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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quote of the month

So so true ... although I attribute my dysfunction to being a quasi-polymath.

Doc Searls Weblog : New Innerface:

"I’m also more distractable than a kitten. That’s good for blogging and tweeting, bad for book-writing."

UAW vs Teachers Union?

Part of the problem

Lenders Fault Treasury in Chrysler Bankruptcy - DealBook Blog - NYTimes.com

"NEW YORK - (Business Wire) As of last night’s deadline, we were part of a group of approximately 20 relatively small organizations; we represent many of the country’s teachers unions, major pension and retirement plans and school endowments who have invested through us in senior secured loans to Chrysler. Combined, these loans total about $1 billion. None of us have taken a dime in TARP money."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Likely a good read

If I have time ...

Coloring the thinking leading into WWII and management of the world afterwords.

Britain between the wars | A sense of dread | The Economist: "The period between the two world wars was a time of anxiety and foreboding. Much like our own age—only more so"

"During this period something strange happened. After the horrors of the first world war, many people were convinced that another global conflict would unleash forces of barbarism that decaying liberalism would be powerless to resist and that the inevitable result would be the dawning of a new dark age.

But as the prospect of war drew closer, pessimism and defeatism were replaced with a grim determination to confront the manifest evil of Nazism. In the three years between the crises in Spain and central Europe, Mr Overy writes, “the balance between saving civilisation through peace and saving civilisation by war swung decisively in favour of the latter.” When war eventually came, it was for many people almost a relief—a climax in the patient’s condition after which would come either death or recovery.

“The Morbid Age” is history at its best. It tells us not just what people did, but what were the social and intellectual influences that caused them to do what they did. With elegance and erudition, Mr Overy opens a window into the mind of a generation—a generation with anxieties both very different from and yet surprisingly similar to those of our own today."

Nationalization

Federal Government to own more than 50%
Hope Congress doesn't start deciding models to make, plants to keep/close.

G.M.’s Plan Includes More Aid and Debt Exchange - NYTimes.com

"By exchanging stock for its bonds and by converting its debt to the Treasury Department and to a retiree health care fund for the United Automobile Workers union, G.M. said it can eliminate $44 billion in debt. The Treasury and the U.A.W. would own up to 89 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, while bondholders would hold no more than 10 percent and current shareholders would hold 1 percent."

Third Party Talks

Most of the news about Detroit has been about the UAW and the bondholders, but the dealers are an issue too.

Car Dealers' Next Headache: Inventory Loans - WSJ.com

"The administration's auto task force has been considering indirect ways of helping dealers, such as measures that would allow GM and Chrysler to once again offer leases on new vehicles, something they stopped doing last summer, people familiar with the matter said. They are also looking at how the auto makers can trim dealer networks."

100 days and things start to change

Likely not the last change in plans

Exceptions to Iraq Deadline Are Proposed - NYTimes.com

"The United States and Iraq will begin negotiating possible exceptions to the June 30 deadline for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraqi cities, focusing on the troubled northern city of Mosul, according to military officials. Some parts of Baghdad also will still have combat troops."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One of Detroit's problems

Much has been said about Problems for GM with UAW and Bondholders

But dealer contracts are another issue, and likely cause for going the bankruptcy route.

Pontiac Headed for Junk Yard - WSJ.com:

"GM's last automotive division to be eliminated was Oldsmobile in 2000. That decision cost GM billions of dollars in dealer-buyout costs, led to messy litigation and frayed many relationships with dealers and buyers."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Zing

Christopher takes on Evangelicals

Hitchens: Why Texas Is Right on Teaching Evolution | Newsweek Culture | Newsweek.com:

"So by all means let's 'be honest with the kids,' as Dr. Don McLeroy, the chairman of the Texas education board, wants us to be. The problem is that he is urging that the argument be taught, not in a history or in a civics class, but in a biology class. And one of his supporters on the board, Ken Mercer, has said that evolution is disproved by the absence of any transitional forms between dogs and cats. If any state in the American union gave equal time in science class to such claims, it would certainly make itself unique in the world (perhaps no shame in that). But it would also set a precedent for the sharing of the astronomy period with the teaching of astrology, or indeed of equal time as between chemistry and alchemy. Less boring perhaps, but also much less scientific and less educational."

Something to like about Paul Krugman

I too found inspiration in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, with the model that a society could be modeled and predictions made.

Never about the individual, but large enough groups.

Colored my thinking in college, with studies in Poli-Sci and "Economics"

Attack From the Left: Paul Krugman's Poison Pen | Newsweek Business | Newsweek.com

Krugman says he found himself in the science fiction of Isaac Asimov, especially the "Foundation" series—"It was nerds saving civilization, quants who had a theory of society, people writing equations on a blackboard, saying, 'See, unless you follow this formula, the empire will fail and be followed by a thousand years of barbarism'."

Friday, April 24, 2009

File under What the F?

So we are to suppose that the Executives don't know what they have?

Someone (The Fed) has to tell management about the quality of their balance sheets.
What are these guys hired to do?

Banking Should Be Boring! 

U.S. to Tell Big Banks the Results of Stress Test - NYTimes.com

"After a two-month wait, the nation’s 19 largest banks will start learning on Friday how they fared in important federal examinations — and which among them will need another bailout from the government or private investors."


Felix Roatyn, who helped bail out NYCity in the '70's :

"Well, the answer is, I don't know. And I won't know until it's over, because so many things can happen.

Now we -- because it is a political issue, we are looking for very -- we're not looking for, but we're going through very complicated structures. And I've always been convinced that, in finances and most everything else, every level of complication adds three or four levels of difficulty and the likelihood of failure. - CNN GPS a couple of weeks ago

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Whoops

Even if it contains a grain of truth, sometimes it's best not to say it at a press affair ...

One factor through Chinese history has been risk of unrest.

 Jackie Chan Says Chinese Need Control - NYTimes.com

"It’s not unusual for actors to stumble when they talk about politics, but Jackie Chan, below, has struck a nerve on a particularly divisive issue. In the southern Chinese province of Hainan on Saturday Mr. Chan, the action star, told a group of business leaders, “I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” The Associated Press reported. He also said: “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”"

Last Snow?

This afternoon, along M-72
Maybe we get some more, but most likely just dusting

Woods, a little snow, then hay and corn

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cherry Blossom time

Back from Nihon (Japan) and headed home shortly
We'll get our own cherry blossoms soon

Following gives a small sense of the attitude in Nihon where cherry blossoms are celebrated for beauty and change, not as a crop with future cash.

asahi.com(朝日新聞社):A cherry tree's personality lies in its trunk - English:

"Spring is the go-between that enables people to meet cherry trees. This year's spring is deepening, never to return."

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 12(IHT/Asahi: April 20,2009)

Huh?

Save the Dinosaurs

Ban internet news

Frankly, the only newsprint that comes into our house are with two weeklies, the Leelanau Enterprise and Northern Express

Why in the world would Congress investigate the harvesting of trees for news?

Congress Gets Into the ‘Future of News’ Game - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com: "If you think of Congressional hearings, at least in part, as a highly ritualized form of national cocktail-party conversation, it was inevitable that the spotlight in Washington would turn to the fate of newspapers."

Monday, April 20, 2009

11 course meal

Posted on
Earthy Delights

Summary of a delicious evening of traditional japanese cusine

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some photo's posted

From our visit on a gray drizzly day
Light traffic

Zen - Nanzenji - a set on Flickr

Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto, Japan

"Nanzen-ji (Southern Mountain Temple) is considered the most famous and important Zen temple in the world. Home of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism the temple consists of 12 sub-temples, which only a few are open to the public. Also within the temple grounds are several gardens, of which only three are available to be viewed."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shinkansen

Shinkansen "Super Express" (as opposed to Express) arriving Osaka, which we take to Tokyo, then switch train to Narita
Hey - we made it all the way.

Mostly posted for grandson ...

video

Saturday, April 11, 2009

From Japan

I've just learned that it is considered a sign of good fortune to see Mt. Fuji-san on a clear day

Can't get much clearer than this

and it continues

Paul Krugman

Op-Ed Columnist - Making Banking Boring - NYTimes.com

Good stuff on swings in banking over the last century

I put it in a much shorter post early Feb
Looney Dunes: Banking should be boring

More pain to come?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Koi

Imperial Palace East Garden

Koi and Cherry Blossom pedals



Note : uploaded 4/17 but backdated to be approx reset to proper time

Monday, April 06, 2009

Imagery

Hopefully I got it close with my profile pic.
At least the smile part

Seth's Blog: The power of a tiny picture (how to improve your social network brand):

"The power of a tiny picture (how to improve your social network brand)

If it's important enough for you to spend your time finding and connecting with new people online, it's important enough to get the first impression right."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Business as usual

Any bets on if it will change?

Editorial - Earmarks of Scandal - NYTimes.com:

"The Justice Department is investigating whether PMA used illegal straw donors to lard the campaign kitties of cooperative lawmakers. The firm — which shut itself down after being raided by federal agents — fed and fed richly off the defense appropriations subcommittee led by Representative John Murtha, the House baron of Pentagon spending."

"Ms. Pelosi cannot ignore this sorry churn of taxpayer money. Newcomers and moderates are right in warning that if the House majority doesn’t police itself, it will lose credibility all the way to the next election."

Government Motors

So Washington is going to solve the auto industry's problems.

How to move the inventory?
Maybe just ban big cars, vans, SUV's ?

But Congress won't move to raise gas taxes, which might influence consumer behavior, maybe help the Highway Trust Fund.

Industry's Big Hope for Small Cars Fades - WSJ.com:

"Practically every small car in the market is stacked up at dealerships. At the end of February, Honda Motor Co. had 22,191 Fits on dealer lots -- enough to last 125 days at the current sales rate, according to Autodata Corp. In July, it had a nine-day supply, while the industry generally considers a 55- to 60-day supply healthy.

For other models the supply situation is even worse. Toyota Motor Corp. has enough Yaris subcompacts to last 175 days. Chrysler LLC has a 205-day supply of the Dodge Caliber. And Chevrolet dealers have 427 days' worth of Aveo subcompacts. At the current sales rate, General Motors Corp. could stop making the Aveo and it wouldn't run out until May 24, 2010.

'I don't think Americans really like small cars,' said Beau Boeckmann, whose family's Galpin Ford in southern California is the country's largest Ford dealer. 'They drive them when they think they have to, when gas prices are high. But we're big people and we like big cars.'

The logjam of small cars is caused in part by the recession, which has sapped sales of all types of vehicles. But it also underscores how badly gasoline prices have whipsawed the industry. A year ago, car companies rushed to react when Americans practically stopped buying large vehicles and flocked to hybrids and small cars."