Thursday, August 30, 2012

Transit Investing in the Era of Family Dollar & Nieman Marcus

So, many of you have asked : What's a good solid investment in an era when 98% of all publicly traded coroporations are devices to direct money into the manager's pockets and the other 2% are scams?

Glad you asked! Before the Soylent Corporation takes over the food supply, there are still lots of opportunities to be the next to last fool, and make out like a bandit during a hurricane.

According to the New York Times, airlines have decided that business/first class should be nicer, and cattle cars are too good for the rest of us. Of course, even low rent fliers need driver's licenses and credit cards these days. (Pretty soon you'll need that to vote, too, and less and less people will actually have 1st class ID. At least one part of their plan makes sense. Evil sense, but consistent) What about the unbanked masses?

Greyhound is too good for you! Coming soon, to a curb near you - unregulated exploding buses!

This is the kind of stuff that makes one wonder whether there's some truth hidden under the layers of lies and denial in US politics. Sure, the Republican platform is a recipe for eternal class war, oppression, dystopia, & violence leading inevitably to a fascist crackdown. Like, du-uh.

But how much longer will the easy motoring version last? Gas is hitting $4 with the US pumping like lunatics and both US & European consumption down 10%. Is there really an option to ongoing recession, short of social reorganization?

Of course not. So the outrageous lies and partially concealed savagery of the Republicans are backed by a sneaking fear : You're with them or against them. The absurd "Obama is plotting the death of Suburbia" has only one real piece of evidence behind it : The certain knowledge that Suburbia Must Die.

In any event, I intend to celebrate down to the last minute of the modern age. And really, how does that work with Liars for Christ turning the screws?

It doesn't, of course.

Oh, right. Investment advice. Tattoo parlors, breast implant manufacturers, and a root cellar full of potatoes & porn. Because, why not?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Conventional Blogging

Now that staying up to midnight to watch Bleach is too much, I have to salute Daily Bleach for a nice summary of what the delegates in Tampa are doing, between tossing out the duly elected Ron Paul delegates.

(The gay ones are funnier, but this is a T & A blog, not a sausagefest)

Back in the pocketbook, where the real action is, there's a nice summary of why Iceland saying "Get stuffed" to the bankers was the right thing to do. Yes, people who put bras on cattle know more than fancy bankers.

I went to Iceland at just the wrong time & have mixed feelings, but hard to argue.

Which brings us back to Linda Katehi & PSA. She has 4 days left on her own deadline to eat crow about the med school coming down on a prof who threatened the smooth running of the gravy train over all those interested in sensible health care.

I've never had a good word to say about UC Davis. The University of California system has managed to waste so much money that their out of state tuition is higher than Harvard's, and who the heck would pay that to endure the kind of abuse they deal out along with a rapidly declining reputation? Still, there was a time....

That time was 1976.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Late to the party

Everything I've tried to do on this blog, somebody else has done better.

  Maybe fart jokes are the next wave...         I'll try to stay on top of it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Michael Mann goes on Offense

One of the features of the attempt to obscure the rather clear findings that Arrhenius was right 120 years ago has been that the paid liars feel free to say or do whatever the fuck they want, while the scientists maintain strict compliance with decency, rigor & truth.

The result of this for Michael Mann is that he's been cleared in multiple investigations. Nice to be cleared, but no fun at all to be persecuted.

He's taken the first little step towards making the bozos stand behind their lies. Mark Steyn called him a fraud & child molester in NRO, and well, given that Mann works at Penn State, them's fighting words. Also too, defamatory.

NRO, of course, did not see reason. Their response is kind of weak. It says that the stuff they wrote is not actionable, but later brags about some of the crap that Dr. Mann has been put through. It rattles on about active scientific controversy - which does not really exist. Outside the moronosphere, there is absolutely nothing controversial about the fact that the planet, particularly the top half where most of us live, is getting rapidly warmer as a result of stuff we do to it. We've already broken most of the records for lowest sea ice area, extent & volume with weeks left in melt season. Greenland has had record melt, there have been thousands of high temperature records, and drought has started to raise grain prices. And Santa has put in pools:

So, as unlikely as it may be to actually get into a courtroom, I'd love to see it. To find that the whole Denialist charade is as lame as the Intelligent Design fools could not be but a good thing. Having these clowns & poo flingers testify under oath is, I suspect, something they are not actually ready for. Ya think?

Free advice (& worth it) : Find a way to sue in Britain. Much better laws for plaintiffs.

Update: Everything I've ever said about Michael Mann, Teresa Sullivan & George Mason U, done much better by Maureen Tkacick at FDL. Also, Wegman, Tozzi & even Ed Meese are involved. DONT MISS IT.

Monday, August 20, 2012

All Media Criticism is Now Superfluous

Newsweek's response to dozens of people pointing out that their cover story is utter crap:
"We, like other news organisations today, rely on our writers to submit factually accurate material. "
This is not a suicide note. It's a neighbor saying "Newsweek? Oh, they died years ago. Be nice if somebody went in and cleaned the place out. Smell's not as bad as it used to be."

Kind of makes my whole media criticism project a bit rough, doesn't it? Rather than shaming their employers into enforcing standards, they'll just cut loose anybody that gets too hot to handle & ignore the rest.

Twain wept. Mencken drank.

The Rolled Up Newspaper wishes Megan McArdle a happy few months, fun & pratfalls, before the joint closes.

Update: Newsweek has collected the responses. They only found 2 supporters, and they're pretty lame. No hint yet that they're going to do the right thing - have every copy mulched. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2087 is not right around the corner

Stephen Ohlemacher's AP Goosebumps series on Social Security hit part 3 today.

Part 1 was where he turned a 5/1 payback into less than 1/1 by hiding the adjustments.

Part 2 was mostly a snooze.

This weeks installment is all about WE MUST ACT NOW.

Each year lawmakers wait, Social Security's financial problems loom larger and the need for bigger changes becomes greater, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Or, to select the simplest, (which I support, FWIW):

—Apply the Social Security tax to all wages, including those above $110,100. Workers making $200,000 in wages would get a tax increase of $5,574, an amount their employers would have to match. Their future benefits would increase, too. This option would eliminate 72 percent of the shortfall. Two years ago, it would have wiped out 99 percent.

He hides what's really going on. I'm sure you're shocked.  But let's take it slow and careful, so even an AP reporter can sort of understand.

What else has changed in 2 years?

-The 75 year projection has lost 2 surplus years and added 2 deficit years

-The economy has stunk for 2 years. Before the crash, contributions were supposed to exceed payouts to 2019.

-Interest rates dropped to basically nothing, hurting the income on the trust fund.

The result is that removing the cap in 2010 would not have solved 99% of the 2012-2087 issue. I suspect that the reduction in shortfall would be a lot closer to 72% than 99%. How much closer? If the AP knows, they aren't telling. In fact, by not mentioning any of the other factors, they're implying it would still have been a 99% solution. And who knows what the 75 year shortfall would be looking from 2014?What they are doing is deception & fearmongering.

So things happening right now can affect the 75 year projection? Of Course. What are the chances that the 75 year projection will be real? A few years back, the projection was that the fund would be good well into the 2040s. Since 2010, the tapout date has gone from 2037 to 2033, so we've gone from 27 years to 21 before the need to cut or subsidize in just 2 years.

Yes, we're supposed to be concerned with a 75 year projection. What could go wrong?

Lessee. We're in a depression, climate change seems to be pushing us into famine, oil production growth stalled in 2005 & will start to decline soon, our government seems to be falling into an increasingly repressive plutocracy...

No, adjusting Social Security now instead of in 2023 or 2033 is not a big deal. Trying to scare us into thinking it is a big deal - well, Mr. Stephen Ohlemacher, you really need to look harder at what agenda you are serving.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Squeal, AssDeans, Squeal!

Nice post yesterday at Balloon Juice. Freddie slightly mixed up a non-profit board and the University of Georgia, but quite a linkfest.

The secondary story : In 1980, the student newspaper at the University of Georgia split from the University.  They formed a non-profit. Board of the non-profit hired some full-timers. Full timers & 1 board member decided to take charge. Students took a hike. Board member Ed Stamper fell on the sword.  Nice story about the importance of solidarity, but not exactly administrative bloat.

More central to the tale, there's a link to the Washington Monthly Ginsberg story. (Beware: EVIL Scott Brown ad embedded! Or Romney "You didn't build that" BS. Sad, Charles Peters). Lots of comments at Balloon Juice, which are worth reading. Although they may obscure the lesson : In union, there is strength. Faculty & students together ARE the University, and will always be able to slough off the Administration.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

50 Shades of Bad

While the theme of August remains Bad Journalists, I do have to salute Paul Campos' absolutely definitive work on out of control Law School excessess. With careful detail, he lays out the excesses in capacity, cost & cons, and the massive deficit in honesty that should (but haven't we heard that before?) crater the entire overpriced scam forthwith.

Be that as it may, my problem with a series on bad reporting is that there are so many bad reporters and so little time! Do I go for the obvious fakes (Sippy Cupp), the idiots, the nuts, or the Ohlemachers, who think they are doing fine work even as they are spun mercilessly?

Give me some names. Please!

I'm begging here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The sinkhole, the pipeline & the Beaufort Gyre

There's been a lot of Earth Shaking news the last week.

Down in Louisiana, the earth has been caving in. A giant sinkhole in Assumption Parish seems to be a result of drilling all over a salt dome. There's a bunch of other stuff stored in the dome, including 1.5 million barrels of butane. The gang at TheOilDrum is keeping calm:

AlanfromBigEasy on August 10, 2012 - 11:17am

I would NOT want to be 6 miles (10 km) from 1.5 million barrels of butane when pressure is reduced.

I am trying to think through the physics of a phase change if, say, a 2 or 3 meter hole developed with 1 bar (atmosphere) pressure. Ground temperatures are higher than needed to transform butane to gas at 1 bar. That delta in temperature could provide the energy for phase change (I would have to look up tables, and not enough time ATM)
My first guess is an "explosive" expansion that would rapidly enlarge the hole. If no immediate spark, a rapidly enlarging ball of butane would develop with the surface of the ball (and some distance in) would be between the upper and lower explosive limits. (Distant memory - butane has a wide band between LEL & UEL).
Something close to a fuel-air bomb could develop in XX seconds if there is no immediate spark. The results could rival Texas City and Halifax for the largest non-nuclear explosion.

Best Hopes for delaying the well,

Of course, the volume of NGL's in a fuel-air bomb is tiny compared to the potential volumes they are talking about.

Comments top Even visiting the Parish, I would recommend staying at least 15 to 18 miles from the sinkhole.
That is far enough away to very likely survive a, say 100 kt explosion with no more than minor injuries.

Best Hopes for All of Assumption Parish


PS: Start pumping that butane out *NOW*

In Mississippi, the good old boys have been running a railroad - kids to prison. I'm not entirely sure how the money works on this one, but the DOJ has had enough.

Furthermore, children on probation are routinely arrested and incarcerated for allegedly violating their probation by committing minor school infractions, such as dress code violations, which result in suspensions

Anyhow, the full letter is at
Unfortunately, the DOJ posted a crappy pdf of an image & didn't even bother to OCR it. Still, at least they're pretending to care about (black) kids getting rolled by the (white) machine.

And on top of the world, there was the Storm of The Century, so far. It blew for most of the week, and decimated the last sea ice below 80 degrees north.

The result is, 2007's record low ice extent  - and 2011s volume & area records - are dead meat.

Anyhow, just to remind you, that once we're rid of ZombieEyedGrannyStarvers, the real problems they exist to ignore will still be with us.

Monday, August 06, 2012

AssPress Hack vs Social Security : Part 598,000

In June, 2011, the Urban Institute did a study on Social Security contributions vs payout. It had some pretty weird assumptions. Contributions were adjusted annualy by (inflation + 2%). They use "Average Wage" without specifying median or mean. (It appears to be mean, which is higher.) Even given these odd assumptions. Social Security is a pretty good deal for most people. Especially one-earner couples, poor people, and those who live a long time or had a short working life. So, this thing sat, justly ignored for a year or so. Then today, AP Uberhack Stephen Ohlemacher unearthed it.

Social Security not deal it once was for workers
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press – 14 hours ago WASHINGTON (AP) — People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It's a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
Wooo! Scary!
A married couple retiring last year after both spouses earned average lifetime wages paid about $598,000 in Social Security taxes during their careers. They can expect to collect about $556,000 in benefits, if the man lives to 82 and the woman lives to 85, according to a 2011 study by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.
OK - stop right there. How much in lifetime wages do you have to have earned to pay $299,000 in Social security taxes from 1966-2010? Trick question - with the low caps on wages subject to the tax in the past, it's utterly impossible. So how does STEPHEN OHLEMACHER explain this? He doesn't. He never mentions any of the assumptions. Just throws the numbers out there like they're real. The mystery is left. Why did he pick up a year old study? Why did he hide the assumptions? Who put him up to this. STEPHEN OHLEMACHER - Useful idiot, or corrupt hack? I have no idea. What I do know - the AP needs to just FOAD. (And you would hope that some of the 700 newspapers that ran this tripe would have noticed. Hoped in vain, from what I've seen so far.) In the meantime, Stephen Ohlemacher needs to improve his skills.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Miscreants 2: Jonah Goldberg

What could I add to the legend of the Doughy Pantload?

Maybe a little yeast. Let him speak his idiocy untrammeled.

What grabs my attention today is the stuff around the edges. Conservatism is about money. How do they make it?

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O. K.  What's up on cruise ships these days?

A giant liner has been sinking off the coast of Italy for 2 hours* & nobody has noticed! No wonder they can't give away tickets. At least this is more realistic than Jonah's call to stupidity & ignoring your professors.

Of course, Jonah just went into the family business.
Whether he believes any of the crap he lazily peddles is entirely beside the point.
I do like to think of him as being rejected repeatedly by all normal women, who took on this image in his rearview (doublewide) mirror:

Leaving you with Jimmy Webb:

*Over a week in our time. 2 hours is an estimate of Comic Page Relativity. There is a serious issue of Space Compression in Mary Worth, & I can't exactly translate it into a Lorentz Contraction.

Friday, August 03, 2012

You can't go below Neil Munro

By odd chance, today for the first time I twice became aware of a loathsome boil in the depths of the Daily Caller called Neil Munro.

His specialty is promoting bogus tripe written by other hacks.

In April, he did the absolute worst job of collecting survey results I've ever seen. Apparently, it's still floating around in wingnut email land. Read the whole thing, if you must, and tell me what the 13 questions were, who was asked, or even if the "Correct" answers were correct. I couldn't. And, at least in the first 100 comments, his followers didn't even ask.

One passage provides a few chuckles:
A March 12 Pew study showed that Democrats are far more likely that conservatives to disconnect from people who disagree with them.

“In all, 28% of liberals have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone on SNS [social networking sites] because of one of these reasons, compared with 16% of conservatives and 14% of moderates,” said the report, tiled “Social networking sites and politics.”

The report also noted that 11 percent of liberals, but only 4 percent of conservatives, deleted friends from their social networks after disagreeing with their politics.

Frist, of course, for the lack of editing. Second, because it ignores the obvious : Wingnuts are really annoying. The US is not divided into Right & Left Wing. It's divided into Insane Wingnuts & Everybody Else.

Now he's pimping some junk supporting voter fraud from Horace Cooper, whose expertise in fraud consists of being on parole after serving time for it (Abramoff style, not voter fraud). Munro's work has his signature techniques. He barely identifies Cooper (not that any of the Caller readers would bother to look him up), does not link the "study", and throws in a quite from "former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis", a lower life form currently moving to his wingnut welfare phase. 

I know exactly where we can get a better press corps. She does sports, too!