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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony Curtis, RIP




Mike Castle's Rare Sense ; A, Tainted CNN/Time Poll ; and House Re-apportionment, Today's Politics Stuff

Rare Sense : Mike Castle won't be write-in candidate In Delaware...
In a statement released late Wednesday night, Castle said, "While I would have been honored to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate, I do not believe that seeking office in this manner is in the best interest of all Delawareans. Therefore, it's time for Jane and me to begin thinking about the next chapter of our lives."

CNN-Time Poll in CA Senate Race Tainted, Claims Jay Cost in THE WEEKLY STANDARD...

In the Census-driven House Re-apportionment,  MA loses, TX and FL win..

How's the S&P 500 doing, based on a " gold standard " ?

John Lounsbury calculates that based on the current value of gold (not-so-funny-money),  " The S&P 500 Index has declined approximately 85% from the 2000 high. "

Due Process Kaput, When It Comes to Foreclosures ; JP Morgan Chase's Foreclosure Freeze

Excerpt :
" Courts [ are accelerating ] foreclosures by ignoring due process, proper documentation and legal process in order to kick people out of their homes and preserve the value of senior tranches of RMBS while giving mortgage servicers a nice kickback. "
And not coincidentallly, the Washington Post reports that J P Morgan Chase has frozen foreclosures over flawed paperwork...

Currency Wars continue, says Greg Levine

Excerpts :

According to the Financial Times, Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega said central banks are locked in an “international currency war” and declared his preparedness to purchase dollars in unlimited quantities

This currency war has flared up like wildfire across the globe. So far this year, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, Peru, Argentina, Switzerland have engaged in “quantitative easing” or similar measures. Add in such countries as China that maintain currency pegs, and who knows how many central banks have fired up the printing presses.

The consequences ?

" will continue to do well as the supply of fiat money balloons."
"...inflation in China...."
 "...the U.S. dollar will be pushed downward. "

Rare Earth, Part Deux : Chinese Materials Monopoly Endangers U.S. Security

Excerpts from the Bloomberg article...

" A generation after Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping made mastering neodymium and 16 other elements known as rare earths a priority, China dominates the market, with far-reaching effects ranging from global trade friction to U.S. job losses and threats to national security."

" The U.S. handed its main economic rival power to dictate access to these building blocks of modern weapons by ceding control of prices and supply, according to dozens of interviews with industry executives, congressional leaders and policy experts. China in July reduced rare-earth export quotas for the rest of the year by 72 percent, sending prices up more than sixfold for some elements. "

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Consumer Confidence Plummets, but National I.Q. rises modestly.

The percentage of Americans who believe "jobs are plentiful"
has now declined to 3.8% from 4% last month !
Wonder if Larry Summers was amongst those polled ?  

Weaker dollar what Obama Needs to Stage a Comeback, says Simon Johnson on the BLOOMBERG online.

Really ? What about millions of Americans living on fixed income or dwindling unemployment payments who, contrary to the bogus CPI, find themselves paying more for daily needs, and being dunned for ever-higher local and state taxes  ?

Youth Shifts Right, says recent Rock the Vote Poll

Say 'NO' to a Nuclear Iran, Mr. President, Sen. Lieberman will urge Obama a speech to be delivered today, according to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

DeMint a Skunk at the GOP Senate Picnic ?

Gratuitous Skunk Pic
That's basically what Republican Senators think of their colleague, after his latest outburst.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

' Date Night ' Movies - An idiosyncratic selection

I define ' Date Night Movies ' as movies that, regardless of other possibly more significant themes, nevertheless do engage us romantically. Sometimes the romance is fairly innocent. Sometimes it is perverse and fatal. 

In no particular order...  
  1. It Happened One Night
  3. Grand Hotel
  4. Lost Horizon
  5. Ninotchka
  6. Diva
  7. Shakespeare in Love
  8. Chinatown
  9. Vertigo
  10. To Catch a Thief
  11. Possession ( Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart )
  12. Beauty and the Beast ( Dir. Cocteau, 1946)
  13. Casablanca
  14. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [ Remember, I said this was an idiosyncratic selection ]
  15. Prisoner of Zenda ( Ronald Coleman)
  16. Adventures of Robin Hood ( Dir. Michael Curtiz ; Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland )
  17. Bridget Jones's Diary
  18. Gone with the Wind
  19. Marnie [ Very idiosyncratic... ]
  20. Double Indemnity
  21. Body Heat

Westerns : My Top Ten

    John Wayne, at the close of THE SEARCHERS
  1. The Searchers
  2. The Wild Bunch
  3. Outlaw Josey Wales
  4. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  5. Fort Apache
  6. For a Few Dollars More
  7. Ride the High Country
  8. Red River
  9. Rio Bravo and Big Country (tie)
  10. Magnificent Seven

Resource Wars : What's Rare Earth have to do with a Chinese fishing boat ramming Japanese Coast Guard Vessels ?

Dr. Stephen Leeb knows, and we should pay attention to what he's saying. 

What would a unbridled Resource War look like ?  Do we really want to know ?

Affuent Suburbanites Sour on Obama, at least in Bucks County, PA.

Is the Volvo-driving, Chablis-swiilling, Bris-addicted set stripping the Obama-Biden stickers off their Volvos, Audis, and beemers ? Oh Buffy, say it isn't so !

The President's Christianity : Where's It Been, 'Til Now ?

The Politico comments, " Though he is more typically photographed heading to the gym or the golf course on Sunday mornings, the president escorted his wife and daughters Sunday to services at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House on Sept. 20 — his first public appearance in a pew since he and his family attended Easter services last year."

In other words, he's like a lot of other Americans, and shouldn't be making a big deal of his faith. But on the other hand, if 1 in 5 Americans think he's a muslim...

U.S. Median Income, Rust-Belt to Sun-Belt, Drops

West Wing Drama : Who will succeed Rahm Emmanuel ?

The Politico sizes up likely candidates.
Who could possibly replace this man ?

House Ethics Panel Politics as Un-Usual ?

Backdoor deals by Chairman Lofgren ensure that Reps Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters won't face a House trial until after the elections, or perhpas as late as 2011.  They've also destroyed Lofgren's credibility as well as what was, up 'til now, bipartisan consensus on the panel.

Paris on High Terror Alert... the Washington Post and the NY Times.

California the Future of Healthcare ?

And is less competition a good thing ?

Obama Blasts Dem Apathy

So who's to blame for this malaise ? It must be... the Inspector General ! Yeah,  it's the Inspector General. Yeah, that's the ticket !

Firewall, Shmirewall !

Jay Cost responds to Dionne, and then some, in THE WEEKLY STANDARD

Democratic Party Firewall in Northeast To Save Dem Majority, Says Dionne

Immigration Debate Heats up--In Germany !

Personal Income Stats Tell the Recession Story More Accurately than the NBER

Monday, September 27, 2010

Video Tribute of the Day : The Prisoner

So, you want every man, woman, and child on Earth must write a blog ? Is that it ?

Political Tone-deafness can be cured !

Just read Gov. Deval Patrick's remarks regarding Zeituni Onyango (a.k.a. 'Obama Aunt').

The Obama Aunt Interview on WBZ-TV

Is Zeituni Onyango politically tone-deaf, or is she deliberately making the case for immigration reform, Arizona-style ?

Advice for the Politically Tone-deaf, from Bill Clinton : "Hone your message, son ! "

Bubba tries to throw Liveshot a life-preserver...

Kerry takes aim at clueless voters !

They're responsible for Democrats' midterm image troubles, according to Senator John ' Liveshot ' Kerry.

Rick Lazio quits N.Y. Governor's race...

...and at least in the Empire State puts an end to counterproductive political cannibalism.

TV Election News : Who's watching whom ?

Fox apparently the viewers' choice, in recent likely-voter poll.

Male voters fuel GOP surge !

I've wanted to use an exclamation point for weeks, months now. What can I say ? I caved.

Paul Volcker in English Translation, and other articles on the Economy and Investing, September 27,2010

  1. Bank of Japan Will Intervene Again To Weaken Yen and Strengthen Exports. Currency Wars continue apace.
  2. Fed Quantitative Easing, If Any, Comes after the elections, opines Ed Harrison.
  3. Dr.Duru : Bet on the Australian Dollar, while the greenback's in freefall.
  4. Gold Bubble Alert :  Gold's overbought, Gold ETF's make shorting gold a piece of cake, and those same ETF's love leverage: Translation : You could lose your shirt in Gold ETF's.
  5. Paul Volcker, now available in English Translation ! Tidbits : (a) “The financial system is broken. We can use that term in late 2008, and I think it’s fair to still use the term unfortunately.” (b) Money market funds are essentially checking accounts, but they’re run by entities which aren’t regulated as banks. Every one of these funds would be devastated by a “run on the bank”.
  6. De-Industrialization, if it continues, Will Leave U.S. an Economic Wasteland. Time we woke up, says Michael T. Synder, and I agree.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

As Baseball winds down in Beantown, all we need is a sidecar full of Stoly and a little Zen.

To assist those who, like me, will find the universe achingly empty until Spring Training 2011, I submit the following sayings of Baseball Zen Masters.

Yogi Berra
  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
  • You can observe a lot by just watching.
  • So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.
  • The game isn’t over until it’s over.
  • Bonus Quiz :  Buddha, or Don Zimmer, at last year's Annual Buddha-Look-alike Contest ?
  • And, when BoSoxer Jimmy Piersall approached the plate and did the sign of the cross, " Why doncha let God sit back and watch the game ? "

Bill Lee, aka " Spaceman "
  • People are too hung up on winning. I can get off on a really good helmet throw. 
  • I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won't matter if I get this guy out.
Grand Zen Master Lou
Oil Can Boyd [ Not sure if this is sufficiently Zen, but what the hell...]
  • When a Red Sox-Indians game was postponed due to fog rolling in from Lake Erie and enveloping Muncipal Stadium, " That's what you get for building a ballpark on the ocean."

Grand Zen Master Lou Gorman

When asked what he would do if the Sox lost ace Roger Clemens,  General Manager Lou Gorman supposedly replied, " The sun will rise, the sun will set, and I’ll have lunch. "

Friday, September 24, 2010

HBO's upcoming BOARDWALK EMPIRE " a dud "...

pronounces John Podhoretz,  in the WEEKLY STAMDARD

Insiders selling madly, though not quite as madly as last week.

Guess that's why Harpo says, if you believe in this stock rally, apparently you'll believe anything.


Ben Bernanke doesn't know what he's doing, and should resign...

says Marc Faber, in an interview.

Come on, Marc, don't mince words. Tell us what you REALLY think.

Delaware's Castle won't rule out write-in run.

Now is the time for all good men--hopefully that includes Mr. Castle in Delaware-- to accept when they've run a piss-poor race,  that it was their own damned fault they lost, and go quietly into the quiet night, rather than wage dumb-ass write-in campaigns that serve no useful purpose.

Barney Frank rips Fannie Mae...

on foreclosures. Man, what a difference one hellacious financial crisis can make.

Prosecutor alleges Department of Justice bias

in regards to that Black Panthers' intimidation of Philly voters in 2008.  At today's DOJ, apparently, justice isn't color-blind.

Euro-land's Debt Problems in the Rearview Mirror ?

Not yet, according to two articles in SEEKING ALPHA, on Europe's Debt Worries and the Financial Crisis'  biggest losers, respectively.

Katy Perry Wardrobe-Function forces SESAME STREET to nix her 'HOT AND COLD' guest spot.

I, for one,  would've recognized her even without cleavage. Honest.

BULL-TRAP ! Say two commentators on the recent Stock Market's Rally and the Erstaz Recovery ' Warning for the Bulls'  and 'Ten Things That Make Me Nervous'.

Don't Drink the Housing Recovery Kool-Aid !!!

August Home Sales Were Actually Terrible, and Sy Harding tells us why, in SEEKING ALPHA.

Clinton Says Republicans' Plans Represent `Hysterical Tirades'. Really ?

Well then darn you, Bubba !

TALKED TO DEATH : REUTERS cites study that texts, phones kill 16,000 !!!

I'll have nothing more to say about this later.

Diplomatic Row, Murder Mystery, Jewel Heist - No, It's NOT A MOVIE !

Check out this fascinating story in the Economist's Asia View.

Speaking of sequels.. Bubba's back !

SF Chronicle's Lasalle on WALL STREET Sequel, MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

Maybe Money doesn't, but Film-goers might.

Tony Blair : Al-Qaeda was in Iraq BEFORE THE WAR

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Killing Floor - Jimi Hendrix Experience Live In Monterey

Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe (Live At Monterey) 

The Blues Project - Wake Me Shake Me - Live 1981

The Blues Project - Caress Me Baby

The Blues Project -You'll Go, I'll Go With You

Cream - Crossroads

Sitting On Top of the World - Cream (2005 Reunion)

Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Work Song

Paul Butterfield Blues Band ~ Mary, Mary

Mike Bloomfield / Al Kooper - Blues For Nothing

Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield - Albert's Shuffle

Stop - Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield (Super Session)

The Electric Flag - Killing Floor

The Electric Flag ~ Over Lovin' You

The Electric Flag ~ She Should Have Just

The Electric Flag ~ Sunny

Ten Years After live at Woodstock 1969 - I'm Goin' Home

John Mayall - Room To Move

Eric Clapton / John Mayall Bluesbreakers - All Your Love

Stevie Ray Vaughan - All your love I miss loving

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Slide Thing

BB King - How Blue Can You Get (From "Legends of Rock 'n' Roll" DVD)

BB King / Gary Moore - The Thrill is Gone 

Led Zeppelin-Going To California

Led Zeppelin - Black Dog - Rare Acoustic

Colin Firth's THE KING'S SPEECH has generated lots of festival buzz...

Here's the trailer, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter...


No thank you. For me, AP 1 sufficed. But that shouldn't stop you...

Further evidence that Life imitates really bad movies, from THE DAILY BEAST.

Even more on the Iranian Pretender's, ah, President's UN Speech

Ah, the fruits of U.S. constructive engagement with Iran !

Senator DeMint Continues GOP Food Fight.

To me, it seems idiotic to blackball Murkowski, so long as she has a vote in the Senate and can assist the GOP there. That's practical politics.  Or doesn't DeMint believe in that ?

The NEW REPUBLIC tosses it against the wall...

 but it's too sloppy to stick, says Jay Cost, in THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

Currency Wars are here !

According to Gary Dorsch, " The prospect of QE-2 by the Fed is prompting other central bankers to counter with currency devaluations of their own."  Gary's advice ? What else ? Buy gold.

More Protectionism on the way, says Ed Harrison

America's De Facto 'One-Child' Policy : Brilliant article by Jonathan Last in THE WEEKLY STANDARD

White House Urges Action : Web's running out of addresses !

Did you know...?

" The consumption of Web addresses is expected to accelerate as White House-supported initiatives start to go into effect. For example, a smart grid requires every appliance, from thermostats to refrigerators, to connect to the Internet with their own Web, or Internet Protocol, address, which is used to move information on the Internet. "

Great.  Now Big Brother won't need to control our minds, just our refrigerators. 

Pols and Polls consistently right or wrong about public reaction to Obamacare ?

And what does that mean, as regards the 2010 Elections ?

Clinton's Advice to Obama and the Democratic Party

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Find Waldo, or failing that. Barney Frank's 'high praise" for Lawrence Summers in today's BOSTON GLOBE !

Okay, finding Waldo was really easy. Now find that "'high praise" the GLOBE mentions (article excerpted below).


Summers, who served as Treasury secretary under President Clinton, could be brusque and confrontational with those who disagreed with him. During the debate over overhauling financial regulations, he angered some liberal legislators when he pushed back against proposals to limit the size of banks. But Representative Barney Frank, who worked closely with Summers on those negotiations, had high praise for him yesterday.

“I very much enjoyed working with Larry Summers in passing the financial reform bill because his general economic expertise provided important context for the decisions we had to make,’’ Frank said in an interview.

Lone Star about to go dark ?

Here's hoping Fox moves the promising new series out of its Monday 9PM ratings-death-trap to, any other time and day, and sticks with the critically-acclaimed show for a while.

Variety's verdict on CBS' police-procedural-lite DEFENDERS...

It's, umm, okay,  but it mostly depends on whether you can stand Jim Belushi.

Phil Davis (and Obama) to Larry Summers : "Don't let the door hit you on your way out ! "

But could Summer's loss turn out to be Treasury Secretary Geitner's gain ?

Will Bob Woodward's OBAMA'S WARS help or hurt the Prez and his party ?

A sampling of comment,  from The L.A. TimesThe Washington PostThe NYTThe Guardian,  and Politico.

Justice Department now forced to investigate itself, because...

Black Panthers' intimidation of Philly voters in 2008 was initially dismissed by the DOJ.

Obamacare apparently not a surefire winning issue in 2010... least, according to a NYT/CBS Poll, and a poll of likely Independent Voters.

Recession's over ? Main Street isn't buying that, says Ed Harrison

Housing Starts Increase ! - Encyclopedia of Idiocy, Article #10,993

More houses.  Just what we need, when we have a glut of foreclosed homes on the market, and millions more on the way !

9/11 WAS AN 'INSIDE JOB' ? - Encyclopedia of Idiocy, Article #10,992

German protesters and French bureaucrats believe we bombed ourselves.

Remind me, again, why are we defending Western Europe ?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

THE PRISONER lives ! Fans of the late Patrick McGoohan, take heart !

Episodes of his 1960's THE PRISONER series are available on the AMC Website.

For McGoohan's c.v., see his January 2009 obit in THE GUARDIAN.

I hope someday someone makes his DANGER MAN / SECRET AGENT series available online. 

"I'm Still Here" hoax, bogus reality shows, etc. don't trouble LA Times writer

Patrick Goldstein isn't offended by artistic hoaxes foisted on the public as documentaries, e.g., Casey Affleck's and Joaquin Phoenix's "I'm Still Here".

Goldstein concludes, "For now, entertainment consumers have sided with the mythmakers. In today's media-saturated age it is simply too bewildering to try to make sense of what is real anymore. If a reality TV show is totally manufactured--so be it. It doesn't interfere with our enjoyment of the storyline or the characters. The lines between artifice and reality have become so hopelessly blurred that very few of us take offense at being manipulated anywhere. When it comes to entertainment, we've gotten into the habit of lying back and enjoying it."


Carter backtracks on 'most successful' post-presidency remarks...

" In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and tranquility. " Words to live by. 

Iranian Nuke Sites and Israeli Intentions...

Recent speeches by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, would lead any reasonable person to suspect that Israeli action to take out Iran's nuke-bomb facilities is coming soon. At least, that's the not-so-subtle message Israel is sending Iran. The question is whether the regime in Tehran is listening, or reasonable.

Productivity gains in private sector are history. Time to re-tool and re-hire.

Depression, not Recession, said Ed Harrison last October, and he's still right

Ed Harrison's compelling Oct 2009 article bears re-reading.

CPI figures issued by the govenment are crap, says Thomas Noon

Which is something anyone who buys food or gasoline knows already. Still, Noon's article is worth reading.

Housing Recovery ? Don't bet on it.

Keith Jurow explains that there's a massive "shadow housing inventory" of homes with delinquent or defaulted mortgages out there, the majority of which are concentrated in 25 metropolitan centers (check out his informative chart on this).

Jurow writes,  "...roughly 6.97 million residences... are almost certainly going to be thrown onto the resale market as distressed properties at some point in the not-too-distant future. This massive number of homes will put enormous downward pressure on sale prices. To believe that prices are firming now is to completely ignore this shadow inventory. "

NBER's declaration that the recession ended last June doesn't make sense from an economics standpoint...

Could the NBER have been motivated by election-year politics ?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brazilian Music Blast ! What better way to end a perfect September day ?

Caetano Veloso - Tropicalia
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil - Cinema Novo
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil - Desde Que O Samba
Milton Nascimento - Travessia
Milton Nascimento - Anima
Antonio Carlos Jobim - Wave
Joao Gilberto and Jobim - Desafinado
Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto - Girl From Ipanema

VARIETY gives a thumbs-up to new Fox series, LONE STAR

It's about time that big, bold prime-time soaps made a come-back.  Frankly, I admit it, I miss DALLAS.

Rumsfeld bio to "tell all"

Really ?  My guess is that Rummy will tell us all how damned smart he was in Afghanistan and how dumb Bush and Cheney were in Iraq.  My take ? In the Middle East, Rummy was out to prove a point to the Pentagon brass, namely that their ideas about war-making were laughably outmoded, whereas his were corruscatingly brilliant. In the end, Rummy turned out to be only second to Robert McNamara as a self-mystified, narcisstic flop as Sec'y of Defense.  To quote Dirty Harry, " a man's got to know his limitations ".  That's especially true when the decisions he makes sends thousands of men into harm's way. 

From the online site THE HILL...

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to slash Joint Strike Fighter appropriation, but approve a second, unnecessary supplier--GE--for the F35 engine. Boy, when it comes to talking out of both sides of its mouth...

Congressional GOP Meets to Formulate New "Contract with America".  Do they understand that, "it's the economy, stupid".


Palin to O'Donnell : The National Media are after us !

Ron Paul Won't Rule out Presidential Run in 2012
Think again, Ron. Think real, real hard this time...

Jimmy Carter rates his post-presidency the best of any ex-president.
Funny, I thought it was what presidents, not ex-presidents, did that was most important...

The always worthwhile Philip Davis, in one of his most cogent SEEKING ALPHA articles on the Housing Debacle and the Global Economy

The Tea Partiers as the new "Straw Men", the Mid-West 2010 Battleground, and more on Pennsylvania

Obit for GOP in Northeast premature, claims Fred Barnes in THE WEEKLY STANDARD...

...and nowhere is the GOP revival apparent than in Pennsylvania.

Solid advice from the premier pol of his generation...

Former President Bill Clinton urges his party to pay heed to the economic issues raised by the Tea Party.

You don't have to be a Democrat to admire Clinton's political skills. Sure, he may have been less doctrinaire a prez than some in his party would've liked, and he's not perfect ( nor are we ). But he's  absolutely right about one thing--IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID !!! 

In a jobless recovery, the unemployment or underemployment of older workers will become a serious problem, if it hasn't become one already

What happens to that "paper" Social Security surplus when older workers can't find jobs and file for SS benefits years before the government's own actuaries predicted they would ? Yes, that same "paper" surplus has been used for decades now to fund the federal deficit.

John Crudele's article in the NY Post about Poll-worker Employment Scam

The IRS denies it required NYC Poll workers to file withholding forms. So who did ?

US Census and Labor Department "goose" employment figures...

Seems Census workers were fired and rehired repeatedly. Makes no sense, except to pad the number of "new" jobs reported to the Labor Dept.

For related games being played with NYC Poll Workers, see the followiing post.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The title of this SEEKING ARTICLE article says it all...

Defaults - Not Frugality - Account for Debt Decline

Historical precedents hint : stocks will remain in a tight trading range for another 2 years...

Extended Trading Range for Markets?

What's keeping the distressed commercial real-estate market afloat ? Read this short and sweet article

Sam Zell Speaks About Commercial Real Estate in SEEKING ALPHA.

Pats bring their 'D' game to the Meadowlands.

Just caught a few minutes of Coach Bill's press conference after today's Pats-Jets debacle. How often in the last two years have we heard this guy explain a defeat by saying that he was outcoached ? Maybe that wouldn't happen if he had a defensive and offensive coordinator.
Got to admit I didn't watch much of the game. When the Pats held the ball for virtually all of the 1st quarter and didn't score, I tuned out.  Came back in time to see Moss' one-handed catch, which was phenomenal,  and Brady's first INT on a bomb to Moss, which was nauseating. So too was Tully's dumb late-hit penalty. Where were the Pats' discipline, smarts, and intensity ? Not in the Meadowlands, today.

Something tells me it's going to be a long season.

More cautions about predatory Chinese trade practices

Is a new 'Contract with America' what the GOP needs to focus itself... and the voters ?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Night Videos - An Eclectic Mix in tribute to Fernando

Billy Crystal - You Look Marvellous !

Shelia E - Glamorous Life

George Michael - Kissing a Fool

Telepopmusik - Just Breathe

K. D. Lang - Pulling Back the Reins

Amy Winehouse - Tears Dry On Their Own

Estelle - American Boy


John Legend and Andre 3000 - Green Light

Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post, on the "Buckley Rule" and O'Donnell in Delaware

Electability trumps narrow divergences or differences in ideology.  If you can't get elected, what use is ideology ?

Clearly, the smaller the tent, politically, the more likely it will be filled with losers [my sentiment].

Carnegie Endowment on the European Debt Crisis: it's still simmering.

Carnegie Endowment on Unemployment : It's pretty much on target...

...except that it does not mention outsourcing as a key reason why we see no employment recovery to speak of.  Also, as we know from other articles, the deflating housing bubble inhibits worker mobility. If you can't sell your house, it's difficult to move to where new jobs are.


Social Conservatives Warn GOP ! DeMint Blasts GOP Establishment ! O'Donnell Trashed by Ex-Aides ! Obama Spokesman steals my cheesy idea !

Two interesting articles on Japan, from SEEKING ALPHA

The Bank of Japan's Yen intervention plays into Chinese Hands, says Clayton Reeves.

According to James Quinn, Japan is the Titanic, waiting to sink, so maybe the U.S. shouldn't follow its economic policy course.

Kevin McElroy counsels, now's the time to buy gold stocks, not bullion

Two intriguing articles about the dismal science from James Picerno

How to think about Economics - Part I
How to think about Economics - Part II 

Time for a Sixties' folk / folk-rock flashback/blast

 Jon Renbourn - ROSSLYN

Pentangle - LIGHT FLIGHT

Blues Project, cover of Donovan's CATCH THE WIND

Blues Project, cover of Eric Anderson's VIOLETS OF DAWN




Thursday, September 16, 2010

Check out the Economist's lighter, bibulous side...


The Economist : IT Spending Hollows Out Labor Markets

Run-up in the Baltic Dry Index not a reliably bullish sign : it's seasonal and temporary.

So argues Prieur du Plessis in Dark Clouds on the Horizon for Baltic Dry Index?

What's the 'Baltic Dry Index' ? Glad you asked...

Interesting take on current Stock Market risks in SEEKING ALPHA

What's the new FINRA reg on lease accounting, let alone the current level of Goodwill carried on corporate balanace sheets, have to do with investment risk today ? Read on...

For definitions of Goodwill, click here and here.

POLITICO asks, has Sen. DeMint sparked a GOP civil war in the Senate ?

Maybe that's overstating the situation, but he's surely not making new GOP friends in the chamber, given his financial support of fringe candidates, this election cycle.

Good to hear from Sam Nunn again, this time speaking up in favor the START nuke treaty...

How qualified could GOP official support be for O'Donnell in DEL ? THE WEEKLY STANDARD counts the ways.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cowboy Culture

To anyone fascinated by, and yearning to learn more about,  the cowboy way of life depicted in films like Red River and in TV series like Rawhide, I recommend David Dary's monograph, Cowboy Culture.

To see the type of info that Dary provides, click here.

What better way to take a break from Politics, the Economy, and Current Affairs than with sophisticated cinematic fare ?

Nah. Go with Dogma, followed by Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  No ? How about Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Hey Dude, Where's My Car ? ( you gotta love the scene where the stoners order Chinese ) ? Not your cup of tea  ? Then how about  Death to Smoochy  or maybe Ruthless People ? Okay, go back to reading Fortune and Foreign Affairs and forget I ever brought it up...

Fred Barnes explains why Castle lost to O'Donnell in Delaware

An established candidate with a career of electoral victories waged a lackluster campaign, all but disregarded his opponent-- whom he clearly disrespected--and failed to address the concerns of voters.

Hmm. I've read that story somewhere else, recently...

The Tea Party is just beginning...

But when it ends, I believe it will end badly.

The fringe candidates the TP and Palin support --in the process trashing fairly established and creditable Republican candidates who were more likely to win later this fall--will go down in flames. With them will go the GOP's chances for a complete takeover of Congress in 2010.

When that happens, Palin shouldn't look beyond the Tea Party--to the Republican establishment--for support when she runs for President in 2012.

And even if she doesn't , many Republicans will remember the damage she did this year,  in 2016 and beyond.

Why worry that our stimulus didn't work, and U.S. economic policy-makers might not get it right for years to come ?

Takeaway From Japan's 20-Year Malaise: The Danger of Delusional Thinking

Why worry about the Euro-Zone and its sovereign debt issues ? Ask the Germans.

Why worry about banks ?

Basel lll: Hype and Reality

Jason Schwarz says, "Enjoy the 'Sigh of Relief' Market Rally"

According to J.S., investors won't have to worry about banks, housing, European debt, or Obama [his words, not mine] in 2011.

Leaving aside the swipe at the POTUS, wonder what J.S. has been smoking the last month or so, and if he's got some to spare ?

Who is Prem Watsa, and why is he called the 'Warren Buffet' of Canada... ?

...and why should U. S. investors care ? Read on.

Sobering analysis of August's "encouraging" increase in Retail Sales...

What are 'pair trades' and why aren't they working ? Jeffrey Saut knows...

All the "dumb money" has left the buliding. What's dumb money ? Read on !

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A little bit of Phil Collins in the night. Have a good one, everybody !

The cut is TAKE ME HOME,  from Phil's terrific 

Top 25 Colleges Ranked By Recruiters -

Interesting WSJ article re: the pending SCOTUS 'ObamaCare' case...

The main issue seems to be whether the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance is or is not constitutional under the 'Commerce Clause' .

Check out my channel, 'hddwordsmith', on YouTube...

where I've just added a bunch of 50's and 60's TV themes/intros, like the one for HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, one of my all-time faves...

Survey of Today's Primaries Nationwide, from THE FIX, Washington Post Online

Supreme Court Challenge to Obama-Care - High Level Review in the Washington Post

Monday, September 13, 2010

U.S. hard-pressed to stem domestic R&D losses

Apparently, Americans can be as entreprenurial as all hell and still have people abroad eating our lunch, economically speaking.

Not much difference between Obama and Bush admins, re: the dirty business of anti-terrorism, says LA Times Columnist

U.S. Summer Box Office down from 2009...

Breaking News from THE ONION

Archaeologists Unearth Lousiest Civilization Ever...

Pres. Obama's recent broadsides may make Minority Leader Boehner a household name...

But Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard asks, who benefits ?

Castle vs. O'Donnell, Delaware GOP Primary, Take One : Recent Poll favors O'Donnell

Castle's poor poll showing may be just what the candidate needs to activate late support against his rival--and tea-party favorite--in the Delaware GOP Primary.

At the same time, O'Donnell faces accusations from the same Weekly Standard reporter  who made news by getting pushed around by a Martha Coakley bodyguard, shortly before the Brownista Revolution in the Bay State.

Politico asks, is that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Pres. Obama's rearview mirror ?

Third--and last--of three articles on Silver Investing

Rethinking the Case for Investment in Silver

Are Emerging Markets the best bet for investors in terms of return and risk ? Maybe not.

Even more on Silver Investing (Gold too)...

Five Sophisticated Gold and Silver Investment Strategies for 2009

Gold too expensive as an inflation hedge ? How about silver ?

Investing In Silver

Another great article by Ed Harrison on the continually-deflating Housing Bubble

Lessons From Japan: Why Home Prices Will Continue to Fall

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Taps, for the 2010 Dead Sox

It's hard to recall any pro sports team as snake-bitten as the current edition of the Red Sox.  But injuries are only part of the story.  The Sox' s Medical Team and Trainers have much to explain, going back to last year, when the seeds of this year's collapse were sown.  And I suspect we're seeing more seeds in the process of being planted--like waiting on Scutaro's MRI until now--as the Sox and their management make obliging sounds about competing for the wild card.

If Sox management's absolute priority was to win the wild card this fall, they would've enticed Johnny Damon back to the Hub, and  re-armed the bullpen.  They didn't,  so clearly it wasn't.  We can only conclude that they had already written off this season and that  the trade of Manny Delcarmen was their belated white-flag.

What can be done to improve this team ?

First, how do you motivate over-paid pitchers like Beckett, Lackey, and Dice-K ?  How do you get rookies like Kalish to play heads-up baseball -- like making sure, in a tight ballgame, that you limit the damage from a sinking liner to a single, instead of trying for heroic diving catch and misplaying it into a two-run  double -- when a vet like Drew makes a literally inexplicable catch of a foul pop, allowing a runner to score from third  ?  What can you do with pitchers who seem incapable of fielding their position (Sox hurlers thus far have made 19 errors, tops for their position in the majors) ?

Remember that classic insult  White Sox manager Eddie Stanky directed (unfairly) at Yaz in 1967,  that he was, " an All-Star from the neck down " ?  Well, it wouldn't be unfair to say this about the current BoSox, from the top of the house down..         

How do you get Pedroia to follow doctors' orders ?  How do you get the manager and team to understand that without Pedroia or Youk,  and Mikey Lowell messed up,  you've got to try small-ball ? Why, in tight contests, has Francona sent starters back out after 100 pitches, only to see them blow up ?        

There's a lot not to like about what Theo did in the offseason and during this season.  But there's so much blame to go around, there's no point picking on Theo.  But it begs the question,  has Theo learned all he's going to learn ? Have we already seen his best ? Now that's a chilling thought.

9/13/2010 Postscript - I can wait for next year.

Harry Dent's Outlook on Demographics, Debt and Deflation

A SEEKING ALPHA atricle whose graphs merit a look...

Can't say the same for the author's circular reasoning,  essentially arguing that if more investors invest in U.S. equities, then more investors will invest in U.S. equities...

Steep declines in average stock holding periods and Stock Markets as Casinos...

' Free trade ' is not free, when trading partners low-ball their currencies' value...

Which is why this commentator believes it's time the US reined in the current, faux,  free trade system.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Phil Davis' Review of Last Week's Economic/Investing News in SEEKING ALPHA

To paraphrase Bluto in Animal House, if I were you, I'd start drinking heavily,  before reading this article.

In SEEKING ALPHA David Hunkar argues that so far, TARP's been a success...

According to Hunkar, half of all funds have been repaid, and the government has made $ in the process.

I'm waiting for the other half of TARP to be repaid before celebrating, with a bottle of the beer on special...

Is Japan-styled stagnation our fate ?

Not fate.  Chris Mack argues that our not-so-intrepid economic policymakers are intent on emulating Japan's stagnation, recoiling from wrenching deleveraging and revaluation of assets, in response to our current economic malaise.

Canada's got its very own housing bubble...

...inflated by 40-year, no-money-down mortgages (no longer available), and free-spending yuppies. Conclusion: stay away from loonies ( which is good advice, generally speaking).

Ground Zero mosque : Whose $ will build it, or keep it from being built ?

The Onion asks, Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give A Shit?

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

How far into a "Bond Bubble" are we ?

Based on a comparison with the inflow of funds into Internet/Tech Bubble, this SEEKING ALPHA commentator reckons we're halfway...

Fuel-Thirsty China the One Thing Investors Can Rely On

According to this SEEKING ALPHA article, growing Chinese demand and dwindling Chinese production--they now only produce 55% of their own consumption-- makes oil a logical long term investment.

THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS (1989) and Story-telling "Tokens"

THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS provides two good examples where the screenwriter uses tokens--objects-- to introduce backstory and/or foreshadow later events. The objects in question : an old picture, an unopened bottle of liquor,  and a delivery of long-stemmed roses.

The "old picture" shows "The Fabulous Baker Boys" at their first gig, holding a bottle of liquor they received and, as minors, left unopened.  The pic is found by Suzie Diamond - the singer the boys have brought on to freshen up their tired double-piano act - as she looks over the younger bro's apartment. The pic allows the younger brother to fill in some backstory for Suzie (and us).  It also serves as foreshadowing : near the end of the film,  we see the same picture AND the bottle at the older bro's home, after they break the act up. 

The delivery of long-stemmed roses to Suzie - the hotel desk clerk says they're from an anonymous admirer, "one of the guys at the Cat Food Convention" - economically foreshadows a later plot-point which would otherwise seem to have come out of the blue ( deus ex machina, anybody ?).  It  also provides dramatic irony : we, the audience, know that someone else is after Suzie,  but neither of the "Fabulous Baker Boys"  find out this out until it is too late.

Tokens such as this have been used since the dawn of literature.  They were used as the mechanism by which a hidden truth was revealed,  a disguise penetrated,  or an identity confirmed.  

THE ODYSSEY features two, namely Odysseus' scar - a souvenir from a near-fatal wild-boar hunt in his youth - and the unique construction of Odysseus' and Penelope's conjugal bed.

In the film FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE,  the tokens are the identical pocket-watches which Colonel Mortimer and the psychotic bandit El Indio carry, which play the same tune and eerily suggest a connection between the two.

In the film (and stage play) A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, it is a pair of rings showing a gaggle of geese, which, in true ancient Roman-Comedy fashion,  are supposed to identify twin children separated by circumstance,  one of which literally changes hands, to hilarious effect.

In THE 39 STEPS, it is the tune which the hero Hannay keeps whistling and whose origin he cannot  remember. The tune points to the solution of the espionage mystery and elegantly links the beginning and end scenes of the film.  This tune also provides dramatic irony,  since the audience may well recall where and when Hannay first heard it.

In the film MAN-HUNT (1941), it is the arrow-pin which the hero Thorndike purchases for a girl who has saved him from Nazi agents. The pin's later appearance in the possession of a Nazi agent neatly reveals to Thorndike ( and us )  her sad fate.

What does this all mean ?  A carefully-chosen token may serve as graphic, economical device for introducing backstory and/or foreshadowing, and generating emotional impact as well. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Britain has destroyed itself, according to the creator of FLASHMAN

More on George MacDonald Fraser

Fraser also wrote screenplays, my favorites being those for Alexander Salkind's' The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers in the mid-seventies.

Lavish period pieces with lush scores by Michel Legrand. they were directed by Richard Lester (HELP !) and featured some of the finest actors of their day : Michael York as D'Artagnan, Oliver Reed as Athos, Faye Dunaway as the infamous Milady de Winter, Frank Finlay as Porthos, Richard Chamberlain as Aramis, Charlton Heston as Cardinal Richelieu, and Christopher Lee as the deadly Comte de Rochefort.

George MacDonald Fraser - Writer - Obituary - New York Times

A belated tribute to one of the great writers of historical fiction, George MacDonald Fraser, who built a formidable series about the heydey of the British Empire around Harry Flashman.

Fraser lifted the character of Flashman from Thomas Hughes' classic 1857 novel Tom Brown's Schooldays and transformed from a villain into something of a hero.

I recommend reading the series along with the classic Pax Britannica historical trilogy penned by James/Jan Morris, especially Vol. 1, HEAVEN'S COMMAND.