The National Debt does exist

Mike Norman over at The Street recently shat out an article called “The National Debt: Why fret over something that doesn’t exist?” And how does he say the national debt doesn’t exist?

The debt is dollars. The government spent $20 trillion more than it took away in taxes over the last 240 years, and those dollars, held by the non-government, comprise a big portion of the non-government’s wealth.

He’s only partly right. The big problem here is that there is not 20 Trillion USD in circulation. Not anywhere close. While true that the United States Dollar — more accurately called the Federal Reserve Dollar — is born out of debt, again we don’t have 20 Trillion USD in circulation.

About 4.5 Trillion is intra-governmental liabilities, not debt held by the public. And the rest of the publicly-held debt was actually accumulated since 1835, the only time in the history of the United States that the national debt was paid down completely.

But the rest of how he tries to get around this idea is just mind-numbing. Let’s see if I can pick it apart. Seriously what he says is such utter bullshit I’m not even sure where to begin.

Second, there is nothing to pay back. The money was paid, ended up in someone’s bank account and now it’s being held in the form of Treasuries.

Mr Norman, you obviously have no idea how liabilities work. The public debt is a liability on the government. It is money they owe. Now when the notes and bonds come due, the government has the option to “roll over” that debt. That is instead of cashing out the bonds and notes, they can issue new bonds and new notes in exchange for the matured ones. They can take the proceeds from newly-issued bonds to pay the matured ones.

In personal finances, this would be similar to a credit card balance transfer or a debt consolidation loan in that you are using new debt to pay off old debt.

It’s pretty easy to see how that works. But it is also what allows the public debt to keep growing with virtually no end in sight, and with the government not really having to pay back the principal on the bonds.

But that doesn’t mean nothing is owed. Absolutely there are trillions of dollars in bonds that are liabilities on the United States Treasury. There is no implicit obligation under the law that the government actually cash out the bonds. But when a bond matures, the Treasury must do something with it, and the only two options are to reissue the security, or cash it out.

Which do you think happens more? I’ll answer that question in a moment.

But first, I’ll raise another: if there’s nothing to pay back, why does the Treasury operate the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, to which you can send money directly to the Treasury exclusively for the purpose of paying down the public debt? Check it out at

A Treasury is a dollar, the only difference being it’s a dollar with a term (duration) and a coupon (interest payment).


“Treasury” is a United States Treasury security. It includes T-bills, T-notes, T-bonds, and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). All of these are liabilities on the United States government.

What you’re saying is like saying “a mortgage is a dollar”. No, a mortgage is a note. Just as a Treasury is a note. The only difference is that a Treasury Note is unsecured debt — nothing is backing it except the “full faith and credit of the United States”. Whereas most notes are backed by some kind of collateral that can be seized (repossession or foreclosure) should the note no longer be honored by the debtor.

Why would people hold dollars in the form of Treasuries? To earn some interest, that’s all. It’s like saying, why would you put your money in a savings account as opposed to a checking account? Same reason, to earn interest. If you want it back in your checking account, you tell your bank and it switches it back from your savings account to your checking account.

Sadly, this is likely the only accurate statement you make in the entirety of your article. It’s also incomplete.

The one thing that you’re forgetting, Mr Norman, is that your checking or saving account — i.e. your demand deposit accounts — are liabilities on the bank holding the account. Your checking account is part of your bank’s total debt.

That’s how it works with the government, too. It “pays back” holders of Treasuries all the time.

Not exactly. It “pays back” the note holders by giving them new notes. But again the holder is free to sell them to someone else if they want the principal of the note. Then the privilege to collect interest on that note passes to the buyer.

That’s called a redemption and when Treasuries are redeemed the government simply instructs its bank, the Fed, to take back the securities and credit the individual’s (or firm’s or foreign government’s or whomever’s) bank account and, voila, it happens. Paid back.

Not quite.

First, the Federal Reserve is not the government’s “bank”. The Federal Reserve isn’t a bank in the traditional sense. While the Treasury does have an account at the Federal Reserve, this is simply because the Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States. And the Treasury is, simply, a bank. It is the bank for the Federal government, and so a member of the Federal Reserve to have access to the Federal Reserve System.

But the Federal Reserve doesn’t pay the principal on the notes and bonds either. Not in the sense you’re implying. When a Treasury matures, you have one of three options: buying a new note (“reinvesting”), directing the value be deposited into your Certificate of Indebtedness account (basically an escrow account held by the Treasury), or have it deposited into a designated bank account.

But the Federal Reserve isn’t paying that. Instead the Treasury directs that payment be made to you in the same way your employer directs your paycheck to you, whether by direct deposit or a physical financial instrument.

If you go to the last statement of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, and you scroll down to that table I just gave you, Table III-A, you will see the government redeemed (paid back) $94.2 trillion in one year! I put a screenshot below.

Please note: All figures on the daily Treasury statement are in millions, so don’t come back to me and say it was only $94.2 million. It’s $94.2 million million. That’s $94.2 trillion. See the image below.

The bulk of the value to which he’s referring is the “Government Account Series”, or GAS treasuries. These are used for intragovernmental debts. For the statement linked in the quote, the Treasury reported issuing approximately $87.2 Trillion in Government Account Series liabilities, while redeeming about $86.6 Trillion, leaving an overall outstanding net liability of about $600 Billion.

I’ll let the Congressional Budget Office explain how they work:

Ordinarily, when a trust fund receives cash that is not needed immediately to pay benefits or cover other expenses, the Treasury issues GAS securities in that amount to the fund and then uses the extra income to reduce the amount of new federal borrowing that is necessary to finance the governmentwide deficit. In other words, in the absence of changes to other tax and spending policies, the government borrows less from the public than it would without that extra net income. The reverse happens when revenues for a trust fund program fall short of expenses.

But over $90 Trillion? Surely that can’t be correct?!? Except it is. Here’s a way to show how this can work. You have $10. You go to the store and spend that $10. The store the pays one of it’s cashiers. The cashier then turns around and buys gas. The gas station pays its clerk. Who then shops at the grocery store.

That’s only $10 in cash that has created $50 in economic activity. So the $90 Trillion figure likely falls under this same pattern.

And it gives us an idea of how large the Federal government has truly become that they are generating over $90 Trillion in economic activity just within itself.

Ninety-four point two trillion! In a single year. And nobody knew about this. Furthermore, the world didn’t fall apart, the dollar didn’t collapse, interest rates didn’t spike, we had no inflation and everything was fine.

The reason everything is fine is that $94.2 Trillion isn’t outstanding liabilities. Mostly. If it was, and the total outstanding public debt of the United States exceeded $90 Trillion, which it theoretically can reach, eventually, we’d be in trouble.

There is the proof, right in front of our noses, that the debt is meaningless. It’s just a bunch of bookkeeping entries. Keystrokes. It’s time we stop fretting over this. People need to educate themselves about what this debt is and how they are being manipulated and propagandized about it.

No the debt is far from meaningless. Indeed the magnitude of the number shows that we have a large Federal government that really, really needs to be reigned in. By not understanding how all of this works, Norman, you can’t see that you’ve basically contradicted your own point.

The debt isn’t just bookkeeping entries or keystrokes either. It is much, much more than that. Because that debt represents the borrowing activity of the United States government that pays salaries, fulfills payments on contracts, and the like.

The debt is not a bad thing, it is an asset of the non-government

Like all other forms of debt, it is a tool. Exercised properly it can really help you financially. Taken to extreme limits, you can get in over your head and find yourself in financial hot water.

There is no debt!

Yes there is. You’re just trying to contrive your way around the concept that liabilities are debts. Securities are debts. Plain and simple.



Searching for an accounting system

Over the last couple years, I’ve massaged my financial management into a very, very effective system that uses GnuCash. I’ve managed to take wide advantage of it’s account tree functionality to create a sophisticated accounting and budgeting system. I have an article in draft explaining this, and perhaps I’ll finalize it and post it later.

But GnuCash is desktop-only. I have it connected to a MySQL server on my home network. This allows me to access that from home or work. But GnuCash must be installed on all computers that I use, plus I need to make sure that I can access the MySQL server from wherever I am. That presents one hell of a problem of convenience.

So I’ve been searching for a cloud-based accounting system. I’d prefer one that I can run in my own webspace that I already pay for — the web space that hosts this blog — but I’m willing to find something else if it means I can meet my needs. That means I have a relatively narrow requirements set:

  1. Written in PHP, Perl, or Python
  2. Support MySQL or SQLite as it’s back-end — nothing else is supported by my web host
  3. (Optional but desirable) Compatible with mobile browsers as I’d like to use it from my cell phone, or at least usable on a mobile browser without being a headache.

As my web hosting plan includes MySQL, I could migrate the MySQL server into my web space. But that would mean having to tunnel into the web server every time I needed access. Currently that’s only required when I’m on the road. Migrating the MySQL server to my web hosting means I’d have to do that also from home. And I’m looking to get rid of inconvenience, not compound it.

But along with the technical requirements, one GnuCash feature that I’d like to also see supported is a tree of accounts. At minimum, I need to be able to modify the chart of accounts. If I can’t set up my own custom chart of accounts, it’s a deal breaker. And with most of what I evaluated, the chart of accounts either could not be customized at all, or not customized to the degree I want — e.g. I could add accounts but not delete the accounts already provided.

On self-hosting options, the only system I’ve found that can give me anything close to what I want is Webzash. It doesn’t have the concept of sub-accounts or sub-ledgers, though someone has requested that feature, but you can group ledgers (accounts) into groups or subgroups. At minimum, it should show the total for all accounts in a group on the accounts page, a feature I requested.

I’ve looked at other systems as well, downloading them or taking advantage of free trials. So far, nothing else has come close to what I’m looking for. Sure, Webzash comes close. It’s actual double-entry accounting, at least. And I could transfer all of the GnuCash data into Webzash, although it’s a very hands-on effort. But it has a very clumsy user interface that is not intuitive or user-friendly.

GnuCash was designed from the beginning to be about double-entry accounting and whatever could fit on top of that. It works well, and it’s relatively simple, and the user-interface is intuitive. If you know how double-entry accounting works, then GnuCash should come easy.

Virtually all of the cloud-based offerings (self-hosted and not) appear to be more about ERP than accounting and financial management. They are more complicated than what I’m trying to find, and thus much more difficult to use. They talk about double-entry accounting, some even specifically listing it in their feature list, while providing a user interface that doesn’t even come close to providing it. It might be built on double-entry accounting principles, but it doesn’t provide an interface anywhere near that.

So far the only one that actually fits the bill of actually doing double-entry accounting is CashCtrl. And I could completely customize the chart of accounts. But it doesn’t support splitting transactions the same way as GnuCash. GnuCash has, easily, the simplest and easiest method for handling transaction splits. Webzash can do it too, but again it’s clumsy.

In CashCtrl, splitting payments requires using invoices. But it’s a minor inconvenience the way they’ve implemented it. But they don’t allow for importing previous financial information. In the end, though, I decided against going with it long-term.

I’m just looking for a simple, double-entry accounting system. Some contact management might be beneficial, but I don’t need anything more complicated. I manually enter the transactions into the journal/ledger in GnuCash, so I want to do the same since I know what I’m doing there. I don’t want a massive amount of retraining in order to have a functional, web/cloud-based system.

Double-entry accounting with the ability to customize the chart of accounts. That’s all I want. I don’t want any automatic synchronization with my bank account and credit cards. Or billing/invoicing. Or anything related to enterprise resource planning or customer relation management.

I’ve looked at the “cloud” offerings as well — Intuit, Sage, FrontAccount, etc. Again, most are designed with businesses in mind, meaning complication. If a system didn’t have a free trial or online demo, I didn’t touch it. Mint isn’t an accounting or financial management system either. Wikipedia classifies it as “account aggregation“.

So in the end, the search continues. Hopefully I’ll find something meeting my needs so I won’t be relegated to writing my own.


Helping the poor

I’m often baffled at the amount of fake advocacy that happens online. Slactivism is what it’s largely been called. One thing that plenty of people have called for is, in short, doing more to help the poor. And how do most want to help the poor? Well by the lazy method of increasing taxes in order to fund government programs. Yep, slactivism at its finest: activism by proxy of the government.

And as far as I’m concerned, unless you’re willing to get off your ass and spend your own time and money helping someone who is down on their luck or hovering around the poverty line, you don’t have any right to call for more of my paycheck to be taken from me just so you can feel better.

Instead here’s a challenge: find one family who isn’t well off. Bonus: make it a family you don’t know in an inner-city area. Find out what they need, and bring it to them. Whether that’s stocking a pantry or picking up other consumables, replacing clothing or bedding, new appliances. Whatever the case may be, spend your own time and money doing it.

This past weekend, I did just that, in case anyone here might think I’m being lazy myself. My parents had a working refrigerator they wanted gone. They offered it to me, but living in an apartment with a fridge, I didn’t need it. But I knew that my wife’s dearest friend could use it. The friend is barely scraping by while her deadbeat ex-husband is behind on the child support that is now being provided courtesy of a forced wage garnishment. We’ve shelled out for other things and have other planned purchased for them as well, but this last time around it was a fridge.

So I rented a truck (Dodge Ram 1500 Quad-cab with 6′ bed) through Enterprise. We drove the almost 3 hours to my parents to load up the fridge, letting my father do the honors in tying it down since he’s always been good with knots. And then drive it about 2½ hours out to the friend in SE Nebraska where we unloaded it, then back to Kansas City to drop off the truck at the airport and go home.

In the end it was about $200 out of my pocket for the truck rental and the gas, and about 13 hours of my time from when we left to when we got back.

Have you done anything like this? If you haven’t, and you’re idea of helping the poor is for my paycheck to be further garnished by the government through taxation, then get off your lazy ass and spend your own time and money helping a poor family in your area.

And as I said, there are other purchases still planned for the near future to replace other things that need replaced. For example, the three girls who live there need decent beds. Probably going to be give or take 1,000 USD for that all combined in the end, not to mention the time that’ll be needed getting all of that set up.

But I can afford to be that generous. Raising my taxes means I can’t be that generous. Think about that a second, if you’re one of the ones calling for higher taxes on the upper-middle and upper classes. You’d be depriving me of my ability to directly help this one family, and potentially others in the future, all so you could feel better about yourself. Fuck you.

Now I realize that most can’t be as generous as I’m able be. But there’s no need. Something as simple as buying extra groceries or other household consumables for someone on food stamps or welfare would be enough. Helping them pay for any bills on which they’re behind would do the trick. If you have the know-how, help them get caught up on any maintenance on their vehicles or look into any problems. Donate your time and money to others in need directly rather than by proxy of another organization or under the excuse of it being Christmas or Thanksgiving. But don’t just sit around and say we need to do more for the poor while simultaneously implying you mean the government via taxation.

Really want to help a family this coming holiday? Walk into one of the stores that will be open Thanksgiving night and volunteer to work that night, but give the wages you’d earn with that time to another employee who needs it. Something I recommended a couple years ago in the middle of everyone complaining about stores being open on Thanksgiving or in the middle of the night on Black Friday.

Not willing to directly help any poor family? Not going to donate to any charity that helps the poor? Only going to call for more taxation on “the wealthy” because you think they’re not paying their “fair share” (despite the evidence showing they pay well more than what’s fair)?

Just shut the fuck up, then.


Still more debt advocacy

Once again I encounter another article describing why a person should not seek to pay off their mortgage quickly. This time it’s Deborah Kearns of NerdWallet writing on USA Today in an article called “4 reasons why paying off your mortgage isn’t always the best move“. And sadly, she doesn’t give any original reasons. It’s all stuff I’ve heard before.

And much of it boils down to the assumption that those who put extra money toward their mortgage are not otherwise financially prepared. Paying your mortgage down early is a major financial investment, not something to take lightly. You shouldn’t do it unless you’re prepared for it.

And preparing for it means doing the math on it. You need to determine how much extra you can afford to put toward it without sacrificing an emergency fund and other things. Indeed, as much as I deride him, Dave Ramsey has it right when he says that building up an emergency fund — he advocates 1000 USD instead of the typical “three to six months expenses” simply because it’s an easier goal to meet — must come before paying off your debts, including your mortgage if you’re so inclined.

So with many of the articles riling against the idea of paying down your mortgage early, they all basically say, in short, to not pay down your mortgage early because you need an emergency fund and you need to plan for the future. Not “don’t put extra money at your mortgage until you have an emergency fund and a financial outlook plan”. In other words: don’t put extra money at your mortgage at all.

The only thing in the article that is actually new, from what I’ve typically seen, is mentioning the mortgage interest tax deduction. And that has to be the stupidest reason to not put extra money at your mortgage. In an article I wrote back in 2010, I said this about the tax deduction:

First, you can only deduct the interest paid on your mortgage if you itemize. If you don’t itemize, you can’t declare the deduction. This is in contrast with student loan interest deductions which don’t require you to itemize. This means that the benefit of the deduction must be taken in contrast with the standard deduction for your filing status. If your mortgage interest deduction along with other itemized deductions is less than the standard deduction, you’d be stupid to itemize.

This means for married couples filing joint, if the mortgage interest deduction is less than about $11,000, and you don’t have other itemized deductions you can take to bring the itemized to more than the standard deduction, why itemize? This means that for a married couple filing joint, you’d need a mortgage of at least about $200 thousand. For married filing separately or single, you’ll need a mortgage of at least about $100 thousand to make the tax benefits worthwhile.

That’s a lot of interest to be writing off. But again it’s a deduction you can take only if you itemize. I believe about the time I wrote that article, my parents had determined that they didn’t pay enough interest on their mortgage to justify taking that deduction. The standard deduction was the better choice.

Which means you could stick with your minimum mortgage payment until the deduction is no longer worthwhile, and then accelerate payments after that point.

Paying down your mortgage faster ahead of that point means you lose that benefit — to the extent it can be called that — faster. But the tax savings that are lost (remember it’s a deduction, meaning it reduces your tax liability only by reducing your taxable income) are likely offset by the interest savings over time:

That said, the amount you’ll save with the mortgage interest deduction probably won’t outweigh what you’d save on interest. The real benefit comes in the initial years of borrowing; but over time, you’ll pay less to interest and more to principal.

Loans are front-loaded on interest, meaning you pay the most interest up front merely because of how the interest is calculated. This means it takes years to build equity in the home. Again referencing the above-linked article from 2010:

But going on the mortgage, here are some surprising numbers for you, going on a 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate:

  • After 1 year, you will have not even paid off 1.5% of the balance
  • It will take 10 years to pay off only 20% of the balance.
  • It will take 20 years to pay off 50% of the balance.

My, what big equity you’re building there — 20 years until you have 50% equity in the home. And this isn’t counting any other liabilities you might have against the home or any improvements you’ve made to it, only the initial mortgage. You might be building equity, albeit very slowly, but what you’re left with at the end, adjusted for inflation, is likely not much more valuable compared to where you started.

So paying down your mortgage faster builds equity sooner. And if you didn’t put down the 20% down payment on your mortgage, and therefore also have to pay for mortgage insurance as part of your payment, then accelerating payments to at least get down under that 20% threshold should be an initial goal since that will lower your mortgage payment from then onward.

But the beauty of how the math works also means you’ll see a benefit by putting extra money toward your mortgage. You don’t have to go out of your way either. I’ve said in a previous article to merely round your mortgage payment up to the next $50 or $100 increment. For example if you have a payment of $635/month, take it up to $650 or even $700. You’ll build equity faster since you’ll be paying less interest over time, meaning more of each future payment goes to principal. While adding merely $15/month to your payment won’t see a significant benefit over time, adding 10% to your mortgage payment will.

And it works with other loans just as easily. If you have a student loan, you should be accelerating payments toward that as well.

And even if you put more money toward your mortgage, you can always back off if need be in times of emergency. Depending on how your bank calculates your mortgage payment, you might even be able to completely skip a month but still come out ahead. And if you need a deferment, being ahead on your loan means your bank will be more likely to approve it, thereby alleviating a liability in a case of emergency.


Revisiting the colony

Stability for some reason had been an ongoing concern with this setup. What was confusing is that stability wasn’t a concern before I built the rack and got everything racked up. To that end, I had a hypothesis.

First, this was how I originally had things set up, first outside the 4U chassis, then when I originally mounted them in that chassis.



In the to picture, from left to right, is a Zotac GT 620, EVGA GTX 660 SC, and EVGA GTX 680 SSC. In the bottom picture, the middle card is a Zotac GTX 680 AMP Edition.

The graphics cards were just sitting in the extenders. Possible connectivity issues came to mind. The graphics cards were also just hanging off the back of the chassis. And the extenders were against each other next to the cards. When they were originally mounted into the chassis, the cards had some space between each other as well, which likely gave them some breathing room.


So, again, I wondered if this gave connectivity and stability issues. One of the good things about how popular Bitcoin mining used to be is the prevalence of other PCI-Express extenders, including one that uses a thinner PCB and a 4-pin floppy drive power connector. One is distributed by a company called Vantacor (with the option of a 30cm, 60cm, or 100cm USB cable), and the other by a company called Electop.

So in the end I ordered 4 of the Electop extenders, since they were less expensive and I didn’t care about the cable lengths. The shorter cables, in fact, would be better over the meter-long cables that came with the other ones. So what was the result?

* * * * *

This revisit coincided with a couple other things happening at the same time. First was a build for a radiator box that could be put on the rack to replace the radiator panels that were currently taking up 8U of rack space. The other was maintenance coming due.

As of the time I tore it down, the system had been running continuously for about 7 months. Temperatures were never a problem. Stability was.

With everything apart, I was able to troubleshoot the issue. In tearing everything apart for maintenance, I replaced the x16 side of the extensions to the graphics cards and remounted everything. I had also acquired additional fittings in the time and had left-overs from other projects, so I was able to give the box a much cleaner tubing layout.


With the thinner adapter boards, I was sure this would eliminate them as a variable to stability. And confirm that it wasn’t the only one.

The right-angle adapters on the x1 sides were the other variable. The blue right-angle extension cables I had employed weren’t a problem, but the smaller plugs were. So I ordered another pair and waited for them to arrive. Then to ensure I had a clean setup to work with, I reinstalled Linux to the system.

Except the stability issue didn’t go away.

* * * * *

Let me first fill in some details. Over the time the rack was up and running, there were a few changes made to the setup, in part because stability was being such a problem.

First, I attempted to upgrade the graphics host to use the spare 990FX mainboard. I purchased an FX-8320E and some memory to go along with all of that, with the intent of having a better processor powering the graphics cards.

At the time, the spare mainboard was an ASRock 990FX Extreme6. And it would not POST when it had all four graphics cards plugged in. With two of either the GTX 660s or GTX 680s plugged in, it worked fine. One 680 with one 660? No POST. So I swapped it over to the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3 mainboard I had in Beta Orionis. It would POST with all of the GPUs plugged in, but it wouldn’t stay stable with all four cards — the driver would report that one of the GPUs was lost or it would freeze the system.

So with the maintenance that came up, I attempted again to get all four cards working with the Gigabyte mainboard, but it wouldn’t have it. Regardless of what I tried, it wouldn’t take.

So I moved the connectors and plugged everything up to one of the X2 mainboards, just to get something stable operating off just one mainboard. And the X2 mainboard I selected was the Abit board that had only one x16 slot with three x1 slots, meaning it wasn’t going to try to do anything SLI-related with regard to the NVIDIA driver — the game servers have been moved into a virtualized environment. And the other X2 mainboard is the MSI K9N4-SLI, and I don’t recall ever really being able to keep all four graphics cards stable on that board, hence why I swapped in the FX board.

Unfortunately the stability concerns didn’t go away. At this point I started to wonder if the stability was the Berkeley software (BOINC) as I didn’t recall seeing any stability concerns with Folding@Home.

* * * * *

At the same time, I planned an upgrade for this. The X2 is a 10+ year-old dual-core processor, meaning it barely scrapes by for what I’m doing. For some BOINC projects it could power everything just fine — e.g. MilkyWay@Home. For others, not so much — e.g. GPUGrid when attempting to use more GPUs than there are CPU cores. For Folding@Home, though, it was holding things back because of how CPU intensive that can be even if you’re running only CPU slots.

So I considered looking at a board that was built for this kind of thing. After discovering the ASRock PCI-Express extenders, I knew that ASRock made mainboards for Bitcoin mining. I was more familiar with their Intel offering and gave serious consideration for it, despite the fact it meant spending almost 400 USD for an adequate setup, specifically the ASRock H81 Pro BTC board. But then I learned they also had FM2+ options. The price difference between the FM2+ and H81 mainboards was only 5 USD on NewEgg favoring the FM2+, but the difference in the price of the processors was more significant.

At minimum I’d need a quad-core processor for this — one core per graphics card — to keep the CPU from being a major bottleneck if I turned this exclusively toward Folding@Home. Intel Haswell i5 processors are still well over 200 USD, but the AMD A8-7600 Kaveri quad-core was only 80 USD on NewEgg. So the choice was clear.

Now one could say that I could go with a Haswell i3-4130, but HyperThreading isn’t the same as a physical core. And it’s the physical cores that will matter for this application more. This makes the AMD APU a lot more cost effective all-around: quad-core at a decent clock speed with integrated GPU. Even if I don’t put the integrated GPU to any tasks, it’ll at least be a GPU separate from the workhorses.

There’s something else as well.

* * * * *

I moved elsewhere in the KC metro. And as part of the move, I completely tore down the rack and tore it apart completely. The cabinet is no more. I do still have the rails, so I can build another cabinet. But I went with a different plan.

On the Linus Tech Tips forum, a member asked about Mountain Mods. I mentioned that I’d used one of their pedestals to make a radiator box, but that I’d also considered “moving another setup I have into one of their Gold Digger chassis”. Not long after the move, I took advantage of some freed up PayPal credit to order the Ascension Gold Digger. I would’ve preferred the U2UFO Gold Digger so I’d be able to have the radiators sideways (the Ascension keeps them vertical) but I needed the dual power supply support.

And that’s because I figured out the stability problem: power.

It sounds odd, especially given that the stability problems only appeared with BOINC and never with Folding@Home. But I think Folding@Home was never taxing the cards to the point where they required more power, while the BOINC jobs were. And they were likely sending the 4-card setup beyond the power threshold that the AX860 could provide.

OuterVision’s power supply calculator puts 2xGTX-680 and 2xGTX-660 graphics cards at having about 800W power draw and recommends a 1,000W power supply to cover it. And the GTX 660s and GTX 680s are all factory overclocked, meaning combined they are likely exceeding the AX860’s capability.

I considered getting a 1200W power supply or larger, or swapping out for the 1000W power supply in my personal computer. But then I realized that I still had the Corsair GS800 laying around. I decided to stick with the AX860 and add another power supply along with it. The extra 60 USD for the larger chassis that supports two power supplies is worth it in that instance over saving 60 USD on the chassis but spending another 200+ USD on a better power supply. I have an Add2PSU from the original setup that I can use to synchronize the power supplies.

So after settling into the new apartment more, I bought a lot of distilled water for flushing blocks and radiators, and went to town on migrating everything into the new setup.

* * * * *

While I bought an ASRock FM2+ BTC board and an A8-7600, I didn’t go with that setup initially. Instead I stuck with the FX-8320E and the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3 board. And I kept with the Noctua CPU cooler for the moment while keeping my sights set on swapping in a water block later.

And I discovered that I need to rethink the Koolance PMP-420:


Yes that pump. The one I declared to be too noisy to be useful. Well turns out that if you suspend it on some spongy material and let all the air get out of the loop, it is actually not too bad in the noise department. Still not sure if I’d want that pump in a system that is right next to me, but in a good chassis that is padded with noise-absorbing material, it likely wouldn’t be a major problem. It definitely fits this use case, though as the vertical radiators only add to the resistance in the loop, making a more powerful pump necessary.

So with everything assembled into the Ascension Gold Digger, the graphics cards hanging from above — though technically only two really needed to be hung up there — and all the tubing connected up, the system was brought online for the first time in months. The cards were divided: the two GTX 680s were on the AX860 along with the pump and fans, and the two GTX 660s were on the GS800 with the mainboard.

Initially I had Folding@Home running on it just to get some kind of stress going on the loop and the system. Then I turned to BOINC to see if the stability issues would continue to manifest. But unfortunately I wasn’t able to get MilkyWay@Home working on Linux. The GPU jobs just kept failing with “Computation error”. So I installed Windows 10 Pro to the system and BOINC and let it run.

And not long after that, the mainboard seemed to have died. The system completely locked up and refused to POST after resetting it. I’m not sure whether the power delivery overheated and shut everything down or something else. I was basically forced to swap in the Kaveri board at that point, and I swapped it back to Linux.

Except the stability problem didn’t go away. BOINC still refused to remain stable. It would hard lock after a few hours, but thankfully resetting it got it to POST and boot. And Folding@Home again never saw the same problems. So, I guess this will be relegated entirely to Folding@Home.

But the AMD A8 can’t power all four graphics cards for Folding@Home. So I need to split this off into two systems. Thankfully for the Ascension Gold Digger, that’s just a matter of ordering a few more parts to convert it into the Ascension Duality. And there was another issue I needed to address.


Another glass of absinthe

Absinthe-glass.jpgTime to revisit Absinthe. Current specs for immediate reference:

  • CPU: Intel i7-5820k
  • GPU: XFX R9 290X “Double-D” 4GB
  • Storage: Samsung 950 PRO 512 GB
  • Power: Corsair RM1000
  • Chassis: Corsair 750D with “Airflow” front panel

And the system is water cooled with a full custom loop, 7x120mm of radiator capacity, and PETG tubing.

With the latest release of the GTX 10-series of graphics cards, I decided to take the plunge and get my wife a GTX 1080, specifically the EVGA GTX 1080 SC ACX 3.0. Like with the previous graphics card upgrade that took the system to the R9 290X, I installed the new card and set up a bypass.



One thing I’ve always liked about Swiftech‘s fittings is the wrench fit. In the case of these fittings, a 17mm wrench allowed me to get them loose. I considered using soft tubing for the bypass, which would’ve required tearing more of the loop down, until I realized an alternative.



That is an AlphaCool bulkhead fitting, meaning it has female G¼ threads on both sides. After making sure both fittings were reasonably secured, I filled and bled the loop, using the variable rotor on the D5 to help push air out.

So like last time there will eventually there will be a revisit on this. It’s just not going to happen as soon as I’d like. Why?


The EVGA card is going back to NewEgg on RMA. The coil whine was unbearable under load. The video below doesn’t do it justice. It’s louder than the video represents. Upon doing some research I was able to learn that others were also having coil whine issues with this same card.

One thing I found very odd is the recommended solutions, which included changing out the power supply and/or motherboard. Yeah, not happening. Despite how many apparently say it works to cure coil whine, I have to disagree.

For one, I have two GTX 770s in Mira. They suffer from coil whine. And this is the third mainboard and third power supply those cards have been connected to, and they’ve had coil whine issues across ALL setups. So changing out the motherboard or power supply is unlikely to solve the problem.

So instead it’s going back on RMA. But I did put up with the coil whine long enough to take some benchmarks.


First with the R9 290X installed:

  • Heaven: 1383 1
  • Valley: 2578 2
  • 3DMark Firestrike: 10479 overall, 12011 graphics
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 27591 overall, 75956 graphics
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 27412 overall, 36895 graphics
  • 3DMark Time Spy: 4021 overall, 3850 graphics

And now with the GTX 1080:

  • Heaven: 2704 1
  • Valley: 4188 2
  • 3DMark Firestrike: 16432 overall, 21374 graphics
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 31770 overall, 135692 graphics
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 37794 overall, 72326 graphics
  • 3DMark Time Spy: 6548 overall, 6911 graphics

Now it is unlikely these points will change once the card is on water. What will change is, of course, the temperature performance. The card shot up to 80°C relatively quickly under the various benchmarks. The CPU got up into the low 40s. But like platform upgrade in February, Absinthe will be getting a pretty thorough cleaning when I’m ready to install the block.

So the card will be going back on RMA and the R9 290X will likely be reinstalled into the system. Once I have the new card, it’ll be installed with its stock air cooler similar to what I have above just to make sure it works before I do the water block installation.

Oh and I might have another little surprise to go along with this when the upgrade occurs as well. So stay tuned.

  1. Ultra quality, x8 anti-aliasing, extreme tessellation [] []
  2. Extreme HD preset [] []

Misleading gun statistic

I’ve seen one particular statement replayed several times over, and it’s rather misleading in its representation: gun deaths have been cut in half over the last 20+ years. Let’s look at the numbers.

First, firearms-related homicides peaked in 1993 at 18,571 according to the CDC. Then the numbers started dropping like a rock and bottomed out at 11,071 in 2000. That is actually the lowest year on record since 1981 for total homicides. But then the number actually started going back up.

It would reach 12,267 in 2003, then decline again in 2004 to 11,935 before getting to 13,151 in 2006, the highest recorded total firearms-related homicides since bottoming out in 2000. Firearms-related homicides would go on a steady decline again, reaching 11,422 in 2010. Then it went back up to 12,093 in 2012, but then declined through 2014.

So it’s misleading to imply that “gun deaths” have been going down steadily since 1993. Instead it’s safer to say that firearms-related homicides have been going steadily up and down for about the last 15 years, kind of circling around 12,000 homicides per year.

But then it’s also misleading to go on raw numbers, as the rate of homicides has been on a steadily downward trend.

In 1993, again the peak year for pure firearms-related homicide numbers, the crude rate of homicides per 100,000 population was 7.14, higher only slightly than 1991’s crude rate of 7.11 per 100,000. That steadily declined and bottomed out in 2000 as well at 3.93 per 100,000, a 45% reduction in the firearms-related homicide rate.

But just like the pure homicide numbers, the homicide rate then started going up until it topped out at 4.61 in 2006, a 17% increase across those years. But then it started going back down, reaching 3.70 in 2010 and 2011, lower than 2000’s firearms homicide rate. And though it would bump back up to 3.85 in 2012, it dropped again in 2013 and again in 2014 to 3.59, a rate that is about 1/2 the firearms-related homicide rate of 1993.

All of these numbers can be found through the CDC WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports.


Mira – Finished

I’m writing this on Mira, which means the system is up and running. But it wasn’t without hiccups. As much as I’d hoped the upgrade would go smoothly. I will say, up front, that my luck once again held out on the mainboard and processor and the system posted without issue… after I pressed the BIOS reset button on the I/O — one of the downsides to buying an open-box mainboard from Micro Center.

Draining the system

The graphics cards were set up in a U-parallel configuration, wherein both the inlet and outlet were on the top graphics cards:

Draining this using quick disconnects would’ve meant having to tilt the system in various directions to get the water flowing out. An alternative that panned out quite well is just taking the two stop fittings off the bottom graphics card and letting it drain out through there.

Once I had the graphics cards out, I flushed them with distilled water — three (3) gallons pushed through with a spare pump — and installed them in the H440, finished the cable management, and set that aside and turned my attention to the radiator box.

Radiator box

This was cause of all of my problems. After draining it (just took the quick disconnects off the tubing at the sink), I tore it completely down.



Getting the radiators off and flushed. Getting the dust blown out of the fans. Mostly. I didn’t take a brush to the fins this time. Then came putting the thing back together.



Before taking the box down completely, there was actually one fan that got disconnected during the last assembly that I never bothered to reconnect. So to ensure I had all nine (9) radiator fans and the three (3) exhaust fans powered and running, I periodically tested the fan connections to make sure everything was sound.


The new reservoir suits this project much better as well being top-return capable. This top, though, is a separate purchase, but worth it for this, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary based on your project.




And now, looking up from the bottom, the cabling at that point was a mess, but at least I was able to get the radiator panel mounted to the rest of the case without any difficulty. Managing the cabling was, at that point, less important than making sure all the fans were still connected.



Then it was time to clean up the cabling.



With the radiator box essentially done, I turned my attention to the main system, getting it tubed up and connected to the radiator box. The direction of flow is in to the graphics cards at the bottom, up through to the CPU, and out to the inlet on the radiator box. The inlet takes it through the bottom to the top radiator, then back to the reservoir.




But the leak test didn’t go smoothly. There were a couple leaks from the inter-connects on the radiators. At first, it looked like the leaks were coming from the Swiftech SLI fittings. So in tearing those apart, I noticed that the fitting wasn’t nearly as tight as I’d liked. A few measurements pushed me to buy #6 and #8 O-rings from Home Depot. I used one of each with the brass ring in between them. That sealed the SLI fittings nice and tight in a fashion similar to the Primochill Revolver compression fittings, but didn’t take care of the leak entirely.


That is an EK 90° rotary fitting. It snapped, and I’m not sure entirely how. But it was still sitting flat enough in the fitting that I didn’t notice it immediately. It was when I took out that fitting and the adjacent one on the other radiator that it came apart like this. Thankfully my local Micro Center had replacements in stock. Once I had that fitting replaced, the leak test passed and I was able to get the system up and running.

If you follow JayzTwoCents on YouTube, you’ve likely seen his video where he discussed a leak he had which is also from an EK 90° rotary fitting:

NZXT H440 – Mini-review

Let’s momentarily revisit the NZXT H440 chassis. I really enjoyed building into this. Even for the Sabertooth X99 and it’s full-cover “armor”, the mainboard seated relatively easily and I was able to easily access all the needed points for cabling. Cable management was reasonably easy as well, though having two PCI-Express power cables seemed to add just a little too much cable bulk for the back panel.

The threads, though, are very tight for the thumb screws, and I had to resort to a screwdriver to keep from tearing up my fingers. This is likely due to them not protecting the threads when painting the parts.

And the smoked window is darker than my sunglasses. Seriously. It requires you to install white lighting (definitely can’t go with a different color on this, or at least I can’t see doing that) replace it with MNPCTech’s clear window. So… yeah. Time to order a lighting kit, or pick up something from Micro Center.


Here’s how the new platform tested (old benchmarks in red).

  • 3DMark Fire Strike: 12638 [9797]
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 31911 [19918]
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 35006 [25205]
  • Unigine Heaven: 1904 [1826] (Ultra Quality, Extreme Tesselation, x8 Anti-aliasing)
  • Unigine Valley: 3743 [3025] (Extreme HD preset)

So the Unigine benchmarks didn’t change much. Not even an 80 point gain on the Heaven benchmark, though Valley went up by over 700 points. Valley is a bit more CPU-reliant, though, doing calculations with plants, wind, and rain. So given that the graphics cards didn’t change, seeing Heaven’s score go up by an insignificant amount (4.2%) isn’t surprising.

Further showing that the change in platform didn’t mean much for GPU performance, at least with regard to these GPUs, the graphics scores for the 3DMark benchmarks showed insignificant improvements on the X99 and 5820k versus the 990FX and FX-8350 in Fire Strike and Sky Diver:

  • Fire Strike: 16091 / 15849 (1.5% gain)
  • Sky Diver: 54593 / 52455 (4.1% gain)
  • Cloud Gate: 102438 / 81712 (25.4% gain)

The significant gain with Cloud Gate I’ll speculate is similar to the significant gain with the Valley benchmark: Cloud Gate relies on the CPU more than Fire Strike and Sky Diver for its graphics testing and scoring.

The gains in the overall 3DMark scores, however, show the much better contribution of the Haswell-E processor where the better CPU performance is needed: almost 3,000 points gained on Fire Strike, almost 12,000 points on Sky Diver, and almost 10,000 points gained on Cloud Gate.

It’s clear as well that the GTX 770s are holding things back now. But those will get changed out in a later upgrade.


Given that I’m using a very non-standard means of water-cooling this system, how does it perform, especially compared to the FX-8350?

The FX-8350 would easily get up above 60°C when under a high amount of stress — e.g. transcoding videos — with an EK Supremacy EVO block. But the graphics cards wouldn’t ever really get all that high — they’d touch at 50°C, maybe a little higher, but it’d take a while to get there, and the temperatures would typically hover in the mid-40s.

On Mira, after running a string of benchmarks, the GPUs would get into about the mid-40s°C. The CPU also touched in the low 40s on the hottest core.

But for a good temperature test, I took a BD rip of the latest Jungle Book (I own the physical copy as well) and transcoded it with Handbrake. The original file was 24.3GB. It took about 21 minutes to transcode and kept the CPU pegged at 100% the entire time, with the cores all running at the boost clock of 3.6GHz. At the time I write this, I’m using just straight distilled water as the coolant.

The CPU temperature jumped up to around 40C almost immediately. During the transcode, the hottest core hit 43°C, which was also the package temperature, with the coolest core being at 39°C.


And that is why I have an external radiator box, and why external water cooling had me intrigued. These temperatures are certainly rather interesting as well given that the i7-5820k is specified at a higher TDP than the FX-8350 — 140W and 125W, respectively. So easily the water block is the variable here, where the EK Supremacy EVO isn’t able to perform nearly as well as the Heatkiller IV. Which makes sense since I don’t recall seeing temperatures nearly as high with the Koolance CPU-380A as I saw with the Supremacy. Oh well.


Main system:

  • CPU: Intel i7-5820k
  • Mainboard: ASUS Sabertooth X99
  • RAM: EVGA DDR4-3200 2x8GB (running at XMP profile)
  • GPUs: 2xPNY GTX 770 4GB OC
  • Chassis: NZXT H440 Black
  • Power supply: EVGA 1050 GS

Water cooling system and radiator box:

  • CPU block: Watercool Heatkiller IV Intel Pro
  • GPU blocks: Watercool Heatkiller GPU-X³ GTX 680
  • Radiators: XSPC EX360 (x3)
  • Pump: Koolance PMP-450S with AlphaCool HF D5 clear housing
  • Reservoir: EKWB EK-RES X3 250 Lite with Multiport Top and 140mm Internal Tube
  • Tubing: Primochill Primoflex Advanced LRT 3/8″x1/2″
  • Fans: Cougar CF-V12HB
  • Housing: Mountain Mods Pedestal 18 with Triple-120 panel

So for now the system is complete. About the only other change I’ll be making will be to drain out the distilled water and replace it with Mayhem’s X1 clear coolant and installing a bright white light to illuminate the system behind the dark window.

And later down the line will be a GPU upgrade, pulling out the GTX 770s and replacing them with, likely, a GTX 1080.


Mira – II

Mira (Omicron Ceti)
Mira (Omicron Ceti)

That is a rendering of Mira in Space Engine 0.9.8, a screenshot I snapped from within the software. Mira is the Bayer designation for Omicron Ceti (ο Ceti), a symbiotic binary star system about 300 light years from Earth in the Cetus constellation. Mira A is a red giant star, and Mira B (VZ Ceti) is a white dwarf.

With that out of the way, let’s get back into the build.

New chassis

As functional as the Zalman chassis has been, I decided I didn’t want to keep with it for this build. But for the switch, I still required another mid-tower chassis with water cooling grommets. And the pickings weren’t all that great.

In the Corsair lineup, I was really impressed with and considered the Carbide Clear 400C as it provided for a full side-window. But without water-cooling grommets, the case would have to be modified or I’d have to find a different way to route tubing to get it through a Koolance PCI L-bracket. The same with the very impressive Crystal 460X (plus it’s available from only 1 reseller at the time I write this, and they were out of stock). The grommets on the Obsidian 450D also aren’t grommets but merely holes in steel, and they were too large to fit any pass-through fittings on the market.

So I looked at NZXT and Fractal Design. Fractal Design doesn’t have any chassis available with water cooling grommets, so they were out. And looking at NZXT, the only options I considered reasonable were the S340 and H440. Only one of which has water cooling grommets on the back.

Any guesses as to which?


An all-black NZXT H440 was the selection.

The size of the water cooling holes is the only downside with this chassis as the holes with the grommets removed are too large for any pass-through fitting available. And while I considered trying to find an alternative means of mounting the fittings into the holes — e.g. using washers — I decided to go with a different route that will actually cut down on the number of fittings that will be in use.

But there was another reason to lean toward this that became apparent when I was researching the chassis. I have four (4) 1TB Western Digital Blue drives left over from another project that never panned out. The H440 has plenty of room to set the drives while allowing for adequate airflow around all of them. And the Sabertooth X99 has plenty of SATA connections. The only question is RAID 0 or RAID 10. And through the BIOS or through Windows.

Next Phase

So after buying the H440 at my local Micro Center, I started building the system into it. And I decided to violate the cardinal rule and not test the hardware before installing the water block — I’ve never had to return base hardware on the system, so I’m not worried.


Only the graphics cards and power supply are going from β Ori. to Mira. And the fittings as well. Everything else is getting set aside to be used for something else. Not sure what just yet. But getting the system finished requires tearing down β Ori. So the next update to this will come after Mira is finished and up and running.

For now, here are some benchmarks I gathered on β Ori. I’ll provide the comparisons to Mira once everything is running.

  • 3DMark Fire Strike: 9797
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 19918
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 25205
  • Unigine Heaven: 1826 (Ultra Quality with Extreme Tessellation)
  • Unigine Valley: 3025 (Extreme HD preset)

For immediate reference, the system is an AMD FX-8350 (stock speeds) with 16GB RAM and two GTX 770s in SLI.


Almost getting it right

I’ve said numerous times that I really don’t like much of what is published about debt collections. Because most articles I’ve seen about the topic get a lot wrong. But the latest article I encountered published by the Los Angeles Times gets it right. Or at least pretty close. But given that it’s from a newspaper, I’d hope they’d get it right.

Sean Pyles wrote the article in question called “How to handle debt that has ‘expired’“. And as said he gets it mostly right, so go and read the article before coming back here as I’m only going to point out the parts where he’s wrong. First, though, I’ll point out what I’ve said numerous times about the statute of limitations, which Sean says right off the bat:

When a debt is older than the statute of limitations, it’s called time-barred debt. That means creditors don’t have a legal right to sue you — though debt collectors may still try. They also can continue to pursue you with phone calls and negative credit reporting.

The statute of limitations only means that a debt collector cannot sue to collect a debt. It doesn’t stop them from contacting you about it or making any other collection attempts. The only thing I would’ve liked to see him include here is the fact that you can, in writing, order the debt collector to not contact you. That will stop one debt collector cold, but won’t stop them from selling it off to someone else, meaning the whole process starts anew.

A debt collector should send you a validation notice within five days of first contacting you. This notice should include the amount owed, date of last payment, who the collector is and how to request information on the original creditor. If you don’t get this notice within 10 days after the debt collector first contacts you, ask for it.

A debt collector MUST send you a validation notice within five days of first contact. And that five day mark is the postmark date, not the date you receive it. If they never send it to you, then don’t ask for it. That’s kind of like discovering you have a warrant out against you and then calling the police so they can come and arrest you.

Now here’s a question for you: what if they don’t send it till after the 5-day limit? Are they barred from collecting the debt? No. It merely opens them up to potential penalties under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The debt is still a contract that can be enforced.

One thing I will point out here: Sean’s statements regarding validation are the most accurate statements I’ve seen in ANY article written about collections. Seriously, it brings a tear to my eye reading it. Until he gets to the part about disputing the debt:

Be as specific as possible in your letter. Say why the debt collection attempt is not valid, including information about payment history or why the debt may not be yours and any other relevant information. Send the letter by certified mail so you get confirmation of receipt.

You don’t need to be specific at all. The law requires that you merely state that you’re disputing the debt. You don’t need to provide anything more, and I’d highly recommend against providing anything more. Go here to find a letter template that you can use to dispute the debt. And if you think that the debt isn’t yours, then you can read my advice on how to interact with the debt collector.

Now while you do have the option to ignore it, Sean’s statements fall woefully short of what could happen and miss a lot of nuance:

When debt is time-barred, you can’t be sued for payment — but the debt doesn’t go away. You may ignore it, but debt collectors and your credit reports won’t.

Furthermore, debt collectors can continue to pursue payment. If you ignore the debt long enough, you risk the current collector selling the debt again.

The statute of limitations is nothing more than an affirmative defense in Court to get the suit dismissed. They can sue you — Sean even says such in the last section of his article — and you will have to show up to Court in order to assert that defense.

The debt will fall of your credit report typically seven (7) years from the date of charge-off, provided you don’t resurrect it. This is what happened to a number of collections accounts I had on my credit report.

This means as well you can have a time-barred debt listed on your credit report unless your State’s limit is higher. And generally you cannot have that entry removed. The statute of limitations that applies to the debt account is tied to your State of residence. Move out of a State where the debt was time-barred to one where it will not be and you can be legitimately sued to have the debt enforced.

And before writing this article, I think Sean should’ve followed the advice he gives about talking with an attorney so he doesn’t provide information that is demonstrably wrong. And he was going so well, for the most part.

If the case goes to court, you’ll probably submit evidence of the date of last payment and information about the bill. Simply stating that the debt is time-barred should be enough to get the case thrown out.

Merely stating the debt is time-barred isn’t enough. You will have to demonstrate the debt is time-barred. So it’s not “probable” that you’ll submit evidence. You will be required to submit that information.

But what if you no longer have the records demonstrating when you last made a payment? There are ways of getting that information, and it typically requires exercising a process called “discovery” and issuing subpoenas to applicable parties to see what records have been preserved. You’ll need to consult an attorney to discuss that option, though, as I highly recommend against going it alone.

Otherwise Sean was mostly correct and it’s one of the most accurate articles I’ve seen written on debt collections.