"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Monday, March 30, 2009

About Weirdness

Caught on radio
Most interesting

Living on Earth: Alien Life on Earth

"Strange life forms don't have to be the domain of distant planets and old Star Trek episodes. Astro-biologist Paul Davies says life as we don't know it might already exist in our own backyard. Davies talks with host Bruce Gellerman about the possibility of life on Earth evolving more than once, and about why scientists should launch a "mission to Earth" to find alien life."

Friday, March 27, 2009


OK, my 15 seconds of fame

WIAA NewsRoom

Interview from week ago yesterday on our Cherry Capital Foods

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More on news vs newspapers

Following this

Looney Dunes: Good read on change in news

Clay Shirky tackles the issue, with some more looking back (to Gutenberg):

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

Response to the witch-hunt

One senior AIG exec's response to Congress and NY and CT AG's attacks

Op-Ed Contributor - Dear A.I.G., I Quit! - NYTimes.com

"So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need."

Spring breakup

Breeze 10-15MPH out of SW
Ice moving up on beach 10-20 ft

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

View that there is a fight brewing

Exxon vs. the Obama Administration - Portfolio.com:

"The biggest oil company in the world is also the most resistant to the shift to green energy. The White House seems determined to make Exxon Mobil’s life miserable."

Party Boy Prognosticator

Profile of NYU Economist Roubini - Portfolio.com:

"Life is good for New York University’s party-boy economist. Once regarded as a crank, he has parlayed his now-accurate predictions of an economic bust into fame, rising fortune, and a vigorous social life. But is the recession’s “Doctor Doom” just a one-hit wonder?"


When rates are low, the only thing that can happen may be ... bad

The Way We Live Now - No Safety in Numbers - Are Treasury Bonds a Bubble That May Someday Burst? - NYTimes.com:

"Warren Buffett wrote: “When the financial history of this decade is written, it will surely speak of the Internet bubble of the late 1990s and the housing bubble of the early 2000s. But the U.S. Treasury bond bubble of late 2008 may be regarded as almost equally extraordinary.”"

Rates could go up ... and therefore bonds would go down.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Volcano watch

May portend cooler spring

The Associated Press: Alaska volcano Mount Redoubt erupts 3 times

Geologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory say the volcano erupted three times late Sunday and early Monday, with the largest eruption sending a plume of smoke some 50,000 feet above sea level.

Tracking here :
Alaska Volcano Observatory - Activity

Sunday, March 22, 2009

File under Duh

"Systems" work until they don't

Physicists Try to Predict Economy - Portfolio.com

"Consider financial derivatives, for example. It’s taken for granted by economists that derivatives make markets more stable. They are designed to give market participants more flexibility by allowing them to take highly specific market positions. But some economists—notably William Brock of the University of ­Wisconsin and colleagues—have suggested that this view may be backward. They are exploring the consequences of adding one rather obvious fact to standard economic models: that people learn as they participate in markets and may quickly copy other investment strategies if they seem to be working. The result is a pile-on that makes the initial strategy ineffective. Brock’s results show that such adaptive learning leads to derivatives actually destabilizing markets."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Good read on change in news

With mainstream print newspapers dropping fast, the following is interesting.

stevenberlinjohnson.com: Old Growth Media And The Future Of News

Morphing to a distributed system, as opposed to monopolies.
Here is one place I think that Warren Buffett's model of investing in papers may break down, unless they can move to the web and retain their brands

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Been there Done that

Traverse City Record-Eagle - Article: Flu, other bugs slam area: "Noroviruses have been prevalent this winter, including rapidly onset symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea"

Monday, March 16, 2009

If it sounds too good to be true ...

Can losers sue to recover from they're own errors?
If so, where can I get some too.

Further, with the Made-off affair, how much of the multi-billion of losses was loss of phantom gains?

Talking Business - Investors Were Victims of Madoff, and of Their Own Folly - NYTimes.com:

"And yet, just about anybody who actually took the time to kick the tires of Mr. Madoff’s operation tended to run in the other direction. James R. Hedges IV, who runs an advisory firm called LJH Global Investments, says that in 1997 he spent two hours asking Mr. Madoff basic questions about his operation. “The explanation of his strategy, the consistency of his returns, the way he withheld information — it was a very clear set of warning signs,” said Mr. Hedges. When you look at the list of Madoff victims, it contains a lot of high-profile names — but almost no serious institutional investors or endowments. They insist on knowing the kind of information Mr. Madoff refused to supply.

I suppose you could argue that most of Mr. Madoff’s direct investors lacked the ability or the financial sophistication of someone like Mr. Hedges. But it shouldn’t have mattered. Isn’t the first lesson of personal finance that you should never put all your money with one person or one fund? Even if you think your money manager is “God”? Diversification has many virtues; one of them is that you won’t lose everything if one of your money managers turns out to be a crook."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Such a fickle public

How quickly impressions change, or the new wears off.

But I suspect that if the economy improves, the ratings will too.
And I'd note that comments on the financial markets have gone from "don't pay attention to tracking polls", to "things are looking up."

Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth - WSJ.com:

"Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.

Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.

A detailed examination of presidential popularity after 50 days on the job similarly demonstrates a substantial drop in presidential approval relative to other elected presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for this decline most likely has to do with doubts about the administration's policies and their impact on peoples' lives."

Mr. Schoen, formerly a pollster for President Bill Clinton...

Persepective on how to Manage


Preoccupations - For a Chef, a Comfort Zone Among the Pots and Pans - NYTimes.com:

"Given our schedules, it’s hard for executive chefs to be in the kitchen as often as we’d like, but I believe that my team performs better when they see me down in the trenches with them, appreciating the little things. It’s also where I’m happiest.

On my walk-throughs I mostly catch employees doing things right. But I also immediately notice when a sauce, for example, is wrong: too salty, too dark, too red, too loose. When that happens, the cook and I together will go back to the recipe to figure out what went awry, and I’ll give pointers on how to fix it. Mistakes don’t make me happy, but they happen all the time, and I see them as excellent opportunities to teach. Nobody wants to stagnate in their job; they want to master new techniques. My job is to continually help them grow."

Where's Alistare Cooke?

The end of TV as it once was.
Well, the end likely happened years ago with the passing of such gentlemen as Alistare Cooke of PBS's Masterpiece Theater, but folks - it's a Damn TV Show.

3 Arrests in Melee at ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Casting Call - NYTimes.com:

"It was America’s next top melee.

Getting ready from Howard Beale (Network: the movie)

An open casting call for the reality television program “America’s Next Top Model” turned into mayhem on Saturday afternoon in Midtown Manhattan. Fights broke out, three people were arrested and at least six others suffered minor injuries after they were pushed down in a crush of thousands of aspiring models waiting in line to be discovered."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Smackdown ?

It's all about advertising anyway
For Comedy channel, CNBC ... and NYTimes
Anyone who follows Cramer for deep insight is making a mistake

I'll listen from time to time for tidbits, but not deep thinking.
And for Stewart's idea that cable news/financial channels should be gatekeepers of veracity and insight ... ah well.

I guess it patterns to the idea that so many get their "news" from John Stewart !

The TV Watch - High Noon on the Set - Jim Cramer vs. Jon Stewart - NYTimes.com:

"Part of Mr. Stewart’s frustration may stem from the fact that while he clearly won the debate, Mr. Cramer and CNBC stood to profit from the encounter. In today’s television news market, that cable network and its stars are like the financiers they cover: media short-sellers trading shamelessly on publicity, good or bad, so long as it drives up ratings. There isn’t enough regulation on Wall Street, and there’s hardly any accountability on cable news: it’s a 24-hour star system in which opinions — and showmanship — matter more than facts."

Addemdum - George Will on ABC with George Stephanoplis: "you don't take financial advice from someone who's yelling..."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rocket Science is OK on The Street

As long as you don't treat them like religon.
They are just models, not facts.

The flaw is in drinking the kool-aid and then leveraging up on the ideas.

They Tried to Outsmart Wall Street - NYTimes.com:

"As Dr. Derman put it in his book “My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance,” “In physics there may one day be a Theory of Everything; in finance and the social sciences, you’re lucky if there is a useable theory of anything.”

Asked to compare her work to physics, one quant, who requested anonymity because her company had not given her permission to talk to reporters, termed the market “a wild beast” that cannot be controlled, and then added: “It’s not like building a bridge. If you’re right more than half the time you’re winning the game.”"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do you Trust Bankers ?

Let's make that, Do you trust big bankers

Donny Deutsch takes apart Ken Lewis of Bank of America for outrageous claims on advertising and promotion. About 3 min in.
Lewis apparently claims 10:1 payback for sports marketing.
Donny says it's unprovable

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Third time the charm?

Piece from 2005 on Duh Donald.

We'll likely watch the make believe "Celebrity Apprentice" just to poke fun at the "host"

Will this recession be another series of failures for his "empire"

What's He Really Worth? - New York Times:

"By 1993, with his casinos in hock, most of his real estate holdings either forfeited or stagnant and his father slipping into the fog of Alzheimer's disease, Donald Trump, at the age of 47, had run out of money. There were no funds left to keep him aloft, and as the bare-bones operation he maintained in Manhattan started to grind to a halt, he ordered Nick Ribis, the Trump Organization's president, to call his siblings and ask for a handout from their trusts. Donald needed about $10 million for his living and office expenses, but he had no collateral to provide his brother and sisters, all three of whom wanted a guarantee that he would repay them.

The Trump children's anticipated share of their father's fortune amounted to about $35 million each, and Donald's siblings demanded that he sign a promissory note pledging future distributions from his trust fund against the $10 million he wanted to borrow."

It's not just Detroit that's got troubles

Trying to sell $100,000+ cars with questionable technology looks like a bad bet.

Deathwatch: Why Tesla's Elon Musk Could Be the New Preston Tucker:

"In October, Valleywag reported that Tesla Motors was down to $9 million in the bank. Musk confirmed the company's cash position, and promised he would raise another $40 million in convertible debt from existing investors. But the fundraising is taking longer than planned. At a recent town hall meeting with customers, Musk reportedly told Tesla buyers that the company almost ran out of money in December, before it raised part of the round. Tesla is still seeking new funds."

Who should be fired ?

How about ... "Duh Donald"

The Associated Press: Trump venture folds, leaving buyers strapped:

"Investors were told last month their money was spent and they won't get a penny back. A single mother in suburban Los Angeles lost $200,000 and won't be able to send her sons to private universities. A Los Angeles-area businessman lost a deposit of more than $1 million on four Trump units, including two penthouses.

The project's collapse comes at a delicate time for Trump, whose casino company, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection last month. He also is embroiled in a lawsuit to avoid paying debt on the struggling Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

Trump and his children heavily promoted the northern tip of Mexico's Baja California coast. He sold 188 units for $122 million the first day they went on a sale at a lavish event in a downtown San Diego hotel in December 2006."

Markets don't matter

Advise for pensioners, and those with 401K or other retirement plans ... those who view their portfolios as 201K's should ignore their statements.

Don't worry, be happy

Stocks Should Matter to Obama - WSJ.com:
"Presidents usually pretend they don't pay much attention to such stock-market gyrations. If it's been said once from a White House podium, it's been said a thousand times: 'Markets rise, markets fall. We worry about the fundamentals of the economy instead.'

President Barack Obama gave his own version of that response this week, declaring in response to a reporter's question: 'You know, the stock market is sort of like a tracking poll in politics. It bobs up and down day to day, and if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you're probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong.'"

Lest anyone think I'm a Republican

Rush is an entertainer, nothing more, nothing less.
And an ill informed one at that

Caught up in his own bravado and hype.
Call it ... 'drinks his own kool-aid"

Allowing the Democrats to position him as the spokesperson of the Republican party is just foolishness

The GOP's Limbaugh Dilemma - WSJ.com:

"Rush Limbaugh is right where he wants to be and right where the White House wants him: in the news. But Republicans have more mixed feelings about the controversial talk radio host's recent elevation."

What the F ???

But but but ... this is suppose to be the administration of change ...

The Obama Justice Department Adopts the George W. Bush Administration's Legal Stance on Presidential Powers - WSJ.com:

"The Obama Justice Department has adopted a legal stance identical to, if not more aggressive than, the Bush version. It argues that the court-forced disclosure of the surveillance programs would cause 'exceptional harm to national security' by exposing intelligence sources and methods. Last Friday the Ninth Circuit denied the latest emergency motion to dismiss, again kicking matters back to Judge Walker"

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Change you can count on


Maureen Dowd on pork in the budget.
Just veto it.

Op-Ed Columnist - Stage of Fools - NYTimes.com:

"In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.

He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.

“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make. Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget."

Bubble Bubble, Toil & Trouble

Piece from last Sept laying out where to point for blame
I would add borrowers who knew that their purchases, from the dot-com bubble to real estate were too good to be true.

Click link for entire piece

Calling Out the Culprits Who Caused the Crisis - washingtonpost.com

By Eric D. Hovde
Sunday, September 21, 2008; Page B01

Looking for someone to blame for the shambles in U.S. financial markets? As someone who owns both an investment bank and commercial banks, and also runs a hedge fund, I have sat front and center and watched as this mess unfolded. And in my view, there's no need to look beyond Wall Street -- and the halls of power in Washington. The former has created the nightmare by chasing obscene profits, and the latter have allowed it to spread by not practicing the oversight that is the federal government's responsibility.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Calling it as he sees it

Scathing comments from Jim
Let failures ... fail

Jim Rogers Doesn't Mince Words About the Crisis - BusinessWeek:

"He has harsh words for former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, suggests President Barack Obama and his economic team are not up to the task, and thinks tough love is the answer for America.

What do you think of the government's response to the economic crisis?

Terrible. They're making it worse. It's pretty embarrassing for President Obama, who doesn't seem to have a clue what's going on—which would make sense from his background. And he has hired people who are part of the problem. [Treasury Secretary Tim] Geithner was head of the New York Fed, which was supposedly in charge of Wall Street and the banks more than anybody else. And as you remember, [Obama's chief economic adviser, Larry] Summers helped bail out Long-Term Capital Management years ago. These are people who think the only solution is to save their friends on Wall Street rather than to save 300 million Americans."

Small mindedness

I never thought that Billy was the brightest guy in the room
Ruthless, but not necessarily "smart"

Simon Simenov's blog


"I’m all for dogfooding but not at the expense of deep competitive research. Sometimes you just have to live with your competitors’ products in order to understand them the way their customers do. I guess now that Bill Gates is focused on the foundation he is no longer interested in deeply understanding Microsoft competitors’ products. No other way to describe why iPhones and iPods are banned in the Gates household. What better way to learn about your competitors’ secret sauce than watch how your kids use their products?"

Bit of, a contradiction

I followed the link to this (Thanks Jason) and read it
In other words, my behavior, in large part, contradicted the author's premise of too many distractions to be able to read something through.

And I rather enjoy the multitude of links to other, related, ideas.

The Sun Magazine | Computing The Cost

Anyone who has spent a few hours on the Internet understands how reading a single paragraph can lead to a multimedia journey so far-reaching you forget what you originally went online to look up.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Sub Title - oh deer

9:20 this AM
Same pair that were about 50 yards out on the lake yesterday
This time, right on the beach

Tonight, we heard the yips, maybe they go their deer
We'll know soon, will do head count of the ones that visit 3 times a day

Channeling Ayn Rand?

Click on the title for link to CNBC snippet by Eric Hovde on the insanity of some of the proposals coming from Washington

Are we indeed deciding to further gut capitalism, destroy charities, move towards socialism
He lays out spending on high speed rail - from Disneyland to Las Vegas - like huh?

While I agree that there have been gross excesses, is the answer to let the free market clear up the mess or is it to rely on elected officials?

The stock market points to fears that it goes to the politicians.

Capital is on strike.

Monday, March 02, 2009

James Baker on Banking

Flush management, boards, and shareholders, bondholders if possible.

Again, Banking Should be Boring

FT.com / Comment / Opinion - How Washington can prevent ‘zombie banks’:

"Many are to blame for the current situation. But we have no time for finger-pointing or partisan posturing. This crisis demands a pragmatic, comprehensive plan. We simply cannot continue to muddle through it with a Band-Aid approach.

During the 1990s, American officials routinely urged their Japanese counterparts to kill their zombie banks before they could do more damage to Japan’s economy. Today, it would be irresponsible if we did not heed our own advice."