Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Release the Hounds!

It's kind of sad when a once respected magazine turns into a hit squad.

I give you The Atlantic Monthly. Please don't try to give it back.

The CBO did a routine study of Federal vs private sector wages. After 40 years of beating down the lower orders, not surprisingly, Federal employees making minimal living wages are doing better than the poor bastards in the private sector.

Megan McArdle pretended to analyze.

Clive Crook said Me Too

Jordan Weissman channelled Beavis & Butthead

Notice anything missing?

Nothing about how this affects the federal budget. (Total wages are 4% of the budget)

Nothing about what wages actually are.
No hint of the power structure that sets private sector wages.

No discussion of why squeezing the last nickel from people might or might not be good policy.

In sum, total crap. Sad really. Do they not even want anyone to take them seriously?

No. If you're selling propaganda, you want the buyers to know what they're buying.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Handling the Truth

One of the easier things to understand in the Messenger of Doom business is that most people won't want to listen. Most people have enough problems with things as they are that they don't need to worry about what's coming in 10 or 20 years. Most of the rest figure there's nothing they can do now that will pay off in a measurable future. Even most Jim Kunstler fans get their weekly dose of impending collapse then go back to regular life.

Which covers normal people. The 27 percenters, who worship in the Cult of the Hand, hoping to be trickled on if they repeat the mantra? Them, I have no patience for. Soon enough, the increasingly violent insanity of the True Believers will split them from the profiteer, but that's another story.

So what am I doing about the near certainty that resource depletion will make a mockery of The American Way of Life in the near future? We've already gone through 10years of very little growth, declining stock values, and stagnating or worse incomes for almost everyone. And what have I done? Near squat. Minor conservation & aggressive saving indistinguishable from natural miserliness.

So, shouldn't there be some Big Steps towards preserving the future?

Oddly enough, this intersects with something I've been doing a lot of lately, financial planning. It's fairly easy to project how people will do under moderate economic assumptions. Your assets grow at 6%, prices rise 3%, you can spend $x per year and not expect to die broke.

So what's the chance your retirement village will be overrrun by a desperate horde? And what can you do to prevent it?

I'm seriously considering whether root cellars & ammo should become part of the planning process. Fortunately, I work in a nut friendly environment.

In the meantime, might as well get off the computer, hug somebody, read a book, and help somebody else practice for a math competition next weekend.

Friday, January 27, 2012


A lot of stuff in the last few days has pointed back towards the main (public) issue that has concerned me for the last 40 years or so.

We have 7,000,000,000 people on a world that isn't getting any bigger, degrading the resources that support us at a rate that pretty much guarantees increasing trouble, starting about now and just getting worse for the next 50 years.

Is that clear enough?

Anyhow, the specific items:

The Club of Rome decided not to do a 40 year update to Limits to Growth because it's too late to do anything to stop it.

The NYT says mackerel stocks - yes, that overly fast, not so tasty fish, are down 90% in 10 years.

A pinhead who pretends to have read Limits to Growth published a Yergenite pile of rubbish & got his hat handed to him. Oil is stuck at $100 as a century of increasing driving has crunched to a halt. The rich countries of the world are preaching utter economic rubbish - expansionary austerity. Do they really believe this nonsense? How could they? It fails basic arithmetic to think that you can increase employment through mass firings. So what's up?

If we did have growth, with oil supply flat since 2005, there is nothing to fuel it. We'd simply have another oil price spike & another recession.

(Overshoot is the condition where we're living off land, water, fertilizer & other basic resources at a level far above their replacement, and headed for a crash)

Make of this what you will. If you have some investible assets, put them into something real. If you only have $100: It's Friday night. Get out & have some fun, leave the internet to tired old cranks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Losing it

While the Shelley Long/Tom Cruise movie was a classic, it's not the subject of this post. Pity, since the 1980s frankness about the desperate need of teenage boys to get intp circulation in the face of an antiseptic society that rejected their nature holds a lot of relevance today, in the face of a society that not only rejects their nature but refuses to talk about it. So maybe that will be the subject of the next post. Or not, since it would require talking to a teenage boy, which would probably make me a Level 2 sex offender just for saying Hello. So forget that.

This is about work.

Long, long, ago, in a place about 3 blocks from where I work now, I was young and confident. Always willing to start something. Now, not so much. It takes a lot to get old DP on the warpath.

All year, I've been angling to get 200 or so complete accountings from our custodian. Now that they should be ready, I go off into the weeds and find - Nothing! And it's our fault. After spending 2 days chasing down the problems, I found an utter, complete, total, redundant failure to train, supervise or give a shit about maintaining accurate records of expenditures.

Trouble is, the person directly responsible for this failure is somebody I like. And the ultimate responsibility is due to a total void. Almost enough to get the old fires burning, to move in, take control, etc.

Almost. We all know how that would end.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just wondering...

While I'm totally at sea about what's happening at home, at work & in the world, how is Tom Waits doing?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Get offa my lawn?

I've been going to this restaurant for 20 years. Let's call it the "John Harvard's Brewhouse". I've rolled through the changes - they took away the salmon salad, raised prices, improved the beer. But some things have stayed steady : always the Pale Ale, stained glass, TVs, free bread plates.

Go in this evening, everything looks fine. We even get a booth with a nice view of a TV, FSU vs Duke.

First sniff of trouble is the menu. Nearly 6, but there's a page of lunch items, and no beer page. Still, all the usual dishes. 2nd trouble : the only 2 beers they have are both heavy.

Yadda, yadda - you don't need the details. In the end, my meal is spoiled by

1) The beer wasn't very good and a pitcher cost $20, which price wasn't on the menu
2) The fish & chips were a tiny portion
3) The ribs on the menu were a half rack for $14.99. The bill was $19.99, since we seem to have had the wrong menu - apparently the 4 mediocre ribs I got were a whole rack.
4) The bread never arrived. When we finally managed to ask, we were told it was now a $3 extra (not shown on the menu or mentioned)

At the end, I did get the waitress to admit there was new management. She offered to bring them over. I fled.

All pretty trivial, right? But having aggravated my groin injury jumping a slushpuddle, facing a painful 2k shuffle home, does being pissed make me a grumpy old coot?

Nah. I was just as annoying 30 years ago.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fakelore Rulez!

Danny Boy is, of course, not a Real Irish song.

I no longer care.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Greatest Postage Stamps Ever

This sucker has it all. That it came out right at the start of Colony Collapse disorder & White Nose Fungus makes it sad. Still pretty, but we are so screwed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Turtles all the way down

Watching Willard the Undead clanking about the country trying to fill the emptiness of his soul by satisfying ambition is going to get even more painful in the next 10 months, so, on this reasonably nice Saturday morning - time to wake up small one.

I'm shutting down.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Friday, January 06, 2012

Knowing my place on the internet

In case anyone wandering by here wonders why there is so little content - that's not what I do. Short pieces, either correcting a fact or making a joke, work better as responses to somebody else's well wrought (or better yet, inept) major opus.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Years Assessment

Oil 98.83 WTI - $107.38 Brent
NG - $2.989 (Never expected to see that!)
Dow -12,150

Which I'm putting here because it's a nice, quiet untravelled place.
Goals for this blog, this year: 20 posts, 1000 views, 1 comment.

Goal in real life : get through the move without landing in the ER.