Monday, December 10, 2012

There Need Be No Other Cause

Imagine yourself as a British citizen.  You have the rare privilege of being involved in caring for a member of the Royal Family.

You fall for a prank.

I disagree that too much focus is being placed on the prank as the cause of the nurse’s suicide.

None of us are perfect  so investigators my find another possibly  contributing factor.

There need be no other cause than the prank.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Florida Legal Profession Condones Lying

“Lying on Paragraph 6. THIS PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE SHOULD BE GRANTED BECAUSE:, of FLORIDA SUPREME COURT APPROVED FAMILY LAW FORM 12.901(b)(2), PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE WITH PROPERTY BUT NO DEPENDENT OR MINOR CHILD(REN)(05/12) does not violate The Rules of Professional Conduct or any of the rules adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida which govern attorney discipline,” per Maura Canter, Bar Counsel.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back to Basics

In the midst of cultural conflict, it seems logical that it would be good to go “back to basics” periodically.

I associate “back to basics” with the attitude often attributed to Vince Lombardi while he was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers and the approach used by physicists to derive results from “first principles.”

During my “mid-life crisis,” I decided that my core values were:   Liberty, Justice, and Compassion.  I did not develop a definition for each term.  Liberty was what our Founders Fought for.  My Justice was not blind.  My Justice was, like God, all seeing.  My Compassion was compassionate.  It should be obvious that these values are frequently in conflict.  For years, I considered “conflict” to be bad and we should try to avoid it.

An article on the back page of an old physics newsletter about Quakers and conflict was enlightening.  I’ve forgotten how Quakers address conflict but they sort of consider it good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

Reality Not Rhetoric

Congress has the power to levy a tax.  Congress has the right to defer a tax.  Congress has done the latter in regular IRAs, 401(k), and 403(b) retirement plans.  Financial advisors refer to these as “qualified retirement plans” or just qualified plans.

A plan is “qualified” by meeting certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements.  Qualified plans are eligible to receive certain tax benefits.  There are two types of qualified plans:  Defined benefit plans, and Defined contribution plans.

Qualified pension plans are defined benefit plans.  IRAs, 401(k), and 403(b) plans are defined contribution plans.  Pensions are retirement entitlements.  Defined contribution plans are retirement savings/investments.

A part of the IRS requirements for being eligible, is that IRS requirements for Minimum Required Distributions (MRD) be met.  The literature/law also refers to Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).

As an owner of an IRA (or other qualified plan) you may be required to make a withdrawal from your account before the end of 2012.  This withdrawal, called your RMD is generally required by the IRS once an IRA account holder has reached 70.5 years old.  You can withdraw more than the minimum from your IRA in any year.  However, if you withdraw less than the required minimum, you may be subject to a 50% tax penalty.  Some sources/plans say it is 50% of the amount not taken (IRA) and others say it is 50% of the entire account (for me, my 403(b) ).

The Federal Income Tax liability incurred by a withdrawal depends on a number of factors.  The main one for my purposes is whether it includes any return of the owner's after tax contributions.  The IRS intent is to not tax “after tax” contributions when they are returned/withdrawn.  The tax-deferred benefit of the plans is that Federal Income Tax is deferred on the “pre-tax” contributions until funds are withdrawn which is at a later time and likely at a lower rate than appropriate at the time the funds were deposited/earned.

The reality is clear.  An RMD is predominately a withdrawal of savings although the tax code requires the withdrawal to be taxed in the year of the withdrawal and not in the year the deposited funds were earned.  Defined contribution plan required withdrawals should be treated as “return of capital” or withdrawal of savings in all applications except determining tax liability incurred by the withdrawal.  Although the rhetoric may differ, that is the reality.

Floridians please note that this means that MRDs or RMD should not be considered in the determination of a party’s ability to pay alimony even though the IRS taxes them as income.  In short, distributions may not be “income” even though they are received, taxed as income by the IRS, and spent.  Being taxed as income at the later date is the benefit for which the qualified defined contribution plan owner is eligible.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Requirements Driven System Design

A lot of the effort devoted to the development of computer-aided systems engineering (CASE) tool development in the 1970s was based on the belief that if you could capture the requirements you could rather easily design the system.  This was not proven wrong because no one ever completely captured the requirements.

There is some concern among design engineers that if organizations actually achieve CMMI Level 5 in their Systems Engineering processes the organizations can replace their design engineers with computers.  It is possible that among the managers that think about such esoteric things there may be some who actually want this to happen. 

A Correspondence in the INCOSE Journal, Systems Engineering, appears to indicate that there will always be a need for design engineers for the really interesting problems.  William L. Chapman, Jerzy Rozenbilt, and A. Terry Bahill, in “System Design Is an NP-Complete Problem,” SE, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2001, map the Knapsack Problem to the System Design Problem.  The Knapsack Problem has been known to be “NP-Complete” for over 30 years.  The technical implication of this is that “designing optimal systems with deterministic, polynomial time procedures is not possible.”  The article states, “This is the primary reason why engineers do not try to produce optimal systems:  They merely produce designs that are good enough.”

 The article states in its summary that creating a computer design tool will be very difficult.  They add that the interesting aspect of NP-complete algorithms is that it is often quite easy to find near-optimal solutions.  Within the context of product design, optimality is seldom an objective, but rather satisfaction of a problem statement.  Therefore, a solution good enough to satisfy the customer may be within reach of a knowledge-based design tool.

I think this sort of says that you can have Requirements Driven Systems Design for a limited domain.  You can have requirements driven design for “special-purpose systems.”  However, for general-purpose systems, the best you can do is verification that the requirements are met.  The design is selected to meet the requirements and the design process is “aided” by the requirements but it is not driven by the requirements.

The closing paragraph of the INCOSE article touches all the bases, it states that philosophers have pondered the type of problems that are solvable: They System Design Problem seems to be solvable.  Theoreticians have worried about how long it might take to find solutions for certain classes of problems: Because the System Design Problem is NP-complete, finding an optimal solution could take an infinite amount of time.  Behaviorists have shown that humans seek satisficing rather than optimal solutions.  And, academicians have proven that “the job of a systems engineer is hard, in fact, NP-hard.”

The reader is encouraged to figure out how to explain to the customer that he (the customer) should not require optimal solutions and also how to explain to the customer that the main reason for not requiring an optimal solution is that the design problem is “NP-hard” rather than because our design processes are “immature. “

Monday, April 2, 2012

Arithmetic is not an Opinion

Facts are not opinions.  Assertions have to do with what is.  Assessments have to do with what is possible.  Does CNN present both sides when discussing “two plus two equals four”?

The fact that scientists have not proven an assertion to be incorrect does not warrant the assessment that it (the assertion) is possible/true.

Florida is currently “in the News” because of the Trayvon Martin homicide.  Several members of the national media are “searching for the truth.”

I began my search for the truth about 1957.  A couple of young-looking Chinese Americans were pictured on the front of Parade Magazine.  T. D. Lee and C. N. Yang had been awarded the Nobel Prize for predicting non-conservation of Parity.   See

I learned quickly that chemistry was not my path to the truth.   In the calculation of pH (a measure of the acidity/alkalinity of a solution), a term of the order of 10**(-14) was ignored in the denominator.  The other term was 10**0 (which is 1).  It was clear that the social sciences were not my path to the truth.

Pure mathematics was my favorite area but it was divorced from the Real World.  My search for the truth (and funding) led me into Physics.   Although I was searching for the truth, there was no question about the criterion for truth.  It had to be reasonable, self-consistent, and coherent.  To be “reasonable,” it had to be consistent with all the facts.  In 1957, I did not have any questions about what is a fact.  I had no conscious awareness of truth needing any criteria.

About 1970, I bought two paperback books by W. S. Sahakian and M.L.  Sahakian.  One described 17 theories/conceptions of Truth.  Authority, revelation, intuition, correspondence, coherence, and pragmatism are the ones I can recall.

A few years ago, I discovered the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  I learned that Realism is controversial. []  Neophytes should start with  [As of April 2, 2012, the Wikipedia entry is short, informative, and, probably, accurate.  It would be helpful if it addressed whether “common sense” is related to Thomas Reid.]

If Realism is controversial, does that imply that Arithmetic IS an Opinion?

I am involved in a domestic dispute in Florida.  The facts can be rather accurately described in numbers.  A Motion for Rehearing has been granted.  There is reason to believe that Justice will prevail.  However, the current Final Judgment of the Court is incredulous to those of us who know the truth.

I, a male who was removed from the State of Florida by concerned relatives, have been Profiled as a Male who left the State, abused his wife, and made Big Bucks at Harris.   The case is backwards.  My wife engaged in occasional Male Perogative, she was never a stay-at-home wife; she always did whatever she wanted to within the limits imposed upon her by others.  She did not get a job appropriate for her.  She took the best job she could get and went back to school nights and weekends to get a second Master’s degree.  She completed residency requirements in minimal time (making it impossible to be at home).  In March of 2007, my wife and I had a difference of opinion about taxes.  The State of Florida diverted me into a Domestic Violence Program.  The only support for my wife was from a Domestic Violence Victims support group.

My wife’s first master’s degree qualified her to be a Director of Christian Education (DCE) in the United Methodist Church.  A skill/talent for recruiting unpaid volunteers is appropriate for that type of work.  I began to see my wife as abusing that talent/skill as we moved into the era of Knowledge Worker as an occupation.  My former wife got a church member to set up a budget for her and “process” her data for her tax input.  She had 11 bank accounts, most of them with Bank of America.

Because my former wife received help from people knowledgeable with Domestic Violence and Florida Family Law, I “have a history of Domestic Violence.”  There are no forms identifying the person/persons who helped her prepare her reports.  I do not deserve a history of Domestic Violence.  My former wife does not have a history of Contempt of Court.  She deserves such a history.

In a reasonable world, women would ostracize my former wife for her abuse of the system they worked to establish.  In this world, I have to acknowledge that whatever the male says, “May be true.”

Proverbs makes various statements about the value of a reputation.  If Arithmetic is an Opinion, how much should one spend on an Appeal?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thou shalt not kill

The title is Exodus 20:13 in the King James Version of the Bible. The Today’s English Version states, “Do not commit murder.” What’s the difference?

The current Wikipedia definition of Murder is given at the beginning of the entry at .

“Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter). As the loss of a human being inflicts enormous grief upon the individuals close to the victim, as well as the fact that the commission of a murder is highly detrimental to the good order within society, most societies both present and in antiquity have considered it a most serious crime worthy of the harshest of punishment. In most countries, a person convicted of murder is typically given a long prison sentence, possibly a life sentence where permitted, and in some countries, the death penalty may be imposed for such an act — though this practice is becoming less common.[1] In most countries, there is no statute of limitations for murder (no time limit for prosecuting someone for murder). A person who commits murder is called a murderer .[2]”

When I read it, the entry contained the following discussion:

“William Blackstone (citing Edward Coke), in his Commentaries on the Laws of England set out the common law definition of murder, which by this definition occurs when a person, of sound memory and discretion, unlawfully kills any reasonable creature in being and under the king's peace, with malice aforethought, either express or implied.[3]

“The elements of common law murder are:

1. Unlawful
2. killing
3. of a human
4. by another human
5. with malice aforethought.[4]

“The Unlawful—This distinguishes murder from killings that are done within the boundaries of law, such as an execution or the killing of enemy soldiers during a war.

“Killing—At common law life ended with cardiopulmonary arrest[4]—the total and permanent cessation of blood circulation and respiration.[4] With advances in medical technology courts have adopted irreversible cessation of all brain function as marking the end of life.[4]

“of a human—This element presents the issue of when life begins. At common law a foetus was not a human being. Life began when the foetus passed through the birth canal and took its first breath.[4]

“by another human—at early common law suicide was considered murder.[4] The requirement that the person killed be someone other than the perpetrator excluded suicide from the definition of murder.

“with malice aforethought—originally malice aforethought carried its everyday meaning—a deliberate and premeditated killing of another motivated by ill will. Murder necessarily required that an appreciable time pass between the formation and execution of the intent to kill. The courts broadened the scope of murder by eliminating the requirement of actual premeditation and deliberation as well as true malice. All that was required for malice aforethought to exist is that the perpetrator act with one of the four states of mind that constitutes ‘malice.’ …”

The article is very good for my purpose. In my reading of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, I have always understood Exodus 20:13 to be a prohibition of the “killing of a human by another human ‘with malice aforethought’” with the original meaning of “with malice aforethought” given above.

“Thou shalt not kill’ prohibits homicide. It involves no legal definitions. If we take the “Do not commit murder” interpretation, murder is the only unlawful homicide prohibited. I think the stone tablet really said the equivalent of “Do not commit unlawful homicide.”

My first job was as an analyst with the Marine Corps Operations Analysis Group (MCOAG) of the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) of the University of Rochester. I was the group’s expert on Amphibious Doctrine and did a study of Vietnam version of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

[See . History has validated my conclusion that the only acceptable promising near term approach to reducing casualties was the explosive detecting dogs. Moving the ground forces to Laos and Cambodia, going everywhere by helicopter, and withdrawing all ground forces from South East Asia were considered unacceptable solutions to the Mine and Booby Trap problem in South Vietnam.]

One of MCOAG’s employees was a small, dark-haired, brown-eyed, young lady who drove a Mini Cooper. She tried to convert my office mate who was a Major who had recently served as the commander of the Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance Company or Battalion into a non-killer. I would prefer that we do not need trained killers but as long as we do, I prefer the Marines as they are trained.

I started this article because of the recent controversy over an “inappropriate flag” in a 2010 photo of a (US) Marine Sniper Unit. “Inappropriate” is in the “eyes of the beholder”.

“Tell that to the Marines.” “Jarhead.” “Leatherneck.” Which, if any, of these is negative or insulting to the members of the US Marine Corps?

The last Director of MCOAG when I was there did not know that he shouldn’t use the first above. [When I checked today, “Leatherneck” was said to be a military slang term for a member of the United States Marine Corps. It was also said to be synonymous with marine “by Webster”.

Nazi flags are viewable at . I was disappointed that the lightning bolt part of the flag in the marine picture looks identical to that on the lightning bolts on Nazi flags which contain the symbol.

Until the Secretary of Defense (currently, Leon Panetta) can tell the Marines “Thou shalt not kill,” perhaps he should accept the fact that it is unfair to expect trained killers to act “normal” in other parts of their lives.

I remember the last part of World War II. The current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, is a 42 year veteran of the Marine Corps. He was born on November 12, 1946. General Amos cannot remember WW II. Most of the 202,000 marines were born after 1973. World War II is as remote to many of them as the Civil War is to me.

The Wikipedia entry on Murder contains a banner near the top which includes:

This article may be too technical for most readers to understand.

The difference between King James Version and Today’s English Version is that the mission of the US Marine Scout Sniper Unit violates the King James Version but does not violate the Today’s English Version.

The Marines did have the US Flag above the other flag.

The Flag Code is available at . This specifies the rules for displaying THE US Flag. The President is responsible for enforcing the Flag Code in the District of Columbia and Federal Government installations.

Every time we see a political speaker on TV these days and the speaker is backed by more than one US Flag the US Flag protocol is being violated. Which flag is THE US Flag? There should be only one. I think I counted eight (8) during one of President Obama’s speeches a few months ago.

For violations of the US Flag Code in the news see .

I am offended when anyone violates the US Flag Code on TV or in my presence. Most of our citizens including politicians are not aware of proper US Flag etiquette. We should teach them proper US Flag etiquette before we undertake teaching them all the other things about standards, flags, and pennants.