What is Diversity?

The recent firing of a male Google employee who challenged how his company views “diversity” raises important issues – now ironic issues since that is why he was fired.

Dames Damore claimed the lack of female employees at Google was due to biological differences, and that is why there are fewer women in tech and in leadership positions. Damore asserted the company is left-leaning and a better diversity goal (better because it does not battle against biological differences) would be political / thought diversity of opinion, regardless of the sex of the person holding the opinion.

Too often in corporate America “diversity” has a meaning associated with liberal political causes. Diversity does not mean appreciating a full spectrum of opinion.

For example, if an employee were to proclaim they were a neo-Nazi – instead of joyously promoting this new diverse opinion within the company – they would most likely be let go because their opinion runs counter to the inclusiveness of others.

Of course it is ironic that Google would fire a conservative employee challenging the leftward tilt of the company.

But what about his claim of biological differences? Is that a grounds for firing?

The opinion is certainly not politically correct.

It is an opinion I do not agree with. In fact, I would say women are smarter than men, if anything, and more women should be in leadership positions.

As I recall there was a story that 60% of the employees at Google are men (no breakdown between tech and secretarial positions) and 80% of leadership positions where held by men. Whatever the actual ratio, it was far from 50-50. With Google’s management taking the position this difference is not due to biological differences between the sexes, then Google, what is the reason?

Folsom Palladio Luxe Review

The Luxe is the new set of movie theaters at the Palladio outdoor mall in Folsom. As the number of movie tickets sold has slowed theatres have looked to other ways to generate revenue. The idea behind the Luxe is to take a page from Studio Movie Grill and offer luxury seats, an extended entertainment experience, and deliver food to you while watching the movie. Additionally, no children are allowed after 5 pm so supposedly there is a better movie watching experience without distractions from obnoxious kids.

The results …

$15 movie tickets! Yowsa. Tickets at the “regular” Palladio 16 are $10.50 so this is a huge 43 percent price increase.

With the tickets you select your seat so you do not have to fight for open seating.

After paying your $15 you walk in and there is a lounge and small bar. It looks nice. Comfortable place to sit and chat before and after a movie. You wouldn’t even know there was a movie theatre.

In the back, off to the right, are steps up to the cinema screens.

We were greeted by someone who, in an over the top booming voice welcomed us to the Luxe.

Entering the theater was a bit of a shock. Easily one of the smallest movie screens I had ever seen. I tried to calculate if my living room screen was bigger. There were ten seats across.

In addition to the small screen, there did not seem to be any “sound” experience additions. No surround sound, for instance. It was a very weak movie experience.

The seats were reclining leather chairs with a small table rest to put your food. One of the arm rests on my seat was streaked with grease from someone prior who had some food. There was a large, red, something, between the seat cushion and side of the seat. Looked gross. I didn’t want to know what it was, and certainly was not going to touch it.

The seat itself was very uncomfortable with a lump in my back. This resolved itself by reclining the seat back and finding an angle that was comfortable.

Then the opportunity arrived to buy a drink and dinner.

A glass of coke was $5.

Food was a lot more.

I passed.

The person next to me ordered nachos. They were stale (her words) and crisp, so during the movie every time she took a bit there was a loud CRUNCH and then CHEW CHEW CHEW.

Give me little kids any day instead of CRUNCH, CHEW CHEW CHEW over and over.

Tip: food in movie theatres should be soft and quiet.

Although no cells phones are allowed, as is the rule in any theater, as the lights are such a distraction to others when used, the staff was using tablets to take orders during the movie. So much for no distraction.

Overall – pass on the Luxe. It is a poor movie experience. However, if you are more interested in a quiet, upscale lounge to meet, have a conversation and drink before or after a movie, then it is worth considering. If you don’t want to mingle with the “WalMart” crowd the $15 tickets will do the trick. Too bad the actual movie experience is not up to par.

How to be an Art Vendor for Sacramento Second Saturday

Second Saturday art events are popular in Sacramento. This is where art galleries are open extra hours and art lovers congregate to view what is new and for sale. There are also some tables outside art galleries where artists are showing their talents.

If you’re an artist … how the heck do you participate in Second Saturday?

The simplest method is to be invited into a gallery to participate.

It also turns out the City of Sacramento has a number of requirements. Typical of a government bureaucracy, Sacramento does not make it easy, inexpensive, or fun to try and participate. There are also no step-by-step instructions on how to be a Second Saturday artist. Welcome to this blog post!

Step 1: The Sacramento Business Operation Tax Account

The City of Sacramento imposes a tax on anyone doing business in the city. The city claims it is not a business license, but it is – just called a tax, or sometimes the city calls it a “fee” that must be paid up front.

The minimum annual tax/fee/license is $31.

Apply for the Business Operation Tax Account here: http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Finance/Revenue/Business-Operation-Tax/Apply-for-a-Business-Operation-Tax-Account

You can choose an online application or to download a paper application to send via mail.

As you can see, the $31 tax/fee/license amount is a minimum even if you don’t make that much:

bot1

You have to make more than $10,000 before a higher amount has to be paid:

bot2

You may ask, I’m an artist. Do I have to pay a business tax?

The answer is Yes. If you are selling you are in business. Even if you’re not making much as an artist, or even selling your artwork at a loss, you’re still subject to this tax.

When your application has been submitted and approved – and you have paid your fee, you will receive a “BOT” number.

[Sometimes] Step 2: The Art Vendor Permit

If you are selling INSIDE a gallery proceed to Step 3.

If you are selling OUTSIDE a building or gallery – such as near a sidewalk – there is another fee.

Paying the fee to obtain a BOT number does not allow you to be an outside art vendor on Second Saturday.

But the BOT fee allows you to pay another fee to obtain an Art Vendor Permit so you can sell on Second Saturday.

Sacramento has an information page about Second Saturday here.

Instead of simply telling you what to do on the web page, the city links to pdf files.

One file, called the “top sheet” when this is written, states:

“Participants wanting to display and/or sell art outside must obtain an Art Vendor permit.”

The word “outside” is what I am keying on.

There is then another form to fill out and another fee to be paid.

The requirements are of course bureaucratic:

– A copy of your driver’s license or state issued ID.

– Your BOT number.

– The BOT number must be obtained at least 14 days before the Second Saturday event.

– Two or more photos of your artwork.

– Signature of the property owner where your art will be displayed. There is an interesting twist here. If you are wanting to display on public property you need to get the signature of the nearest property owner for your application. Yes, you will probably have to pay them to get their signature. Good luck finding out who actually owns property and how to contact them.

– The Art Vendor application must be submitted to the Coloma Community Center Permit Office located at 4623 T Street, Monday thru Thursday between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Applications are due one week before each Second Saturday.

– The Art Vendor fee is $25 PER SECOND SATURDAY EVENT.

– No refunds for rain or bad weather.

Step 3: Gallery Fees

Expect to pay a fee and/or commission to a gallery you show at, or the property owner you are obtaining a signature from to set up an outside table.

How to Keep Your Highlander Looking Like New

My Toyota Highlander is no longer new – we’ve been through 9 years and 160,000 miles. That’s a long time and a lot of miles in one seat.

In some respects the “Truckster” as I call it is showing it’s age. Aren’t we all? But it’s also looking surprisingly good for all the wear and tear. Here are some ideas for keeping your ride happy.

– Keep it clean. Yes, this can be a challenge. Especially when hay and other horse supplies are being transported by those with muddy boots. Instead of letting the dirt build up take just a couple minutes with a vacuum and a cleaner. I’ve found windex works fine on the inside dash and not just for windows.

– Get some touch up paint. You never know when you’ll need it.

– Use the best vinyl cleaner possible on the seats. This is one area where I definitely should have used a higher quality product more often. When the seats get dirty they can be hard to get looking like new again.

– Get in the nooks and crannies. The Highlander is reasonably good at not having too many small places where dirt can accumulate that is difficult to reach. You may need to get into the backseat to reach some of the areas around the front seating area.

– A little squirt of ‘new car smell’ spray every once in a while can also help your senses feel like they are back in a brand new car.

Free Business Checking Options in Sacramento

A review of business checking options in the Sacramento area:

Free

Banner Bank – $100 to open, no minimum balance, no monthly service charge, debit card, first 125 transactions free per month then .30 each, online bill pay $4 month plus .45 per transaction after first 10 free, deposits of more than $10,000 per month are .15 per $100. Sole proprietors can apply online. Locations in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Folsom, Rocklin and Elk Grove – but only Folsom and Elk Grove have ATMs.

First Bank – No monthly fee, no minimum balance, first 150 transactions fee, free online banking, bill pay and debit card. Locations and ATMs in Rancho Cordova and Roseville. Also some locations in San Francisco and outer Bay Area. Need to apply in branch.

WestAmerica Bank (for sole proprietors and when have at least five card transactions per month, otherwise $4). $200 to open, no minimum balance, no monthly fee, first 10 deposits free per month then $1.50 each, 25 free checks paid per month then .40 each. Locations in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova. Need to apply in branch.

Good Shot at Being Free

BOFA – $16 /month (highest of any bank for minimal business checking) but fee waived if spend $250 per month with a debit card. If necessary, have a fake product for $250 using your PayPal account you buy with your BOFA card. Then download the money from PayPal to your BOFA account. Easy free checking.

Fee Banks and Ridiculously High Minimums to Avoid Charges

Chase – $10 / month
Wells Fargo – $14 / month
Union Bank – $5 / month
River City Bank – $15 / month
Umpqua Bank – $7 / month
American River Bank – $10 / month
Five Star Bank – $15 / month
Bank of the West – $10 / month
El Dorado Savings Bank – $8 / month

Fees and offers continually change, but overall you can definitely save money by researching smaller banks. No sense paying a bank to hold your money and make even more money off that.

$15 Minimum Wage

popeyesJust saw a video where the CEO of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen chicken, Cheryl Bachelder, was talking about the ramifications of a $15 minimum wage. She said there are three parties involved in the issue:

– Employees deserving a fair wage
– Customers deserving a fair price
– Local owners deserving a fair profit

Interestingly, she left out the franchise owner – her employer – and how much profit corporate takes.

She then said if wages increase there are “only two levers” left, either:

– Higher prices or,
– Lower hours for employees.

Huh?

Notice how the profit of local owners and the franchise corporation is untouchable.

There it is, in a nutshell. Not to pick on Popeye’s chicken, but this is a common theme. Workers are angry about wage disparity and not making it with the current minimum wage.

So the employer, when faced with increasing wage costs does everything EXCEPT take a lower profit to decrease the wage disparity.

Nothing touches profit. The disparity is not going to be fixed.

If you were wondering, Cheryl Bachelder’s 2014 compensation was $3,200,000 (3.2 million) according to Salary.com.

Cheryl Bachelder went on to say top store revenue was up from $1,000,000 (one million) to $1,400,000 (1.4 million). Obviously, all of the profit is going to the local owners and corporate. None is going to increase the minimum wage of employees unless there is a forced increase.

Bachelder also said a store hires 30 employees. $400,000 increased profit the last few years over 30 employee is $13,333 per employee.

Over a 2000 hour work year, $13,333 is $6.67 extra profit per employee per hour.

I don’t know about you, but I see room for paying employees more than a minimum wage. A lot of room.

But now you also see the local owner and corporate being upset about minimum wage increases. Popeye’s is a national chain. If the minimum wage in California goes up from $10 an hour to $15 an hour, that $5 an hour increase (over 7 years) takes up most of the $6.67 bonus profit the company has made the past few years. In Louisiana, where Popeye’s Chicken is headquartered, there is no state minimum wage. Instead, the federal $7.25 minimum wage applies. (Again, why isn’t Popeye’s paying its employees more than $7.25 an hour given all the extra profit from its stores?) If $7.25 doubled to $15, and assuming prices to customers cannot increase to cover it all, then yep, local owners and corporate have to make less.

To address this Cheryl Bachelder then mentioned how in response to the minimum wage increase there would be more automation facing customers, and on the backend, to make stores “more efficient”. That is, few employee work hours.

So, the end of the day result:

– Corporate and local owners keep their profits. Maybe even make more profit!!!!!
– Customers pay more
– Fewer employees working fewer hours will make more money

Looking further at Cheryl Bachelder’s $3.2 million compensation, and if we assume a 2000 hour full-time employee making the minimum wage in Louisiana of $7.25, Popeye’s begrudgingly pays (would probably be less without a federal minimum wage), $14,500 per year to a full-time employee.

Ouch.

Work full-time at Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and you are officially impoverished and probably getting federal tax subsidies.

This also means Cheryl Bachelder earns as much as 220 employees each year, or 7 stores. How about that! Every employee working a full year at seven Popeye’s stores makes enough to pay Ms. Bachelder her salary so she can go on television complaining about how much they make and how the company will not do anything to dampen the corporate profits paying her salary.

(Let me know if any of these numbers are wrong. Took me forever to get this post done, rewriting, fixing errors, doing math over and over. Thank goodness for calculators.)

No wonder so many workers are pissed.

Does a Law Exist if it Isn’t Enforced? – Why Bill Cosby Shows the Sister Wives Case is Wrong

Many are familiar with Kody Brown and his four wives from the TV show Sister Wives. If not, this is a polygamous family (which is why they got their own TV show) from Utah which then moved to Nevada to avoid potential criminal prosecution for polygamy. Technically, I believe Kody Brown has one legal wife filed with the state and contracts or “religious” marriages with three other women.

sisterwives

In Utah, polygamy is illegal – used to be legal when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was populating the state – but as a condition for state hood Utah how to explicitly outlaw the practice. Tens of thousands of Utah residents still secretly engage in the practice of having multiple wives.

After gay marriage rulings swept the country and eviscerated the basis for a “traditional” marriage between one man and one woman, the Brown family sued to have the Utah law declared invalid. In Utah, not only are having multiple marriage licenses outlawed, but so can simple co-habitation that is effectively a plural relationship.

So, you can live with one person and have sex with then, but not two other people. (What is the government doing in people’s bedrooms anyway?)

The Utah federal district court agreed with the Browns, ruling the multiple marriage license and co-habitation provisions invaded the Brown’s rights of privacy and religious freedom. In effect, it legalized polygamy in Utah.

A court of appeal just tossed that ruling.

Did the court rule polygamy was illegal? No.

Did the court rule privacy was not invaded? No.

Did the court rule there was no invasion of religious freedom? No.

Instead, the court ruled that since a Utah prosecutor said he would not criminally prosecute the family for polygamy (unless they also did something else wrong) the Brown’s could not sue because they did not face actual criminal prosecution.

Say what?

A law is on the books that makes people afraid to do something for fear of going to prison, even moving out of state, and they cannot sue to invalidate the law unless they are actually subject to criminal prosecution?

So now polygamy is illegal again in Utah, and in order to challenge the law you have to risk going to prison for many years.

That’s called intimidation. It creates a chilling effect. In the age of 5-4 Supreme Court rulings who can know what is ultimately constitutional anyway? You’re going to risk the rest of your life in prison based on a possible 5-4 vote? No one would do that.

Now, maybe I am not thinking this through correctly (which apparently is a problem, and bigger issue than I realized – and thank goodness for spell check to help get me through this post), and my head hurts just thinking about the ramifications (and it just hurts in general these days), but I guess it’s open season for the government to issue draconian and abusive laws. The laws can then be selectively enforced. If someone might overturn a law the government can just say it wasn’t going to enforce the law against them anyway and that shuts down their lawsuit. Meanwhile, everyone else cowers in fear from the law.

Is a law legal or not?

Every citizen should have the right to challenge whether a law is constitutional or not.

But who are we kidding – this country ceased being a free country long ago. You can only do what the government allows, and continual road-blocks are placed in front of anyone challenging government authority. Like the Browns.

billcosby

Is there a promise or court order saying the Browns will never be prosecuted for polygamy? No. Even if there were just think of Bill Cosby. He was given a promise of no criminal prosecution years ago by a district attorney. A new one comes into office and decides to prosecute – conveniently after Cosby gave damaging deposition testimony only because he believed he was no longer subject to potential criminal prosecution. (Story here)

You cannot trust the government and those in power over your life. Just because one prosecutor said he would not try and send the Browns to prison does not mean another one, or the next one, will do the same. Just ask Bill Cosby, now forced to spend a fortune to try and avoid spending his last years in a prison cell.

The government should not be able to condition your ability to challenge a law by imprisoning you if you lose.

Wit and Wisdom of Hillary Clinton

There is an ebook I wrote, well, maybe I should put “wrote” in quotes last year called The Wit and Wisdom of Hillary Clinton. I just decided to update it for 2016. Whew! Those updates took a long time, but it is finally finished.

Yeah!

120 pages of awesomeness.

Wit and Wisdom Hillary Clinton

120 blank pages because, unfortunately (or may that should be fortunately) Hillary Clinton has never said anything witty or smart.

Other than that, it’s a real tear jerker. You’ll laugh and cry about the Bernie Sanders reference. Somewhere in the 120 blank pages is a final page with an “easter egg” picture hidden somewhere on it. Any idea who would have lent their picture to a book about Hillary Clinton?

Well, do you?

I know the suspense is killing you …

How much is this incredible book going to set you back?

99 pennies. Cheaper than 99 red balloons. Cheaper than one second of a Hillary speech to Goldman Sachs.

Here is how to order your gag gift for immediately download as a PDF file:

Wit and Wisdom of Hillary Clinton

Sacramento Court Monitors Users and Charges for Online Records Searches

Following in the footsteps of southern California courts like Orange and Los Angeles County, the Sacramento Superior Court has started to implement a profit center by charging for name searches online. The online court records have always been free to search, but no more. Now, fees will run up to $2500 just to do name searches per year.

Additionally, like Orange County, Sacramento will require that you register with the court before doing any searches online. In other words, the government will be tracking who you are and what you are searching for. The government monitoring system is already in place even before fees begin to be collected.

Now, if you are a landlord wanting to know if your potential tenant has sued the last four apartments they lived at, you need to pay the court to find out. Want to know if someone has a criminal record? Pay the court.

This new profit center is on top of massive fee increases for the courts the past few years. For example, here is a prior post about is costing $27,625 to file some lawsuits.

Also, if you want a court reporter to transcribe what is said during a hearing, so you can preserve grounds for a possible appeal, you need to pay a fee to the court in advance of the hearing. No pay = no record of what was said. For over 150 years this had been a service provided by the court for hearings without cost, but no more.

Is it Worth Passing Laws with No Penalties?

California lawmakers in their infinite and majestic wisdom and have a new requirement to commercial websites collecting personal information from consumers: to disclose whether ‘Do Not Track’ suggestions in web browser settings are followed by the website.

Details about the law here:


http://internetmarketinglawcenter.com/blog/californias-do-not-track-law/

One of the problems with California’s law is there are no penalties for noncompliance. Except for large companies who may be publicly shamed into compliance there is not much reason to pay attention to California’s new attempt to regulate the world wide Internet.

Then there is the law itself, which does not prohibit tracking, does not prohibit collecting private information, does not prohibit the selling of private information, and does not prohibit a site from ignoring a web browser’s settings.

All it does is require a new disclosure buried within a legal privacy policy that no one reads anyway.

That is a great use of legislative time. A law with no penalty, accomplishing nothing of substance except adding words to a legal document no one reads. Oh well, more work for attorneys.