Name: Mike Mangino
Member since: 2000-12-19 22:47:12
Last Login: N/A


I am an IT work for JP Morgan Chase by way of their acquisition of Bank One Both my wife and I are multiple graduates of The Ohio State University (BS and MBA for me, BS and MD for her) and are currently living in Chicago, IL.

Recent blog entries by mmangino

It's been a while since I posted anything. Not much as happened, but since college football season has started, I have become a little distracted. This is the first time in 10+ years I have missed an Ohio State home football game. I did get to the first one, but not the second. The game this coming weekend is at Northwestern, so my family and my wife's family are coming up for the game. We haven't seen them in a while, so it will be nice to catch up. We have tickets to the game which is played about 4 miles north of us.

msevior: I'm with you on running. I used to work out a lot, but stopped for a few years. I recently joined a gym and have really gotten back into it. I ran 4 miles this past friday (a little less than 7km) and hope to run a full 10k this friday. I spend about 2 hours a day lifting and running. I feel a lot better, except for when I am sore :)

On the IT front, things are finally starting to move at work. I think I will likely have a new position within the next few months, although I've been saying that for a while now. I'm amazed at how slow and complicated things are in a big company!

I saw a link to a website called FairTax on a slashdot post recently. I went to the site and looked, and what they are requesting is an abolishment of the US progressive income tax and a replacement 23% increase in sales tax. This sounds like a bad idea.

There are several interesting details, such as the fact the every person gets a rebate of the tax paid on spending up to the poverty level. The other interesting detail is that tax is only charged on new goods. There are claims that this proposal would be revenue neutral to the government, however I don't know whether or not I agree.

I see several major flaws with this proposal:

  1. A 23% tax on new goods that doesn't apply to used goods would likely significantly increase the desirability of used goods, leading to a decrease in the purchase of new goods. (This would also decrease revenues to the governemtnt)
  2. All of their analysis of the impacts are based upon the assumption that costs to consumers would be reduced on all goods and services by 23% which they claim is the cost of the corporate income tax which is being eliminated. My experience in these situations is that the corporation would be more likely to just increase their profit. They also include a reduction in interest rates of 23%. I find this absurd, as interest rates haven't changed in the past as corporate tax rates have changed.
  3. They claim that a smoother revenue stream would result, as when times are bad people are still spending which leads to level taxation. While this is true, I question the desirability of it. The federal government has very strong borrowing power and is in a much better position to winter a reduction in revenue that the average working person. The current tax on income has as a side effect that you pay more when times are good and you can afford it. When times are bad, you pay nothing. Losing this feature makes it more difficult for people when times are bad.
  4. Finally, for better or for worse, the US tax code serves as more then a revenue generator, it is also a method of social engineering. The government currently uses tax breaks as an incentive to induce desired behavior, such as home ownership and job creation. This ability is lost with the fair tax plan.

Another plan I have read calls for the replacement of our current income tax with a VAT similar to that of the EU. In many ways, our current tax system is similar to a VAT. In VAT (value added tax), you pay tax on all purchases. You also collect tax on all items you sell. For example, if I buy two parts for $0.50 and combine them into a product I sell for $2.00, I would pay a tax of $0.20 on my purchases (assuming a 20% tax rate) and collect a tax of $0.40 on the sale of goods which I would then remit to the government. This much is identical to a sales tax. The difference in VAT is that I can actually deduct the $0.20 I paid as tax on goods from the amount I pay the government. I only pay tax on the value I add to the good.

In the US, we have a corporate income tax. Corporate income tax is determined based upon an accounting of the company. The basics are that you take Revenue (the $2.00 in the example above) and subtract out expenses (the $1.00 above plus whatever overhead and personnel expenses I have) to come up with a number called earnings, or profit. You then pay a tax on this amount. It should be noted that if you discard the cost of labor, this amount would be identical to a VAT.

There is no question that the tax code is horribly complicated and poorly specified. While we could certainly deal with simplification to the code, I worry that the drastic measures suggested would lead to unintended consequences. I would rather streamline the tax code over time by removing the years and years of special allowances and benefits that have been added over time.

Nutella: I think we both missed an entire season. It is quite cold here. I don't know if this means we will have a mild winter (I hope so) or a cold winter. In any case, I need to buy a coat.

I have a love hate relationship with Oracle. Basically, I love to hate it. I think they make an incredible database, and I have no problems using it. Unfortunately, everything gets complicated when it comes to Oracle. For instance, I wanted to grab some data from another database to use on my local instance. I did an export over the network, which worked fine. Unfortunately, the data wouldn't all import. Apparently the data in the tables doesn't match the constraints, i.e. there are null values in not null columns! How could that possible happen? I have no idea. I decided to disable the constraints and try again. I now get messages saying that it can't modify a view. It turns out the tables were actually materialized view (aka snapshots). I had to turn them into tables and the re-import the data. Finally, after about 2 hours (the datafile is 1.6gb) I got the data imported. I should have just pulled it into MySQL.

I'll probably be spending the next few weeks wading through data hell trying to get two systems to match up. I've been doing a little work with our backup group on reporting and will probably take a more active role. We use a product called BackupReport from Bocada. It isn't a bad product per-se, but it does a lot of things wrong. The idea of the product is that it combines information from several different backup systems. In our case, netbackup and Tivoli Storage Manager. While it does pull data into one schema, the semantics of some of the fields are different based upon the product. This means I will probably treat it as a raw data source and have to extract a set of usable data. it also needs the ability to roll up data over time. There is no reason whatsoever to have 5gig of backup data.

On a more interesting note, I found a good searchable site for information on ANSI lisp. This lead me to the (read-line) function which reads a line into a string. The common extension which splits a string into a list of strings should make the rest of what I want to do relatively easy. Maybe this weekend I will work on HTTP and URL parsing code.

On a more physical projects note, I will probably work on the condo this weekend. I've painted everything but the bathrooms and may try to get one painted this weekend. I also want to build a frame for my TV. I recently got a plasma tv which is hanging over the fireplace. Our place was built in 1922 and rehabbed in 2002 keeping the vintage feel. I think a nice wood frame that matches the trim would really help to make the TV look better.

gilbou: Enjoy the cb500. My first bike was a 1982 CB750. It was a wonderful bike once I realized that the front brake fluid had never been changed. This was a problem since the bike was 20 years old when I bought it. I currently have a 1997 VFR. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it in Chicago since the streets suck and the traffic is horrible. It is nice to have a way to get around while my wife is at work with the car.

nutella: No rush, whenever you have a lull at work.

I got the schemers guide and have been learning scheme. I used LISP a little bit a while ago. I think the treatment of generators is really cool. Unfortunately, it doesn't talk about IO at all. My typical toy project to learn a language is to write a simple webserver and template language in it. I think I would like to do this in LISP/SCHEME. Unfortunately, I still haven't found anything good on IO. I know how to use (read) and some of the (with-open-file) stuff, but unfortunately, HTTP requests typically aren't sent as lists making read useless, and character IO is a pain. I guess I will start writing a more usable IO toolkit. Does anyone have any other suggestions on resources for IO in lisp/scheme?

I went to my first mentor meeting for YCTP on Saturday. It was a really good experience. I enjoyed helping out. We worked on social networking. It amazed me how easy it was for everyone to talk when they were just relaxing. As soon as they started roleplaying with me in a position of authority, they stumbled and lost their words. I think more than anything else these kids need confidence in themselves and their abilities.

I also went to a resume writing session yesterday. It was very interesting to see the backgrounds and work experience. I always forget how difficult it is to write your first resume. I think most of them are off to a good start.

nutella: I just noticed you are also in Chicago and I read some of your back diary entries. I have one comment for you: Doesn't everyone hate the kidney? I took a physiology class in college that I almost failed because have of it was renal. My wife is an MD at childrens memorial and I hear her say that several times a year. In fact, I think I have heard every medical person I know say that at least once. Whoever designed the kidney didn't understand the beauty of simplicity. On an unrelated note, if you or anyone else in Chicago wants to grab lunch some day, email me at

Which brings me to my subject for today. I got a Blackberry last night. I carried one from 2000 to 2002 and didn't mind it. I finally got sick of carrying my palm pilot, pager and cell phone. I now have one device that does everything. I forgot why they call them crackberrys. In fact, with a color screen, a simple API and a builtin phone, this one is great! My number one feature is that it works with not only my corporate email, but my personal email as well. If only it did spam filtering. If you haven't tried one out, I highly recommend it. Be careful, however, since once you use one you will probably have a hard time giving it up.

I haven't done much with Python recently since I've gotten a little busy. I plan on taking a calculus class at DePaul, so I am re-reading an old calculus text. It is amazing how quickly it comes back to you. I've also spent some time getting ready for my first YCTP mentoring meeting. We are discussing networking and resumes. I like to interview, so this should be fun. I'm really excited for this.

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