] =

exp(1)/ 16 = e/ 16

The residue at the 2nd order pole (z = -3) is:
lim z
® -3  d/ dz  [(z + 3)2    exp (z)    / ( z  -  1) (z + 3)2  ] = 
lim z ® -3   [ (z – 1)  exp (z)    - exp(z) / (z – 1 )2  ]
   = - 5 exp (-3) / 16
The integral is therefore:
ò C  exp (z)   dz  /  (z – 1) (z + 3)2    
=  2 pi   a - 1   =   2 pi   (e/ 16)
(We do not add the 2nd residue because it lies beyond the circle ÷÷    =   3/2  )

Practice Problems:
1) Evaluate the integral:   ò C  (z + 1)   dz / (2z +  i)
2) Evaluate the integral:   ò C    z   dz / (z2  - 2z + 2)2