175 stories
·
1 follower

strip for July / 19 / 2017 - The Course of a River

1 Comment and 2 Shares
strip for July / 19 / 2017 - The Course of a River
The Course of a River

Jump to a Random Strip in the Archives! | Archives | E-mail Dave

Read the whole story
HarlandCorbin
8 days ago
reply
So, Nosh was eavesdropping on a telepathic conversation? Seems that Nosh has some hidden talents too!
kazriko
7 days ago
I think they're both broadcasting to everyone around right now.
Share this story
Delete

My husband and I ran a small computer repair business out of our home. As we offered 24-hour...

1 Comment

My husband and I ran a small computer repair business out of our home. As we offered 24-hour emergency service for businesses in our area, we had a phone directly by our bed.

We set up a new system to do daily and weekly backups for a hotel in the area, timed to happen at 2:00 am when things should have been very slow. We made sure the daily backups were happening properly, told them we’d be back in a week to double-check that the weekly backups were backing up correctly too, and asked them to contact us in the meantime if anything weird happened or if they got any error messages or anything.

Client: Great! Thank you.

That night, 2:30 am or so, we get a call from him.

Client: Hi! Just wanted to let you know that the daily backup happened just fine!

Me: Um, that’s good. But it looks like there might have been a slight communication error. We’ve already confirmed that the daily backups are happening properly, so you don’t need to let us know when they do. Just let us know if you see any error messages about them, or if you have any reason to think something isn’t working properly, okay?

Client: Oh, okay, sure!

The next night at 2:30 am, the phone rings again:

Me: Hello?

Client: Hi! Just wanted to let you know that the backups are still working just fine!

Me: Great. Thanks. Listen, please don’t call us to let us know it IS working; that just wastes your time. We know it’s working; just let us know IF something goes wrong, okay? Otherwise you don’t need to call us, and we’ll see you on Friday.

Manager: “Oh, sorry, okay, no problem!”

Next bloody night, the phone rings again, and the Caller ID shows it’s the client again.

Me: Are you serious?

My husband said I should just let it go to answering machine.

Client: (on answering machine) Daily backups are still working great! Just wanted to let you know.

Great. Good. But the phone rings AGAIN, five minutes later. I answered it.

Client: Hi! Glad I got you! I left a message when no one answered but I wanted to make sure that you got it. The backups are still working fine. Everything’s good.

Me: Okay. Great. Listen, you DO NOT NEED TO CALL US to tell us that everything is working okay. It’s SUPPOSED to be working okay. We don’t need confirmation each night that everything is working the way it’s supposed to, okay? I know you’re trying to help, but the phone is right by our bed, it’s the middle of the night, and you’re waking us up each night for something that is just the normal operation, not an emergency. Please. If there is a problem, absolutely call us; but if everything is working okay, then please don’t call and tell us that. Okay?

Client: Oh, sorry! I didn’t realize. Sorry for waking you up each night! Don’t worry, I won’t call again. Unless something goes wrong. Heh.

Me: Great, thanks. Goodnight.

And yet, the next bloody night, the phone rings. I answered it, and got a pre-recorded message.

He sent us a fax. I accepted it, and our printer spit out a piece of paper.

Sure enough, the fax read “Daily backups worked fine.”

Read the whole story
HarlandCorbin
10 days ago
reply
Time to mention the "wasted time charge". The next time you call us or fax us to tell us that the backup completed, that will be a service charge of...
Share this story
Delete

Calvin and Hobbes for Wednesday, May 31, 2017

1 Comment
Read the whole story
HarlandCorbin
56 days ago
reply
It's a secret!
Share this story
Delete

Working From Home

1 Comment and 2 Shares

Read the whole story
HarlandCorbin
70 days ago
reply
Inaccurate.

Yay, I get to work from home.
Yay, I get to work from home.
Yay, I get to work from home!
Huh, I wonder if they messed with my desk again...
Yay, I get to work from home!
Share this story
Delete

Grab Your Pitchforks, America, Your 401(K) May Need Defending from Congress

1 Comment and 2 Shares

The lucky participants in one of the best retirement plans around are coming after yours with a meat cleaver.

In the early stages of negotiating tax reform, Congress is already considering whether to reduce the benefits of contributing to a 401(k) and similar retirement plans — even as U.S. representatives and senators bask in the safety of the pension system that taxpayers fund for federal employees.

Alongside several million U.S. government workers, members of Congress participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System, which wraps their current savings and future pensions in a cushion of comfort that most American workers can only dream of.

Only about 13% of employees nationwide are covered by both a 401(k) and a traditional pension that assures stable, lifelong income, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College; all 535 members of Congress are.

In 2015, the average taxpayer-funded annual pension received by recently retired members of Congress was $41,316. A representative or senator retiring in 2014 after 30 years in Congress would earn an annuity of roughly $104,600 to $130,500, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Retirement savers in the private workforce pay outlandish management fees that can exceed 1% annually on lousy investment choices; members of Congress pay a maximum of 0.039% for funds that all but guarantee matching the market.

Those expenses on a $10,000 investment can easily eat up at least $100 a year for regular retirement savers; fees on the same amount in a U.S. representative or senator’s account can’t exceed $3.90.

Fewer than one in 10 corporate retirement plans match 5% of employees’ contributions dollar-for-dollar, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America. Every member of Congress gets that match — funded by the taxpayers.

Even if a member of Congress won’t set aside any of his or her own money, the public automatically contributes an amount equaling 1% of that legislator’s salary to the federal retirement fund. Nearly all members of Congress earn $174,000 annually.

[wsj-responsive-more-in tag="The Intelligent Investor" category="" ]

A reliable retirement is “a four-legged stool,” says David Kabiller, co-founder of AQR Capital Management in Greenwich, Conn., and co-author of a recent article on how to design retirement programs. Those four legs are a traditional pension, a 401(k)-type plan, Social Security and supplemental savings in taxable accounts. “Eliminate or restrict any of those,” he says, “and you make achieving a secure retirement more challenging.”

Yet that is what Congress, perched securely on its taxpayer-funded four-legged stool, is considering for the rest of us.

At a meeting with members of the Senate Banking Committee earlier this month, Gary Cohn, the director of the White House National Economic Council, discussed ideas that would remove pre-tax benefits from retirement accounts including 401(k)s and shift them to after-tax benefits, according to people familiar with the discussions. It wasn’t clear how seriously the administration is evaluating any specific proposal, these people said.

Some are confident change is afoot. In the next round of tax reform, “it’s not really a question of whether retirement plans will get a haircut, but of how much,” says Bradford Campbell, a partner in the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath in Washington, D.C., who served as assistant Secretary of Labor under Pres. George W. Bush.

That’s because the money you contribute to 401(k)s and several other types of retirement plans isn’t subject to current income tax. Nor are your future earnings on those accounts — until you take them out to live on in retirement, when your withdrawals will be taxed as ordinary income.

If your retirement dollars were treated, instead, like contributions to a Roth Individual Retirement Account or Roth 401(k), they would be taxed before you put them in. You could ultimately withdraw the money tax-free in retirement, but the incentive of getting an upfront tax break would be gone.

Taxing retirement-plan contributions Roth-style would generate roughly $1.5 trillion over the next decade the way the government reckons the numbers, estimates Mr. Campbell. So giant a pot of honey may be hard for Congress not to raid.

“We definitely need comprehensive tax reform,” says Mr. Campbell. Unfortunately, when lost revenue has to be replaced, “it’s a game of winners and losers, and the retirement system is poised to be one of the losers.”

It’s hard for most people to save for a goal that glimmers faintly decades in the future. Take away the tax incentive, and many savers might no longer see the point of even trying.

Fully 39% of Americans don’t feel very confident in their ability to fund a comfortable retirement, according to a recent survey. It’s safe to say none of those worried folks are members of Congress.

Instead of penalizing retirement saving, lawmakers should be making it easier, perhaps even mandatory — as it is for members of Congress.

For workers struggling to set money aside, says Mr. Kabiller, “mandatory savings could help impose the discipline of giving up compensation today in order to fund your longevity down the road.”

At a bare minimum, if Congress is going to hack away some of the tax advantages of private retirement plans, it should make matching cuts to the cushy federal system.

“There should be equal sacrifice,” says Mr. Campbell. “It’d be very hard for them to justify not doing that.”

If you have a pitchfork in your garage, keep it handy. Your 401(k) might need defending.

– Nick Timiraos contributed to this column.

Write to Jason Zweig at intelligentinvestor@wsj.com, and follow him on Twitter at @jasonzweigwsj.



























Read the whole story
HarlandCorbin
94 days ago
reply
One problem with this article, at least with non-congress federal workers, they mostly fund their retirement by themselves. My dad is a retired defense worker, this article would make him very upset.

Congress has its own separate system, it does not work the same as the system for every other federal worker.
Share this story
Delete

Bridgestone's Airless Tires Will Soon Let Cyclists Abandon Their Bike Pumps

1 Comment and 3 Shares

First revealed way back in 2011, Bridgestone’s airless tires use a series of rigid plastic resin spokes to help a wheel keep its shape as it rolls, instead of an inflatable inner tube that can puncture and leak. Military vehicles and ATVs have been some of the first vehicles to adopt the unorthodox design, but Bridgestone will soon be making a version of its airless tires for use on bicycles.

Airless bike tires aren’t a new idea, you can already get wheels made from a solid rubber composite if you’ll be riding on terrain where the risk of punctures and flats is high.

Advertisement

But Bridgestone’s approach, which replaces the inner tube and a portion of a bicycle wheel’s spokes with thermoplastic resin supports, is better engineered to absorb bumps and provide an overall smoother ride, without ever requiring the rider to have to adjust the air pressure in their tires. More importantly, it will never go flat, or leave a cyclist stranded on the side of the road.

If eventually adopted for cars, airless tires have the potential to improve fuel efficiency since they’ll never deflate or lose their shape over time, but also improve safety, given they also can’t dangerously explode. With bikes, however, it’s more of a convenience thing, since cyclists would no longer have to carry a pump, or wrangle a spare inner tube. Bridgestone is hoping to have its airless bike tires ready for consumers by 2019, just ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, although it remains to be seen if they’ll be approved for official cycling competition in time.

Advertisement

[Bridgestone via designboom]

Read the whole story
HarlandCorbin
97 days ago
reply
But on cars, it is good to be able to manage the air pressure in your tires based on expected road conditions. Maybe a hybrid tire?
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories