12.30.2014

Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”



Benjamin Franklin quote

Some thoughts on planning:

First another famous image entitled Man Proposes, God Disposes:


The painting adopts the dark tones of Landseer's later works. The scene shows two polar bears among the scattered wreckage of the expedition - a telescope, the tattered remains of a red ensign, a sail, human bones - which William Michael Rossetti called "the saddest of membra disjecta". The image shows humanity and civilisation defeated by "nature, red in tooth and claw", and can be seen as a commentary on the crisis of British triumphalism and imperialism in the middle of the 19th century. The phrase "Man proposes, but God disposes" is a translation of the Latin phrase "Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit" from Book I, chapter 19, of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis.

  • I am shocked how some seem so oblivious to the need to plan - including many Christians
  • Obvious truth # 1: Life is temporary and full of twists, turns and surprises: "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14)
  • Truth # 2: It is wise to plan - yet understand that the Lord is ultimately sovereign over all: Proverbs 16:1, "The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord."; 3, "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established"; (9), "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
  • Some areas to plan:
    • What can I do to improve my spiritual condition? The first is to be saved! Be found "in Christ". Be certain of one's eternal destiny. Hell is real and some are not far from it! For the Christian: what may one do to be be more devoted, more like Christ, more faithful?
    • What can I do to improve my physical condition? Lose 10 lbs? Walk more steps? Et cetera.
    • What can I do to improve my financial condition? Further one's education? Pay down debt? Save more? Have an emergency fund? Save for retirement? Et cetera.

12.22.2014

How to avoid "Festivus" (The airing of grievances)






Experts Say Family Fights Flare Up During the Holidays When There Is Unresolved Conflict
Excerpt:


It started with a blueberry scone. In their suite at a London hotel—with a view of the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park and the sound of harp music wafting up from the lobby—Heather Tobin’s two sisters both reached for the last scone on the breakfast tray at the very same moment. One sister grabbed it. The other tried to swipe it away. The two women, in their 20s at the time, bickered and then quickly moved on to insults: “Do you have jet lag, or is this your own usual selfish self?” one asked. “I’m glad I don’t have to live in the same house with you anymore,” the other shot back. Ms. Tobin, 30 years old at the time and vacationing with her family to celebrate her mother’s birthday, jumped into the fray. “This is ridiculous, we’re on vacation. Calm down,” she said. One sister threw the scone at her. The women stormed down the hall to their parents’ room overlooking the atrium lobby to complain. Their mother yelled at them for acting like children. Their father bellowed: “You are behaving like animals.” The parents fought with each other in the hallway about how to deal with their children. Eventually, everyone went back to their rooms and slammed their doors. Down in the lobby, the harpist, who had stopped the music because of the commotion from above, began playing again. “We all love each other,” says Ms. Tobin, now 45 and an antiques dealer in Kingston, N.H. “But we regressed.”
Comment: If you can't celebrate the joy of Christmas ... well ...   My basic principle is to not be a busybody .... not be in the business of others: How they spend their money, what career choices they make, where they choose to travel, the cars they choose to buy (houses too). In other words ... mind your own business! Wiki article on Festivus. There's even an official site!
See also: Surprise C-SPAN Caller Turns Out to Be Mother of Arguing Brothers

12.20.2014

Obama's Hypocrisy on "The Interview" (contrast with the "Innocence of Muslims")





President Obama Condemns Both ‘Disgusting’ Anti-Islam Video And ‘Mindless’ Violence Before The U.N.

Excerpt:


During his speech before the United Nations on Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama eulogized the murdered U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, reiterated American values of freedom and tolerance, and condemned both the “crude” Innocence of Muslims video
Court Reconsiders Anti-Muslim Film on YouTube

Excerpt:


President Barack Obama [called on YouTube] to pull the video

Image sources: Muslim film screen snap from the WSJ ... The Interview from WIKI.

Comments:

  • One film was poorly produced at a low cost and would have quickly fallen into oblivion had it not been blamed for the 2012 Benghazi attack
  • The other film was professionally produced at significant cost and really did offend a foreign leader. 
  • Obama wanted one banned and was successful
  • The other was pulled and Obama wanted it distributed. 

Others have noticed this as well: Pardon me, Mr. President, but your First Amendment hypocrisy is showing

12.17.2014

Finding Elizabeth Gallagher



Canadian man finds woman with ex-girlfriend's name for free trip around the world

Excerpt:

A Toronto man who made headlines last month by offering a free round-the-world air ticket to a woman with the same name as his ex-girlfriend has found Ms. Right. Jordan Axani, 28, and his then girlfriend, named Elizabeth Gallagher, booked heavily discounted round-the-world air tickets in May, but their relationship ended and he didn't want her ticket to go to waste. The ticket had a strict no-transfer policy, but since passport information was not required when booking, it can be used by any Canadian named Elizabeth Gallagher. Axani posted his offer last month on the popular Reddit social media website, and received thousands of emails, including 18 from actual Elizabeth Gallaghers with Canadian passports. He's now chosen his travel mate, Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, a 23-year-old student and part-time office administrator from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. "It's strictly a platonic trip. It's going to be great," Axani said. At first the new Elizabeth Gallagher thought a trip with a stranger whose ex-girlfriend's name is the same as hers was "crazy" but she hit it off with Axani after talking on the phone with him for hours. "It definitely did seem a little bit creepy at the beginning but now that I talked to him it's less creepy and more awesome," she said.
Comment: Image capture from Yahoo Travel. More from Canadian News

McSally (R) Wins Arizona's 2nd Congressional District - by a margin of 167 votes



UPDATE: McSally Wins Congressional Seat, Recount Confirms

Excerpt:

Republican Martha McSally won the seat in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District, the recount confirmed Wednesday. It was the last congressional race to be decided in the country. McSally beat one-term Democratic incumbent Ron Barber by 167 votes in a contest declared final 43 days after the election. That is six votes more than the margin McSally held when the vote count was completed originally. McSally and Barber were scheduled to give interviews to reporters later Wednesday. McSally released a statement calling for healing in the district over the closeness of the race and praising Barber for his work. "There's no getting around that this was an incredibly close and hard-fought race," McSally's statement said. "After what's been a long campaign season, it's time to come together and heal our community. That's why my focus will be on what unites us, not what divides us, such as providing better economic opportunity for our families and ensuring our country and community are kept safe." She thanked Barber "for his service over many years to Southern Arizona. I'll be seeking his input to continue strong constituent services and help ensure a smooth transition." In his own statement, Barber congratulated McSally and promised to work for a smooth transition. "Today I congratulated Martha McSally on her victory, and wished her well in serving Southern Arizonans," Barber's statement said. "This result is not the one we hoped for, but we take solace in having spoken out loud and clear for the principle that every legal vote should be counted." That was an apparent reference to Barber's legal team seeking, unsuccessfully, to have about 133 disqualified votes counted. His statement of concession indicated he won't pursue further legal challenges to the outcome. The race went to a recount because the margin between the two candidates following the Dec. 1 certification and canvass was fewer than 200 votes. Secretary of State Ken Bennett, whose office supervised the recount in Pima and Cochise counties, announced the results on his Twitter account at 10:07 a.m. Wednesday. McSally's victory gives Republicans 247 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, to 188 for Democrats. That is the largest number of seats held by one party in Congress since 1928, the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a statement.
Comment: See previous post. Sharp cookie .... see Wiki article.
Martha McSally (born March 22, 1966) is a retired United States Air Force Colonel. She was the first American woman to fly in combat since the 1991 lifting of the prohibition of women in combat, flying the A-10 over Iraq and Kuwait in support of Operation Southern Watch. She is the first woman to command a USAF fighter squadron, the 354th Fighter Squadron (354 FS) based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Living at the 45th parallel north





45th parallel: Just two markers make note of this Minneapolis distinction

Comment: My wife was born (at home mind you!) at the 45th parallel north (Google Maps image of her birth home in Mattoon WI) and we now live at the 45th parallel north in Plymouth (screen shot of my IPhone Compass with the Longitude boxed out in yellow)

Excerpt:


Here is a somewhat dubious superlative for the city of Minneapolis, suitable for any boostering or anecdotal purposes: It is the largest city in North America to be located exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, right on the 45th parallel. Minneapolis (population 400,700, despite what the signs on the freeway say) would be the largest such city in the world, but unfortunately, there are two Eurasian cities with larger populations also crossed by the line. The 45th parallel runs near a commemorative obelisk in the Piazza Statuo in Turin, Italy (population 908,551), and then through an industrial park on the very southernmost tip of the Russian city of Krasnodar (population 744,995). But biggest in North America’s not bad. The 45th parallel is the imaginary circle of latitude bisecting the Northern Hemisphere, 45 degrees north of the Equator and another 45 degrees from the North Pole. In the Twin Cities, the 45th parallel runs through the western suburbs, over Medicine Lake, then through Golden Valley and North Minneapolis, running just a few yards south of 21st Avenue North. It crosses the Mississippi into Northeast Minneapolis, almost exactly halfway between 12th and 13th Avenues Northeast, then Roseville, Lake Elmo, and finally across the St. Croix into Wisconsin and points east – Michigan, Vermont, France, Croatia, the Crimea, Inner Mongolia, Hokkaido in northern Japan, the Kuril Islands, Oregon, the Montana/Wyoming border, and back again through Plymouth.
Comment: Other images from the Wikipedia article.
The 45th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 45 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean. The 45th parallel north is often called the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole, but the true halfway point is actually 16.2 kilometres (10.1 mi) north of the 45th parallel because the Earth is oblate, that is, it bulges at the equator and is flattened at the poles. At this latitude the sun is visible for 15 hours, 37 minutes during the summer solstice and 8 hours, 46 minutes during the winter solstice. The midday sun stands 21.6 degrees above the southern horizon at the December solstice, 68.4 degrees at the June solstice, and exactly 45.0 degrees at the two equinoxes


12.16.2014

Willy Wonka's magical Elevator - Almost



Elevators Set to Take New Direction - ThyssenKrupp Designs System That Uses Less Space, Can Travel Horizontally

Excerpt:

For more than a century, elevators have helped shape skylines around the world largely through the same technology: a car pulled up and down by a cable. A new technology could change that. Manufacturing giant ThyssenKrupp AG is rolling out a cable-free elevator, a technology that—if it works as advertised—would allow multiple cars to run in the same shaft, and to run not just up and down but also diagonally and sideways. While not quite on the level of Willy Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator, such a technology would permit buildings to stretch higher, with less space for elevator shafts, and to expand in new shapes, architects and engineers believe. “I could almost not think of a technology that has the potential to fundamentally change tall buildings like this one,” said Antony Wood, executive director of the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a skyscraper trade group.
Comment: Image source. Or if you prefer the original film ... below


Top Dividend Stocks for 2015



Bank of America's 10 Top S&P 500 Stocks to Buy for 2015

10 Best Dividend Stocks to Own in 10 Sectors in 2015 and Beyond

The 10 Top Rated Dividend Stocks for 2015
The list:

Rush'n for real money



Ruble Drop Sparks Broader Russian Worry - Consumer Fears Over Rising Prices Are Potential Challenge for President Vladimir Putin

Excerpt:

Russian media across the country from St. Petersburg to Siberia reported exchange points running out of foreign currency and jacking up rates. Sberbank , Russia’s state savings bank, and Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private lender, said they were experiencing a rush for dollars and euros. “The demand is enormous. People are bringing piles, huge piles of cash. It’s madness,” said Kamila Asmalova, a manager at a downtown branch of Sberbank. The branch ran out of foreign currency by 2 p.m., she said. Tatiana Malkova, a receptionist at a Raiffeisen Bank branch in central Moscow, said demand rose dramatically Monday evening as the ruble plunged. The bank ran out of dollars and euros in its ATMs in the morning, but expects a delivery on Wednesday, she said. Midsize Moscow lender Lanta Bank said its foreign counterpart would be unable to send foreign currency Wednesday as aircrafts that transport cash are full.
Comment: Image source. Fallout from both sanctions and the oil glut

She's lost "the new car smell"



People Magazine’s worst selling issue this year? The one with Hillary Clinton on the cover.

Excerpt:

According to a report from AdWeek on Monday, the June 16 issue of People featuring the former first lady and senator was the magazine's worst selling of 2014 with 503,890 copies sold.
Comment: See Hillary Clinton’s ‘new-car smell’ problem

12.15.2014

Blaming the Bushmaster



Sandy Hook Families File Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturer

Excerpt:

The suit names as defendants Bushmaster Firearms International, which is owned by Remington Outdoor Co.; Camfour, a company that distributes Bushmaster products; and Riverview Gun Sales, a East Windsor, Conn., gun shop that sold the rifle to Ms. Lanza. The lawsuit claims the gunmaker, the firearms distributor, and the store that sold firearm are liable for producing and selling a weapon unfit for civilian use. “There is so much ample evidence of the inability of the civilian world to control these weapons, that is no longer reasonable to entrust them to for that purpose,” Joshua Koskoff, an attorney representing the families, said in an interview. “How many massacres do there have to be before that is realized?”

... The federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, signed into law in 2005, shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits. The basis for the Newtown suit stems from one exception under the law, so-called negligent entrustment lawsuits. Under such actions, one party can be held liable for entrusting a product to another party who then causes harm to a third-party.

... Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an association that represents the firearms industry, said the lawsuit was without merit. “It’s exactly the kind of lawsuit the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was designed to stop,” Mr. Keane said. Mr. Keane also rejected the idea that the rifle was unfit for civilian use. “Millions of people own them and do use them every day for lawful purposes,” he said. Dennis Henigan, former director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the lawsuit would test the limits of the negligent-entrustment legal theory. “The issue in this case will be whether courts are willing to construe the doctrine of negligent entrustment so broadly as to encompass a theory of liability that is based on the sale of a particular gun to the general public instead of to a potentially particular dangerous individual,” Mr. Henigan said.
Comment: In my view without merit!  Image source

Big Oil: A Safe Investment?



Oil Selloff: Integrated Majors as Flight to Safety

Excerpt:

Thanks to their integrated structures, companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), BP plc (BP), Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A), TOTAL S.A. (TOT) are able to withstand plunging oil prices and still protect their top and bottom lines on downstream strength. With the refining unit of these conglomerates being buyers of crude – whose price is in a freefall – their profitability improves due to a fall in the input cost. The companies’ financial flexibility and strong balance sheet are real assets in this highly-uncertain period for the economy. Most of them remain in excellent financial health, with ample cash on hand and investment-grade credit ratings with a manageable debt-to-capitalization ratio. On top of this, managements have established quite a track record of conservative capital management and cash returns to shareholders. They also pay a growing and safe dividend, yielding attractive returns. In terms of assets, the integrated players own a strong and diversified portfolio of global energy businesses that offer attractive long-term growth opportunities. Their strong inventory of development projects and increased capital expenditures should help volume growth in the long run
Comment: Image source. Also consider: How Cheap Oil Complicates Investing - While Retail Stocks Benefit, Others Take It on the Chin

12.08.2014

Minneapolis Real Estate Heavyweights



Fazendin Realtors, state's largest independent firm, passes to new generation

Excerpt:

The Twin Cities, however, is dominated by two firms, Coldwell Banker Burnet and Edina Realty, that were once family-run but now are affiliates of national firms. Edina Realty, for example, was founded by Emma Rovick, a housewife from south Minneapolis who started selling real estate to help raise money to buy her daughter a piano. The company is now an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices of America. Together, those two companies closed nearly 50,000 transaction sides (the listing and selling sides of a home sale) last year, according to Real Trends, a national real estate trends firm. The next biggest is ReMax Results, which had 16,165 transaction sides. Fazendin doesn’t report its transaction volume. Steve Murray, editor of Real Trends, said that Fazendin is one of only a few companies that have been owned and managed by the same family for three generations. Among all U.S. small businesses, fewer than 3 percent of them make it to the third generation.
Comment: We bought through Counselor Realty almost 19 years ago. We have been working with Ray Klotz of Edina Realty. Other realtor sites mentioned: Fazendin Realtors, Coldwell Banker Burnet, and ReMax Results . Our "go to" site for researching real estate is Edina. Image above is screen snip from website.

"Calling it #EatenAlive is like having a show on the Food Network about cooking a turkey and all they do after 2 hours is preheat the oven"



Eaten Alive Viewers Outraged Man Wasn’t Actually Eaten Alive

Excerpt:

Apparently the only thing worse than promising a man will be eaten alive by an anaconda is for a man to not be eaten alive by an anaconda. Many viewers felt Discovery had pledged adventurer Paul Rosolie would be utterly consumed by an anaconda on his special Sunday night. After all, the show was called Eaten Alive and its official programming guide description told viewers that a man “enters the belly of an anaconda.” What viewers eventually saw during the two-hour special was a large anaconda attack Rosolie, coil around him, then start to eat his helmet. That’s when Rosolie had to call in his team to rescue him, saying his arm was being crushed. “I started to feel the blood drain out of my hand and I felt the bone flex, and when I got to the point where I felt like it was going to snap I had to tap out,” he said.
Comment: Image source | More

The Financial Rise and Fall of Former NBA star Antoine Walker



Former NBA star Antoine Walker: Life after losing $110 million

Excerpt:

Former NBA player, Antoine Walker, 38, earned over $110 million throughout his NBA career, more than four times the average player in the league. All that money, though, didn’t stop this All-Star from going broke. Walker’s financial problems began his first year in the league as a 19-year-old rookie with the Boston Celtics in 1996. Although he had a financial advisor help him establish a plan for his long-term finances, Walker had other ideas about what he wanted to do with his newfound wealth. “Through my young arrogance, being ignorant to a degree and being stubborn and wanting to do my own thing with my money, I went against a lot of his wishes,” Walker told Yahoo Finance.

... He quickly acquired a taste for the finer things and upgraded his entire family to live in multi-million dollar homes that he built from the ground up. His driveways were filled with four to five luxury cars -- from Bentleys and BMWs, to his prized $350,000 Maybach. And as one of the most fashionable ballers, Walker never wore the same designer suit twice. His generosity extended beyond his family to his many friends and acquaintances. From lavish all-expenses-paid trips to luxury gifts for his friends, Walker made sure everyone in his circle enjoyed the lifestyle he led. With his fellow NBA players, Walker gambled extensively – losing $646,900 in just two years. Even as his spending spiraled out of control, Walker had a plan to put his income to work and bought more than 140 properties along the South Side of Chicago. Whether it was land to build on or commercial and income properties, Walker had a full-range of real estate investments meant to maintain the lifestyle he had built for his family after retiring from the league. With the housing bubble and bust, Walker found himself defaulting on loans where he was the personal guarantor, losing value on land, and failed to get a handle on the legal issues that followed.
Comment: Image source  See also GONE IN AN INSTANT: THE ANTOINE WALKER STORY

The Nine Most Terrifying Words

The Department of Social Justice - Federal officials lectured Ferguson residents about “white privilege.” 

Excerpt:


As investigators combed through Ferguson, DOJ’s Community Relations Service began holding the town-hall meetings, which excluded press and everyone from out of town. Ferguson resident Audrey Watson, 47, attended one of the meetings. She says federal officials organized the attendees into small groups and asked questions such as “What stereotypes exist in our community?” “How does white privilege impact race relations in our community?” and “Is there a need for personal commitment to race relations?” Hundreds of people attended the fall meetings, including Ferguson mayor James Knowles III, who says many people at the initial meetings were angry and screaming. Knowles says the Community Relations Service officials told him they had previously responded to Trayvon Martin’s death in Sanford, Fla., and that they were there to help. During the meetings, he says, the DOJ officials talked about underlying racism that people may not perceive, and the issue of white privilege. “I mean, I think it was really just trying to get people to understand what that [white privilege] means, because the average white person wakes up and says, if you’re just a middle-class white person, you say, What privilege do I have?” Knowles says. “But until you really understand the systemic issues and maybe some of those not-visible things that exist in society, which affect African Americans or other persons of color, you may not really understand what that is.”
Comment: Prophetic words from Reagan!

12.07.2014

Why Timken split



Timken Bows to Activist Investors, and Splits in Two
Excerpt:

Crunching reams of data in search of undervalued stocks, analysts at Relational Investors, a firm that manages $6 billion mostly on behalf of pension funds, happened upon a Canton company called Timken, which was in the unglamorous business of making steel and bearings. Controlled by the Timken family for more than a century, the company looked cheap compared with its industrial peers, at least according to Relational’s analysis. A few more calculations suggested that Timken’s shares might fetch more if the company were split in two. Throughout the summer and fall of 2012, Relational’s traders in San Diego quietly accumulated shares, and by November, the firm owned nearly 6 percent of Timken. Relational is not a typical buy-and-hold shop. On Wall Street, it is what’s known as an activist investor, one of a number of increasingly powerful firms that acquire big stakes in companies and pressure executives to make changes to “unlock value” and drive share prices higher. After focusing on smaller companies with dysfunctional management and languishing shares, activist investors are now taking on some of the most prominent — and successful — giants, including DuPont, Amgen, Procter & Gamble, eBay, and even Apple, the single most valuable American company. As a result, they’ve become something of a boogeyman in corporate boardrooms, pushing for bigger buybacks, fatter dividends and sometimes new chief executives. In the case of Timken, the activists demanded the breakup of the company. And last summer, after a contentious public fight and a shareholder vote, Timken relented, splitting itself into two companies, one focused on bearings, the other on steel.
Comment: Image ... the Timken Four Aces. Quotes: TKR and TMST





Arizona's 2nd Congressional District - the final seat to be decided



One race still must be decided.
Excerpt:


In a Democratic-held district in the Tucson, Arizona-area, an automatic recount will determine whether Rep. Ron Barber keeps his seat or Republican challenger Martha McSally prevails. McSally led by fewer than 200 votes. If McSally wins, Republicans would have 247 seats, the largest majority since 1929-31 when the GOP controlled 270 seats in President Herbert Hoover's administration.
Comment: In recount. McNally leads by less than 200  votes. More here and here.

12.06.2014

Republican Bill Cassidy has defeated Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu



Republican Bill Cassidy has defeated Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu
Excerpt:


Republican Bill Cassidy has defeated Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, giving the GOP another victory in the final election of the 2014 midterms. Cassidy's win in Louisiana's Saturday runoff pushes the Republican's new Senate majority to 54 seats in January and costs Democrats their last Senate seat in the Deep South. Landrieu fought to make the election a referendum on her own performance rather than on President Barack Obama. But she was unable to win a fourth term against the wave of GOP gains across Southern states and the strong unpopularity of the president.
Comment: Finally decided

Sixteen Investing Aphorisms

16 Rules for Investors to Live By

The List (article details):



  1. All past market crashes are viewed as opportunities, but all future market crashes are viewed as risks.
  2. Most bubbles begin with a rational idea that gets taken to an irrational extreme
  3. “I don’t know” are three of the most underused words in investing.
  4. Short-term thinking is at the root of most investing problems
  5. Investing is overwhelmingly a game of psychology
  6. Things change quickly—and more drastically than many think.
  7. Three of the most important variables to consider are the valuations of stocks when you buy them, the length of time you can stay invested, and the fees you pay to brokers and money managers.
  8. There are no points awarded for difficulty
  9. A couple of times per decade, investors forget that recessions happen a couple of times per decade.
  10. Don’t check your brokerage account once a day and your blood pressure only once a year.
  11. You should pay the most attention to the investor who talks about his or her mistakes.
  12. Change your mind when the facts change
  13. Read past stock-market predictions, and you will take current predictions less seriously
  14. There is no such thing as a normal economy, or a normal stock market.
  15. It can be difficult to tell the difference between luck and skill in investing.
  16. You are only diversified if some of your investments are performing worse than others.
Comments: Here's my favorite (# 6):
Fourteen years ago, Enron was on Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s most-admired companies, Apple was a struggling niche company, Greece’s economy was booming, and the Congressional Budget Office predicted the federal government would be effectively debt-free by 2009. There is a tendency to extrapolate the recent past, but 10 years from now the business world will look absolutely nothing like it does today.

Comment: I'll add # 17: Don't forget "Mr Market" (Image above)

Then he turns to his usual speech about investing in stocks, giving a shout-out to Ben Graham’s idea of Mr. Market, which he says investors should think of as their partner. The beauty of having Mr. Market as a partner, he says, is that sometimes Mr. Market behaves like “a psychotic drunk.”

12.05.2014

"Ms. Landrieu is alone" ... and soon to be OOO (out of office)



In Louisiana Runoff Election, Senator Landrieu Tries to Revive Her Base

Excerpt:

The rise of the first black president helped accelerate the white migration to the Republicans, which was reflected in the Republican tide that swept away many surviving Democratic officeholders across the South in November. And Louisiana lost a hefty chunk of its black population after Hurricane Katrina. Ms. Landrieu was the top vote-getter in Louisiana’s nonpartisan primary in November. But Mr. Cassidy, a 57-year-old doctor, has hewed closely to his party’s recent strategy of nationalizing congressional elections. He and outside spending groups have reminded voters that Ms. Landrieu voted with President Obama 97 percent of the time. They have also criticized her for voting in favor of the Affordable Care Act, characterizing it as the “deciding vote for Obamacare.” But other numbers are just as ominous for Ms. Landrieu. Elliott Stonecipher, a political analyst in Shreveport, La., said that the growing degree to which whites have become Republicans and the loss of an estimated 125,000 Democratic voters after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 meant that Democrats now represented about 47 percent of Louisiana’s overall voter registration, compared to more than 60 percent in 2000. Ms. Landrieu was able to overcome that problem in 2008 in part because of Mr. Obama’s presence on the ticket and the lift it gave to Democratic turnout, Mr. Stonecipher said. But this time, Ms. Landrieu is alone. “She has literally been watching the power of her political brand disappear,” he said.
Mary Landrieu, Deep South’s last Senate Democrat, must fend for herself

There remains the formality of a runoff election on Saturday — but as far as the national Democratic Party is concerned, three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is presumed dead. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee canceled its plans to buy ads and is not lifting a finger — or writing a check — to save her. Nor are any of the heavy-hitting Democratic outside groups.
Comment: Image source

12.03.2014

Turns out there's some truth to "You're Not You When You are Hungry"

How the Brain Uses Glucose to Fuel Self-Control
Excerpt:


The brain is as real a blood-and-guts biological entity as… your blood and guts. The brain requires tons of energy—at rest, it consumes about 25% of your circulating glucose, despite constituting only about 3% of your body weight. As you carry out a particular behavior, the rate of glucose consumption jumps in the pertinent brain region. If you listen to a symphony, your auditory cortex elevates the metabolic rate. If you learn something new, it’s the hippocampus that fires up. Tap dancing sparks the motor cortex. And when you’re displaying willpower, thinking, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, you’ll regret it….” it’s your frontal cortex that kicks into gear.
Comment: Imagine this part of the study ....
Volunteer married couples had their blood sugar levels monitored daily for weeks. Each evening participants rated the level of any anger they were feeling toward their spouse. Subjects indicated their level of anger through the number of pins they’d put into a voodoo doll representing their spouse.

That's Mr Bean

12.02.2014

Debt Clock hits Inauspicious Milestone



Total US Debt Rises Over $18 Trillion; Up 70% Under Barack Obama

Excerpt:

Last week, total US debt was a meager $17,963,753,617,957.26. Two days later, as updated today, on Black Friday, total outstanding US public debt just hit a new historic level which probably would be better associated with a red color: as of the last work day of November, total US public debt just surpassed $18 trillion for the first time, or $18,005,549,328,561.45 to be precise, of which debt held by the public rose to $12,922,681,725,432.94, an increase of $32 billion in one day. .... And now we wait for the US to become Spain
Comment: Why infants and toddlers cry!

11.28.2014

It's Lumens not Watts



What are Lumens?

Excerpt:

Watts measure the amount of energy required to light products, whereas lumens measure the amount of light produced. The more lumens in a light bulb, the brighter the light.
Comment: Nice deal on Woot today (image below)





Remembering the Sand Creek Massacre - The Sesquicentennial




My Great-Great-Grandfather and an American Indian Tragedy

Excerpt:


As dawn broke over the eastern Colorado prairie on Nov. 29, 1864, a hastily assembled regiment of volunteer U.S. cavalrymen approached their target: a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho wintering on Sand Creek. Somewhere in the ranks rode my great-great-grandfather William M. Allen. His commander, a fiery former Methodist preacher, reminded the men of previous Indian attacks against settlers. “Now boys,” he thundered, “I shan’t say who you shall kill, but remember our murdered women and children.” Over the next nine hours, the troopers slaughtered up to 200 people, at least two-thirds of them noncombatants, then mutilated the dead in unspeakable fashion. The Sand Creek Massacre scandalized a nation still fighting the Civil War and planted seeds of distrust and sorrow among Native Americans that endure to this day.
Comment:One of the darkest elements of United States history. Other links: here, here, and here

11.26.2014

Escape from "the mob"



Police: Driver who lurched into crowd was 'attempting to flee from the mob'

Excerpt:

The driver who lurched into a south Minneapolis intersection packed with Ferguson protesters was “attempting to flee from the mob” when he ran over and slightly injured a 16-year-old girl as others were atop the hood of his car, police said Wednesday. The driver, a 40-year-old man from St. Paul, was questioned moments after the incident late Tuesday afternoon on eastbound E. Lake Street at Minnehaha Avenue S., and Minneapolis police said Wednesday that the case “remains under investigation.” The man was not arrested, and no charges have been filed. A few hours later, the man’s mother said in an interview that he was coming home from work and “didn’t even know what was going on” when he encountered the crowd of several hundred blocking the intersection. The girl who was run over by the horn-blaring Subaru station wagon was taken by emergency responders to Regions Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, police said. “The victim’s vehicle was damaged by a large group of people,” reads the report released Wednesday by police. “While [the driver] was attempting to flee from the mob, he struck a pedestrian. State accident report filed.” The report lists the driver as a “victim” and the injured girl under the “other” category. Much of the scene, unfolding within a few steps of the Police Department’s Third Precinct headquarters, was captured on a Star Tribune video. Additional aerial video from KSTP-TV, Channel 5, shows that the driver had paused behind a vehicle stopped in front of it, and then steered to the right around that vehicle and drove slowly into the crowd that was blocking the intersection. There were three people on the hood of his car as he knocked down the girl.
Comment: Our own drive home yesterday - a police presence was on our route. Re the girl being "other" ... you could have said "stupid"

11.25.2014

Chuck Schumer states the obvious: "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."



Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare in 2010 Was a Mistake
Excerpt:


Sen. Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010. While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession. "After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform." The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense." The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said. The health care law should have come later, Schumer argued, after Democrats had passed legislation to help the middle class weather the recession. Had Democrats pushed economic legislation, he said, "the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them" and, in turn, they would have been more receptive to the health care law. Schumer said he told fellow Democrats in the lead-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act that it was the wrong time to pass the law.
Comment: Image source. What was wrong: \

Black Leadership needed in Ferguson case



Obama's Split-Screen Appeal Lost in Ferguson's Anger

Excerpt:


It will be an image that may endure beyond Barack Obama's tenure: The president calling for calm on one side of the TV screen; the scene in Ferguson, Mo. escalating with sirens, smoke, flash grenades, and furious residents on the other. Obama emerged into the White House Briefing Room shortly after 10 pm ET, a little more than 90 minutes after prosecutors in St. Louis County announced that a grand jury had voted to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the summer shooting death of Michael Brown.
Comment: More: Ferguson grand jury decision: Brown's death should be call to action not violence
Where is the black leadership now that a grand jury has decided not to indict the police officer that killed Michael Brown? Where is Al Sharpton? He advertises himself as a spokesman for the best interests of black America. But he is absent. Where is Jesse Jackson, another popular media personality who says he speaks for black America? He’s missing in action, too.
Example of incendiary speech: "Michael Brown's Stepfather Urged Protesters To "Burn This Bitch Down" After Grand Jury Announcement".

Helpful leadership: "A sunrise prayer vigil and dozens of clergy marching in the streets here Tuesday was a stark counterpoint to the destruction and looting that took place Monday night just miles away in Ferguson. Pastors in bright orange vests led a calm protest with more than 100 people here, blocking a few intersections and ending up in front of the building where the county prosecutor announced Monday evening that a grand jury wouldn’t indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old on, Aug. 9."

11.24.2014

"Wealth is being spread with little to show for it"



More Redistribution, Less Income - Obama has spread the wealth, but the poor and middle class haven’t benefited.

Excerpt:

On taxes, Mr. Obama often claims that the rich don’t pay their “fair share,” yet the most affluent one-fifth of taxpayers on average supplied 68.7% of federal revenue for 2011. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which last week updated its statistics on the U.S. distribution of income and taxes for 2011 and preliminary calculations for last year. As for the top 1%, they funded 24% of everything the government does in 2011. The CBO also estimates that the end-of-2012 fiscal cliff deal that lifted the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, plus ObamaCare’s taxes on high-income individuals, increased their average federal taxes by 4.3 percentage points to 33.3% of income. The Warren Buffett minimum-tax rule asserted that no millionaire should pay an effective tax below 30%. Mission accomplished. This has long been the reality of the highly progressive U.S. tax system, but the bigger news in the CBO numbers is that wealth is being spread with little to show for it. According to the CBO, the lowest 60% of earners all collect more in benefits on average than they remit to the Treasury. Yet even the supposed beneficiaries of Mr. Obama’s policies ended up with less in 2011 than 2007.
Comment: See also A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%. Image source:
...  the “fair share” phrase is just a fancy way of dressing up an argument that poses that someone else’s money is yours. It’s the adult version of two toddlers fighting over a toy. There’s no true “fair share” just dozens of ways to divvy up the spoils of a population.

Millennials, Budweiser, and the craft beer problem



Bud Crowded Out by Craft Beer Craze - Faded Beer Brand Unhitches Clydesdales in Favor of Fresher Pitches to Young People

Excerpt:

The wall behind the bar at Jake’s Billiards has 69 taps offering beer choices that range from California’s Lagunitas Fusion 22 to Natty Greene ’s Buckshot, which is brewed across town. The last tap in the long row belongs to Budweiser, and it is about to be removed. ... The self-proclaimed King of Beers is more of an afterthought among young consumers at Jake’s and bars across the U.S.: Some 44% of 21- to 27-year-old drinkers today have never tried Budweiser, according to the brand’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. Young drinkers aren’t the reason Budweiser volumes have declined in the U.S. for 25 years, from its nearly 50-million-barrel peak in 1988 to 16 million barrels last year. Light beers like its sister, Bud Light, have chipped away at Bud’s share of the market for decades. Bud Light overtook it as the No. 1 selling beer in 2001, and Coors Light displaced it as No. 2 in 2011. Craft beers and flavored malts like AB InBev’s Lime-a-Rita have contributed to a 9% decline in shipments since then.
Comment: Image source. I find the tastes of Millennials interesting. Out: Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Bud, etc cetera. In: Panera, Chipoltes, Stella Artois, et cetera.

11.21.2014

"Serial": The Hae Min Lee murder case



Time Magazine: Family of Adnan Syed Reacts to ‘Serial’ Podcast

Excerpt:


Millions have become obsessed with a 15-year-old murder case thanks to NPR’s “Serial,” a podcast from the team behind “This American Life” that explores a real-life mystery week-by-week. At the center of the case is Adnan Syed, who was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee when he was still in high school, and has been in prison ever since. Though Adnan plays an important role on the podcast and is interviewed in almost every episode, his family has refrained from publicly commenting on the show, until now. Adnan’s brother, Yusef Syed, spoke to CBS This Morning about Serial for the first time Thursday.

Appeal in the case of Adnan Syed, subject of popular podcast 'Serial,' ongoing 

Excerpt:

As the true-life mystery podcast "Serial" continues to captivate millions, an appeal attempting to throw out the life sentence of the convicted murderer at the story's center is winding its way through court. The Maryland attorney general's office and state prosecutors were granted an extension last week to offer opinions on whether Adnan Syed received effective legal counsel when he was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1999 killing of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

serialpodcast.org

Comments: I've listened to 3 episodes. Interesting stuff. I've drawn no conclusions about the case. The above website has additional materials: maps, et cetera. 

11.20.2014

"John Wyclif" takes bullet saving FSU student



The library book that saved my life: Student shows off pages that stopped gunman's bullets

Excerpt:

A student believes a book he was carrying in his back pack saved his life during a shooting at a Florida State University library. Three people were wounded in the attack by gunman Myron May, a lawyer and school alumnus, who opened fire at 12.30am on Thursday morning. He was then shot dead by police outside of the Stozier library which was full of students studying for their exams. Jason Derfuss was walking out of the building when he was shot in the back. However he did not know he had been hit until his roommate emptied his bag at home. He found bullet holes in two of the books he had checked out just minutes before the rampage.
Comment: The book John Wyclif (Great Medieval Thinkers). My wife is a FSU grad.

11.19.2014

Imagine a Return to "Normal" Interest Rates



Charles Schwab: Raise Interest Rates, Make Grandma Smile - With the Fed’s near-zero policy, households headed by someone 75 or older have lost $2,700 annually in interest income.

Excerpt:

Normalized interest rates are also good for the economy broadly. Total short-term interest-bearing assets are today close to $11 trillion. Based on that, a 1% increase in interest rates will generate over $100 billion in increased income. And there is ample room to raise rates. Today the one-year return on a CD is just north of 1%. In a more normal environment, the annual return on a one-year CD has been about 6.15%. As interest rates begin to normalize, increased personal income will drive spending, economic growth and jobs. Will more historically normal interest rates have negative impacts on others? The cost of homeownership may be higher and borrowing in general will be more expensive. But these costs are largely born by middle-class and higher-income families and they will see that impact lessened over time through inflation. But is it fair that seniors subsidize cheaper credit for others? Most people wouldn’t think so

Long-Term Interest Rates Have Been This Low Only Twice In The Last 214 Years

Excerpt:

As of the close of business on Tuesday, long-term US Treasury bonds were yielding 2.83%. The long-term Treasury composite rate is a combination of bonds that aren't due or callable within 10 years. This rate is historically low. And if you mentioned that yields are "historically low" to most folks on Wall Street, they would likely say that they know that. But here's some context. This chart, via Credit Suisse, shows the long-term composite rate on US Treasury bonds dating back to 1800.
Comment: Image is screen capture from 2nd article.  With rates as low as they are,  there is little incentive to save.

11.18.2014

Al Sharpton's Tax Dodge

Questions About Sharpton’s Finances Accompany His Rise in Influence

Excerpt:


Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees. With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful. Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.
Comment: If NYTimes artcile won't load, also here. Image source.  Just for fun ... images of Al and Obama together.

I'll be there in a "punct" (and other weird time terms)



10 Little-Known Units of Time

Excerpt:
  • Atom: about 1/6th Of A Second
  • Ghurry: 24 Minutes
  • Lustre: A Period Of Five Years
  • Mileway: Amount Time It Takes To Walk One Mile (20 minutes)
  • Nundine: A Period Of Nine Days
  • Punct: In Medieval Europe A Punct Was A Quarter Of An Hour
  • Quadrant: A Period Of Exactly Six Hours
  • Quinzi√®me: a period of 15 days
  • Scruple: In the early 17th century scruple also came to be used as another name for 1/60th of a degree of a circle (i.e. one minute), 1/60th of a minute (i.e. one second), and 1/60th of a day (i.e. 24 minutes).
Other interesting links on time:

What Is Greenwich Mean Time?
Decimal Time: How the French Made a 10-Hour Day

Will Ford's aluminum-bodied F-150 drive their stock? I think so!



Review: 2015 Ford F-150

Excerpt "the lightweight metal is also an indicator of a better truck":

Despite aluminum’s cost premium over steel, Ford kept price increases for its F-150 to less than $500 in some cases, but that doesn’t temper the shock of just how expensive full-size trucks have become. We drove a low-spec four-door XLT model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, cloth seats, rear-wheel drive, and relatively few creature comforts that carried a sticker price of $42,875. That’s a problem that doesn’t plague just Ford, but the entire full-size-truck segment. If you’re going to spend that kind of money on a truck, though, the F-150 best justifies its price. Its aluminum body and bed mark a sea change in an industry that so often drifts with the current. Just as aluminum often indicates top-shelf beer these days, the lightweight metal is also an indicator of a better truck
Truck Wars: The Ultimate Question Facing Ford Motor Company's 2015 F-150

Excerpt:

It appears that consumers are indeed ready to accept an aluminum-bodied truck. It only appears that Ford's 2015 F-150 is too far advanced because its competition is so far behind. Make no mistake, this is a huge gamble on Ford's part, and it could become a huge and costly mistake -- but if Ford executes the launch flawlessly and consumers follow through on their interest, it could be a huge win.
This chart shows huge gains ahead for Ford

Excerpt:

The stock appears to be targeting a return to its 52-week highs at $18.12 per share, he said. “Ford continues to look very bullish here technically,” Newton said. “It looks very good.” Despite a large pullback in the stock over the summer, Ford’s stock held what Newton sees as a long-term uptrend in place since 2008. The stock’s low at $13.26 in October tested the uptrend and coincided with the 50 percent retracement level of the stock’s 2012 to 2014 rally. It subsequently bounced from there.
Comment: 5 years ago (July 2009), in one of my first stock trades, I bought 100 shares of Ford for under $ 7. Image source is screen capture from Ford