Thursday, April 30, 2009

Before you panic

I see Joe "foot in mouth" Biden has unintentionally put the fear of god in everyone this morning. Stop for a sec and do a little research or better yet I've done most of it for you. I wanted to post news articles from the time but they are a little hard to copy and paste as they were reproduced from microfilm. I went back to newspaper articles of 1918 to see what was really going on at the time. Was it bad and did it spread like wildfire? Yes on both counts, but there was a difference from then and now. Back then the sanitary conditions were not what they are now. And the most important difference was that they had no antibiotics back then. From what I've read most of the people back then died of bacterial infections that were secondary to the actual flu. The "grippe" as it was called was not the primary cause. Bacterial pnumonia and "consumption" (that would be a bacterial form of TB) were the main causes. With the population having discharges from both ends and poor sanitation (they only had the old fashioned lye soap back then) you can see why it was so contagious and deadly. To give you an idea my dear old grandma before she died told me what life was like back then. They didn't have many cars then so people got where they were going by horse drawn wagons or carriages. There was the emissons from that mode of transportation that wasn't too pleasant but more importantly horses being living things died and it wasn't uncommon to note a steed laying in the street for days until the sanitation department came by to remove the remains.
One last item comes to mind from that period. A doctor from San Francisco wired a doctor in New York and ask him about the situation. How should we prepare for this emergency? The NY doctor wrote back "Build coffins!".
I think we're lucky right now. We have phones and the internet for communications and many antibiotics as well as better sanitation than in the early 1900s. You need to remember that was back when a common cold could kill you.

If you're a bit of a history buff you can go read the articles by going to the Brooklyn Eagle and look through their articles. Just type in influenza in the search.

UPDATE: Watching the CDC and DHS I thought I'd throw in a bit of info that they are not saying. That would be that this flu can be contageous when those infected show no signs of flu. In addition the flu can be contageous up to 7 days after becoming infected. For the agencies to tout how they're putting their emergency plan into effect is nothing more than damage control. They may be able to move Tamiflu around the country but that will do nothing to prevent the spread of the illness. My advice: If you have a low immune system or have young kids or older grandparents keep them away from crowds and public places as much as possible. They could no stop this event anymore than anyone could stop a tornado or hurricane. And as I said before wash your hands and cover your coughs and sneezes. And wipe the grocery cart handle. Now for the nice cheap BLT sandwich mmmmmm.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The swine is running

Washington state has now joined the rest of the nation with 6 cases of swine flu. This has not been totally confirmed by the CDC but initial testing indicate that it is not a regular strain of the flu. Expect the more cases to follow. How extensive will this outbreak become is anyone's guess. It could mutate and fade away or it could turn into something very bad. We'll see. Keep your hands clean and cover your coughs and sneezes.

The pendulum swings

There was at one time a large swath of American voters whether right or left leaning that made up a middle ground. It was the target of any politician running for office. It was a necessary function to appeal to that middle. Somewhere along the line the concept of promoting and campagning to the middle got lost. Maybe it was the "Contract for America" that set all this in motion I don't really know, but when the republicans signed on to that it seemed like they were signing a blood oath with the mafia. It's as if they had checked their morals at the door and all were to agree with their leaders no matter what. As they gained more and more power the idology moved swiftly to the far right where it remains today. The voters however are not as stupid as they might appear. But there is another factor here. It used to be that the political pendulum would swing quite slowly. With a core of politicians it was only the edges that gradually changed faces and the core people were focused on pleasing the center. They knew if they didn't they'd soon be out of office. Now in the last 15 or 20 years the pace of change has accelerated. Everything must now happen in an instant. A time frame of years is now expected to happen in months.
If the republicans ever hope to want to regain any power they're going to have to swallow hard and do an Oprah makeover the likes that has never been seen. Clinging to ideals to an ever shrinking base is not going to win elections. Specter put his finger square on their problem when he pointed out that there is no longer room in their party for moderates. To have Steele get up and say the party is looking for the hip hop urban and suburban folk is nothing more than trying to put tinsel on a turd. It still stinks. It's all become very clear that the republican party does not come close to representing the majority of America but a very small and elite class of wealthy. They are just trying to sucker you in to do their dirty work i.e. giving them more weath and power while you suffer and grow poorer.
America was fed up with what happened the last eight years and yanked the pendulum in the other direction. For the republicans to try and yank it the other direction at this point would be foolish. It's a guarantee for more lost seats in congress. If they don't change they will disappear. That's a basic law of nature. Adapt or die.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I say swine you say Mexican

And now for something politically stupid

Good grief now we have to be politically correct in talking about influenza? Seems the Israelis find the use of the term swine unacceptable and want it called the Mexican flu. I don't know if the Mexicans would want that or care. The islamists also find it offensive as pigs are considered unclean to both religions. Hey finally something jews and arabs have in common, they both hate pig viruses.
Well I guess that's it. No more tagging illness to countries or animals you might insult somebody. No more references to Spanish flu, German measeles, Hong Kong flu. I'll tell you what I find really sick (no pun intended) is naming illness to people like Lou Garrig or Wagners or whatever. Yep that's how I'd want to be remembered for the next 1000 years by golly, linked to a disease. There's a good one; if you were a disease what would your symptoms be? I've been trying my best to link George W. Bush to a disease or term that will be remembered for the rest of history but nothing seems to stick. Terms like Bushed or Bushwacked just don't quite give that smack of quick mental image as does Hooverville.
At any rate I now see articles in the news using the term human flu. Wouldn't want to offend anybody I guess.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

You swine you

I was disappointed to read about the outbreak in Mexico of the swine flu. Disappointed? Disappointed because the first thing I do when there's an outbreak or when I want information related to my occupation I go to the CDC web site to see the latest scoop. I went there this morning only to find a news release from the other day. No stats or warning. That is unuual. Usually the center for disease control is right on top of things. So I went elsewhere to find that 62 people have already died and Mexico is cancelling many public events and handing out paper surgical masks like flyers at the mall.
The thought occured to me that we're behind the curve on this one. It usually takes four days for the flu to take hold. Now I'm wondering how long it takes for our produce (most of which comes from Mexico) to get to the store. (anybody out there haul produce that knows?) You just know this has hit the farm area first down there. Think I'll be cooking my tomatoes and peppers quite well thank you very much. And so much for the raw salads for a while unless it's from what I grow. No swines around here.
The Friday beaver was off last night I guess it's either mating season or he had a heavy date. The weather is nice here and he was missing in action today as well.

Keep your drums upright

Friday, April 24, 2009

Iraq Afghanistan and Pakistan oh my

Iraq continues to go as Iraq goes. The car bombs continue. There still no water and power at times. Unemployment is at 57% among young people. I was privledged to get a ton of information from a couple of bloggers who inspite of the prying eyes of Sadam's government were able to get information out to the world even while the U.S. and Britan were dropping bombs on them on a daily basis. They gave me a far better perspective of what was happening than any U.S. paper. Salam Pax truely did risk his life getting the real news out until one day he realized that they were on to him and it was time to depart. He left the country as did several other bloggers that I followed. It was just too dangerous for them and their families. His first blog details all of the happenings from before the war up to his leaving Where's Raed? Salam is now back in Bagdad and reporting on life there. His new blog Salam Pax This is a good blog if you want to find out what's going on there that the U.S. newspapers aren't reporting.

On to Pakistan
Taleban withdraw
Now before you hit the link here's a little background. Our tactic or plan if you will was to drive out the Taleban from the major cities and move them to the hills where they'd be of little threat. That was the Bush plan anyway. And like everything he touched it turned to sh*t. From reports the Taleban have regrouped and reorganized and now hold most of the area of southeast Afghanistan. In fact except for the major cities they pretty much hold the rest of the country to the east. What was the problem? The problem was that somebody forgot to read their history of the country. Afghanistan never really was a country like we tend to think of a country. It was more like a loose mish mash of tribes looking out for their own interest. We only managed to to get everybody on the same page when the Russians occupied the country. And who did we train? The Taleban were our best buds and we let them stay in power as they were the strongest faction of all the groups and the most capable of defeating the Russians. Well they defeated the Russians alright. It was said that the money the Russians spend there caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. However I really don't believe that. I think it was when we threatened to build the missle defense system (you may remember it as Star Wars under Reagan) but that's another story. So the Taleban being in eastern Afghanistan have been moving into Pakistan. A smart move for them since we won't go into that country after them. Gee does this sound like a repeat of history? Does Cambodia and Thiland come to mind? The Taleban has moved into an area called Swat a resort area in the very north and has been gradually moving south. This was just after the Pakistan government let them bring Islamic law to the region. Once that was done the Taleban started moving south closer to the capital city of Islamabad.
As everyone knows Pakistan has nukes but I'm sure they wouldn't use them for two reasons. One- they'd be bombing many of thier own people and Two - They have India to the east that also has nukes. What will happen now is anyone's guess. We know that we're scheduled to send more troops to Afghanistan but that won't do much if the Taleban is not there. Pakistan could be getting very crowded in the next several months. So this is the mess George W left us. No real plan. No real mission other than to fight terror (never knew you could fight a state of mind) and no possible end date. So the "No" party rallied a guy with no real military experience. All he did was learn to fly a jet and from his true bio he didn't do that very well (washed out of the guard because he wouldn't take a pee test and finish qualifying). So where do we go from here? All they need to do is wait us out in the safety of Pakistan. If they wait long enough we'll go the way of Russia and run out of cash or credit. Oh that's right we already did.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Enjoy the earth while we still have it. You never know it could go away quite quickly the way we treat it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Watching the crumbling

Went in to get stabbed today. That's what I call a blood draw. Have to do that more than I'd like but that's another story. Running a few errands I took note of the every expanding empty stores springing up. Circuit City gone. Joe's (We knew it as GI Joes a sporting goods store) gone. A Futon furniture store, an Arco gas station, a Thi restaurant and several others with no signs and not knowing what they were gone. Maybe I could get a job making for sale or for lease signs I'd make a killing. Oh and I forgot to mention the neighbors on both side of me are in foreclosure. The one neighbors always were deadbeats and didn't pay their bills. The other guy works for the government and is about ready to retire. The restaurant nearby is loosing business. Their parking lot used to be packed. Now it's about half full most days. There was a Dairy Queen up the street that hadsn't been there for a couple of years. The building was made into one of those overpriced retro burger joints. You know the 50s theme Happy Days type. It lasted about a year and then has sat empty ever since. Then there was the excersize place for old women. I don't think that lasted a year. I guess older women aren't into working out.
There's the cofee stands. You think the jokes about Starbucks are just kidding? We have five of them on the main road here. I don't think you can drive more than 200 yards without hitting one. And if you don't like Starbucks there is five others on the same road. You think we pee coffee around here? You'd be right. Wonder how many of them will go out in the next few months.
It reminds me of being a kid and walking past a vacant house. First the yard gets overgrown. As the months pass the windows get broken. Slowly the elements wear down the structure and the walls start to collapse. I've worked on such houses in my later years. They're not fun. Roofs so waterlogged that your weight punches your leg up to the hip. There's usually some left behind stuffed toys moldy now from the rain.
So here I sit and watch the collapse and wonder when it will turn around. I have a few ideas about that. It will come back when business gets money from the recover act which isn't scheduled to start to kick in until July. That's just the first part of it. The rest won't come until next year. Why they waited so long is beyond me. We could be getting back to work right now. That would be putting money back in the banks and coming back to fill the tax coffers. We have roads to repair, bridges to replace and an electrical grid that's 60 years old. Yes here I sit watching the crumbling

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stress Tests Leaked

I don't even think I can comment on this situation. I had somehow stupidly assumed that maybe 1/3 of the nations top banks were in trouble. I had no idea that it was this bad. It appears that all but a few are ready to fail. I think maybe I'll save a copy of this article in case they decide to pull it. Go read: Stress Tests

The Treasury is refuting this article and Time is saying that everything is just ginger peachy. However when a congressman told his wife last October to go to the bank and pull as much money as she could it makes you wonder. It's as if the building is on fire but nobody wants to mention it least the panic starts and people are trampled heading for the exits.

The Time spin on Think butterflies and fuzzy kitties

Saturday, April 18, 2009

EPA executes a warrant

All I can say is Wow! I've worked with hazardous materials for over 18 years. In that time I've seen the EPA on site maybe once or twice and that was just to check if all the paperwork was in order and see that all proceedures were being done correctly. It usually works something like this. They come in and check your paperwork. If that is in order they leave. If something is out of order they start checking more closely. At the very worse the supervisor would get a verbal warning. If it was a minor violation a written warning is given and a set time period to correct the problem. If they find some obvious violation or something that would endanger the public they could issue a fine. Fines as I vagely remember go from $500 and go up exponentially. They go from $1000 then $10,000 then $100,000. For them to bring in a criminal investigation team is exceptional. Either somebody blew the whistle on them or their paperwork was so poorly done that it was a tip off. I just wonder if I'll be seeing videos of their raid at my next Haz Mat recertification class.


I'd say we'll be seeing more of these raids as the EPA gets funding increases and more staffing.

Friday beaver Canadians style

The beaver woke up this morning and found out he's now a Canadian... go figure.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hypocrites News Texas style

The wingnut from Texas is just blowing the usual Republican hot air. After standing up at one of those tea bag rallys and calling for the secession of Texas Governor Rich Perry blathers on. Protesting about taxes is one thing if they were being raised on the masses, but they weren't. Taxes have been lowered. And if you're stupid enough not to take the stimilus money then good, that will be more money for the rest of us. And just wait until the people of Texas face even more layoffs and really could have used that money. Maybe you could set up a bread line at the Governors mansion. Oh that's right your too busy trying to find funds to rebuild the mansion. You bitched about getting federal money to help get out of the resession but it seems you need help from FEMA (a federal agency) to put out fires and with hurricane rebuilding and preparedness. Now what's it going to be? You can't have your cake and eat it too.
Don't believe me then go to the Gov's website and look you yourself Texas governor's website
You think you're going to run for Prez in 2012. Think again. At this point Ron Paul could easily stomp you and he's about half wingnut crazy as well. Hey why don't you get that sexy Sarah Palin to run with you. She's a real crowd pleaser I hear. Oh that's right you couldn't afford her wordrobe and she's just clueless window dressing. Wonder if she can see North Korea from her house? I think Kim Jong Ill has a big missle for her.
So what's it going to be Gov? Should the guys in Oklahoma start building a big fence? I'm sure they could use the work at this point. I guess we could pull out our military bases out of Texas since they're funded by our federal tax dollars along with medicare, medicade and social security. Gee what would your mother say when she gets cut off?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unemployment sucks

Just got my second extention of unemployment benefits. If this is what retirement is like include me out. After scouring the net looking under every web site there is I'm convinced nothing out there and it's getting worse. Every time a company around here lays off another couple hundred or thousand bodies hit the streets. Then you have the college kids who with high hopes who had that wild wet dream that they'd just pop into the local mega manufacturer or corporation and would be given their dream job with their own parking space. Ha ha ha the jokes on you. The reality is you don't have any experience and they aren't going to give it to you. The guys already working there are having their hours cut back even management. Got to watch out for the shrinking bottom line you know. So you thought you'd start your own company. How you going to do that when you still have all those student loans to pay back? You think you can get a business loan right now. You're daddy rich? Didn't think so.
The two relatives that I have here that are working had their hours cut. One now works 4 days and he's in management and the other is now down to 3 days. Still working? Don't bother to take a vacation your job just might not be there when you get back or maybe that newer guy who's had his eye on your position is just waiting to poison your reputation with the boss. Feel better now?

I guess it could be worse. Could be standing in a bread line like the 1930s with no unemployment. I'm sure the teabaggers would just love that. We'll just eliminate all taxes. Get rid of unemployment and kick those lazy old people off of Social Security and Medicare. Police and Fire? Who needs em. You can just buy a gun and protect your own property. Fire? We could leave a fire hose next to the hydrant and you can put it out yourself. Let the loggers and oil companies into our parks and spread the royalties amongst us. Let's make the whole of government for profit. Let the congressmen pay to hold the position. Get rid of all those pesky laws they just get in the way of profits. Open the prisons and let them all out. The most violent would be given the option of the country of their choice. Think of the savings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I really didn't want to bother with this subject as it's such a non subject. These people are the ones who don't bother to read and must have failed economics 101. A little history for all you Jaywalk Allstars. The Boston tea party was about taxation without representation. The last time I checked we the majority elected those that hold office at present. You keep saying that Obama has raised taxes. Not true if you bothered to read or listen. He actually lowered taxes on both us working stiffs and on business as well. We got what amounted to an $800 cut in witholding and business got a cut as well although I don't know the exact percent. This little financial problem has taken eight plus years to reach a head. Obama has been in office less than three months. Like some spoiled brat you expect him or anyone else to wave a magic wand and turn things around in four to six weeks like some American Idol contest? Get real. The reality is that some 50+ trillion dollars was sucked out of the economy in the last two years by the bad policies of Bush and company. And although there may have been conservative republicans who were totally against Bush on principle they voted lock step with the party. Only now the bottle is empty the party is over and it's time to clean up the mess.
But now we get to the really irritating part. If you look at the "crowds" of these tea baggers you will see some very average folks ones that I'm sure are not in the upper income brackets. These poor slobs have been fooled once again (they fell for Bush's BS for eight years) by corporate America and the corporate owned news media. None of them took the time to actually read what policies have been put in place or read the Recovery Act. The ecomonics being put in place are standard proceedures and it doesn't matter what side of the isle you're on this is what needs to be done.
The tea baggers can rant and rave all they want but this is what the majority wants and needs at the present. Tea baggers had no problems with Bush when he spent like the drunk he was on things of little value and most of it was off the books. So why when you see the results of actions you supported should you be outraged? Is it because you failed and just can't stomach the defeat? If this is how you plan on taking back power then you're in for a rude awakening. You'll be in the wilderness for many years to come. And your "plan" to get this country turned around is more of the same. Your solution of even less taxes and no spending would just result in more suffering more layoffs. Sounds like if you can't be in the drivers seat then you'll just wreck the car for spite.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Healthcare delema

In looking at the problem of healthcare here's a bit of a breakdown of where we stand at present. The U.S. spends $2 trillion dollars each year on healthcare. We have 50 million without healthcare at present and that number is expected to go up as unemployment rises. The average cost for those with coverage (including employer payments) is $12,000 per year. And now for the 800 lb. guerilla that no body wants to talk about but was discussed at the White House today. That would be the fact that as people age and are headed for that dirt nap they usually land up in the hospital or at some hospice. All the costs of this are covered under Medicare. You can just imagine the amount of money that's spent when grandma spends a month or two in the hospital before her passing. But we don't give it any thought and never see a bill. Stop to remember that in the next ten years the population will hit retirement. That adds up to over one third of the population. I recall being in the hospital some years back and one night cost some $11,000. I was thankful I had insurance at the time. I did have to pay a couple of hundred of that but it wasn't a bank breaker. Now having been out of work for quit a while now I have no idea what I'd do.

It's easy to see the problem with people moving to the last days. Even at $5000 per day someone spending a month in the hospital would run a bill of $150,000 or more. So universal healthcare would be a benefit for both the worker and the employer. If we all had the same coverage as our congressmen it would work. And don't let them (congress) fool you into thinking you should pay thousands in premiums. They don't pay very much in premiums (about $100 per month). They pay a co pay of 10% of the total bill. That on top of making $174,000 a year along with pension and social security. So there they expect us slobs to pay several thousand dollars for a COBRA that we can't afford. (I know they just gave a 65% deal off the COBRA) but that one came too late for me and even still it was still cheaper to just pay as you go in my case.

So here's what's going on with healthcare right now and something you can investigate.

Healthcare for America Now

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A shout out for a fellow blogger

Fellow blogger Crum from Lost in the Bozone has decided to give his bicycle business one last shot. The old college try I guess. So if you live up in Maine and are into biking pop into his shop and see what he's got. A link to his website:

Crum Cycles

And no I get no kickbacks, bribes or any other benefit other than trying to help out.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tomorrow the Easter bunny comes down the chimney

To bring chocolate easter eggs to all the good boys and girls. And to the bad ones?....well a stiff brush and some disenfectant will take care of that.

Beavers fires, tornados, and earthquakes

I guess the beavers are dodging and weaving with all the fires tornados and earthquakes. At least they're smart enough to get out of the way of trouble. I hear we could get a 9.0 here and that 1/2 of Seattle would be wiped out. I'd agree with those findings. Anybody who knows anything about Seattle knows that from 3rd Ave. down to the water everything is built on sand. The safest place to be in this part of the country would be at Sea Tac airport. We spent the last five years putting in massive steel supports and concrete. Actually I didn't put anything in, I was one of many who took the old concrete and asbestos out so they could put in the steel.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Do I smell the next financial bubble?

There's a carbon allowance market. Simply put it permits the sale and trade of carbon allowances. Without much knowledge of the process I can see how this will get out of hand in the future. Large high carbon output corporations will buy up credits from smaller companies. Other investment companies will come into existance to trade in these allowances and like the mortgage paper that was composed of bits and pieces of loans and sold all over the world...I think you get the idea. You know they will try to sell this to the general public as the new great way of "green" investing. And just like the sub prime and option mortgages there'll be no way to value such paper. What's worse with this senerio is that when the carbon market collapses there'll be nothing of value to back up the paper. No collateral zip nada you'll have toilet paper after getting screwed on that deal. Remember you heard it here first.

Carbon allowances
The next weapon of mass financial distruction

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

You've just about seen it all if they air this program

Fox is going to try and air a program about people getting laid off. A new reality show called "Someone's got to go". As if we haven't seen enough suffering during this economy now they want to pipe it directly to your livingroom. Hey Fox, if I want to see the suffering all I have to do is look out my front window and see all the parked cars during working hours. I hope you'll join me in sending an email to Fox to tell them what they can do with their program. And if any corporation has the guts to be the sponser for that show it's asking for a boycott like this country has never seen.

Someones got to go and it should be the person who thought of that idea

First banks now life insurance companies?

Now the Treasury Dept. wants to bail out life insurance companies. Hmm.. I could understand the possibility and the logic with something like annuities where the monies that pay out monthly payments have been hit by a drop in the stock market. The market is down from it's once high of 14,000 Oct.2007 but the worry here is that people will start droping like flies and they'll be inundated with claims for death benefits. Are these companies concerned that by some fate we'll be invaded or maybe some grand national disaster should wipe out a large segment of the population? Have they been secretly selling subprime mortgages on the sly without our knowledge? It does make one wonder. Maybe they're concerned that some laid off worker will go postal (you remember that term from years past) and wipe out the entire company from the CEO to the mailroom guy. Here's an idea. Quite bailing out companies that do little more than sell paper and invest in some training for things like solar and wind power. Then get busy building the damn things. Why is it that they've had no problem dumping tons of money into banks who in turn laid off workers while the rest of the work force must wait for things to get going? And why is it that local government have taken a chainsaw to the safety nets that serve people when they need it the most? We now have police departments who are worried about public safety because their budgets were cut and the layoffs are hitting them as well. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to go out and buy a gun because by the time the cops arrive it will be just in time to call the Medical Examiner. Maybe that's why the insurance companies will need a bail out.

Bailing out the Death Insurance Companies
Hey that's what they are you know.

GM and Segway develop the P.U.M.A. personnal transport.
Looks like an over priced wheel chair if you ask me. If this is their solution. They're screwed and we're screwed. We gave them how many billions and this is their solution? Give me a couple of billion and I'll get you something that looks like a soapbox derby entry so that I can have gold faucets and fridge in my exec powderoom.

Ted Stevens
OJ must be proud. You got off on a technicality but your still guilty and you know it. Nothing like shooting the messengers. Or in this case bringing charges against them. But then again seeing how this was the Bush justice department what would you expect? Thirty boxes of evidence that wasn't turned over.

So I found a new replacment CEO for any of these companies.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Digging through the history of the financial debacale trying to do a postmortum I discover that the banks and investment houses are like a large ball of string tangled to such an extent that it makes you want to just throw it all away and get a new one. But we know that will never happen. These behemouths have grown their tentacles into every facet of American life. To pitch them aside like some sandwich wrapper would spell total ruin. The powers that be will be forced to maticulously unwind this knotted ball. Funny how we pride ourselves in being so modern always looking for new and more efficient ways of doing things yet there are some things best left alone. Just after the "great crash" of 29 laws were passed to prevent what has just happened. It was all there. Nothing complex that even an average person couldn't understand. But no, the banks and investment houses weren't satisfied with being just what they were. They just had to be something else. That glaze look of greed came over their eyes. How to make more? How can we con the government into changing the laws to our favor? That's what it was a con job. Logic and common sense were thrown out the window. It was easy but like boiling a frog it took some time. The first rule to go was the one that said a bank couldn't sell investments and investment houses couldn't be a bank. That I'm sure was an easy thing to eliminate. "Senator wouldn't it be nice if you could do your banking while you're here at our investment house." But no it didn't happen that way. It happened in the background by investment houses and big banks stretching the rules and getting into areas they had no business getting into. Like the two year old inching his way to the cookies after mom told him to stay away the financial institutions did exactly what they were told not to do.
These people were not satisfied with a set amount of return or business. They just had to have more like a drug profits and comissions could always be bigger. I've seen this in business. A company that grows to a certain point and when they reach a good percentage of market share aren't satisfied. It drives younger people in the company to look for more profit without thinking of the rules. We'll just call a product something else even if it violates the laws. We'll just make it so complex that it can't be regulated. And that's what they did. CDOs, hedges and derivatives became the savior of the time. Financial instruments so complex that I'm sure even those who sold them at times didn't understand or could value what they were selling. And the real beauty was that there were no rules, no SEC filings, no accountability. What a great playground for financial disaster.

Credit default swaps

Those wonderful little insurance policies that brought down a nation and possibly the world of banking.

( I'm not going to proof this there was just too much reading and research. So call me lazy)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Night Beaver

The Friday night beaver got pushed to Saturday this week. I guess he couldn't find a date last night and his threads were at the cleaners. Speaking of beavers it seems they were busy up here in the Northwest in early spring. One of their dams let loose and a bunch of houses were wiped out in a mud slide. Wonder if the owners will sue the state or the beavers? Unless the beavers won the state lottery it looks like that would be the state. You can't beat mother nature, she always wins.

Beaver dam collapses

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A frame of reference

Something got me to thinking about our sphere of knowledge. That period of time that we grew up in. Today it seems kids need a ride to the store two blocks away. They wouldn't even consider walking if their destination was 1/2 mile. Not to sound like a grumpy old fart but in my younger days we walked everywhere. Then I consider the time frame of my grandmother. She was born before electricity and cars. They didn't pop down to the local anything because they lived at the edge of town and going anywhere at that time was an all day affair. You couldn't just pop in for a quick shower throw on some clothes jump in the car and head out back then. First you had to go out and pump the water. Bring in enough to fill a copper tub. Then there was the gathering of wood to put in the stove to heat the water and add boiling water to the cold water in the tub. G'ma never told me exactly how that worked. Once you finished using the lye soap (that's all they had then) it was time to dress. Wonderful wool ichy everything and probably stiff wool ichy chothes (there were no dryers it was all line dryed). So after the coursets and slips and other protective gear which I'm sure took a while someone had to go out and hitch up the horses to the wagon. And since there weren't any phones it was a common practice to go visiting. One custom of the time was to leave a photo card either of you or your family called a carde d vie (visiting card). I have many of these cards that grandma gave me. I have no idea who the people are since like she they're long gone but there are some dates and where they were made on the back. That was my grandma frame of reference.
Mine frame is a bit different. Born a some of years after WWII and growing up in the 50s. Remembering mom and dad always telling us of the great depression although they never used the term great. Someone under twenty has no concept of what that must be like although there is a growing population going through it right now. But back to being a kid in the fifties. For me it was the real beginning of the industrial revolution. There was at first no TVs only relegated to the rich. I seem to recall at a very young age one kids family on the block got a TV and all the kids in the neighborhood went after school to lay on the livingroom floor and watch whatever kids watched then. I was a bit young then. Some of the other things I remember - no air conditioning except at one of the corner drug stores as everybody had screens and fans to keep cool. There must have been a period of transition in heating because we had a coal storage room in the basment with a hatch at the foundation for deliveries. This was changed sometime before we moved in to gas but they left the old boiler disconnected from the water lines which we used to burn trash. Insects were killed with either a flyswatter or Black Flag with DDT in one of those weird pump sprayers.

Cars were made of real steel so heavy you could climb on the hood or hit it with a football and do no damage. We kids used to play ball in the middle of the street with only a few interuptions from traffic. There weren't as many cars back then because a bus ride was a dime one way and cars were expensive relative to income. Most people shopped at a local market a block or two away.
Computers at that time were a thing of the military or very large corporations. It wasn't until the late 50s early 60s that binary code was even mentioned in school.

You took a bath with Lifebouy soap and Breck shampoo. You put on you dungarees and PF flyers. Entertainment was going to a roller rink or a movie. There was only three network TV stations then one PBS. There was a breadman a milkman and an eggman and they all delivered once a week. The mailman delivered twice once in the morning and once in the afternoon. There were no plastic garbage bags. You put your garbage in a paper bag and into the metal garbage can which always grew flys. Sandwiches were wrapped in waxed paper and milk came either in waxed containers that usually leaked or glass bottles. The lawn was mowed with a push mower with no motor. There were no leaf blowers and few power tools.
So that's my frame of reference. I can only imagine what it will be like in 50 years but then I won't be here to see it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April fools indeed

I wanted to put a photo of the weather out my window but I'm just to lazy to drag out the digital video camera and cut a snipet to post but let me just say that it's snowing here. Snow is something we only get about once or twice a year here usually in December or the early part of the new year. I can't think of a time we've had it in April. I guess it goes along with the GOP budget and the computer worm set to go off today. We're April Fools indeed if we buy into the GOP budget which sounds like more of the same BS they've been feeding us for the last 8+ years. You know - taxes cuts for rich = good, spending for poor = evil.

In looking at all this I can only hope that many CEOs and CFOs and any other Cs out there get laid off and must experience the stresses and suffering that their underlings have been going through. How does it feel now Mr manager now that you're just one heart attack away from loosing your house since you won't have coverage. Gee and you thought you'd have an easy time sending Jr. to college but now that his favorite university just raised tuition and froze enrollment your spawn might just have to try for the Jr college but they too are squeezed and aren't taking new bodies. Oh and I'm sure Mr. Manager will just love dealing with his local unemployment office which was outsourced to some private company with a bunch of lackies. And the number of offices were cut to save money. Good luck filing a claim. The backlog was around 4 weeks last time I checked and you'll need to push hard should some info on your claim is misread or missing. You'll have just loads of fun either sitting on hold for hours and once you get through you get to talk to sombody who barely speaks English and doesn't understand what you're trying to tell him anyway. He might just tell you to call back next week but then you of course lose this weeks' check because you didn't file on time. But don't worry he told you they might have it all straightened out in the next couple of weeks so continue to file your claims (which you've been trying to do but can't because the system is so overwhelmed and keeps telling you to try again later). Hey but don't worry you can always sign up for the food bank but oh that's right you get too much money on unemployment to qualify for that even though you might not have received a dime in the last 4 or 6 weeks. But then it wouldn't really matter because because the food banks are almost empty and all you'll get is a couple of boxes of macaroni if you get there early enough.
So you do all those wonderful networking things and call all of your old associates or at least the ones you didn't stab in the back when you did those big deals in 2006 and 2007. You find that they too aren't hiring in fact they're worring about their position but they won't tell that to you but you know it. You find that they are now working 4 day weeks and thinking about going to 3. You just know that expense accounts are cut and even the free coffee is no longer purchased.
You look at your options which aren't looking that great. You're too young to retire and too old to retrain. Who'd want to hire somebody for 6 or 7 years when they can hire a twenty something with 30 or 40 years ahead of them. You look at the lowest of options only to find that even they are all gone. The only ones that might be out there are temporary "on call" positions but since those that are working are so afraid of being replaced they'll show up near dead just to get one more day's pay. Should you be lucky enough to get some temporary work it just does wonders for your unemployment. It works something like this. Work one day and there is no effect to your claim. Two days and there usually isn't much effect. Three or four days and you're screwed. At three days you can make too much to get even a reduced check but with normal taxes and deductions on the pay check you get less than unemployment.

In all of this I could hope the those at the top of corporate America would feel the pain but then I'd only be trying to fool myself. Those at the top have their golden paraschutes and severance packages that for the rest of us could easily retire to the tropics. Here I sit playing an exersize in wasted logic so just call me your April Fool.