A Plan to Restore the “Xanga Style” Community on “Free” WordPress

(Note: This is a “Pinned Blog” – newer blogs below this one)

Soullfire is Bringing Sexy Community Back ** Former Xangans – Like and Reblog if you support this idea ** It’s been close to a month OVER SIX MONTHS A YEAR TWO YEARS since Xanga has launched it’s “updated” “Xanga 2.0”, driven with the WordPress engine, and it’s still operating well below the “free” WordPress state. The “community” that was, disappeared with the end of Xanga 1.0 with the loss of free blogging, along with all of “1.0’s” community centric features like having a front page, ring groups, and general areas where users could find each other and congregate. Xanga has given no updates – so no one over there knows how long the “non community” condition will last. Many former Xangans like myself have moved their general blogging over to “free” WordPress but are also feeling a general loss of overall community that “Xanga 1.0” had. After using my WordPress site more often, I realized that it has certain features that will allow the former Xanga community to reconnect.  The answer lies in the “Reader” section, which is accessed by the top menu bar: Top_WP_menu In the Reader section, on the right hand side, there’s a “Topics” exploration search column underneath “Find Friends”: Side_WP_menu The topics search works by searching all the “Tag” keywords put in a blog and displays the blogs that have a match. Below shows an example of the Tag area in a new blog: blog_WP_menu Tag words go on the bottom line separated by commas. So once you’ve published a blog with certain tag words, it can be searched by others using the “Topics” search function. Now here’s where the Xanga community restoration comes into the picture. All that’s needed are some common “key words” used as tags that will allow users to find posts by former Xangans. Searching on a particular keyword will be similar to using the Xanga “Blog Rings” to find a group of posts related to a similar interest. Okay, to set this up, Xangans need to do the following: Post a blog stating what your Xanga name was and what your current name is now. In this blog use the tag word “ID_Xanga“. This will let people search for other former Xanga users using “ID_Xanga” as well as identify the Xangans who have changed their usernames. The beauty of this is it will only pull up the blogs that use this tag, so you will have an exclusive Xanga search feature. Next, when blogging, include the tag word “FreeXanga“. This will allow folks to find the latest blogs of former Xangans. Following this format, we can now use keywords to group blogs by interest or subject, just like the former “Xanga 1.0” Blog Ring or “Ish” sites. I’ve created a few tag words to get us started: QOTD_Xan  – Use this tag word to post with a question of the day Dollarish_Xan – Use this tag word to post with a money/savings/economic blog Politicish_Xan – Use this tag to post with a political related blog Rant_Xan – Use this tag to post with a rant type of blog Drama_Xan – Use this tag for drama blogs – for the drama lovers, haha. =) Townhall_Xan – Use this tag for general community info. This would be the tag to use when introducing new tag words to create a new search group. FreeXanga – Use this tag in all your blogs to make them “Xangan” searchable. I added “Xan” to the tag word topics to make it unique to Xangans, and it provides the general format for creating new search terms/groups. “ID_Xanga” need only to be used once for identification and to create a search list. I think this should work to help restore the “Xanga 1.0” style of community on WP, with the super bonus of now having a new world of people available to meet as well! Note: The max number of searchable tag words is 9, so don’t add too many tags words to your blog. ** Like and Reblog this and pass the word around if you support this idea – the “FREE” solution to bringing back community “Xanga 1.0” style! =)  **

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Fare Thee Well AIM – The Venerable Messaging Service Signing Off Permanently in December

 

Back in the early days of the commercial internet when smart phones didn’t exist and phone texts were being changed at 10 cents a pop, AIM was the bright beacon of desktop social messaging.

Who can forget the telltale “message sent” and “message received” sounds…”doodle-deet!”….”deedle-doot!”

Time and technology marches on and now sending a text is free and standard to all phones as well as other numerous messaging apps now available.

Here’s an interesting thought exercise – for those who used AIM- do you remember the last time you used it – I sure don’t!

 

Having outlived its popularity and usefulness, they decided to call it a day- that exact day being December 15, 2017.

http://time.com/4972583/aim-ending-reactions/

 

Xanga 2017 Review and “Non-Xanga” Xanga Update

In 2013, Xanga “upgraded” its website blogging service to the WordPress format and promised its users an improved user experience on the modern blogging platform.

Since that time, I’ve reviewed its progress, and not much has changed:

2014 Xanga Review

2015 Xanga Review

2016 Xanga Review

 

This year is no different- at the 4 year mark since the move to WordPress, the following Community Killers are still in effect:

  1. No front page of latest blogs
  2. No way to search for active users
  3. Closed to new users (not that anyone is likely breaking down the door to join)
  4. Blocked off from all other social network sites including other WordPress networks.
  5. No new status updates since 2015

Also the same is the yearly $48 fee, that supposedly pays for all these “improvements”.

Also, no new “Official Updates” to pass on either from the Xanga Official “Liaison”, who can often be mistaken for Xanga PR even though he’s not an employee.

The “liaison” did offer to have his June blog comments section be a way for current Xangans to post their contact/blog info to share with others. This, at the 4 year mark with no updates to pass on from TheXangaTeam…..right. He is also suggesting that folks start sharing their posts on the Facebook site to “help keep Xangan’s connected”. Of course if Xanga were actually functional, Facebook wouldn’t be needed/suggested. Seems very BIZARRE for people to be paying $48/yr to blog on a site that promoted community, but needs FREE Facebook to actually create it…..???

Oh yeah, the “liaison” hasn’t updated his site since early July, another sign of service decay.

I think this will be the last “review” barring some breakthrough changes since everything remains the same.

Okay, I do have a Xanga, “non Xanga” update…..

A current search under “Xanga” on YouTube has turned up a Brazilian party music band who now goes by this name.

 

So here’s the TRUE latest from Xanga:

 

Not bad…maybe I should move to reviewing these guys instead.

 

Dos and Don’ts of Playing/Winning a Lottery

  Winner winner chicken dinner!

 

The past month had several lotteries that went on for several weeks with no big wins, producing larger than normal jackpot amounts:

  1. Mega Millions  $393 Million
  2. Powerball  $758 Million
  3. California Superlotto $64 Million

This month all of them finally produced winners – and sadly didn’t include me or anyone in my immediate family. =)

  • Mega Millions  $393 Million (won 8/11)
  • Powerball  $758 Million (won 8/23)
  • California Superlotto $64 Million (won 8/16)

Whenever the lottery jackpots grow, we always see more news articles giving “advice” about the lottery. One very annoying article discusses if the lottery makes a decent investment, and concludes using mathematical analysis with an answer of no- with an expected return of much less than the price of the ticket. Of course this “analysis” is utterly ridiculous as no one in their right mind is considering lottery tickets investment grade products. There is a distinct difference between an investment product like CD’s/Stocks/Bonds, etc.. and a pure gambling product like lottery tickets. Lottery tickets have a very low probability of winning, but they are very cheap, and therefore present low cost entertainment as long as no one goes wild on a lottery ticket spending spree.

The reason for buying a ticket is simple- there are very few things that cost so little that give you a small chance to win so much money- a life changing amount.

So here’s some practical straight forward advice regarding lottery tickets-

1) I don’t normally play them because the odds are so high against anyone winning- it’s basically a free donation to the State. However, when the lottery jackpot builds up to true odds, then I consider it worth a ticket or two. Take the Powerball Lottery for example. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292 million. That means when the lottery jackpot is much less than that, it’s an extreme rip-off. What I mean is, if you manage to beat those massive odds and then win only $100 million, while that is a lot of money, your prize should be at least $292 million as those are the true odds you faced. Anything less is being cheated/short changed.

You could extend this further- since lottery jackpots are valued with a 20 – 30 year payout in mind, the actual present day cash value of the jackpot is a lot less. So if you want to be an odds purist, you should wait until the cash payout level reaches true odds. This would mean you only play very few lotteries since this doesn’t happen often.

2) Buy no more than a ticket or two. The odds are so high against you, that you have to assume you likely won’t win, so you shouldn’t be pouring lots of money into it. Just one entry will do. I wouldn’t spend more than one full ticket, which would be $5 for MegaMillions or $10 for Powerball. That’s more than enough. I’m cheap when it comes to lottery tickets- I usually just get one number entry. The person who buys 100 tickets isn’t too far from me on increasing their odds of winning: 100/(292 million) is pretty close to 1/(292 million).

 

The most likely case is you won’t win- here’s what to do in this case:

1) Don’t be bitter- and definitely don’t speak or wish bad things against the winner. I’m amazed and sad at how many toxic comments I see written online against the Powerball jackpot winner. It’s a poor reflection on a person who can’t be happy for someone else.

 

If you do manage to beat the odds and win- Congratulations!! You will now be entering a new chapter in your life. =) Here are the main points to consider:

1) Immediately sign your ticket and put it in a safe place and tell only the closest people you need to. You don’t want many if any to know about your newfound fortune- especially before you turn in the ticket!

2) Go to a good lawyer and incorporate yourself, and then have your lawyer accept the prize on behalf of the corporation name. Why? Because if you accept it yourself, you will be known to all, and a multitude of friends, family, and strangers will appear out of nowhere giving you sob stories of why you should bless them with some of your cash. Why subject yourself to that day after day after day? Not to mention your safety – you place a big target on your back with revealing your mega wealth. If you accept as a corporate entity, you can shield yourself from that. Some states won’t allow this, but you should definitely look into it.

3) Take time to plan and think before doing anything. This is a huge moment- no need to rush into any quick decisions. It’s best to immediately see a lawyer/financial advisor for some sage advice.

4) It’s imperative to realize that wealth is maintained by spending profits, not the principle. In other words, living off the income generated by the interest earned on your money, rather than spending down the initial jackpot. I was amazed to learn that a big portion of big jackpot winners wind up declaring bankruptcy within 7 years of winning. How can people spend so much money in so short a time? Answer- bad financial management – and over extending- thinking the money will never run out. We often see this type of blowup with sports and movie stars who made tens of millions only to wind up broke. This is why it’s so important to get a good financial manager before making any big decisions.

 

 

Until that winning day comes, let’s take a moment to think what those winning jackpots must be thinking having all that newfound wealth.    

I know that money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can end worrying about paying the bills. =)

 

The Simple Reasons Why the GOP is Choking on their Repeal/Replace Healthcare Agenda

The GOP’s attempts at making good on their 7 year campaign promise to repeal and replace the ACA was served a bitter pill of failure last Friday when 3 GOP Senators voted against the proposed bill.

The amazing thing though shouldn’t be that it failed due to 3 GOP dissenting votes, but that 48 Republican Senators were willing to vote for such a flawed and defective bill in the first place that had less that 14% public support.

The GOP seems to be suffering from a severe case of missing-the-point-itis when it comes to trying to make good on their campaign promise. They think that just getting a bill passed no matter how bad it is will make their base happy, when in fact, the Republican base is expecting them to provide a better alternative to the ACA.

The GOP House and Senate are caught in a bind because their campaign promises of a better alternative to the ACA was nothing but hot air and political games. Seven years of continuously passing bills to repeal the ACA and now when faced with the ability to do just that, realize that there are real world negative consequences that can’t be dismissed in some simple campaign slogan that will punish both red and blue states.

The GOP denounced Obama and the ACA for being “rammed” through government under secrecy and no Republican support. In reality, the ACA had several open hearings for ALL the discuss and debate and accepted GOP amendments to their bill, while the GOP monstrosity was crafted by just 13 men in a closed room in secrecy.

The reasons why the GOP is flailing and failing with their repeal attempts are pretty simple:

  1. They aren’t trying to IMPROVE healthcare but just strip the ACA of government financial support. Cutting back on Medicaid and taxes do NOTHING to improve the state of healthcare.
  2. The GOP refuses to acknowledge that the ACA is a CONSERVATIVE plan that has private companies in group exchanges selling health insurance as opposed to a progressive plan of single pay healthcare. This doesn’t give them much leeway in coming up with a decent alternative.
  3. The American public likes this part of the ACA: no preexisting conditions to get insurance, but this can only be done with a mandate that everyone be required to buy insurance. The GOP seeks to kill the mandate rather than address the real problem- cutting the cost of insurance. The majority wouldn’t have a problem with the mandate to buy insurance if it was affordable.
  4. The GOP is making NO attempt to directly reduce prescription or insurance costs, and live in a fantasy world of thinking the free market without government involvement will result in superior and more affordable care. If the “free market” were capable of producing superior solutions, there would have been no momentum for the ACA to be created in the first place as a solution. People who complain about the ACA’s rising costs  seem to forget that prices were spiraling into the sky pre-ACA as well, and at a faster rate to boot.
  5. A good portion of the GOP simply doesn’t believe the government should be involved in healthcare, and that affordable healthcare is a right citizens should be entitled to. If you can’t afford health insurance they think it’s okay to “choose” not to have it even though reality dictates we will all need medical attention at some point in our lives. Most bankruptcies are due to being overwhelmed by medical costs.

 

It would be far easier to fix the problems with the ACA than to just start over from scratch, as seen from the inability to get a unified GOP front on any real or decent plan.

The Coming Wave of Automation/AI Taking Over Jobs Will Be Unlike Anything We’ve Seen

The current political spotlight when it comes to jobs and employment, is focused on the threat of corporations outsourcing or illegal immigration reducing jobs for citizens. The anxiety about the struggle to find gainful employment was a big part of anti-establishment politics that led to Britain’s “Brexit”, and America’s election of Trump. Governments have been slow to come to the aid of those who have had their jobs displaced and have had to settle of jobs that paid much less than what they were previously making. Economic policy wonks will have the argument that outsourcing has been great in terms of reducing the cost of goods. Those who have been displaced, however, know the reality that it doesn’t matter if goods are cheaper if one doesn’t have a job to earn enough money to pay for these goods.

What isn’t getting much attention in the main media or political theater is the much bigger threat on the horizon of advances in automation and AI in replacing jobs on a scale never seen before at all skill levels.

Folks will argue that people have complained about the threat of job loss from automation since forever and there have always been new jobs created to replace the old ones lost.

 

So is this new alert about automation/AI just another false alarm like the Boy Who Cried Wolf? Some say so, but many are starting to see this time could be the real deal when it comes to the loss of jobs done by human labor.

 

Here’s a chart of predicted job loss due to automation in various fields:

The problem with the above chart is it’s just a “guess” based on current technology and assumptions, but there’s a good change these assumptions aren’t taking into effect the speed and advancement of technology and AI development. As it is now, automation is appearing in specialty fields like law, music, journalism, and medical surgery. This is one of the reasons why this new wave of technology is different- it won’t be about just simple labor, but complex skilled labor as well, that few thought would be under threat.

Will the governments be proactive in staying ahead of the problem , or will they be reactive, and wait until job losses are are crisis levels before taking any meaningful action? Based on past performance, something tells me they won’t be ready as we move into this new frontier.

Here are some interesting, but sobering videos of this topic as additional food for thought:

 

 

 

Absolute Proof that Fox News is Just a Partisan Hack Propaganda Wing of the GOP

Today’s big bombshell news was that report from the Washington Post that Trump shared classified intel with the Russians.

All the online main news agencies are leading with this….

That is…all except for FoxNews.

Let’s take a look:

Here’s ABC News:

 

CBS News:

 

NBC News:

CNN:

Bloomberg News:

 

MSNBC News:

 

BBC News:

ALJazeeraNews:

 

Everyone has their focus and lead on the main news of the day….

Then we get to FOX NEWS:

 

Hey, good to know that Fox has its priorities right in highlighting their version of  MAIN NEWS LEAD OF THE DAY….at least in their opinion. =)

Fair and Balanced—what nonsense!

Can you imagine how big their focus would be if this was done by a Dem Pres? They may as well be called American Pravda.

Fox News = Fake News

 

Good Read on the Rise of Automated Systemized Trading/Investing Vs Humans

We can see the effects of automation all around us and how it is impacting the job market. The advent of self driving cars will soon be upending the taxi industry. What many people may not be aware of is automation is moving into many job categories previously thought to be “robot proof”. There are inroads being made in law with automated systems replacing the tasks done by paralegals. Robots can now perform complex surgeries that most thought could only be done by a human doctor. Some news articles are now being generated by computer, and the list goes on…

The trading and investment industry has certainly not escaped this phenomenon. Discretionary traders and portfolio managers are under pressure from automated index funds and system trading programs that are proving to be superior, at least under current market conditions over the last few years.

Here’s an interesting read on the rise of automated systems squeezing out human traders:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/revenge-humans-how-discretionary-managers-can-crush-leigh-drogen

 

 

SpaceX Executes Historic Reuse of 1st Stage Booster Rocket

History was made on Thursday, 3/30/17,  when billionaire/genius/entrepreneur Elon Musk and his company, SpaceX, successfully reused a first stage rocket booster that was part of a prior launch.

Up until this point, when rockets carried up satellites or other payloads into space, the stages of the rocket were deemed disposable as no one knew how to get them back undamaged. The problem with this was that the first stage of the rocket is also the most expensive component. It’s like having to throw away a jumbo jet airplane after just one use.

The technology of SpaceX changes that with the ability to reclaim and reuse the 1st stage. After several successful retrievals of 1st stage components guiding themselves back to a launch pad on Earth via AI/GPS, this was the first time one of them was actually reused on a new flight mission.

This is a game changer marking a significant reduction in space travel costs.

Article can be seen here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/29/521941656/launch-land-launch-spacex-tries-reusing-its-rocket

 

Video of launch/ 1st stage return:

 

 

 

Trump and Ryan Get Served Humble Pie as Obamacare Repeal/Replace Juggernaut Crashes into Tea Party Ice Berg in Shocking Defeat

The Trump Administration has been on a legislative rampage since inauguration with numerous controversial executive orders and the first big planned legislative event was the repeal and replacement of the ACA otherwise known as Obamacare. They seemed intent on maintaining a high level of momentum and speed in executing their agenda.

All this came to a screeching halt on Friday as the much hyped Trumpcare/Ryancare Bill meant to replace Obamacare was pulled from the planned vote in an embarrassing defeat as there were not enough votes for the Bill to pass.

 

The implications and level of this failure are quite astounding. The GOP has voted to repeal or amend Obamacare 54 times while Obama was in office. There was never a problem getting those bills passed in the GOP controlled House during Obama’s term.

Now that the Republicans control the Presidency, House, and Senate, the failure of the House to pass a bill puts the GOP is a bright “Emperor has no clothes!” spotlight. The obvious conclusions are:

  1. The Republicans NEVER had a true working plan to amend/repeal Obamacare. All those consensus votes in the past were a FRAUD knowing the bill would fail in the Senate or be vetoed by Obama. Now that they know their Bills will really go into effect, everyone is no longer on the same page.
  2. The Republicans had seven years to develop a working replacement plan but have NOTHING to show for it. Think of all the taxpayer time and money wasted in their fake “repeal” bills put on just for show.
  3. The GOP is very good at opposing the Democrats, but come up short at the task of governing and building consensus. It’s far easier to be disruptive than creative.

The inside story is that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon thought he had power he didn’t have when he tried to force rebelling Republicans to get in line and vote “yes”, and their reply was basically:

 

 

As for Trump, his aura of invincibility along with his winning streak for successfully bucking the system has come to an end. All the “Business mastery” bravado and supposed “Art of the Deal” expertise have met their match at the hands of rebelling fellow Republicans.

It became all too clear that electing a person with no prior political experience or expertise to the highest office in the land comes at a cost.

 

 

Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated?? Actually, anyone with any experience or who paid ANY attention at all to the healthcare problems over the past few decades knew it was a complicated issue. You would have to be supremely arrogant or naive to think you could just walk into a problem you didn’t research or have any background knowledge in and think you would come up with an “easy” solution.

 

When met with this failure, does Trump own up to it and accept the loss like Paul Ryan did? Nope, he pointed the blame away from himself:

 

It’s beyond absurd to blame the Democrats when The Presidency, House, and Senate are controlled by Republicans and they are trying to pass a law that goes against the healthcare package the Dems created. Why would the Dems support a bill that replaces their own law with a much WORSE substitute? That’s like your boss asking you to vote to cut your pay in half, and then complaining that nobody agreed to it.

He’s also now saying he never said this bill was a top issue and that he never said he’d do it quickly- another LIE:

Does Trump have amnesia that EVERYTHING he says to the public is recorded?

Some folks will blame The Freedom Caucus – the group of Republicans that voted against the bill, but in truth, they were just keeping the GOP to their word of repealing Obamacare rather than amending it. They wanted it eliminated entirely as the GOP said they would do time and time again. The GOP was once again burned for making promises they knew they couldn’t keep.

There’s a clear obvious reason the GOP backed off fully repealing Obamacare – many of their constituents would be be impacted and lose their health insurance. That would have bad consequences for them come election time.

The GOP healthcare bill was built on arrogance and the desire to cut taxes for the wealthy rather than try to obtain low cost effective healthcare for all. They didn’t try to work with the Dems for their input or seek advice from the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, AARP, and a host of others who are opposing this fault ridden bill.

Some of the biggest problems of the bill:

  1. Does NOTHING to address rising costs of health care services
  2. Reduces subsidies for most and especially the elderly – the folks who will most likely need medical attention
  3. Allows insurers to hike up costs for those over 50 up to 500% of what is being charged to younger people. Obamacare capped top rate to 300%
  4. Eliminates all essential benefits like preventative care, prescription drugs, maternity care, addiction help, etc.. This basically allows insurers to sell you pieces of paper that say “insurance”, but cover very little so you come up snake eyes if you ever need to use it.
  5. Eliminates Federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Even though no federal funds are used by PP for abortions by law, the ACHA tries to mandate moral agenda by forbidding PP to conduct any services regarding abortions if they wish to continue to receive funding- funding that now goes to women’s health care like mammogram screenings.
  6. Removes “mandate” to buy insurance while keeping the rule that no preexisting conditions can be excluded. This is a recipe for disaster as people will only now sign up if they get sick, and insurers stand to lose billions. This alone GUARANTEES skyrocketing insurance rates to cover for these losses.
  7. Gives the wealthiest groups millions of dollars in tax cuts at the expense of everyone else in higher rates/less coverage
  8. CBO estimates 24 million folks will lose their insurance.

As bad as this bill was, the GOP Freedom Caucus still felt this package was “too generous” and wanted even more cuts- to the point where moderate Republicans were now refusing to vote for this.

Trump promised he would fix the health care problems, but this bill makes things far worse. Makes you wonder if he even took the time to read it.

Now he says he will just let Obamacare implode on it’s own- walking away from the problem like a quitter instead of a dedicated elected official trying to help those who elected him into office.

Why not work to repair Obamacare to solve the problems instead of trying to just slap together a toxic inferior replacement? The answer is they want tax cuts more than they want to create a true working and acceptable healthcare plan. Thanks to the numerous angry town halls of their own constituents yelling at them to come up with a REAL solution or leave Obamacare alone, they knew they’d be in big trouble if they went ahead with this “repeal/replace” charade.

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s speech on Obamacare now fits the Republican American Health Care Act (AHCA) like a glove:

 

 

Republicans now OWN the healthcare issue and pressure needs to be kept on them to provide a solution that works for the majority, not just their wealthy elite donors.

 

Home Office Horrors: When Kids Attack!

Working from home is widely considered a blessing since the commute is just a few seconds and all your comforts are close by. Few workers are allowed this special privilege.

However, the situation isn’t without some problems. One would be the loss of daily contact/camaraderie with one’s corporate co-workers. You could feel left out of the main loop of activities.

Another is when any issues in the home affect your ability to do your job- such as having your kids decide to crash your prim and proper BBC televised interview. 🙂

The following shows the comical outcome of such a situation and the mom’s response only adds to the hilarity.