4.21.2015

Ten Seconds at a Time



Americans are deluded about when they will retire

Excerpt:

There’s a big gap between when workers expect they will retire and when people who’ve actually retired say they left the workforce, according to the latest retirement confidence survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Half of retirees say they retire earlier than they planned. Fewer than one in 10 workers say they expect to retire before age 60, when in fact 36% of retirees say they stopped working before 60. Comparatively, only 29% of workers retired between the ages of 60 and 64 and only 9% retired at the traditional age of 65. The odds of making it until age 70 and still working — which more than one-quarter of workers say they want to do — are even slimmer. A mere 6% manage to last that long. “Most retirees retired earlier than they planned predominantly due to health problems,” says Luke Vandermillen, vice president of the Principal Financial Group, a co-sponsor of the study. “All you can do is try to control what you have planned, how you have saved, and whether you’ve taken steps to prepare for retirement as best you can.” What’s clear is that the vast majority of premature retirees did not leave work because they wanted to. Sixty percent of premature retirees cited health issues or a disability as the reason. Others had little choice in the matter — their company downsized or closed, leaving them out of a job (27%), or they needed to care for a spouse or family member (22%).
Comment: In the elevator today ... chatting briefly with a woman whom I see from time to time. Me: "When are you going to retire?" She: "Three years". Me: "Sometimes I don't think I can take it anymore". She: Laughs, "My financial advisor says I need to work until I am 62". Me thinking ... 49 more weeks .... to quote Kimmy: "Just take it 10 seconds at a time and everything will be okay". Some Kimmy Schmidt motivational posters.

More: Work in Retirement? Don’t Bet on It

“People consistently overestimate their ability to work in retirement,” says Mr. Vandermillen. Among the things that can cause people to leave the workforce earlier than they expect are health crises, layoffs and ageism on the part of prospective employers.

... Jim Emerman, executive vice president at encore.org, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promotes second careers in the nonprofit sector, says he isn’t surprised by the large gap between those who want to work in retirement and those who actually do so. Due to ageism, he says, “those who expect to find paid work in retirement often can’t.” Over time, Mr. Emerman says, he “expects we will see the gap narrow” as employers come to realize that older, experienced workers can help solve projected skills gaps and labor shortages. “If we want a healthier, more productive, more engaged society, employers need to make opportunities available to older people and meet them halfway,” by providing flexible arrangements, he says. “These opportunities aren’t there yet but we will see more of them as we see a rethinking of the roles older people can play.” According to the EBRI survey, 83% of today’s retirees who are working say they are doing so because they enjoy it. Almost 80% say their motivation is to stay active and involved. But 54% say they enjoy earning money to pay for extras. And 52% say they need their paychecks to make ends meet.

Comment: Why I'm still working ... I enjoy investing and the the income enables that. Also I enjoy my friends at work.

The Man behind the first Monster Truck



Meet the Man Behind the First Bigfoot Monster Truck - The giant pickup’s creator celebrates 40 years of driving a vehicle with 700-pound wheels

Excerpt:

The first Bigfoot is still my original Ford pickup. The tires come from fertilizer spreaders that farmers use to lug 30,000 pounds of fertilizer. They’re 66 inches tall and 34 wide. The axles comes from a five-ton military truck, and the engine is a modified Ford—640 cubic inches. The truck runs on alcohol, not gasoline. As for fuel economy, it’s not so much miles per gallon, but gallons per mile. The name Bigfoot comes from my shop manager, who used to make fun of me for breaking my truck, because I’d stomp on the accelerator too hard.
Comment: Official Site. Image snap from Roadside America

IPOs and "Unicorn" Investing






Horses vs. unicorns: Public companies at big disadvantage to hot startups

Excerpt:


Many wolf whistles and eye rolls have been directed at the swelling valuations of marquee private young "unicorns," or private companies worth $1 billion or more: Uber valued by venture capital firms at $40 billion, Airbnb at $20 billion, Snapchat at $15 billion, Spotify at more than $8 billion. Yet less noticed is how tough it is for already-public companies that operate adjacent to these private juggernauts to compete for attention and market share. They need to struggle to produce bottom-line results for demanding investors today, rather than a glorious payoff in some bountiful, idealized future. It's tough to be a workhorse when being judged against unicorns.
Etsy shares have been getting smoked since last week's crazy debut

Excerpt:


After a crazy debut, Etsy shares have been getting crushed. The stock fell by up to 9% in trading on Monday afternoon to as low as $24.87. Shares of the Brooklyn-based online craft marketplace are now 24% lower than their debut price of $31 per share. The stock jumped 87% on its first day on the market and closed at $30 after its IPO priced at $16 per share the night before. In a note Friday, Wedbush analysts said the stock was overvalued: "We believe that at 84x estimated 2015 EBITDA after the IPO, ETSY is trading well beyond the high end of any comparable group." They maintained a "neutral" rating on the stock with a price target of $14.
Investing in IPOs: Why Investors Should Proceed with Caution

Excerpt:


The allure of an initial public offering [IPO] is much like a Siren’s song—so captivating that it can make investors lose sight of reason, and so tempting that it often causes investors to abandon the fundamental principles that guide sound decision-making. Warren Buffett aptly described the IPO market recently, stating that “initial public offerings are almost always bad investments.” Indeed, the hype surrounding IPOs frequently pushes those companies out of “attractive value” territory, oftentimes before shares are even made available to the public. There are five main qualities investors should look for in a company before they buy shares. Those five qualities are: strong earnings, attractive valuations, experienced and proven management, competitive advantage over peers, and a positive macroeconomic environment that should support the company’s future growth. The great irony of IPOs? They often lack strength in many or all of those categories, yet, investors are still willing to pay exorbitant premiums to own shares! From a human nature standpoint, I understand why—the prospect of making a quick fortune is enticing and the possibility of being an early investor in the “next big thing” can get the better of our impulses. Sure, sometimes it turns out to be a good bet however, in my experience and based on research—most of the time it’s a bad one.
Comments: Unicorn image source. ETSY image is snap from homepage.  My take on IPO's is that an investor is buying "buzz".  The ETSY chart displays faintly but for a direct link ... here.




Who uses checkbooks?



Why we still use checkbooks to pay the rent - A fragmented rental market and old habits help keep checkbooks in existence

Excerpts:

Across the U.S. economy, check use fell 57 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to the most recent data from the Federal Reserve.

... “Most young renters only have a checkbook to pay the rent,” says Jonathan Eppers, chief executive at RadPad, a Santa Monica (Calif.)-based startup that facilitates electronic rent payments. Despite the convenience to landlords and tenants of managing lease payments digitally, 70 percent of U.S. renters still pay by check, according to PayLease, another e-rent facilitator.

... old habits die hard, even for the tech-savvy. A survey published by the National Multifamily Housing Council found that 79 percent of renters would prefer to pay electronically. But the companies that help landlords accept e-payments have had to dangle goodies in front of tenants to get them to make the switch. RentMoola, a Vancouver-based startup, offers deals from companies that include Uber and 1800Flowers to renters who pay online. International Bancard, which operates an electronic rent-pay service, hosts pizza parties at which company employees walk tenants through the sign-up process, says Jessica Fields, a senior vice president at the company. Checks, as a common way to pay rent, will almost certainly go away, eventually. The question is what type of payment will replace them. Smartphone payments service Venmo sees spikes in usage around the first of the month, spokeswoman Lisa Kornblatt says. Landlords, meanwhile, will likely continue to add options for tenants to pay online via bank transfer. And third-party players such as RadPad accept debit- and credit-card payments from renters, then cut checks to landlords.
Comments: Image source.

  • We use bill pay for almost everything. Most purchases go on a credit card. Bill pay is used for everthing except (examples):
    • We sent a handwritten check to a small Methodist church as a memorial upon the death of my cousin.
    • When we send birthday gifts to loved ones we include a handwritten check in with the birthday card.
    • We have a separate checking account just for handwritten checks
  • I estimate that we write 20 checks a year.  


4.20.2015

King of ♧ killed in battle



Saddam aide Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri 'killed' in Iraq

Excerpt:

Fugitive Iraqi militant leader Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was right-hand man to Iraq's ex-leader Saddam Hussein, has been killed, Iraqi officials say. They say he died in fighting in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad. His supporters have denied the claim. Douri, 72, led the Naqshbandi Order insurgent group, a key force behind the recent rise of Islamic State (IS). He was deputy to Saddam Hussein, who was ousted when US-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003 and executed in 2006. Douri was regarded as the most high-profile official of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to successfully evade capture after the invasion, and had a large bounty on his head for years. He was the King of Clubs in the famous pack of cards the US issued of wanted members of Saddam Hussein's regime after its defeat.
More: Paraded in a glass coffin, the King of Clubs returns to Baghdad: Body of ISIS commander who was former Saddam henchman is handed over to authorities. Part of gang known on the famous deck of cards (of which my son, who served in Iraq, brought home with him.). Wiki article

Burger Flippers verses Momentum Machine: Who will win?



Will Minimum Wage Protesters Order Fries From Their Burger-Flipping Robot Replacements? Excerpt:

The Momentum Machines website is low-key right now, but that may have something to do with high-profile arguments in the press and protests in the streets demanding that fast-food chains pay workers $15 an hour to do the job the company's robots are designed to fill. Even before those placard-wielders decided to raise their costs in terms of dollars and grief, the San Francisco-based start-up announced that they were obsolete.
Comment: Image capture from Fast Food Robot Builds The Perfect Burger. Momentum Machines website. Johnny Cash's "The Legend Of John Henry's Hammer" comes to mind: "I'll die with my hammer in my hand, but I'll be laughing, cuz you can't replace a steel driven man". But I'm guessing that MM will beat the flipper!

4.19.2015

Death Wish: "Do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016"



Larry Upright Obituary
Excerpt:

Larry Darrell Upright, 81, passed away Monday, April 13, 2015, at CMC- NorthEast in Concord. Darrell was born Aug. 15, 1933, in Cab- arrus County to the late Arthur and Mary Ruth Upright. He was also preceded in death by his son, Joel Allen Upright. He is survived by his beloved wife and devoted caregiver, Colleen McDonald Upright; son Michael D. Upright; daughter Jill Upright McLain and husband Phil; granddaughters McKenzie Upright Brady and husband Logan, Lindsay McLain Leece and husband Jason and Laura McLain. He was a member and past Master of Allen-Graham 695 Masonic Lodge and a former Shriner of the Year at Cabarrus Shrine Club. He retired from the Building Automation Industry and in his retirement was an avid golfer and member of The Club at Irish Creek. Darrell's greatest joy was his family, and he will forever be remembered as a loving husband, father and Grandaddy. Arrangements: The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Whitley's Funeral Home. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at Whitley's Funeral Home Chapel officiated by Mr. Bill Jolley. Burial will follow at Carolina Memorial Park with Masonic rites. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Shriners Hospital for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607. Also, the family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. R.I.P. Grandaddy.
Comment: HT: Article

Adderall abuse on the rise


Workers Seeking Productivity in a Pill Are Abusing A.D.H.D. Drugs

Excerpt:

Fading fast at 11 p.m., Elizabeth texted her dealer and waited just 30 minutes for him to reach her third-floor New York apartment. She handed him a wad of twenties and fifties, received a tattered envelope of pills, and returned to her computer. Her PowerPoint needed another four hours. Investors in her health-technology start-up wanted re-crunched numbers, a presentation begged for bullet points and emails from global developers would keep arriving well past midnight. She gulped down one pill — pale orange, like baby aspirin — and then, reconsidering, took one of the pinks, too. “O.K., now I can work,” Elizabeth exhaled. Several minutes later, she felt her brain snap to attention. She pushed her glasses up her nose and churned until 7 a.m. Only then did she sleep for 90 minutes, before arriving at her office at 9. The pills were versions of the drug Adderall, an amphetamine-based stimulant prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that many college students have long used illicitly while studying. Now, experts say, stimulant abuse is graduating into the work force. Reliable data to quantify how many American workers misuse stimulants does not exist, several experts said. But in interviews, dozens of people in a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication. Doctors and medical ethicists expressed concern for misusers’ health, as stimulants can cause anxiety, addiction and hallucinations when taken in high doses. But they also worried about added pressure in the workplace — where the use by some pressures more to join the trend. “You’d see addiction in students, but it was pretty rare to see it in an adult,” said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, a substance-abuse treatment facility for women outside Chicago. “We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45,” she said.
Comment: My drug of choice is java. Image source

4.17.2015

Coke spill took down Bloomberg servers?



Did a spilt can of COKE cause the City computer blackout that brought the world's financial markets to a standstill? 

Excerpt:

Bloomberg blamed a 'combination of hardware and software failures in the network' for the outage, which was first reported at around 8.20am and lasted into the afternoon. But reports from inside the company suggested that a spilled can of Coke in one of the server rooms had been responsible for knocking out systems across two continents.


Bloomberg had a massive unexplained outage this morning

Excerpt:

Bloomberg terminals went down for nearly two and half hours on Friday. All around the world, Bloomberg terminals refused to connect. No clear cause has been announced yet and hundreds of thousands of traders were pretty much locked out of the world's dominant trading and data platform. Bloomberg confirmed the outage but no cause has been mentioned so far, tweeting: "We are currently restoring service to those customers who were affected by today’s network issue and are investigating the cause." It also looks like some people switched to the less popular Reuters system during the outage.
Comments: You can scare your local IT server administrator with the faux Coke spill (above) that you may purchase here. Middle image is a screen shot from the above article. I have my own soda spill story during a conversion. It wasn't my spill and it wasn't in a server room but it did mess up some documentation.

Israel Switt's Double Eagles returned to Family



Court Orders U.S. Mint to Return Famed Coins to Family - Government confiscated Double Eagle gold coins from Langbord family in 2004

Excerpt:

A federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. Mint must return 10 rare gold coins to the heirs of a Philadelphia coin dealer who obtained them decades ago under mysterious circumstances. By a 2-to-1 vote, a panel of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Friday ruled that the coins, famed Depression-era $20 gold pieces known as “Double Eagles,” were improperly confiscated by the government in 2004, and must be returned to Joan Langbord and her two sons. In 2003, Ms. Langbord found the coins in a safe-deposit box originally owned by her deceased father, Israel Switt. According to the court, “at the insistence of the Mint and against the wisdom of the Secret Service and multiple other agencies, the Government opted to ignore” a federal law governing seized property. “Now, the Langbords are entitled to the return of the Double Eagles.” A spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department in Philadelphia, which handled the case for the government, said the office was weighing its options. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Department, which operates the U.S. Mint, declined to comment. “Today’s decision upholds the rule of law and makes clear that the government will be held accountable when it violates the rights of its citizens and the clear mandate of Congress,” said Barry Berke, an attorney for the Langbords.
Comment: Image captured from 2012 article that has the background. More from 2011 Coinweek article. Wiki on the famed Double Eagle

4.15.2015

The Ultimate Final Exam

Ultimate Final Exam

Instructions: Read each question thoroughly. Answer all questions. Time limit - four hours. Begin immediately.
 
History
Describe the history of the Papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrate specifically but not exclusively, on the social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America and Africa. Be brief, concise and specific.
Literature
Compose an epic poem based on the events of your own life in which you see and footnote allusions from T.S. Eliot, Keats, Chaucer, Dante, Norse mythology and the Marx brothers. Critique your poem with a full discussion of its metrics.

Music
Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate it and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.
Art
Explain the Mona Lisa's smile.  Relate all interpretations associated with it.
Religion
Assuming the Judeo-Christian moral structure, take the stand for Adam and Eve, and the eating of the forbidden fruit. Explain your position fully to a Chassidic Rabbi, and answer his arguments. An Anglican bishop will moderate this debate.
Logic
Using accepted methodology prove all four of the following: the universe is infinite; truth is beauty; there is not a little person who turns off the light in the refrigerator when you close the door, and that you are the person taking this exam. Now disprove all of the above. Be specific; show all work.
Philosophy
Sketch the development of human thought; estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.
Epistemology
Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.
Medicine
You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your own appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.
Biology
Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed five hundred years earlier, with special attention to the probable effects on the English Parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.
Psychology
Employing principles from the major schools of psychoanalytic thought, successfully subject yourself to analysis. Make appropriate personality changes, bill yourself and fill out all medical insurance forms. Now do the same to the person seated to your immediate left. Also, based on your degree of knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the following Alexander of Aphrodisias, Rameses II, Gregory of Nicea, Hammurabi. Support your evaluations with quotations from each man's work, making appropriate references. It is not necessary to translate.
Sociology
Estimate the sociological problems that might accompany the end of the world. Construct and experiment to test your theory.
Economics
Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of you plan in the following areas Cubism, the Donatist controversy, the wave theory of light. Outline a method from all points of view. Point out deficiencies in your argument as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.
Computer Science
Define computer. Define Science. How do they relate? Why? Create a generalized algorithm to optimize all computer decisions. Assuming an 1130 CPU supporting 50 terminals, each terminal to activate your algorithm, design the communications to interface and all the necessary control programs.
Management Science
Define Management. Define Science. How do they relate? Why? Create a generalized algorithm to optimize all managerial decisions. Assuming an 1130 CPU supporting 50 terminals, each terminal to activate your algorithm; design the communications interface and all necessary control programs.
Public Speaking
2,500 riot-crazed students are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.
Physics
Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.
Modern Physics
Disprove Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Construct an experiment to prove your position.
Engineering
The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed in a box on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In ten minutes a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel is appropriate. Prove your assertions, and be prepared to cost- and motion- justify your decision.
Agricultural Science
Outline the steps involved in breeding your own super high yield, all weather hybrid strain of wheat. Describe its chemical and physical properties and estimate its impact on world food supplies. Construct a model for dealing with world-wide surpluses. Write your Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
Comprehension
Three minute time test. Read everything before doing anything. Put your name in the upper right hand corner of this page. Circle the word name in sentence three. Sign your name under the title of this paper, after the title write yes, yes, yes. Put an X in the lower left hand corner of this paper. Draw a triangle around the X you just put down. On the back of this paper multiply 703x668. Loudly call out your name when you get to this point. If you think you have followed directions carefully to this point call out "I have." Punch three small holes in the top of this paper. If you are the first person to get this far, call out "I am the first person to this point, I am leading in following directions." On the reverse side of this paper add 8950 and 9850. Put a circle around your answer and put a square around the circle. Now that you have finished reading carefully, do only sentence two.
Political Science
There is a red telephone on the desk behind you. Start World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.
Jurisprudence
In Part 2 of Shakespeare's "Henry VI", Jack Cade, the leader of the Populist revolt, proposes that the first order of business following a successful coup d'e'tat could be to "kill all the lawyers". In light of the present populist mood in the United States, assess the utility and any potential impact of such a policy today.
Foreign Affairs
It has recently been suggested (especially after Black Monday) that only a foreign war can restore America's lost national consensus. Propose the ideal opponent(s) for the US in such a war, and how the conflict might be engineered so that US would seem not to be the aggressor in the situation. Discuss the pros and cons.
Mathematics
Give today's date, in metric.
Chemistry
Transform lead into gold. You will find a tripod and three logs under your seat. Show all work including Feynman diagrams and quantum functions for all steps. You have fifteen minutes.
General Knowledge
Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.
Extra Credit
Define the Universe. Give two examples.
Image source Source of exam: This has been floating around for decades but here is a webpage.

4.14.2015

Modern Day Abomination of Molech - The Killing of One's Own Chidlren


"Molech babylon" by From Menant, "Glyptique Orientale" - Jewish Encyclopedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


Pierre Collins Charged With Murder In Son’s Death

Excerpt:



According to the criminal complaint, Pierre Collins’ cell phone was pinged at the park along the river both at the time of Barway’s disappearance and earlier that morning at 9:27 a.m. A witness at the apartment complex also reported to police seeing Barway get into his father’s vehicle before going missing. Pierre Collins was unemployed, but his wife didn’t know. Two days before the disappearance, Pierre Collins increased Barway’s life insurance policy from $30,000 to $50,000, the complaint said. “Both of them were unemployed and we knew they had debts,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at the press conference Tuesday afternoon. On Monday, police spoke to Pierre Collins. He said if police had enough to arrest him, they should come and get him, the complaint said. He was arrested that day. The complaint continues that Barway’s feet were bound with duct tape and there was also duct tape on his torso. His body was in the water for several weeks. His cause and manner of death has still not been released.
Comment: Molech.  Mr. Collins is the alleged killer and is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

4.12.2015

Moneyball for Churches



This blog post is neither about Money nor Baseball!



Rethinking Church Planting

Excerpt:

There are scores of white collar, middle and upper income, educated, successful professionals in our churches who have untapped capacity in terms of their time and energy. These guys can be motivated and equipped to plant churches.
Comment: Moneyball  is fundamentally about player evaluation and winning with the most cost-efficient use of talent. The book was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt. What this has to do with church:

  • Every Christian has a set of spiritual gifts sovereignly granted by the Holy Spirit
  • Every Christian additionally has talents, abilities and life experiences
  • Wise church leadership will strategically utilize those whom God has lead to that local church
  • To not tap that talent is ... well foolish and a waste.