3.31.2009

Spam 94% of All E-Mail

Spam Back to 94% of All E-Mail

Excerpt:

Spam, that annoying but ignorable scourge of the Web, has finally recovered from the jolt it received last November, when Internet backbone providers cut off McColo Corporation, a California Web-hosting service that spammers were using to coordinate e-mail attacks.

The average seven-day spam volume during the latter half of March is now at roughly the same levels as October of last year — around 94 percent of all e-mail — according to the antispam company Postini, a division of Google.

At first, the McColo takedown cut global spam traffic by about 70 percent, according to Postini, which provides e-mail security for more than 50,000 businesses and 15 million business users. “By far, it was the most dramatic event we have ever seen,” said Adam Swidler, product marketing manager for Postini Services.

But this year, average spam volumes have increased about 1.2 percent each day. And there is evidence that spammers are now building more decentralized, peer-to-peer spamming botnets that no longer rely on the visible and vulnerable control nodes that they were using at McColo to guide their spam e-mail campaigns.


Comment: GMail does a super job of stopping SPAM! I have another email host - Fastmail.net - that likewise does a super job (I've never had one SPAM email to this account).

3.30.2009

Obama Goodwrench



Comment: See my previous post for his quote!

Government Motors

U.S. Forces Out GM CEO Wagoner

Excerpt:

The Obama administration used the threat of withholding more bailout money to force out General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and administer harsh medicine to Chrysler LLC, marking one of the most dramatic government interventions in private industry since the economic crisis began last year.

The administration's auto team announced the departure of Mr. Wagoner on Sunday. In a summary of its findings, the task force added that it doesn't believe Chrysler is viable as a stand-alone company and suggested that the best chance for success for both GM and Chrysler "may well require utilizing the bankruptcy code in a quick and surgical way."

The move also indicates that the Treasury Department intends to wade more deeply than most observers expected into the affairs of the country's largest and oldest car company.

After more than a month of analysis, the administration's auto task force determined that neither company had put forward viable plans to restructure and survive. The verdict was gloomier for Chrysler. The government said it would provide Chrysler with capital for 30 days to cut a workable arrangement with Fiat SpA, the Italian auto maker that has a tentative alliance with Chrysler.


Comment: If you take the government money they can make you "dance to their tune". I have a Fiat story: Back when I was in seminary school ('78-80) we needed a new car. Our old Plymouth was a gas hog and had well over 100,000 miles on it. We looked at a Fiat 128. Years ago people used to joke that FIAT stood for "Fix It Again Tony".

Update: President Obama's remarks on U.S. car industry

Excerpt:

It is my hope that the steps I am announcing today will go a long way towards answering many of the questions people may have about the future of GM and Chrysler. But just in case there are still nagging doubts, let me say it as plainly as I can -- if you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always. Your warrantee will be safe.

In fact, it will be safer than it's ever been. Because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warrantee.


Comment: You probably will need to stand in line at the post office or petition the IRS to get warranty work done! Maybe they can start "means testing" the owners to see if their income is low enough to have work done on their car!

3.29.2009

Red River update

River Crests, and Fargo Averts Danger for Now

Excerpt:

Frigid temperatures unexpectedly slowed the rising waters here Saturday, offering a hopeful but still uncertain sign to a city that had raced for daysto hold back the Red River by piling sand on top of sand on top of sand.

...

Still, the water levels near both this city of 90,000 and Moorhead, Minn., just across the river, remained higher Saturday afternoon than they have ever been recorded here before, and were likely to stay nearly as swollen for days, gurgling precariously close to the tops of the miles and miles of dikes people created.



Comment: Our Son (6 years the the USMC) joined the Minnesota National Guard in January. He is on watch to be going to the flood zone. He packed all of his gear up yesterday.

3.28.2009

Why not?



Shane McConkey dies in ski base jumping accident

Excerpt:

Extreme skiier and base jumping pro Shane McConkey has died in a ski-base accident while filming his latest movie in Italy.

McConkey started as a competitive freestyle skier, them moved on to extreme skiing movies. He won several national and international skiing competitions, including the X Games and World Extreme Skiing Championships, but became best known for combining base jumping with skiing.

According to ESPN, McConkey experienced problems in the air after launching off a cliff with the expectation of deploying his parachute canopy and then gliding down to the ground. A witness said a ski failed to come off in the air, causing McConkey to spin out of control, preventing him from deploying his parachute.


Comment: Risk and consequences. Sad. YouTube is an old video. Title is a quote from the video.

3.26.2009

Propitiation

Propitiation





Comment: From my other blog

Netbooks

When Laptops Go Light

Excerpt:

A netbook is a laptop with a shrunken screen, an undersize keyboard and a processor that’s so slow, you’d have laughed at it in 2007. The netbooks’ crucial attractions are tiny dimensions, light weight and low cost, usually $350 to $500. Otherwise, they’re all about compromises.

The term “netbook” is a euphemism, intended to stress its main functions: e-mail, Web browsing, chat, Skype and word processing. The hope is to distract you from what netbooks are too feeble to do well: Photoshop, video editing, games and so on.


Comment: Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu - fun in a small box!

"Hillary: the Movie" and free speech

Free Speech: The Movie - Time for the Supreme Court to overturn McCain-Feingold.

Excerpt:

McCain-Feingold is a frontal assault on political speech, and President Bush's decision to sign it while claiming to dislike it was one of the worst moments of his eight years in office. Citizens United gives the Justices a new opportunity to chip away at this attack on the First Amendment, and even better if they use it to declare the whole thing unconstitutional.


Comment: This is a good "free speech" test case.

Propitiation



Key salvation terms


Comment: From my other blog. We just concluded Romans 3:9-21 in our Bible study last night: All the world guilty before God. Next week we will be discussing "propitiation". Interested readers may find this a blessing.

3.25.2009

Obama's Gordian Knot




Comment: Alexander the Great / Gordian Knot. Is Obama's Gordian Knot the economy?

Every British child born owing £ 20,000



Comment: The future of the US (and it is not that far away!)

More: Czech premier, currently European Union president, calls US economic measures 'a way to hell'

A top European Union politician on Wednesday slammed U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as "a way to hell."

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the European Parliament that President Barack Obama's massive stimulus package and banking bailout "will undermine the stability of the global financial market."

3.23.2009

Tired of the Dollar

At G20, Kremlin to Pitch New Currency

Excerpt:

The Kremlin published its priorities Monday for an upcoming meeting of the G20, calling for the creation of a supranational reserve currency to be issued by international institutions as part of a reform of the global financial system.

The International Monetary Fund should investigate the possible creation of a new reserve currency, widening the list of reserve currencies or using its already existing Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, as a "superreserve currency accepted by the whole of the international community," the Kremlin said in a statement issued on its web site.

The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries.

The Kremlin has persistently criticized the dollar's status as the dominant global reserve currency and has lowered its own dollar holdings in the last few years. Both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have repeatedly called for the ruble to be used as a regional reserve currency, although the idea has received little support outside of Russia.


China calls for new reserve currency

Excerpt:

China’s central bank on Monday proposed replacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund.

In an essay posted on the People’s Bank of China’s website, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank’s governor, said the goal would be to create a reserve currency “that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies”.


Comment: A reaction to the loose spending Obama administration (that is making money out of thin air)!

Congress: ‘Hypocrisy’ on Travel

Congress ‘Hypocrisy’ on Trips Angers Hotel Executives

Excerpt:

The U.S. Senate last month passed a measure limiting “luxury” spending for corporate travel by recipients of federal bailout funds. Two weeks later, about two dozen senators of both parties left town for political meetings on the Florida coast.

...

Over the weekend of Feb. 27, two weeks after the Senate passed the measure, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party fundraising arms for Senate candidates, each held their annual winter meetings in Florida.

Naples Fundraiser

About a dozen Democrats, including Dodd, 64, gathered at the Marriott-operated Ritz-Carlton resort in Naples, Florida. Donors who gave at least $15,000 were invited and offered a “coastal view” room at the group rate of $469, according to the Democrats’ invitation.

At least 11 Republican senators held a similar retreat at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach. Rooms could be had for $475 a night. For another $292, participants could play in a golf tournament. The invitation urged guests to make reservations for the resort’s spa “indulgences.”


Comment: No surprises there!

When nobody will lend to America

Soon there may be nobody left to lend to America

Excerpt:

... Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said he was “a little bit worried” that America might cheapen its currency and pay back the $1.2 trillion it owes in depreciated dollars. Now that the Fed has moved, he must be a lot worried.

The Fed’s decision to pump trillions into the money markets comes on top of President Barack Obama’s proposal to drive the federal deficit to 12% of GDP by borrowing trillions to fund a few stimulus projects, universal healthcare, a green energy system and a host of other programmes on his wish list. Obama’s assurance that America will never default on its debt hasn’t completely soothed the markets: The Wall Street Journal reports that it now costs seven times as much to buy insurance against an American government default as it did only a year ago. Besides, America can always inflate its way out of its obligations.

Not to worry, says the president. The economy will soon be growing at an annual rate of about 4%. Along with the tax increases to be imposed on the top 2% of earners, billions from the sale of carbon-pollution permits and reductions in age-related entitlements, the growth will drive the deficit down to 3% of GDP in 2013. Unfortunately, 2% of earners can’t or won’t carry the entire burden, ...


Comment: When nobody will lend to America, we will be like Iceland!

3.22.2009

Obama budget will bankrupt US

Sen. Gregg says Obama budget will bankrupt US

Excerpt:

Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire ... says President Barack Obama's massive budget proposal will bankrupt the country.

...

The senator said Obama's spending plan in the midst of a prolonged recession would leave the next generation with a country too expensive to live in.


Comment: Some call it, rightly I think, generational theft!

3.21.2009

The Conficker Worm

The Conficker Worm: April Fool’s Joke or Unthinkable Disaster?

Excerpt:

The Conficker worm is scheduled to activate on April 1, and the unanswered question is: Will it prove to be the world’s biggest April Fool’s joke or is it the information age equivalent of Herman Kahn’s legendary 1962 treatise about nuclear war, “Thinking About the Unthinkable”?

Conficker is a program that is spread by exploiting several weaknesses in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Various versions of the software have spread widely around the globe since October, mostly outside the United States because there are more computers overseas running unpatched, pirated Windows. (The program does not infect Macintosh or Linux-based computers.)

An estimated 12 million or more machines have been infected. However, many have also been disinfected, so a precise census is difficult to obtain.


Comment:from Wiki Conficker

3.20.2009

Circus-style politics

U.S. law-making is riddled with slapdash, incompetence and gamesmanship

Excerpt:

Helicopter Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve is dropping trillions of fresh paper dollars on the world economy, the President of the United States is cracking jokes on late night comedy shows, his energy minister is threatening a trade war over carbon emissions, his treasury secretary is dithering over a banking reform program amid rising concerns over his competence and a monumentally dysfunctional U.S. Congress is launching another public jihad against corporations and bankers.

As an aghast world — from China to Chicago and Chihuahua — watches, the circus-like U.S. political system seems to be declining into near chaos. Through it all, stock and financial markets are paralyzed. The more the policy regime does, the worse the outlook gets. The multi-ringed spectacle raises a disturbing question in many minds: Is this the end of America?

Obama's message to Iran



Comment: I think President Obama is naive!

Board Boot Camp

Today I attended the Board Boot Camp sponsored by Management Assistance Program

Topics:


  • The difference between nonprofit and for-profit entities and board service
  • Financial reporting (non-profits should publicly provide an income statement and a balance sheet to their stakeholders)
  • Legal considerations
  • Board member “must do” roles and responsibilities
  • How to be an effective trustee

Comments: Here's a class that every church deacon should attend. (in most Baptist churches, deacons also serve as Trustees). I'm amazed by the paltry financial reporting some non-profits (and churches) provide.

3.19.2009

Vote yourself out of a job!

Workers reject pay cut, N.Y. parts plant to close

Excerpt:

A subsidiary of Magna International Inc. says it will start winding down operations in Syracuse, N.Y., after workers narrowly rejected concessions to keep the plant alive.

Workers at Magna's New Process Gear voted 52 per cent against a deal that would have slashed their wages by about 20 per cent to $16 (U.S.) if the factory was unable to break even by July 1.

Just two years ago, workers earned more than $29 an hour.

The plant, which employs about 1,400 people, makes transfer cases to switch power from two- to four-wheel drive vehicles.

It is one of the largest industrial employers in central New York state.

As a result of the UAW workers' decision, which is the second rejection of a tentative contract this year, Aurora-based Magna said it would initiate a shutdown plan and begin the transfer of work to other operations.


Comment: "half a loaf" (or in this case "80%" loaf is better than "no loaf".

HT: The Truth about Cars.

More sad manufacturing news: Workers sorry Vise-Grip plant moving to China

Chick-Fil-A Yesterday



Comment: More here.

3.18.2009

Chaplains OK w ban on God's name

Chaplain at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton resigns over ban on word 'God'

Excerpt:



A chaplain at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton has resigned, she says, over a ban on use of the words "God" or "Lord" in public settings.

Chaplains still speak freely of the Almighty in private sessions with patients or families but, the Rev. Mirta Signorelli said: "I can't do chaplain's work if I can't say 'God' — if I'm scripted."

Hospice CEO Paula Alderson said the ban on religious references applies only to the inspirational messages that chaplains deliver in staff meetings. The hospice remains fully comfortable with ministers, priests and rabbis offering religious counsel to the dying and grieving.

"I was sensitive to the fact that we don't impose religion on our staff, and that it is not appropriate in the context of a staff meeting to use certain phrases or 'God' or 'Holy Father,' because some of our staff don't believe at all," Alderson said.

Signorelli, of Royal Palm Beach, said the hospice policy has a chilling effect that goes beyond the monthly staff meetings. She would have to watch her language, she said, when leading a prayer in the hospice chapel, when meeting patients in the public setting of a nursing home and in weekly patient conferences with doctors, nurses and social workers.

"If you take God away from me," she said, "it's like taking a medical tool away from a nurse."

A devout Christian who acquired a master's degree in theology after a career as a psychologist, running a program for abused and neglected children, Signorelli has been ministering to the dying for 13 years. She worked at the Hospice of Palm Beach County before moving seven years ago to Hospice by the Sea, a community-based nonprofit organization that cares for terminally ill patients in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Signorelli said that she and other chaplains were told Feb. 23 to "cease and desist from using God in prayers."

Signorelli said her supervisor recently singled her out for delivering a spiritual reflection in the chapel that included the word "Lord" and had "a Christian connotation."

"But that was the 23rd Psalm," Signorelli said — not, strictly speaking, Christian, as it appears in the Old Testament.

"And I am well aware that there were people from the Jewish tradition in attendance. I didn't say Jesus or Allah or Jehovah. I used 'Lord' and 'God,' which I think are politically correct. I think that's as generic as you can get."

Signorelli resigned Feb. 25.

None of the six other chaplains objected to the ban on God's name, she said.


Comment: My comment is the bolding of the last sentence!

3.16.2009

Why sTocks go into the dryer and never come out

When Stock Prices Drop, Where's the Money?

Excerpts:

Have you ever wondered what happened to your socks when you put them into the dryer and then never saw them again? It's an unexplained mystery that may never have an answer. Many people feel the same way when they suddenly find that their brokerage account balance has taken a nosedive. So, where did that money go? Fortunately, money that is gained or lost on a stock doesn't just disappear. Read to find out what happens to it and what causes it.

...

So, if you purchase a stock for $10 and then sell it for only $5, you will (obviously) lose $5. It may feel like that money must go to someone else, but that isn't exactly true. It doesn't go to the person who buys the stock from you. The company that issued the stock doesn't get it either. The brokerage is also left empty-handed, as you only paid it to make the transaction on your behalf. So the question remains: where did the money go?

The most straightforward answer to this question is that it actually disappeared into thin air, along with the decrease in demand for the stock, or, more specifically, the decrease in investors' favorable perception of it.

But this capacity of money to dissolve into the unknown demonstrates the complex and somewhat contradictory nature of money. Yes, money is a teaser - at once intangible, flirting with our dreams and fantasies, and concrete, the thing with which we obtain our daily bread. More precisely, this duplicity of money represents the two parts that make up a stock's market value: the implicit and explicit value.

On the one hand, money can be created or dissolved with the change in a stock's implicit value, which is determined by the personal perceptions and research of investors and analysts. For example, a pharmaceutical company with the rights to the patent for the cure for cancer may have a much higher implicit value than that of a corner store.

Depending on investors' perceptions and expectations for the stock, implicit value is based on revenues and earnings forecasts. If the implicit value undergoes a change - which, really, is generated by abstract things like faith and emotion - the stock price follows. A decrease in implicit value, for instance, leaves the owners of the stock with a loss because their asset is now worth less than its original price. Again, no one else necessarily received the money; it has been lost to investors' perceptions.

Now that we've covered the somewhat "unreal" characteristic of money, we cannot ignore how money also represents explicit value, which is the concrete worth of a company. Referred to as the accounting value (or sometimes book value), the explicit value is calculated by adding up all assets and subtracting liabilities. So, this represents the amount of money that would be left over if a company were to sell all of its assets at fair market value and then pay off all of liabilities.

...

For instance, in February 2009, Cisco Systems Inc. had 5.81 billion shares outstanding, which means that if the value of the shares dropped by $1, it would be the equivalent to losing more than $5.81 billion in (implicit) value. Because CSCO has many billions of dollars in concrete assets, we know that the change occurs not in explicit value, so the idea of money disappearing into thin air ironically becomes much more tangible. In essence, what's happening is that investors, analysts and market professionals are declaring that their projections for the company have narrowed. Investors are therefore not willing to pay as much for the stock as they were before.

So, faith and expectations can translate into cold hard cash, but only because of something very real: the capacity of a company to create something, whether it is a product people can use or a service people need. The better a company is at creating something, the higher the company's earnings will be and the more faith investors will have in the company.

In a bull market, there is an overall positive perception of the market's ability to keep producing and creating. Because this perception would not exist were it not for some evidence that something is being or will be created, everyone in a bull market can be making money. Of course, the exact opposite can happen in a bear market.

To sum it all up, you can think of the stock market as a huge vehicle for wealth creation and destruction.


Comment: The stock market is now in the destructive phase!

Dick Kovacevich on TARP and "stress tests"

Wells Fargo Assails TARP, Calls Stress Test ‘Asinine’

Excerpts:

Wells Fargo & Co. Chairman Richard Kovacevich criticized the U.S. for retroactively adding curbs to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which he said forced the bank to cut its dividend, and called the administration’s plan for stress-testing banks “asinine.”

When the U.S. Treasury persuaded the nation’s nine biggest banks to accept capital investments in October, it signaled the whole industry was weak, Kovacevich, 65, said in a March 13 speech at Stanford University in California. Even though Wells Fargo didn’t want the money, it must comply with the same rules that the government placed on banks that did need it, he said.

“Is this America -- when you do what your government asks you to do and then retroactively you also have additional conditions?” Kovacevich said. “If we were not forced to take the TARP money, we would have been able to raise private capital at that time” and not needed to cut the dividend to preserve cash, he said.

Kovacevich joins a growing list of bankers who are chafing at restrictions imposed by the TARP program, which affect lending, foreclosures, pay and perks. Lenders including Bank of America Corp., U.S. Bancorp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have said they want to give back the money. More than 500 banks, insurers and credit-card companies applied for TARP capital, and the government has distributed almost $300 billion.

...

Kovacevich said the government is still making mistakes as it tries to save the industry. The “stress test,” designed to determine which of the 19 largest U.S. banks need more capital, provides opportunities for short-sellers to drive down bank stocks and can hurt confidence in the system even more, he said.

The Obama administration announced the test last month and said it will help determine which banks are healthy enough to withstand surging unemployment and tumbling home prices. Results are due by late April, according to the Treasury.

....

“We do stress tests all the time on all of our portfolios,” Kovacevich said. “We share those stress tests with our regulators. It is absolutely asinine that somebody would announce we’re going to do stress tests for banks and we’ll give you the answer in 12 weeks.”


Comment: Interesting read.

Hope on a Rope


HOPE on a ROPE - POLITICAL Soap - Barack OBAMA SOAP


Comment: There are multiple Obama soaps on a rope. This is one.

Chicken McObama?


Tender, Juicy Obama Fingers Hit the Shelves

Excerpt:

A German frozen food company hopes to raise sales with a new product: Obama fingers. The tender, fried chicken bits come with a tasty curry sauce. The company says it was unaware of the possible racist overtones of the product.

Selling products has, of course, become a bit more difficult than usual these days. No wonder then that companies everywhere are turning to optimistic marketing messages in an effort to counteract the steady drum beat of negativity coming from front page headlines around the globe.

Many sales executives have drawn the same conclusion: What better poster child for hope than US President Barack Obama? There are Obama dolls, Obama T-shirts, Obama soap-on-a-rope. There is even Obama thong underwear on offer.

Not wanting to miss the boat, a German food company has now gotten into the act. Sprehe, a company that has all manner of frozen delicacies on offer, has come up with a new product it calls "Obama Fingers." Far from being real digits, though, the "fingers" in question are "tender, juicy pieces of chicken breast, coated and fried," as the product packaging claims.


Comment: Obamamania archive.

3.15.2009

NYTimes: on Trapcall

A Technological Boost to the Cat-and-Mouse Game Between Callers and the Called

Excerpt:

Almost since the dawn of the telephone, people have sought to avoid the unwelcome caller, relying on technologies from the answering machine to caller ID. But pranksters, harassers, bill collectors and telemarketers have found ways to circumvent caller ID by hiding their identities — listing a telephone number as “private caller” or “restricted” with their phone company.

Now, new services are aiming to outfox anonymous callers.

TrapCall, offered by TelTech Systems Inc., based in New Jersey, diverts an anonymous call to an 800 number, and then discloses the incoming number and name to the intended recipient, said Meir Cohen, president and co-founder of the company. The caller hears a normal ring tone and is unaware that the call is being traced to its source.


Website: TrapCall. Only works for cellular.

Has the Economy Hit Bottom Yet?

Has the Economy Hit Bottom Yet?

Excerpt:

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”


Comment: Worthwhile read.

3.14.2009

Galena, Illinois trip

Comment: Kathee and I just got home from a short trip to Galena, IL. We stayed two nights at a Hilton in Dubuque, Iowa. Friday we visited Galena historical district and the Ulysses S. Grant Home. We also visited the Mines of Spain in Iowa. Last night we dinned at Timmerman's Supper Club overlooking the Mississippi. We drove back from Dubuque all along the Mississippi river up to I-90, then across I-90 to Rochester and then home.

3.11.2009

Time to update the DJIA

CITI, GM COULD FACE DOW DELISTING

Excerpt:

John Prestbo, editor and executive director of the DJ Indexes, which selects the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average, said he tracks both companies "every day to see what the status is."

Should either stock be removed, "everything is on the table basically in terms of replacements," Prestbo said.


Comment: Current components here. WFC should replace C and F(ord) should replace GM!

Tax cuts stimulate the economy ... in what country?

Comment: Guess the country and then read. Hint ... it's not the US!

Auto Sales Rise 25% After Tax Cuts

Excerpt:

___________ vehicle sales surged 25 percent in February, the first gain in four months, after the government cut taxes on some models ....

Sales of passenger cars, buses and trucks climbed ...., the ________ Association of Automobile Manufacturers said today in ________.

....

“Consumers are regaining confidence because of the government’s stimulus policies,”

3.10.2009

Fed TARP bucks come with "strings"



Some Banks, Citing Strings, Want to Return Aid

Excerpt:

Financial institutions that are getting government bailout funds have been told to put off evictions and modify mortgages for distressed homeowners. They must let shareholders vote on executive pay packages. They must slash dividends, cancel employee training and morale-building exercises, and withdraw job offers to foreign citizens.

As public outrage swells over the rapidly growing cost of bailing out financial institutions, the Obama administration and lawmakers are attaching more and more strings to rescue funds.

The conditions are necessary to prevent Wall Street executives from paying lavish bonuses and buying corporate jets, some experts say, but others say the conditions go beyond protecting taxpayers and border on social engineering.

Some bankers say the conditions have become so onerous that they want to return the bailout money. The list includes small banks like the TCF Financial Corporation of Wayzata, Minn., and Iberia Bank of Lafayette, La., as well as giants like Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo.

They say they plan to return the money as quickly as possible or as soon as regulators set up a process to accept the refunds. On Tuesday, Signature Bank of New York announced that because of new executive pay restrictions in the economic stimulus package, it notified the Treasury that it intended to return the $120 million it had received from the government only three months ago.

Other institutions like Johnson Bank of Racine, Wis., initially expressed interest in seeking bailout funds but have now changed their minds. Bank executives told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that one reason they rejected the government money was to avoid any disruption in the bank’s role in the local community, including supporting the zoo or opera company if they chose to.

One of the biggest concerns of the banks is that the program lets Congress and the administration pile on new conditions at any time.

The demands to modify mortgages or forestall evictions are especially onerous, some bank executives and experts say, because they could prompt some institutions to take steps that could lead to greater losses.


Comment: "social engineering" indeed! Meanwhile did the Wells CEO get a raise or not? (snapshot from Google reader)

Wells Fargo CEO pay up 10 percent in 2008

Wells Fargo CEO's pay falls 21 percent in 2008

FreeCreditReport.com spoofed by FTC




FTC fights FreeCreditReport.com with spoof ad


Excerpt:

The Federal Trade Commission ... released two videos that spoof the popular FreeCreditReport.com commercials and their trademark catchy tunes.

The government's ads never mention FreeCreditReport.com by name, but the target is clear.

"Beware of others, there's always a catch," the singer croons in one ad that's a dead-ringer for the FreeCreditReport spot set in a restaurant. "They claim to be free but strings are attached."

FreeCreditReport.com is owned by credit bureau Experian, which has been engaged in a decades-long battle with the Federal Trade Commission over alleged misbehavior. Most recently, in 2005, the FTC settled charges with the firm that it intentionally misled customers with its FreeCreditReport.com Web site. The FTC said in its lawsuit that the company was confusing consumers who were looking for their congressionally mandated free annual peek at their credit reports. Experian agreed to refund customers, but admitted no wrongdoing.



Comment: The real free credit report site is www.annualcreditreport.com. The other one, although it has "free" in its name is not! Check your credit report annually!

Quiet Heroism


'It was time to help,' says Keith Melton, congregant now labeled as 'heroic'

Excerpts:

While many in the congregation thought the shooting unfolding before them was some sort of production, Melton quickly realized it was real. He jumped up from his seat in the middle of the sanctuary and ran to the Rev. Fred Winters.

"It was just time to go," said Melton, 51. "It was time to help."

Melton was the first to grab the gunman and pull him off Winters. Others joined in the effort to try to stop the attacker, who also had a knife. Melton and another church member, Terry Bullard, 39, were stabbed in the melee.

...

Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent called Bullard and Melton "heroic" for stopping something that could have been worse. Leaders of the First Baptist Church of Maryville called them brave.

"Some people have the first thought of sitting in their seats, shellshocked, but here's two guys who just responded," said Robert Cunningham, the church's minister of administration. "Somebody has to go after the assailant, and that means personal sacrifice, and Terry and Keith were that kind of person."

Melton was sitting along the aisle when the suspect came through the sanctuary doors and walked past him. Melton thought it was odd he was walking toward the front as Winters was reaching the end of his sermon. The man also had on a heavy coat, which seemed strange given the warm weather early Sunday morning.

Melton's wife, Reka Melton, sat next to him. "I thought maybe this guy needed help and he was going to the pastor," she said.

The man walked slowly, but purposefully, all the way to the edge of the stage where Winters was preaching.

The pastor stopped his sermon. "Good morning," Keith Melton recalled Winters saying. "Can I help you?"

The man pulled out a gun and shot, hitting the Bible the pastor had in his hands, sending shredded bits of it into the air. Many in the crowd thought it was confetti, part of some sort of drama often used in the church services.

Melton said he didn't see the gun, but the gravity in Winters' eyes pulled him from his pew. A second shot rang out, and the pastor screamed, "Somebody help me!" But the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Melton said he was already on his way.

Reka Melton didn't even realize. "My husband was up and gone and there before I knew it," she said.

The pastor either jumped or fell off the side of the stage. The gunman attacked him again. "When I got to them, they were struggling," Keith Melton said. "All four of their hands were together."

He wrapped his arms around the man and pulled him off Winters, slamming him face-forward against a wall. Melton isn't sure at what point more shots rang out, one hitting the pastor in the chest and fatally injuring him.

The gunman broke free, turned and lifted his hand. Melton tried to block him, thinking he still had a gun. He tried to run, but Melton grabbed him by the legs, bringing him to the ground.

Others were around now, helping stop the man and coming to Winters' aid, Melton said. He thinks Bullard was next to him after he slammed the assailant against the wall. "I believe that's when he slashed Terry," Melton said.

The attacker pulled himself under a pew. "That's when he stabbed himself in the throat," Melton said. Other church members got the knife and contained him under the pew until police arrived.

Melton said he didn't realize he was stabbed until he felt something cool on his chest. He ripped open his burgundy dress shirt and saw blood. A nurse in the congregation laid him down on a pew and applied pressure to the wound.


Comment: Please pray for Fred Winters' widow and children!

Winter not over



Today started at about 35 degrees with a gloomy heavy foggy mist. We gassed up the car as we were done to 1/16 of a tank and I did not want to have to fill up on the way home.

We anticipate a long commute home!

I checked my tractor last night and I have 1/4 of a tank. So I should be good to plow tonight (or perhaps tomorrow morning).

3.09.2009

A lost year of WGDP

Comment: WGDP = "World Gross Domestic Product". It's like daylight savings time for your money!

Global Financial Assets Lost $50 Trillion Last Year

Excerpts:

The value of global financial assets including stocks, bonds and currencies probably fell by more than $50 trillion in 2008, equivalent to a year of world gross domestic product, according to an Asian Development Bank report.

Asia excluding Japan probably lost about $9.6 trillion, while the Latin American region saw the value of financial assets drop by about $2.1 trillion, said Claudio Loser, a former International Monetary Fund director and the author of the report that was commissioned by the ADB. The report didn’t give a breakdown of asset declines in other regions.

“The loss of financial wealth is enormous, and the consequences for the economies of the world will unfortunately commensurate,” said Loser, now the Latin American president of strategic advisory firm Centennial Group Inc.. “There are serious economic and political stumbling blocks that may well cause the recovery to be costly and slow to consolidate.”

Some of the world’s biggest financial companies including Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. have collapsed as banks and other financial institutions reported almost $1.2 trillion of losses and writedowns since the start of 2007. Global stock markets lost about $28.7 trillion in 2008, and another $6.6 trillion has been wiped from the value of world equities in 2009.

From "female German cartoon character, named Lilli, who used sex to get what she wanted" to Barbie

50-year-old Barbie, based on 'gag toy for men'

Excerpt:

The now-legendary doll was conceived by Ruth Handler, a daughter of Polish immigrants, said Gerber, author of the newly published "Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World's Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her." She and her husband, Elliott, owned Mattel until a scandal involving accusations of cooked books drove them out in 1975, Gerber said.

Handler, who died in 2002, used to watch her own daughter, Barbara, play with paper dolls. Then, on a trip to Europe, Barbara became fascinated with a buxom doll that Gerber said was based on a female German cartoon character, named Lilli, who used sex to get what she wanted.

"My guess is she didn't know what it was when she bought it," because at that point, four years after the Lilli doll's release, it had landed in European toy stores, the author explained.Handler took the doll back to the states and insisted Mattel designers get to work.

"Who would have thought," Gerber said. Barbie was thought up by a woman and modeled on a cartoon character "who was essentially a prostitute."


Comment: Completely not surprised. Sadly some like the woman below see Barbie as the representation of womanhood:

Cindy Jackson, a 53-year-old woman inspired by Barbie to do much more than collect dolls and splurge on matching outfits.

Over the course of more than two decades, Jackson has gone under the knife for 13 full-scale operations, including multiple procedures each time, and hundreds of less intrusive cosmetic tune-ups in order to achieve the "all-American beauty" look she said Barbie represents.


More on Barbie's measurements:

Ruth Handler, Whose Barbie Gave Dolls Curves, Dies at 85


... Barbie's figure created unrealistic expectations for young girls that could lead to low self-esteem. People often joked that Barbie's measurements were not humanly possible. But in fact it was determined that if the 11 1/2-inch doll were 5-foot-6, her measurements would be 39-21-33. One academic expert calculated that a woman's chances of having Barbie's figure were less than 1 in 100,000.

Funeral Museum at Death’s Door

A Funeral Museum at Death’s Door

Excerpts:

A stone’s throw from Lincoln’s tomb, this unusual cultural repository is an unmistakable reminder that everyone’s days are numbered. Now it seems the same might be true of the museum itself.

Unable to attract enough visitors — the Iowa woman is apparently not the only one who gets the creeps about this place — the museum is struggling to stay alive. The curator position has been eliminated, and the museum’s hours have been cut to appointments only.

These have been difficult days in Springfield, the Illinois capital, as the economy has nose-dived and many people have lost their jobs. Not even funeral parlors are immune, Mr. Marsh said, as survivors sometimes choose thriftier ways to pay respects.

...

Since its founding in 1999, [the museum] has failed to become a destination. In recent years, the museum has attracted about 8,000 customers annually; tickets for adults are $4 and those for children are $2. It has not been nearly enough to cover expenses.

“The original idea was that we’d get enough spillover from people visiting the Lincoln sites,” Mr. Marsh said. “But for whatever reason, that just hasn’t happened. When a business isn’t paying its way, as everyone knows, you have trouble.”


Comment: We visited last year on our Springfield IL Lincoln trip (Lincoln museum, Lincoln tomb, etc). Not a destination museum but it was interesting. I think I did a 30 min walk through. Looks like their website is down today: Funeral Museum.

3.08.2009

Salon takes on "Little Master Conservative"



Bateman: Rush Limbaugh and the littlest Republican


Comment: Fair and balanced reporting ... I show both sides! :)

A Classical School Conservative



Little Mr. Conservative

Excerpt:

He’s an unusual kid with an unusual background. Jonathan’s parents, Doug, a computer systems integrator, and Marla, a sales representative and former actress who teaches drama and speech to middle-school students, have been home-schooling their bright, curious son since the sixth grade. On Fridays, Jonathan joins 10 middle-school students at the Classical School in Woodstock, where classes are taught from a Christian perspective, for five hours of study, including Latin. They have two 10-minute recesses for tag, said Jonathan’s teacher, Stephen P. Gilchrist. Lunch is eaten at their desks while they work.

“Other children his age are not quite sure how to take him,” Mr. Gilchrist said. “Jonathan is so intense, so verbal and a strong personality. But as they get to know him, they respect him for what he is. And he is tons of fun.”

Jonathan’s father oversees his math; he studies Arabic with a tutor.

“Before I got into politics,” Jonathan said as he sat with his parents in the study of their home, “I wanted to be a missionary to people in the Middle East. I thought it would be better to speak with them in their own language.” The family are active members of Peachtree Corners Baptist Church in Norcross, Ga.


Comment: Note he attends a "Classical School" ... where real education takes place!

"born to do the dirty work"


Kathee and I watched To Kill a Mockingbird last night. It's a great book and a good movie. Here's a favorite quote (about Atticus):

"There are people born to do the dirty work for us, and, your father, Scout, is one of those men." (Miss Maudy)


Another:

"If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." (Atticus)

3.07.2009

How long will the recession last? My view


  1. As long as there is unidentified "toxic debt" we won't reach the bottom
  2. As long there are pending ARM resets (and they go out more than a year) we won't reach the bottom
  3. The "stimulus" package is like throwing wet green wood on a dwindling fire. Tax cuts would have better a better (faster) stimulus.
  4. If we are faced with a terrorist act on the scale of 911, it would be a serious test of a very weak economy (aside from the horrendous human toll). We need to pray that President Obama has wisdom to protect our homeland.
  5. The expected unemployment rate was 7.9% and it was 8.1% (Friday's announcement). Unemployment is likely to increase and probably will exceed 10%.
  6. This is more serious than the 1982 recession. I doubt it gets as bad as "the Depression" but it will get worse
  7. People financially stressed with debt will face greater hardship
  8. The amount of "wealth" lost in the stock market will probably not recover in less than 5 years. Probably more than 10.
  9. People will end up deferring retirement
  10. Housing is very affordable and may get more so. But don't buy a house unless you intend to stay in it for at least 7 years.
  11. There will be migration of people from unemployment "hot spots" to areas that are hiring. Bad for Michigan!
  12. GM will file for bankruptcy. Fed $$ to GM a waste of time. Chrysler is not likely to survive.
  13. The stock market is near bottom and probably a good time to start investing in conservative stocks. Don't look for short term gains.
  14. This would be a terrible time for non-profits to borrow - even if they could
  15. Larger non-profits (churches included) will need to restrict hiring / probably have layoffs.
  16. The Pillsbury closure is a harbinger of the destiny of other schools with low enrollment / and debt. Stronger schools (BJU) will survive largely unscathed. Smaller seminaries and schools should preemptively look for merger opportunities for the good of their faculty and students.
  17. If your car is a clunker and you can afford it, a great time to buy a new one.
  18. A good time to avoid school loans. Parents may make more conservative financial decisions pertaining to schools and this could impact enrollment at private schools (see In a Shifting Era of Admissions, Colleges Are Sweating - "it’s like the dot-com bubble burst for higher ed")

Unemployment rates: Interactive map


Geography of a Recession


Comment: From the NYTimes. Companion article: Job Losses Show Breadth of Recession

Unlike the last two recessions — earlier this decade and in the early 1990s — this one is causing much more job loss among the less educated than among college graduates. Those earlier recessions introduced the country to the concept of mass white-collar layoffs. The brunt of the layoffs in this recession is falling on construction workers, hotel workers, retail workers and others without a four-year degree.

The Great Recession of 2008 (and beyond) is hurting men more than women. It is hurting homeowners and investors more than renters or retirees who rely on Social Security checks. It is hurting Latinos more than any other ethnic group. A year ago, a greater share of Latinos held jobs than whites. Today, the two have switched places.

Obama answers the call!


CSI: Minneapolis

Body encased in ice found on Ham Lake golf course

Excerpt:

The face of a man's body encased in ice startled groundskeepers working near the 16th hole of a north metro golf course Friday.

While checking conditions of the Majestic Oaks Golf Course in Ham Lake at about 1:15 p.m., they discovered what appeared to be a face sticking out of the ice covering a pond, said Lt. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.

Initial reports indicated that the head had been severed, but the body appears to be intact, Sommer said Friday night. Because the body was contorted, with its head partially above the ice and body below, along with the apparent toll animals had taken, authorities were initially misled. Most of the face and head appeared to have been eaten at, exposing the throat, Sommer said. It is too early to determine an age of the victim or cause of death, although authorities suspect foul play. Other than damage to the face, the cold appears to have preserved the remainder of the body, Sommer said.

Only a portion of the body was exposed when the workers found it. The remainder was trapped in 2 feet of ice. Authorities used a steamer from the Anoka County Highway Department to remove the body from the ice so as not to damage it.


Comment: I'm thinking of Ducky from N.C.I.S.

3.06.2009

Miscellaneous Friday stuff

It really feels like Spring in Minneapolis. It is gloriously mild. I was outside without a jacket today.

Happenings:


  1. Finally received the last check for the hail damage project. It was monies in a "restricted escrow" with US Bank. I can't figure out the logic of not ACHing the monies. I had to wait for a check to arrive. All the paperwork (the faxes back and forth from our contractor to USBank, contractor to us, USBank to us, us to USBank) was finalized 2/25 ... why did I have to wait 7 business days to have a check mailed. For $ 9 they would have FEDEX'd it after processing (which was Monday) but I would haved had to have been home to sign for it. I didn't have to be home for the same check to put in my mailbox. Which doesn't make sense to me. I was worried about making the 3:00 p.m. deposit window to have it cleared overnight but I drove home at 12:30 and picked up the check and made the deposit.
  2. We recently replaced our furnace and hot water heater. Kathee stayed home to let the City of Plymouth building inspectors in this morning. One said to Kathee, "this is the cleanest furnace room I've ever seen". Probably an exaggeration but Kathee does keep is swept and tidy back there. We upgraded from an old 78% efficient furnace to new 92% efficient furnace. After just one month (our March bill) the gas bill was $ 100 less than the year before. The exhaust gases are cool enough that they can exhaust though a PVC pipe. A wall in our dinning room (like a large square post) has the furnace flue inside of it. That used to be warm to the touch (wasted heat) ... now no furnace exhaust goes that way!
  3. I had lunch with Jason Stamper our Youth Pastor today. Jason is the quintessential Youth Pastor in my mind. As the director of our young adult ministries report to Jason. Lunch at Chili's - how great is that!
  4. Wells dropped the dividend today from .34 cents to .05 cents. Saw it coming. Not a big deal.
  5. Our next level of organization (post merger) was announced today and my boss's boss retains her position over desktop computing. I hope this bodes well for my boss and for me!
  6. I drove back down to the office after lunch. Non-handicapped people probably don't understand this but there is a special bond among handicapped people. I was in an elevator with a blind man - just him and me. He struggled to find the button (which of course is easy for me), but he walks straight - or straight enough with his red tipped white cane to guide him. I told him (in case he could not heard my crutch tip accentuated walking - that probably goes something like thud (from my right foot) clump (from my 2 crutch tips) hitting the floor at approximately the same time) drag (my left foot)) that there was a guy with crutches in the elevator with him. He said "imagine that ... a crippled guy and a blind guy"). We both kind of chuckled and then went our separate ways. Almost sounds like a joke - "there was a blind guy and a cripple in the elevator together .... (not sure what would come next?)"
  7. Other projects. We have a moisture leak in the master bedroom shower. We had a tile man by Monday night and tomorrow will go to pick out tile. The entire shower needs to be redone. I guess that isn't too bad after 13 years of use.


Update ... organization names and levels (all this is new to me with the org announcement):

Levels ... I am in the:


  1. T.O.G. (Technology Operations Group)
  2. T.I.S. (Technology Infrastructure Services)
  3. E.T.S. (Enterprise Technology Services)
  4. E.U.C. (End User Computing)
  5. EUC PO (End User Computing - Program Office)


People need to lighten up a bit. I said our official uniform was the TOGA (think T.O.G.). And our department name is pronounced UCK POO! I still think both are funny but I guess my sense of humor doesn't fit well with everyone's taste!

The Obama Bear Market and my 201K

Obama's Radicalism Is Killing the Dow

Excerpt:

The illusion that Barack Obama will lead from the economic center has quickly come to an end. Instead of combining the best policies of past Democratic presidents -- John Kennedy on taxes, Bill Clinton on welfare reform and a balanced budget, for instance -- President Obama is returning to Jimmy Carter's higher taxes and Mr. Clinton's draconian defense drawdown.

Mr. Obama's $3.6 trillion budget blueprint, by his own admission, redefines the role of government in our economy and society. The budget more than doubles the national debt held by the public, adding more to the debt than all previous presidents -- from George Washington to George W. Bush -- combined. It reduces defense spending to a level not sustained since the dangerous days before World War II, while increasing nondefense spending (relative to GDP) to the highest level in U.S. history. And it would raise taxes to historically high levels (again, relative to GDP). And all of this before addressing the impending explosion in Social Security and Medicare costs.


Comment: Joke: "My 401K became a 201K!" (But who's laughing!?). They are calling this "the Obama Bear Market".

3.05.2009

Job cuts in Charlotte

More job cuts at Wells Fargo

Excerpt:

Job cuts at Wells Fargo in Charlotte are underway. We don't know how many people have been told they’re out of a job, but our news partners at the Charlotte Observer say layoffs are already happening quietly but steadily.

“The layoffs are always going to be deeper in the headquarters city of the acquired bank,” said banking expert and UNCC professor Tony Plath.

We just don't know how deep but Plath puts the estimate at 3000 or 4000.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory hasn't heard a number.

"I don't think they know at this point in time. I think they are still going through that process of decision making,” he said.

The Charlotte Observer says the cuts are starting in risk management and corporate investment.

"Wells is kind of known for going it slow and kind of taking its time, which could be a good thing for Charlotte but leaves people kind of wondering what's going to happen," said reporter Rick Rothacker of the Charlotte Observer.

"The jobs that are reasonably safe are on the retail banking side, the platform people, the tellers, the branch managers and so forth," according to Plath.


Comment: Doesn't surprise me.

Cramer won't "drink the Kool Aid"

Now some, including Rush Limbaugh, would say I am on another enemies list: that of the White House. Limbaugh says there are only a handful of us on it, and if I am on it for defending all of the shareholders out there, then I am in good company.


His response:

My Response To The White House

Excerpt:

I am a fight-not-flight guy, so I was on my hackles when I heard White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' answer to a question about my pointed criticism of the president on multiple venues, including the Today Show.

"I'm not entirely sure what he's pointing to to make some of the statements," Gibbs said about my point that President Obama's budget may be one of the great wealth destroyers of all time. "And you can go back and look at any number of statements he's made in the past about the economy and wonder where some of the backup for those are, too."

Huh? Backup? Look at the incredible decline in the stock market, in all indices, since the inauguration of the president, with the drop accelerating when the budget plan came to light because of the massive fear and indecision the document sowed: Raising taxes on the eve of what could be a second Great Depression, destroying the profits in healthcare companies (one of the few areas still robust in the economy), tinkering with the mortgage deduction at a time when U.S. house price depreciation is behind much of the world's morass and certainly the devastation affecting our banks, and pushing an aggressive cap and trade program that could raise the price of energy for millions of people.

The market's the effect; much of what the president is fighting for is the cause. The market's signal can't be ignored. It's too palpable, too predictive to be ignored, despite the prattle that the market's predicted far more recessions than we have.

Gibbs went on to say, "If you turn on a certain program, it's geared to a very small audience. No offense to my good friends or friend at CNBC, but the president has to look out for the broader economy and the broader population."

How much I wish it were true right now that stocks played less of a role in peoples' lives. But stocks, along with housing, are our principal forms of wealth in this country. Only the people who have lifetime tenure, insured solid pensions and rent homes but own no stocks personally are unaffected. Sure that's a lot of people, but believe me, they aspire to have homes and portfolios. If we only want to help those who have no wealth to destroy, we are not helping the majority of Americans; we are not helping the broader population.


Comment: "drink the Kool Aid"

On ridiculous project dates

A Dilbert cartoon should go right here!

Because it is copyrighted I link to it: Dilbert on Project Management.

Project dates need to be honest and they should be set from the bottom up not the top down. I received a project date of 7/1 today for something that I know will be approx 80% completed by 12/15. Asked if I could commit to a 7/1 date (that I was set by people way above me that don't have a clue what needs to be done to complete it), I said "no way".

Waking the Dead

You’re Dead? That Won’t Stop the Debt Collector

Excerpt:

Dozens of specially trained agents work on the third floor of DCM Services here, calling up the dear departed’s next of kin and kindly asking if they want to settle the balance on a credit card or bank loan, or perhaps make that final utility bill or cellphone payment.

The people on the other end of the line often have no legal obligation to assume the debt of a spouse, sibling or parent. But they take responsibility for it anyway.

“I am out of work now, to be honest with you, and money is very tight for us,” one man declared on a recent phone call after he was apprised of his late mother-in-law’s $280 credit card bill. He promised to pay $15 a month.

Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the healthiest parts of the industry. Those who dun the living say that people are so scared and so broke it is difficult to get them to cough up even token payments.

Collecting from the dead, however, is expanding. Improved database technology is making it easier to discover when estates are opened in the country’s 3,000 probate courts, giving collectors an opportunity to file timely claims. But if there is no formal estate and thus nothing to file against, the human touch comes into play.

New hires at DCM train for three weeks in what the company calls “empathic active listening,” which mixes the comforting air of a funeral director with the nonjudgmental tones of a friend. The new employees learn to use such anger-deflecting phrases as “If I hear you correctly, you’d like...”

“You get to be the person who cares,” the training manager, Autumn Boomgaarden, told a class of four new hires.


Comment: DCM Services is a Minneapolis company.

3.04.2009

Brief thoughts on Bill Gates

Microsoft boss Bill Gates bans his children from using Apple products

Excerpt:

Microsoft founder head Bill Gates has banned the use of products made by arch-rival Apple from his house, his wife has revealed.

But the blockade could backfire on Gates, 53, after Melinda admitted there are times she feels envious of her friends' iPhones.

She told Vogue magazine that the couple's three children Jennifer, 13, Rory, 10 and Phoebe, seven, are not allowed Apple products.


Brief Thoughts:

  1. Wow Bill Gates is the head of his home! That's a nice Biblical pattern.
  2. Melinda Gates respects the authority of her husband and while she would love to have an Apple IPhone she eschews (she probably has a credit card or two with a $ 10,000 limit or so (do ya think!)) buying an IPhone or an IPod when she is out and about shopping without her husband! That's nice too!
  3. The Gates children are young enough that they probably can't get away with having an IPod, IPhone, or Mac. But wait until they have their rebellious teen years or worse yet, go away to college. I suspect their may be an Apple product or two tucked away in their dorm room!
  4. It might help Bill if he loosened up a little bit. Buy a MacBook Pro Lite. Enjoy Mac OS X. See how much fun you can have with that cool graphical user interface.
  5. Build a little lab in one of the rooms of your 100,000 square foot mansion. Let the kids play there with Macs, and Linux. Their "toying around" will be like your rebellious years when you goofed off with a PDP-10*
  6. How Bill handles his family is his business, but my advice is - Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.
  7. I get the idea that if Bill were a monopolistic titan of business (oh never mind) that he would limit peoples' computer choices.
  8. Well Sic semper tyrannis (I mean this in a non-violent, non-threatening way!) to computing choice dictators! I'm for the free market. I will by the best devices possible. Even if they have the Apple logo affixed to them!


Note, "After the Mothers Club donation was exhausted, he and other students sought time on systems including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC), which banned four Lakeside students—Gates, Paul Allen, Ric Weiland, and Kent Evans—for the summer after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time." (Oh those rebellious years!)

3.03.2009

America's Worst Intersections


The bottlenecks in these 100 cities will slow you down the most

Since I never am down this way (169 at Hwy 494) it was a surprise to me. I do know that 494 through Bloomington is a madhouse most the day.

IBM System 32


Comment: Speaking of old computers, the IBM System 32 was one that I sold back in a 1975 time frame. The computer looked like a large office desk with a very small 6 line by 40 character display. The machine had a built-in printer that directly faced the operator when seated. It had 16 kB or 32 kB of memory, a single hard drive that was available in 5 MB, 9 MB, or 13 MB sizes, and an eight-inch floppy drive. As I recollect these sold for about $ 45,000.

More information below:

IBM Archives: BM System/32

Corestore Collection - IBM System/32 5320

These were designed for basic accounting software: We called it "BICARSA" (BIlling, Inventory Control, Accounts Receivable, and Sales Analysis)

My first computer sale was to replace and IBM 1130 with an IBM System 3.

Below is a pic of the console of the IBM 1130

Harvard gets and "F"


Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary

Excerpt:

In a first-year pharmacology class at Harvard Medical School, Matt Zerden grew wary as the professor promoted the benefits of cholesterol drugs and seemed to belittle a student who asked about side effects.

Mr. Zerden later discovered something by searching online that he began sharing with his classmates. The professor was not only a full-time member of the Harvard Medical faculty, but a paid consultant to 10 drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatments.

“I felt really violated,” Mr. Zerden, now a fourth-year student, recently recalled. “Here we have 160 open minds trying to learn the basics in a protected space, and the information he was giving wasn’t as pure as I think it should be.”

Mr. Zerden’s minor stir four years ago has lately grown into a full-blown movement by more than 200 Harvard Medical School students and sympathetic faculty, intent on exposing and curtailing the industry influence in their classrooms and laboratories, as well as in Harvard’s 17 affiliated teaching hospitals and institutes.

They say they are concerned that the same money that helped build the school’s world-class status may in fact be hurting its reputation and affecting its teaching.


Comment: Full disclosure is the key. Anymore on the financial programs on TV, the analyst will disclose whether they have stock in the same company whose stock they are promoting. Park Nicollet (health care clinics in Minnesota) recently instituted a policy requiring clinic doctors to disclose their financial relationships with drug and medical device companies: Park Nicollet doctors will disclose ties to vendors

Excerpt:

Park Nicollet Health Services has become the first health care system in Minnesota, and one of an elite group nationally, to require doctors to publicly disclose their financial relationships with drug and medical device companies.

This week's move by Park Nicollet is designed to allay concerns that these relationships -- often forged with thousands of dollars in free meals and travel, speakers' fees, royalties for inventions and professional consultation payments -- pose a conflict of interest by influencing doctors' treatment decisions. Drug and device companies defend the payments, saying doctors' expertise is needed to make their products better.

Typically, the relationships are invisible to patients, but now those treated at Park Nicollet can begin viewing the details at tinyurl.com/cy5frs.

Obama: Running out of people to blame!

The Obama Economy

Excerpt:

As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem.

Americans have welcomed the Obama era in the same spirit of hope the President campaigned on. But after five weeks in office, it's become clear that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence -- and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth.

The Democrats who now run Washington don't want to hear this, because they benefit from blaming all bad economic news on President Bush.


Reminds me of a joke:

Incoming Soviet Premier sits at this desk for the first time. Opening the top drawer he sees two envelopes prepared by his predecessor.

One envelope says on the outside - at the first crisis open this envelope. Written on the outside of the second envelope is the message, "At your second crisis open this envelope".

In time as will happen with government, the first crisis arose; and the Soviet premier carefully opened the first envelope. Inside was the message from his predecessor, "Blame me!".

Heartened by this wise advise, the Soviet premier railed on the errors and foibles of the previous premier.

Time passed and another major crisis arose. It was time to open the second envelope.

Inside was again the sage advice of the long deceased previous premier. The message was ....

"Prepare two envelopes"!

I heard this story probably about 15 years ago. When I left South Holly Baptist Church I told my successor this story.

Here it is in a slightly different flavor: http://toperjokes.blogspot.com/2007/05/two-envelopes.html

3.02.2009

Wells Fargo ... most admired list


Full list

More comments on my 15 year anniversary:


  1. When I was reentered the secular workforce, there were several that wondered if I left the ministry because I committed adultery (think Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker) (Someone actually asked me about this to my face! Really.) Answer: NO!
  2. I had my review today and I did OK. But it was a tough year. It's not getting any easier.
  3. I took a Fortran IV programming class as an elective in college. We used an IBM 360/65. Our keying device was an IBM 029 keypunch. That class probably was the key to getting hired by IBM

Dietzgen Microglide Log Log Slide Rule











Comment: Found on Ebay (and purchased).

I used a slide rule all through college. These were pre-calculator days. It was amazing how fast financial and other math work could be accomplished with a slide rule. Mine back then was a Pickett yellow aluminum.

Sadly I've forgotten all the intricacies of the slide rule knowledge I once used. I bought this Dietzgen and just received it today. It was manufactured in 1959. Oh what a beaut it is!

(Bert ... I need to show this to you!)

More on slide rule usage here