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Sunday, July 28, 2013

America the Lootiful; Or, Detroit Hock City

The estimable Charlie LeDuff has news for all y'alls looking at Detroit's tribulations and having your SMH moment at "those people":
So Detroit files for bankruptcy. What does this mean? Pay close attention because it may be coming to you soon, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia. In 2011, Moody’s calculated the unfunded liabilities for Illinois’ three largest state-run pension plans to be $133 billion. (It is expected to be even larger this year.) That’s the size of six Detroit bankruptcies — give or take a few hundred million.

Of Detroit’s debt of at least $18 billion, about $7 billion is secured by collateral like casino revenues and utility taxes. That means creditors — big banks — will get paid. Of the remaining $11 billion or so in unsecured debt, about $9 billion is owed to retirees and current municipal workers, people like firefighters and police officers. These debts come in the form of promised pension checks and health care benefits, all backed by a false, unsecured promise. These are the people who are likely to lose out.
And of course, all of these costs are driven by the exorbitant "health" "care" racket. All those public service workers, people who were dumb enough to trust the promises of the system, don't have to be screwed over. But they will. It's just business. And it will be reiterated, many times, many ways, in many cities around the country. Stay tuned, more fun times are ahead.

Ownership Society

Let's see if by chance anything at all unrelated to royal babies or Anthony Weiner's cock might be happening in this crazy planet of ours, shall we? Maybe there's a reason we're hearing about those things instead of these things:

Apparently the slithering evil that is Halliburton continues its unholy bargain with the Elder Gods of R'lyeh, in that they have admitted to incompetence and the destruction of evidence that may very well have cost 11 men their lives and poisoned the Gulf of Mexico for years to come, yet pay a whopping $200,000 fine for all that. They may yet take a hit in civil court, but we're talking about a company that routinely pulls down $7bn in revenues quarterly.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh CheneyCthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn, indeed.

Kids, are you up on all the latest super-awesome oil-extraction technologies? If you love 'murka, then you are down with fracking and tar sands like Lindsay Lohan chasing a dime bag of bathtub crank. Ah, except for the fact that tar sands EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) is usually 25-50% of conventional oil EROEI, which may not be a dealbreaker, but is still substantially less than ideal. That and the problematic issue of the breakeven costs of tar sands range at $65-70/bbl for in situ (steam) and $90-100/bbl for mining.

IOW, the promises of petroleum plenitude for all are belied by the fact that those methods are only cost-effective at higher price ranges -- that is, if there's a scarcity. So either there's a scarcity or there isn't.

Also, too, the small problem of increasing environmental issues. Yeah, who'da thunk something would go south with injecting pressurized steam into substrata in order to melt and steam tar out of the topsoil. Jesus H. Christ, how could anything possibly go wrong there?

Which brings us to fracking, and as always, the day any of its bought-and-paid-for proponents agree to have it done in their backyards, with their water tables and aquifers, then I guess we can all be okey-doke about all that. Till then how 'bout them crickets you hear?

All of these things are just parts of a greater looming environmental issue, as the oceans acidify and fishing stocks continue their decline, at faster and faster rates. But we got what we paid for, which was "cheap" oil, without the bother of innovating truly renewable technologies. The U.S. government dumped half a billion dollars into Solyndra, while the Chinese gov't poured over $30bn into the same tech, and all we could do when Solyndra inevitably failed (in no small part due to health insurance costs, like every other American industry these days, held hostage to the most pernicious racket of all) was hold our dicks and scream about sociamalism.

And hey, speaking of which, how about the "revelation" that the parasitic financial class is manipulating commodities prices? You're shocked, right? The real issue here is not that Goldman Sachs jacks up the price of a can of Coke by a tenth of a cent by scooting tons of aluminum from warehouse to warehouse, but that they make billions of dollars by not producing a fucking thing.

Seriously, when I say that this is parasitism, I fucking well mean it. These people do not produce a goddamned thing, they simply broker and hedge and take bets and game the system. Because it's their system, you're just forced to participate in it, bunky. They own it all, and they rent the people who make laws and policy, and fuck you in the neck if you have a problem with any of that.

Investing used to mean that you participated in the creation of wealth and value, by collaborating in a financial endeavor that produced an item that a mass of human beings would want to buy. An innovation, an invention, a new item or service. Read any "get rich" volume from the uniquely American cult of "self-improvement" books. One thing they will all tell you is that you need to analyze and profile who you expect your customer base to be, and then to provide them with something of value.

Take my own example that I've undertaken this year -- I've played guitar at a decent skill level for a couple of decades now, and taught at various times throughout, so I constructed tabs, wrote text, and created books for people wanting to improve their game. The market will ultimately decide whether or not those things add value to the desires of the customer base.

But the bottom line is, for better or worse, I created something. I didn't hoard a vital commodity in order to leverage prices and game the system, and then skim a commission off the top. That is the Tony Soprano approach to economics, I don't care what these leeches try to rationalize this bullshit with. They're nothing but thieves and vipers. Instead of innovating and creating, people get rich these days simply by making book, taking bets, gaming systems for their own benefit at the expense of the unrich.

This is the system that they've bought and paid for, and contrary to popular plaint, that system is not at all broken, it's fixed. Keep that in mind at all times, when you're not distracted by the deliberate inanity of the corporate mockingbird.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weiner? I Nearly Killed Her!

Carlos DangerAnthony Weiner's problem is not specifically that he's a sexting fool; his problem is that he is apparently a full-blown, mouth-breathing, window-licking, short-bus riding moron.

On the other hand, Carlos Danger. Now there's a pseudonym you can use to order pizza. Perhaps the best fake name since Ron Mexico.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Universe Thinks I Deserve a Worsening

Dammit, how is it that I didn't know about this site? Nothing against Jeff Bridges or Ryan Reynolds, but R.I.P.D. looks DOA, and few things are better than funny bad reviews.

Stockholm Syndrome, Blah Style

I have no idea what to make of this weirdness. A black man in the heart of Dixie who flies the traitor bumwipe without apparent irony is most likely the even more retarded progeny of Alvin Greene. Don't know, don't care; this fool's self-loathing is probably sufficient punishment.

But I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it, a southern black man championing the confederacy and its symbols, and apparently even saying that slaves deserved to be enslaved (see the comments in the Gawker link). Something's deeply wrong with this guy; no one expects him to be Malcolm X, but jebus.

At the very least it's heartening to see that semi-literate bozos are allowed to intern for U.S. Senators too. Someone has to get Tim Scott his coffee.

Even Dave Chappelle would have had a hard time coming up with this guy.

Business Class

This bit of apologia may turn out to be the Rosetta Stone of the economic collapse, when all is said and done. Any manager who literally Joe Biden believes that all positive NPV projects should be accepted has pretty much cogitated him/herself out of a job.

Theoretically this is why a decent portfolio manager would also be running regression analyses on the full beta of the portfolio, not just grabbing at anything and everything that pulls a "positive" NPV when run through Excel. You don't need to pay someone six figures and stock options in that; you can pretty much train a chimp to push buttons.

Not only that, but sheesh, if we are talking about a "project" which doesn't actually produce anything, but is a credit default swap on a put option on a collection of tranched subprime mortgages that have been laundered through the wringer of endless mortgage rebuyers and robosigned bullshit, then you are no longer talking about economic production. You're talking about a bookmaking operation, a casino, one whose business model is predicated on having the government give it money at 0%, so's it can turn around and lend it to the peons at 3-30%, depending on your particular mode of interaction with the beast.

Don't ask why, if the gov't can lend money out at 0%, why it can't do microloans to individuals at that rate, thus allowing said individuals to put money directly back into the economy, while disempowering a parasite class of middlemen and spreadsheet grifters. What's left of this economy is based on usury and racketeering, pure and simple.

At this point, that applies to higher education probably more than anything else in the American system, aside from health care. If you have to go $100K or so into debt to secure an advanced degree and enhance your earning power, but the jobs aren't out there, so you're on the hook for 15-20 years instead of 5-10 -- like it used to be before tuitions went through the roof -- the bottom line is that that's a full decade or so where you are unable to spend into the economy. Trust me on this; if I wasn't making barely median wage and still facing about $60K in student-loan debt, I'd be spending my earnings, not hoarding it in the Caymans like the Scrooge McDucks who really run this banana stand.

Get back to obsessing over royal babies and Kanye West and man-bites-dog stories that have nothing to do with you. Go back to sleep.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Damage Control

Could the half-baked excuses offered by the seventh-century death cultists for shooting schoolgirls possibly be a sign that they're losing traction? Who knows. What's really something is the sheer balls this guy displays in his pretzel logic:
"If you were shot [by] Americans in a drone attack, would [the] world have ever heard updates on your medical status? … Would you were called to UN? Would a Malala day be announced?"

It goes without saying (or should) that incidents of indiscriminate drone bombing are horrific and despicable, and deserve the censure of decent human beings around the world, since their governments give far less than a shit what anyone thinks. But the attempt to morally equivocate that with the deliberate, systematic abuse and terrorizing of women and children is about as craven as it gets.

We definitely need to get the hint already that drone-bombing, among other tactics, creates as many or more terrorists as it removes. That does not absolve these bastards, if we left tomorrow, would still routinely be violently subjugating the weak, and perpetuating their regressive, dead-end creed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

RIP, Tunch

Just saw the horrible news over at Cole's. So awful, so sad. Give your furry friends a hug, folks.

Getting Away With....

It's yet another one of those days where you find yourself mildly embarrassed for Florida, but not at all surprised. One could easily and rationally debate the murder charge against George Zimmerman, but the manslaughter charge seemed indisputable. Guess not; the (mini) jury always knows best, right? Only two people know what really took place that fateful night, and one of them is dead.

But hey, "everyone lost" (though, uh, some lost more than others, no?) and Zimmerman feels real bad about the whole thing, so it's all good then. There's perhaps some small consolation that Zimmerman will be looking over his shoulder for some time to come, until 'murka forgets about this and moves on to the next outrage du jour. And he'll probably get his ass sued, and might experience some challenges in obtaining decent employment.

Another dimension to this that's worth considering is the legitimacy of the "stand your ground" law, which seems to be (to say the least) applied rather irregularly. Not only is the notion of unqualified mall-cop yahoos like Zimmerman carrying weapons ridiculous, but that one can "stand" their "ground" in a public place, yet not in their own home.

Can't imagine why anyone might think there are racial undertones to all this, not to mention the fact that if Zimmerman had been black and Martin white, or if Martin had wrestled Zimmerman's gun away and accidentally shot Zimmerman, the outcomes would have been completely different -- and instantly resolved in either hypothetical; in fact, you'd have never heard about the case.

So protesters will protest, and a couple vandals will take advantage of the situation to steal and light fires (and perhaps get themselves shot in the process), and Florida's power structure and judicial system will do what it does, which is shrug its shoulders and say, "fuck you gonna do about it?"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gravy Train

“I’ve considered it, because people have requested me considering it." -- Future U.S. SenatorPermanent punchline Sarah Palin

OK, we should know better than to throw chow to America's Concern Troll, but this now-annual flareup of mad cow disease, like political herpes, is still worth a jab of rhetorical Valtrex:

Really, Mark? Really?

Margaret Thatcher used to say, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” So, thank you, Mark Begich, for making me and others exceptionally cheery today! Mark, after looking at your voting record I can see why you are looking for a distraction. You have voted FOR Obamacare, FOR massive tax increases, FOR carbon taxes which could cost Alaskans 21,000 jobs, AGAINST pro-life legislation, and there’s so much more. You even flip-flopped to oppose the nation’s balanced budget amendment. You agree with, and vote with, ultra-liberal Senators Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid approximately 90% of the time.
Setting aside the high-school girl zomg!srsly?! intro, corporate dogsbodies like Schumer and Reid are "ultra-liberal" only in comparison to unrepentant knuckle-draggers and obstructionists like -- well, like pretty much every do-nothing, glad-handing dipshit in the Republican side (and much of the Democratic side) of Congress.

And while it would serve Alaska and America just right to hand this dingbat a Senate seat, as punishment for not ignoring her enough to make her go away already, as noted yesterday, it's almost certainly not a concern:

Whatever you think of Palin, you have to give her this: She is a genius marketer of the “Sarah Palin” brand. She has turned herself into a celebrity. She is a well-compensated speaker, author and now, again, Fox News Channel political analyst.

And, to Nelson’s point above, Palin knows that the worst thing for that brand would be to return to the political arena as a candidate and lose.  To run would be to risk the  cachet and marketability she has built up in conservative circles. And Palin is plenty smart enough to know that.
And that's all there is to that. There is no there there, and never will be again. She'll never run for office again, preferring instead to pretend to be a rainmaker for unibrow backbenchers out in Gawwwd's country who otherwise would get laughed out of dog-catcher elections.

And when the audience for her ghost-written freedom/jebus/obamanazi/libruls stole Christmas doorstops finally dries updies in a tragic Hoveround pileup at the candy-corn Oreo display at the WalMart, then you might notice a distinct lack of shrillness, a bit less of the roofing-nails-on-chalkboard wail in the air.

Of course, by then an even bigger pain in the ass will have shown up, because that is how this country rolls.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How Can We Miss You If You Won't Go Away?

It's an odd-numbered year, and Saint Sarah has yet another unreadable, ghost-written doorstop in the works, so we have to pretend that she might run for Mark Begich's Senate seat next year.

At this point, Palin is basically the Black Eyed Peas of politics -- so far beyond suck that the light from suck takes years to reach, yet refuses to face or believe the truth, because there's just enough maroons to shield them from it for some reason.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Immodest Proposal

Normally, I try to side with the underdogs in life, and am deeply distrustful of the prison-industrial complex, especially as it continues to privatize. And I know this is going to make me sound like even more of a heartless tool than I already do, but I find this article a bit less disconcerting than the author may have intended:
Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

From 1997 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform the procedure, according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners.

The women were signed up for the surgery while they were pregnant and housed at either the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, which is now a men’s prison.

Former inmates and prisoner advocates maintain that prison medical staff coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison in the future.

Crystal Nguyen, a former Valley State Prison inmate who worked in the prison’s infirmary during 2007, said she often overheard medical staff asking inmates who had served multiple prison terms to agree to be sterilized.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not right,’ ” Nguyen, 28, said. “Do they think they’re animals, and they don’t want them to breed anymore?”

Who knows what "they" think? It's probably a fair guess to assume that at the very least, they're aiming for repeat offenders with a bunch of kids, all of whom are almost certainly supported by the state.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Free Download Weekend Continues

Only a little over 24 hours to go for the free download weekend for Presto on the Kindle, so please grab a copy, leave a review if you can, etc.

We're housesitting in the North Bay this week, so here is a photo of one of the two elusive kittehs here (named Mocha), as recompense for your valuable time:

 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Free Download Weekend

Get a free download of "Presto" for Kindle this weekend, now through July 8th. The classic J.S. Bach piece is transcribed into guitar tab in two octaves, with dozens of exercises derived from the piece, covering a wide variety of techniques:  sweep picking, string skipping, melodic contour, and more. Get it while it's hot (and free)!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Counterintuition

Setting aside the previous post for a second, there are things that occasionally make you wish, for just a brief, fleeting, speculative moment, that Obammy was even half the monster his whinging internutz waaahhh club would have you believe. I'm honestly not sure that merely reading the collected tweets in that Public Shaming post won't make everyone stupider for having read it.

Lotta college-age dingbats in that collection as well, who need to get back to doing what they do best -- servicing date-raping frat-boy assholes (who appear to be the rest of the bunch). All you twitards, kindly leave the political analysis to people who can read, m'kay?

At the very least, maybe we can all chip in a few bucks and bribe these morlocks to do a world a favor and not breed. There's already enough algae and flesh-eating viruses in the gene pool, and the world won't miss another generation of racist assholes who cry and rant because bright-thing-no-go-boom. Seriously, are these people in fucking kindergarten?

They're Coming to Take You Away, Ha Ha

Holy shit. Something to think about next time a, um, gun-rights enthusiast starts in again about the encroaching power of the state. And hell, this ain't even the state, it's the city of Henderson, Nevada.

Seriously, look at the photo in the link, how many stormtroopers do you see on that man's porch? Was this another backyard terrorist? No, this guy refused their "request" to vacate his own home so that they [the cops] could set up shop and use his house to spy on a neighbor who was the subject of a domestic violence report.

So this is a thing in America now, that these pissant, jackbooted Barney Fifes get to push taxpayers around on DV disputes involving their fucking neighbors? Forget drones overflying and checking out your property (though that will be a thing as well), because you can skull-fuck America with your bullshit derivatives, but lord help you if Eric Holder sees that you grow a few plants to supplement your measly "legitimate" income.

I usually don't bother with the Alex Jones "they're coming to get you" sort of guff, but this is really a "what the fuck" sort of moment, that probably happens more often than we realize. Consider the balls it must take for the police force of a Vegas suburb of about a quarter-million people, to demand that a homeowner surrender his home because his next-door neighbor might be a wife-beater.

It is important not only that Anthony Mitchell be duly recompensed in his lawsuit, but that every single law-enforcement "professional" involved in this mess experience an immediate and drastic career change.