see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
More to the point, I bought my FredMobile used. A Prius is most likely bought new because there are so few used ones available. No ore was strip-mined in order for me to obtain transportation, no streams polluted with the leavings of polyvinyl extrusions. The Prius, I'm afraid, leaves a great deal of refuse in its wake. The FredMobile was the ultimate in recycling as is buying anything used. Extending that, the furniture in our house all came from consignment stores. That's recycling, right?
Doesn't that make my FredMobile and my Dave Ramsey lifestyle more eco-friendly than that of the Prius drivers? Of course, I don't get to parade my ecological sanctimony around town and drive with my nose in the air, but shouldn't I? Hmmm. That leads me to an interesting idea for a bumpersticker.
You can buy one here.
Well, there is this mantra out there - "live within our means" - and while that sounds really nice . . . and it sounds really responsible, it's meaningless. Our means are completely within our control . . . We have just given away huge corporate subsidies in February; we have given away other tax reductions over many, many years; we've created tax loopholes; in good times, we routinely give away taxes, and then in lean times we never replace those tax deductions or close those loopholes. . . . So "live within our means" doesn't mean anything. The fact is, we have a state with a population that have [sic] needs that we have a moral obligation to provide.Emphasis mine. This is the argument that goes on inside every marriage where money is a problem and one of the two can't control their spending.
In lieu of a divorce from our legislature, some Californians are opting for a trial separation. I wonder why?
(F)or the fourth year in a row, a survey of 543 CEO's found that California's toxic combination of high taxes and intrusive regulations made it the worst place in the nation to do business.Maybe if we nag, harass and abuse our employers and taxpayers a little more, they'll give us more money to spend.
Update: That quote from Noreen sounds like it was dialogue lifted from the last third of Atlas Shrugged.
Who is John Galt?
Monday, June 29, 2009
What's the perfect vacation, you ask? Why, that's simple! It's one so awful, so horrid, so indescribably bad that all subsequent vacations, no matter how boring, seem like paradise by comparison.
Here we go.
Start with a minivan and 5 people - 2 parents and 3 kids. Go to a location that is over 100 degrees and leave the windows rolled up. Don't turn on the AC - explain to the kids that it uses too much fuel. Turn the radio to either country western or death metal. For entertainment, tour tract homes from the car, homes you have no intention of buying. For refreshment, buy McDonalds strawberry shakes, but don't drink them until they're melted and warm.
There. That's a good start. The floor is now open for improvements!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
We should create a legal requirement that political elites have to use the same system they foist on everyone else. They should have to wait for hours in doctors’ offices. They should have to wait weeks or months for tests. They should be fobbed off on emergency rooms if they get sick over the weekend. They should be denied any Hail Mary test, medication or procedure. They should get the entire politically-managed health-care experience.Awesome. She needs to add one extra caveat. The politicians should also be taxed according to what they spend in the government budget. That is, if the deficit per capita is $1500, then the politician with a family of four should pay an additional $6000 per year in taxes.
This standard should extend to all elected officials, political appointees and their immediate families.
What's sauce for the goose ...
I haven't been able to put my finger on just why the shopping mall has become so alien to me. Perhaps I've become so steeped in Dave Ramseyism that the concept of buying-as-entertainment is subconsciously morally repugnant.
How about you? How often do you visit shopping malls? Is it a pleasant experience or is it something you avoid at all costs?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I took this photo today as we flew from San Diego to San Jose. I used my little Canon PowerShot to take the photo and then loaded it onto my tiny Acer Aspire One netbook. I used Picnik to edit it - in this case, I just reduced the resolution so I didn't use so much of my memory in Picasa where this blog's photos are stored.
I'm not sure what it looks like. The windows of the plane were clouded with scratches and the screen of the netbook is pretty small, so quality control is difficult. I'm not surprised at this - there's got to be a price to be paid for such a tiny footprint.
On the plus side, this whole blogging travel kit is so small and so light that I packed it in my normal luggage and didn't need an extra case like I do for my normal laptop.
I'd love it if you left a comment and let me know what you thought of the photo.
June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Television programs such as “The Simpsons” and “CSI” are for the first time commanding higher advertising rates at Web sites including Hulu.com and TV.com than on prime-time TV.It's all about the cash and chasing the consumers who have it. Can't you see some fantastically novel entertainment that combines video and audience feedback? I wonder if you could create a serious TV show and turn it into a comedy by running a filtered set of audience tweets across the bottom of the screen a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.
The premium rates in the just-ended 2008-2009 television season are mainly for shows that rank among the most-watched by Nielsen Co., said David Poltrack, chief research officer at New York-based CBS Corp., which is home to “CSI” and owns TV.com.
Marketers, who are now considering commitments for the 2009-2010 TV season, are willing to pay more because TV.com and Hulu.com, owned by investors including News Corp., NBC and Walt Disney Co., provide committed viewers who actively seek out shows. There are fewer commercials, and consumers are twice as likely to recall Web ads, Poltrack said, citing Nielsen.
Friday, June 26, 2009
June 26 (Bloomberg) -- China’s central bank renewed its call for a new global currency and said the International Monetary Fund should manage more of members’ foreign-exchange reserves, triggering a decline in the U.S. dollar.Let's borrow some more money from the Chinese and get the a really, really nice present.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Imagine that the revolution taking place right now in the streets of Tehran re-occurs in 2013. Further assume that Iran has the bomb. Several, in fact. Assume further that this time, the Iranian Army decides to intervene on the side of the revolution because everyone except the Revolutionary Guard has had quite enough of the mullahs and their corruption and incompetence.
What happens as the mullahs' world falls apart?
First off, as Christopher Hitchens points out, the mullahs really believe all that death to America and death to Israel stuff.
One of the signs of Iran's underdevelopment is the culture of rumor and paranoia that attributes all ills to the manipulation of various demons and satans.Christopher Hitchens also points out that their paranoia and hatred of the US, UK and Israel has very little to do with reality.
There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran's internal affairs. The deep belief that everything—especially anything in English—is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy.So, given this, as their regime collapses, will the mullahs:
It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs, cynical and corrupt as they may be, are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears that would make a stupefied medieval European peasant seem mentally sturdy and resourceful by comparison.
a) go quietly into the night
b) launch everything they have against the objects of their hate?
I would suggest that option b) is the most likely. America would then be faced with the choice of losing one or more cities to nuclear weapons or supporting the Iranian regime against the protestors. The cost of losing a city might be higher than you think. The problem of a nuclear attack doesn't stop with the hundreds of thousands that would be vaporized. If you thought 9/11 was bad for business, just wait until a major transportation center like Chicago is blasted off the map.
Now let's assume that there is no revolution and that instead, Iran continues its meddling in other countries' affairs through the use of proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah - perhaps enhanced by similar groups in the UK or US. Unless the destruction they cause in the US rises to the level of nuclear attack, how do you stop it? Israel has shown that police forces and conventional armies operating under restrictive rules of engagement can't prevent attacks. You have to cut off the source of their support.
However, you won't be able to do that because that leads you back to the first scenario wherein the cornered mullahs unleash nuclear weapons on your cities. You would be reduced to protecting the demented regime that attacks you because you value life and civilization and they do not.
Finally, you won't be able to let anyone overthrow the mullahs because no matter who it is - Russia, Pakistan or the combined Arab states, the end result is the same for the US and UK. As the Great Satan, it won't matter who is actually attacking them, some of those bombs will be reserved for us. We will become Iran's de facto ally against the rest of the world.
This revolution in Iran could be our last chance to prevent the world from becoming a knowing, willing host to a very dangerous parasite.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
If this leads to the incineration of Chicago, what will we give then to take all of this moral purity back?
Quick review: It's a full-featured laptop, only smaller. I like it!
Slightly longer version: It's essentially a standard laptop with a small screen and no CD drive. The screen size is only a mild sacrifice as you can still read Cheezburgers with it and watch YouTube videos. I don't miss the CD drive at all. It comes with Windows XP, my preferred OS, already installed. The WLAN connected to my home network without any fuss.
The most surprising part about the Acer are the speakers. They have an impressively rich sound. I dialed up the celebration scene from The Caine Mutiny and the dialogue was just as deep and manly from the tiny Aspire One as it would be from a normal TV - no tinny, wimpy voices here!
Having said all that, it suffers from the same problems that all laptops do. It's small. I still love working on my big, dual-monitored desktop machine (where I am writing this now). Neither the Aspire nor my other laptop have the CPU horsepower to run Adobe Creative Suite programs for anything other than emergency situations. The Aspire is clearly underpowered in this respect, but you don't buy a Netbook to edit videos with Premiere Pro, you buy it because you can take it anywhere and surf the Interweb Tubes.
I haven't used it for mobile blogging yet, but this weekend we will be going up to Santa Clara. I'll bring the Aspire and one of my small cameras (not my Nikon artillery piece) and see what I can do mobile blogging with a very small footprint. I'm sure it will do just fine.
Finally, its compact size and low cost make it ideal for toting around the house for those times when you want to surf the web or stream music and you don't want to set up a base camp for some bigger laptop. It will be great in the kitchen when I want to scan through Cook's recipes or watch instructional videos on cooking like this one. I plan to have a stereo jack waiting for it on my home audio system so I can use it for Internet radio or Pandion or just listening to my music.
All in all - I really like it.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
H/T: Our Grand Inquisitor
Update: Christopher Hitchens points out that Obama's fears of being a foil for the Iranian government are pointless. Because of their delusions and paranoia, we already are a foil and no amount of washing our hands and self-flagellation for real or imagined sins will change that.
There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran's internal affairs. The deep belief that everything—especially anything in English—is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Mr. Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo did not reshape the Islamic landscape. I was in Saudi Arabia when Mr. Obama traveled to Riyadh and Cairo. The earth did not move, life went on as usual. There were countless people puzzled by the presumption of the entire exercise, an outsider walking into sacred matters of their faith. In Saudi Arabia, and in the Arabic commentaries of other lands, there was unease that so complicated an ideological and cultural terrain could be approached with such ease and haste.Here's the grizzly's reaction to all the rainbows and unicorns offered by the president.
June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the security forces will crush further protests over the disputed presidential vote ...Just imagine what will happen when the Care Bears meet up with a nuclear-armed grizzly.
“The saboteurs must stop their actions” or face “the decisive and revolutionary action of the children of the nation in the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and other security and military forces, to put an end to the chaos,” the state-run Mehr news agency cited the Revolutionary Guards as saying today in a statement.
First off, Bodie is a 20-30# cocker spaniel mix. He's young and full of joyous energy. Bodie lives with my fiancee and he and our Maximum Leader had never met.
Our Maximum Leader is 14# and about 10 years old. She's not afraid to tell you when she's grumpy. At the sight of Bodie, she got grumpy very quickly.
Our new house is a two-story place and she ran up to the top of the stairs and camped out there. We had closed the doors to the rooms upstairs so she couldn't hide under the beds. From her commanding position on the heights, however, she had a sufficient tactical advantage over the incoherently curious canine. At first he ran halfway up the stairs and barked at her while she growled and hissed. We finally convinced him, through a mix of petting and yelling that there was no need to bark. We convinced her through a mix of petting and treats that her position as Maximum Leader was not threatened.
Over several introductions during the weekend, they gradually grew accustomed to each other. We're now at the stage where he is just mildly curious and she is just mildly enraged. Yesterday, I put out some treats for her at the top of the stairs and Bodie ran up to see what they were and perhaps eat a few. Our Maximum Leader munched them while growling at him. It was a riot. It sounded like this: "Mmmph grrrowwwrrrr nom nom grrrr mmmph grrrrr nom nom grrrrowwwrrr..." At one point she was growling at him, baring her fangs with her mouth full of treat. Bodie got the message and I just laughed until tears ran down my cheeks.
We're debating a proper theocratic name for Bodie. The current favorite, after a suggestion by Kelly the Little Black Dog, is to make him our Captain of the Guards. After all, the Vatican has Swiss Guards, why shouldn't the Catican (thanks, Niall!) have a Cocker Guard?
We haven't decided on his title yet, so if you want to leave a suggestion in the comments, please feel free.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Meanwhile, The Liberator Today has more. Dig his Social Security Returns Calculator link. I came out with a -0.07% rate of return on my Social Security contributions over my lifetime.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
When you get right down to it, who are we to judge who's right and who's wrong? After all, we're just as guilty as anyone else. I mean, who can forget how we endangered the Snail Darter?
H/T: Gateway Pundit.
Update: Don't worry, though. The One is on the job.
Newsmax has learned that the Obama administration also has zeroed out funding for pro-democracy programs inside Iran from the State Department budget for fiscal 2010
This week on Dennis Prager's radio program, he was discussing theology with a Jewish physicist and they briefly touched upon the issue of such prayers. Dennis said he wasn't a big believer in it and gave the example of all the people who died under Mao, some 75,000,000 or so, who most likely prayed and yet died anyway. I'd like to suggest that this is short-sighted.
When you pray for someone, it is an act of selflessness. For the moment you are praying, you are subordinating your desires to those of someone else. You are also acknowledging your (very small) place in the world. Whether or not the desired outcome is achieved, you have acted with charity and humility. That in itself is a worthwhile thing.
June 20 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said a new agency he proposed this week as part of an overhaul of U.S. financial regulations will protect consumers from deceptive lending practices.Now take a look at this.
A close examination of their finances shows that the Obamas were living off lines of credit along with other income for several years until 2005, when Obama's book royalties came through and Michelle received her 260% pay raise at the University of Chicago ...Pray tell me, oh great regulatory champions of the left, how would one prevent the other?
Tax returns for 2004 reveal $14,395 in mortgage deductions. If we assume an effective interest rate of 6%, then they owed about $240,000 on a home they purchased for about $159,250.
This means they spent perhaps $80,000 beyond their income from 1999 to 2004
Friday, June 19, 2009
Our current recession/depression is a balance sheet recession. People, companies and nations have too much debt. National governments have responded with still more borrowing and spending with predictable results. Dig these charts from Vox comparing the current recession with the Great Depression.
Budget deficits across the globe
That's pretty much what you'd expect if your problem was too much debt.
Here's the rest of the essay. It has a lot more information and is worth a read.
So why all the panting, sweaty palms and squealing? Charles Krauthammer made an interesting point during a rant about Obama's supine response to Iran the other day.
But the rest of the media (other than Fox News) are entirely in the tank, and it's embarrassing. You would think it would be embarrassment that would deter them.Bingo!
Obama does u-turns on all kinds of policies — on taking money in campaigns, on rendition, on eavesdropping, on all kinds of issues, and the press does a u-turn, a whiplash u-turn in step.
In the end, what you have to could conclude is that it is, in part, ideological affinity with Obama, but also in part, he's a rock star, and he sells.
The MSM, traditionally pack animals anyway, have latched onto him like a rock star. No one who cared about their popularity in high school in 1975 wanted to be the first one to say, "You know, I really don't like KISS. In fact, their music is awful." That's where we are right now. A cloistered pack with modest intelligence following a rock star around like groupies because none of them want to be considered uncool.
* - Or the equivalent from Time.
The only problem is that she hates it. All she wants is to roam in the front yard and from there, the rest of the world. Admittedly, the back yard is a barren wasteland and we're taking steps to make it more of the jungle paradise she prefers, but until then we have to escort her on forays into the Forbidden Zone.
"Roger that, Catican Base, we're tracking her."
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I've got Adobe CS4 Uber Collection* and included in it is Adobe Contribute, their blog interface tool. It allows you to create blog posts on your local machine and then publish them to blogspot. So far, meh. I've already encountered a script error. It could be something with one of the widgets on my sidebars, but I'm not sure.
When you edit in contribute, you edit directly on the blog page. Instead of an edit window, right now I see this.
Hmmm. I was going to insert a screencap here, but I can't do it. I can insert and image, but it has to be on the Interweb Tubes already. I can't just insert one from my local hard drive. Most annoying.
This is going to need some work. I'm going to publish now and then come back to see what else I can do.
Update: I think I can do this now by a simple drag and drop of the image. Here we go.
Well, that seemed to work. You can see what a zany, cluttered workspace I'm having to use. I think it's useless as all I want is the ability to edit an entry with better tools than you have in the standard blogger edit screen.
When I tried to publish with the image, I got an error. No uploading images for you! This is worthless.Update 2: I'm back in the blogger editor. here's the image I was trying to share with you.
* - at least I think it's called the Uber collection. I could be wrong.
Here's a teaser quote from it.
She made a mistake, however, when she accused Grandfather, a new member of the Church, but a long time neighbor, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old blue pickup truck parked in front of the town’s one and only bar all afternoon.
Oh well, enjoy the photo!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Every financial crisis we've ever had has been met with the same prescription. Spend, spend, spend! Deficits are a long-term problem - we have problems now! Deal with today's problems with everything we've got because tomorrow may never come at all.
In the age of central banking, economists like PK (Paul Krugman) have convinced us they have the power to fight off the business cycle. Like a 19th century street mountebank hawking snake oil, they peddle a miracle elixir that can reverse the symptoms of any recession. Its two magic ingredients—government spending and central bank money-printing—are available in different proportions, depending on the particular recessionary symptoms with which the “victim” is stricken.Option Armageddon has done the hard work of going through Krugman's articles and found example after example through the decades of him suggesting we need to ignore debt and focus on spending. It reminds me of an old song ...
The economists show us charts and regressions and other complicated arguments that no one unfamiliar with their argot can follow. Deep down, we all know it’s (nonsense). We know at a gut level that more debt and more inflation won’t actually cure what ails us, that it will just mask the symptoms for a time. Until, well, the next time we face economic difficulties. At which point the economists will come back to sell us a new (better!) variety of snake oil.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Once Iran has the bomb, it will be nearly impossible to foment a revolution against the mullahs. You've got one going right now, it just needs some support to kick the loons out and replace it with a more enlightened and friendly republic.
And what are we doing? Nothing.
In Robert Samuelson's excellent book, The Good Life and Its Discontents: The American Dream in the Age of Entitlement, he has a chapter on how the US transformed from a nation that balanced its budget to one that accepted endless deficits. He talks about the corrosive effect this had on society as it gave an example, the largest example possible, of the benefits of living beyond your means. You could have it all, have it forever and never have to save for it or pay for it. We're now about 40 years down that path and we're dealing with the question of how to provide universal health care when the real question is should we provide universal health care.
Morality is simple when there is only one dimension to the problem. That is, if you run over a duckling on an otherwise carless road while driving slow enough to get out of the way, people can ask you with indignity, "Why did you do that?" That's where we are right now. Since we've decoupled having from earning, everything that the underclass needs can be demanded from society at large as there is no other consideration besides need.
However, if you pose the question this way: "Shall we give health care to the poor and further burden our children with debt or shall we try to relieve our children of the debt we have laid upon them and allow the poor to suffer?" the issue becomes much murkier.
Robert Samuelson himself blasts the President's health care plan, but misses his own point.
The one certain consequence of expanding insurance coverage is that it would raise spending. When people have insurance, they use more health services. That's one reason Obama's campaign proposal was estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over a decade (the other reason is that the federal government would pick up some costs now paid by others). Indeed, the higher demand for health care might raise costs across the board, increasing both government spending and private premiums.If you change the mindset and approach the problem from an earning point of view, the above excerpt looks something like this.
The one certain consequence of expanding insurance coverage is that it would force our children to work harder and earn more. When people have insurance, they use more health services. That's one reason Obama's campaign proposal was estimated to force our children to earn an additional $1.2 trillion over a decade. Indeed, the higher demand for health care might raise costs across the board, increasing the demand on our children to work longer hours and earn more money to pay for it.The health care debate is being framed around the wrong choice of words. It's all about costs and how it will raise or lower them as if costs had no connection to anything else in the world. With an existing budget deficit, all of the additional costs will force our children to work harder, longer hours and earn more money so they can pay for what we're trying to buy.
Sitting around discussing this premium or that and how this or that procedure would be covered is a tangent to the real discussion that needs to take place.
How much overtime will the children in our kindergartens and preschools today have to work in order to pay for this? Further: If they will have to pay for our health care, who will pay for theirs?
Monday, June 15, 2009
The cloudy, chilly and rainy open to June here has been the talk of the town. So far this June is running more than 12 degrees cooler than last year, and the clouds, rain and chilly lake winds have been persistent. The average temperature at O'Hare International Airport through Friday has been only 59.5 degrees: nearly 7 degrees below normal and the coldest since records there began 50 years ago.If the temperature continues to drop at this rate, by December it will be -13 degrees and a year after that, -133 degrees.
If you'll excuse me, I need to go outside and run in circles, screaming.
I've been thinking recently that I'd love to get a macro shot of her eyes. Flashless, of course. I think you'd be able to make some wonderful Photoshop artwork with that as a base image.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The entire point of universal coverage is just that - covering everyone with health care. That it may destroy our pharmaceutical research industry seems to be acceptible collateral damage. That it ends up being another benefit to those who haven't earned it is immaterial. The goal is to allow them to live their lives as they do right now without concern about how they will earn health care coverage.
Dittos with the GM and Chrysler bailouts. The government is rewarding organizations who have proven themselves failures so that there is minimal change to the way we live.
I would argue that innovation and progress requires some amount of destruction and discomfort. That's not a new thought - the creative destruction of capitalism has been widely discussed. What I would suggest is that all of the goodies we want to preserve are things we cannot pay for and continued access to them will require economic growth that brings with it the creative destruction we're trying to stop.
That is, we are striving for stability in an inherently unstable system.
Once we moved, she adapted to the new place very quickly. Today we're going to cat-proof the backyard so she can go outside whenever she wants. Experts recommend you keep your cat inside for two weeks after a move, but she's always needed much less time than that. She's dying to get out there right now. Once we get the fence improvements up, I'll try to take some JungleCat (more like DesertCat with our yard) photos and post them.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The debt is increasing with no indication that the economy is growing to service it.
- Real economy indicators show signs of stabilization. See in particular the charts on manufacturing sentiment, nonfarm payrolls, oil prices, and car sales. Nonetheless, many of these indicators remain worse than anything hitherto experienced in the postwar period.
- The collapse in the federal government’s finances is unprecedented, raising questions about how the government deficit will be brought under control.
The solution, of course, is universal health care.
If you're having to reduce your standard of living because you've got too much debt, the answer is not more debt. While households and businesses understand this and are deleveraging (paying down their debt) the Federal government is more than taking up the slack. Dig this chart from Option Armageddon.
Here's a bit of the analysis to go with it.
It’s been said that the income statement is the past, but the balance sheet is the future. Our balance sheet is getting worse. Those who see “green shoots” believe the crisis is abating. But they don’t understand its origin: a credit bubble that, in the aggregate, continues to inflate. The equity value of our economy is going down—think the stock market and housing equity (see below). At the same time our debt is going up. In other words, America’s leverage continues to expand.It's crazy, man. Just crazy.
Friday, June 12, 2009
A more accurate version of the statement would be this: those that cannot afford healthcare have the right to force you to earn it for them.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Please help us!
Meanwhile, I was hunting for Hugo Drax lines from Moonraker and I came across this.
So we're not protecting long clips from the Bond franchise, but The Monkees and Gene Kelly are off limits?
I don't get it.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
June 10 (Bloomberg) -- Russia and Brazil, seeking to reduce their dependence on the dollar, announced plans to buy $20 billion of bonds from the International Monetary Fund and diversify foreign-currency reserves.How could this have happened? We may need to spend more money to find out.
Russia’s central bank said it may cut investments in U.S. Treasuries, currently valued at as much as $140 billion, a week after China said it may reduce reliance on the dollar and American bonds. Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega said his country will purchase $10 billion of debt sold by the IMF, China will buy $50 billion and India may announce similar funding.
I found the audio clip on the Interweb Tubes!. Here it is for your listening pleasure.
While many correctly suggest that we could have had this kind of unemployment without the $800B price tag, there's a bigger point that is being missed.
The overshoot in the unemployment rate doesn't just show that the Stimuloid Porkgasm™ was a total waste of printed money, it shows that the economic models upon which it and all other macroeconomic decisions are being based is completely wrong. The model isn't even close to predicting reality. It didn't get the slope right, it didn't get the second derivative right, it's missing every metric of curve-fitting you can think of and missing them by a country mile.
In a talk at Google, Mish points out a similar problem with the underlying conventional wisdom that has gotten us to this point. He talks about how the Fed inflated one bubble after another - first the dot com bubble and then the real estate bubble and when each one popped with disastrous results, the economic soothsayers all exclaimed that no one could have seen this coming.
For those of you on the left who claim some kind of prescience, I point you to Barney Frank's and the Congressional Black Caucus' undying defense of the hopelessly bankrupt Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of whom were six-figure jobs factories for retired Democratic political operatives.
In any case, there were those who called these bubbles. Mish and Nouriel Roubini come to mind immediately. It's just that none of them live in the same intellectual world as Paul Krugman, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner or Hank Paulson. The folks who are and have been making the macroeconomic decisions live in the world of that graph, minus the real data points.
What the unemployment number shows is that they have no clue at all about how the economy really works.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
We moved everything into our new house (most of it is still in boxes) and we've managed to bring the Interweb Tubes into our house. Hurrah! I've got my morning coffee, our Maximum Leader is exploring the house after spending the night in the Catican* and I'm surfing the 'net.
It's all coming together.
* - Our Holy Scribe came up with this moniker for the garage in a comment to the post that describes our new arrangements.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
In November 2008 a Dutch journalist, Joanie de Rijke, was abducted by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. She was held captive, raped repeatedly, and released after six days for a ransom of 100,000 euros ($137,000). After her ordeal, she acknowledged that her captors “did horrible things to me,” but added in several media interviews “They also respected me,” and emphasized “They are not monsters.”The Dutch politician who spoke out against her treatment and her response to her captors' behavior has been roundly criticized.
OK, that's it then. That's a wrap on the multiculturalists' world, wouldn't you say? Even when they're kidnapped and raped, they can't bring themselves to pass judgment on the pond scum* that did so.
* - I apologize to pond scum for this comparison.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
* - it could hardly get worse.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note and Fannie Mae mortgage bonds are higher than they were before the Federal Reserve said March 18 that it would buy as much as $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities to help drive down borrowing costs.$1.2T down, infinity to go.
The Fed’s program, along with a plan to buy as much as $300 billion in Treasury securities, helped push rates to a record low 4.78 percent twice in April.
Treasury yields are climbing as investors anticipate a greater supply of government debt being sold to fund federal spending.
June 4 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama pledged to “seek a new beginning” between the U.S. and the Muslim world, calling for people in both societies to find common ground and end a “cycle of suspicion and discord.”When will there be a reciprocal visit? Considering that our last several wars have all been fought to defend Moslems, it might be a good idea to ask this question.
I mean, between apologizing for being such a pack of jerks to them, of course.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
* - We're not always the tidiest of bloggers, you know.
I had half-Mexican-American students who had Hispanic first names and fathers — something like a Horacio Dominquez or Jacinta Guzman — who were fully assimilated, upper-middle-class, did not speak a word of Spanish, but were active in La Raza-like groups and, presto, were seen as authentic enough to be given the benefits of unspoken affirmative action.Going one level of generalization up, we've decided that failure is something to be honored. La Raza does not elevate success, but instead emphasizes failure by shouting constantly about how that failure can be blamed on someone else. If La Raza and their ilk bragged continuously about the achievements of their members and talked about how self-sufficient, prosperous and industrious they were, there would be no way they could seek reparations for alleged past crimes.
The racial spoils system implicitly embraced by Judge Sotomayor is predicated on failure.
In other news, the US is running a $1.8T deficit this year. Apparently we have too much failure (the noble victims who are paid redress) and not enough success (the villains who pay for their crimes).
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
I should add that I'm considering the fundamental economics and not the way the government picks winners and losers. The $7500 battery tax credit is equivalent to paying for all of the gasoline a 40mpg gasoline car would use to go 150,000 miles.Awesome.
So for these small cars the government subsidy is equal to the TOTAL COST of fuel over the lifetime of the vehicle. That's not tilting the playing fields so much as holding it up by one end and shaking.
For $7500, it would make sense to install a cistern on top of a car to collect rainwater if that's what the government thought you should do.
So obviously with Obama picking winners from the throne, the fundamental economics won't really matter. Of course, as demonstrated by the Ethanol disaster, the danger in not understanding the stupidity of the central government plan is that the central planners are fickle and subject to change based on the whimsy of the political winds.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Our political system works best when a president faces checks on his power. But the main checks on Obama are modest. They come from congressional Democrats, who largely share his goals if not always his means. The leaderless and confused Republicans don't provide effective opposition. And the press -- on domestic, if not foreign, policy -- has so far largely abdicated its role as skeptical observer.It would be practically impossible to enact a substantially fascist change in America without complicity by the MSM. That Robert Samuelson is noticing this shows that there is indeed hope.
Obama has inspired a collective fawning. What started in the campaign (the chief victim was Hillary Clinton, not John McCain) has continued, as a study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism shows. It concludes: "President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House."
The study examined 1,261 stores by The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC, Newsweek magazine and the "NewsHour" on PBS. Favorable stories (42 percent) were double the unfavorable (20 percent) , while the rest were "neutral" or "mixed." Obama's treatment contrasts sharply with coverage in the first two months of the presidencies of Bush (22 percent of stories favorable) and Clinton (27 percent).
* - Mr. Samuelson is no one's idea of a conservative. Up until January 20, 2009, he was very critical of President Bush.
School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded "self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort," to quote the school's website.Here's the scoreboard.
Among the thousands of public schools in California, only four middle schools and three high schools score higher. None of them serves mostly underprivileged children.The student-teacher ratio is 27:1. So much for the thought that we need hordes of new teachers.
At American Indian, the largest ethnic group is Asian, followed by Latinos and African Americans. Some of the schools' critics contend that high-scoring Asian Americans are driving the test scores, but blacks and Latinos do roughly as well -- in fact, better on some tests.
That makes American Indian a rarity in American education, defying the axiom that poor black and Latino children will lag behind others in school.
Here's the school's website. It's loads of fun.
What it shows is that total US borrowing has not risen. However, the borrowing is now entirely done by the government. Why does this matter? Isn't it a good thing that we're not increasing our borrowing?
Here's the issue. Simplified, people borrow to finance either lifestyle or homes. Businesses borrow to finance growth. Governments borrow to finance benefits. The chart suggests that we can expect lower growth while the population learns to expect higher benefits. Borrowing increases debt servicing obligations. Lower growth decreases the ability to pay those. Someone, somewhere is going to have to increase their profits substantially to pay the interest on this debt. This chart shows pretty conclusively that such mundane matters are of little interest to us right now.
Example: Proctor and Gamble borrows so that they can make more money in the future. The Department of Health and Human Services borrows so it can hand out checks to people. One leads to the ability to pay back the debt, the other leads to the expectation that these checks will coninue ad infinitum.
Not to worry, though. This won't go on forever.