Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Well, it's been one hell of a week. I think I'll leave it to the professionals to fill ya in. Enjoy...

Our late night talk show hosts speak here.

A bit of humor concerning Faux news here.

Hope you had a great weekend and let's have a good week, shall we.


Here's how the folks at South Park think we've handled the bailout.

Finally; Jon Stewart with some retro-fortune telling humor.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Words of Advice

Daily Show Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wordzzle 56 (for you numeroligists that's 11)

Please check out the Raven's Nest for all the details on the Challenge.

The Ten Word Challenge: partition, imagination, salvation, mirror image, green power, highway, roasting marshmallows, serial killer, autograph, cartography

Mini Challenge: cell phone, Big Mac, panther, legendary, poets’ corner


This week’s episode: Lust or Liability

Cathy found the young blond to be a natural. She did talk a little, but only enough to confirm her accent as Swedish, her age 22, her level of intoxication, and her lesbian curiousness. The young girl’s name was Asrid Sorenson and she was from Stockholm. This confluence of circumstances allowed the older woman to delay using the small aerosol; more like a miniature nasal spray bottle, of an organic compound that possessed the properties of Rhohipnol and Ecstasy. This delightful accessory to Cathy's small bag of tricks made her victims both compliant on one hand and sexually aroused on the other. It was a perfect setup and she used it with professional expertise. She was well on her way to becoming a proficient serial killer.

Cathy kissed the side of the girl's neck as she relished the pressure of the firm young breast and the aroused nipple on her palm. She felt Asrid’s hand search for and find her mons. The predator allowed the prey to bring her to climax before she returned the favor. Then they kissed. Cathy let herself be swept away by the ardor and innocence of her partner. She knew she had time, if only another hour or so. It would be enough.

It took most of the remaining hour for the couple to languidly explore each other and enjoy the results. By this time Asrid’s motor functions were failing and Cathy took the opportunity to lay the blonde on the sand on her back. While the victim's cell phone played "I kissed a girl" as a ring tone, Cathy prepared the petite blond for her next move. She could see her mirror image in Asrid’s glassy eyes and it sparked her imagination. “This beats the hell out of roasting marshmallows“ she whispered.

Then Cathy placed her second weapon in her fist and inserted that fist into her prey’s vagina to her elbow piercing the partition to Asrid’s uterus in the process. Had the paralysis not have taken over, the girl’s screams would have been horrific. Instead her face could barely make a comic rictus that looked like someone trying to fake pain. A faint whimper escaped the blond’s mouth.
Cathy extended the chrome instrument into Asrid’s cervix and began the scraping motion that would cause massive internal bleeding and eventual death for the girl. This was Cathy’s signature move and the autograph of the authenticity of her psychosis.

She kissed the girl one last time on her anguished lips and removed her weapon and hand. Even in her paralyzed state the girl let out her breath with a gigantic “Whoosh” as her eyes glazed over. Cathy calmly walked to the water and washed the blood and tissue from her hand and threw the now vibrating cell phone into the sea. “A perfect ending to a perfect day” she thought to herself as she dragged the body into the surf.
The murderess knew she was long past the point of salvation now and clearly on the highway to hell. She had more to do before she could return to the land of legendary excess and the Big Mac. Next stop: South Africa and an appointment with a plastic surgeon. Things were proceeding quite nicely.

Thomas and Jean McCool were preparing for their trip to Laughlin. Thomas had gone to his last Poet’s corner meeting that morning. Jean wondered at his hobbies some times. The poetry she understood, but the cartography was something else. What was it about old maps that so intrigued the man? Now he was into "Green Power", so they'd be traveling in a Civic hybrid. At least he wasn’t into hunting, not animals anyway. He was more into tracking down criminals. In Jean’s mind, Thomas was like a Panther when tracking down murderers. In Thomas’s mind he was more like an owl or a mole. Maybe that was why he loved her so much.

Both wondered what the trip to Laughlin would bring them this time.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Unhappy Validation

At times it is sad to be found correct in one's thoughts about our country's finances. I hope this article in the Atlantic is my last word on the subject for a while. Please read the "Quiet Coup" and let me know what you think.


Technology Abuse

I admit it. I don't see the purpose, relevance or value of Twitter.

The twits of the tweetering class (or Tweets of Twittering class, whatever) are not going to be my BFFs. In fact they will be the object of my continued scorn and derision. Sorry all you Senators and Congressman. Sorry all you celebs, non-celebs and adolescents who feel your every thought and deed (bundled into easy to read 140 character bites thumbed onto your cell phone) are necessary and productive.

One begins to think that apes, who also have the opposable thumb, could be taught to twitter just like they were taught to type. Only you might expect more sense from their output than what is published from twitter.

Are we so intellectually bankrupt that this is the height of modern communication?. "Jst saw Britney... She was awesome dude. Lost weight, but kept boobs."...from the office of Eric Cantor

OK, maybe a teenage girl or two needs to find out what her BFF is wearing today and what time they will be skipping class for a crack break or something, but seriously, do adults need this kind of communication lite?

Just asking?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Corporatocracy Part III

If you want to understand one the critical events that put our country at the mercy of financial institutions then please read this.

Courtesy of the Video Cafe and Democracy Now.

Listen and tell me what you think my friends and critics.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Corporatocracy Part 2

Yesterday's sunday funnies post talked about what we think our government is versus what it really is; that is to say a Corporatocracy. Matt Taibbi at the Rolling Stone puts it even more bluntly. Check out his article here.

If you make it through the multipage piece you will come out the other end knowing more about CDOs and CDSs than most of your friends and workmates.

I want to believe that the Sec of Treasury's plan announced today is about Obama seeking the middle ground. Many do not. Instead they believe it's either not enough or totally wrongheaded. Either way it doesn't sound too promising for the average taxpayer. The market's 300 point rise today makes it only clearer that Wall Street likes it, which means we are probably getting fucked again.

All these folks are basically just economists. I say this not to undervalue or downplay their opinions, because to a large extent I agree with them. What I wonder is this:

Is this less than optimal, in-between, sort of half-way solution a compromise that the pragmatic Obama is making in an effort to save political capital or even garner some for the fights ahead on health care, the environment, the EFCA bill, the wars in Iraq and Whoknowsistan and what ever else is on his plate and mind?

If that's the case, then I see his reasoning, but doubt the outcome. The opposition party is making hay of every faltering move, gaffe and mistake while all the while benefiting it's major backers; mainly big business and wall street. It seems a no-win, no-win situation for the president if that's indeed his strategy.

By not getting at the dysfunctional elements currently controlling our economy and culture he is avoiding the fight we elected him to take on. I hope my estimate of this situation is wrong.

What do you think?


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Democracy or Corporatocracy (the Sunday Funnies on a serious note)

Like many people of my generation, the baby boom one, I grew up with both awe and wonder at the big corporations of the day. IBM, Xerox and General Motors were behemoths during my younger years.

As time went by I began to think less of these specific entities and corporations in general. This has been a multi-decade process for me, but at last I've come to believe that through our greed, laziness and lack of paying attention we allowed our government to be hi-jacked by corporatism.

After the last two terms of alleged conservative rule we find ourselves in the deep doo doo without a clue how to stop the smell, much less clean up the mess. Our new president seems sincere in wanting to effect change, but really, I wonder if anything substantial is going to take place.

Here's why:

In spite of the huge stimulus package just passed we have spent triple that on financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, and trading houses with a couple trillion more likely to spent in the next 3 quarters.We have been bullshitted and bullied into believing these corporations are essential to our national and global survival. Are they?

It feels like we are being run by faceless cabals of financial swindlers who have blackmailed and bought the congress and various members of the new administration. I am very unhappy to have come to this conclusion. I still support our president, but he's being sandbagged by Wall Street bigtime.

This is what "Corporatocracy" looks like when things get bad. The wealthy and powerful figure out ways to socialize their losses all the while screaming socialism when any action is attempted to help the diminished and devastated middle class.

If you think I've gone too far, then think about this. The middle class hasn't had a gain in real earning power since the mid 70s. That's a quarter of century of losses. How many families do you know that can afford for just one parent to work?

Can you remember when a career for a mother (or father) was an option instead of necessity?

Wages are at all time lows compared to costs and they will only get lower during this recession. Small businesses sprang up out of discontent with corporate chauvinism, but this companies tend to offer few benefits and low wages, so how does that help the working man and woman?

Meanwhile we are treated to daily reports of corporate greed and malfeasance with nothing ever done to the perpetrators. Where are the perp walks when you need them Oh sure, blatant crooks like Bernie Madoff get caught and imprisoned, after 20 years or so. That's right, the geniuses at the SEC going back to the Reagan administration managed to overlook his Ponzi scheme for more than two decades.

Small wonder then that myriad other corporations and individuals have done the same in some fashion without getting caught. We allowed the very people we should trust least to set their own rules and regulations. Does that sound like a Democracy or a Corporatocracy to you?

There are too many examples of how we allowed big businesses to rule us, our daily lives and set the standards by which we live to list them all here. Instead I ask this question:

What can we do to keep the corporations out of our lives, diminish their power and control and bring the companies we must deal with down to a reasonable size? A size that requires responsiveness and responsibility. A size that is never to big to fail, too remote to be watched, too powerful to bring to justice.

No one is seriously talking about breaking up the companies that were key players in our latest economic bust. They never do. But wouldn't it be nice to hear about how we can regain some control of our cultural, political and economic destiny.

Without these conversations and the resulting actions to downsize our vast and parasitic corporate culture we are doomed to cycle after cycle of this kind of crisis.

Our limited history as a country and people give us the startling example of the great depression. It seems the only thing we've learned from our history is how to screw up the economy in different ways.

What do you think?


Friday, March 20, 2009

55 Wordzzles all in a row (well, not exactly in a row) (more like in continuous publication or something like that I suppose)

Run by the Raven's Nest and get all the info on the Wordzzle program will ya?

The Ten Word Challenge: humanity, shadow, ricochet, wrong, pluralism, mathematics, personhood, printing press, ink spot, choral society

Mini Challenge: kingdom, take names, best seller, three times, inner demons

This Week's Episode: Extrication

Dan and Carla watched as the helicopter flew over them towards the trail head. Dan came up from under the cover of his rock's ledge and looked after the receding chopper. The couple observed the craft till it was little more than an ink spot in the night sky. As they looked on, the helicopter's running lights came on, the searchlight having been extinguished, and the craft changed course towards the mountains and the distant coast. Carla looked to Dan as she emerged from the shadow of the boulder into the soft moonlight, "You put new meaning into the phrase let's go hiking in the desert, Sugar" she smiled at him.

"I've been out here to this section of the preserve at least three times in the last couple of years and everything went well." "Sorry about this babe, I'll make it up to you." "Our next trip will be something luxurious and relaxing" Dan answered apologetically.

They made it back to the Bronco without further incident, though both were dead tired after the multiple hour hike at a much more brisk pace than the first part of their hike. Dan used his CB radio to contact the park ranger and then the California State Police. Griggs understood the pluralism of law enforcement society and made sure he didn't step on any toes.

The ranger was kind enough to come out on a Sunday night/Monday morning and take their statements directly. He could see how beat and frazzled the couple was and showed his humanity by arriving with hot coffee and donuts. It took till dawn to finish up with their statements. The staties said they would come out sometime Monday to go to the site with the ranger and see that the film was processed. On this point Dan demurred and stated he would have the film processed by the Laughlin PD and provide both the negatives and film to the California State Police by Tuesday at the latest. He didn't mention that Carla had pictures as well.

As part of the statement Ranger Olafson made sure to take names and addresses of Dan, Carla, their employers and in Dan's case even Captain Jenkins, when the ranger was told that Dan was consulting on the murders in Laughlin. Professional courtesy was extended by allowing Dan to process the film at the Laughlin lab. In any case it would not have been done any sooner through either the Forest Service or California State Police labs.

The really good info Dan gave Ranger Olafson was the exact coordinates of the site from his portable GPS. It would be no problem for the agencies to find the spot and examine what ever the helicopter's crew had left behind. Dan's inexpensive Garmin E-Trex H didn't have a lot of fancy features, but it had the one needed most and it was highly accurate. The small unit he always carried in his backpack was a best seller for under a hundred bucks and had helped Dan return time and again to hard to find places from previous hikes.

By the time Dan and Carla got back to Laughlin it was mid morning and both were tired, dirty and in need of sleep. Dan dropped Carla off at her place then headed over to the police station to get the film processed and talk with Captain Jenkins.

"It got a little hairy out there with Carla along" Dan explained. "I was concerned we had walked right into some sort of Drug Cartel crime scene or something Ned" Dan finished as he bagged the film canisters and headed back to the photo lab. The tech looked at Dan and asked "When are you old school boys going to go digital?" "Someday maybe" Dan replied. "We need these back by this afternoon Larson" Captain Jenkins stated. "Sure Captain, no problem" the tech answered back as Jenkins and Griggs headed for the Captains office.

"You know Ned, I think your photo tech thinks I'm as old as the printing press" Dan laughed tiredly. "There's something so wrong about me being the old guy in this" he finished. "We got the identity of the Jane Doe over the weekend from the state lab" Jenkins told him. "It was Connie Liplin's personal secretary."

The two discussed the implications of this information and the curious inability of the state's lab to confirm the corpse in the Tahoe as Connie Liplin. Dan brought up the idea that perhaps more investigation should be done on the Realtor. "Somebody really didn't like her if they went to all the trouble of killing her and her assistant" Dan added. "Assuming that the body in the SUV is confirmed as Connie's it would point to a business connection" Jenkins pointed out. "What if the body in the Tahoe wasn't Connie Liplin?" Dan pondered. "Then where would we be?" he asked. "It won't change the mathematics" Jenkins replied. "We still have two murders on our hands." "Three, if you count the skeleton in the desert we found this weekend" Dan corrected him.

"Not my jurisdiction and not my problem unless they end up being connected" the captain stated. "I realize that possibility Ned, but think of it this way; there's been 4 deaths of citizens of this town in the last 4 weeks, two of which we are considering as accidental" Dan noted. "What if all of them were connected and the latest find in the desert is just another in a continuing stream of murders and suspicious deaths with a common theme?" "Quite a conspiracy theory Dan" Jenkins chuckled, "but I'd have to see a lot more evidence to begin to think that way." "Me too" Dan smiled back, "but my weekend in the desert has me thinking black helicopters and new world order."

"Christ Dan, go home and get some sleep" Jenkins said. "Watch out or you'll start talking about your "personhood" or joining the damn choral society" the captain concluded. Dan agreed and drove straight home for some sleep. He was working the graveyard shift tonight at the Pioneer. Before he sank into the soft oblivion of his perfect sleeper and right after he set the alarm, he made one phone call though. "Hey Thomas it's Dan, long time no see." "How are things in Phoenix?" "I know you're not going to believe this, but I'm working on this case here in Laughlin and thought you might be interested" he finished as the answering machine beeped and told him to finish his message. Maybe his old buddy Thomas McCool would have some ideas about this case. Either way it would be great to talk to him again.

"Cathy preferred the south of France to French Guiana, but knew she would need time to perfect her new identity. The occasional trips to Europe were helpful but not totally safe. There was always the possibility that a tourist from the "kingdom" might be vacationing here and recognize her, though any poor and adventurous enough to come to the small towns would be too insignificant a person to worry about. Still, she knew that her benefactors would seek retribution if they found her. Besides, this would be a one time trip here.

As luck would have it she passed a pretty young girl as she strolled down the beach. The blonde hair and pale skin labeled the sweet young thing as a tourist. Cathy turned back and smiled her best smile. "Do you speak English?" she asked. "Yes I do" the girl smiled back. "What do you think of Aau Tru Monte?" Cathy asked. "Oh, it's beautiful" the blonde replied. "Just like you" the innocent added. Cathy took the young girls hand and led her up the beach.

Cathy had excelled at her previous profession, but found her hobby to be much more exciting. It had culminated in her newfound power and confidence in dealing with her prey. The interludes of glorious soft feminine sex followed by the agony of the victim’s deaths had allowed her to unleash all her inner demons. The stunning couple stopped at a large shelf that jutted into the sea. The waves seemed to ricochet off the land and spray a luminous cloud into the air. They had not talked to this point. "Don't tell me your name" Cathy instructed the fair haired girl as she positioned herself behind her and cupped her breast. "Let's communicate this way" she whispered.

This would have to be Cathy's last night here in France, but she intended to make the most of it.


Not so Feckless Friday ( at least for me)

On a personal business note; I was fortunate enough this week to be able to turn my very modest online stock trading account from a whopping 48% loser to just 3.2% below its original level during this trading week.

This was accomplished by not selling at the ugly lows of my peculiarly speculative and originally brilliant seeming stock picks, but waiting to catch some updraft and selling at better prices. In almost all cases they were still sold below the level at which they were purchased. My largest holding (by my standards, not the markets) was sold with a total profit of less than $100 dollars, but I did manage to not actually lose money on that position. Unfortunately the stock went 50% higher the next day and I missed a good profit. Stock trading is like golf for me. An intellectually challenging endeavor that constantly fucks with my head.

Anyway...... I proudly presented my wife with the figures to assure her that I had managed to retrieve all but just over 3% of our money back from the market. In addition I pared down our holdings to just 3 stocks representing less than 30% of our account total. If I sound slightly (satire and smirk here) late to the game on divesting myself of stocks, remember that the only other choice was to sell them at lower prices and thus lock in actual monetary losses. By waiting it out I was able to get most of my investment back.

That might not sound like much to you, but in this environment, "you buys your ticket and takes your chances."

With a little luck and some amount of paying attention, I might just be able to break even in another few weeks. Then again the market could go batshit crazy and then who knows what will happen.

Since I'm still unemployed and need to be doing something even potentially profitable, the daily stock trading manages to keep me off the streets and forces me to be more aware of the political and economic climate than most folks. I am constantly interrupting a news broadcast to inform my wife that I had read that day about the issue and that the commentator was either correctly or incorrect stating the facts. At some point she will probably throw something at me or just tell me to shut the fuck up.

While I accomplished this we had the continuing daily soap opera/murder mystery of AIG and the bonuses. It is certainly galling and politically important, but mathematically insignificant when trillions upon trillions are at risk. If you want to inform yourself about how AIG got us into this I recommend this article from The Talking Points memo. I guarantee you will come away knowing much more than the average citizen about systemic financial risks and what we're up against.

I apologize ahead of time for the second linked article; it is 24 pages long and contains charts and graphs. It does however contain a timeline and great reading on what transpired during the final months of the Bush administration and what was done to combat the crisis.

So to summarize; slightly not so Feckless week for me and always Feckless week for politicians and pundits.

Which brings to mind a blog I read this week by now deceased Gene Maudlin, titled
Old Horsetail Snake. Gene was an interesting individual and a great story teller. The one below makes me question what we keep hearing for reasons to bail out more financial institutions.

"A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to:


With the worst premonition he opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter.

"Dear Dad: It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with you and Mom. I have been finding real passion with Stacy and she is so nice. But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercing, tatoos, motorcycle clothes and the fact that she is much older than I am. But it's not only the passion....Dad, she's pregnant. Stacy said that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter.

"We share a dream of having many more children. Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone.

"We'll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people that live nearby for cocaine and ecstacy. In the meantime we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Stacy can get better. She deserves it. Don't worry, Dad.

"I'm 15 and I know how to take care of myself.

"Someday I'm sure that we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren.


"Your son, John."

"P.S. Dad, none of this is true. I'm over at Tommy's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than a report card that's in my desk's center drawer. I love you. Call me when it's safe to come home."

Oh, if they were just sandbagging us, wouldn't it be nice?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG...Ain't It Great?

So here's the question: Does the government run our nation or does big business? I mean this thing with the AIG-PIG has finally jumped the shark hasn't it?

We have to ask ourselves if this is just about some greedy bastards that worked for a quasi-legitimate spinoff of AIG selling the most dangerous weapons of monetary destruction ever devised by man getting their greed on or is this about something more.

Have we as a world and a nation allowed our financial class to overpower the very people and governments they are supposed to serve. The evidence so far points in the direction of the cart pulling the horse so to speak. Without our investments and manpower the Wall Street Wizards would be without anything to trade, or deriviatize or otherwise leverage and screw up. Yet it seems to the casual observer that these pricks think they run the whole damn world. Maybe they do.

This latest insult to our intelligence and patience is a test. Will the elected government take action to right this wrong or just let it ride, giving us the same BS about how it's in their contract and we are a country of laws. Really?

Is it really about laws and regulations when the perpetrators of this current financial crisis are companies that has so much more input and say-so on what they can and cannot do? When they decide how much risk they can take with your money and investments? When they allow a system that actively supports traders that short sell phantom stock, ruin perfectly good companies for personal profit and are so unfettered in their greed that they bring down the entire world economy?

People are starting to get wise to the system being fixed and getting pretty angry
too. The question is: What can we do about it? I wish I knew.

Isn't time to put a stop to the galling financial opportunists and exploiters of our financial fix and get some real work done?

I voted for President Obama and support his administration's efforts to help fix this thing, but if the government can't stand up to these corporate pricks, well then, they're worthless. I'm not looking for this country to become socialist, but it needs to be a lot less corporatist. And pretty damn quickly too.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Another wild and wacky week of political, financial and cultural craziness has taken place this last 7 days.

On the media front, serial batshit crazyhead Glenn Schtick has gone from the Commies are coming to I wish my Mommy was here or something of that nature. Honestly, I cannot tolerate one second of this guy, but if you must, punish yourself with the linked clip.

Best name heard on David Letterman's top ten list this week "SpongeRush Fatpants." Hear the whole top ten below.

Of course the majority of both the humour and hubris was reserved for the media quasi, semi, whatever battle between The Daily Show and CNBC. It started with a hypocrisy expose' involving the Rick Santelli rant and continued till there was a Mea Culpa of sorts by Jim Cramer on Thursday night's Daily Show. Curiously, the CNBC, MSNBC and NBC shows that had supported Cramer at the start of the week were no where to be found after Thursday. I guess the only way to make Corporate Shilling Asshats shutup is to humiliate their star on a basic cable comedy show.

If you have not seen the three part unedited interview here is the link. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. Mine have been stated in these two posts; here and here.

Last but certainly not least, is the continuing tale of political posturing by southern Republican governors. Another son of the old south with clear presidential aspirations (emphasis on the ass) has stated he would use stimulus funds from the federal government to pay off state debt and forgo things like keeping teachers working, extended unemployment benefits and funding infrastructure projects. I will not even mention this idiot's name in this post. Go and see for yourself.

It's certainly been an entertaining week for those of us who watch the political and cultural landscape. The funny has been harder to come by for me. When a cable network comedian turns out to be the truest source of information and enlightenment on the tube; well, I guess that's funny in a way. Just not the way I would want it to be. The funniest thing of all of course is how many of our fellow citizens are unaware of what is currently taking place in our society and what the consequences of years of neglect have brought us.

Perhaps the financial and political opportunists are laughing all the way to the bank. That means the joke is on us, doesn't it?

Oh, and I almost forgot. There's the whole Going Galt thing some unhappy repubs and libertarians are mouthing right now. Many, if not all these folks are clueless as to what Ayn Rand was all about. Here's a link to video and commentary on that subject. My guess here is that most of the big talkers on the subject hadn't ever heard of Ayn and the virtue of selfishness till it was promoted on Faux News. I can see why the attraction of selfishness would be unavoidable for the Ann Coulter types, but what about just regular folk?


Saturday, March 14, 2009

54 Wondrous, Wild, Wacky, and Weird weeks of Wordzzling.

Stop by the Raven's Nest and learn all you need to know about the Wordzzle Challenge.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: sugar bowl, cotton, wizard, fund-raising, Ben Hur, salmonella, luke warm, telescope, bank, walk-a-thon

Mini Challenge: challenge, sparkling cider, melancholy, snail mail, master carpenter

This week's Episode: Causation

Chad Everett Hollingsworth disliked flying at night since his last tour in Iraq. While the ride in the sleek Bell 407 was much different than an Apache attack helicopter, the night flight over the desert still brought back bad memories. One too many close calls with RPGs on night missions had made him skittish of low level night flying. The challenge here was to just remember where he was and focus on his current mission.

If his douche bag uncle hadn't gotten nervous about the geek, he wouldn't have had to fly back out here at night and cover his uncle's ass. His uncle might have been a financial wizard at real estate, but he was a pussy about personnel issues.
He had known from the start of the first flight with the geek accountant that his uncle was planning something wanky. He’d never thought it would be murder. He figured his uncle wanted to scare the guy. Maybe tell the dude he could bank on a hard time if he leaked any money info. Instead the dill weed had pushed the geek out of the chopper at 1500 feet.

Now, just like back in Iraq he was being sent in to clean up the mess. Of course he had participated in making this particular mess, even if unwillingly and unknowingly at first.
It was hard to believe that Uncle Charles and his dad were brothers. They couldn't be more different. Chad's father was a state legislator, a fairly straight arrow, heavy into funding-raising for his campaigns and favorite charities and therefore tied into the California business and social scene.

Charles was reclusive, fantastically wealthy yet petty and mean as a snake.
He had once ridiculed Chad's father for sponsoring a walk-a-thon for breast cancer fully knowing that his own wife had recently been diagnosed with the disease. Uncle Charles' feeling had been that the information should be kept confidential in case any of his competitors should attempt to use it. Additionally he had the money to provide the best care available for his wife, Chad's aunt. In the end it meant nothing. She suffered through a radical double mastectomy, chemo for a couple of years and still succumbed to the cancer.

Now, he was flying at night instead of home drinking sparkling cider with his new girlfriend and impressing her with his astronomical knowledge by showing her the space station, Venus, and Mars utilizing his Celestron CPC 800 telescope. Chad was thrilled to have this most amazing instrument to set up on his balcony and observe the night sky. It almost made up for having such a douche uncle. It could have been worse he supposed. He could still be a closet alcoholic, lose his pilots' license, his income and end up homeless.

No, he had done what was needed. The small swath of the cotton shirt and the skeletal remains of the accountant left by the buzzards would be disposed of properly and his uncle mollified and protected. That's why he made the big dollars as his pilot and he knew it. He also knew that when the economy turned around and he could get a job somewhere else he would. Though his feelings toward Uncle Charlie had initially been luke-warm, they were daily turning colder and colder. And now the old bastard had managed to make him an accessory to murder.

Chad thought all these things as he picked up the remains, scanned the scene with his searchlight and then noticed what might have been tracks, maybe even human footprints. He attempted to follow them from the air, but could not make out enough to be sure. He flew over the rocks at the end of the valley and didn't see anyone or anything in that direction. He continued that way for a few clicks, and then turned to head back to L.A. He could still get in a little star gazing if he hurried. He just had to fly over the tar pits and make a deposit on his way back to the hangar.

Back in Laughlin Captain Jenkins was looking at the FBI's report on the Jane Doe found in the Colorado River. Her name was Cynthia Dobbert. She had been the personal assistant to Connie Liplin. Of course the report had come by snail mail and not quicker ways like fax or e-mail. At the time there had not been a priority or rush. Now with the two latest victims connected it seemed more important.

He sipped his coffee and pondered about the peanut butter filled crackers he had just purchased from the vending machine in the corridor. Surely they had removed all the peanut butter products with the salmonella by now. On second thought he tossed them in the garbage can and headed out the door to go home for dinner. There would be enough time to ponder this new development on Monday when he had the whole team back together. He only came in on Sundays to read the Saturday's mail and get a plan for the week anyway.

A feeling of melancholy came over Jenkins as he drove towards his house. He had not investigated a murder and certainly not two connected murders since his rookie days in Vegas. Was his town going back to the days of Don Laughlin's murder? He hoped not. His family had made a home here. Just this Saturday he'd finished the media room on their house. While not a master carpenter, he was a decent craftsman and was proud of his work.

He reminded himself to put an expedite on the DNA work from the staties on Connie Liplin's body. He needed to be sure about the identities of the two victims. Would this become something more than the brutal murders of two women?

Somewhere in the south of France the freshly minted Cathy McCarty took a spoon full of sugar from the exquisite crystal sugar bowl and sprinkled it over her crepes with strawberries. Ben Hur could not have looked out over the Mediterranean with any more sense of ownership and power than this modern day princess of wealth and power. She looked across the patio to the tanned couple as they laughed and touched one another. In spite of herself she missed Charles. But she knew that contact at this point was impossible.

"Cathy" finished her crepes and headed toward the stairs for a walk on the beach.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Feckless Friday


In case you've been on another planet for the past few weeks you might have not heard about a 50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme or that Bernie Madoff went to Jail yesterday. After several weeks of forced home imprisonment in his 7 million dollar penthouse (I will sign up for a couple of months of that), he finally plead guilty to 11 counts of fraud and other bad stuff. The total possible sentence is 150 years in jail. At 70 years of age it seems likely he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Mr Madoff will be sentenced in June. Good luck on that Bernie.

OK, so with that info behind us, let's move on to the point of all this. Good ole Bernie started his fraudulent enterprise back in the early 80s it turns out. The feds think he conned investors out of over $170 billion dollars in a little over 25 years. You have gotta give the dude credit for consistency. The FACT that the SEC never caught on to this in spite of many outcries by investors and others is troubling to say the least.

Should it then amaze any of us that the rest of the market went buck naked crazy as well. While Bernie made off with a couple of hundred billion at best, the rest of the Wall street theives are still in the process of bilking the American taxpayer out of a few TRILLIONS in dollors.

By the time the current and continuing financial crisis is all wrung out we will have spent somewhere between 3 - 7 Trillion dollars according to estimates I've read. Most of this is going to counter parties unknown to us since we are not allowed to know their names.

It is assumed that the Saudis, Chinese and various hedge funds and other large investors will be the beneficiaries of our largess. In addition their will also be a windfall for the companies that are currently forming to buy up so-called toxic assets from the government for resale. Understand that these derivatives and credit instruments are mostly asset backed. Many by homes and cars. The very same people that decided hyper leveraging was a good thing for banks, brokerage houses and hedge funds will now profit again from the very destruction brought about. These are surely the real criminals. Compared to them, Bernie is an amateur.

Bernie was just a Renaissance man of the financial times. He was no more than a smooth straight up con man. The other wizards of Wall street, the ones that won't be going to jail and the incompetent regulators and politicians that turned a blind eye, they're the ones that deserve the real blame.

Don't take my word for it. Nouriel Roubini or Dr Doom as he is called thinks it's worse than that. What do you think?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

DIS -Information

The old quote "you should only believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear" pertains specifically to financial analysts, financial networks, and also to financial blogs. What is not mentioned in the quote is how much you should believe of what you read. I will venture to say it should be somewhere between half and none.

I've come to this conclusion after listening this week to the ongoing battle between Jon Stewart of the Daily Show and CNBC's Jim Cramer. If you are not familiar with these two individuals, then please stop reading this post. It will mean nothing to you.

If you are only vaguely familiar ( a position I strongly recommend in the case of Mr. Cramer), then I will explain.

Jon Stewart is a comedian and unfortunately for our country his show is one of the few places on TV to hear the truth about a news story.

Jim Cramer is an ex-hedge fund manager, over imbiber of caffeine and has a show called Mad-Money where he imparts his market wisdom and savvy to viewers. The slogan of the show is "In Cramer we Trust." I kid you not.

Well, the Daily show did a great bit on how wrongly, outright deceitfully and disastrously the geniuses at CNBC had misinformed its viewing public and Jimmy was offended. Hilarity ensued. As the financial bloggers so often say "Do your own research."


As I was working my way through today's news I came across the following clip. (from 2006) It is Mr. Cramer detailing how hedge funds (perhaps even his hedge funds) were able to manipulate the markets by short selling, option wrangling and futures fomenting. Some of these activities are illegal by the way. A great deal of discussion has been going on at Financial Blogs about the pros and cons of short selling. You can almost always tell the politics of the commentors. In general, Republican free market types say short selling is OK and Democrats say its the devil.

Surely the truth lies somewhere in between, but let me add this. The only point of short selling is to make a profit on the losses of other investors. There is no intrinsic value to short sales but the profits, which are exactly equal to the losses of others. No value is added to the system and no product or benefit comes of the activity with the exception of higher brokerage fees for the transactions. In addition, short sales emanate from margin accounts where more money is required to be held than a straight cash stock buying account. So it is obvious why the stock brokers don't want to do away with short sales. It allows them and their clients (the ones short selling, not the investors holding long positions) to make money even in a crummy down market like the one we have today.

"Traders need short selling to have an option in bear markets" or so the saying goes. Perhaps. But what you'll hear below shows how unethical, greedy, soulless, sacks of Wall Street Crap can game the system to cheat investors and now American taxpayers out of millions of dollars. I am not a fan of giving these bastards any more tools with which to screw us. How about you?


Monday, March 9, 2009

Just Say No

I'm doing it today!

I'm going to just say no to CNBC talking heads that think they know what's best for the economy.

I'm going to just say no to Republican ideology and obstructionism - read this former Republican's reasons for describing them as Traitors here.

I'm going to just say no to anyone foolish or blind enough to think that our current situation is the result of 45 days of the Obama presidency.

I'm going to just say no to the doomsayers who continue to spout gloom and doom, complain and offer no solutions.

I'm going to just say no to the Wall Street geniuses too lazy to untangle the CDOs and CDSs so they can be effectively valued and some REAL numbers be put to the financial crisis

I'm going to just say no to people too selfish and self involved to relate to the promise of something better for the millions upon millions who have worked hard and been betrayed by their political leaders, intellectual leaders, media outlets, financial barons and spiritual advisers.

Last but not least (and probably not last if I think of anything else) I'm going to just say no to worrying about more than I can affect by my own actions. We've taken the best steps possible to ride this crisis out and now we have to do the best we can.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Another week of jocularity and manic feverish humor by members of the right wingnut side of the political spectrum.

I can do no better this week than refer you to the following stories and highlights.

First and foremost is the Daily Show episode this week that deals with CNBC and financial networks, financial matters and current financial events. In addition, some historical background is added for perspective. Have a look at this. It's a hoot.

Second: Steven Colbert takes a look at Fox News crazy boy Glenn Beck. Check it out. This link is to Wednesday's full show.

For the perfect Trifecta, I leave you with Rachel Maddow's piece on the new PR firm hired by AIG. If you're asking yourself, "Is he talking about AIG the big failed and bailed insurance company that gambled billions of dollars on Credit Default Swaps, that we bailed out and then they gave many billions to counterparties like Goldman Sachs, yep that's the one. And if you're thinking, "Is he talking about the AIG that has taken over a hundred billion dollars and still felt it was OK to party hardy in the desert with taxpayer money; yea, that's the one."

The kicker here is not so much that AIG is hiring another PR firm, but that this particular firm is usually just hired by the most evil and despicable people and companies. Makes you wonder. It's not supposed to be funny, but I think it qualifies in a sick, greedy, twisted, Wall Street weenie kind of way.

Alright, that's all of this I can take for this week.

Oh, one last little ditty courtesy of Pandragon.

“Republicans moan and Republicans bitch: ‘Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich!’”

I found this in the comments about some pictures of Mrs. Obama serving meals to homeless folks in DC. It seems a dude used his cell phone to take her picture and the Repubs were up in arms that a homeless dude had a cell phone. I'm not sure if that should be the point. More to the point might be, "How did he get to be homeless?"


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wordzzle 53 - Moving on in year two of Wondrous Wordzzling

Stop by the Raven's Nest to get all the details and see all the other stories.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: chopping block, reading list, bangles, oracle, plan, fandango, spelling bee, calendar, utilitarian, flower pot

Mini Challenge: Siberia, citrus fruit, roofer, shamrock, twinkle twinkle little star

This weeks Episode: Revelations

Dan and Carla stopped for lunch in a small arroyo. Dan picked a spot 2/3 of the way up the shady side. He had learned to plan for the worst in desert hiking and that included being prepared for flash flooding. It was surprising how many novices drowned in desert washes from thunderstorms miles away and not visible over the horizon. He didn't bother to explain this to Carla. He knew desert survival manuals were not on her reading list. She expected him to handle that part of the hike.

She took care of what she enjoyed, which included packing, provisions, sun block, first aid and sports fashion. When they hiked they never lacked citrus fruit for nutrition, proper socks and underwear, quality sun protection and decent looking hiking togs. Her father had been a roofer for a while and she knew the need for protection from solar radiation. Carla opted for leather banded watches in lieu of more fashionable bangles for hikes in the wilderness. As her one concession to style while hiking she wore the shamrock medallion given to her by her Mom for high-school graduation. She stored the fine gold chain on which it had come and used a utilitarian leather thong around her neck for safety and comfort.

The spot chosen for lunch was directly beneath a large boulder that resembled an upturned flower pot in a giant's garden. Dan had seen pictures of boulders like this in Siberia near the spot of the 1907 Meteor explosion. Funny how regions so far apart could have similar geological features. The couple consumed sandwiches washed down with water and each had a power bar for desert.
The hike continued through the afternoon and still the buzzard circle was some distance.

The moon had risen along with Venus on the horizon and Carla softly hummed "Twinkle, twinkle little star" as they stopped at a rise with a view of the valley floor and the circling vultures. They rested just below the crest and Dan pulled out binoculars to take a look at the scene below. Just at that moment a helicopter came from over the horizon towards them but set down in the valley next to whatever the scavengers had been eating. From this distance all Dan could make out was an individual leaving the chopper and using a shotgun to scare away the big birds.

The shot could be heard across the valley to the height of their perch. Dan looked to the aircraft for tail rotor numbers but couldn't make them out. The man (it looked to be a man from the distance) was removing something from the ground that appeared to be cloth and then quickly returned to the chopper. The aircraft lifted off, made a sharp 180 degree turn and was headed off in the direction from which it had come.
Carla watched the distant action and then asked Dan "What was that all about?" "I'm not sure" he replied. "How do you feel about making camp a little later this evening?" he asked. "I'd like to find out what's left down there." “We should be able to get down there in under and hour" he finished. "OK sugar, I'm curious myself" Carla answered. Each took a sip of water from their canteens and headed down into the valley.

By the time the couple arrived at the site of the remains, the scavengers had returned. Dan yelled and waved his hands and the band of vultures took to the air. It was just as well. The bones remaining had barely any flesh on them. Indeed the skeleton itself was incomplete. The only thing that was obvious was that it was human. The skull was missing as well as some fingers, but enough remained to be sure.
The decision was made that pictures were needed. Dan wasn't sure what they had stumbled upon, but for safety's sake they would document the whole fandango going forward. Dan's experience in law enforcement didn't make him any kind of Oracle of bad tidings exactly, but it had taught him to not put his head on the chopping block needlessly. In this case a solid dose of CYA would also be good citizenship. Kind of a twofer.

Carla volunteered to photograph the skeleton and Dan took the scene and surroundings. Daylight was fading and they still wanted to head back up out of the valley to camp. The site was bound to attract bigger nocturnal scavengers and predators with which neither was willing to share a sleeping bag. It was while taking shots of the perimeter that Dan found the skull. It must have been dragged by a Vulture away from the body of the corpse for more relaxed dining, he thought to himself. He took several pictures and then noticed a glint of gold inside the skull. At first he thought it might be an old fashioned gold tooth filling, but upon closer inspection he found it to be a necklace of some sort with what appeared to be a tiny golden calendar as the pendant. What Dan couldn't know at the time was that the pendant was a replica of the Stonehenge "Lozenge calendar, famous mostly to history buffs, spelling bee contestants and math geeks.

The owner had somehow kept the pendant in his or her mouth (how did you tell from a skeleton which sex it was anyway? All his experience had been with dead people with flesh and the forensic folk took over with bones)
This could well be a crime scene and if it was why the Chopper today? The victim had been dead for a few days, at least long enough for the buzzards to strip the flesh from bone. What had they come back or to this spot for? And what was the cloth they took? Whatever the reason it seemed like a good idea to finish up and get back up the trail.

Dan knew they were exposed out here with little cover if someone else came back and at this point he wasn't willing to make their presence known if they didn't have to. Back at the truck he had a radio that could reach the ranger station and then he'd turn the film and the investigation over to them.
Dan signaled to Carla that they were leaving and she joined him. "Let's get back up the hill for the night" he said. "Sure sugar, but why the rush" "Don't you want to look around some more?" she asked. "I think we've got enough to help the authorities and I'm concerned we might see the folks in the chopper again." "That might not be such a good thing" he finished. "Oh" Carla replied with a sudden look of enlightenment. "You thinking what I'm thinking?" she queried. "Only if what you're thinking is that whoever came all the way out here in a Helicopter to take something off a days old corpse might be involved with the victim's death" he answered. "I'm right behind you darling, let's boogie on up outa here" she replied as they started back towards the rise.

Within 15 minutes they had made it to the large boulders at the edge of the valley. Within the confines of the rocks the sound of a helicopter's engine echoed loudly. Dan and Carla took up positions out of sight but enabling them to view the scene with Dan's binoculars. It was too dark by now to see much, but from what Dan and then Carla (she demanded a turn at the Binocs this time) could make out the remaining bones were picked up and carried to the chopper. It looked as if a swift search with the bird’s searchlight was made of the surrounding area. Perhaps the chopper people realized the skull was missing too, because they set back down and retrieved it as well. While doing that they must have noticed the couple's tracks because the next thing Dan and Carla knew the Helicopter was coming straight at them. Dan shoved Carla under the lip of a rock, and then found his own hiding spot. "Was this just a murder being covered up?" Dan wondered as the Helicopter approached.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Feckless Friday

It's been another week of bicycling in the confines of planet Sun Lakes. Within the walls of retirementdom exists (on the surface at least) a cleaner, more quiet and more stable environment, mostly removed from the financial and cultural turmoil just outside the gates.

Housing prices still remain too high. Homes that "get real" sell and the rest (clearly the vast majority) sit and sit on the market. Realtors trade listings as they expire, never bothering to tell the old folks that their world has changed and home prices have drastically fallen. While this small adult living community has held price levels much better than the surrounding area, it is starting to feel the crunch.

Home prices are coming down and that's a sure sign that reality is taking hold. It's a good thing for most I believe. If they really do need to sell now, then their price must reflect that fact. Those (again the majority of sellers in Sun Lakes) that are not serious can maintain outdated and unrealistic pricing and wait. We have already seen some take their homes off the market. It seems the proper move if they don't need to sell now. We follow the moves of our micro real estate market with interest and no small amount of amazement. It makes the bike rides not only good for us physically, but keeps us up to date about our little corner of the world's housing situation.

The market took a dive this week and the short sellers are making a killing. It turns out that some of the companies (perhaps most of them?) that we are bailing out are at the same time acting in a manner to make the situation worse. Today, it was reported that Morgan Stanley was actively shorting Ford Motor Company Stock and asking clients permission to use their stocks for that purpose. They were offering a 13% dividend and other incentives to lure customers into short positions.

To understand the implications of this move remember that Morgan Stanley received 10 billion dollars in taxpayer money, supposedly to help it's liquidity and stability. It is using that to undermine the value of the strongest remaining American Car company while we pour billions upon billions into the weaker two and will be forced for some time to continue the bail outs. Does this sound as malicious and counter-productive to you as it does to me. I've come to the conclusion that Wall Street firms are run by heartless assholes with no moral compass or sense of decency.

Would it be too much to ask for a scintilla of common sense and cooperation from the wizards of Wall Street. I am convinced at this point that this group of companies and individuals are actively working against the administration's attempts at helping out the middle class. When will we get a handle on these back stabbing little money grubbing bastards and get some productive developments out of our money and our economy?

Post Script: I know that shorting is not illegal and is widely used for trading for profit. It just seems that right now, it would be helpful if companies who are being supported by our tax dollars could support a bigger need than short term profit. Support of our national manufacturing base, which is severely diminished, would be most appreciated and the auto manufacturers are in deep doo doo, much of it their own fault admittedly. Still, we have no compunction about bailing out the financials that brought about the crisis, so why not some slack for companies and people who actually make things?


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Hi and welcome to another Sunday's review of the hilarious hijinks of our esteemed minority party.

This week's hi-lights include the rebuttal speech given by Louisiana Governor Booby Jindal, I mean Bobby Jindal. The comparison was made to Mr. Rogers ( the namesake of this blog) and the usher guy on some TV show I don't watch. Either way, if you were witness to Jindal's speech you know it was a hoot. He admitted how crummy the Republicans had been when in power, how they failed at helping during Katrina after first letting us get to know him with some homey crap about his Dad. It was a transparent and obvious campaign pitch with no relevance to what his supposed purpose in speaking and appearance to a national audience was about. One could almost see Rude Limburger's hand up his butt moving the puppet. LOL LOL LOL

In a side note, the Republican conservative wing (is there any other?) had it's annual CPAC conference in which the most popular speakers were Rust Limpdicker, a thirteen year old boy and Newt Gingrich; I kid you not. The only thing missing were Swastikas and armbands. Hardee Har Har You can see clips on the Daily show and Huffington Post if you need a chuckle.

Uncovered this week by Crooks and Liars was the amazing coincidence that Rick Santelli's rant at the Chicago market was planned and orchestrated with guidance from a network of Republican backed organizations funded by the mega creep Koch and family. These folks have more money than God, are potentially more evil than Satan and are connected to the coming onslaught of industry lobbying, PR and media manipulation and general bullshit that will be unleashed to weaken the budget and funding plans of the Obama administration. The smoking gun in all this is that the Chicago Tea Party web site was created in August of last year. (What, do the Republicans have a time machine?)

If you've read David Baldacci's book, The Whole Truth, where a sophisticated scheme is used to change and manipulate puplic opinion and then public policy, you have a sense of what is about to happen. Substitute the Koch Family for the novel's Nicholas Creel and you've got it. It is apparent that reality has long imitated fiction where advertising and media are involved. I wish this were funnier, but the reality of the money about to be spent to impede correcting our nations problems is ridiculous. Millions upon millions will be spent by the wealthy interests in our nation in the coming days, weeks and months in support of both overt and covert actions. The humor here is how many Americans will buy into the the shoveled crap emerging from the Republican PR machine. Ha Ha Ha, I guess.......

It's only funny in a sick ironic way when you consider how much good the money could do for those in need. Instead it will be used to advance the agenda of those who need nothing but crave more anyway. That's worth at least a Tee Hee HeeI

I almost forgot the Congressional debate on the interstate transfer of Monkeys. Yes, I'm telling the truth on this one too. You can view excerpts on the Daily Show. Now that truly is funny. With all the nation's ills and the need for speedy action on solving them, our nations house of Representatives found time to not only consider this urgent piece of legislation, but debate it as well. LLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL