Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quote for the Day 7/29/08

I know that Barack Obama is a near-perfect political package. I'm still not sure, though, what's in it.

- Richard Cohen, left-wing columnist, Washington Post

Monday, July 28, 2008

Novak 7/28/08

These are professional pundits who usually say things that are significant. Robert Novak’s policy is to have something nobody knows in each column. In his memoir at the left he writes of the 50 years he’s covered the news in Washington.

McCain Is Closer Than He Should Be

Summary: Obama’s campaign has been brilliant while McCain’s has been lackluster. Yet Obama is only a few points ahead. Despite the electioneering aspects of Obama’s campaign, the substantive aspects hinder him. Can McCain back into the general election the way he backed into the Republican nomination?


The toughest interrogation of Obama came from CBS anchor Katie Couric in Jordan last Tuesday. She asked four times whether the troop surge he had opposed was instrumental in reducing violence in Iraq. Obama answered straight from talking points by citing "the great effort of our young men and women in uniform." That sounded like the old politics. He would have sounded more like a new politician if he had simply said, "Yes, the strategy did work." That would have infuriated antiwar activists but not enough for them to drop Obama.

My Views: Obama doesn’t bug me so much as the obvious media bias. This also occurred in the Clinton campaigns. While the press did give him a hard time, too, that was not in 1992 or 1996. In the run-up to the elections, they always seem to give the Democrat candidates an easy ride.

None of this can explain why Republicans have such a hard time getting their act together.

Here’s Novak’s essay.

Disclaimer: The book pictured is Novak's memoir. This gives you a picture of the book, of him, and an idea of what it costs. The fact that I will be compensated if you click on the link and buy the book turns this post into a semi-advertisement. I only will link to Amazon.com for books I actually liked.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chess Viewer Done

It looks like the Chess Viewer from Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forum is ready to go.

Here's what it looks like.

And here are the instructions on how to post it onto blogs.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

1632 The Book

A couple of days ago, I posted about recent books I've been reading. The 1632 series is particularly interesting. This exerpt is from Chapter 5. This is when the 20th. Century Americans first find out where they really are - and when!

The hidalgo did not stay in the carriage for long. Two minutes, perhaps. Rebecca was not certain. Several of his men came up the carriage. There was a rapid exchange of words. Rebecca could not understand much of it, partly because of the accent and partly because they were using terms unfamiliar to her. Odd, that. Rebecca had been born and raised in London. She had thought herself familiar with every flavor of the English language.

But she understood the gist of their discussion. And that, too, she found peculiar. The hidalgo and his men seemed puzzled, as if they were disoriented by their location. They were also confused, apparently, as to what course of action to pursue.

Strange, strange. Again, fear began to creep into Rebecca's heart. The hidalgo's men, for all that they clearly respected him and sought leadership, were not addressing him as a nobleman. That meant, despite his courtesy of manner, that he must be a leader of mercenaries. A bastard son of some petty baron, perhaps, from one of England's provinces. That would explain the accent.

Rebecca shrank back in her seat. Mercenaries were vicious, everyone knew it. Criminals in all but name. Especially here, in the Holy Roman Empire, which had been given over to the flames of war.

Her eyes flitted to her father. But there was no comfort to be found there. Her father was fighting for his life. The Moorish physician was holding him up and giving him some small tablets from the vial he had taken out of his box. Rebecca did not even think of protesting the treatment. The black doctor exuded an aura of competence and certainty.

The hidalgo came back to the carriage. Timidly, Rebecca turned her head toward him. Relief. There was still nothing in his eyes but friendliness. That, and—

She found herself swallowing. She recognized that look. She had seen it before, in Amsterdam, from some of the more confident young men in the Jewish quarter. Admiration; appraisal. Desire, even, veiled under courtesy.

But, after a moment, she decided there was no trace of lust. At least, she thought not. Lust was not something Rebecca was really familiar with, except the flowery version of it which she had found in some of her father's books. The romances which she tucked into great tomes of theology, reading in the library of their house in Amsterdam, so that her father might not notice her unseemly interest.

She felt a flash of pain, remembering that library. She had loved that room. Loved its quiet, its repose. Loved the books lining every wall. Her father's mind lived in the past, and tended to be disdainful of the present. But for one modern device her father had nothing but praise—the printing press. "For that alone," he was wont to say, "God will forgive the Germans their many crimes."

And now here they were, in the land of the Germans. Adrift in time of war, seeking shelter in the eye of the storm. Or so, at least, they had hoped. She would never see that library again, and for a moment Rebecca Abrabanel grieved the loss. Her childhood was gone with it, and her girlhood too. She was twenty-three years old. Whether she wanted them or not, the duties of a grown woman had fallen upon her shoulders.

She straightened those shoulders, then, summoning determination and courage. The motion drew the hidalgo's eyes. The admiration lurking within those blue orbs brightened. Rebecca didn't know whether to cringe or smile.

As it happened, she smiled. And did not, somehow, find that unthinking reaction strange.

The hidalgo spoke. His words came clipped, full of peculiar contractions and idioms. Automatically, Rebecca translated into her own formal English.

"With your permission, ma'am, we need to use your carriage. We have injured people we must get to proper medical treatment."

"And quickly," muttered the Moor, still crouched on the floor next to her father. "I've given him some—" aspiring? Rebecca did not understand the word.

The hidalgo's eyes moved to the chests and crates piled on the other side of the carriage's interior. "We'll have to remove those, to make room."

Rebecca started. Her father's books! And the silver hidden within!

She stared at the hidalgo. As he recognized her fear, she thought to see a flash of anger. But if so, it was gone in an instant.

The hidalgo's large hand tightened on the carriage door. His right hand, she noted idly. One of the knuckles was split, scabbed over with blood. An injury from the battle?

But it was his face that she was concerned with. The hidalgo looked away for a moment, scanning the distance. His jaws seemed to tighten. Then, with a faint sigh, he turned back to her.

"Listen to me, lady." Pause. "What is your name?"

"Rebecca—" She hesitated. "Abrabanel." She held her breath. Of all the great family names of Sepharad, Abrabanel was the most famous. Notorious.

But the name, apparently, meant nothing to the hidalgo. He simply nodded, and said: "Pleased to meet you. My name is Mike Stearns."

Mike? Then: Oh. It's those bizarre contractions again. Michael.

The hidalgo flashed a smile. Then, as quickly as it came, the smile vanished. His face became stern and solemn.

"Listen to me, Rebecca Abrabanel. I do not know what this place is, or where we are. But I do not care." Fiercely: "Not one damn bit. As far as I am concerned, we are still in West Virginia."

Rebecca's mind groped at the name. West—what?

The hidalgo did not notice her confusion. His eyes had left her for a moment. Again, he was scanning the countryside around them. His look was fierce. Fierce.

Growling, now, almost snarling: "You—and your father—are under the protection of the people of West Virginia." His eyes moved to his men, clustered nearby. They were watching him, listening to him. The hidalgo's jaw tightened. "Specifically," he stated, "you are under the protection of the United Mine Workers of America."

Rebecca saw the hidalgo's men lift their shoulders, swelling their own determination and courage. Their sleek, delicate-looking weapons gleamed in the sunlight. "Damn straight!" barked one of the younger men. He cast his own hawk glare at the countryside.

Rebecca was heartened by that reaction, but her confusion deepened. America? Her jaw grew slack. There are almost no English in America. True, that little wretched colony of theirs is called Virginia, if I remember correctly. But America is—

Hope flared. Spanish, of course. But Sephardim are there too. Since the Dutch took Brazil, eight years ago, America has been a refuge. My father told me there is even a synagogue in Recife.

Rebecca stared at the hidalgo. Was he a hidalgo? She was completely adrift, now. Her mind groped for reason and logic.

Her confusion must have been apparent. The hidalgo—Michael, think of him as Michael—chuckled. "Rebecca, I am just as puzzled as you seem to be."

The brief moment of humor passed. Severity returned to his face. Michael leaned forward, placing both hands on the open window of the carriage. "Where are we, Rebecca? What place is this?"

Her eyes went past his shoulders. She could not see much, they were so wide. "I am not certain," she replied. "Thuringia, I think. Father said we had almost reached our destination."

Michael's brows furrowed. "Thuringia? Where is that?"

Rebecca understood. "Oh, of course. It's not well known. One of the smaller provinces of the Holy Roman Empire." His brows were deep, deep. "Germany," she added.

His eyes grew wide, almost bulged. "Germany?" Then, half-choked: "Germany?"

Michael turned his head, staring at the landscape. "Rebecca, I've lived in Germany. It's nothing like this." He hesitated. "Oh, I suppose the countryside's a bit the same. Except for being so—so raggedy-looking." He frowned, pointing a finger at the corpses still lying in the farmyard. "But there are no men like this in Germany."

Michael barked a sudden laugh. "God, the Polizei would round them up in a minute! Germans love their rules and regulations." Another barked laugh. "Alles in ordnung!"

Rebecca's own brows were furrowed. "Alles in ordnung?" What is he talking about? Germans are the most unruly and undisciplined people in Europe. Everybody knows it. That was true even before the war. Now—

She shuddered, remembering Magdeburg. That horror had taken place less than a week ago. Thirty thousand people, massacred. Some said it was forty thousand. The entire population of the city, except the young women taken by Tilly's army.

Michael's blue eyes were suddenly dark with suspicion. No, not suspicion. Surmise.

"Guess not, huh?" He shook his head, muttering. "Later," she thought he said. "Deal with it later, Mike. For now—"

There was a shout. Several. Michael pushed himself away from the carriage, looking toward the woods. Rebecca leaned forward, craning her neck.

Many more men were coming out of the woods. For an instant, Rebecca was paralyzed with fear. But seeing the odd costumes and weapons, she relaxed. More of Michael's men. More of these—Americans?

Then Rebecca saw the first women coming through the trees, their faces filled with worry and concern. Like a child, she burst into tears.

Michael. And women.

Safe. We are safe.

This exerpt is from the CD that is contained in the Book 1634: The Baltic Wars. All material is © Eric Flynt. Consult the terms of the CD before republishing any part of this.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Books Read - 7/08

Here's three books I read in the last few weeks.

I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books for the second time. There’s a certain charm to them. It is an indefinable something that exists outside of the regular categories of character, plot, scene, etc. I find myself turning the pages, caught up in the HP universe despite the glaring problems with the plot.

Dumbledore, McGonagle, and the other grownups in these stories have to be the most stupid people! All of these things happening in their school and they seem to be clueless. Why would they leave these children to face these dangers while they sit back? There are excuses in some instances - Harry gets information that is unavailable to the grownups – but for the most part, the professors are in a far better position, at the start, to address the problems then the children are. And even in those cases where the kids possess info that the grownups don’t, then why don’t they share information? The grownups certainly have not acted in such a way as to invite the kids to enlist their aid in their various scrapes. And I’m looking at you, Dumbledore!

The author has to move the grownups to the background in order to have the kids do the action and so the reader overlooks the glaring problems with the plotting in order to enjoy the story. One thing is always happening after another; there’s always some immediate problem that the children must solve; so the pages keep turning.

The other two books represent two different genres of historical novels.

The historical novel has been around since the beginning. One convention of this genre has been for the main characters to be fictional while real historical people were bit players.

The Shaara novels deliberately violate this rule. In fact, it smashes it to pieces. In his novels, historical people are not only main characters, they are the subject of the novels. For example, his Mexican War novel pictured in above is about Robert E. Lee and General Scott. If one could have done a reality show treatment of these two during that war, then this book is what it would look like.

The treatment is history plus. The history of the campaign plus their unrecorded - hence more detailed - actions, words, and thoughts. Since the unrecorded part is the author’s extrapolations from the historical record, this must be necessarily classed as fiction. Hence, it is a novel.

The last book is the latest in the 1632 series. Imagine some catastrophic event that takes a small part of today’s America and transports it back in time. - Not just one person goes back in time but an entire community. This is the concept behind this series.

This is an example of another innovation in modern literature: the marriage of history and science fiction. We call it “alternative history”. There are a number of books in this genre. It is about 20 years old now.

These books all seem to have one style of writing. I call it the soap opera style. If you’ve seen shows on TV like “All My Children” then you know what I’m speaking of. There’s always several different stories going on at the same time. The scene splits from one story to another. The different stories and the different characters in them all may relate to one another at different distances. Some characters stay in their own story; some move into other’s stories. They all exist in the same story arc.

This format works for this genre because in these books the author has so many balls to juggle. To keep them all up in the air, he just cuts from one scene to the other.

Back to the book. The year the Americans go back to is 1632. As you can see from the book, two years have gone by. The Baltic Wars takes the main story forward. There are spinoffs. 1634: The Galileo Affair is the better book primarily since it doesn’t have the burden of carrying the series that The Baltic Wars has.

I like all three of these books.

Disclaimer: The slide show gives you pictures of the books and an idea of what they cost. The fact that I will be compensated if you click on the link and buy a book turns this post into a semi-advertisement. I only will link to Amazon.com for books I actually liked.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Physicists Skeptical on Global Warming

Summary: A forum of the American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, no longer believes in the evidence supporting human-induced global warming.


Monckton, who was the science advisor to Britain's Thatcher administration, says natural variability is the cause of most of the Earth's recent warming. "In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the past 11,400 years ... Mars, Jupiter, Neptune’s largest moon, and Pluto warmed at the same time as Earth."

My Views: Who is right? I must say that I really don’t know.

It makes sense that the Earth’s climate is primarily affected by the Sun. If not, then just how did those Ice Ages occur? And how about that global warming during the Age of the Dinosaurs? Before the issue of global warming appeared in the political arena about ten years ago, scientists were convinced that the Earth, within just the last 10% of it’s history, has had periods that were both much hotter and much colder than now.

On the other hand, one has to only drive around the Greater Atlanta area to see the vast impact that humanity has had on the environment. Few who have lived near big cities anywhere in the world are unfamiliar with air pollution. One wonders how this could not have an impact on the general atmospheric conditions of the planet.

There may be other factors, too. I saw a show on the Discovery Channel that said that the Earth’s magnetic field has been steadily weakening for thousands of years. This affects the amount of radiation from the Sun that is warded off.

The one thing that is clear: the political left has seized on this issue and have incorporated it as an ideological agenda item. They are not open to the issue’s nuances. Political correctness trumps science.

The rest of us should not overreact. Mark me down as undecided.

P.S. Just how does the good doctor know about the Sun’s activity in the last 11,400 years? And why that particular number: 11,400? Not 11,000 but 11,400 – odd cite that.

Here is the story in Daily Tech.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Susan's Chess Viewer Almost Ready for Blogs

Gregory Alexander and Nikolai Pilafov have been working on a viewer that will allow people to display chess games together with annotations and variations. It is like ChessBase or Chess Assistant, only it works in Java on the net.

While it is now fully functional on Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forums, it is not ready yet for some blogs such as mine or even Susan's own. The problem is the width limits in blogspot's display templates. I suggested that the score sheet be displayed under the chess board instead of to the side.

Until Susan's team can perfect the tool, one workaround for blogspot folks like us is to set up a separate blog without layouts. Blogspot users can use the Simple II template. Then link to that blog like this.

This is a game between Judit Polgar (Susan's sister) and Vishy Arnand (the World Champ) in 1999. As you can see, this is an awsome tool for chess bloggers.

Better yet, chess bloggers can just link direct to Chess Discussion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Best Mars Photos Yet

Map of Mars from NASA's National Space Science Data Center

The most incredible photos of Mars yet have come back from a European orbiter. Check out two articles in England's Daily Mail.

Incredible Pictures of Mars: They Look Suprisingly Like Some Parts of Earth.

Dramatic New Images Show that Mars Probe Landed by Six-Mile Wide Crater.

And in a related story, NASA Spacecraft Shows Diverse, Wet Environments on Ancient Mars from NASA.

All of this goes to show that we live in exciting times. The Solar System is waiting for us. This century may see us become a spacefaring civilization. These pictures gives us a taste of what awaits!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Don’t Overlook This! 7/15/08

These are stories in the news that have much more significance than they’ve received. These stories should have been the leading news items of their day. Their significance extends beyond just a particular area and beyond just a particular news cycle.

- - - - -

Foreign Courts Take Aim at Our Free Speech
Senators Retaliate

- - - - -

Libel suits in America are limited by the First Amendment of the US Constitution so people have taken to suing writers in foreign courts. These courts have been used a variety of odius techniques to enforce their judgements on US authors. One is to block all sales of the author's publisher in their country.

- - - - -

Here is the story in The Wall Street Journal.

- - - - -

Why this is significant:

Anti-U.S. feeling is being expressed in a variety of ways. This corresponds to a decline in Western values in Europe and elsewhere. To put it succinctly, freedom of speech is not as important to some anymore as it used to be. It all depends on who the aggressor is.

At least someone in a position of responsibility in the U.S. government recognizes that these lawsuits are a threat to the American way of life.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saw Old Friend Today

So I got done early from an accounting job. I went to the local Barnes and Noble to kill some time. So, there I was sitting in a chair on the 2nd. floor reading a book when who happens by but Karen Rice. She works there. Friends and acquaintances will remember her from the Literary Roundtable.

This was a club of writers. We met to read our works to one another and to critique them for each other. I was President of the club for one year. Unfortunately for me, business got the better of me and I had to drop out.

Writing had been a goal of mine for practically all of my life. I was working on a book about Churchill while I was in the club. Karen was a promising writer herself as well as being the editor of our club's newsletter.

So, I ask her, "Lowly salesperson, will you please fetch me a copy of the works of Karen Rice?" She grins and says that that book's out of print. I say to her, that this is too bad as she was a great writer. We talked some and then I suggested she read my blog.

I didn't tell her about how I got sidetracked by chess. I guess she'll figure it out. Get back to that writing, Karen!

Oh, and about that book I was reading? It was about Churchill.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Incredibly Stupid Game

Yes, this game is incredibly stupid! So, can you beat it?

This is an online game with really dumb questions. So, you can get them all correct, right?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

USCF Officials Respond to My Accounting Statements

Veteran users of this forum will remember the lengthy discussions in the spring of last year about the profitability of the USCF for FY 2007. We will remember the assertions of Sloan, Donna and others that the projected loss for the year would be $300,000 and the assertions by Bill G, Joel, Nolan, Grant P, and others that it would be somewhat less. What everyone agreed on was that the current amounts were unknowable until the auditors made the year-end adjustment for accrued membership revenues. This adjustment would be made well after the year ended. The consensus of all was that the margin of error in their estimates ran from $300,000 to zero. Donna and Sloan claimed a much higher margin but that was what Bill G, Nolan, and their crowd admitted to. In fact, the auditors reported out a small net profit for the year.

A lot of us outside observers thought that this was a very large margin of error. More significant, was the inability of the USCF to track profitability on an interim basis. (The issue of public reporting and transparency was a side issue to many of us.) What was important was management’s claim that not even they knew the true situation of the USCF’s profitability during the course of the year.

Management responded to concerns by saying that (a) the business was seasonal in nature and (b) membership accounting was too hard and costly. They also said that they were working on improvements. This was difficult for me to swallow whole because (a) the USCF is hardly the only business in the world that is seasonal in nature and (b) the USCF is hardly the only membership organization in the world, either. We wonder how come other organizations can keep track of their finances but the USCF can’t. 10% of a $3 million business is a pretty large margin of unknowability.

I gather from the statements made by Grant and Nolan in this thread that a custom routine is being written for their stand-alone membership DB that will generate a summary journal entry that can then be entered into the General Ledger Peachtree program by hand. This entire approach seems strange to me.

Let’s say I want to buy a car. Now I am sure that if Mike Nolan were to contract with me to build me a car, I am sure he would provide (after some time to be sure) a very nice custom built car that would exactly fit me and my needs. He would design it; he would clear out space in his garage to build it; and then it would be great. Heck, he would even drive it from Nebraska to Atlanta to deliver it to me. Or, I could just go down the street and buy a car off the dealer’s lot. I wonder what Nolan would charge me for his car?

What’s more expensive: buying specially designed stuff or store-bought stuff?

Grant Perks, chair of the Audit Committee responded to my questions yesterday on the USCF Forum. Thank you, Grant! He said, “Based on my previous discussions with Mike Nolan, he was writing a script that will generate a report of the deferred balance at the end of a period. From this report the journal entry can be calculated and booked to Peachtree. This method might lead to additional cost at year end since in addition to auditing the general ledger the auditors will likely have to audit the membership database.”

I responded with these points:

(a) Mike Nolan is doing all of this work for free?
(b) How can auditing the numbers possibly be more expensive than the auditors developing them and then auditing them?
(c) Are you saying that the numbers from previous years do not come from actual DB’s of actual members paying actual money in actual transactions?
(d) If reported membership accruals in the past have not been coming from the above, then where have they been coming from?
(e) Assuming that the auditors calculated the year-end accrual from some schedule, they would audit that schedule, right? To avoid garbage in, garbage out. That schedule would be based upon something else, right? As the auditors drill down through the paperwork, they would eventually reach an actual DB representing actual members with actual transactions, right? Are you saying that they don’t – that the examination of the membership DB or some equivalent would be new?
Grant is supporting an accounting change. I don’t understand why the delegates have to be involved in such a technical issue. We’re talking about simply conforming to generally accepted accounting principles here.

Mike Nolan also came on and said that Peachtree “CAN DO THE JOB” but conceded that the USCF still needs automation of revenue posting.

I asked:

What does “CAN DO THE JOB” mean? If it can do the job (I presume you capitalized the letters in order to emphasize this point), then why write script for a separate DB? Why even have a separate DB at all? Why did Grant make a point about the 5,000 entries per month? Do you mean by “CAN DO THE JOB” that it does great jobs other than accruing revenues?

This kind of reminds me of a car that is a great car to drive. It CAN DO THE JOB, by golly! Just don’t drive it at night as it has no headlights. But so long as you will drive it only in daylight, it is a great car.

Forget what the members want. Why doesn’t management want to know how the USCF is doing? How do other organizations tackle this problem? Paying accountants tons of money to calculate this stuff, instead of investing in software that can “tack on the new membership to the remaining portion of the existing membership”?

I note that this is not just a personal concern. Here’s what our current VP-Finance said last year before the election:

As with many organizations, the USCF uses a variety of “shadow systems” (such as Excel spreadsheets) for accounting and reporting purposes. While functional, they do not integrate data; as we build new systems and integrate processes, we need to ensure that we can do our routine financial reporting and queries within our actual financial systems, such as our Peachtree accounting system. Only by getting these systems integrated and functional for reporting purposes will we be able to ensure the accuracy of the data.
Source of quote

Friday, July 11, 2008

Membership Accounting

Mike Nolan of the USCF commented on Wednesday's post in the USCF Forum. He said that this would be a radical departure from current USCF practices.

What people may not understand is that each year, ongoing discussion about USCF finances are mooted by the large uncertainty of what the revenues are going to be reported. Last year, management continually stated that revenues would not be known until the auditors made the annual year-end adjustment.

But what is this adjustment and how do the auditors figure the amount?

What they have to do is to arrive at year end figure I did in the below post for all the members. They have to perform elaborate calculations in order to do this.

There are two problems with this approach: (1) More work has to be done at the back end by high priced labor (auditors) because the USCF does not do the necessary work at the front end by lower proced labor (bookkeepers using software) and (2) the USCF does not know it's true financial picture until after the year is over.

In short, the USCF has to play the game without knowing whether it is a pawn ahead or a pawn (or 2 pawns or more!) behind. Even after the game is over, it cannot look back at the score sheet and see how it was doing in the earlier phases of the game.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My New Website

Me in my office.

I've branched out my business into the area of financial services. I like the Primerica's philosophy on the different aspects of finances.

First, people should only put their money where it is needed. For example, don't buy life insurance unless you need it. Many people don't. If you do, buy term. Forget all that extra "investment" stuff about insurance. Invest in investments. Investments that give a decent rate of return.

Second, people's finances ought to be based on a budget. This budget ought to be customized for each individual. It needs to be based on each individual's own goals.

I like this philosophy a lot.

Here's my new website.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How Does USCF Membership Accounting Work?

Here's my quickie version of how this would be done.

Assumptions: Donna pays $80 in May, 2008 for a 2 year membership. To simplify accounting, USCF policy is to count partial month as full month.

Entry in May, 2008.
Debit: Cash $80.00
Credit: Deferred Revenue $80.00
To record receipt of money from Donna A. for 2 years membership dues.

Then each succeeding month for the next 24 months 1/24 of the Donna's money is reclassified from deferred to actual revenue by the following entry.

Debit: Deferred Revenue $3.33
Credit: Membership Revenues $3.33
To recognize revenues earned from Donna A's 2 years membership payment.

So at December 31, 2008 Donna's account will look like this:

Deferred Revenue: $53.36 (80.00 - 26.64)
Membership Rev: 26.64 (8 months x 3.33 per month)
Donna's Total: $80.00 (53.36 + 26.64)

At the end of May, 2009 the USCF closes it's books for the fiscal year end. That means that all the Revenue and Expense accounts are reset back to zero. But the monthly entry stays the same.

Debit: Deferred Revenue $3.33
Credit: Membership Revenues $3.33
To recognize revenues earned from Donna A's 2 years membership payment.

So, for June, 2009, here's what Donna's account will look like:

Deferred Revenue: $36.67 (subtract 13 months x 3.33 per month = 43.33 from 80.00)
Actual Revenue: 3.33
Fund Balance: 40.00 (12 months x 3.33 per month)
Fund Balance is an equity account where the total of the previous years' revenues and expenses are closed to at the end of each year. And yes, since 40 does not divide by 12 evenly, there's going to be some rounding.

In April 2010 all of Donna's membership months will have been used up and her deferred revenue will be all gone. Then she will have to renew her membership.

Note, that for sustaining and life members, the same accounting technique applies. Only changes are the different payments and the different timeframes.

My point here, is that the 3.33 entry does not have to be done by hand each month. Conceptually, this is not that difficult. Mastering any chess opening is way harder than this. This could all be done automatically. We just need the right software.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Don’t Overlook This! 7/8/08

These are stories in the news that have much more significance than they’ve received. These stories should have been the leading news items of their day. Their significance extends beyond just a particular area and beyond just a particular news cycle.

- - - - -

Ireland Rejects Treaty but European Union Will Grows in Power Anyway

- - - - -

The European Union has already assumed many of the functions of a nation state. It has a capital, Brussels, it has a President, and it has a Parliament. It has a currency, the Euro. Like the Euro, its laws are supplanting the laws of most of the nations of Europe.

It still lacks a Constitution. The Original Constitution was turned down by voters in France, Holland and other countries. The statesmen of Europe decided to get around the voters by getting the same thing done by Treaty instead of a formal Constitution.

The trouble this scenario is that Ireland has a requirement it it's own Constitution that any treaty that would change it's government would require a vote by the people. So the Treaty was put to a vote and then defeated.

- - - - -

Here is the story in The American Spectator.

- - - - -

Why this is significant:

First, Europe is rapidly coalescing into one big super-state to rival the United States.

Second, it is based upon elitism and bureaucracy and not democracy. This is a milestone in the path.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Polgar to Resign If . . .

In a dramatic challenge to President Goichberg and the rest of her opponents, Susan Polgar offered to resign from the USCF Executive Board Monday provided they (1) "give me the FULL CONSENT to release all information to ALL USCF members" and (2) " If I cannot prove what I said is true then I will resign immediately."The other half of the challenge: "However, if I can prove that what I said is true then President Goichberg would resign from the board immediately."

Read the thread for the "what I said" part. These statements contain significant revelations.

Polgar has been complaining for months that she possesses major information that she is unable to disclose to the public only because of Board confidentiality requirements. On the other hand, she has also stated in the past that she has had to withhold information on the advice of her lawyer, so the stonewalling cannot be laid entirely at Bill Goichberg's door.

The gist of Polgar's point is that if the information were revealed, then people could see that it was her side that was trying to get the truth out about the scandal and the other side that was not. If this point were to be proved, this would still not prove Truong's innocence as the fake Sam Sloan. However, it would definetely target the finger of suspicion to other directions.

These statements also affects the recall effort on Paul Truong. It is based on "breach of fiduciary duty" - he allegedly failed to disclose information to the USCF attorney defending the organization against Sloan's lawsuit. If, in fact, other Board Members and staff were leaking information to Sloan, then this disclosure would certainly trump the Truong issue. Failure to disclose needed information versus providing confidential information to legal adversaries.

The most significant part of these developments is that far from relying on "reasonable doubt" and such-like escapes, Polgar has boldly assumed the burden of proof on several key aspects of the simmering scandal.