Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

My prediction for 2010 is simple - its going to be a great year for all of us!

I wish you the very best.

Montana Assisted Suicide Ruling

Montana may soon allow terminally ill state residents the right to seek assisted suicide.

BBC: Montana paves way for assisted suicide
The state's Supreme Court said there was nothing in its precedent showing that doctor-assisted suicide was against public policy.

'Dressed To Kill'

Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Way Too Much Money


Let's tip our hats to Colorado legislators.

They have acknowledged something we all know to be true, $7.25 per hour is plenty of money, plenty.

Yahoo: Colorado's minimum wage becomes 1st in US to drop

Gingrich Lays A Massive Rotten Egg

Of all the insane blatherings from the right's mouthpiece du jour, Gingrich has outdone himself. That would be slithering under a bar set so low one must ooze their way under.

Wasting no time in attempting to capitalize on a failed terrorist attack with an intent to raise his wasted and pointless party from the ashes, Gingrich revitalizes the old Rove taunt of seeking therapy for terrorists.

Human Events: On Terrorism it's Time to Know, to Profile, and to Discriminate
In the Obama Administration, protecting the rights of terrorists has been more important than protecting the lives of Americans.

That must now change decisively.

When High Is Low

The numbers seem rather catastrophic to me. 432,000 initial jobless claims filed last week is outrageous. They will spin the number to have it appear as a triumph.

CNN: Jobless claims fall to 17-month low
There were 432,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Dec. 26, down 22,000 from the previous week's revised 454,000, the Labor Department said. The figure is the lowest since July 19, 2008, when there were 413,000 claims filed.

2010


I am going to vote for calling the new year - twenty ten. Two thousand ten is too many syllables. People always go for the short nickname anyhow.

I was just thinking how one short year ago we still had Junior as president. Thank god that monstrosity is packed and moved.

Obama's Presidency is the highlight of the year, despite his resemblance to another version of corporatist insider. He's still a vast improvement over the Cheney - Bush cabal.

The Sacramento Bee: Hail the new year, but what do we call it?
The decision as the clock strikes midnight is: Should we say "Happy two thousand ten" or "Happy twenty ten."

The Market On New Year's Eve

At 8:30 a.m. futures are slightly up and oil is up as well, close to $80 per barrel.

One might suspect that today's market numbers will be the result of a tension between a sentiment to keep '09's rally going, oil being up, the weekly jobless claims report, and the fact that trading will be light and extra volatile.

We've had a relatively calm market all week, maybe recent history will help produce the same for today.

Recall how it was one short year ago. Everybody was worried sick about their investments if they had investments and the picture coming out was one of an economy on the brink of complete collapse. There has been improvement. We are in better shape.

CNN: Stocks set for early gain
The government's weekly jobless claims report is due before the market opens.
Reuters: Stock futures edge up as '09 ends, jobless data on tap
"For most people 2009 was the recovery from the abyss. We entered the year at amazingly pessimistic levels and with some very, very serious challenges toward keeping the financial system going."

'The Best Is Yet To Come'

Sinatra

I really love this song.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Executive Order

Click the link for the full order -

Less secrecy = more democracy

The White House: Classified National Security Information
This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism. Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their Government. Also, our Nation's progress depends on the free flow of information both within the Government and to the American people. Nevertheless, throughout our history, the national defense has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations. Protecting information critical to our Nation's security and demonstrating our commitment to open Government through accurate and accountable application of classification standards and routine, secure, and effective declassification are equally important priorities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Limbaugh Hospitalized

As much as I dislike this person's politics and public persona, I wish him a speedy recovery.

CBS 6: Report: Rush Limbaugh taken to Hawaii hospital

TPMtv - GOP Criticism Of Obama

New Jersey Sea Level Rise

Thanks to GK for posting this on his blog @ The Beach.

Full Body Scanners

What can we say, hopefully technology will take care of this airplane bombing craziness.

Yahoo: Dutch to use full body scanners for US flights

Facebook Taunt


Curious thing would you agree - we now have social networking systems like Facebook and as a result a whole new era of irritations and conflicts of interest.

There is something remarkably short sighted about this particular activity. Taunting the police - hm not too smart.

CBC News: U.K. fugitive taunts police on Facebook
Convicted burglar Craig Lynch, 28, has been updating his profile regularly since he escaped from prison in Suffolk three months ago.

He has been mocking authorities for failing to find him and openly musing about moving across the Atlantic. His profile picture shows him making an obscene gesture at the camera.

'Baraka' 10/10

Final episode of this fine film, its mostly the credits. I think I'm going to post all of it again in the future.

Abdulmutallab

We are in the accusation and ass covering phase of the Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab vis a vis Yemen terrorist attack on Christmas.

One would suspect that little information will come out surrounding who was in the middle of the decision to let this guy slip through. One might suspect that several red flags were in place.

Also we are now reading that the plan to close Gitmo may be a casualty of this unfortunate episode. One would also suspect that this is more of a political cautionary decision.

McClatchy: Likely casualty of air plot: Obama's Guantanamo plans
Cascading reports that the alleged would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had trained in Yemen, and that the plot was hatched by two former Guantanamo detainees, have even supporters of emptying the prison predicting a new impediment to their effort.

Nearly half of the 198 captives at Guantánamo are citizens of Yemen -- also the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden -- just south of Saudi Arabia.
McClatchy: Obama: 'Intelligence community' blew air bomber tip
Obama said..."It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list."

"When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred," he (Obama) said. "And I consider that totally unacceptable."

The Market On Wednesday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are moderately down. Its looking like Wall Street will open down a notch from yesterday's close.

Perusing the reports on why this is the case, one does not find a strong or compelling reason other than the notion that the few remaining investors in town for the week want to sell and make some profits. Its plausible.

This in between week, from 12-25 to 1-1 is always an unsettled time on many levels. Would you agree?

One could say that one thing to take from today's Wall Street reports is that nothing profoundly disastrous is being touted. That of course does not mean that its not there, or could be there, but its not stirring up fear and uncertainty at this point. One suspects the emphasis is on trying to promote a more optimistic outlook for 2010. Emotion still plays a role in affecting economic outcomes, isn't greed and emotion. Its the offspring of jealousy.

CNN: Stocks headed for lower start
Trading volume will likely be very low with many market participants out on holiday for the week, so small moves could cause major volatility during the shortened week on Wall Street.
Reuters: Stock futures fall with global stocks, year-end in focus
"There are some people that have made some money this year that have made some good bets, and at the end of the year they're going to take profits..."

'Sposa Son Disprezzata'

Cecilia Bartoli sings Vivaldi


I am a scorned wife
faithful, yet insulted
Heavens, what did I do?
Yet he is my love,
my husband, my beloved
my hope

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Lady Gaga Circa 2006'

Nikkei opens Lower On Wednesday

So far we've had a sideways type of week. Two more '09 days of trading to go.

Reuters: Nikkei weighed by JAL fall after hitting 4-month high

'Fear Merchants'

Avengers

Terrorism Victim

Very sad story here -

Johann Gokool was on the USS Cole when it was attacked by terrorists.

Nine years later Gokool, who lost his leg in the attack, has died. Relatives say Gokool's death is related to the attack.

There are a lot of people out there who escape from these attacks but often carry with them a great deal of trauma and fear.

McClatchy: Nine years later, USS Cole attack claims another victim
Relatives say he died in his bed, apparently during one of the violent panic attacks that had plagued him since the incident.

His younger brother found Gokool about 7 p.m. Dec. 23 in the house they shared. Medical examiners still haven't said what killed him, but relatives believe that a deadly attack stopped his heart.

TPMtv - Ron Paul And Ben Stein Argue Terrorism

Boy does this little clip trap some of the essential undecurrents surrounding America's view of terrorism. Ron Paul argues for trying to get at motivation. Ben Stein assumes psychotic behavior. Stein then goes on to accuse Ron Paul of being anti-Semitic to boot. In the process, the greatest helper in moving understanding forward is nowhere to be found. That would be considerate listening.

'Baraka' 9/10

Examining Goldman Sachs

Check out this clip at McClatchy on Goldman's moves on the sub prime mortgage crisis.

Goldman was in the center of causing the crisis, but also got out just prior to the recession. They then went on to make money betting that the mortgages would fail.

How does that happen?

Goldman Sachs' secret bets
McClatchy's Greg Gordon details how Wall Street colossus Goldman Sachs sold billions of dollars worth of risky bonds, while secretly betting that the housing market would drop and send the values plummeting.

The Market On Tuesday

At 8:40 a.m. futures are modestly up.

All indicators would point to another day of mild changes in the market at least initially.

Because many investors are on vacation, trading volume will be low, and this leads to more volatility.

Data on consumer confidence comes out this morning.

Are you confident? Are you consuming, Mr. and Mrs. Consumer? I am consuming, yet I'm only slightly confident, but I am happy.

CNN: Stocks looking for lucky 7th gain
After the opening bell, the Conference Board will release its December report on consumer confidence. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expect a rise in the confidence index to 53 from 49.5 in November.
Reuters: Stock futures rise as home price, consumer data on tap
Stabilizing home prices are "absolutely essential...The way out of this is through housing."

'Bad Romance'

Lady Gaga

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nikkei Is Flat On Tuesday

Be-Fiend-Ed

I am working like a fiend tonight, trying to finish our bathroom work. I've been in it up to my eyeballs for several days now.

Tiling at the moment and its subway tiles which are a tedious little...

Hopefully the world didn't fall apart today cause I'm missing the news.

Will catch up later. Have a good evening.

Top Gross

This is the top money grossing film of 2009.

We are devo...

TPMtv - Lieberman Wants Yemen

Optimisitic Prediction

Many saw Krugman on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" predict that the economy could contract by the end of 2010.

Bloomberg's has economist Dean Maki predicting that 2010 will be all clear sailing.

So who do we believe.

At this point the best tactic in my opinion is to keep your eyes and ears on the day by day indicators. In other words keep in steady contact with the available news sources, especially the superior news sources. The other alternative is to formally become an economist but you might not have enough time.

Bloomberg: Economy Poised for Surge as Most Accurate Economist Sees U.S.
The world’s largest economy will expand 3.5 percent in 2010, according to Maki, the chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York. The rebound in stocks and rising incomes will prompt Americans to do what they do best --consume...

Household spending “will pick up steam as we move into the second half of 2010...

Trans Fat Ban



California gets out ahead of the curve by banning restaurants from frying foods in trans fat starting Friday.

If they also banned white flour, scads of sugar, and the huge list of additives and processed food accessories, they would also see a major reduction in obesity, especially if the ban were to include supermarkets and all food distributors.

We may have to wait a long time for that one.

What a coup this would be. Not only would obesity decrease but health care costs would also decrease. People eat junk and the body responds in kind by getting junky as well.

McClatchy: War on fat: California trans-fat ban goes into effect Friday
California will bar restaurants from cooking with trans fat beginning New Year's Day...

Trans fat is created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, a process called hydrogenation meant to improve the shelf life and enhance the flavor of foods.

The process turns liquid oils into solid fats, such as shortening or stick margarine, which have been used in french fries, baked goods, crackers, candies, snack foods, fried foods and other items.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories consumed daily.

The Market On Monday

At 7:40 a.m. futures are ever so slightly up.

Markets will be closed on Friday, New Year's Day.

Oil is up over $78 per barrel. Many investors are on vacation and so the light volume is accompanied by more volatility. There are no major economic reports on tap for today however investors are predicting airline stocks will fall due to the terrorist incident over the weekend.

At this point the signs are pointing towards a sideways type of day, but as always this could change.

CNN: Stocks set to start the week higher
Wall Street is gearing up for an unpredictable week amid light trading volume.
Reuters: Stock futures edge up as investors eye year-end
Oil hit a four-week high above $78 a barrel as colder weather across the U.S. and fresh signs of an economic recovery helped boost the outlook for fuel demand.

'Stand'

Sly and the Family Stone

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nikkei Opens Higher On Monday

The reports would have us believe that the markets are going to end the year strong.

Skepticism, pin point accuracy, some historical contextual references, and a lot of information on corporate assets, trends, and management skills are far more handy in market prediction. Oh yeah, did I leave out essential information on consumerist economic activity.

Reuters: Nikkei hits 4-month high on exporters, Takashimaya

Sex Science


Now who doesn't like a good science story especially when its about -

S E X...

Live Science: The 9 Most Provocative Sex Science Stories of 2009
Sex smells.

Pulling out works. Well, most of the time..."almost as effective as the male condom"...

Its A Meditators Inside Thing

From a deep operative -

'Baraka' 8/10

They're Back

The potential for a great disaster was there. Fortunately the mechanism failed and instead of an explosion, he started a fire and burned himself. Hats off to the heroic efforts to subdue this guy.

At age 23, on can assume that he was not thinking clearly. The danger is in his youthful arrogance and ideological perspective free conviction.

Essentially we hope the authorities trace this back to the source and extinguish this threat completely.

Gulf News: Nigerian man charged in Christmas airliner attack
The suspect claimed to have received training and instructions from Al Qaida operatives in Yemen...

An affidavit said he had a device containing a high explosive attached to his body.

PETN is often used in military explosives and found inside blasting caps. But terrorists like it because it's small and powerful.

Coming Up On Wall Street

Wall Street will be closed on Friday, New Year's Day.

The DOW has passed 10,500, oil is up around $78, and investors are predicting a strong January. We now get into the so called "January Effect", more bullish market activity is desired.

The sentiment is to not let this in between week, December 28th to the 31st, get you rattled. Many investors are vacationing and when trading is low, volatility is high.

What a difference a year makes. Recall the mood from one year ago. Essentially everybody was worried sick. It was a dark period.

Our wish for the new year is to see job creation on a significant scale. The money is there.

CNN: Wall Street counts down to a new year
"It's always an interesting week, one you can't ever really predict..."

Little economic news is on tap...

"There's a lot of cash on corporate balance sheets that can be put to use."

'Étude Nr. 1 - Désordre'

Giuseppe Andaloro plays György Ligeti

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Medicaid Abuse

Humanity marches forward...

Albany Times Union: Taxpayers finance $196,000 ride
A Dutchess County woman took a daily $300 taxi ride to visit her son in Albany for three years -- and taxpayers picked up the tab.

U.S. Debt

'Baraka' 7/10

The Bush Tax Cuts

Bush's massive tax cuts for the wealthy which have propelled the deficit are setting at the end of 2010.

It is expected that Congress will postpone any action on the cuts. Congress is worried that their necks will be on the line in an election year.

McClatchy: The lingering Bush legacy: What to do about those tax cuts
By passing a temporary extension of temporary tax reductions, the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress can buy time, she said, and the likely outcome is the formation of a study group to examine the kinds of extensive tax revisions that many experts argue are needed.

President Barack Obama has said that he expects to retain most of the Bush tax reductions, letting them expire only for individuals or couples who earn more than $250,000 annually in taxable income.

Your Weekly Address

Idiocy Take 20

H.S., I spent the day with relatives, eat and be merry, head off to bed, check in on the computer and bam - terrorism is back.

Sounds like some p - poor checking on the European side.

Glad this joker didn't get his wish. Kudos to the people that subdued this person.

CNN: Explosive device set off aboard airliner

To Your Good Health

From a deep operative -

Let's make 2010 the year of our own good health. Let's have our own personal health care reform.

Wellness Resources: Top 10 Nutrients of 2009
#1 – DHA

The long chain essential fatty acid known as DHA continues to be of extreme importance to human health at all ages. Amazing new research results for many health issues build on the thousands of existing studies. Of course, there is a huge difference in quality DHA fish oil, compared to other products that are faking people out and trying to pretend to be better. Consumer beware, you need a certain number of milligrams of DHA in your diet for optimal health benefits.

'Symphony Number 3' Part 2

Continuing from yesterday -

Karajan conducts Beethoven's Third Symphony AKA 'The Eroica.'

Friday, December 25, 2009

Detroit Art Explosion


Detroit is of great interest.

Its a city in extreme decline, ghost town to thousands of magnificent structures and homes now in disrepair and decay. We recently read that unemployment in Detroit has topped 50%. The stresses on the people in Detroit are as bad as it gets in America.

Check this link out and watch the clip embedded on the home page. Its about a large ongoing art project involving an entire urban area. Very cool...

The Heidelberg Project

'Baraka' 6/10

Health Care Reform On Friday

Requiring people to have health insurance and then forcing them to pay a penalty if they do not is an atrocious law.

The main reason why people don't have insurance is because they can't afford it.

If you can't afford insurance, penalizing someone for not being able to afford it is among the most absurd rules to come down the pike. Why don't we start penalizing the homeless for being homeless.

One might suspect that one reason for doing this would be to create some kind of even playing field for how much each procedure can cost or charged (to insurance companies). At present, when the uninsured enter a hospital they are charged way in excess of what an insured person is charged. The poor pay the highest amount. The insured pay less.

I fear this thing is an abomination.

McClatchy: What Congress' health care overhaul likely means for you
Q: I don't have health insurance. Would I have to get it, and what happens if I don't?

A: Under both bills, most Americans would be required to have coverage or to pay a penalty. Some would be exempted from the requirement, called an individual mandate, due to financial hardship or religious reasons. Under the House bill, you'd have to have coverage by 2013 or pay up to 2.5 percent of your income; the penalty couldn't exceed the average cost of a plan sold in the exchanges.

The Senate version would take effect in 2014. The penalty for not having coverage would be $95 in 2014 or 0.5 percent of an individual's income, whichever is higher. The penalty would rise in 2016 to $750, or 2 percent of income, up to the cost of the cheapest health plan.

Oil Up

Oil per barrel went over $78 per barrel on Thursday.

The amazing run in the equities market continues and this increase in oil only deepens that run.

Reuters: Oil rises above $78, inventories support
Oil inventories have fallen elsewhere in the world over the past week, including Northwest Europe and Japan, the world's third largest oil consumer.

'Symphony Number 3' Part 1

Herbert Von Karajan conducts Beethoven's 'Eroica.'

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'From Venus With Love'

The Avengers

Happy Holidays


Family is over. Food is abundant. Worries are at bay. Ease of mind is at work. Winter is here. Politics is ...

Hey, the economy is improving, a little bit.

I hope you all have an excellent holiday season.

The only present I want is for more of you to actually write comments, how about it. I know you're there. I promise no one will bite or if you prefer, that someone will bite.

Regardless, have a great night, day, and weekend.

Jim

'Baraka' 5/10

Buddhists Get Into The Act

How about this, Tibetan Buddhists in the Himalayas are getting into environmental protection.

We applaud this activity.

KHORYUG
KHORYUG is a network of Buddhist monasteries and centers in the Himalayas working together on environmental protection of the Himalayan region with the aim of practically applying the values of compassion and interdependence towards the Earth and all living beings that dwell here.

US Population Trends


New figures on US population shifts are out.

There are roughly 307 million people in America now.

Texas is still growing gaining almost 500,000 people.

Notice that the shifts would change the makeup of Congress. Also notice that blue states would be losing seats in Congress while red states would be gaining.

Those shifts will not occur until an official census is taken in 2010.

USA Today: U.S. Census Bureau Population 2009
If congressional seats were assigned based on the July 1 estimates, Texas would be the big winner, gaining three seats, said Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services a consulting firm that specializes in election administration.

Gaining one seat each would be Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Ohio would lose two House seats. Losing one each would be Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The new estimates are a change from last year when Illinois had enough population to keep all its House seats and Ohio had enough people to lose just one seat..

Senate's Christmas Eve Health Reform

As you know it passed 60 - 39 at 7:15 a.m., one Republican did not vote.

We still don't really know what this thing is going to be because now that it has passed the Senate, it has to be reconciled with the bill passed by the House in November.

Its here, probably doesn't go into effect till 2014 or so. Who knows what kind of power dynamics will shift what happened today in the next 4 years.

One might suspect that if employment picks up, Obama has a shot at re-election. Some say this is an Obama victory.

McClatchy: It's done: Senate approves health care overhaul, 60-39
The House wants to impose a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge on individuals earning $500,000 and couples making more than $1 million, starting in 2011, a change that would begin to restore some of the Bush era tax cuts.

But the Senate has other ideas, preferring a 40 percent excise tax on more expensive employer-sponsored insurance plans and a 0.9 percentage point increase in the 1.45 percent Medicare tax on the wealthy.

The Market On Thursday

At 7:45 a.m. futures are modestly up. The market is poised to once again open higher. With the markets closing for the weekend today at 1:00 p.m. EST, trading will be lighter. The DOW at 10,500 is still in sight, could this be the day's trajectory...

As you know, the Senate passed the health care reform bill. Investors have already factored this into the equation and notice how insurance equities are rising just fine.

Hmm.

Keep your eye on the government's numbers for weekly jobless claims.

CNN: Wall Street looks for cheery open
"The Santa rally is going to continue..."

Also due in the morning is the government's weekly jobless claims report.
Reuters: Futures up ahead of jobless, durable goods data
...orders for long-lasting goods are expected to rise 0.5 percent after dropping 0.6 percent in October...

'Suzanne'

Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Social Pain Pill


Scientists are investigating the range of pain from physical to psychic to social.

The next step - a drug to alleviate any or all of it.

Live Science: Pain Pills Could Ease Hurt Feelings
The finding builds on research showing that psychological blows not only feel like they hurt us, they actually do. For instance, scientists have found a gene linked with both physical pain and a person's sensitivity to rejection. And some of the same brain regions are linked with both pain types.

'Baraka' 4/10

TPMtv - Your Senate On Diapers

Grown men, yet infantile behavior, its always an appealing and attractive thing to witness...

Rubberize


Talk about more bang for the buck...

Family planning beats solar and all that is green as a less costly way for combating CO2 emissions.

Certainly makes sense, would you agree - less people = less emissions.

How do you get the abstinence only Bushie crowd to get on board this one.

If you think there are global warming deniers now wait till the fundamentalist right gets a hold of this one...

Optimum Population: CONTRACEPTION IS “GREENEST” TECHNOLOGY - Family planning cheapest way to combat climate change
The report, Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost, commissioned by the Optimum Population Trust from the London School of Economics*, concludes that “considered purely as a method of reducing future CO2 emissions”, family planning is more cost-effective than leading low-carbon technologies. It says family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reduction.

Knicked


My one remaining pleasure in professional sports is the NBA.

I always liked basketball. Used to play with the noontime YMCA crowd through the 90s. Now the knees are unwilling and the back is at best tricky.

Being a NYer, the team of choice is the Knicks. Yes I am a Knicks fan. Baseball is fair, Football is sanctioned thuggery, but the Knicks are my team.

Post Patrick Ewing, the team has been a disaster.

This year they started at a miserable 1 win and 9 losses. The toilet loomed.

But, praise Jesus, they are turning around. The team has an excellent record for December. Now there is even fragile talk of playoffs and such. That would be the s**t.

Its Duhan, Gallinari, Lee, Chandler, and Jeffries. Seriously now, how can you not like a team that has a native of Italy on it, playing pro basketball no less, and he can shoot.

Knicks...

The Market On Wednesday

At 8:25 a.m.futures are modestly up and the market is poised to rise at the bell.

Investors like what they see in an improving housing market and a blank check for the insurance industry with our new health care welfare or rather reform act.

Investors like this holiday season, its all ho ho ho and good cheer. The equities market has been sailing since March and although there will be a few bumps in the road, its still trending up. 10,500 is on tap and I would like to mention that some of my investor friends were thinking 11,000 by the end of this year. At this point, that does not sound doable.

CNN: More pre-holiday cheer on Wall Street
...positive findings on home sales and GDP, along with progress with the healthcare bill, have all helped bolster the markets.

Government figures on personal income and spending in November will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Reuters: Stock futures tick higher after Micron profit, ahead of data
"You should see the recovery continuing to emerge in the data today, and investors will continue to respond positively to that..."

'Love Shack'

B52's

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Baraka' 3/10

TPMtv - Tweety Bops GOP

The GOP likes to smear it down and dirty and lately they are getting it back in kind.

'New Years Eve Pub Crawl - London'

Three Sheets

Health Care Reform On Tuesday

Now does "insurers would be barred from rejecting anyone because of pre-existing conditions" mean that if you have a pre-existing condition it is now covered. Or does it mean that if you become a new customer, then it doesn't matter, your pre-existing condition is covered. Is this a retroactive measure or a new member only measure.

I keep getting a no deal for a missing molar that needs a fake tooth. I would like to get it filled...

McClatchy: With Senate health care win likely, Dems now must woo public
Under both bills, insurers would be barred from rejecting anyone because of pre-existing conditions. Gone, too, would be the practice in many states of charging women more than men, and insurers would be limited in how much they could increase rates on older people.

Both houses agree on financial help for people having trouble affording coverage: They both would provide aid to families earning up to about $88,000 per year.

What could derail the entire effort are areas in which Democratic leaders have struggled for months to find common ground: abortion, taxes and the public option.

The Market On Tuesday

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

The revised GDP numbers come out this morning and existing homes sales for November also comes out today.

If either or both of these things is tempting and delicious, the market will continue its surge to 10,500. Its still hard to believe. Its time to fatten up.

One of the biggest drivers right now is too big to fail insurance companies. These companies and their investors know that they have hit the welfare cash cow.

Don't mail your tax check to D.C., mail it directly to Hartford, any company will do. That's a joke and unfortunately in more ways than one.

CNN: Stocks ready to rise at open
Before the opening bell, the Commerce Department releases its final revision of third-quarter gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity.

Shortly after the market opens, the National Association of Realtors will release a report on existing home sales for November.
Reuters: Stock futures tick up ahead of GDP, home sales data
Existing home sales are expected to post their third straight monthly increase in November, a sign that the troubled housing market could be stabilizing.

'The Way You Look Tonight'

Tony Bennett

Monday, December 21, 2009

What's On The Menu?

From a deep operative -

I'll have the burned mutton...

Venomous Dinosaur


Who doesn't like a good dinosaur.

But a dinosaur with a venomous bite - now we're really talking.

Live Science: Dinosaur Packed Venom in Fangs
Using snake-like fangs, saber-toothed dinosaur relatives of velociraptors likely subdued their prey with venom, scientists now suggest.

Remodel

Housing improvement trends change all the time. It turns out that the usual improvements undertaken to add value are no longer adding as much value to the house. This is according to the National Association of Realtors and this is related to the recession. This is still a buyer's market. The seller is clearly at the disadvantage generally, but not necessarily regionally.

So that big exotic kitchen remodeling job may not recoup the money in the short run, the long run might be a different story.

As people use their houses as one of their most valued assets, this is something to be aware of.

According to this article, curb appeal is big. That's fine with me because I like the idea of living in a home that looks good on the outside.

Also I am very big on replacement windows especially here in upstate NY where heat is valuable and drafts are undesirable.

CNN: Renovating doesn't pay off like it used to
The most financially successful jobs are smaller-scale, lower-cost renovations that improve the exterior appearance of homes. In this down real estate market, curb appeal is king.

'Penguin House'

From a deep operative -

A study in architectural design emphasizing light to enhance small spaces.

'Baraka' 2/10

4 stars - **** - Sande

American Soldier Pregnancy Ban

There is a very simple test to understand if what one is doing is ethical or correct or moral or whatever else you want to test for.

You simply take whatever it is that you do or say or write and you apply the idea as if it were coming from another source.

How does this sound for example: we have just learned that any soldier in the Russian Army who impregnates another soldier or becomes pregnant, will face a court marshal or worse.

Sounds a little harsh, doesn't it...

CNN: U.S. soldiers in Iraq could face courts-martial for getting pregnant
"I need every soldier I've got, especially since we are facing a drawdown of forces during our mission...Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates. Anyone who leaves this fight early because they made a personal choice that changed their medical status -- or contributes to doing that to another -- is not in keeping with a key element of our ethos."

TPMtv - Dean Slays The GOP

Reform

The Senate health reform bill moved forward early this morning. Sneaking a no more debate vote into the chamber at the wee wee hours, Democrats prevailed. The vote came through at 60-40, about as partisan as it could possibly get.

What can we say. Speaking with two professional health care consultants over the weekend, the tone of the conversation was not positive. They were somewhat appalled by the bill, calling it welfare for the insurance industry.

There are two parties in America. We call them Democrats and Republicans. They are in fact Liberal Corporatists and Fascist Corporatists. Take your pick.

At the moment Al Franken is holding the mantel of working for the people.

McClatchy: 1:19 a.m.: Senate Dems win key 60-40 vote on health care
The vote, the first of three planned this week aimed at cutting off different debates, found Democrats marching united and determined toward anticipated passage of historic health care legislation late Wednesday or Thursday. If that happens, the Senate bill will have to be reconciled with the version the House of Representatives passed last month.

Many major points in both bills are roughly the same. Insurers would be barred from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Nearly everyone would have to obtain coverage in four or five years. New exchanges, or marketplaces, would be created to help consumers shop for policies.

But there are sharp divisions over abortion, taxes and the public option.

The Market On Monday

At 8:15 a.m. futures are modestly up.

Oil is slightly up, the dollar is slightly down, and the health care reform bill has passed a major hurdle. So everything is rosy right?

Most investors holiday vacationing and drinking Prosecco on their private island. With less trading, the market tends to be more volatile. Its going to be a short week with Christmas on Friday. The investors that remain are keen on maintaining the markets present level.

A good scenario for this week would be sideways market movement, nothing lost, nothing gained.

CNN: Stocks set to rise at open
No economic reports are scheduled for release Monday.
Reuters: Stock futures rise with commods, dollar weakens
The healthcare sector is in focus after a broad healthcare bill passed a crucial test in the U.S. Senate early Monday, as enough votes were put together to clear a key procedural hurdle in approving President Barack Obama's top legislative priority.

'Samba'

Nat King Cole with Jack Costanzo

We forget that Cole was an outstanding instrumentalist.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

'Food' Part 2

By Jan Švankmajer

'Baraka' 1/10

Amazing and disturbing imagery

Four stars **** - Sande

Nikkei Opens Higher On Monday

Death Panel Lie Earns Award


I was talking with a medical lawyer and a health care consultant just yesterday. Both were aghast at how the media allowed the gigantic "death panel" lie to saturate the waves.

Well death panels are back, and it picks up the political lie of the year award.

Palin in '12, the moose whisperer is back as the sturdy upholder of the GWB lying legacy.

PolitiFact: PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'Death panels'
Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

"Death panels."

Cell Phone Warning


Several years ago there was a loud noise made about a risk of cell phones causing brain tumors.

The warning is coming back. Maine is considering legislation to make a cell phone warning mandatory, one would suspect a similar warning to the one on a pack of cigarettes.

The warning is in place in other countries. Americans like to give corporations the benefit of the doubt and trust that all corporate products are good and wholesome, and no I am not listing the dangerous products. We assume a consumer friendly posture rather than a prove it to me posture.

And how has that worked out...

Yahoo: Maine to consider cell phone cancer warning
The Federal Communications Commission, which maintains that all cell phones sold in the U.S. are safe, has set a standard for the "specific absorption rate" of radiofrequency energy, but it doesn't require handset makers to divulge radiation levels.

Beer Over Water


What happens when beer is cheaper than water.

Well, we are about to find out as this scenario is playing in England.

Soon to hit a convenience store near you...

The Slatest: Beer is Cheaper Than Water
Several British supermarket chains make a habit of selling a bottle of booze for less than they sell a bottle of water (5 pence for a beer vs. 8 pence for brand-name water). The cut-rate prices are designed to lure customers into stores, where it's hope that they'll load up on more expensive alcohol and some food to go with it (and who knows, maybe some pricey mineral water).

'Vincent Price Christmas'

SNL

Iran Brutality

Recall the Iranian uprising of a few months ago. That uprising is now in the trash bin of the collective historic amnesia.

Iran has announced that three prisoners of that uprising were beaten to death in prison by guards.

Sends a real clear message would you agree.

Can we list the hypocrisies of a theocracy that goes about the business of brutalizing its own citizens.

Yahoo: Iran acknowledges prisoners were beaten to death

Franken Again

Al Franken so far has impressed as a Senator.

Recall how an employee of Haliburton working in Iraq was gang raped by her coworkers. It was a horrible story and at the time she had no recourse.

Franken created legislation that will require the government to not do business with corporations that have no arbitration process in such cases of assault and rape.

Republicans have balked, after all its Haliburton. I look forward to listening to Dick Cheney blow smoke on this one.

McClatchy: Plight of contractor raped in Iraq spurs push in Congress
Jones herself is not directly affected by the amendment. But after a hard-fought four-year battle, she won the right to sue her attackers and the company under a ruling in September by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Her case is expected to go to trial next year.

Jamie Leigh Jones is a strong, courageous woman, who used her own horrific experience to inspire change," said Franken in a statement.

"I am honored to know her, and honored to have been a part of her cause," Franken said. "I came to Washington to stand up for folks like Jamie Leigh, and stand up to the powerful interests that too often silence their voices."

The provision had a contentious debate in the Senate, where it passed in October 68-30 — engendering a vocal critique of the 30 all white, all male "no" voters, including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court judge, said that he was a strong advocate for victims but he was opposed to a provision that would benefit trial lawyers.

Missed It

Upstate NY has missed the huge snowstorm that is blanketing much of the East Coast.

The forecast for today, Sunday, calls for no precipitation. Initially we were going to get 2 to 4 inches of snow, but the storm must have shifted more to the east.

Its a very unusual situation where upstate NY gets no snow and NY City gets walloped.

Happy to see it miss us.

'Concerto In Fm' Third Movement

Continuing from yesterday's post -

Claudio Dauelsberg plays Bach

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Unbelievable Occurence


I watched incredulously today as a neighbor's house, about six houses away from my house, burned to the ground. The photo above is taken from the local news outlet of the actual fire.

I have never seen such a thing up close and this personal.

All occupants got out of the house, but the word is that one young person received very serious injuries. I will learn more about that in the future.

This was not the situation where you would see fire coming out of a single window. In this case the entire house from side to side, back to front, was completely engulfed in flames that rose at least 20 to 30 feet in the air. There was no possible chance to save this house. Everything in the house was burned up, everything. All that remains now is a driveway with a blank lot.

Firemen were working to keep the flames from engulfing the adjacent houses. The hoses were on full blast and they succeeded in keeping the adjacent houses from burning down as well. That was some excellent work on their part.

I don't know where the family is staying or anything like that. But I know you join me in wanting them to recover and move forward through this terrible tragedy.

I hope none of us will ever see something like this in the future.

Walls


We are into the wallboard phase of our bathroom renovation.

Definitely looking forward to having a shower back.

Renovation puts an exclamation point on the no pain, no gain phrase.

Your Military Spending Bill

The Senate has just approved the newest military spending bill.

With roughly 300 million people in the USA, each person contributes approximately $2,000 to this bill.

America's defense spending is far and away the largest military budget of any other country. We will have to examine this to see if it still exceeds the military budget of all other countries combined.

Reuters: US Senate approves $636 bln military spending bill
...funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also includes money to extend jobless aid and Medicare payment rates for two months.

The bill includes 1,720 earmarks costing $4.2 billion for lawmakers' pet projects...

The bill also would extend a handful of unrelated programs that otherwise would expire at the end of the year, or have expired already.
We have this military spending bill yet the art of tracking the real military spending budget is not an exact science.

There are cost overruns, hidden costs, black costs, all kinds of military spending that is not included in this or any of the other previous defense budgets.

Obama's 30,000 troop surge into Afghanistan is not included in this budget.

The point is that the real military spending budget is significantly higher.

Mother Jones put together a comprehensive article on the real military budget.

Mother Jones: Shock and Audit: The Hidden Defense Budget
The Office of Management and Budget calculates a total for defense spending throughout different parts of the government (it includes money allocated to the Pentagon, nuclear weapons activities at the Department of Energy and some security spending in the State Department and FBI). In the 2010 budget, that figure was $707 billion, more than half of the government's discretionary spending for the year. (Discretionary spending is the money that's appropriated every year by Congress, rather than entitlement programs like Medicare for which funding is mandatory).

Your Weekly Address

Dubai's Zoo

'Concerto In Fm' Second Movement

Claudio Dauelsberg plays Bach

Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama Frustration

Obama is frustrating progressives.

Where's the fire to make some needed change and why is there little fight and more compromise especially when the hand is in your favor.

With no public option and no Medicare expansion, what's the point.

McClatchy: Frustrated liberals voice discontent with Obama
On health care, Obama faces liberal fury for his willingness to dump the public option and a Medicare expansion to survive a Senate filibuster. A key vote on cutting off debate is expected early Monday.

Many liberals are also angry that Obama and Senate Democratic leaders bowed to Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the Democrat-turned-independent who represents a state heavy with insurance interests and helped kill the public option and the Medicare expansion.

'Panic Attack'

Copenhagen Update With Kate Sheppard

Saab Out

Never owned a Saab but was always attracted to the vehicle.

GM which owned Saab is now phasing it out after unsuccessful efforts to sell it off.

Saab now joins Saturn in the dustbin of car brands.

Yahoo: GM to discontinue Saab after deal talks collapse
One success has been GM's effort to sell Hummer. The brand is going to Chinese heavy equipment maker Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corp.

Gift Ideas


The American media seems determined to extract every tiny itty bit piece of pulp it possibly can get from the Tiger Woods story. Its meaty man.

This country runs on oil and the salacious. How else can we forget our troubles. Always particularly effective to look into the private lives of the rich and famous and find pure deviance, deviance I tell ya.

What does this have to do with buying a divorce lawyer gift certificate - nothing or possibly everything.

Give the gift of life by dumping the old ball and chain...

Reuters: Happy Christmas honey - here's a divorce voucher
...a London law firm is offering Christmas gift vouchers for divorce advice.

...60 have been sold -- a snip at 125 pounds for a half hour session...

Yes On Afghanistan, No On Closing Gitmo

Our Republican brethren are not pleased with closing Gitmo and transferring enemy combatants to the motherland.

Personally I support closing Gitmo and de-funding Afghanistan, so now what.

One would suspect that Afghanistan will get surge funded, that's a given right. Gitmo is a political wedge issue. The notion that Gitmo detainees on American soil somehow spoils American hegemony and integrity is poor and weak. Get real.

McClatchy: Boehner: Guantanamo could be deal breaker on Afghan funds
"I am not going to support a bill that — that facilitates bringing Gitmo prisoners to the United States..."

The Market On Friday

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

All in all I will go out on a tiny limb, ever vigilant to run for safety, and say that energy stocks will rise today.

Markets lost yesterday when Greece reported some insolvency. Notice how entire countries are now reporting insolvency issues.

But oil is up over a dollar at around $74 per barrel, and that is the name of the game...

CNN: Wall Street eyes early gains
"...an absence of bad news..."
Reuters: Futures up as oil rises, Oracle, RIM strong results
Research In Motion Ltd posted a big jump in profit late Thursday...

Oracle Corp reported a bigger-than-expected increase in new software sales...

Nike Inc...posted second-quarter profit that topped estimates...

'Rain Dogs'

Tom Waits

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Let's Twist Again'

From a deep operative -

Pinky and Perky

Children Raping A Child

Perusing Reuters financial section I ran across the article excerpted below.

Two 10 year old boys are charged with raping an 8 year old girl.

Needless to say my jaw dropped when I saw the headline.

Ten years old would put someone in 4th or 5th grade. Eight years old would be 2nd or 3rd grade. Something is going on here under the surface. I hope there is follow up information.

This is very tragic.

Reuters: Two British boys aged 10 charged with rape of girl
Two 10-year-old boys have been charged with the rape of an 8-year-old girl in London...

Nikkei Opens Lower On Friday

Reuters: Nikkei slips 0.5 percent as resource shares fall
...a soft profit outlook from U.S. economic bellwether FedEx...

Bear Hunting


Kentucky will have its first bear hunt in 100 years this weekend.

As I know absolutely nothing about bear hunting, or any type of hunting, it still struck me as unusual. Why would one want to hunt a bear in this day and age? According to web sources, they are hunted for their fur and meat. Yesterday we were cutting out the horse, but today we going back to feasting on bear.

I suspect there are people in the world who primarily eat bear, horse, and dear.

I also suspect the hunter enjoys the thrill of the hunt alone. The bear is a valued adversary.

Kentucky.com: Ky. to have its first bear hunt in 100 years
...the state's first bear hunt in 100 years has been scheduled for this weekend.

The area is fairly small, only 10 bears are allowed to be taken, and many bears hole up in their dens this time of year, Allen said. Also, dogs and bait are not allowed in Kentucky, as they are in other states' bear seasons. Expected snow might limit the number of hunters, he said, and much of the hunting area will be private land best known to locals, so not many out-of-towners are expected.

TPMtv - Franken Halts Lieberman

No comment...

Top Ten

Film critic Benjamin Radford has compiled his list of the top ten scariest movies ever.

My list would be significantly different. We do converge on number 8 though. 'Jacob's Ladder still gives me the creeps thinking about it.

Live Science: Top 10 Scariest Movies Ever
Number 8 - Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Thin

The McClatchy article is painting a picture of the evidence that will be used against some detainees at Gitmo.

The picture is one where the evidence is very superficial.

We are aware of this situation but it would appear that some cases are moving forward. One might suspect that more detainees will be freed.

If in fact detainees are innocent, then in the context of being held at Gitmo for nearly 8 years, we arrive at a severe interference in a person's life. Bush seemed happy to simply maintain the status quo, throw away the key and forget about it. Hopefully justice will prevail.

McClatchy: Even in cases the U.S. wins, Guantanamo evidence is suspect
...some of the evidence against him came from triple hearsay and coerced confessions.

...coerced and should not be admitted -- in any fashion in any court.''

The Market On Thursday

At 8:00 a.m. futures are moderately down. Oil is down and the dollar is up, so one might suspect that the market will open down.

The Fed has kept interest rates at next to zero. Greece is having trouble paying for its public health care. Also weekly jobless claims number are due out today.

Not looking pretty, but hey, you never know how it will end. One thing to keep in mind is that volume is down. When this occurs the market is more vulnerable to sharper turns.

CNN: Stocks set for early slump
...the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged near 0%, saying market conditions were helping the recovery but weakness will remain.

The weekly jobless claims report is also due in the morning.
Reuters: Futures slide on strong dollar; data on tap
...the Fed said "economic activity has continued to pick up.

'Mr. Sandman'

Chet Atkins