Saturday, October 31, 2009

Goodnight

This Happy Halloween Old House


Its 4pm and the little kids will be knocking on the door soon.

I just started ripping the bathroom apart. I realized why rich people have so many bathrooms. Its so they can keep one or two in a constant state of remodeling and still have three or four left to do their business.

This thing hasn't been touched since roughly 1955 or so. The toilet looks like it was one of the originals ever designed. It must use about 30 gallons of water per flush. Talk about a retentive society.

Turns out the tiling on the wall is plastic. Man is it ugly. Its almost so ugly it looks cool. Its a fleshly colored swirl pattern applied with the world's most toxic glue. That along with the dotted wallpaper and the brown linoleum makes for one elegant monster.

Well its coming down. Its about 1/3 demolished. Time to pick out tile.

Rowan Atkinson

The Dog Ate My Valerie Plame


Cheney is suffering from neocon-heimers. That's when your mind starts forgetting how you screwed over people standing in the way of your neocon imperialistic agenda.

I forgot.

Even on the level of ordinary reality, which is admittedly a strange and vicious place for the average neocon, Cheney should at least consider demonstrating a little self respect and integrity. Instead its I forgot,

Yahoo: Cheney to FBI: No idea who leaked Plame's identity

Your Weekly Address

Boo Hoo


(Addendum - It appears that the RNC has chosen its ideological future when moderate Scozzafava dropped out of the race. Conservative Hoffman now is on his very own.)

When Obama picked Republican Rep. John McHugh to be the new Secretary of the Army, a congressional seat was left vacant. Now a special election is being held in order to fill McHugh's seat in Congress.

The district in question is in upstate NY. Two Republican candidates and one Democrat are in a three way race for the job. One Republican is moderate, the other is a conservative. Even Sarah Palin is chiming in, as she backs the extremist Conservative (of course).

The election is drawing national attention, and big name Republican Conservatives are all over this battle. Allegedly its a battle for ideological control of the party. In simple terms its a Republican battle between ultra crazy and slightly less crazy.

I hope the Democrat wins. I also hope ultra crazy beats out the moderate Republican. That would maintain the bat-crazy-wing hold over the Republican party and thereby secure its present position as the losing party.

Palin in 2012!

McClatchy: GOP identity crisis finds new home: Upstate New York
Will the GOP try to win back power by picking centrist candidates... Or will it pick only ideologically pure conservative candidates, regardless of where they run...

'Supernatural Superserious'

R.E.M.

Friday, October 30, 2009

'The Beast With A Million Eyes'

1955 SciFi - zero stars - 0 - Sande

TPMtv Takes On Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney is taking over the role as chief talking head for the neocons. Her agenda is to create division. It is the same tactic employed by Rove. Cheney has unlimited access to the same p.r. people that Dad used, and their activity is to attempt to win a war of words by shading and redefining reality.

Drop

In the noon hour, the DOW is dropping fast, down 226 points. This is a larger drop than the gains made on Thursday after the 3rd quarter GDP numbers came out.

Has the end of the rally arrived?

Reuters: Wall St falls on financials' weight; S&P off for Oct
"Those that had these huge gains may have a finger on the trigger, locking in some of those gains."

Single Handed

Is there an irony here?

This information seems both tragic and understandable, in a place where one can feel so overwhelmed by so many people and at the same time terribly isolated and lonely.

NY Post: Half of Manhattan residents single, live alone
More than half of all Manhattan residents are living alone -- and the number of singles in the city is continuing to rise to historic levels, new Census Bureau data show.

Obama Bans Torture Photos


More bad news from the Obama administration, and by bad I mean this is not the Obama we signed up for.

Obama has signed a law banning the release of more torture photos. This is not good.

Recall that initially he was the champion of freedom of information.

We don't need or want further suppression of information, get the full misery of the Bush administration out there.

The Washington Independent: Obama Signs Law Authorizing Suppression of Torture Photos
President Obama initially agreed to release the photos, but changed his mind after consulting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others at the Pentagon, who warned the photos would endanger U.S. servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two federal courts have already heard and rejected that argument, however, ruling that the Freedom of Information Act can’t be trumped by citing unspecified dangers to unspecified potential targets of the anger that the information may produce.

CNN - Afghanistan 1976

The Market On Friday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are moderately down.

We are not likely to get a repeat of yesterday's market activity for a while, although a drop of that magnitude is possible at some point.

Now we shift to a different mode. The recession is technically over. The economy is propped up on stimulus money. Corporations are showing better reports, some of this occurs because companies have laid off millions of workers in cost cutting maneuvers. The punchline now revolves around the ability of the economy to continue to modestly grow. So its onto the fourth quarter even while companies are still reporting on the third.

Reuters: Futures dip after best day in 3 months
"...now the focus is shifting to some kind of sustainable economic growth."
CNN: Stocks set to step back
Investors will take in a wave of economic reports on Friday, including readings on personal income and spending, consumer sentiment and manufacturing.

Rodney

'Mony Mony'

Tommy James And The Shondells

Here she comes now
Say, Mony, Mony
Shoot 'em down
Turn around
Come on, Mony
Hey, she give me love
And I feel all right, now
You gotta toss and turn
In the middle of the night

And I feel all right
I say, yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
You make me feel
(Mony, Mony) so (Mony, Mony)
Good (Mony, Mony) yeah (Mony, Mony)
So good (Mony, Mony)
All right (Mony, Mony)
Come on (Mony, Mony)
All right, baby (Mony, Mony)
Say, yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah

Wake me
Shake me
Mony, Mony
Shot gun
Get it done
Come on, Mony
Don't stop cookin'
It feels so good, yeah
Hey-eey, but don't stop, now
Hey, come on, Mony
Come on, Mony
Yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Well, you make me feel
(Mony, Mony) so (Mony, Mony)
Good (Mony, Mony) yeah
(Mony, Mony) all right (Mony, Mony)
Come on (Mony, Mony)
So good (Mony, Mony)
All right (Mony, Mony)
I say, yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Oooooooooh

(Oooh, I love you Mony, Mo, Mo, Mony)
So good
(Oooh, I love you Mony, Mo, Mo, Mony)
So fine
(Oooh, I love you Mony, Mo, Mo, Mony)
All right
(Oooh, I love you Mony Mony)
Say, Mony Mony
Yeah (yeah)
Everybody (yeah)
Yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Yeah (yeah) yeah (yeah)
Come on
Come on

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nikkei Opens Higher On Friday


The government propped up third quarter GDP flopped out of bed this morning and laid a 3.5% golden egg on the table. Its is fools' gold.

Exactly how many times can the government print up an extra trillion and hand it over to banks, corporations, and even car makers, shitty car makers.

So now the thing is out on its own, taking baby steps and wobbly as a top on a goat.

Can it walk? Can it even crawl?

Reuters: Nikkei climbs after U.S. data

TPMtv - Grayson On Health Care

Summary Of Today's Health Care Bill

Here is the summary of today's health care bill presented by Congress. Find it here as well -
Increasing choice and competition. The bill will protect and improve consumers’ choices.

* If people like their current plans, they will be able to keep them.
* For individuals who aren’t currently covered by their employer, and some small businesses, the proposal will establish a new Health Insurance Exchange where consumers can comparison shop from a menu of affordable, quality health care options that will include private plans, health co-ops, and a new public health insurance option. The public health insurance option will play on a level playing field with private insurers, spurring additional competition.
* This Exchange will create competition based on quality and price that leads to better coverage and care. Patients and doctors will have control over decisions about their health care, instead of insurance companies.

Giving Americans peace of mind. The legislation will ensure that Americans have portable, secure health care coverage – so that they won’t lose care if their employer drops their plan or they lose their job.

* Every American who receives coverage through the Exchange will have a plan that includes standardized, comprehensive and quality health care benefits.
* It will end increases in premiums or denials of care based on pre-existing conditions, race, or gender, and strictly limit age rating.
* The proposal will also eliminate co-pays for preventive care, and cap out-of-pocket expensesto protects every American from bankruptcy.

Improving quality of care for every American. The legislation will ensure that Americans of all ages, from young children to retirees have access to greater quality of care by focusing on prevention, wellness, and strengthening programs that work.

* Guarantees that every child in America will have health care coverage that includes dental, hearing and vision benefits.
* Provides better preventive and wellness care. Every health care plan offered through the exchange and by employers after a grace period will cover preventive care at no cost to the patient.
* Increases the health care workforce to ensure that more doctors and nurses are available to provide quality care as more Americans get coverage.
* Strengthens Medicare and Medicaid and closes the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ so that seniors and low-income Americans receive better quality of care and see lower prescription drug costs and out-of-pocket expenses.

Ensuring shared responsibility. The bill will ensure that individuals, employers, and the federal government share responsibility for a quality and affordable health care system.

* Employers can continue offering coverage to workers, and those who choose not offer coverage contribute a fee of eight percent of payroll.
* All individuals will generally be required to get coverage, either through their employer or the exchange, or pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of income, subject to a hardship exemption.
* The federal government will provide affordability credits, available on a sliding scale for low- and middle-income individuals and families to make premiums affordable and reduce cost-sharing.

Protecting consumers and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse. The legislation will put the interests of consumers first, protect them from problems in getting and keeping health care coverage, and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse.

* Provides transparency in plans in the Health Exchange so that consumers have the clear, complete information, in plain English, needed to select the plan that best meets their needs.
* Establishes consumer advocacy offices as part of the Exchange in order to protect consumers, answer questions, and assist with any problems related to their plans.
* Simplifies paperwork and other administrative burdens. Patients, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, providers, and employers will all encounter a streamlined, less confusing, more consumer friendly system.
* Increases funding of efforts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse; creates enhanced oversight of Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Reducing the deficit and ensuring the solvency of Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation will be entirely paid for – it will not add a dime to the deficit. It will also put Medicare and Medicaid on the path to a more fiscally sound future, so seniors and low-income Americans can continue to receive the quality health care benefits for years to come.

* Pays for the entire cost of the legislation though a combination of savings achieved by making Medicare and Medicaid more efficient – without cutting seniors’ benefits in any way – and revenue generated from placing a surcharge the top 0.3 percent of all households in the U.S.(married couples with adjusted gross income of over $1,000,000) and other tax measures.
* The Congressional Budget estimates the bill will reduce the deficit by at least $100 billion over ten years.
* Estimates also show the bill will slow the rate of growth of the Medicare program from 6.6 percent annually to 5.3 percent annually.

Liebermania

Yours truly used to go to graduate school in Hartford, Connecticut. That was Hartt School of Music which is part of the University of Hartford.

The University is in a decent section of town, not all of Hartford is decent. Hartt is in West Hartford. This part was close to some of the wealthy neighborhoods. This is where there was lots of money from the insurance companies. The houses were spectacular. We are talking about mansions and royalty. Its similar to the kind of stuff you would see in Newport, Rhode Island.

Lieberman is a political power person. He wants power. He likes his gig. Hartford is an insurance center. Lieberman is not going to do anything that flies in the face of his "constituency." He's going to kiss tush but good.

The Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Public Option Limited
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Blaming The Victim

Human beings behaving like animals. This is horrible.

The Market On Thurday

At 8:30 a.m. we get the first GDP numbers for the third quarter and when that happens, nothing else will matter, I think.

I will post an addendum shortly.

Here it is - "U.S.Q3 GDP grows at a 3.5 percent annual rate, unofficially ends recession; stock futures rise"

There you have it. I would expect to see the markets rise today, but you never know. Futures are going through the roof.

Reuters: Futures up ahead of GDP; P&G, Motorola gain premarket
The government will release its first estimate of third-quarter GDP at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Weekly initial jobless claims will be released at the same time.

'Raga Anandi Kalyan'

Ravi Shankar

The clip does not contain the entire piece, but what is there is extraordinary. Shankar is playing from his great depths.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nikkei Opens Lower On Thursday

The keyword is tumble.

Reuters: Nikkei falls below 10,000 to 3-week low; JAL jumps

TPMtv - Jumping Joe

Joe Lieberman is posing the tough what ifs. The only what if I think about is, what if Ned Lamont.

Can we give this guy the boot already. I mean seriously, even the fine people of Connecticut on either side must have had enough. Thanks for the public service Joe, now go play some golf.

Joe asks what happens when another recession occurs and the government is called upon to bail out the public option in health care. One now needs to ask what were Joe's voting records in bailing out anything ever. Second one needs to remind Joe that it is health care costs that are ruining our economy and helping to cause recessions and unemployment.

But for some "unknown" reason, Al Gore's running mate needs to get behind a what if.

Post Mortem Wall Mart


Here's something for the economically minded.

Get your post-mortem needs at Wal Mart.

12 E_Z payments and if you're not satisfied with our products, you get a complete money back guarantee or replacement of similar value. I just made that last sentence up...

CBS6: Wal-Mart starts selling caskets, urns online
...prices that undercut most funeral homes...

Leeks And Eggs


Leeks are the supreme allium.

- One leek sliced lengthwise and chopped.

- Saute the leek in a little olive oil and add in some course kosher salt.

- Toss in a scrambled egg or two and spatula it all around till cooked.

- Eat with a toasted piece of crusty whole wheat sourdough bread.

Oh - baby.
...this Allium contains a hearty dose of Antioxidants and more Vitamins and Nutrients than ALL other Allium Family veggies.

Leeks must have strategized their mega nutrient combo since they're exceptional at controlling blood sugar levels, slow sugar absoption, and boost metabolism - stabilizing blood sugar is paramount for slowing aging and erasing wrinkles, nevermind, fighting diseases.

Yes, other children of the Alliums also offer great benefits like Antioxidants, Reduce Cholesterol, and Prevent Cancer, but LEEKS offer that and more. Leeks steal the show. source

Pakistan Violence 10-28-09

Pakistan is beginning to resemble Iraq. The violence is capitulating, just horrible.

This particular bombing was meant to truly hurt, with the bombers targeting women.

Gulf News: 80 killed in Peshawar bomb blast
The explosion hit Peepl Mandi, a neighborhood in the city where many Shiite Muslims live. Police official Sajid Khan said it struck the Mina Bazaar, which caters to female shoppers.

The Market On Wednesday

At 8:30 a.m. futures are moderately down.

It looks like the trend of several stinkers and so so-s in a row will continue.

We see that GMAC is going back to the taxpayer well to prop up the pointless automaker. They'll get the dough too because America is the land of gold. Its flowing out of the street water drains.

Thursday, that is D Day. We can imagine the scenarios. The GDP comes in weak and the market is losing weight real quick. Or, the GDP comes in better than the 3.2% anticipated number. Then the DOW gets real thick and chubby.

CNN: Wall Street heads for weak open
GMAC Financial Services is seeking a third round of bailout funds from the Treasury Department ranging from $2.8 billion to $5.6 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

At 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, the government is expected to report durable goods orders for September.

A report on new home sales comes out at 10 a.m. ET.

'Lawyers In Love'

Jackson Browne

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fisker Hybrid


At least three strong points come with this notice that Fisker will build hybrids in Delaware.

- creates jobs, potentially hiring laid off auto workers
- establishing more hybrid car production in the USA
- its good for the environment

Yahoo: Fisker to build hybrid cars at idled Del. GM plant
The vehicles to be built in Delaware under Fisker's Project NINA will cost about $40,000 after federal tax credits. They will be able to run mainly on electricity for short trips and a combination of electricity and gasoline for longer ones.

Nikkei Opens Lower On Wednesday

Reuters: Nikkei edges lower as techs sold, Honda jumps

'Brave Heart'

House

Opposition

I was looking at the McClatchy dc website and found these two articles practically side by side, or at least in very close proximity on their page -

McClatchy: Unemployed hope Congress extends benefits once again

McClatchy: Palin received $1.5 million retainer for book

The poignant irony or is it the pitiful condition of the juxtaposition strikes me as symptomatic of our bruised times.

On one side we have people trying to scrape by in a vicious economic reality, with their immediate fate hanging on the decision of a few politicians. On the other side we have Sarah Pain gaining 1.5 mill for being the IQ deprived rep of the power elite.

TPMtv - Barbara Boxer On Partisanship

A People's History Of American Empire - Howard Zinn

Narrated by Viggo Mortensen

Oil Up, Confidence Down, No Jobs

At noon the DOW is up 61. BP posted decent third quarter numbers, as if this is a surprise.

The consumer confidence index numbers were lower than expected. As we know, the job market is hideous and this is impacting the confidence numbers.

This is the story for the next 12 months, lack of a job market and its adverse affect on the economy.

Let me point out that even though jobs are lost and consumer confidence is down, the price of oil is priming the markets. This is a direct reflection of the polar opposites of our economy - even though unemployment is high, investors find oil leads them to the promised land.

Reuters: Dow, S&P rise on energy, but data limit gains
"There is definitely a gathering bullishness around energy at large, which is helping support things..."

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence fell to 47.7 in October, weaker than the consensus expectation of a reading of 53.1. Confidence was pressured on growing concerns job market conditions would worsen in the near term.

Its Back

The public option is back on the proverbial table.

The excerpted McClatchy article below does not get into the details of what is in the "option." Instead the body of the article is directed towards the possibility of it actually getting passed.

Right now they are a few floors short of the top floor.

Our job is to figure out what is in the bill itself and how it might positively affect the miserable state of affairs called American health care. Clearly we can't assume that this is meaningful policy.

McClatchy: Reid includes public option in latest health care bill
...states could choose not to participate in the so-called "public option."

...may not win enough votes to break Congress' deadlock...

...estimated that there are at least 52 Senate votes for a strong public option.

The Market On Tuesday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are ever so slightly up, the dollar is down, and the price of oil is slightly up.

One would think that the components are in place for the market to have a bounce today but...

Unfortunately the investor class is not focused on third quarter reports anymore or less so, they want cold hard data on the economy in general and they want that data to be extra sweet, and they want it now.

They want to know if you are buying more, if your house is worth anything, and if you are feeling consumer confident and fresh, you ingrate.

So do America a favor, grab a handful of credit cards, and go buy that $50,000 Lexus that you never wanted. And do it now before 9 a.m.

CNN: Stocks look to rebound
The Case-Shiller Home Price Index comes out at 9 a.m. ET. A price decline of 11.9% is forecast for August...

Shortly after U.S. markets open, research firm Conference Board releases its reading on consumer confidence. The index is expected to increase to 53.5, according to Briefing.com consensus, from 53.1 the prior month.

'Heart Of Stone'

Stones

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nikkei Opens Lower On Tuesday


The dollar is up, oil is slightly down, and the Nikkei is following Wall Street's Monday closing numbers. Thursday is the day to circle. We will get the first estimates for the third quarter GDP.

I watched a reasonable CNN report this a.m. and the news was realistic and bleak. Jobs are the issue. Job creation is fundamental and the recovery is not complete without it.

Job creation is obviously the salient theme that will weave its way into the next 12 months of economic reports. Helpful policy is needed.

CNN: Nikkei 225 -95.41

'Bardados'

Three Sheets

TPMtv - Reid Talks Public Option

Deflated


The DOW tumbled and lost 104 points while the S&P lost 12.65 big ones.

Crap.

So today the talk is about the likely phase out of the government's first time home buyer credit. Investors are not pleased with the phase out. They want to keep the credit phased in. Makes one wonder exactly what the credit was for in the first place, Wall Street or Main Street.

Regardless, with the economy allegedly out of recession, call it post partum recession, why would the government continue with the handout.

Investors feel the housing market needs the continued shot of well being.

Today was Wall Street's way of protesting a decision that investors do not like, shed a few billion and then party likes its 1999.

Reuters: Wall Street sinks on home builder worry, financials
Without the home buyer credit, investors worry that the struggling housing market might lose a crucial incentive that has spurred hopes of stabilization in recent months.

Cover-Up

Excerpted below is a distressing article from the NY Times. The article reveals that the Obama administration is not living up to its intention to disclose American prisoner abuse under the Bush administration. In fact its just the opposite. The Obama administration is attempting to keep disclosures about American torture and rendition programs sealed and secret. They are using the same technique and reasoning as Bush - its all a matter of national security and therefor it needs to remain secret.

The war of words between Obama and the Cheneys over torture might be thick with vitriol but underneath that and in reality, its thin in differences.

This is very disappointing news.

NY Times: The Cover-Up Continues
In the United States, the Obama administration is in the process of appealing a sound federal appellate court ruling last April in a civil lawsuit by Mr. Mohamed and four others. All were victims of the government’s extraordinary rendition program, under which foreigners were kidnapped and flown to other countries for interrogation and torture.

In that case, the Obama administration has repeated a disreputable Bush-era argument that the executive branch is entitled to have lawsuits shut down whenever it makes a blanket claim of national security.

CNN - Amazing Photography

Improving Job Outlook

Its been a while since we've seen articles that suggest an improving job market.

There is a trickle of better news coming through the wire. Still, it would be hard to imagine that the present unemployment rate will significantly decrease anytime soon.

CNN: Jobs outlook brightens
...U.S. companies are planning to hire and invest more in the near future, according to a survey released Monday.

...more companies increased capital spending during the third quarter of 2009 than cut spending.

The Market On Monday

At 8:45 a.m. futures are slightly up.

Its going to be a big week as the first GDP estimates for the third quarter are released on Thursday. Its pretty simple, the GDP numbers will set a tone for a longer stretch of time.

CNN: Stocks set to rebound

Reuters: Futures point to modest gains as dollar falls

'Do Wah Diddy'

Manfred Mann

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nikkei Opens Higher On Monday

At 11:00 a.m. Monday morning in Japan, the Nikkei is up 97.99points.

CNN: Nikkei 225 - +97.99

NPR - Health Care Economist

Please listen to this NPR broadcast on health care.

Its roughly 20 minutes long. They get into a discussion with health care economist Tom McGuire and hospital administrator Daniel Kearns. The broadcast is from the summer and its relevant to the health care reform debate.

NPR: Taking Health Care To The Economist

Dithering Idiot

Cheney AKA Tweedle Torture can't let his authoritarian handicap rest for an instant.

One hopes that Obama is carefully examining all the possibilities including leaving Afghanistan. Unfortunately this seems unlikely.

Bloodybelly Comb Jelly

From a deep operative -
The Bloodybelly Comb Jelly (Lampocteis cruentiventer) is a variety of Ctenophore (simple marine animals), commonly known as comb jelly. Despite its name, this particularly stunning comb jelly ranges in body color from deep red to pale to deep purple, sometimes black. Scientists believe that the deep color of its belly helps mask the Bloodybelly Comb Jelly's bioluminescence from potential predators.

Iraq Violence 10-25-09

CNN: Dozens killed in Baghdad double bombing

'Cashback'

I accidentally caught this film on Netflix. Its very impressive.

This is a charming movie. Its a romantic comedy with depth and breadth.

Give it 15 minutes, give the characters a little slack and openness, and you will be involved.

4 stars **** - Sande


Coming Up On Wall Street

Third quarter reports continue through next week along with all kinds of US economic indicator data such as October consumer confidence reports.

The real kicker in my opinion will be the government's first estimate on the third quarter GDP. That's huge and it comes on Thursday. This will be the standard by which the movement into recovery is truly gauged. If the numbers are good, investors will become believers instead of joy riders. Still its a matter of degrees of good. We are reading that a 3.2% increase in GDP is predicted. Don't forget that the number is inflated by the government's money transfusion into the banking system AKA bailout, along with cash for clunkers, and an $8,000 first time home buyer gift coupon.

Reuters: Earnings, data to determine rally's fate
Thursday's GDP report is forecast, according to economists polled by Reuters, to show that gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced within the U.S. borders, grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the third quarter, its first quarterly expansion in more than a year.

'Helpless'

The Band and Neil Young

Saturday, October 24, 2009

'Pilot Season 1 Episode 1'

White Collar - new TV series. Is it any good?

(addendum) I give it a c+ to b-. Its an attempt at a smart detective mystery but falls short by a good 30 to 40 IQ points. It aint no genius.

Privatizing Death Row

There are a few simple questions that this article does not adequately address.

If a private company is running a prison, then do they get paid per prisoner? If this is true, then we get back to a very strange case of how the private company turns a profit. In simple terms, the more prisoners, the more money.

Am I missing something here?

Is this a good idea. If increasing the prison population would mean more profits for the private companies running the prison, would it not be more desirable to have more prisoners. And so then we get into the area of creating an environment where crime is committed to increase prisoner population.

Okay, so now you are going to tell me that a privately held company would never do such a thing. And exactly why would you think that. Corporations have a mandate to deliver profits, more and more profits. The environment as an example certainly has not benefited from corporations, why would societies and prisoners. Corporate mischief is about as common as head colds. Don't we have enough examples of that already.

Imagine where wink and nod cronyism is going to take this one.

This is the stuff of science fiction, and not the bright side of it either.

We go one step forward and two steps backwards at every opportunity.

NY Times: Arizona May Put State Prisons in Private Hands
State officials will soon seek bids from private companies for 9 of the state’s 10 prison complexes that house roughly 40,000 inmates, including the 127 here on death row.

Arizona officials hope the effort will put a $100 million dent in the state’s roughly $2 billion budget shortfall.

...executions would still be performed by the state...

Barbaric

Saudia Arabia continues to un-enlighten the world with its barbaric use of cruel and unusual punishments. In this case its about producing a TV show where a man discusses his sex life.

Gulf News: Saudi female journalist gets 60 lashes for TV show
Riyadh: A Saudi lawyer says a female journalist has been sentenced to 60 lashes for her involvement in a TV show in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex.

Rozanna Al Yami is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment. The charges against her included involvement in the preparation of the program and advertising the segment on the Internet.

In the program, aired on a Lebanese satellite channel, Mazen Abdul Jawad, scandalised Saudis by describing an active sex life.

Abdul Jawad received five years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

'Piano Stairs'

Thefuntheory.com

Your Weekly Address

I'm sorry to see that Obama's weekly address is not readily available to be embedded in things like - this blog.

I hope they decide to bring back the old way. I can't se how this is going to help the cause.

Here's the transcript.
All across America, even today, on a Saturday, millions of Americans are hard at work. They’re running the mom and pop stores and neighborhood restaurants we know and love. They’re building tiny startups with big ideas that could revolutionize an industry, maybe even transform our economy. They are the more than half of all Americans who work at a small business, or own a small business. And they embody the spirit of possibility, the relentless work ethic, and the hope for something better that is at the heart of the American Dream.

They also represent a segment of our economy that has been hard hit by this recession. Over the past couple of years, small businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Many have struggled to get the loans they need to finance their inventories and make payroll. Many entrepreneurs can’t get financing to start a small business in the first place. And many more are discouraged from even trying because of the crushing costs of health care – costs that have forced too many small businesses to cut benefits, shed jobs, or shut their doors for good.

Small businesses have always been the engine of our economy – creating 65 percent of all new jobs over the past decade and a half – and they must be at the forefront of our recovery. That’s why the Recovery Act was designed to help small businesses expand and create jobs. It’s provided $5 billion worth of tax relief, as well as temporarily reducing or eliminating fees on SBA loans and guaranteeing some of these loans up to 90 percent, which has supported nearly $13 billion in new lending to more than 33,000 businesses.

In addition, our health reform plan will allow small businesses to buy insurance for their employees through an insurance exchange, which may offer better coverage at lower costs – and we’ll provide tax credits for those that choose to do so.

And this past week, I called on Congress to increase the maximum size of various SBA loans, so that more small business owners can set up shop and grow their operations. I also announced that we’ll be taking additional steps through our Financial Stability plan to make more credit available to the small local and community banks that so many small businesses depend on – the banks who know their borrowers, who gave them their first loan and watched them grow.

The goal here is to get credit where it’s needed most – to businesses that support families, sustain communities, and create the jobs that power our economy. That’s why we enacted the Financial Stability Plan in the first place, back when many of our largest banks were on the verge of collapse; our credit markets were frozen; and it was nearly impossible for ordinary people to get loans to buy a car or home or pay for college. The idea was to jumpstart lending and keep our economy from spiraling into a depression. Fortunately, it worked. Thanks to the American taxpayers, we’ve now achieved the stability we need to get our economy moving forward again.

But while credit may be more available for large businesses, too many small business owners are still struggling to get the credit they need. These are the very taxpayers who stood by America’s banks in a crisis – and now it’s time for our banks to stand by creditworthy small businesses, and make the loans they need to open their doors, grow their operations, and create new jobs. It’s time for those banks to fulfill their responsibility to help ensure a wider recovery, a more secure system, and more broadly shared prosperity. And we’re going to take every appropriate step to encourage them to meet those responsibilities. Because if it’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that here in America, we rise and fall together. Our economy as a whole can’t move ahead if small businesses and the middle class continue to fall behind.

This country was built by dreamers. They’re the workers who took a chance on their desire to be their own boss. The part-time inventors who became the fulltime entrepreneurs. The men and women who have helped build the American middle class, keeping alive that most American of ideals – that all things are possible for all people, and we’re limited only by the size of our dreams and our willingness to work for them. We need to do everything we can to ensure that they can keep taking those risks, acting on those dreams, and building the enterprises that fuel our economy and make us who we are.

Thanks.

Hanging In The Balance

Although Democrats hold a 60 to 40 advantage in the Senate, health care reform hangs on votes of a few conservative Democrats and one or two moderate Republicans. Its a classic tragedy, a few votes shy. Let's face it, the resistance to this change, to reforming health care, comes from three major forces.

- Political ideology including how to frame the issue and win just enough momentum to kill change. This includes the most egregious framing that I think is out there. That would be calling a public option, complete government run health care. Its fear based. Then there's simply the ongoing battle between the parties for power. There are those Republicans that can't get behind change because it comes from Obama.

- The health care industry's power and money. This includes politicians in the pockets of corporations and a media campaign to gather enough momentum to sway just enough public opinion or to at least make it seem like public opinion is being swayed. These are the actors behind the scene, the less visible force, the lobbyists and such, but also the most powerful and essential force against change.

- The media's role in promoting opinions and stances. This is a battle of both sides of the issue, its also a battle of media outlets. This is also a matter of swaying just enough momentum to support change or the status quo, and to try to win listeners or viewers. Its like a sport, ABC versus Clear Channel.

McClatchy: Moderate Democrats hold health bill's fate in their hands
In more conservative areas, "the mood we're seeing out there is not just being driven by health care, though health care may be the tipping point," said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for the Cook Political Report. "People are unhappy about deficits, bailouts, and just see too much government."

'Vers la Flamme'

Horowitz plays Scriabin

Friday, October 23, 2009

'Slow Motion Bullets'

Stupid Videos

'Men Who Stare at Goats'

Looks like fun...

TPMtv - Grayson Talks Cheney Trash

G.O.P. Popularity Shot To Hell

Fears of a Republican power grab in 2010 may be premature.

The Grand Old Party is wallowing somewhere between mud and dirt in terms of popularity.

Hopefully they will continue with a full out assault using Beck and Dick Cheney as the battering rams, that would be Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Unlimited Defense Spending Increases AKA Tweedle Torture.

CNN: GOP favorable rating lowest in a decade
Thirty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, with 54 percent viewing the GOP negatively.

According to the poll, 53 percent have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party, with 41 percent holding an unfavorable view. The survey indicates that favorable ratings for the Democrats have dropped 5 points since February, with the Republican number slipping 3 points.

CNN - Looking For Lost Love

UK Remains In Recession

England appears ready for a political shakeout. Third quarter GDP numbers for England show that the country is still technically in the great recession. They've had 6 straight stinkers, all in a row.

Its all relative and proves that there are many shades of bad. The world economy is clearly more dynamic and economies change in different regions accordingly.

Reuters: UK still in recession after shock Q3 contraction
The Office for National Statistics said British gross domestic product fell by 0.4 percent between July and September, meaning the economy has contracted for six successive quarters for the first time since records began in 1955.

"We now know that Gordon Brown's recession plan has not worked, and this news has destroyed Labour's claim that Britain was better placed than other countries to weather the storms."

The Market On Friday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are ever so slightly higher.

That could change real fast as Microsoft is scheduled to reveal its third quarter results, before the opening bell. Generally that's at 8:30 a.m.

Microsoft just released Windows 7. I am a Mac user so I don't really investigate PC products. As you know I do a lot of music production work and everything I use revolves around a Mac. The software is Mac only in most cases.

Hey, its Friday. One of the last weekends to see some foliage here in the Northeast.

Regardless, one might suspect that the Microsoft numbers will be the charm at 9:00 a.m. and could very well set the tone for today's market through 4:00 p.m.

CNN: Wall Street readies for tepid open
"Company news has consistently outperformed market expectations, so that's what's driving markets at the moment..."
Reuters: Stock futures slightly higher ahead of Microsoft, data
Microsoft's fiscal first-quarter results are due before the opening bell and one day after the closely watched launch of its Windows 7 operating software.

Soupy Sales Dies


When I was a kid, I loved this guy. His TV show was a riot.

RIP

MSNBC: Comedian Soupy Sales dies at age 83
Sales is survived by his wife, Trudy, and two sons, Hunt and Tony, a pair of musicians who backed David Bowie in the band Tin Machine.

'Snow'

Chili Peppers

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bank Lending Watchdog Proposal


Its only a proposal, so it is subject to the fierce divisive powers in the senate to shoot it down, marginalize it, water it down, or actually do something of value. As the bill takes aim at banks, I'm thinking it gets watered down and rewritten with money stack sized loopholes. I hope I'm wrong but lately my cynicism is getting the best of me. I need a vacation.

McClatchy: Proposed federal watchdog for consumer finance advances
...a controversial plan to create a federal agency to regulate mortgages, credit cards and other forms of consumer credit cleared a key House of Representatives committee...

"The sad fact is, the lower your income is in America, the more you are paying for financial transactions..."

Nikkei Opens Higher On Friday

Reuters: Nikkei rises 0.7 pct as exporters gain on U.S., yen

'Mash-Up'

Glee

TPM - Gibbs Takes On Cheney

Gaza Strike By Israel

This conflict is not ending in my lifetime or yours. Its too deep, its too intractable, and it has gone on for too long for any type of modern cease fire make peace date to be of any meaning.

It has to run its long course, where at some point both sides realize they are the same and a sense of revenge has worn itself out. That will take hundreds of years and probably more. The lowest common denominator in the society needs to be elevated to a higher place of understanding. What does it take to do that? Throw money on it, educate it, broaden it, probably none of these things specifically. It takes a change of mind and all we need to do is look at ourselves to see how incredibly difficult that task is. It requires, continuous dedicated attention and desire with a unrelenting goal of peace.

Gulf News: Israeli warplanes strike Gaza tunnels, alleged arms plant in response to rocket fire

CNN - Obama Takes Critics To Task

The Market On Thursday

At 7:50 a.m. futures are slightly down.

All kinds of economic data and corporate third quarter reports are coming out today.

With everything out on the table, the present state of the corporate economy becomes clearer. We are still reading that the market will stay put for the time being.

One might suspect that we can infer some good new here, in that the market is not expected to severely drop anytime soon. The 10K area seems to be the landing zone for this week and probably the next.

CNN: Stocks poised for a weak open
Having recently reached the hard-won goal of 10,000, Leone (head trader at Cowen & Co) believes the Dow will probably "range around for a little while" without making dramatic moves, one way or another.
Reuters: Stock futures slightly lower ahead of data
"The market has risen a bit from the low, and it can't be supported on just these earnings surprises," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in New York.

"It really needs revenue growth and not just cost cutting, and for that you need better economic conditions."

'Love Me Like A Man'

Diana Krall

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nikkei Opens Lower On Thursday

Curious thing, the market was in most ways easier to understand when it was sinking through the floor back in March, than it is now when the DOW has recovered to 10K.

It just doesn't feel like the dead man has risen from the dead and is now alive. It feels like the dead man is still dead but he is being animated by a mischievous puppeteer.

Maybe its just basic paranoia...

Reuters: Nikkei falls 0.8 percent as exporters slip

'Instant Karma'

House

Gallup - DOW Up, Spending Up, Jobs Up

According to Gallup there is an improvement in the job market, but relative to even last year, its pretty bleak out there.

Gallup: Gallup Economic Weekly: Spending, Jobs Climb With Dow
Job Creation improved once more last week, as Gallup's Job Creation Index increased to +4 -- a new 2009 high. The slightly better job conditions were the result of a decline in the percentage of workers saying their companies are letting people go, from 24% to 22% -- about where layoffs were a month ago (23%) but somewhat worse than a year ago (18%).

TPM - Mitch McConnell Tap Dances



Gallup: At 16.6%, Number of Uninsured American Adults Ties High

Bank On It

At noon the DOW is up 35.

Go figure, this morning futures were significantly down and now we are in the green.

Banks are doing just swell.

Reuters: Banks boost Wall Street after solid earnings
...Morgan Stanley jumping 6.7 percent to $34.71 after it posted a profit after three quarters of losses on strong fixed income sales and trading revenues.

Tighten Rules, Create Loopholes

On Sunday we looked at how Moody's fired employees that wanted to bring out information on the upcoming recession. This was in the recent past.

(Click this link - With Us Or Against Us - and that article will appear below this one.)

Instead the company wanted to maintain the status quo and pretend all was well, or as they now say, going along swimmingly.

Not so of course, and legislation is being passed to help rectify this problem, except it has loopholes that don't really address these corporate cultural tendencies. Improvements to the legislation are needed. So does Congress have the spine to stand up to the big dogs.

McClatchy: Bill to tighten rules on ratings agencies has big loopholes
...as it's now written it fails to address many of the credit-rating agency missteps that helped fuel the global financial crisis.

The measure would require greater transparency from the three major bond-rating agencies — Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings — about the methods they use in rating bonds.

CNN - Monty Python Reunion

The Market On Wednesday

At 8:28 a.m. futures are significantly down.

Take the day off, and go have some fun. Its the Fall, no other excuse is needed.

Yes, more corporate reports on the third quarter are coming and many of them have investors jumping with glee.

However the underlying sentiment seems to be that the markets are at their peak, for the time being that is. So, there is a sense that 10K is a number that will stick for a while, the center of the circle so to speak.

CNN: Weak open seen for stocks
David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Markets, said that the Dow, having reached 10,000, will probably keep "flipping around" at that level for the immediate future.
Reuters: Stock futures lower after Boeing loss
"The market looks like it may trade down at the open for no other reason than the fact that we have some concern about getting to a place too far, too fast, and there is not much more to it than that."

'Tattooed Love Boys'

The Pretenders

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nikkei Opens Lower On Wednesday

Reuters: Nikkei edges lower as commodity-linked shares slip

Investors Flip Off

Essentially investors sold today, banking money delivered with the post apocalyptic rally.

If one reads the articles one cannot really find a viable reason for the market to drop today except that investors work as a unit, and today they decided to sell. That's the way it is.

The DOW dropped 50 and that's a mild drop in recent times. S&P corporations are humming, so perhaps the sentiment will change.

Reuters: Wall Street ends lower on profit taking
Through noon Tuesday, with 95 of the benchmark S&P 500 companies having reported earnings, 79 percent have beaten expectations and only 11 percent have fallen behind, according to Thomson Reuters data.

TPM - We'll Repeal It

Gingrich forgets that he no longer holds a political office. Years of flaming the ego with the heat of media attention have created a special neurosis for the man. He is going to repeal health care reform because its bad. I mean its humorous, it might as well be you or I sitting on FOX spouting pomposity and I would prefer to hear you.

Countries With Biggest Gaps Between Rich And Poor

Americans should be ashamed of these numbers, ashamed I tell you.

Why, well just look. The Chinese are beating us at our own game. There is greater wealth inequality in Hong Kong and Singapore than in the USA and that is disgraceful. We are losing our edge in the world I tell you and it makes me sick.

We thought this recession wrecked millions of people and would naturally push us into position number one, especially with Wall Street gobbling up the money. Nope, didn't happen. China, man, they out USA'd the USA. Getting beat at our own game - now that is a wake up call.

Are you happy bringing home the bronze? Well are you?

Yahoo: Countries with the Biggest Gaps Between Rich and Poor
No. 1 Hong Kong, No. 2 Singapore, No. 3 U.S., No. 4 Israel, No. 5 Portugal...

Burn Coal And Die Or Get Sick

This is a must read, eye opening.

A new report from the National Academie examines energy production in the USA.

One could simply infer from the report that green is the way to go. There's a lot of coal in the USA and there is a lot of natural gas - in fact more than we know what to do with. Natural gas is amazingly cleaner.

McClatchy: Report looks at hidden health costs of energy production
Generating electricity by burning coal is responsible for about half of an estimated $120 billion in yearly costs from early deaths and health damages to thousands of Americans from the use of fossil fuels, a federal advisory group said Monday.

"There are plants that are very clean out there, and the cost of further controls would not be worth the benefits and you wouldn't want to do anything," she said. However, there are also dirtier plants where the health benefits would outweigh the cost of pollution controls.
National Academies: Report Examines Hidden Health and Environmental Costs Of Energy Production and Consumption In U.S.

The Market On Tuesday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are modestly up.

Third quarter results from Apple, Texas Instruments, and Caterpillar are making investors sip lattes, extra caffeine.

This is the heart of American manufacturing week. Its not all actually made here, but close enough.

The DOW is reminding me of a balloon. Too much of a good thing will eventually make it explode. Seriously now, the DOW is still climbing. We thought 10K was off limits. Now we are heading for 10,500. This is like a presidential run by Guilliani, lots of lift but then a scorching nose dive.

CNN: Stocks set to edge forward
...solid results from Apple and Texas Instruments...
Reuters: Solid earnings boost futures
U.S. machinery maker Caterpillar Inc posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings and raised its full-year forecast.

'Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well'

Mike Doughty

Monday, October 19, 2009

13 Year Old 6'6" Andrew Wiggins

Nikkei Opens Higher On Tuesday

With Apple announcing strong third quarter profits, the rest of the tech sector is cruising.

Reuters: Nikkei up 1 percent, led by techs after Wall St gains

Yes Men Pull Off Another Hoax

Apple Pi


The DOW impressed me today by reaching a 2009 high and closing at 10,092.

The market is a strange thing. When its down its troublesome, and when its up its troublesome.

Is it time to get off this ride, the roller coaster is braking.

Regardless, if the euphoria holds, tomorrow will continue the rally. Apple has posted a trance inducing profit for the third quarter.

Papa needs a new pair of shoes.

Reuters: Futures jump after Apple's results
...bellwether Apple Inc's stronger-than-expected quarterly results.

32 New Exoplanets


The discovery of exoplanets seems to be accelerating with technological advances.

There is something very humbling and simultaneously something that causes longing in these discoveries.

CNN: 32 planets discovered outside solar system
With the discovery, the tally of new exoplanets found by HARPS is now at 75, out of about 400 known exoplanets, the organization said, "cementing HARPS's position as the world's foremost exoplanet hunter." The 75 planets are in 30 planetary systems, the European Southern Observatory said.

There's A Rep. For That

The Story Of A Micro Loan

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Kiva.org Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

Ten Poorest American Cities

Macon, Georgia - Isn't that the home of the Allman Brothers?

Poverty is on the rise. We know this. More wealth has been captured by the elite. More jobs have left for good. The old American lifestyle ways are decaying.

ABC News: America's 10 Poorest Cities
In 2008, U.S. median income fell to $50,303 from $52,163 in 2007.

...Pine Bluff, Ark.; Albany and Macon, Ga.; and Rocky Mount, N.C.

...McAllen and Brownsville, Texas...

...El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz...

...Saginaw, Mich., and Flint, Mich....

Fix That Draft


This is good.

The Obama administration is working on a plan to help homeowners weatherize their homes.

I am all for this. We are attempting to improve our old house in this very way. We've changed three doors and three windows so far and we have gutted and rebuilt the entrance way stuffing it with really good insulation. We have lots more to do but at least the house now has some socks on. Prior to the improvements it was completely naked in the winter.

McClatchy: Program aims to encourage weatherization of homes
Although energy efficiency retrofits save money on energy bills, they can cost as much as hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how much work needs to be done. The new recommendations, which use existing federal funding, include some ways to finance projects so homeowners will be more likely to undertake them.

Installing more insulation and more energy efficient doors, windows, lighting, water heaters, air conditioning and appliances can reduce energy use in a house by as much as 40 percent, meaning considerable monthly savings on utility bills.

The Market On Monday

At 7:50 a.m. futures are moderately higher and the market is set to open higher.

Today optimism is back. Investors are looking to see green news from the large number of corporations reporting this week on their third quarter results.

We have two economies. There is Wall Street which is presently booming although some suggest it has hit its limit. Then there is the vast economy of the middle and poor classes and its quite a different story..

CNN: Stocks set for early gains
The company report deluge continues this week, with about 27% of the S&P 500 on the docket.
Reuters: Futures rise on earnings optimism

'Soundtrack To Mary'

Soul Coughing

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nox News

I don't get it. We all know Fox News is neocon and ultra right wing opinion. Beck's opinion comes from the right of Pluto. Neocons know this, Progressives know this.

We might speculate that its about winning the hearts and minds of the soft and oozy center. This segment of the country has no opinion or will swallow anything predigested. Just because its on TV doesn't mean its real, but some just don't see it that way.

Yahoo: White House advisers say Fox News is not news

Nikkei Opens Lower On Monday

Reuters: Nikkei falls as exporters slip, but JAL rebounds

Third Quarter Results Round 3

We are into the middle of the third quarter corporate earnings reports.

This week many corporations that make products directly consumed by us, or at least many of us, are in the spotlight.

We are talking Coca Cola, Apple, McDonald's, and Microsoft. You get the picture.

Also, a few banks will be producing results and this information will give us a better picture of the commercial real estate world. Recall that many are or were predicting continuing and serious problems in this sector with scads of foreclosures and property value loss.

Reuters: Wall St Week Ahead: Earnings blitz to test market's mettle
"As we get into some of the little, bumpier earnings releases you're going to have some headline risk and a little bit of selling pressure."

"You're going to hear a lot about commercial real estate, with a lot of regional banks reporting their earnings..."

CNN - Kerry Warns Obama On Afghanistan

With Us Or Against Us

McClatchy's writers have done an interesting piece of investigative journalism.

Recall how the Bush administration cherry picked information and individuals who expressed support for the Iraq war debacle. Those who did not agree or were opposed got the boot.

Moody's appears to have done the same thing in promoting employees who would support a sense of the status quo and not suggest that the economy was heading into a severe recession.

Those who were alarmed at the approach of the recession got the shaft.

McClatchy: How Moody's sold its ratings -- and sold out investors
...Moody's Investors Service, whose investment ratings were widely trusted, responded by purging analysts and executives who warned of trouble and promoting those who helped Wall Street plunge the country into its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.