Sunday, August 3, 2014

Legalize All Recreational Drugs

Legalizing all drugs without a plan of action would be drastic but is legalization with licensing and regulation a drastic idea.  The first misconception I would like to address is that I am pro-use because I am for legalization. It isn't the case.  I have a brother who is a heroin addict and it is heartbreaking.  My views on legalization are derived from a very personal question.  "How could my brother have been prevented from being a heroin addict?"

The first thing I realized is that the fact drug distribution possession and use is illegal, it doesn't prevent people from participating in the market on any level.  It is very easy to become a manufacturer, distributor or user of drugs and it shouldn't be.  So, currently the least qualified people manufacture and distribute drugs putting the end user at high risk.  

I realized that regulation could create a safer market.  Drinking a bottle of booze could be life threatening.  Now alcohol is a safe product and the answer is regulation.   Far enough back buying a hamburger at a restaurant could kill you.  The product we consume are made safer because of regulations on food productions and distribution.  The entire success of McD's is that they came up with a consistent product and could reproduce the model across the county.  It wasn't because of the delicious hamburger, it was that the hamburgers were safe and reliable.  It would be better and more cost effective to make sure drugs are as safe to use as possible.

The next thing is that users should be licensed.  This does two things.  When requiring a license you can impose certain restrictions such as users must prove they are using birth control.  That's the big one for me, in this case I am not opposed to forced responsibility.  Either have kids or don't use drugs for awhile.   Just like there are classes of driver's license, classes can exist depending on the type of drugs being used.  The other benefit is that a license really makes the choice to do drugs a thought through process.  Users wouldn't be pressured to do drugs and then immediately have access to them.  They would have to go to a licensing office apply, provided proof they've met requirements to become a user and so on.  It puts at least a few hours between the choice to use and the use. 

People have free will.  Laws can't stop that but if you provide a path to pursue a choice while not making it easy people will be less likely to pursue the path.  By putting the cost of the choice before the action instead of after, less people will end up using drugs and with regulation more safely.  Limit the action and provide a safer market.  Sounds a lot better to me than imprisonment, overdoses and violent crime.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Freedom to Use Drugs

There is no doubt that drugs are bad but our freedom should be limited to the end that we do not destroy each other. Our freedom is violated by the fact that drugs our legal.  People who want to use drugs will.  No number of laws will stop those people from using drugs and making what I would consider to be a bad choice.

The greatest issue I have with laws legalizing drugs is that they actually support the criminal element of the market.  Lives are destroyed buy drugs but more lives are destroyed by subjecting consumers to criminal retailers.  Capital markets and legalization are the answer to solving this issue.

The obvious example is prohibition.  I am going to skip the usual arguments and skip to discussing the product.  During prohibition it was not safe to drink alcohol.  Today there is still a tiny market for moonshine but it really isn't a big issue any more.  Most people prefer to get booze in grocery stores where the product is regulated and safe to drink.   There will always be a criminal element in society but most member of society like to know what they are getting and lead a safe life.  I would include drug users in this category.

I am not saying you should be able to just go down to the grocery store and pick up some heroin.  I recognize that these are very bad drugs.  There would be significant problems if people could use hard recreational drugs in the home.  Where drugs are used should be regulated and there should be safety requirements to follow for businesses distributing drugs.  This would make overdosing less likely and keep abusive behavior away from the rest of society.

I would go as far as requiring a license for the usage of drugs but still providing the right of privacy to the license holder.  This way license holder's may be required to meet specific conditions to use drugs.  For instance the issuing office may require the license holder to use birth control or birth control to be in the drug before it is distributed.  Control as a solution to drug abuse is a much better solution to prohibiting use.

Having said this it is important to acknowledge the more regulations between a consumer and he drug the more likely there will be a black market for the drug.  The key is finding the right balance of regulation and freedom.  Absolute restrictions lead to innocent people getting harmed  Where controlled distribution would lead to a safer society and safer products.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Converting From Atheism but to What?

I have been an Atheist my entire life.  I was raised that way.  Later in life my mother went back to religion and for a long time my father pretended to be Catholic.  My father has gone back to being Atheist.  Even though I knew he was never truly Catholic he tried to get me to become Catholic for a long time.  I think it was to impress his second wife, not sure, she didn't even believe he was Catholic.

Like anyone else I question the world around me and I decided that there is a/are god/gods. I did ask for the some signs and I felt I go them.  I wouldn't say anything miraculous happened but to me it was clear.  Now my issue is that I don't have faith and I don't think I should just pick a religion.  Faith isn't a feeling I understand. I am simply not familiar with having faith.  So I am stuck.

Logically, I live in America where the most common religion is Christianity so that is probably the religion I should pursue but it is very important to get this decision correct.  The other issue I have is that my wife is somewhat Buddhist.  She is not a strong believer but her family is more devout.  She also describe her interactions with Christian people as manipulative and fake.  Apparently, she has had a lot of people in the Chinese community approach her with then intent of converting her and when she didn't reciprocate interest they stopped hanging out with her.  To her it was like they were trying to score brownie points with members of their church by using her.

Then you get to Judaism.  This would be appealing to me because it is really where religion began.  Of the three monotheistic religions this was the first.  Then there's Islam.  The appeal is that the book has never changed, which is the reason behind the existence of the religion.  There is undoubtedly influences of man in both the Torah and the Bible.  Than again there are a lot of contradictory information in the Koran but I don't know how much of this information is bias.  I can also admit because of the probable propaganda I have been subjected to I am biased against being Muslim even thought  I know the least about this religion of the free.

Then there are sects of religions such as Scientology and Latter Day Saints that seem like horse crap to me but I think it important that I remain open to these religions as well.  I have very specific issues with these religions but I don't want to be more insulting that I already I have.   To defend myself a bit I think it important that my audience understands my perspective good and bad.  Please, understand that I do my best to be open minded and I appreciate your patience every time you look past an insulting comment I've made.  I believe that find faith will be a battle and may not be overcome by discussing this with other people.  I simply hope discussion will keep me on a spiritual path to finding specific faith.

At the end of the day I am looking for guidance.  I have tried to be as honest as possible and hope to receive your support in the comment section.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Excel: Don't Use Merge and Center

I hate title creators in Excel who use "Merge & Center".  Yeah, I know you can insert columns and rows now but there are still too many issues.  The sad thing is that this is just the lazy man's option.

There is a much better solution to centering your titles.  Simply select the group of cells you would like your title to be and then right click selecting the format cells option.  Click the "Alignment" tab then in the "Horizontal:" drop down box select "Center Across Selection".  If you have a bunch of titles that need to be centered use F4 after you have gone through the process once.  F4 repeats your last action..  You can also use "Paste Special" and select "Formats".

So if you follow these simple step you will no longer annoy me when you design templates and report in Excel.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

SQL for Accountants

My objective here is not to teach you how to write SQL queries.  Instead I am going to draw some comparisons between every accountants favorite tool, Excel, and SQL commands.  My hope is that the analogies I make will help improve your understanding of SQL.

So to get started lets look at an Excel workbook as the database and the individual worksheets as files within the database.  For this exercise we will limit worksheets to information sets only or tables.  Think of the objective of SQL in terms of pulling relevant and related information into a new worksheet.

The first command I would like to cover is the From command.  In Excel this would be equivalent to referencing a worksheet in a formula.  It directs your formula to which worksheet you would like to pull information.

The next command is the Select statement.  This is going to reference the header information contained in each the worksheet.   Much like using an index function.

The where command is like using a filter.  You will specifically designate the information in the Select statements fields that you would like to retrieve.  This is your criteria.

Next is the Join statement this is where things get a little complicated.  I like to think of this statement as though it is a vlookup.  The only difference is that this information doesn't have to be to the far left or do you have to reference columns.  (If you are an advanced Excel use Index(range,match(field)) may be a better explanation).  Here what is important is that information matches from both tables and you can reference the information against each other.   Joins define the relationship between the tables (worksheets to use our Excel terminology).  Note that you would join using the field names.

Let's cover the OrderBy command next to take a break.  This is the same as using Sort.

Now let's cover the GroupBy command.  This is like using PivotTables.  The main thing to remember here is that this is going to summarize the data by the fields you chose to group.  Now the trick is that every field in the Select statement needs to be included in the group by statement unless it is a calculation or aggregate of the other data.

For now I am going to leave this post as is, I may add and revise some information later.  My head hurts.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Political Flexibility

For a long time we have wanted our political leaders to be rigid by viewing everything from a black and white perspective.  Barack Obama, George Bush and all the presidents during my life time have been rigid in their views.  To demonstrate let's look at the current gay marriage debate.

I am going to move past the gay by nature verse choice debate.  Even if being gay is a choice people should have the freedom to make that choice.  That type of thinking is stupid and a waste of time.

Some people discuss allowing civil unions and others don't want it allow gay marriage at all.  The counterpoint is that neither of these represent equality.  Allowing one group of people to get married and not another is clearly unequal.  Allowing one group civil unions and the other to be married is consider seperate but equal and is viewed as an unacceptable by advocates of gay marriage.  Clearly, the big issue is religion.  In this country religious freedom is very important and most religions are clear that homosexual relationships are sinful.  That is just the way it is and religious freedom is much more important in my opinion than sexual freedom.

Does this mean that both can't exist.  I personally would prefer a world where gay unions are allowed by the government.  Not allowing gay marriage is oppressive.  However, I don't think it right to force institutions to marry a couple they believe to be in a sinful relationship.  The simple solution is for the government to focus on civil unions and allow religious institutions to determine whether they will unite a couple in marriage.  This way one group is not oppressed for the sake of another.

The solution is simple once politics are placed aside and mediation between two competing interests are considered.  A win win solution presents itself in this scenario.  To close off remember that other do not have to accept your lifestyle and that is okay.  That closing comment is intended both ways.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Content and Compensation: Forums Driving Valuable Content

The internet definitely has a value system.  For now I am turning my attention towards forums. 
Contributors to forums used to be able to earn income by making valuable contributions to the forums and adding links to product and blogs.  A lot of contributors began making valueless posts to spam their links all over the place. Many forums turned to a system where they tried to manage cotnributors by developing systems to allowing benefits such as links.  This hasn't worked out really well either.  The recent trend is to not compensate for content.  I personally don't see this working out very well.  There will be a few knowledgeable idiots who will offer up services but this going to lead to many forums becoming very one note. 

It is definitely appropriate to compensate contributors and it is the right thing to do.  Expecting free content for subscribers is not a good way to get the content your subscribers are going to want to read.  The question is how to best get quality content?  The conundrum is that paying people for content attracts opporunists but not paying them doesn't attract content.  Another challenge is that subscribers don't normally don't pay a subscription fee and are often anonymous. 

Often forums treat contributors and subscribers equally but they really do not play the same role on a forum.  Managing the different relationships is something forums can do to improve the content being posted.  This relationship should be distinguisahble to all participants of the blog.  Most subscribers do not participate by posting.  Often the answer to a question has been previously provided if the forum has been able to build content.  The great thing about subscribers is that they want instant gratification.  They don't ask a question if they can get right to the answer right away.

By recognizing this we realize that the job of managing the forum is greatly reduced.  By placing the focus on managing content authors the task becomes plausible.  Content authors should be compensated through sharing ad revenues.  When implementing revenue sharing system tracking becomes very important.when sharing ad revenue with content authors.  Revnue from all advertising must be associated with the author that has attracted the traffic through posting responses to subscriber questions.  This way subscriber get value because their issues have been resolved.  Authors the content providers are compensated for providing valuable information.   Forum developers are compensated by providing the property and are best enabled to manage content.

All issues haven't been discussed so leave a comment to expand on the topic.