Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Good Day

I got one of the three final papers done and second one started in one class, got a big chunk of the reading and note-taking done for week two in my second class, and wrapped up all the week one stuff for both classes. All in all, not a bad day, even if the market had another down session. But European markets are up already today, so I'm sure the suckers rally will continue. I would expect it to keep going in fits and starts through April. Unless, the government decides to do to the financial sector bondholders what they just did to GM's bondholders (and I think they should); then we'll be in for a very large leg down.

Just the opinion of an unemployed dishwasher. Which makes me at least as qualified as most of the ass clowns on CNBC. Caveat emptor.

Speaking of school, I'm a little frustrated with the "discussion" group in one of my classes. I already posted an example of the reasoning skills of my two classmates I got teamed up with. I'm not quite sure why a class with only eight students was split up into multiple discussion groups in the first place, but with the right people, it could still work. These are not the right people. I am having a discussion with myself. The other two have not posted anything other than their initial post. Normally, the instructor would do some not-so-subtle prodding, but I think he is out of the country or something. And I'm paying $1,000 for this.

Any site running on Typepad is unreachable again. Does anyone know what is happening with them? It's getting a bit annoying.

Not much else going on. Nothing really caught my eye in the news. More taxpayer money poured into zombie companies, another industry nationalized; just another fracking day in paradise.

I should try to go to bed. Not that I seem to be able to sleep much anymore, but there is always the off chance.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Should Be Sleeping

But instead, I'm blogging. For a couple nights, I was able to get to bed early and get up early, but it didn't last long. Sooooo....

I think I mentioned the AIG bonus thing when it first broke, but I've been too distracted to say much about the resulting fallout. First, given that all politicians are moral defectives, does anyone really believe that the entire Congress, who owns 80% of AIG, knew nothing of the bonuses? Really? If you do, please contact me about some ocean-front property I'm selling up in North Dakota. It's simple; either everyone in the federal government is a liar, or they are grossly incompetent. And anyone living in south-east Michigan may want to take note: these same jackasses are now running GM. (Chrysler is a dead stick and has been for years; the worst thing the car czar could do to it is hasten the inevitable.)

Second, before you mist all up about the poor AIG folks who didn't get to keep their bonuses, you may want to read the other other side of the story. There are several good points made in that article, but there is one that to me is key. The purpose of the retention bonuses was to keep people familiar with what was happening in AIGFS on board. By claiming he wasn't aware of what was going on, DeSantis defeats his own argument for the bonuses. Again, there is a binary choice here; either he knew what was going on and chose to just ride the gravy train to hell then lie about it, or he is incompetent.

None of it matters. Taxpayer money will continue to be poured into the gaping maw of AIG (and Citi and BoA and GM and...). Nothing any of us do will make one bit of difference. The moral defectives will do whatever the hell benefits them and the rest of us be damned.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Only Thing Missing was the Bubbles

One of my classes is a music appreciation class. One of the assignments is to attend a live show and do a short paper on it. The class is only six weeks and being in the cultural mecca of world, events acceptable to the instructor (meaning, nothing fun) were a bit thin on the ground. Meaning we spent two hours and $50 to see the Glen Miller Orchestra.

It wasn't horrifying or anything, but it wouldn't have been my first choice of how to spend our Sunday afternoon. At least I can crank out the paper for it tomorrow and wrap up one of the three final papers for this class.

Well, off to see if anything interesting happened today.

First interesting thing is that Blogger appears to be dead. OK, page refresh fixed it. That's weird.

Today is Free

I turned in my last assignment about two hours ago, so I'm off the hook until Monday. I am supposed to comment on some other people's postings in the discussion groups, but I'm not sure what to say in response to this:
If Job is charged with evil the godlineness this would take his integrity and he would consider it a terrible sin. The truth about God people is to tell the truth and shame the devil. Job do not know the explanation of his punishment which made him bitter toward God.

I wasn't aware that I was in an ESL class. This is a 200-level class in a "university." Parents, this is what those tens of thousands of dollars are buying.

For the church-goers out there, this person is going to be teaching Christian doctrine to your children.

I know what sort of comment I would like to leave on the discussion board, but it would probably get me booted out of the class and possibly the university. I only have to suffer through the next six weeks, then it's over.

"Stop touching me!"

Connecticut school bans all physical contact. We used to make jokes about this when schools first started this zero-tolerance BS, which is just a way for administrators to never have to exercise any sort of judgment. "Students and parents are outraged." Yea? So? Since when does anyone who collects a government paycheck give a damn what the taxpayers think? If the students and parents are so outraged, then pull out of the school en mass. Oh, wait; that would require parents actually taking responsibility for their children, and we know that ain't gonna happen. Ever.

The solution to the public education disaster is simple: don't participate.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not a Productive Day

I didn't find anything in my usual on-line haunts that was interesting enough to bother commenting on, other than typepad.com sites don't seem to be working for the third day in a row. Their owners are able to make updates and enough of a connection exists for me to be notified that the site was updated, but when I try to bring the page up, I get a "connection interrupted" error. It's only sites hosted at typepad.com; everything else works fine.

I was supposed to be finishing up my last paper for the week and taking an online quiz, but my brain isn't working right or something. I just can't make the words come. I've been taking care of other nonessential-but-school-related tasks instead. I'll do the quiz when I'm done here, then I'll stare at a blank screen for another four hours or so and see if I can make something magically appear. Not holding out much hope, but I would love to have everything turned in by the time Debbie gets home and have the entire weekend free to do whatever we want.

Well, the paper the work ain't gonna do itself, so I guess I need to get at it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Short Break

Bogger is scheduled to go down in a few minutes, so this will be quick.

Something else to worry about. As Scottie said, "The more they over-think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."

Scott Adams has a bit about how most white-collar work is just a waste of time. Take an hour and read the comments. Everything you buy is paying for all the waste described in the comments.

Well, gotta go before Blogger pulls the rug out from under me.

"Death by tray it shall be!"


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Short Break

Just a few things while I take a five-minute breather from reading some of the most boring crap in my life. But I should be able to finish up today and tomorrow is writing day; a quiz, several discussion posts, a 3-page paper, and two one-page papers. None of them are difficult, so there shouldn't be a problem getting them done and turned in tomorrow. That frees up the weekend so we can go wander around someplace, assuming the weather cooperates. If not, we may just have another lazy weekend.

Even with all the cash looking for a home, the Brits couldn't find enough buyers at their bond auction. Now what? I keep asking this question and not finding an answer.

If I had more time, I'd say more about this, but a few points:
If teenagers in bras is child porn, then every teenager on every beach and at every pool in the country, plus anyone within view of them, needs to be arrested next summer.
I know there are variations from state-to-state and even county-to-county, but tits ain't porn unless sexual activity is depicted or insinuated.
Giving teenagers the choice between agreeing to a government reeducation camp or a felony charge sounds more like Soviet Russia than the country I grew up in. Not that that country has existed in decades....
The purpose of child porn laws is to prevent children from being exploited by adults. How one exploits one's self isn't clear to me.


And somewhere Gene Roddenberry is smiling:

Back At It

Been doin' a bunch of readin' and writin'. No 'rithmatic, though. Still having issues with getting the materials I need for my classes. Mostly because Cornerstone insists on linking to Amazon, even when they don't sell the book or the version used in the class is out of print. Which leaves the students thrashing around in on-line used book stores of dubious legitimacy trying to scrounge up text books and CD's and other such tripe. I've been working at getting everything for these classes since December and I'm still missing stuff. This is completely ridiculous, but it seems to just be the way it is. May 11th cannot get here fast enough.

My leg is more or less normal now. I still have no clue what I did to it. I must have twisted wrong or something climbing around on the step ladder during the Spring Deep Clean of 2009, and pulled a muscle. Getting old sucks; I lost a weekend because I stepped off a ladder wrong? Holy Crap.

And speaking of holy crap, I'm not sure that prayer works this way:
The website "Information Age Prayer"... offers, for a few dollars, to recite prayers for the faithful who are too busy in this Information Age.

The concept is simple. Users have to click on their religion of choice on the home page, which leads them to a list of prayers such as the “Our Father” for Christians and the "Fajr" for Muslims.

Prices are based on the length of the texts and therefore vary. For Catholics, for example, the monthly fee for a daily prayer ranges from 70 cents for the “Hail Mary” to $49.97 for the rosary. And for the hesitant ones ($50 dollars, it’s a lump sum), the button offers a reminder: "Show God you’re serious - Get the complete Rosary Package." It’s an offer that’s hard to resist.

Um, yea.

The stock market has had a nice little rally over the last 10 days, and everyone is wetting themselves thinking we've seen the bottom and we'll be back setting new highs in six months. This is why they call these "sucker's rallies" because they run up just enough to convince people they are missing out on something and to jump back in, and then drop again. Of course Monday's big bounce is because our brilliant government just came up with a great plan: allow Wall Street firms to buy assets from the banks at fire-sale prices and guarantee the firms against any losses. At taxpayer expense, of course. No wonder the market set records for a one-day move.

Some Music

I bought a couple albums by Zoe Keating a while back. I don't recall if I blogged this or not, but it's good stuff, so if it's a repeat, oh well:

And this is definitely a repeat, but worth it:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Lap

Made it all the way through the iTunes library again. Being a jobless slacker allowed me to get through all 4,496 songs in a little over a month: February 18 at 16:30 through March 22 at 17:30.

See? Who needs Twitter to inundate people with pointless information?

New addition to the family

No.....no surprise with me!

My cousin that just received a new kidney on March 11th welcomed his new son into the world on March 21st. I guess the little guy decided things went so well with his Dad's surgery that he wanted to visit with him now. Congrats to Jason and Candace and their new baby boy -- Justin.

I Think I'm Broken

I'm not sure what I did Friday while doing some deep cleaning, but I can barely move my leg today. Sitting, standing, laying down; it all hurts. I haven't had something hurt this bad while simply trying to walk since playing sports in high school. I don't know what I did, but I did it up good.

We were planning on going somewhere today and wander around outside, but between me being a cripple and Debbie being really tired, we never got out of the apartment. Watched a bunch of stuff on Hulu and got caught up on some reading instead. We may try again tomorrow, unless the wind blows us off the map. Or I wake up unable to get out of bed.

I started looking at school stuff today. It doesn't look too bad so far. The first week is very light-weight and shouldn't take more than a day or two to wrap up. I'm sure more will kick in down the road. Of course, once again I don't have all the course materials, but that has become so routine, I'm not even concerned about it. Cornerstone really needs to find smarter people to run the on-line side of things.

I used to talk about sliding into socialism, but now we seem to be in a full sprint. And the currency markets make the expected adjustments for the mass devaluation of the US dollar. But I'm sure everyone knows what they are doing and there is no politics involved now or in the future. Yep. Absolutely sure of it.

And that's pretty much it for today.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Extreme Sheep Herding

Posted without comment, other than Debbie's reaction: some people have way too much time on their hands:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Some Site Stats

My visits to my own web site are excluded from my stats, so the following is a true reflection of the traffic to our blog as opposed to a reflection of our personal preferences. I took a look at these mostly because I am now more-or-less in the Vista camp, so I was curious to see what others were doing. XP accounts for 74% of the traffic to this site so far this month with Vista at 20%. The other 6% is a mix of Mac, Linux, NT and "other." Given that Vista has been out for over two years, that is somewhat incredible. I know a lot of our readers hit us from work (9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday accounts for the vast majority of our traffic), which accounts for some of the skew towards XP, as businesses are always late to the table when it comes to OS upgrades. But I wouldn't have expected 3.7-to-1 in favor of XP. It will be interesting to see what happens when Win 7 ships.

Having just said that, the browser numbers are even more surprising with Firefox 3.0 at 52% compared to 44% for IE 6, 7 and 8 combined. Has Firefox started making inroads to the corporate desktop?

Anyway, no particular point. Just thought I'd share.

The New PC

Everything is about as set up as it ever will be. Like any geek, I'll keep messing with things forever, but for now, it is what it is.

Here is the box:


First light:

Final setup as viewed from the couch:

The only problem with all this is that we are having so much fun watching Hulu full screen in 1080p (up-converted, of course, but still...) that we are getting seriously off-pace with our reading. That will get cured next week when I start back at the school thing; no fun from March 23rd through May 11th for me.

Spring has Sprung!

Or "sprang" or "spronged" or something like that. Anyway, temps still getting up above 70F (21C). For now that is. Things are supposed to return to more typical weather in a few days, which means cooler temps (50-60F or 10-15C) and lots of wind. Last year at this time we thought the apartment would get blown right off the cliff.

The blossoms are really starting to pop on the flowering trees in our courtyard. If it gets windy Monday or Tuesday like the weather liars are saying, we will have pink "snow" everywhere, including tracked in on the carpet.


Today was a Bust

I didn't accomplish much today other than move a lot of furniture just so I could move it all back. As I mentioned earlier, my Linksys wireless print server isn't compatible with Vista 64-bit. Which, as it turns out, is sort of a theme. I rearranged both the office and the living room so I could have the printer directly connected to the new HP Vista box, but HP has decided that it isn't updating the drivers for the Laserjet 1000. Given that I can get 64-bit drivers for the Deskjet 500, first released over 20 years ago, this seems somewhat odd. The speculation is that the LJ1000 is too efficient and isn't racking up enough toner cartridge sales to fit HP's printer business model. Given that I've had mine since late 2001 and have purchased exactly one toner cartridge, they may have a point, but it is still pathetic that HP assumes I am so stupid that I'll run right out and buy a different HP printer that costs more per page. Nice work, HP. Way to alienate a customer who has had nothing other than HP printers for over two decades. I now own my last HP printer.

Otherwise, the system is running smoothly. I have the Drobo set up as a share on the network, the laptop seems to connect to it easily, and everything Just Works. Other than the whole not-being-able-to-print thing; maybe that's just the IT gods hinting that it's time to consider going paperless. It's more habit than anything at this point, especially when I'm finishing up a paper for school; final proofing is always on hardcopy. By making the process difficult, maybe I can kick the dead-flat-tree addiction. We'll see.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Rearranging

Still moving around files and hardware and changing up things with the old laptop (which will be kept as a second computer for Debbie when I'm hogging the main one; we decided we couldn't get enough money out of it to make it worth selling). I ran into a bit of a wall, and it pisses me to some degree. Last summer, I bought a wireless print server so we could keep the printer in the office instead of having it sitting in the living room. It worked perfectly. Today, I tried to set up the print server software on the new Vista box. The software doesn't run under Vista. I visit the Linksys web site where the discussion boards are overflowing with people screaming about the lack of support for Vista two years after the OS hit the streets. So tomorrow, I rearrange the living room to make space for an ugly piece of furniture that will have an ugly printer sitting on it. Major suck, Linksys. I know Vista has been a pain for everyone, but it can't be that hard to support it.

Ah well; it will give me something to do tomorrow instead of being outside enjoying the 70 degree temps or finishing up cleaning the living room.

Understand that I gave up reading Cracked magazine when I was around 12 because I had outgrown its humor, but their 5 Ways 'Common Sense' Lies To You Everyday is actually a very intelligent bit of writing.

Well, I have a few more things to finish up so I can start cranking first thing in the morning on moving around furniture, then off to bed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Out of the Box and (Mostly) Set Up

I have some pics that I took while unpacking and setting up the new PC. I think I have everything arranged the way I want it. The video is gorgeous. I never imagined a 42" computer display and it looks fabulous at 1080p. It took some digging to figure out why the picture didn't fill the screen. It seems ATI defaults to using 80% of the screen instead of 100%. Not a big deal, and I can think of a couple reasons to do that, but then don't bury the slider to change it so deep it takes a trip to Google to find it.

The PC itself seems OK. As I figured, lots of cheesy plastic in the case and generic parts inside, but I don't tend to physically stress equipment, so it should be OK. iTunes was flaky at first, but then I remembered that Vista has a real problem with files from XP due to hyper-sensitive security regarding file ownership properties. Making the only user on Vista the owner was one of those obvious-once-known things that make Microsoft so beloved in the computer community. It wasn't difficult, but chugging through the 25k+ files on the Drobo took the better part of an hour. Once that was done, iTunes started behaving.

The longest part was, as always, uninstalling all the craptastic "free" software and trial versions that come installed. Then I installed everthing I think we will need. I think I have everything pretty much working at this point. I need to get the wireless print server set up to look for the wireless from the router instead of the laptop (not sure how that happened....) and I'm good to go. There are still some display tweeks; running 1920x1080 makes some screen elements mighty small from the couch 12 feet away. Maybe I should have bought a 60"? In any case, as of now, everything is here and so far it works.

The best part is watching videos. Everything from Tech Ticker to Hulu to DVD's to rips look fantastic. Smooth even during fast-moving pans and the up-converting makes a standard DVD's 480 lines look pretty good. Not Blu-Ray good, but I doubt the difference would be that noticable on a store-brand 42" LCD. I definitely like this setup.

Tomorrow, I should finish up tweeking things and then this little project will be as done as any computer project is ever done. Then clean up the laptop and set it up in the office so we can both have a computer to use.

Monday, March 16, 2009


For those old enough to remember.

According to the FedEx website, the new PC is on the truck. Serious woohoo time shortly.

Meanwhile, more proof that the primary function of government is to hire and pay government workers. If something useful gets done, that's a pleasant side benefit, but never mistake it for the reason government exists.

Speaking of life-time government employees, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Masshole) thinks that "maybe" some people should get fired at AIG, who just used taxpayer money to pay out hundreds of millions in bonuses. Maybe? Maybe? It is time and past time to decapitate AIG (and Citi and BoA, et al). Only someone spending their life sheltered in a government job would think otherwise.

Back to staring at the door....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Blogger Meet-up

We had the March Prescott blogger meet-up today. There was talk last time about finding a bigger place to have it, but we ended up in the same place. There were about the same number of people as last month with some of the regulars missing and their places taken by some new faces. Good food, good conversation, etc.

I realized last night that I let a chance to use my new favorite word slip by on Friday: Friggatriskaidekaphobia. Ah well. There will be other Friday the 13th's.

If anyone needs proof (other than the obvious mathematical one) that half the people are below average, one only need to realize that there are people out there who still give money to Donald Trump. Has anything this buffoon touched ever made money for anyone other than himself?

When an elementary school principle refuses to defend his actions with the words, "Because I don't want to," I think it's pretty safe to assume this guy has been hanging around on the playground too much. This is who we trust to educate the next generation.

Tomorrow, I should be getting a big box with a new PC in it. We splurged with our tax refund money and picked up a new quad-core system. The only bad part is that it comes with Vista. I swore after Win2K to never own another MS OS. Then we had to get an XP laptop when we moved out here so Debbie could work as an outside agent for her old employer. We've been limping along with that until now, but with only one gig of RAM, it chokes when playing HD content full-screen, and it can't make use of the 1920x1080 resolution of our TV/computer screen. I had thought about one of the Linux variants, but there is just too much screwing around that you have to do to get the thing to do what we want it to do. I've lusted after Apple hardware since the days of Lisa, but Apple has always charged a high premium for their hardware. That changed for a short period when they made the switch from Motorola to Intel chips, but it didn't last. A Mac Mini would have carried a 50% premium for the same hardware in our current, two-year-old laptop. Add to that the extra cost of repurchasing all the software we have on our PC, and the hassle of file conversions (not a lot as I try to stay cross-platform whenever possible, but not zero) and it was just not going to happen. So we stick with Windows for now. I configured the system for Win7 (as much as possible) which sounds pretty good so far. It usually takes Microsoft three tries to get something right, so Win7 may be around for a while and Vista will quickly fade like ME did.

I also went through the usual buy vs. build question. It used to be that building a system let you come in cheaper and with better componants, but when I priced it out, building came in at a premium. It will be interesting to crack open the case when it arrives and see what's inside. I suspect a lot of no-name componants. I know the motherboard is Intel and the video card is one of the higher-end ATI cards, but other than that, nothing is specified by brand. But our financial situation didn't really leave me with much of a choice, and we don't have anything around here like a Fry's Electronics where I could grab the stuff I needed; everything would have been mail-order.

Anyway, next week will be devoted to getting the new system set up with all our software and everything working nicely. I need everything ship-shape before classes kick in on March 24th. Then I won't have time for anything until I'm all done on May 11.

Well, I'm going on a quest for food and maybe some TV on Hulu.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today on the Intertubes

If you want to have some fun, read this list of the 10 Annoying Habits of a Geeky Spouse, note how many of the habits you admit to, then have your spouse tell you how many of the habits you have.

Global hurricane energy is at a 30-year low. Let me guess: global warming is causing this, too. As a Pastafarian, I wonder just how long it will be before everyone wakes up to the reality: global warming is punishment from the Flying Spaghetti Monster for us not dressing up as pirates. As a direct result of the success of the Church of the FSM in spreading the truth, global temperatures have plummeted. It's all so obvious; how can people be so blind?

China is starting to wonder if being the world's largest lender to the US government was such a great idea after all. I can't blame them. Here's an interesting question: what happens when the next debt auction flops? Will the government actually adjust spending? Or will there be some sort of fake buyer that appears at the last minute and "buys" up the leftovers? Is there one person in a thousand who believes this money will ever be repaid? And note that we now have the Chinese government dictating terms to the US. Anyone surprised by this is should be checked for a pulse; he who pays the piper, etc.

I'm always left with mixed feelings whenever I read a story like this. The over-simplified title "Wake judge orders home-schoolers into public classrooms" immediately gets my hackles up, but of course there is more to the story; the parents are divorced, mom wants to home school, but dad wants the kids in a public school. This is a very different matter that shouldn't touch on the legality or legitimacy of home schooling, although I'm certain this case will be waved around as another example of godless activist judges forcing evolution on the kiddies. The judge hasn't even issued his written ruling, so his reasoning is not known at this point. The mother claims the kids are two years above grade level, and the father agrees the kids have "thrived" while being home schooled, so this doesn't look to be some horror story of illiterate kids being used as household slaves hiding under the "home school" label. I'll be interested to see the written opinion when it comes out; will it focus on the issue of balancing parental rights in a divorce situation, or will it be about the broader issue of the legitimacy of home schooling? Of course, the take-away is the inability of two so-called adults to solve this issue and having to resort to the courts.

Well, I need to scrape about a foot of dust off all the furniture, so I need to quit messing around here and get at it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Post Designed for Skimming

I haven't had the time to do anything other than short to long-ish posts in a while, so guess what!!

A big issue out here in the Territories is obviously illegal immigration, and given the state of the economy, you can guarantee that even legal immigration will become even more of an issue. I've always been an open-border sort of guy up to a limit: by definition, a nation that cannot (or in our case, chooses not to) defend its borders is not a sovereign nation. I fully agree that there is a desperate need for immigration reform given that far too many of the wrong sort get in while far too many of the right sort are excluded by a bureaucracy fully in the grip of Pournelle's Iron Law. And the sort of tactics and rhetoric employed by One-Shot Joe Arpaio (old joke from another Sheriff Joe that reminds me of Arpaio) are questionable to say the least. But he does have a point; he has rounded up a lot of people who are 1) illegals and 2) criminals. A legitimate question, of course, is the collateral damage inflicted in the process of finding these. I don't think anyone other than a total xenophobe would argue that it's OK to incarcerate large numbers of people based on their ethnicity, then justify your actions because some percent of them turned out to be criminals of one sort or another. I don't live in Maricopa County, and don't have detail one about any of the detainees, so I really can't say one way or the other. But I will make a few observations. First, I doubt an investigation launched at the request of some moral defective Congresscritters on behalf of a couple reality-challenged, politically-loony-left organizations is going to accomplish anything useful in reducing the flood of illegals or reforming immigration. Secondly, illegal immigrants do not have civil rights. They are outlaw in the original meaning of the word. Finally, how is it that our military is sent into foreign nations at the drop of a hat to prop up "friends of the United States" and defend their borders, but any hint of using our military to defend our own borders throws everyone into hysterics?

Next we have the inevitable result of increasing corporate taxes: uneconomic decisions suddenly becoming economically sensible. I will add that there is no such thing as "corporate income tax," merely a hidden tax on the customers, employees and shareholders of the corporation. Corporations are not people, even if they are defined as such by the law and the tax code. Look at it this way: corporate income taxes simply make the government of the United States another vendor, although a rather unique one in that it simply requires payment under threat of violence without providing any goods or services. But a vendor none the less. Now, how do corporations pay their vendors and employees and shareholders? By selling product, of course. Roughly speaking, revenue from selling goods and/or services equals what is paid out to vendors, employees and shareholders. The only way the United States can increase their take as a vendor is by less dividends or share value going to shareholders, less pay going to employees, or more revenue from customers by increasing prices. Period. End of discussion. Corporate income tax does not, from a practical standpoint, exist.

Speaking of hidden taxes, everyone blames corporate conspiracies for keeping practical electric vehicles off the road. Please note:
Aptera Motors is building an electric car that goes 100 miles on a charge, draws power from an ordinary electrical outlet, and should be in driveways by the end of the year. But the federal government won't consider lending the California startup any money to build the car for one reason.

It has three wheels.

The rest of the article is a good example of how the government stifles innovation. While hardly a sensible cross-country vehicle, it would be perfect for us, and millions of other people who live in a similar situation. Understand that the libertarian in me recoils at the thought of any tax money going to any private business for any reason. But you would think that if alternative transportation is such a priority of Obama and his leash-holders that 0.00001% of the stimulus package could go to these guys so they could more-quickly ramp up production. But no, instead we give stimulus money to city governments who don't want it so they can play stupid games with it.


It looks like we have a bit of a bear-market rally going on this week with the Dow back over 7,000 and the S&P over 700. I wouldn't get too used to it; the fundamental problems are still there. But it is a nice break.

Who ARE These People?

This month's top search terms so far:

"what debbie needs"
"debbie boob"
"debbie's place blog"
"long dentist appointment"

I guess I would be even more concerned if "ric boob" made the list....

And the Fluffing Pays Off

I just got the grade on the paper that was 30% fluff: 100.00%. Perfection out to four decimal places.

I also got final grades for both classes and they are in line with my previous grades at Cornerstone. That makes my prediction wrong; I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. Confused, but I'll take it.

College tip for any kiddies out there: it isn't about how well you can make your point; it's about carefully following the APA guidelines in all their asininity and hitting the page count. All else is secondary. This will prepare you fully for work in the real world where all memos are in APA format and where you are expected to always say in 500 words what a normal person can say in 50, because it makes you look all edjamacated. OK, so that last point sort of fails as sarcasm as it actually is how large businesses work.

This is a college education in 2009. For this, our children will start their adult lives $40,000 or more in debt.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day Three of Taking it Easy

First, a little family news. At last word, the transplant was a success and both Jason and Adam are doing well. If that doesn't mean anything to you, it would take me pages to explain. Just know that there are a lot of very relieved and thankful people all over the United States today.

Anyway, I didn't leave the house today. I had intended to go wander with the camera, but I got involved in cleaning the kitchen. I've needed to degrease the kitchen cupboards since we moved in here over a year ago, so today I grabbed the Murphy oil soap and went to town. It's nice to not stick to the cupboard doors. Other than that, I didn't do much other than just pick up and sort through all the accumulated debris and finish up all the odd jobs that have piled up since mid-February when the college death march started.

I read through Obama's education speech and saw a lot of the same: education policy made by the same moral defectives that are directly responsible for the worst schools in the nation. Hey, Obama? I'll tell you the same thing I've told the last three presidents: when the Washington DC schools are the best in the nation, you can then and only then, lecture the rest of us about our schools. Deal? Yea, thought not.

Camille Paglia has a new column up. It's worth the ten minutes to read through it. If Obama is too busy to read our blog, then he should at least read her's. Jimmy Carter II: here we come.

While page one of Paglia's column is boring political crap, page two has some pretty cool stuff from her time in Brazil and a link to this video:

Now that's a party.

Time to vegetate a little and then off to bed.

Coming Back to Life

I managed to walk down to the post office today, then wandered around the Firehouse Plaza for a bit just letting people know I was still alive. And I made it through the day with only one nap. So the recovery continues. I don't have my final grades yet; I expect them sometime before the end of the week. I have no idea what they will be. Normally, I have a pretty good feel, but not this time. I'm sure that at least in one case, I will be surprised and not in a good way.

Nice little bounce in the markets today, which will probably continue just long enough to fake people out. This guy is interesting to listen to, probably because I agree with him that the bailouts are "absolutely asinine." Not that anyone cares what I think or what he thinks; the bailouts are a done deal and will continue for a long time.

If evangelicals care about their own future, they need to read and understand this:
Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants....

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline.

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism....

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith....

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile....

4. ...Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism....

Having been in the belly of the beast, I know this is true. Worse, I see nothing from the students at Cornerstone University that gives any hope of change. I seriously doubt that Cornerstone is unique in this.

Some are beginning to speak; the question is will anyone listen?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Lazy Day

Thought I'd do a little sleep-blogging.

I barely managed to wake up today. I made it from the bed to the couch, and that's been about it. Did some internet cruising, took a nap, watched the premier of Dollhouse, took a nap, washed a few dishes, took a nap. Tomorrow, I'll get ambitious, but today is just a lost day.

Interesting statistic: In February, there were more cars stolen in the US than Honda managed to sell. Honda accounts for about 10% of car sales, or 75,000 cars in February. I'm not sure whether to be shocked by how bad new car sales have gotten, or by how many cars are stolen every month.

OK; that wore me out. Time for another nap.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Fluffed and Folded

Done. Finished. Completed. Finito.

For a couple weeks anyway. Debbie is reading through my paper for me, then submit that, run through the message boards one last time, check on the team assignment, and I log off Angel and close the tab in Firefox for a full two weeks.


So Close....

I'm done with all the major work for one class and very nearly done in the second. All that I have left is to fluff up a paper from eight to ten pages. I hate doing that, but the subject really doesn't warrant that long of a paper. But a few long quotes from several of my sources and "Tada!!" it's a ten-pager. I'm going to work on that as soon as I'm done here. I don't want to have any real work to do after I go to bed tonight.

I was looking at some market stuff during one of my brain breaks today. For those concerned about the big picture, here are some numbers that give an idea of just what that big picture looks like:

- $11 Trillion in lost market cap since January 2008. And still dropping. And that's just the US.
- Half of the Wilshire 5000 stocks are below $5/share.
- One third of the Wilshire 5000 stocks are below $3/share
- Over half the stocks on the S&P 500 no longer meet the criteria for being in the S&P 500.
- The US GDP declined over 6% in Q4 2008. That was one of the best numbers in the world.
- South Korea's GDP fell over 20% in Q4 2008. We won't be exporting our way out of this.
- Favorite line of the week: "The dollar is the best looking horse at the glue factory."

The good news is that the markets turned up just before close Friday, which usually means an up Monday, barring any disasters over the weekend. Lets hope things at least level off. The last forty-five days have been brutal even for us pessimists. And we have almost no money in the market right now. I can't imagine what it has been like for retirees or those close to retiring while they watch half or more their portfolio value just evaporate. (Why people at that point in life are heavily in equities is a whole 'nother blog post.)

Well, enough of this spreading happiness and cheer crap; I've got a paper to fluff.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Made some decent progress on my final paper today. I should be able to finish that up in the morning. Tomorrow evening, I'm supposed to "meet" my learning team online to finish up the last thing I have left in my second class. So either I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, or there's a train coming. Either way, it will be over in 72 hours.

For a couple weeks, anyway. I think I may have some textbook difficulties (what's new) with one of the next batch of classes. I was glancing through the book and it appears there are supposed to be CD's or some such. It isn't very clear. I'm just going to wing it for now. It's a music class and I own almost the entire collection used in the text anyway, so I'm pretty sure I can fake it. The big problem is, naturally, the mental defects behind Cornerstone's web site. All three of my on-line electives have links to out-of-print editions of the textbooks on Amazon. You would think someone would take 10 minutes to check this sort of thing at least a few times a year. Instead, students end up dealing with people selling used books out of their mom's basement just to get textbooks. Ah well; given the other problems with the whole on-line education thing, the textbook issues are relatively minor.

Well, it's late and I need some sleep.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bloggin' Instead of Writin'

I'm supposed to be deep into a 10-page paper, but it ain't happening today. I got up early, started right in and was making fair progress when I hit a wall. Even though I had almost eight hours of sleep last night, I fell sound asleep on the couch for about 2 hours. So I'm just taking a bit of a break and will hopefully get it in gear this evening. I really need to have this thing roughed out tonight to stay on schedule. I don't want this weekend to end up being all about school, as we got our tax refund on Monday. Gotta go stimulate the economy!! Eyeing a new camera for the Hawaii trip and possibly a new PC that can push out a 1080p video signal so we can take full advantage of our 42" TV/computer monitor.

Just a couple random things I picked up off the intertubes. GM's accountants are saying that they really don't see a way for GM to stay in business. This will trash Michigan economically even more than it already is. And just in case anyone thought that head-fake the market did yesterday means anything, the Wilshire 5000 is testing a new 52-week low today. This isn't over, not by a long shot. This is not a V-shaped or even U-shaped market event. This is a decade-plus of inflationary fluff getting beaten out of the market. It's not the end of the world, just the end of the fantasy world that has been the US economy since the mid-80's. Maybe if I can take a break from sleeping and napping during my two-week break in school, I'll write something more comprehensive on the economy and really bore everyone to tears, but for now, I'll just repeat what I've been saying for the entire 21st century: get fast, get small. The future belongs to the mammals, not the dinosaurs.

And just to wrap up before I get back at it, I'd love to meet the morons that coded the voting machines.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Two Days, Two Psychological Barriers

Yesterday, the Dow fell below 7,000, but the S&P managed to stay just barely over 700. Today, the S&P slid in just under 700. Tomorrow could be an interesting day with either a good bounce or the plunge continuing. There is a lot of downward pressure and not many bright spots. Does anyone else get the feeling that 2009 is going to be a long year?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Winding Down

Tomorrow starts the last week of the two classes I'm taking right now. I laid some good solid ground work for the big project in one class and completed the big project in the other. I feel pretty comfortable right now with how I'm sitting time-wise, which is a bad sign. I'll likely end up here using up my precious supply of words on blog posts instead of working toward the 4-5K words I need to get on paper this week. In any case, by this time next week, I will be starting a two-week period of nothing but sleeping that will only be interrupted long enough for brief naps. You think I jest, but I am completely serious.

I do have to say that whatever it is that I'm doing, it isn't a college education. Most of the text books are about 4th grade level stuff, the assignments are a lot of fluff, and the instructors are, for the most part, complete no-shows, so the whole class turns into a very expensive on-line book club. Nothing I've seen in the last two months in any way justifies the $3,000 price tag. For one thing, the whole on-line structure is antithetical to what I consider to be a college education: the instructor-student and student-student give-and-take of a classroom. Sure there are discussion boards, but the information flow is just way too slow. For example, some of the classes have PLT's or professional learning teams; three or four students working collaboratively on some sort of project. When I was in Cornerstone's ACE program we had these as well, but they involved a weekly 4-hour face-to-face meeting outside of the classroom. The three of us in that group could get more done in one live meeting than both of my five-week on-line PLT's have accomplished combined. If I were an employer (I know, unlikely, but go with me on this) I would not hire anyone with a college degree obtained completely or even mostly on-line unless their other experience made the degree moot. And if I were a parent paying for this crap, I would be pissed to the teeth. On-line education is a scam.