Thursday, January 31, 2013

Women and Children First

... first to sacrifice, first to suffer, first to die.

Toure Neblett, hipster MSNBC host, killed his own child because it was inconvenient. Toure came out and said as much on the air.
I like the way Toure's top button is undone and the collar folds down. Very chic!
There's a good takedown of Toure over at Kelly Clinger's. While it's all worth reading, here's the particular tidbit that struck me.
Toure begins by talking about a relationship he was in 15 years ago. He says, “I was in a committed relationship with a woman I knew was not the one. She also knew it probably wasn’t going to work out…” If you are in a relationship that you KNOW isn’t going to work out, why continue to call it a committed relationship and stay in it? He goes on to say “…and then she got pregnant…” ... 
“I knew that the pregnant woman and I were not going to be able to form a lasting family.” Then why have sex like a married couple, who is ready for the real commitment of a family? Talk about a picture of selfishness and cowardice. 
“She decided it was best to have an abortion… and in some ways that choice saved my life.”What a weak, narcissistic response to having your child killed…that hiring a hit man to kill someone who had half of your DNA saved you.
Yay! Toure was saved! This is the part where we should all be nodding our heads (or waggling them side to side) and saying, "That's right. You got to save yourself, man."

It's the part where a grown man helped the woman who was sexually gratifying him to kill his child. It's the part where the grown man shrugged his shoulders at that woman's possible post-abortive depression. It's the part where Toure was able to put on his sport coat over his casual clothes and stroll down the street knowing he didn't have anything to do that day other than find someone else to boink.

Women and children first.

Addendum: I feel very proud of  myself that I made it all the way through this blog post and didn't call Toure a subhuman piece of filth or a moral scrofula. I deserve a cookie.

Thanks, Patty

Patty Andrews, the last surviving member of the Andrews Sisters died yesterday. The Andrews Sisters were way before my time, but I love their beautiful harmonies and the way they would team with Bing Crosby on some songs. Here's one of my favorites. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Am A Microsoft Software Pirate

... but I don't want to be.

My Lamborghini laptop (Asus G73S) had a hard drive failure recently. I had prepared myself for this situation and had the Asus recovery DVDs standing by. I bought a replacement hard drive, installed it and went to work restoring the thing. On DVD #2 of 6, the restore failed.

Yarr!  Oops, I mean, Argh!

I've got the Win7 full install disk from the Catican PC, so I took a chance with that one, hoping I could use the Win7 product key from the laptop.

Bzzzt! Wrong answer. The Lamborghini key is for Win7 Professional and the Win7 install disk was Home Premium. They didn't match up and the product key failed. I shrugged and decided to throw caution to the wind and just reused the Catican's product key. It worked.

So now I've got two PCs in the same house running Win7 using the same product keys. I'm a pirate. I don't want to be a pirate, but I can't figure out how to make this work. I don't have a Win7 Professional install disk or even an upgrade disk.

Yarr! Leave a solution in the comments and I'll give ye a share of our doubloons!

Courtyard Is Better Than Marriott

By now, I should know this.

We spent this weekend in Chicago visiting family. We stayed at a Marriott rather than a Courtyard* because Priceline gave us a better deal on the Marriott. That was before the extra charges kicked in.

  • Good points for Marriott hotels: They look nice. Some have really high ceilings, others have suites. Ours was a suite configuration or rather, an almost-suite. Separating the sleeping room from the anteroom was a pair of french doors which let light in from one room to another. The door into the bathroom was a sliding door that banged when you moved it. While the place looked nice, it was functionally indistinguishable from a Courtyard.
  • Bad points for Marriott hotels: Marriott hotels charge extra for parking and Internet. Courtyards do not. We quickly wiped out our savings and that was without buying Internet access. I had french doors, but no Interweb tubes except what I had on my phone. Grrr.

Repeat after me, class: I will never choose a Marriott over a Courtyard again. I will never choose a Marriott over a Courtyard again. I will never choose a Marriott over a Courtyard again....

* - Yes, I know these are brands from the same company.

A Brief Debt / Immigration Rant

Just for fun*, here's the debt clock.
Learn more about us debt.

As I understand it, the Senate is taking up an immigration bill that will provide sweeping changes to the current law. That's the same Senate that hasn't passed a budget in four years. My family with kids and parents is down $400,000+, it's getting worse all the time and for some reason they think I want them to deal with immigration.

Maybe it's not me. Maybe there's a ton of other people who want them to deal with immigration. A bunch of folks who know how deep in debt we are, but don't care about anything but more immigration.

Awesome. I get to pay their bills, too.

Unless I pull a John Kerry or better still, a Tina Turner** or Gerard Depardieu and find ways to escape my taxes. Then they'll have to pay their own bills.

I wonder if they know that?

Update: Reich Tax, anyone?

Update 2: Luckily, we still have money for high-speed choo-choos!

* - Hmm. That wasn't really fun, now was it? I need to work on my fun.

** - Dig the poll on that link! Most people have no problem with her bailing out to avoid taxes. They may think differently when they start to realize what it means for them.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Increasing Instability

I'm writing this on a PC in the business center of a Marriott in Chicago. More on that later, but here's a chart from a recent post on Zero Hedge*.

The percentage of the population with a job has decreased to mid-1970s levels.
The nation was quite different in the 1970s. For one thing, we wore a lot more polyester and hideous prints. In addition to the ghastly fashions of the day, there was a much higher percentage of married families and stay-at-home moms. When you look at this chart, the figure for the mid-70s represents greater social stability and the figure for today represents less.

* - I said I'd reduce my consumption of ZH, not eliminate it. At least, that's what I think I said. It's too hard to check as this PC uses IE as it's browser and for whatever reason, the thing can't handle multi-tabbed browsing. Pathetic.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

We'll Find The Money Somewhere

A very good friend of mine of Facebook posted that she absolutely loved President Obama's inaugural address. It was so full of compassion and togetherness. A friend or relative of hers came back with what I would have said - where are we going to get the money? She responded, "We'll find the money somewhere." When he came back yet again with the examples of Greece and Spain, she didn't budge.

That we cared mattered more than whether or not we could.

If we want to change minds about this whole thing, we're going to have to show that the mammoth nanny state is destructive to individuals.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Misty Mountain

I got this shot from an airplane window using my Galaxy S3. I thought it came out quite well. I left it large enough to click. Enjoy!

Shangri-La?

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Love Hillary

... because of moments like this. The whole concept of government accountability is simply alien to her*. Alien as in, "not part of her Universe in any way, shape or form" alien.

How dare you suggest I was lying when I was lying! What difference does it make whether I lied? I should be able to lie at will, Senator! At will! And if the press isn't bothered by this, you shouldn't be bothered, either! You are all but worms under my heel!

Hilarious!

* - This is a natural outgrowth of their ideology. Fascists have this problem in spades.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Best. Pro-life. Ad. Ever.

This is just perfect. It captures the sleaziness and selfishness of the whole abortion industry. And best of all, it was made by a pro-abortion group.



Update: Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings beat us to the punch with this one and has extra commentary that you don't want to miss.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pacific Sunset

The time is ripe for picking up some new sunset videos. Rainy days have given us great clouds and sunset is timed perfectly with my drive home from work. I'm going to start bringing the little Kodak PlaySport and tripod with me in to work, but in the meantime, here's a shot I took yesterday with my Nikon artillery piece from some cliffs overlooking the Pacific. I left it large, so it's worth a click.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Strange Moth

Found this character in our kitchen a few days ago. Been too busy to look him up. Probably blinded the poor thing with my camera's flash.



Nothing too special here, I just liked the narrow wings. Funky looking, no?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Apocalyptic Talk Has Limited Use

I've decided to cut back my consumption of zerohedge for the same reason I stopped reading Mish Shedlock a while back: it's a one-trick pony with limited advisory benefits.

While Googling "what will happen when the bond bubble bursts," I came across a 2010 post on Zerohedge that claimed the bond implosion was imminent. It breathlessly talked about how the Fed was blowing another bubble by purchasing all available Treasuries. That drives bond investors further afield, bringing down rates of all grades of bonds, including junk. Rates being a measure of risk, there are now gobs of money invested in bonds that are mispriced for their risk, thanks to the Fed printing money. That was 2010.

And the beat has gone on.

For me, financial sites have two purposes: general education and investment advice. Zerohedge has reached the end of its lifespan for me as a source of general education and, like Mish, it's never been a good place for near-term investment advice. Doom-mongers rarely are.

I'll still read it from time to time because it posts news articles (almost always bad) that are hard to find elsewhere. In the meantime, I'm wandering around trying to find the answer to my original question: what happens when a bond bubble bursts? My best hit so far is this piece in Forbes from which I recommend these tidbits.
To be flexible and tactical means to temporarily accept the mundane results that are available in a portfolio that has a low risk of capital loss, and that is liquid (“liquid” meaning you can convert any part of it to cash quickly and cheaply). At present, that means to turn the 65/35 portfolio on its head and have less stocks and more bonds. Importantly, the bonds cannot be long-term bonds; short and medium-term only since they have lower risk and greater liquidity.

The objective of this approach is to wait for one or another asset type to become cheap...

The caveat in all these suggestions is that investors must be caution about taking too much risk to in order to eek out a little extra return. The old parable about trying to squeeze blood from a stone comes to mind. In the case, the only blood you’ll find coming out may be your own.
That's useful information. I still firmly believe things are highly unstable and the size of the correction grows as the central banks print money, but instead of just being panic talk, it's useful and actionable.

A 1-year chart of the S&P 500. Not quite the apocalypse Zerohedge and Mish have predicted.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It Looks Safe. For Now.

Yesterday's post clarified quite a few things that had been murky in my mind for a long time. To me, the world is in a very unstable condition, right on the edge of financial chaos. Taking Japan as an example, they owe more than they can ever repay. It's pure fantasy to think their bonds are worth anything in the long term. Dittos for Europe. You are guaranteed that within 10 years, European and Japanese bonds will be worth nothing because they are insolvent and bankrupt, thanks to progressive policies.

Knowing this leads to a bunker mentality. Hunker down, because the storm is coming. But when? How will you know the storm is nigh? Yesterday's post answered it for me. Inflation will be the telltale sign. Here's how I came to that conclusion.
  1. Debts and deficits are not in themselves the problem. As the video I linked to yesterday said, bond vigilantes, those who will sell bonds, driving up rates, have been completely defanged by the central banks. Any and all excess government debt will be bought by central banks by printing money.
  2. Low interest rates will continue on for the foreseeable future. For years now, the US has been borrowing huge amounts of money at low rates, some of it in short term debt. The instant rates rise, the government budget is blown. That means the Fed, which has become codependent with the debt-addicted federal government, will continue to enable them with low interest rates as long as they can and probably even longer.
  3. The trigger for deficits, debt and government budgets to all blow sky-high will be inflation. It will trigger a cascade of bond selling, higher interest rates, deficits far in excess of what we have now and the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The good news is that inflation doesn't show up instantly. It grows over time. I'd say that until inflation starts to show some growth, we can all relax.
We're not there yet. Source.
Interestingly, this is the linchpin of the arguments made by our favorite fascist economic charlatans, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich. Inflation hasn't happened yet and so we should keep borrowing and spending like crazy. What they don't admit is that borrowing more is like making the atomic bomb of upcoming fiscal collapse larger and larger and larger. If we keep borrowing a trillion dollars a year, that bomb is going to trigger events that none of us can foresee.

For now, however, I'm going to chill out.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Little Bit On Japan

There's a great CNBC video up today on Japan's upcoming government debt implosion. It's worth watching the whole thing, but here's the payoff in case you want to skip it.

Japanese 10-year bonds yield about 0.76%. The new Japanese government has told its central bank to print money until they reach an inflation rate of 2%. That means anyone holding those bonds will be losing money as the interest rate will be less than inflation. It also assumes that the Japanese Central Bank can target an inflation rate and not overshoot it.

There is a positively enormous amount of Japanese debt out there.

Source.
When the Japanese bond holders decide they can find better returns elsewhere, and it won't be hard to beat a return of -1.2%, they will sell. They will sell at a loss. That will trigger others to make the same decision, resulting in a cascade effect with everyone trying to escape the stuff and the government with no options but to print huge piles of Yen to buy them up, resulting in more inflation, resulting in worse net yields for the remaining bind holders.

Good thing we're not primed for the same thing here.

Forward.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Just Look At What Those Maniacs Are Up To Now

There are no words to describe how totally out-of-touch those fundamentalist, racist Rethuglicans are with America. Just look at this.
House Republicans have agreed to demand that the Senate pass a budget as a condition of any “long-term” debt-limit agreement. “Unless the Senate acts, there will be no consideration of a long-term debt-ceiling increase,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said in a statement Friday after GOP meetings in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Don't submit to their crazy demands, President Obama! Forward!

Video Of The Month

This one is fantastic. Thank you, Blackstone Films.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sneering At The Goldbugs

... is the theme of this piece by Noah Smith. It's worth reading and the comments are enlightening. Here's tiny tidbit.
If it's obvious that central bank money-printing will drive up the value of gold, why isn't that fact already incorporated into gold prices? In other words, the only central bank actions that should make gold prices rise are surprise actions - like printing even more money than people thought.

Now, Zero Hedge and the whole "goldbugosphere" tries to push the idea that they understand macroeconomics better than everyone else out there - that what is "obvious" to them is not obvious to most of the world, which is still in thrall to (Keynesians, neoclassical econ, Xenu, take your pick).
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it assumes a continuous model of the economy and that there are no inflection points where the equations and/or constants change in a discontinuous fashion. I would argue that just such a discontinuity occurred when we began to monetize debt at the $1T+ rate. As far as I know, we've never done that before, at least not over a prolonged period of time and nations that have done it in the past have all come to ruin.

I'm open for counterexamples.

In the comments are links to a trio of regression charts showing the linkage between M2 money supply* and the price of gold. For some reason, the machine I'm on isn't opening them, but here's a similar chart from Uncommon Wisdom.


There's definitely an inflection point and a correlation after the inflection point. Before the inflection point in money supply, I wouldn't take any bets on a linkage. To me, that says there are two distinct models of the economy at work, one pre-monetization and one post-monetization. That's exactly what you'd expect from looking at the history of other countries who've tried the same thing - late Bourbon France, the Confederacy, Weimar Germany and recent Zimbabwe.

My final take is one I left in the comments of that post: Noah's position seems to be that monetizing debt to the tune of a trillion dollars a year with no end in sight has not been a problem yet and won't be and the gold bugs position is that it has not been a problem yet, but will be.

I'm still not a fan of gold, but I'm certainly not going to sneer at those who are.

* - M2 is the amount of money in circulation in notes and coin plus non-interest-bearing bank deposits, building-society deposits, and National Savings accounts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Did You Need Me?

One one side of the curtain is warm sunshine. On the other side is a cold bedroom. Our Maximum Leader had tucked herself on the sunny side of the curtain and peeked into the room when I came in.

Escaping The iTunes Prison

One of our sons completed his escape from the iEcosystem yesterday when we bought him a Galaxy S3 for his birthday, replacing his iPhone 3s. A month earlier, he had ditched his MacBook for a Windows 8 laptop so he could run his engineering software. He feels that the move, even using the much-maligned Windows 8 OS, has been extremely positive.

One of the best parts for him has been the move off of iTunes and onto Google Music. On the way home from Costco last night, where we had bought the phone, he was cranking up the car stereo, playing his music from the cloud over his S3.

He originally got into the Apple ecosystem because it was cool. He liked that the MacBook because it came with Garage Band and iMovie. When he got into his harder EE classes at school and needed to use circuit design software, cool didn't matter any more. Besides, he'd never really used Garage Band anyway.

His move makes 5 out of 6 of us in the family in the Google / PC world. Apparently, we're not all that uncommon.


Chart: Worldwide Smartphone Vendors Market Share, 3Q 2012Description: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker provides smart phone and feature phone market data in 60 countries and 8 regions by vendor, device type, air interface, operating systems and platforms, and generation. Over 20 additional technical segmentations are provided. The data is provided four times a year and includes historical and forecast trend analysis. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or knagamine@idc.com.Further detail about this tracker can be found at:http://www.idc.com/tracker/showproductinfo.jsp?prod_id=37Tags: Samsung, Apple, Research In Motion, RIM, ZTE, HTC, Mobile Phone, Smartphone, IDC, tracker, Q3 2012, mobile phones, 3Q 2012, market share, galaxy, iPhone Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Few Thoughts On The Opening Salvo Of The Debt Limit Debate

President Obama has come out and said he won't negotiate with the crazed fundamentalists who threaten to destroy life as we know it by holding the debt ceiling hostage while they make insane demands to cut government spending down to levels not seen since Ramses II was forcing the Israelites to drag huge blocks of stone around in the desert*. Simply put, his position is that since the spending is already cast in stone, so to speak, raising the debt ceiling so the government can borrow to pay for it is mandatory. One requires the other.

Speaker Boehner or Ramses II, I'm not sure which. I'll have to consult with Mut.
I have a few semi-random thoughts on the whole thing that, as I'm a blogger, I feel you simply must know in order to have a proper understanding of the whole thing. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • Since both borrowing and spending are required for the cycle to complete itself, why does one take precedence over the other?
  • It's only the House that's fussing over the debt ceiling. They've only got 1/3 responsibility for the spending. They had to compromise on the spending bills. Why doesn't he have to compromise on the debt limit?
  • There's no budget even though it's required by law. The only group to have done it's duty and passed a budget are the crazed fundamentalists. Say what you will about their crazy craziness, at least they've done that. Do they get debate points for that?
  • The President is required by law to submit a budget to Congress by the first Monday in February, but his people have already said that's not going to happen. I guess some laws are better than others.
  • Since it's our debt and not his, is the President really on our side? There's one group of people who are trying to slow down the growth of how much I owe and another side who wants it unlimited. Why am I rooting for the side that wants to stick me with an unlimited bill?

* - I know these aren't his exact words. I'm paraphrasing here. Work with me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Detroit, Illiteracy And Cultural Rot

First, let's clarify something. That well-publicized 47% adult illiteracy rate for Detroit looks to be bunk. As a more trustworthy figure isn't instantly available, let's just leave it at that. More broadly, Statistic Brain* reports the following table:

U.S. Illiteracy StatisticsData
Percent of U.S. adults who can’t read14 %
Number of U.S. adults who can’t read32 Million
Percent of U.S. adults who read below a 5th grade level21 %
Percent of prison inmates who can’t read63 %
Percent of high school graduates who can’t read19 %

More broadly still, when all the statistics are thrown about and the inevitable demand for more teachers or more schools or more programs, but always more More MORE money is made, the questions I have are these:

  • When it's easier than ever to learn how to read, don't these numbers show that a large swath of America doesn't value literacy?
  • Since reading is crucial for self-reliance in the 21st Century, doesn't this imply they don't see the need to be self-reliant? What kind of life can you make for yourself if you can't read?
  • Why don't these people think they need to be self-reliant?

* - It's on the Internet, so it must be true! (I didn't verify the numbers.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sanctuary

We've had some weird moments in the Catican Compound recently. Not bad, just weird. There's a blog post in it somewhere, but not now.

When we went to Mass today, it was like dropping anchor off an island in the Pacific after a bad squall. Seeing the elderly, retired Monsignor greeting us at the door was so welcoming and reassuring and normal. I love that about the Church.
And it's good to see you, too, Father John!
Photo from here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tierrasanta Sunset

While out on training maneuvers with the Catican Guards in the local canyons, I found a place near home and easy to reach that offers a panoramic view of San Diego and the Pacific. We've had rain the last few days and that usually leads to perfect skies for sunsets. Yesterday was no exception. I left the photo pretty large, so it may be worth a click. I love the patterns in the low clouds right on the horizon.

Enjoy.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I Know It's Wrong, But

... I can't help thinking of this

every time I hear about Al Gore making about a billion dollars on carbon offset trading or $100M selling his failed television channel to Al Jazeera. The whole thing screams "LOOTING!" at me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Blue States Are "Makers" And Red States Are "Takers"

There's a Bloomberg article out there today that correlates state fiscal performance with their political leanings. According to the article, in general, blue states are poorly run and have poor credit ratings. The comments dive into the standard talking point arguments, with the progressive side being the following:
One fact worth mentioning here is that, year after year, the deep blue states tend to be the largest net contributors to the federal government, while the deep red states tend to be large net recipients of federal spending. That's right - by and large, the blue states are the "makers," and the red states are the "takers."
Maybe that's true and maybe it's not. The Federal government does so much that lumping all spending into one big pile and accusing a recipient of being a "taker" seems a wild oversimplification. In any case, forget that for a moment and let's just deal with what is.

So the red states are "takers." So what?

Budgets and spending have to deal with what is, not what should be or what would be in a perfectly just and fair world. If your neighbor earns twice what you do, but happens to be a worthless sloth, that doesn't absolve you of managing your finances. It's irrelevant.

If blue states are fiscally irresponsible, it's because blue policies aren't coping with reality. Neighboring states aren't forcing the blue states to spend more than they bring in. That's a choice the blue states make for themselves. If there's a correlation between political leanings and fiscal performance, it's a pretty good indication those policies are inferior.
Just to be clear, not all sloths are worthless.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A Tiny Thought On The Trillion Dollar Coin

TV talking head and Nobel Prize personality Paul Krugman has thrown his weight behind the trillion dollar coin idea. If you haven't heard, the idea is to mint a single coin out of platinum and say it's worth a trillion dollars. The government would then deposit it at the Fed and continue to spend as they wished without concern for the debt ceiling. Debate in Congress from there on out would be meaningless.

Throwing out all the rhetoric, the whole idea is to neutralize political opposition to unlimited government spending. It disenfranchises the half of the population that thinks the government is already too big through the use of a gimmick.

If that's not fascist, nothing is.

Forward!

There Are More Of Us Than You Think

We're out there waiting to be found by each other and connected through social media. Tmotofga, below, could easily be a guest blogger here at the 'Post.

Hmmm. That might be interesting. Any of the SLOBs want to try that? Find someone completely outside of your social circle who looks to have the same values and bring them in as a guest blogger? I'm going to look into that myself.

Connections to new people and groups bring support and strength. That's got to be a good thing.

Update: On Twitter, he's @tmotofga. Worth a follow, for sure.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

We Don't Have A Spending Problem

... so saith President Obama, according to an interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner.
What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: "At one point several weeks ago," Mr. Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.' " ...

The president's insistence that Washington doesn't have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called "a health-care problem." Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—"They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system".
I find that fascinating. How can that make any sense at all? If the problem is health care, then they must believe one or more of the following things about health care:
  1. Private firms are making too much profit,
  2. With more preventive care we can save enormously on later treatments and/or
  3. Health care allocation is way out of balance.
To think that we can find a trillion dollars a year in government savings with those three things boggles the mind. #1 is not born out by the financial statements of the companies involved, #2 sounds like one of those Lean Six Sigma hallucinations about efficiency and #3 flies in the face of millenia of experience about central planning.

Focusing on the profit idea and looking at Aetna, one of our big health insurance firms and presumably a Vortex of Evil, it's net profit margin is 5.88%. That's not exactly robber baron territory right there. It's total net profit for 2011 was $1.98B. Stomping on one of our largest insurance companies and taking all of its disgusting profits would take care of less than half a day of government borrowing.

This is basic math. Does anyone in the White House understand basic math or have their PowerPoint presentations achieved such a level of sophistication that they no longer resemble anything in the real world?

Or is it that their boss thinks he knows more than everyone else and won't listen to reasonable voices so the math never reaches him or is dismissed out of hand?

“I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”
Thanks to Gateway Pundit for the image and the quote.

Monday, January 07, 2013

How About A Zombie Retrovirus?

That is, something that turns zombies into zombie zombies - zombies that want to eat other zombies. The end result would be quite interesting. Are the zombie zombies even slower than regular zombies? Can the living tell zombie zombies from zombies? If you shoot a zombie zombie in the head, does it die? (Why would you want to? Zombie zombies would represent the fastest way to finish off the zombie menace!)

Braaaiiinnnnsss!  Zombie braaaiiinnnnssss!
Photo from Soctt Beale of Laughing Squid.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Should Every American Understand Football?

My daughter finds football boring. She also doesn't understand the game, which might be why she finds it boring. The rest of us in the family are football fans to varying degrees and we all understand the game. Whenever we it turn on, she just goes upstairs and hangs out alone.

Today, one of our boys and I are going to watch the Seattle-Washington playoff game and my daughter is going to watch it with us. She'll have us as resources as well as The Complete Idiot's Guide To Football. She may suffer, but as sure as Bart Starr wore shoulder pads, she'll understand the game when it's over. I would argue that every American should.

In her case, imagine her boyfriend takes her to a playoff party at a friend's house. Instead of watching the game with everyone else, she sits there fiddling around on her phone. When asked, she tells everyone she doesn't understand the game. Plenty of people at the party would label her an idiot for not being able to figure out football. It's a social faux pas.

Football's part of our national cultural heritage. Even if you don't watch it, you ought to understand it. Agreed?

Otherwise you won't participate in moments like this.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

How Much Do You Know About Michael Tomasky?

I'm in a hurry this morning, but I wanted to toss this one out in partial response to this blog post by WC Varones on the collaboration of the Fourth Estate with Obama's Peronist Administration. I want to posit what I think is the proper response to their propagandizing.

Mr. Tomasky has posted a piece in the Daily Beast describing how President Obama can "win" the upcoming debt ceiling fight. It's filled with sophisticated political strategems and shrewd analyses.

So what?

Unless Mr. Tomasky has inherited a pile of money or he's got a second career outside of journalism, the dude's going to be in a world of hurt in a very short while. Forget the politics, just focus on the money. Michael and the rest of us currently owe this much:
Learn more about us debt.

That's not someone else's debt, that's ours.

What's his plan for paying off his share? If he thinks he can soak the rich, he ought to look at Senator John Kerry's decision to house his luxury yacht away from Massachusetts' enormous taxes. If the True Believers among the idle rich aren't paying Mike's share, what makes him think anyone else will?

What happens in Mike's world as the Fed continues to monetize over a trillion dollars of debt each year?

In short, when will Mike start writing articles with Mike's best interests at heart? Does he want President Obama to "win" the debt ceiling fight?

How I Feel About Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights

... is a function of the calendar.


Friday, January 04, 2013

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Stocks, Gold, Dave Ramsey And Inflation

... and real estate. The title was getting too long.

A while back, I linked to a zerohedge post that described the inflationary sweet spot for stocks which turned out to be in the 4% range. That is, as an inflation hedge, your stock returns were best when inflation was between 2 and 6%. I didn't like that analysis as inflation hitting 6% is going to be a way station to much, much bigger problems. Tiny increases in interest rates are going to obliterate the Federal budget through mammoth increases in debt servicing costs.

So stocks are not my favorite investment. How about gold? Well, I understand the arguments made by several of the SLOBs, but I'm not a big fan for anything other than small amounts of it. It's a rock. It just sits there. It's subject to manipulation. It only pays off when you sell it.

Where does that leave us? For me, it's rental property. Middle to low-end housing that you can rent out for a reasonable rate and hopefully keep occupied most of the time. The rent would have to cover at least the mortgage and repairs for starters so it would be cash flow neutral. It has the advantage of being a source of income and in inflationary times, the income would go up while the mortgage would stay the same.

This is where Dave Ramsey comes in. Buy with cash or almost all cash. If you need anything more than a small, fixed-rate mortgage, you are courting disaster. A rental property with an unemployed tenant can turn into a real money sink if you've got a mortgage. Here in California, it takes 6 months to evict someone, so that would be 6 months of mortgage paid with no rent to back it up.

Another issue with California property is Proposition 13. Way back when, the state government was endlessly raising taxes on property. Proposition 13 put an end to that. With the state facing a fiscal crisis and the Democrats having a super majority, there's no telling what will happen. If they can even partially rescind Prop 13, California property values will get whacked.

To me, that seems to suggest buying rental property in another state. Perhaps a retirement house you can rent out in the meantime. Paying cash for it, too. Sound good?

Actually, there are three other things you could invest in as well.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Three Thoughts On The Fiscal Cliff Settlement

... illustrated by links to friends' blogs. But first ...

Happy New Year!

I rarely do holiday posts, I'm not sure why. In any case, there's your New Year's happiness wish. You may treasure it or discard it as you please.

Thought 1: I was surprised at how totally the Senate Republicans capitulated. There's not even a fig leaf for them in this deal. It's just a straight-up pointless class warfare victory for the Peronists. WC Varones has an awesome post describing it.
To summarize, Congress is going to keep running trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and Zimbabwe Ben is going to coincidentally monetize almost exactly a trillion dollars of debt per year. Got gold?
I don't have gold, WC, I'm more a fan of rental property.

Thought 2: This was an unserious conclusion for very serious times and yet the press doesn't seem to understand it at all. Just for myself, if I were a journalist - a profession with a very poor future even without fiscal calamities - a financial deal that left us monetizing a trillion dollars a year of government spending would have me looking into new careers and in a big, BIG hurry. Yet they don't seem to be bothered by any of this at all.

Going back to the WC Varones well one more time, we have this awesome post on the collaboration of the Fourth Estate with the Peronist fascists taking us straight down into the abyss.
The print and broadcast media still dominate the national dialogue, and have succeeded in downplaying to outright non-coverage of everything damning to the Obama regime. It's as if Woodward and Bernstein helped Nixon cover up Watergate, and outed and smeared Deep Throat as a subversive crank.
I dig the whole cover-for-your-political-allies thing, but at some point, personal survival has got to trump party loyalty. The only conclusion I can come to is that they really are as stupid as they look. I'm open to other suggestions.

Thought 3: In many ways, the whole fiscal cliff / debt thing is irrelevant. Longtime Feline Theocraticians No Pasaran have blogged this gem about the linkage between moral and financial decay.
(T)he social issue of marriage, and its importance to our society, has become a tremendous fiscal issue. The problem of marriage absence is now costing the taxpayers even more than national defense.
Children from broken homes are doing well if they graduate from high school and avoid prison and drugs. Even if the budget were balanced and the debt was zero, that kind of workforce isn't going to lead us to a glorious, new future.

So where does that leave us? How about here?

Eventually, being electrocuted won't seem so bad any more and we'll be able to talk like grown ups about the budget and social mores. Or maybe we'll just go full Athens/Madrid and riot.

A Newer Commenting Policy

Suffering under a deluge of spam, I had changed my commenting policy to require you to type in those horrid  captcha words. I didn't want to do it, but there seemed to be no alternative. This morning, I went through the spam comments on the site and found a few things.
  • Up until the middle of November, Blogger's spam catcher worked well. Why it fell apart then, I'm not sure, but up to that point, it was working fine.
  • Spam comments come mostly on old posts.
  • Blogger settings allow you to use comment moderation on posts older than a given age.
I've turned the captcha words off again and am using comment moderation on any post older than 7 days. I don't want my email larded up with the stuff, so I won't review comments on those older posts until I get around to looking at them in the Blogger dashboard. I'll try to be better about looking at them in a more timely manner, but I'm not able to make any promises.

Settings -> Comments
If some of your comments got caught in the spam filter, I'm sorry, but I'm just killing everything there. As I understand it, Blogger's spam filter is based on the spam comments you delete, not the ones simply marked spam. I've got more than 47,000 spam comments and there's no way I can go through each of them looking for your work. I'm flushing the whole thing without reading them.

I love comments. I love them more than hits. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to interact here on the 'Post. I'm hoping these new settings will help kill off spam while making the effort to comment as light as possible.