Thursday, November 27, 2008

 

The credit crunch is over

Remember what I said about being early? Well I might have been right on time. I think the credit crunch portion of this economic downturn is very nearly done. The credit crunch was just a symptom of the deflationary spiral in which we find ourselves. The prices of certain oddly configured debt instruments like CDOs and CDSs were unattainable in a market without buyers. Lending froze and panic set on the credit markets.

But interest rates like LIBOR, an interbank offer rate, have come down to a level in which business can be done and the world's gov't. have seen fit to backstop the bigger banks. Confidence that these banks will not go under has risen and so the credit crunch is not as crunchy.

Now we have to deal with a fairly severe recession. More later.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

 

Want to know what makes Bill O drool?

This.

It is as though you are following a real world event happening right in front of your face with your own eyes. Any and all flickering in the movement of the vehicle, in the smoke from the tires, etc. are completely gone, and you are almost tricked into believing you are watching something in real life. The guests at the event were baffled by the quality of the image, and stared in amazement at the screen.
Of course you are going to have to wait a couple of years for a display that can handle this.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

 

Friday Flashback

It was 45 years ago this Saturday that President Kennedy was assassinated. I visited the memorial and the surrounding area in Dallas last April. Thinking in terms of a time line (as I like to do), it is hard to believe that it has been 25 years since it was 20 years ago that the assassination took place.

It has also been 25 years since I first became aware of the broadcast below which first ran 45 years ago this Sunday, delayed by the BBC reporting of the sad news of Kennedy's assassination.


 

Fleet Foxes



I love the harmonies.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

 

When to buy

How often have any of you guys heard me say that now is a good time to buy stocks? Almost never. Well now is the time to consider beginning a program of buying stocks over the next several years with idea of being fully invested by the end of 2012.

First let's define fully invested. Everyone should alter their balance between stocks, bonds, and cash based on their age and on whether the stock market is over, under, or fairly valued. Diversification should be considered and your overall wealth- people who are wealthy enough to not need a certain portion of their assets in their lifetimes can hold more risky assets. Every year or six months you can go through your portfolio and decide what to buy or sell. Otherwise, ignore the market, ignorance is bliss as long as you know that you are not over invested.

I do not think that anyone should be shocked if the Dow went down to 4K or even lower. Markets tend to overshoot value in great extremes. Just as long as you do not lose your nerve or your job then you will be fine even in a depression. I am sure that the U.S. will survive and that the stock market will recover in time. Just don't be shocked by how low we can go when the general public panics. So far, I haven't seen that panic. We must have panic selling before the bear is over and that will be fairly soon if I am reading things correctly.

One more thing, I am always early. :-)

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Engine Knock?

I'm getting the feeling that the big 3 auto companies are done and are just making noise like my old cars used to do when I turned off the engine. They knocked and pinged but they were not running.

"The companies themselves, meanwhile, are showing little interest in the aggressive changes critics insist are needed to reverse the industry's long-term decline."

I understand GM's argument against bankruptcy, it would cast doubt on their warranties offered and limit their ability to sell cars. But it appears that they are going for all or nothing and maybe the CEOs know already that things are not salvageable.

 

Someone is Going to Pay in Chicago

For more see this post from last week.

Someone from my condo association informed me that the city council passed a $300 a year tax on garbage dumpsters for occupying space in the alley. I've not looked into the details on this and the email I received said that although it passed it is still subject to committee review. I'm not sure where that all stands.

Here are a few items from CBS' report last week on the budget that passed:

"The budget includes an array of tax hikes. It will raise property taxes by $86 million – a smaller amount than the mayor originally proposed, but still the largest of his 18-year administration.

Parking tickets will also go way up. Current tickets range from $25 to $75, depending on the violation. The new fines will range from $50 to $150.

It also raises fines for drivers to run red lights from $90 to $100, at the same time the city plans to install red-light cameras in 20 more intersections across the city."

At least I have some control over parking tickets and red light tickets can be avoided. But for property taxes I'm just screwed. At some point I'd like to believe that the mayor and aldermen will pay for all this in votes and or time served (courtesy of Patrick Fitzgerald) but for now citizens will pay in cash.

Bill C adds: I don't have many regrets about moving out of the city. One thing I have discovered is that exurbs with no businesses have exorbitant property taxes. A $250k home will pay about $600 a month in property taxes up here. Diego, does that beat you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

 

Auto Industry Advice - Updated

Mitt Romney: "The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs."

Read the whole thing. He is not alone in his assessment and I suspect it would be the popular opinion if debated.

Via Red State: Barney Frank said in an NPR interview: "I don't want to set a precedent that bankruptcy now is a way in which you undo what gains unions have been able to hold on to."

Meanwhile Ford and GM CEOs flew private jets to Washington to make their plea for a bailout.

Neither labor nor management seems interested in fixing any problems with the auto industry. It appears they simply want to maintain the current system at any expense.

John O adds: They want to maintain the status quo at any expense except their own. I haven't the time to follow the news right now but I wonder if anyone has asked why Toyota, Honda and other foreign manufacturers who produce cars here aren't facing such dire straights. Did anyone raise the issue in the recent Congressional hearings?

 

House Negro?

Try Mr. President. (or Mr. President-elect for now, not sure).

I'm not sure how the man calling the shots can be referred to as a House Negro:

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term "abeed al-beit," which literally translates as "house slaves." But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as "house negroes."

This certainly wont work to divide and conquer and it wont do any psychological good either. It will probably make more people enjoy the headline: Al-Qaida leader submits to racial sensitivity training and U.S. predator drone bombing, but mostly U.S. predator drone bombing.

 

New Obama bumper sticker

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Monday, November 17, 2008

 

Victory in Iraq Day

VI Day has been declared for November 22, 2008.

I understand the reasoning behind declaring victory but I'm not sure if there is a significance behind the date that relates to Iraq. November 22nd will be the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. I don't know if that matters in trying to get the attention that success in Iraq deserves.

 

NFL Numbers

It was nice to see a tie yesterday in the NFL, Bengals and Eagles tied at 13. There had not been a tie since 2002. But as I watched the Steelers and Chargers late afternoon game in the 4th quarter I saw the potential for an 11-10 final. I wondered weather a game ever ended with that final score and then was informed by the announcers that no NFL game had ever ended 11-10. I'm not sure who cares about such things but I do.

The Steelers won 11-10 but only after a touchdown on the last play of the game was reversed following a replay review. As it turns out the reversal was the wrong call but the 11-10 score held up. At least the 11 was obtained by an old fashioned 2 point play - the safety. You can't score 2, 4, 8, or 11 points in the NFL without scoring 2 on one play. A recent addition of the 2 point conversion after touchdowns increased the chance for a score of 8 or 11 but for many years you needed a safety to score 2 points.

I'd like to see a list of all the NFL games ever played sorted by score to see what other final scores have not yet been tallied. Some favorites I would like to see: 2-0, 4-2, 5-4, and 6-4 OT.

John O adds
: In 1970, Dallas beat Detroit 5-0 in a playoff game.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

 

New Star Trek Trailer



It looks good. But what do I know.

This year has turned into the year without football because of our hectic schedules. I haven't even seen the Dark Knight, the new Hulk movie, or American Carol. Well I am certainly not missing Star Trek.

Diego adds: I've never been drawn in to Star Trek but I've watched parts of episodes from a few (all?) of it's generations and liked one of the early movies. I don't agree with the review linked above that suggests that the original characters cannot be successful with different actors portraying them. The reason cited is personal chemistry among the original actors. My guess is that the show will never be the same as the original but the right cast and writers can create something special and worthwhile for both long time fans and newcomers.

There will only be one Kirk but there can be more than just Shatner. There is only one Doctor but there was a Hartnel and after a couple of others there was a Baker.

Special effects don't have to be a sign of a bad production but it does seem to be the norm for situations like this that if you have good effects, not much else is good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

 

What is Bush going to do when he leaves office?

He is going to join the Latin Kings.

Friday, November 14, 2008

 

More on the Middle

Related to this post below. Ace asks: "Why is it we need to adopt a liberal social agenda to attract people who are not animated by anyone's social agenda either way?" Because it puts Republicans in line with the narrative. I don't agree with that direction but I believe it is the logic used.

Republicans need to fight the narrative, not try and fit into it like they did this election right from the start with their own primaries.

Update: Hugh Hewitt has some questions for anyone seeking the job as new RNC Chair. Some important ones:

What did you make of the presidential nominating process? Should it be changed? If so, how?

What is the key to a successful appearance on television? On radio?



Bill C Adds: The primaries need to be closed; only registered Republicans allowed. Also, we need to select delegates based on the proportion of the vote that they win, not winner take all. Winner take all means that conservatives divide up their votes and the lone moderate wins. Either of these changes would have greatly increased the chance that a Romney or Thompson would have gone much farther.



 

Look Out Belew!

Friday Night Video: Three of a Perfect Pair.

I saw King Crimson at the Park West on their 2000 tour and thought one of the highlights was this performance by Adrian Belew. Here is a video from the same tour:



Thursday, November 13, 2008

 

The moronic middle

This is a great article and it neatly explains why a country can elect a Reagan and a Obama and why partisans of both parties hate Clinton and Bush, respectively for their squishiness.

Moving centrists toward one’s candidacy is not a process that hinges on taking the right policy stands, either. Instead, it involves the enthusiasm and social contagion that builds around exciting candidates. We know from several volumes of political-science research that less-informed voters commonly substitute someone else’s judgment for their own. That someone else is often a spouse, workmate, or neighbor knowledgeable and enthusiastic about one of the candidates. Support for a candidate spreads through social influence processes.

It is therefore no accident that Sarah Palin’s nomination gave John McCain the only lead that he had during the fall campaign. She was Senator McCain's only hope for closing the enthusiasm gap, but then economic crisis stalled the gains. Polls will show that Barack Obama had social contagion working in his favor to pull the incoherent center in a leftward direction.

The key to electoral victory is holding your base with policy and exciting the moronic middle with charisma. McCain never got that. He thought he could win over those who were in the middle of the road with his maverickiness but he ended up losing far more in his base. Obama did accomplish something remarkable, he got a higher percentage of votes than any Democrat in a generation. Still, that was not many more votes than Bush got in 2004. The big story was how many fewer votes that McVain got.

In 2004, turnout was 6 percentage points higher than in 2000. But Gans said he believed it did not spike more this year because fewer Republicans went to the polls. While it may be premature to draw conclusions, Gans said, it appeared that Republican voting declined 1.3 points, to 28.7 percent of the electorate, while Democratic turnout rose from 28.7 percent to 31.3 percent of the electorate.

The Democratic increase struck some analysts as modest, considering the party’s immense get-out-the-vote operation, strong anti-Bush sentiment and Obama's popularity.

“It sort of calls into question some of the vaunted ground game discussion, the whole turnout machine,” said a Democratic strategist who did not want to be quoted by name criticizing Obama’s campaign. “The GOTV effort was redoubled in 2008 compared to 2004, but it did not seem to make that big of a difference.”

Despite all the advantage that Obama had going into the election it was really the economic crisis that pushed him over the top. We are still a right-leaning country and if the Republicans had a candidate that could articulately express conservative positions then they will win.

Diego: Some follow politics more than others and it is hard to blame those who are limited to what they learn from TV due to time and other constraints. I'm not sure how much the elections turn out to be a high school popularity contest but that factors in to some extent and I don't like it. Moronic is a harsh word though!

I have seen this effect first hand this election as someone I know missed two months of work due to an injury. Once away from their politicialy toxic work environment their views began to slowly change. It was something to watch over time. When they returned to work, the politics returned. Moronic is still harsh though! But I understand.

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Mass Payoffs In Chicago?

Actually, Mayor Daley said mass layoffs: "Each one (chief executive officers) tells me what they're laying off, and they're going to double that next year. We're talking huge numbers of permanent layoffs for people in the economy. It's going to have a huge effect on all businesses."

Last July: Chicago's sales tax jumps Tuesday to 10.25 percent, due in large part to Cook County's 1 percent tax increase. It's one of the highest tax rates in the country, even higher than New York and Los Angeles

Next July?: Stroger proposes to more than triple the county's share of the sales tax. It would make the combined local sales tax a whopping 11 percent – more than any other major U.S. city.

Stroger says: "Let me tell you this," he said. "We'll be passing something or there'll be severe problems."

There are going to severe problems for someone in Chicago but I don't think it will be the ones in office. It will be the tax/license/registration/fine/citation payers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

 

Taxation and Representation

Should we have one without the other?

Interesting questions and an interesting idea in the comment section. Should we have Representation without Taxation?

 

Grace, Why Would You Expect Anything Less?

Bush begins his exit the same way he entered.

I have read a few comments now regarding how Bush has handled the beginning of the transition of power since last week's election. Grace is the term often used. I don't see why anyone would expect anything less from Bush seeing as he passed on criticizing (or prosecuting) the Clinton administration upon their exit. Remember the stories of damaged equipment from the White House offices and looted items from Air Force One?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

 

One Of The Others

I probably wound up driving pushing a few of these up the driveway:
A University of Chicago professor, who had a background in the labor movement, told me this: When an auto worker ordered a car, that car was tagged, at the start of the production line, "For one of the boys." The workers made sure the car was made right. Wonderful story. But it makes you think about the thousands of other cars that were coming off that same line. You might have owned a few.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

 

The end of the Joe Crede era?

The President Elect can win my vote in 2012 (AND prove to me that he is a real White Sox fan) by making sure that 19-year-old Cuban defector Dayán Viciedo is playing third base on the South Side next year. Mr. Obama's first task on January 22nd should be to gently tell the young slugger that it would be in his best interest - if he wants to remain in the United States - to report to Phoenix in February.
Seriously, though, the White Sox should make this kid a priority. JOE COWLEY of the Chicago Sun-Times writes:
The Sox may have the inside track if they're close on the money. (Alexei) Ramirez and (Jose) Contreras are proving to be very good recruiters, especially Ramirez, who knew Viciedo since he made the Cuban national team at age 15. By 16, Viciedo hit .337 with 14 home runs.


Diego: Welcome, newest contributor. More an era than an aura but Joe's injuries will make his exit easier to deal with if he is finished with the White Sox. I'd like to see him back and I think that is possible, only to the extent his marketability has been diminished by his injury history. I'm not sure Josh Fields is the answer at third but he could do the job while we wait for the next Alexi Ramiriez to arrive. I wont be surprised if it is Crede at third next year though.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

 

Friday Bucket



Kings of Leon

Thursday, November 06, 2008

 

Numbers

ESPN reported on Manny Ramirez' contract offer from the L.A. Dodgers and noted that Alex Rodriguez averages $27.5 million per year in his contract. I'm not sure exactly how much Rodriguez was paid in 2008, but I applied that big figure to calculate the following:

Salary per game (131): $209,923.66. Split between offense and defense, Rodriguez made $26,960.78 per at bat (510) and $12,211.36 per inning (1,126) in the field or $41,167.66 per chance (334) in the field.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

 

Future Thoughts

Where do Republicans go from here?

Question number seven from PJM: What to do about the MSM?

"conservatives will need to strategize on how to minimize and work around the MSM in future campaigns. It may be that you can’t run a presidential campaign without the MSM, but that you can make them far less important. If the candidates cooperate more with new media and less with old media, that’s where the viewers and readers will go. If Palin’s first interviews were with Chris Wallace, Hugh Hewitt, Powerline, and Politico, that’s where the public would have gone to learn about Palin. And a far different first impression would have been formed."

The MSM is a big factor that the GOP must address. If they let the MSM dictate things the way they did the primary (especially) and the general election(s) then they have little chance of changing anything. They will lose, as Ed Morrissey notes:
"If the GOP wants to win 60 million votes in future national elections, it has to stand for something other than being Democrat Lite... When given only a choice between real Democrats and fake Democrats, Americans will choose the former, which we found out in 2006."
I don't know all the players in the Republican ranks in Congress but I'm glad to see some of the old guard lose elections. I'd rather it be in the primary but if they are ousted in the general then the lesson is just more painfully learned. Paul Ryan (Rep WI) was interviewed on Fox last night and made the point that Republicans seem to be afraid to stand up for what they believe in and that this, along with any corruption (earmarks, etc.) must stop. I agree with that.

 

Reasons to Like Obama

From ESPN:

Obama's allegiance to the Sox (he does not hesitate to express his scorn for fans of the Chicago Cubs) and his support for an Olympics in Chicago are absolute. In an interview with ESPN's Stuart Scott that aired on "SportsCenter" in August, Obama was asked who he would root for in a Cubs-White Sox World Series. This was his answer: "Oh, that's easy. White Sox. I'm not one of these fair-weather fans. You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer; beautiful people up there. People aren't watching the game. It's not serious. White Sox, that's baseball. South Side."

 

And With the Next Pick....Washington Selects....




An update to what I have pointed out before: Bush is OUR President and Obama will be OUR President. Like it, or not.

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