Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 

Middle-aged men have 'hotness delusion syndrome'

A drought of mid-40s single men, compared with single women of the same age, means they are fiercely pursued, inflating their opinion of their attractiveness.


Woohoo, this is great...oh yeah, I'm married.

BTW, this article proves the theory I had a few years back that the ratio of 35-40 year old men to 22-27 year old women would determine the dating market. This ratio is likely to at or near a trough because of the small Gen X generation followed by the kids of the baby boomers.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

 

"Thank you, Illinois taxpayers, for my cushy life."

After 34 years of teaching sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I recently retired at age 64 at 80 percent of my pay for life. This calculation was based on a salary spiked by summer teaching, and since I no longer pay into the retirement fund, I now receive significantly more than when I "worked." But that's not all: There's a generous health insurance plan, a guaranteed 3 percent annual cost of living increase, and a few other perquisites. Having overinvested in my retirement annuity, I received a fat refund and--when it rains, it pours--another for unused sick leave. I was also offered the opportunity to teach as an emeritus for three years, receiving $8,000 per course, double the pay for adjuncts, which works out to over $200 an hour. Another going-away present was summer pay, one ninth of my salary, with no teaching obligation.

I haven't done the math but I suspect that, given a normal life span, these benefits nearly doubled my salary. And in Illinois these benefits are constitutionally guaranteed, up there with freedom of religion and speech.

Why do I put "worked" in quotation marks? Because my main task as a university professor was self-cultivation: reading and writing about topics that interested me. Maybe this counts as work. But here I am today--like many of my retired colleagues--doing pretty much what I have done since the day I began graduate school, albeit with less intensity.

...

What I describe above is not so exaggerated as one might think. It is, in fact, very much like what I experienced during my last year in graduate school, and doubtless much like what many other graduate students in the humanities have dealt with during the last three years after finishing their degrees: depression and anxiety at the prospect of not finding work, feelings of scholarly worthlessness, and, perhaps most pernicious of all, the ominous realization that now, Ph.D. in hand, you have become an obscure subaltern, fated to roam the university landscape from one adjunct appointment to another.

All this I had to find out for myself — no one at my home institution wanted to level with me about my chances, if they were even aware of them. My fervent hope is that in writing this I will spare next year’s Ph.D.s some of the suffering I have endured — suffering which, I believe I can claim with some confidence, I hardly deserved.

Just how bad is it? It used to be that graduate students in their final year, if they did not find a tenure-track position in the fall or winter before they graduated, at least were able to nail down a postdoc that would give them a decent salary and time to publish a few articles or a book. This system, as far as I can tell, has completely collapsed. For instance, my thesis director informed me in January — after the MLA convention, let’s bear in mind — that not a single institution was hiring A.B.D. in 2011.

You have to wonder how long the conditions for the first quoted professor can exist along side the second quoted grad student. And you have to wonder how long those students are going to keep protesting to keep public employee union benes when the young are the ones getting the shaft.

The sad thing is that it isn't just post docs that have been ripped off by the university system. It is every young man or woman who goes through the system designed to separate you from your parents money. (Please watch Crack Baby Athletic Association to fully understand that college athletics is slavery.)

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Friday, May 27, 2011

 

Turning an investment idea into an investment

There are three major asset classes in which people hold their money: stocks, bonds, and real estate. At any given time it makes sense to reevaluate your portfolio and move money from one to the other. (Most people's real estate exposer is their home so moving money out of the home would involve getting a home equity line and buying stocks or bonds. This exposes you to interest rate risk and might not make sense unless you expect rates to remain the same or fall within your investment horizon; say min. 5 years.) Stocks have had two very good years, real estate has had 5 very bad years. (Buy low, sell high.)

I think now is a good time to think about investment real estate. Low interest rates and a flat real estate market are great conditions for finding bargains. Properties are renting for more than the cost of mortgage, insurance, and taxes in some areas. Of course, it might be even better next year or the year after, but I do know one thing. In ten to twenty years prices will be back to 2005 levels which represents a 100% return on your money in most places. Do you think real estate prices in 2031 will be higher or lower than 2005 levels?

Now say you put $20k down on a property. Rent covers all the costs of ownership. What kind of return will you see in 20 years if prices go to 2005 levels? 12.2% Just put $200 in Current principal, zero additional, 20 years to grow, and 12.2 as the interest rate and you get approximately $2000. $2000 is the doubling of the current price of $1000 of which you put 20% down, hence, the $200 as current principal. The weakness of this analysis is that rent and taxes are variable. Also, property needs maintenance and that should be factored in. I think a real estate professional should be able to tell you approximately what you would spend maintaining a property. That said, you are counting on inflation returning and increasing rents and the price of the property.

So how do you take advantage of this without becoming a landlord? I thought I would take a look at apartment REITs. As you can see from the link this index of apartment REITs tracks the stock market pretty closely. Damn. That is not what I wanted to see. So how to invest in real estate without becoming a landlord? I have no idea. But I have a feeling if it were easy someone would have already thought of it.

Anybody have any ideas?

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

 

June is the White Sox best chance

Right now the White Sox are 9 games out, second to last in the division, but hitting has picked up and pitching has held up much better. June represents our best chance at getting back in the hunt thanks to weak opponents and some changes in the line-up.

First the schedule, we start a ten game home stand with Detroit which swept us in May. They are the toughest opponents we'll see in June but they are division rivals and anything can happen. The Tigers have been that hot lately so it is time for payback. This series should set the tone for the rest of the month. Next are Seattle and Oakland and we have taken 2 of 3 from both on the road this year. I expect nothing less at home from teams at the bottom of their division. Next we go to Minnesota, this is a tough one because the Twins always play us tough no matter they are having an awful year. We lost a couple of close ones so if we are streaking at this point and our hitting is making a come back then theoretically we should have no problems.

Then we travel to Arizona to face a current 500 ball club. By the time we get their the dome will be closed and that will be good for our hitters. Beyond that I got nothing on the Diamond Backs. Then back home to meet the Cubs who will have nothing but minor league pitching by then. Get your brooms out. Keep them out for the Nationals. We finish June at Colorado, again I got no idea about that.

Of course the big news is that Peavy is back but it isn't the pitching that has been bad for the Sox. Moving Quentin to the third spot should have been done a month ago. I expect Dunn will start to heat up soon although he really isn't that much off his averages.

Hitting is contagious and so is winning. June is our best chance to catch up on both.

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NASA video of wake up call to the Space Shuttle crew

The shuttle crew comment at about the 1:17 mark:



Here is another version:


Sunday, May 22, 2011

 

The reason why gas is more expensive than it needs to be



All of these offshore sources of oil are off limits. We pay hundreds of billions of dollars every year to the worst people on the planet and we don't even try to use our own resources. We can't afford to not drill here and now.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

 

Will there be a QE 3?

Bernanke's all in gamble that QE2 would have been sufficient to restore the virtuous circle of the economy has failed with less than 2 months to go under the QE2 regime. As such, and with fiscal stimulus a dead end, the Fed has two choices: watch as the economy collapses in flames to a state far worse than its pre-QE1 outset, or do more of the same. That's all there is. The rest is irrelevant. And since the Fed will choose the latter option, the market would be wise to start pricing in precisely the same reaction as what happened following the Jackson Hole speech...although to the nth degree.


QE 2 ends in June. Expect the commodity bubble to resume when the next round of quantitative easing is announced. Otherwise, it might be time to prepare for a depression.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

 

Bond market at important juncture


This is a chart of the 30 year treasury bond futures. A pattern has developed which indicates much lower prices and, therefore, higher interest rates. We are very early on this but the potential for much higher interest rates if this pans out is too important to ignore. As Drudge would say...developing...

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When China's bubble bursts

"A lot of people are willing to say China will slow down," he said. "The really scary thing is if you do the numbers and they cut back on construction it's not a slowdown, and they go negative real fast."

...

How then, can a pool of savers as large as America’s entire retired population expect to draw 5.5% on their investments, after inflation, for the next several decades? The reason these returns existed in the past was because we were experiencing debt fueled, unsustainable rates of rapid economic growth. Now that debt levels have reached their ceiling – even with rates at virtually zero, total debt is not increasing any more – growth must slow because less new cash is being loaned to borrowers and injected into the economy.

...

A rising stock market, low inflation expectations, and lots and lots of cheap credit for even the riskiest companies. What's not to like?

The main problem is that this is all an illusion. If it were truly possible to print one's way to prosperity, history would have already proven that to be possible, yet such efforts have always failed. The reason is simple enough: Money is not wealth; it is a commodity that we use as a temporary store of wealth. Real wealth is the products and services that are made possible by an initial balance of high-quality resources that can be transformed by human effort and ingenuity.

For some reason, however, this basic concept has managed to elude the high priests and priestesses of the money temples throughout time. Somehow it always seems compelling to give money printing a try, maybe because this time seems different. But it never is. And it's not different this time, either.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

 

Two Down, (the) One to Go

If you lived in Chicago in January 2009, this was your government. Federal, state & local.



Bill C: Not that its much better now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

 

College Conspiracy

This is a theme Instapundit has been on for awhile.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

 

Dirty Lakers

Lowlights from game 4 Lakers in Dallas. Really disgusting lack of sportsmanship.



Diego adds: I'm not sorry to see the Lakers exit except for the fact that the Bulls can't begin another championship run by again beating L.A. Had the Lakers made the finals this year the Bulls could have beaten them twenty years to the day they won their first title, this time in Jackson's last game as a coach.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

 

LSU crowd throws water balloons at would-be flag burner

Notice the age of the crowd. (Via Hot Air.) Please go to Hot Air and see the interview with the LSU student body president.



In that USA Today article, and in ones like it in this newspaper, the New York Times and other outlets, a narrative has quickly congealed. Because of their youth, the thinking goes, millennials experienced 9/11 in a unique and uniquely transformative way. After the tragedy, they became more serious and civic-minded. But they also became more anxious and self-aware. More than anything, millennials couldn't shake the specter of Osama bin Laden.

...

Even data that support the media's theories stop well short of suggesting a millennial reboot. In 2000, for example, UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute reported that the number of freshmen who considered keeping up with political affairs to be "essential" or "very important" hit an election-year low: 28%. After 9/11, that number did bounce back — but only to 39% in 2008, well below the 60%-plus who answered affirmatively in 1966, the first year of the annual poll. [Emphasis added.]

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

 

Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)

In case you missed SNL which I assume is most of you.


Friday, May 13, 2011

 

Twenty Years Ago

The Bones are still rolling but here are some echos from 1991:

All around this great big world, All the crap we had to take
Bombs and basement fallout shelters, All our lives at stake
The bloody revolution, All the warheads in its wake
All the fear and suffering, All a big mistake.
A hell of a price to pay for someone else's misguided ideology.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

 

“10” Restaurant Financial Red Flags

Or things I wish I knew 14 years ago.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

 

"Go to hell, hippie, go to hell."

"It's time that my generation stand up for what they believe in and exercise their freedom of speech and let people know that we are not OK with this," said Cody Wells, the student government association president. "I am angry that an individual would want to do this at a public higher education institution."

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Monday, May 09, 2011

 

Housing crash is getting worse

“Buy when there’s blood running in the street.” ~Philippe de Rothschild

Here in America we have “zombie homeowners.” Millions of them. According to Zillow, a record 16.3 million families are upside-down on their home loans. Sixteen million! And many are a long way upside-down. Their homes may never be worth as much as their mortgage. But they are hemorrhaging cash to pay the nut every month.

Recovery? What recovery? This looks a bit like a depression to me.

What does this mean?

All the misery makes me think of a great French general, Ferdinand Foch. He’s the one who defended Paris at the Battle of the Marne in World War I. During the darkest hour of the fighting, he is supposed to have looked around him and said:

“Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent — I attack!”

In other words, when it comes to distressed housing, I’m finding it hard not to be a contrarian bull.


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Sunday, May 08, 2011

 

:-)

After Goodyear stole our blimp the large Goodyear hanger was used by Genesis to rehearse for their 1992 tour. Understandably, it was demolished shortly after that out of what I can only imagine was an overwhelming sense of shame.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

 

What's worse than rising gas prices?

Falling gas prices. In an economy beset by deflation, housing and incomes, you really don't want prices to be falling. That is the purpose of quantitative easing- to buy all the treasury issuance so that the government can spend and try and make up for the loss of income that came from the housing bubble bursting. Of course, there is no chance that this will work. The federal gov't doesn't have enough credit/money to pull this off without risking debasing the currency which will drive prices up squeezing consumers.

If you detect a contradiction in there than you are right. You see they want prices to rise just not all prices. They want home prices to rise. They want wages to rise. Instead they are getting commodity prices to rise. And the stock market which is a good thing, in their minds. (I think the stock market is a giant trap waiting to suck in investors who feel left behind and can't live on the meager interest rates of treasuries and CDs.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

 

Atlas Shrugged Review- minor spoilers

Although, I have a feeling that most people who go see this movie at least know the outline of the book.

I went to the movie with a sense of trepidation. I knew the critics were going to pan it but I expected the public to embrace it and, while a Passion of the Christ seemed a little too ambitious, I thought at least a good enough box office to more than pay for future films and a nice profit for the producer.

I did wait to go to the movie. I wanted to go the first weekend but life intervened. By the time I saw it on Monday there was no doubt that this movie was in trouble and it had a lukewarm reception even from some I had expected to like the movie. So I was pleasantly surprised when I did like the movie. In fact, I thought it was quite good. The novel can be plodding at times so I sort of expected the film to be more wordy than it was. Instead, Atlas Shrugged moved along at a decent pace and kept my interest even though I knew the plot cold. The acting was excellent. I especially liked Taylor Schilling as Dagny. (The last scene of the movie was a fitting end and she really makes you feel the pain of the moment.) For a film that was made on a shoestring budget there is no expectation of grand effects and there are none but the sets are grand and they do convey the soring message of the novel. They use TV broadcasts mostly for exposition which works well. And I thought the score was good.

If you haven't seen the movie, do so. If like me, you have had your expectations tamped down you will find a much grander experience.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

 

Fathead

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Monday, May 02, 2011

 

Canadian election

Leading/Elected 155 needed for majority
Conservatives 165
NDP 105
Liberals 35
Bloc 2
Other 1

CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY PROJECTED. NDP projected as opposition.

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Islamic scholars criticize bin Laden's sea burial

Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.

Bin Laden's burial at sea "runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs," said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo's al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning.

A radical cleric in Lebanon, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said, "The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don't think this is in the interest of the U.S. administration." [Emphasis added.]

Update: It just dawned on me that we missed a golden opportunity. We could have buried UBL in an unmarked grave and driven his supporters nuts trying to find it. Or we could have buried him somewhere really remote, Antarctica for example, and then let the nuts go on pilgrimage there. The trip alone would have killed off a good number of them.

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