Comment:Today only .... 2 fer on Woot


Is there gold in Fort Knox?

Ron Paul questions whether there's gold at Fort Knox, NY Fed


The libertarian lawmaker told Kitco News, a website tracking news about precious metals, that an audit was necessary to determine how much the U.S. maintains in gold reserves in case the government were to use gold to back the dollar.

“If there was no question about the gold being there, you think they would be anxious to prove gold is there,” he said.

“Our Federal Reserve admits to nothing, and they should prove all the gold is there. There is a reason to be suspicious and even if you are not suspicious why wouldn’t you have an audit?

“I think it is a possibility," Paul said when asked if there was truth to rumors that there was actually no gold at Ft. Knox or the New York Fed.

Comment: Second image is from Goldfinger.


Dale Dye: Hollywood's go-to man when filmmakers want to make an authentic war picture

The Man Who Brought War to Hollywood


Dye joined the Marines in 1964. He was involved in 31 major combat operations in Vietnam during two tours, and was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Through his company, Warriors, Inc., based in the San Fernando Valley, Dye has advised on approximately 50 productions. The Pacific is a passion project. "It took longer than anything I've ever done," Dye, 65, says, "I personally worked on it for about 13 months overseas, and then about six to eight months in post-production here in L.A."

Comment: If you have seen Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, or The Pacific this will interest you. More on Dale Dye

Current federal budget trends are capable of destroying this country

The Most Fiscally Irresponsible Government in U.S. History


... current budgetary trends are capable of destroying the country. As Bowles pointed out, according to a Washington Post report, we can't just grow our way out of this. We can't just tax our way out of this. We have to do what governors do—cut spending or increase revenues in some combination that will begin to pull us back from the cliff.

Obama must know that if he doesn't address this, he will be the president who drove us toward a debt crisis. And so too must Congress, for both have now participated in the most fiscally irresponsible government in American history.

Comment: Scary but true


Understatement: film-less photography could “substantially impact the way pictures will be taken in the future.”

Kodak’s 1975 Model Digital Camera


Mr. Sasson called it “film-less photography” and took a “year of piecing together a bunch of new technology” to create a digital camera which ran off “16 nickel-cadmium batteries, a highly temperamental new type of CCD imaging area array, an a/d converter implementation stolen from a digital voltmeter.”

One of my favorite anecdotes about this snazzy digital camera is the fact that it took 23 seconds to record a single digital image to its cassette deck. To view the filmless photo, Mr. Sasson had to remove the cassette from the camera and place it in a customized reader that could display the image on an old black and white television.

When the team of technicians presented the camera to Kodak audiences they of course heard a barrage of curious questions:

Why would anyone ever want to view his or her pictures on a TV? How would you store these images? What does an electronic photo album look like? When would this type of approach be available to the consumer?

And although Mr. Sasson and his team tried to answer some of these questions, he concludes with the statement that the digital camera they created could “substantially impact the way pictures will be taken in the future.”

Comment: Click through to article for interesting pics!


Brother turns 57

Comment: Sister scanned this today. Nancy and Roger on the front steps of our home in Fort Wayne. Street view of home. One of my earliest memories was the week Roger was born. As a matter of fact, I don't have a memory older than that! August 25th 1953.

When governments renege

Morgan Stanley Says Government Defaults Inevitable


Investors will face defaults on government bonds given the burden of aging populations and the difficulty of securing more tax revenue, according to Morgan Stanley.

“Governments will impose a loss on some of their stakeholders,” Arnaud Mares, an executive director at Morgan Stanley in London, wrote in a research report today. “The question is not whether they will renege on their promises, but rather upon which of their promises they will renege, and what form this default will take.” The sovereign-debt crisis is global “and it is not over,” the report said.

Borrowing costs for so-called peripheral euro-region nations such as Greece and Ireland surged today, resuming their ascent on concern that governments won’t be able to narrow their budget deficits. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ireland’s credit rating yesterday on concern about the rising costs to support nationalized banks. The yield on Greek debt rose to more than 900 basis points above that of Germany today, the most since the European Union and International Monetary Fund created a 750 billion euro ($948 billion) bailout package in May.

Mares said debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is a false indicator of an economy’s health given it doesn’t reflect governments’ available revenue and is “backward- looking.” While the U.S. government’s debt as a percentage of GDP is 53 percent, one of the lowest ratios among developed nations, its debt as a percentage of revenue is 358 percent, one of the highest levels, the report said.

Comment: Shocking but not surprising!


VNC IPOD to Macbook

Mocha VNC

I've been enjoying my new IPod Touch. Was wondering if I could VNC into my MacBook Pro with the IPod. Well it's EZ (as they say - "there's an App for that!"). I tried the Mocha VNC lite and got that to work. Then I bought the full version. Extremely cool.

I'm thinking that the IPad would be a good tool for Kathee. She needs email, browsing, VNC into my MacBook (when we do our financial reviews she shares my screen), and a couple of games: Mahjong, Freecell, Sudoku. All could be accomplished with a IPad.

Is Deflation already here?

Is a Crash Coming? Ten Reasons to Be Cautious


Deflation is already here. Consumer prices have fallen for three months in a row. And, most ominously, it's affecting wages too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, last quarter, workers earned 0.7% less in real terms per hour than they did a year ago. No wonder the Fed is worried. In deflation, wages, company revenues, and the value of your home and your investments may shrink in dollar terms. But your debts stay the same size. That makes deflation a vicious trap, especially if people owe way too much money.

What Deflation Means for Your Money


In deflation, cash wouldn't be king. Income would be king.

Investors would be struggling to find safe, dependable sources of income.

So top-quality bonds, which provide that income, would boom. Bond prices would rise, and the yield, or interest rate, falls. (In Japan, at one point, long-term government bonds yielded nearly nothing).

That would be good for Treasurys, especially longer-term bonds, as well as for better quality municipals and corporates.

Cash would still be prince, though. If a savings account earns you zero percent interest, but prices fall 2%, you've still made 2% in real terms. And it's tax free. (Contrast that with earning 4% interest in an era of 2% inflation).


If income would be king and cash would be prince, in an era of deflation, debt would be the devil.

Your credit card bill. Your car and student loans. Your mortgage. As incomes and prices fall, the bills stay the same, which means they grow in real terms. It gets harder and harder to pay them off. "You're paying down debts but your income is falling," says SG strategist Albert Edwards. "So you have to pay down your debt even more quickly. You get into a vicious cycle."

Comment: Is Deflation already here? No sure. But two good articles about the dangers of. I've long considered "debt to be the devil" (not speaking theologically!)


Byte into an Apple

Remembering 1977 With The First (Apple I) Apple Ad!

Comment: Re comment on previous post .... here's the first Apple ad.

15 Vintage Computer Ads

15 Vintage Computer Ads That Used To Be Cool

Comment: Which is your favorite? And why? Mine: 10MB disk for $ 3,398!

Koreas .... two vocabularies

South Korean Leader Proposes a Reunification Tax


But after the divide that lasted more than 60 years, the societies have also drifted apart. North Koreans and South Koreans alike cannot understand much of each other’s vocabularies.

Comment: Interesting from the NYTimes


2 random things on CNN

Kathee is working (big IT install at work!) in the den (since 1:00 am). I slept in til 5:50 .... (which is hardly sleeping in!). Now watching CNN and enjoying a Pepsi. Unusual items on CNN this morning:

  1. The origin of the name Pakistan: An acrostic for "Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan." (I found this wiki link on it: Pakistan Declaration: "At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN - by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan.")
  2. Was 'Inception' inspired by Donald Duck? (view the comic strip here)


It's Summer ... and California is out of $$ again!

We Want Our IOUs


State Controller John Chiang said Tuesday that without a state budget, California's government would be unable to pay its bills in late August (or maybe early September). That means issuing IOUs to some people. Possible dates for IOUs could be either Aug. 27 or Aug. 31, when big payments to schools are due, according to this schedule on the controller's website.

This announcement, in the upside down world of California's badly broken budget politics, felt almost like good news. With lawmakers and the governor making little progress on the budget -- and showing little interest in making that little progress -- the threat of IOUs seemed to provide hope that there's a deadline out there, somewhere in the near future, that might force these guys to pass a budget.

Comment: Last Summer

ATM card skimming - it's sophisticated

How to Spot an A.T.M. Skimmer


Would You Have Spotted the Fraud?

ATM Skimmers, Part II

The U.S. Secret Service estimates that annual losses from ATM fraud totaled about $1 billion in 2008, or about $350,000 each day. Card skimming, where the fraudster affixes a bogus card reader on top of the real reader, accounts for more than 80 percent of ATM fraud, Doten said.

Snopes: ATM camera

Here's What A Card Skimmer Looks Like On An ATM

Social Security turns 75

10 Things You Didn't Know About Social Security


The Social Security program turns 75 this week. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, few workers have not been impacted by the social program. Almost all Americans pay into the system, and Social Security is the largest source of income for citizens age 65 and older. Yet this huge entitlement has many facets, some of which are not widely known. Here are 10 things you may not know about Social Security:

Comment: Interesting

BFF 1890's style

From 1890: The First Text Messages


In their conversations telegraphers use a system of abbreviations which enables them to say considerably more in a certain period of time then they otherwise could. Their morning greeting to a friend in a distant city is usually “g. m.,” and the farewell for the evening, “g. n.,” the letters of course standing for good morning and good night. The salutation may be accompanied by an inquiry by one as to the health of the other, which would be expressed thus: “Hw r u ts mng?” And the answer would be: “I’m pty wl; hw r u?” or “I’m nt flg vy wl; fraid I’ve gt t mlaria.”

By the time these courtesies have taken place some early messages have come from the receiving department or from some other wire, and the man before whom they are placed says to his friend many miles away: “Wl hrs a fu; Gol hang ts everlastin grind. I wish I ws rich.” And the other man says: “No rest fo t wickd, min pen,” the last two words indicating that he wants the sender to wait a minute while he adjusts and tests his pen. Presently he clicks out “g a,” meaning “go ahead,” and the day’s work has begun.

Comment: My Father had keying skills (learned in WWII .... used in amateur radio. I watching him practice his keying in prep for getting his Ham radio license )


Google to 50 year old - "old fuddy-duddy"

Google ordered to defend against age bias lawsuit


Google Inc (GOOG.O), which runs the world's most popular Internet search engine, was ordered to defend itself against a lawsuit by a former manager who said he was fired for being too old, clearing the way for a trial.

The California Supreme Court unanimously agreed that a trial court erred in dismissing a complaint by Brian Reid, who was hired in 2002 as a director of operations and engineering, and fired less than two years later at age 54 after being told he was not a good "cultural fit."

Thursday's ruling upheld a state appeals court decision that the trial court erred in dismissing the lawsuit, and said the trial court should have considered "stray remarks" from Reid's colleagues, including that he was an "old man" and "old fuddy-duddy," that might be seen as evidence of bias.

The ruling means the case returns to the trial court.

"Brian Reid was not laid off based on his age," said Andrew Pederson, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, in an emailed statement. "We look forward to demonstrating in court the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons why Mr. Reid was let go."

Comment: Being that I am soon to be 61 ... this rubs me the wrong way!

"The Great Stall" and "the deflationistas"

Economists React: ‘The Great Stall’ Takes Hold


The “Great Recession” has officially morphed into the “Great Stall”. There are no signs in this morning’s report on July employment of building momentum for the second half of this year. If anything, there are more signs of a deteriorating labor situation .

2 Top Economists Differ Sharply on Risk of Deflation


According to the deflationistas, as they are nicknamed, a new round of stimulus spending by Washington is urgently required to stave off a Depression-like cycle of falling prices and wages that is difficult to reverse once it is set in motion.

Inflationistas, by contrast, worry more about the effect that additional government borrowing could have on the recovery. With the budget deficit expected to hover around $1 trillion a year for the next decade, they say, interest rates could eventually surge, making borrowing — and goods — more expensive. A double dip, they say, is highly unlikely.

Comment: The problem is the Fed cannot further reduce interest rates, stimuli hasn't seemed to do much, and the government is $ 13 Trillion in debt (and basically can't afford more stimulus!)


The unusual link between Prohibition and Roe v Wade

What Prohibition Can Teach Us About Marijuana Legalization — and Other Tales From Last Call Author Daniel Okrent


If you think Roe v. Wade was a wise decision, you can be grateful for Justice Brandeis’s dissent in a famous Prohibition case, Olmstead v. United States, where he wrote about the citizen’s “right to be let alone” – words cited by Justice Stewart in Roe.

Comment: I'm currently reading this book. Another interesting note:

one of the very few positive consequences of Prohibition was the reduction in drinking. There was a very steep reduction immediately after it went into effect, but even the ensuing years of speakeasies, bathtub gin, cross-border smuggling, and every other manner of law-breaking did not bring drinking back to pre-Prohibition levels. At the end of Prohibition, Americans were consuming approximately 70 percent as much alcohol as they had in 1914. (Demographic historians use that as a base year, as many states began to pass sharply restrictive liquor laws around that time.)

In fact, it wasn’t until 1973 that we returned to pre-Prohibition levels of alcohol consumption, and only a few years later the per capita consumption figure began to decline again. Even now, we’re only inching our way back to the 1914 high-water mark. (Or maybe I should call it the “high-alcohol mark”!)

One figure we’ll never reach again: the 7.5 gallons of absolute alcohol the average American drank in 1830 – the equivalent of 90 fifths of 80-proof liquor, or nearly three times as much as we consume today.



Office 2011 for the Mac

Microsoft announces Office for Mac 2011


Microsoft provided the most extensive look yet into the next version of the Mac version of its popular Office suite on Thursday at Macworld 2010. The new product, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, will arrive in time for the 2010 holiday season.

Comment: One thing nice about Office on the Mac is the favorable pricing: "Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 includes the Word word-processing, PowerPoint presentation, Excel spreadsheet, and Messenger IM applications. It will cost $119 for a single license and $149 for a family pack that allows for installs on three Macs." Looks like you have to get the business edition to get Outlook. Outlook replaces Entourage (which my wife uses).

Today I ordered a new MacBook pro. Hopefully will be here by Saturday. I'm gifting my 3 year old MacBook to one of my sons