The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - Wachovia borrowed $29 billion on Oct. 6, 2008

Fed names banks that drew loans during crisis


For the first time in its 98-year history, the Federal Reserve on Thursday identified banks that borrowed from its oldest lending program.

The Fed was compelled to name the banks that drew emergency loans during the financial crisis after the Supreme Court rejected a bid by major banks to keep that information secret. It's the latest sign of how the Fed is becoming more transparent -- either by choice or by force.

The central bank lent up to $110 billion through its emergency "discount window" at the height of the crisis. After Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, banks turned to the Fed as a lender of last resort because their credit had frozen up. The Fed argued then that naming those banks could have stirred a panic, leading to a run on those banks and defeating the program's purpose.

The documents released Thursday showed that a range of large and small institutions borrowed from the program from August 2007 through March 2010.

Most of the lending took place in the two-month stretch between September and October 2008. The specific program that the banks drew from has been redacted from the documents, but the data points to most of the loans being through the "discount window." In many cases, those loans were paid back the following day.

Some of the biggest loans were drawn by the nation's largest banks. For example, U.S. Bank took out an overnight loan of $3.35 billion on Sept. 10, Wachovia borrowed $29 billion on Oct. 6, and Morgan Stanley drew more than $3 billion on Oct. 9.

Comment: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (one of my favorite The Band numbers). That day was the date Wachovia was forced into sale by the FDIC ...

Bill Gross: Entitlements Key To Cutting Federal Budget Deficit

Pimco’s Bill Gross: Entitlements Key To Cutting Federal Budget Deficit


If the U.S. government was a corporation, Gross maintains, “then it would probably have a negative net worth of $35-$40 trillion.”

Without big cuts in entitlements, Gross paints a not-so-rosy picture. He writes:

“Unless entitlements are substantially reformed, I am confident that this country will default on its debt; not in conventional ways, but by picking the pocket of savers via a combination of less observable, yet historically verifiable policies – inflation, currency devaluation and low to negative real interest rates.”

Gross has essentially sold-off his Treasury holdings in the Total Return Fund.

He says that if sitting before Congress, he would say something like:

“I sit before you as a representative of a $1.2 trillion money manager, historically bond oriented, that has been selling Treasuries because they have little value within the context of a $75 trillion total debt burden.”

Comment: Note comment on inflation

On budget cuts and "killing children"

Shah: GOP budget would kill 70,000 children


As Congress struggles to negotiate a budget deal to keep the government running, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) told lawmakers Wednesday that the GOP version of the budget bill would result in the deaths of at least 70,000 children who depend on American food and health assistance around the world.

"We estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that H.R. 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying," USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah testified before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee.

"Of that 70,000, 30,000 would come from malaria control programs that would have to be scaled back specifically. The other 40,000 is broken out as 24,000 would die because of a lack of support for immunizations and other investments and 16,000 would be because of a lack of skilled attendants at birth," he said.

The Republican bill, known as H.R.1, was passed by the House, and would fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2011. It would effectively cut 16 percent from the Obama administration's original fiscal 2011 request for the international affairs account.

Comment: Or you could defund Planned Parenthood and save some babies!

High Beta Stocks

Comment: Not a lot of time to dig into this but these came to mind

Pier 1 Imports Inc (PIR)

Avis (CAR)

Screen captures from MacroWorld Investor (A Wells Fargo Company)

Stock Beta with examples

Comment: Shouldn't be but I've often been confused by this. Helpful articles:

What does Beta mean


A measure of the volatility, or systematic risk, of a security or a portfolio in comparison to the market as a whole. Beta is used in the capital asset pricing model (CAPM), a model that calculates the expected return of an asset based on its beta and expected market returns.

Beta is calculated using regression analysis, and you can think of beta as the tendency of a security's returns to respond to swings in the market. A beta of 1 indicates that the security's price will move with the market. A beta of less than 1 means that the security will be less volatile than the market. A beta of greater than 1 indicates that the security's price will be more volatile than the market. For example, if a stock's beta is 1.2, it's theoretically 20% more volatile than the market.

Many utilities stocks have a beta of less than 1. Conversely, most high-tech Nasdaq-based stocks have a beta of greater than 1, offering the possibility of a higher rate of return, but also posing more risk.

Beta (finance)


By definition, the market itself has a beta of 1.0, and individual stocks are ranked according to how much they deviate from the macro market (for simplicity purposes, the S&P 500 is usually used as a proxy for the market as a whole). A stock whose returns vary more than the market's returns over time can have a beta whose absolute value is greater than 1.0 (whether it is, in fact, greater than 1.0 will depend on the correlation of the stock's returns and the market's returns). A stock whose returns vary less than the market's returns has a beta with an absolute value less than 1.0.

A stock with a beta of 2 has returns that change, on average, by twice the magnitude of the overall market's returns; when the market's return falls or rises by 3%, the stock's return will fall or rise (respectively) by 6% on average. (However, because beta also depends on the correlation of returns, there can be considerable variance about that average; the higher the correlation, the less variance; the lower the correlation, the higher the variance.) Beta can also be negative, meaning the stock's returns tend to move in the opposite direction of the market's returns. A stock with a beta of -3 would see its return decline 9% (on average) when the market's return goes up 3%, and would see its return climb 9% (on average) if the market's return falls by 3%.

Higher-beta stocks tend to be more volatile and therefore riskier, but provide the potential for higher returns. Lower-beta stocks pose less risk but generally offer lower returns.

All of my investments have relatively low betas. Can you think of a stock with a high Beta? Or a negative Beta?

"Give money, I gun"

Robber with grammar problem admits to Fridley bank heist


A grammatically challenged ex-con has admitted that he robbed a TCF Bank in a Cub Foods in Fridley.

Joe Nathan Michael, 48, of Fridley, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Minneapolis to the heist on May 20, 2010, which briefly netted him about $2,000.

According to the plea agreement:

Michael gave the teller a note that read "Give money, I gun," leaving her confused about what he wanted.

Comment: Echoes Woody Allen's "I have a gub" (Take the Money and Run)

BANK TELLER #1: "Does this look like “gub” or “gun”?" BANK TELLER #2: "Gun. See? But what’s “abt” mean?" VIRGIL STARKWELL: It’s “act”. A-C-T. Act natural. Please put fifty thousand dollars into this bag and act natural." BANK TELLER #1: "Oh, I see. This is a holdup?"

Here comes Inflation?

Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon expects inflation


U.S. consumers face "serious" inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations warned Wednesday.

The world's largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors.

Still, inflation is "going to be serious," Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during a meeting with USA TODAY's editorial board. "We're seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate."

Along with steep increases in raw material costs, John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says labor costs in China and fuel costs for transportation are weighing heavily on retailers. He predicts prices will start increasing at all retailers in June.

"Every single retailer has and is paying more for the items they sell, and retailers will be passing some of these costs along," Long says. "Except for fuel costs, U.S. consumers haven't seen much in the way of inflation for almost a decade, so a broad-based increase in prices will be unprecedented in recent memory."

Consumer prices — or the consumer price index — rose 0.5% in February, the most since mid-2009, largely because of surging food and gasoline prices. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose a more modest 0.2%, though that still exceeded estimates.

Comment: Wouldn't surprise me. You see it in gasoline, smaller packaging for food, etc


Sniping at Apple (the IPad)

Microsoft Strategy Chief: Tablets May Just Be A Fad


The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Mundie is more bullish on smartphones, which he thinks will become the "most personal computer."

He drew a distinction between mobile devices like smartphones -- which are used when you're literally in transit moving -- and portable devices, like notebooks, which you have to stop and set down before you can work with them.

He called the iPad an "in between" device and said "Personally I don't know whether I believe that space will be a persistent one or not."

Later he elaborated that tablets "are not very good for creating things" and are mainly being used for consumption, not creation of content and said "I don't know whether consumption things will remain a category by themselves or not."

Dell exec: iPad too costly, closed, complex


“I couldn’t be happier that Apple has created a market and built up enthusiasm but longer term, open, capable and affordable will win, not closed, high price and proprietary,” Lark told reporter Lisa Banks.

Lark was particularly pointed in his criticism that the popular tablet doesn’t work for enterprise users.

“Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. It’s not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex.”


Lark’s other central rip against the iPad was price.

“An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you’ll be at $1500 or $1600; that’s double of what you’re paying,” he said. “That’s not feasible.”

Comment: Apple has the knack of defining the category. Was so with the point and click, GUI operating system interface (which took more than a decade for Microsoft to catch up with Apple (Windows 7 finally a great operating system that matches OS X)), the music player (Zune is dead); the multifunction phone (IPhone), and the IPAD.


RSA security breach brings changes

Caution urged in wake of RSA security breach


RSA security breach leaves data for 40M employees vulnerable


RSA’s system is currently used by approximately 25,000 organizations, including banks and the US military.

Comment: Bringing changes at work. This is what I use to remote in

Dayton's "make work" stadium plan

Dayton: "We need a people's stadium"


To work-vested construction workers visiting the state Capitol, Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday pitched his vision for digging the state out of the building doldrums: a new Vikings stadium and spending on state buildings.

"We need a people's stadium. Not a Vikings stadium. Not somebody else's stadium. The people of Minnesota's stadium, the way the Metrodome was," Dayton said. "We need to do that again with the right kind of financing."

He mentioned funding it, at least in part, with "surcharges on tickets and souvenir and food and beverages" to pay off construction bonds with "not a dollar from general funds."

The governor has long expressed his interest in inking a deal to get the Vikings a new stadium. He has not put a specific proposal on the table. Nor have lawmakers who have long promised their ideas would be forthcoming.

Dayton said the new stadium would not only allow professional sports events but would also put construction workers back to work. The construction industry has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn.

Comment: Image: People's Stadium, Budapest

I doubt that a new stadium can be built without raising taxes. Economists discredit the job creation argument:

Because local governments must balance their budgets, a stadium subsidy requires some combination of increases in taxes and utility fees and reductions in other expenditures, all of which depress employment. A rough rule of thumb is that $100,000 in higher taxes or reduced expenditures causes the loss of one job. If local government pays $180 million to finance the stadium the community will lose about 1,800 jobs, compared to the estimated 1,350 new jobs to build the stadium.

A "safe" mortgage - 20% down

Regulators define "safe" home loan


U.S. lenders would have to offer mortgages with at least a 20 percent down payment if they want to repackage the loan to sell to other investors without keeping some of the risk on their books, according to a proposal U.S. bank regulators endorsed on Tuesday.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp board agreed to seek public comment on the proposal that is intended to restore lending discipline and define the safest form of mortgages that can be sold to investors.

Last year's Dodd-Frank financial law requires firms that package loans into securities -- a practice known as securitization -- to keep at least 5 percent of the credit risk on their books.

The provision is meant to force securitizers to have "skin in the game," so they don't churn out poorly underwritten loans and then pass along the risk to investors, as happened during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Comment: A sound idea

Ma Bell is Back

A Tangled Family Tree: How AT & T Became AT & T


In 1982, AT&T agreed to break up and end its monopoly over the country’s telecommunications business to settle an antitrust suit with the U.S. government, with the division taking effect in 1984.

In the 27 years since, Southwestern Bell, one of the seven “Baby Bells” created by the breakup, has embarked on an acquisition spree that has left the U.S. telecom industry with just a handful of major players.

Comment: Very cool graphic associated with the article. My Father started with Bell back before WWII. After he was drafted he was in the Army for the duration. Upon returning he got his old job back with years of service in the Army credited for his job. He retired in (not real sure about this) 1983 or 1984. He had more than 40 years of service with the company. My Mother still lives on Dad's pension (Dad died in '99).


Libya: No "actual or imminent threat to the United States"

Defense Secretary: Libya Did Not Pose Threat to U.S., Was Not 'Vital National Interest' to Intervene


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Libya did not pose a threat to the United States before the U.S. began its military campaign against the North African country.

On “This Week,” ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper asked Gates, “Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?”

“No, no,” Gates said in a joint appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “It was not -- it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about. The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake,” he said.

Gates explained that there was more at stake, however. “There was another piece of this though, that certainly was a consideration. You've had revolutions on both the East and the West of Libya,” he said, emphasizing the potential wave of refugees from Libya could have destabilized Tunisia and Egypt.

“So you had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk potentially the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt,” the Secretary said. “And that was another consideration I think we took into account.”

During his campaign for the Presidency, in December, 2007, Barack Obama told The Boston Globe that “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Earlier in 2007, then-Senator Hillary Clinton said in a speech on the Senate floor that, “If the administration believes that any -- any -- use of force against Iran is necessary, the President must come to Congress to seek that authority.”

Tapper asked Clinton, “Why not got to Congress?”

“Well, we would welcome congressional support,” the Secretary said, “but I don't think that this kind of internationally authorized intervention where we are one of a number of countries participating to enforce a humanitarian mission is the kind of unilateral action that either I or President Obama was speaking of several years ago.”

“I think that this had a limited timeframe, a very clearly defined mission which we are in the process of fulfilling,” Clinton said.

Comment: One wonders!


Canada: Conservative Banking

Canadian Exceptionism


Canada is one of the few countries without a major banking crisis. Weirdly, this was also true in 1930. I've seen this list of the success factors for Canadian banks in several places. I want to believe it, but . . .

..it doesn't seem to be as simple as "Canadian banks are more tightly-regulated".

  1. We never had restrictions on interstate banking, so Canadian banks spread their assets and liabilities across Canada. (So it doesn't matter if a local housing market goes bust).
  2. We don't have Glass-Steagal. The investment banks joined the retail banks some years ago.
  3. We don't have mortgage interest deductibility from taxes. So paying down your mortgage is a tax-free investment. So most people want to pay down their mortgages.
  4. (Except in Alberta), mortgages are fully recourse. You can't just walk away from a negative equity home and hand the keys to the bank; the bank will come after you for the difference.
I wouldn't describe those differences as "Canada is more regulated". But we do have higher capital requirements. And mortgages over 80% must be insured (mostly by the government-owned CMHC).
Comment: HT: Why are Canadian banks left unscathed?

We have stock in Bank of Montreal (BMO). Other major Canadian Banks:

Wal-Mart in New York City?

Wal-Mart Tries a Refined Path Into New York


A glossy brochure it mailed to thousands of city residents appeals to their sense of autonomy, declaring: “You don’t ask the special interests or the political insiders for permission to watch TV. So why should they decide where you’re allowed to shop?”

Stealing a page from the candidate playbook, the company has even taken to firing off rapid-response “fact-checker” e-mails to New York reporters to undercut its opponents.

“They look like someone driving toward Election Day,” said Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker. “They have all the things that are on your to-do list if you’re running a campaign.”

But what may be most remarkable about Wal-Mart’s bid is that it is happening at all. Just four years ago, the company proudly proclaimed that it had written New York off. Its chief executive then, H. Lee Scott Jr., said, “I don’t care if we are ever here.”

Comment: Image captured from NY Times article. I would like to see a Wal-Mart in Plymouth!


Senator Frank Lautenberg: "They don't deserve the freedoms in the Constitution"

Democrat Senator tells how he really thinks about our freedom


U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) stood with, and was applauded by, Planned Parenthood supporters and state lawmakers and said, "They [Tea Party Republicans and the majority of Americans who don't want their tax dollars funding Planned Parenthood] don't deserve the freedoms in the Constitution, but we'll give it to them anyway."

Comment: How they really feel about us!

Income taxes not "playing in Peoria"

Caterpillar CEO's letter talks of leaving Illinois


The chairman and CEO of Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. is raising the specter of moving the heavy equipment maker out of Illinois.

In a letter sent March 21 to Gov. Pat Quinn, Caterpillar chief executive officer Doug Oberhelman said officials in at least four other states have approached the company about relocating since Illinois raised its income tax in January.

"I want to stay here. But as the leader of this business, I have to do what's right for Caterpillar when making decisions about where to invest," Oberhelman wrote in the letter obtained Friday by the Lee Enterprises Springfield bureau. "The direction that this state is headed in is not favorable to business and I'd like to work with you to change that."

Comment: Caterpillar is HQ'd in Peoria. On the phrase Will it play in Peoria?

Hidden Camera Rocks Sesame Street

Farce Force Libya

Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links


In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited "around 25" men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are "today are on the front lines in Adjabiya".

Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader".

His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, "including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries".

Antiwar Senator, War-Powers President


President Barack Obama has again flip-flopped on national security—and we can all be grateful. Having kept Guantanamo Bay open, resumed military commission trials for terrorists, and expanded the use of drones, the president has now ordered the U.S. military into action without Congress's blessing.

Imagine the uproar if President Bush had unilaterally launched air attacks against Libya's Moammar Gadhafi. But since it's Mr. Obama's finger on the trigger, Democratic leaders in Congress have kept quiet—demonstrating that their opposition to presidential power during the Bush years was political, not principled.

The Speech Obama Hasn't Given - What are we doing in Libya? Americans deserve an explanation.


It all seems rather mad, doesn't it? The decision to become involved militarily in the Libyan civil war couldn't take place within a less hospitable context. The U.S. is reeling from spending and deficits, we're already in two wars, our military has been stretched to the limit, we're restive at home, and no one, really, sees President Obama as the kind of leader you'd follow over the top. "This way, men!" "No, I think I'll stay in my trench." People didn't hire him to start battles but to end them. They didn't expect him to open new fronts. Did he not know this?

He has no happy experience as a rallier of public opinion and a leader of great endeavors; the central initiative of his presidency, the one that gave shape to his leadership, health care, is still unpopular and the cause of continued agitation. When he devoted his entire first year to it, he seemed off point and out of touch. This was followed by the BP oil spill, which made him look snakebit. Now he seems incompetent and out of his depth in foreign and military affairs. He is more observed than followed, or perhaps I should say you follow him with your eyes and not your heart. So it's funny he'd feel free to launch and lead a war, which is what this confused and uncertain military action may become.


Which gets me to Mr. Obama's speech, the one he hasn't given. I cannot for the life of me see how an American president can launch a serious military action without a full and formal national address in which he explains to the American people why he is doing what he is doing, why it is right, and why it is very much in the national interest. He referred to his aims in parts of speeches and appearances when he was in South America, but now he's home. More is needed, more is warranted, and more is deserved. He has to sit at that big desk and explain his thinking, put forward the facts as he sees them, and try to garner public support. He has to make a case for his own actions. It's what presidents do! And this is particularly important now, because there are reasons to fear the current involvement will either escalate and produce a lengthy conflict or collapse and produce humiliation.

Comment: Incompetent in foreign policy!



Comment: My sprinkler service guy sent me his price list and annual contract as a *.wps file (Microsoft Works Document). I was unable to open with Mac's Office 2010. I forwarded it on to my work laptop and I was able to open it with Office 2007. But I also tried the Zamzar service. There are three service levels and a free option as well. I uploaded the file and Zamzar emailed me the converted files. Pretty cool and I recommend it.


Rifaximin - another C-Diff drug

Emerging Therapies in the Treatment of C difficile-Associated Disease: Rifaximin

Comment: Readers .. blogging this so I have a diary of sorts of what I am taking. I picked up 56 of these today (23 days worth). Why the hamster? Check out the third comment below!

“Chocolate City” more like "Mocha Frappé"

Number of black D.C. residents plummets as majority status slips away


According to census statistics released Thursday, barely 50 percent of the District’s population was African American in 2010 — a remarkable shift in a place once nicknamed “Chocolate City.”

The black population dropped by more than 39,000 over the decade, down to 301,000 of the city’s 601,700 residents. At the same time, the non-Hispanic white population skyrocketed by more than 50,000 to 209,000 residents, almost a third higher than a decade earlier.

The census statistics showed a steeper change for both blacks and whites than had been estimated. With the city ‘s black population dropping by about 1 percent a year, African Americans might already be below the 50 percent mark in the city.

In a city that prides itself on being a hub of black culture and politics, a majority of residents have been black since whites began moving to the suburbs en masse at the end of World War II. By 1970, seven out of 10 Washingtonians were black.

The loss of blacks comes at a time when the city is experiencing a rebound, reversing a 60-year-long slide in population and adding almost 20,000 new residents between 2000 and 2010.

The demographic change is the result of almost 15 years of gentrification that has transformed large swaths of Washington, especially downtown. As housing prices soared, white professionals priced out of neighborhoods such as Dupont Circle began migrating to predominantly black areas such as Petworth and Brookland.

Comment: Image source: Mocha Frappé

Charles Gilbert passes

Comment: My dear Brother in Law's brother. Charles was my peer at the University of Cincinnati. I think he was nearly exactly my age ... perhaps 2 months older.

Retirement: How much will you need?

Retirement 101: How to Figure Out What You'll Need

Summary Points:

just 42% have even tried to work out how much they'll need.

  1. Figure out how much income you'll need
  2. Figure out much you will get from outside sources
  3. Figure out how much income you will need from your investments
  4. Understand how long your investments will have to last

Comment: I did not even think about this until I was about 40. Obviously one can have all goods and monies and not have Christ! And having Christ is the really important thing! But to be a Christian and not plan for a time when one cannot work would be foolish.

Who minded the store?

So who minded the store while I missed work for 8 weeks:
  1. Paul, my dear neighbor from across the street, cleaned Mrs F.'s driveway and walks (I've been doing this for more than 10 years). I did it every now or then but most of the time Paul did it! This has been the 5th snowiest Winter in Minneapolis history, I think something like 88 inches of snow, so this was a giant help
  2. John W picked up the bulk of our ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship / Sunday School) teaching while I was unable to teach. He continues to teach for now
  3. Work: My job really was super for me. I did not worry about work at all. One of my big projects was to push .net 3.5 SP1 to more than 100,000 workstations. I had done about 70,000. Another co-worker picked up this and we are now down to under 6,000. Another co-worked picked up our conversion from one remote access tool to another. I had pushed the new product out to all laptops but we had not removed the old product from all the workstations.

Employees have specific rights and protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. I really was not that familiar with FMLA but this comes into play when someone is out on short term disability.

Comment: Image source: Time Freeze Photos. About old general stores. I remember these well from my childhood. Back in the days of riding my bike, we had a couple of stores we frequented. One was on Neeb Road across from Our Lady of Victory church and school (Delhi OH). It was right at the crest of a hill. We would stop off here to pick up a Nehi Grape Soda

Another was at the corner of Mount Alverno Road and Pedretti Avenue. This was another stop for us as kids.


Lenovo ThinkPad T410 wireless

Lenovo ThinkPad T410

Comment: Working from home today. Will be working from home for a number of weeks probably. I snaked our 100' Ethernet cable from our router (in the Den) to my recliner in the LR. Thought ... well this is stupid ... let's get the wireless going. My ThinkPad T410 is new (November) and I had not used it at home until the sickness began. I could not figure out why the wireless would not fire up. I called Wells Tech Support (thinking of my friend Dan with desktop support at General Mills). Turns out there is a little switch on the right side that has to be slid on. Black off ... green on.

The 'Perez' patrol

Border agents catch 13 illegal immigrants all wearing marine uniforms 'embroidered with the name Perez'


Border Patrol agents have caught 13 illegal immigrants wearing U.S. Marine uniforms at a checkpoint near San Diego.

The immigrants were in a van that was stopped along Interstate 8 on March 14.

The van had a U.S. government licence plate with an altered number, Border Patrol spokesman Michael Jimenez said.

He did not know where the group obtained the military uniforms. There are reports that each of the 13 uniforms were embroidered with the surname 'Perez'.

Comment: For my son ... 6 years USMC! Iraq war veteran!

Spring storm

Snow complicates commute in metro area; flood consequences mounting


Wednesday is bringing an all-too-familiar scenario to Twin Citians and their fellow Minnesotans: accumulations of snow, fender benders and school closings.

Meanwhile, the consequences of a snow-filled winter continue to mount. The latest: Highway 101 over the steadily rising Minnesota River in Shakopee is set to close with the conclusion of Wednesday's rush hour, the State Patrol said.

Comment: Back to work today. I am actually working from home today and probably will for some time. I saw my Dr yesterday. More drugs to take - not sure what (don't remember what she called them) but will pick them up tomorrow. Kathee in Des Moines on business - returning tomorrow. Just me and the cats at the house.

Libya: The friend of our friend is our enemy?

Al Qaida commander backs Libyan rebels in message


A senior member of al Qaida urged Libyan rebels to continue their fight against Muammar Gaddafi and warned of the consequences of defeat, in a videotaped message posted on Jihadi websites, the Qatar-based Gulf News reported on Sunday.

The message from Libya native, Abu Yahya al-Libi, marked the first time a top ranked al Qaida commander had commented on the uprising in Libya. Gaddafi has repeatedly blamed al Qaida for inciting the unrest against him.

"The Libyan people have suffered at the hands of Gaddafi for more than 40 years ... He used the Libyans as a testing ground for his violent, rambling and disgusting thoughts,” Abu Yahya stated.

Comment: Meanwhile Obama is vacationing in Rio!

My Census Track

Mapping America: Every City, Every Block

Comment: My 87% white census track! (Zipcode = 55441). Find yours above. I suppose the little blocks in Medicine Lake are fishermen?!


Beatles 3000 AD

Comment: Funny!

Detroit: "lowest population level since the 1910 census"

Detroit's Population Crashes


The flight of middle-class African-Americans to the suburbs fueled an exodus that cut Detroit's population 25% in the past decade to 713,777, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday. That's the city's lowest population level since the 1910 census, when automobile mass production was making Detroit Detroit.

The decline, the fastest in city history, shocked local officials, who had expected a number closer to 800,000. Mayor Dave Bing said the city would seek a recount.

"If we could go out and identify another 40,000 people that were missed, and it brings us over the threshold of 750,000, that would make a difference from what we can get from the federal and state government," Mr. Bing said at a news conference Tuesday.

In all, the city lost more than 237,000 residents, including 185,000 blacks and about 41,000 whites. The Hispanic population ticked up by 1,500. Meanwhile, the black population in neighboring Macomb County more than tripled to 72,723, constituting 8.6% of the county's population in 2010, compared with 2.7% a decade earlier. Oakland County's African-American population rose 36% to 164,078.

Comment: Bad government has a lot to do with this exodus. Image source: 1914 Ford Model T Touring Car original vintage advertisement

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher: "If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent"

Fed's Fisher: U.S. debt situation at tipping point


The U.S. debt situation is at a "tipping point," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said on Tuesday, and urged the U.S. central bank to refrain from any further stimulus measures.

"If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent. The question is when," Fisher said in a speech at the University of Frankfurt.

Fisher, seen by economists as one of the most hawkish policymakers within the Fed, said that although debt-cutting measures would be painful, he expected the U.S. to take the necessary actions.

"The short-term negotiations are very important. I look at this as a tipping point."

He said the U.S. economy was now growing under its own steam, but voiced his concerns about building global inflation pressures and said it was now time for the central bank to stop pumping out extra support.

"The Fed has done enough, if not too much, and we should do no more.. In my opinion no further accommodation is necessary after June either by tapering off the bottom of treasuries or by adding another tranche of purchases outright."

Comment: Uncharted territory ... what would that mean?


Copper and Caterpillar

Comment: Saw on CNBC today. Copper and Caterpillar closely track. Interesting



Japan 869 AD: "The sea soon rushed into the villages and towns, overwhelming a few hundred miles of land along the coast. There was scarcely any time for escape, though there were boats and the high ground just before them. In this way about 1,000 people were killed"

Blindsided by Ferocity Unleashed by a Fault


In Japan’s history, there does seem to have been a precedent for the recent quake, but it took place more than a thousand years ago. A text known as “Nihon Sandai Jitsuoku,” or “The True History of Three Reigns of Japan,” described an earthquake in July 869 and a tsunami that flooded the plains of northeast Japan: “The sea soon rushed into the villages and towns, overwhelming a few hundred miles of land along the coast. There was scarcely any time for escape, though there were boats and the high ground just before them. In this way about 1,000 people were killed.”

These were the same plains that were submerged this month. Analysis of sediments left by the 869 tsunami led to an estimate that the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.3.

Comment: Interesting article about how little is known about "underestimated or unknown faults"

Preparing to Return to Work

I am preparing to return to work on Wednesday. I've been on Vanco for three weeks! Two weeks at 4 times a day ... 1 week at 3 times a day ... 77 total. Starting tomorrow I am on Vanco twice a day for a week. Vanco regimen continues into mid April. Tomorrow I go back to see Dr Suntharam. I am putting together my "talking points" and questions.

I don't feel healed. That's a concern. Not giving TMI, but I know what normal is and I am far from normal with regards to "down there".

Liberty Mutual and Wells Fargo have been very accommodating and I really appreciate that. Since I am past the acute phase (which trust me is really horrible), my short term disability ends after tomorrow.

My go forward plan is to continue to be aggressive about pursuing a solution. Sadly C-Diff is a really tough bacteria to beat. This article details some of the resistant issues: Recurrent Clostridium Difficile.

My hope, prayer and aim is to get to the point that I would be able to take a plane ride or long drive (like I really want to visit my Mother for her 91st birthday on May 9th). As it is now, my life is kind of tethered to being close to home. Return to work will be working from home. We have good internet connectivity and I have a company cell phone, but I really prefer to be at my office!

JVA: "overvalued at its current market price"

Coffee Holding Co.: Shrewdly Overvalued


What led to the surge in stock price and trading volume? Deja-vu market speculators. So ask yourself: What if other investors realize Coffee Holding Co. isn't the growth story they sought? And suppose that next quarter, earnings came in flat instead of improving over last year’s. Would that justify the stock price sliding back down to $4/share? Beyond a reasonable doubt, Coffee Holding Co., Inc. is overvalued at its current market price.

Comment: Current market price is $ 7.06. I think it is worth the $ 4.07 I paid for it and intend to keep it for the long term (at least one year - to fall into long term capital gains territory). Yahoo stock info on JVA.

Wing walkers, Personal Freedom, and Goverment Mandates

Franklin Flying Circus wing walker Amanda Franklin is recovering with 70 percent of her body burned and surgeries in her future.


Because of smoke inhalation and the extreme heat of the fire, Amanda is not breathing on her own, and has a breathing tube and is on a ventilator. She is burned on 70 percent of her body and, the FFC page reports, 64 percent of those burns are third degree burns, including burns to her face.

Comment: Terrible accident and we should certainly pray for the recovery of the injured wing walker. The question I have is this: If it is in the government's interest to manage health care, including mandating that citizens buy health insurance; why would not the same government limit freedoms and legally prohibit risky behavior? (Oh ... I don't think the government should!)

On Libya: Who are the rebels? Are they worthy of our support?

On Libya, too many questions


  • The world would be better without Gaddafi. But is that a vital U.S. national interest? If it is, when did it become so? A month ago, no one thought it was
  • But how is imposing a no-fly zone - the use of military force to further military and political objectives - not military intervention?
  • The Economist reports Gaddafi has "a huge arsenal of Russian surface-to-air missiles" and that some experts think Libya has SAMs that could threaten U.S. or allies' aircraft. If a pilot is downed and captured, are we ready for the hostage drama?
  • [Is] it wise for U.S. military force to be engaged simultaneously in three Muslim nations?

Comment: And my question: Who are the rebels? Are they worthy of our support?


Wireless oligopoly - AT&T to Buy T-Mobile

AT&T to Buy T-Mobile


AT&T Inc. agreed to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG for $39 billion in cash and stock, in a deal that would create the biggest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers and fundamentally alter the industry's competitive landscape.

Under the deal, the companies said AT&T will pay $25 billion in cash and the balance in stock, giving T-Mobile's German parent an 8% stake in AT&T.

The deal comes as AT&T is looking for growth after losing its exclusive hold on Apple Inc.'s iPhone in the U.S. and as Deutsche Telekom was actively looking at alternatives for T-Mobile. Those options included recent discussions around a possible sale of the business to Sprint Nextel Corp. or an initial public offering.

The deal would combine two operators using the same network technology and, the companies said, would alleviate spectrum shortages cropping up for each.


The combination of No. 2 AT&T and No. 4 T-Mobile would have nearly 130 million customers, about a third more than current market leader Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Vodafone Group PLC and Verizon Communications Inc., and more than twice as many as No. 3 Sprint Nextel

AT&T argues that the combination would mean better wireless broadband service in rural areas, an Obama Administration priority, pledging to cover 95% of the U.S. population. The carrier also said most major U.S. markets have five or more competitors.

The Federal Communications Commission, however, warned last May of growing concentration among wireless providers and, for the first time in years, didn't conclude in its annual industry report that the industry is competitive. The agency would have to approve the transfer of T-Mobile's spectrum licenses to AT&T.

Forrester analyst Charles Golvin said the acquisition would bring better coverage to more people, but said that prices likely wouldn't come down as fast with AT&T and Verizon accounting for nearly three out of every four U.S. subscribers.

Comment: My view is that is will pass regulatory scrutiny. T-Mobile is an under-performing carrier. Three carriers will be better than 4 and make AT&T more competitive in the marketplace.


Write on a chalk board 1,000 times: Price controls on credit lead to . . . less credit.

Debit Card Debacle


Under current rules, every time a customer uses a debit card in a store, the issuing bank charges the merchant a small transaction fee, which represents a percentage of the sale. Under the new Fed rule, which will take effect in April unless Congress acts to stop it, that fee will be capped at 12 cents per transaction, reducing the charges by some $12 billion to $14 billion and in effect transferring the cost of debit cards from the merchants who pay the fees to the consumers who use them.

Merchants argue that if they don't have to pay as much per transaction, they will pass along the savings in lower prices. While that is doubtful, the loss of that revenue will force debit card issuers to raise fees elsewhere to compensate.

Congress's 2009 effort to regulate credit cards shows what will happen. Do you like free checking? Enjoy it while you can, because unless you're a high roller you will soon be paying for check-writing privileges. The price controls have also caused banks to deny credit to marginal borrowers—i.e., those with low incomes. Many have been forced out of the formal banking system and into the arms of payday lenders (if they're lucky) and loan sharks (if they're not). Mr. Durbin should have called his amendment the Payday Lender Empowerment Act.

Amended to Dodd-Frank at the last moment, the Durbin gambit avoided the scrutiny of hearings and passed the Senate 64-33. Seventeen Republicans went along for this ride, which proves that ignorance is bipartisan.

Comment: The law of unintended consequences ... which congress regularly ignores


Sharper Iron Hysteria

BJU Hysteria

Comment: A weird day on Sharper Iron

  • Blogger bitter against BJU because he was expelled 30 years ago
  • Well maybe not .... different guy
  • Blogger is BJU hater ...
  • Well maybe not
  • Jim (me) says guy's site is akin to the ECFA ...
  • Did I really say that?
  • Guy accuses me of hiding angrily behind my blue cartoon avatar (see below)

Nutso on S/I today. Sometimes I just want to distance myself from fundies!


The Browning M1911 pistol

Utah becomes first in U.S. to designate official state gun


Utah has become the first U.S. state to name an official firearm, placing an automatic pistol on a list of designated symbols, right along with the honeybee and the cutthroat trout.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed the bill into law this week, designating the Browning model M1911 automatic pistol as the official state firearm.

The gun, which turns 100 years-old this year, is manufactured in Ogden, Utah.

"It does capture a portion of Utah's history," Utah State Representative Carl Wimmer, a Republican who sponsored the bill, told Reuters.

"Even bigger than that, it captures a portion of American history," Wimmer said.

The late John M. Browning, who founded the company that makes the gun, was born in Ogden, Utah, in 1855 and he lived until 1926. He designed the automatic pistol for the U.S. Army, which was bogged down in sporadic battles with guerrilla fighters in the Philippines and needed a quick-firing weapon.

The pistol was adopted for use by the Army in March 1911, which is how it got the name Model 1911. It was first combat tested by the U.S. military in Mexico in 1916, in the pursuit of bandit-turned-revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa.

Wimmer said Utah residents should be proud of the fact the Browning firearm has been used around the world.

Comment: Image Source. The M1911. A fun gun to shoot. We rented one at Bill's Gun Range a couple of years ago.

JVA - Coffee Holding Company (I should have loaded up!)

Previous Post

Comment: Bought 100 shares at $ 4.06. Now $ 5.50. Still in the "unrealized capital gains" category.


Rebuilding Japan

Rebuilding northeastern Japan likely to take years, cost tens of billions of dollars


Reconstruction will be extremely challenging because the damage is so widespread and has likely destroyed power lines and water treatment facilities, said Jun Yang, president of the Hong Kong branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

"In my view it would take five to 10 years to rebuild or repair," said Yang, who as an associate professor at Hong Kong University carried out field research in Sichuan, China after the devastating earthquake there in 2008.

That timeframe doesn't include any radiation contamination from earthquake-crippled nuclear reactors, which could have a "potentially significant effect on the post-earthquake rebuilding," he said.

The nuclear crisis has taken a dramatic turn for the worse following an explosion and a fire at reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power complex. Japanese authorities ordered emergency workers to withdraw from the stricken nuclear plant Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool the overheating reactors.

"The destruction to ports, power plants and oil refineries in northeast Japan has been extensive," economists Matt Robinson and Ruth Stroppiana at Moody's Analytics wrote in a report. "The cleanup will take months, and the rebuilding of key infrastructure will take substantially longer."

The rebuilding effort is expected to require tens of billions of dollars of public spending that will benefit construction companies but add to the already swollen national debt.

After the 1995 Kobe quake, Japan's economy was able to rebound relatively quickly because the government hiked public spending by more than 15 percent in the following 12 months.

This time around, the government can't afford to spend so freely because it's already straining under a debt load that is double the size of the economy, said the Moody's analysts.

Any stimulus package will probably be paid for in later years by austerity measures, they said.

The mammoth recovery effort will likely mean rebuilding entire towns from scratch and it could be several years before significant construction work is even started, said Ken Collis, an Australian standby member with RedR, which coordinates engineering teams for disaster relief efforts.

Collis said that from his experience helping on reconstruction efforts in the Maldives after the 2004 tsunami, the initial planning phase could take up to a year as people who have lost their homes are given temporary shelter and officials decide what exactly is needed and where money is best spent.

Another year could be spent on designing the new roads, bridges, houses and other buildings that need to be rebuilt, while a third year is spent putting contracts out for bidding.

"It could easily take three years before significant reconstruction is done," Collis said.

Comment: My guess ... a 10-15 year effort. Keep in mind that New York's ground zero still has not been completed (almost 10 years since 9/11). New Orleans still has not totally recovered after Katrina (2005). Don't miss the above point - "the government can't afford to spend so freely because it's already straining under a debt load " - there's a lesson not to be lost!


Finviz: Stock Market Heat Map



Not sure if you've seen the stock market heat map on CNBC. I don't watch CNBC during the day but I have been while I've been home sick. This site (above) is really cool.

Other today:
  • Donald Trump on CNBC today: Obama playing golf while Japan is experiencing this nuclear trauma is "disgraceful". Glen Beck on: "has someone hit him with a stupid stick ... has he become King Louis?"
  • Rudy Giuliani on CNBC: Obama not showing leadership on Libya. He has abdicated leadership to David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy (context ... in calling for the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi while dithering on the no-fly zone idea.)
  • On the stock market free fall today: the Japan story has gone from a earthquake / tsunami to a nuclear disaster story (not sure who said this)
  • I find it interesting that while in general the stock market is down today (heat map) .. Smith & Wesson is up (we own 100 shares)
  • I saw this yesterday. Wells Fargo owns 11% of India Globalization Capital (IGC). It trades for under 60¢. I thought I would buy 400 shares but my free trades account with WF does not cover "penny stocks". I could buy it but would have to pay a trading fee. I passed.
  • Speaking of stocks. I had Lubrizol Corporation (LZ) on my list of potential buys. Well yesterday Warren Buffett announced that Berkshire Hathaway is buying the whole company. (Great minds :) think alike)
  • More from Rudy Giuliani. Lauded David Cameron on his 'Multiculturalism Has Failed' speech. I am searching for the text of his speech but meanwhile here are some links (and below YouTube videos of)
  • Also found this of interest today: Five High-Yield Dividend ETFs for Smart Income Seekers
  • I had to go out and buy more drugs today (more Vanco). I also dropped by Lunds and picked up 2 cake donuts from their bakery.
British Prime Minister Calls Multiculturalism a Failure

18 years ago

18 years ago this week, I flew to Minneapolis from Denver to be interviewed by Norwest (forerunner to Wells Fargo).

The results ... I didn't get hired!

Later I was hired by International Multifoods' VSA (Vendors Supply of America) division in Denver (as an AS400 developer (LANSA)).

1 year after my being passed over by Norwest, I was hired by Norwest (started March 7th, 1994)

(The other "International" company was my first job .. IBM)


Half way through my Vanco regimen


Comment: I'm almost half way through the 106 pills:

  • 4 per day for 14 days (Tomorrow is day 14)
  • 3 per day for 7 days
  • 2 per day for 14 days
  • once per day for 7 days
  • Every other day for 7 days
  • Every third day for 14 days

I am still on short term disability. Next Dr appointment on 3/22. If all goes well I will go back to work on 3/23

Thanks for your prayers!

Japan: Earthquakes, tsunami. and radiation peril

Japan Earthquake: before and after

Comments: My heart goes out to the Japanese people. Difficult to comprehend the scope of this tragedy. Some additional thoughts by John Piper

Reflections on the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami: Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy

A Prayer for Japan

5 Biggest Retirement Myths

5 Biggest Retirement Myths


  1. $1 Million Will Be Enough
  2. You'll Spend Less When You're Older
  3. Older people need more bonds
  4. your Money Lasts Longer if You Move
  5. Uncle Sam Has Got Your Back

Comment: Expanding on the 3rd point:
Of course, there's a reason older investors need bonds—historically, they've been safer and less plunge-prone than stocks. Hence the old "own your age" theory: If you're 65, then 65 percent of your portfolio should be in bonds, and so on. But with their prices near record highs, "bonds have no place to go" right now, says Diahann Lassus, whose New Jersey wealth-management firm Lassus Wherley manages $320 million. She recommends that boomers keep anywhere from 50 to 65 percent of their portfolio in stocks—including high-dividend stocks that can replace some of the income that retirees get from bonds.

  • We hope to have more than $ 1 Mil at retirement. It is a formidable goal but we are investing with that target
  • We probably will move to a lower tax state (lower or no state income tax, lower property taxes). With family here we know we will travel to Minnesota a couple of times a year
  • I do think we will spend less in retirement. One small example ... we pay $ 214 per month to park in downtown Minneapolis.

Check out this video (upcoming financial crisis)


Comment: I only watched 30 min. I understand it is 80 min long. What do you think? Porter Stansberry is a controversial figure. Google search on him.

When it's OK to say ....

It's OK to say you have diarrhea ....

when you are playing Scrabble ...

Because it's worth an a**load of points

Comment: Zach Galifianakis on SNL. Contrariwise no one is offended if you say you have bronchitis.