Be a Pepper

I was in class yesterday afternoon - a very fun class: Windows 7 for administrators.

The class was about 6 blocks away and started at 1. I left my office and walked up that way with my laptop in my backpack. It was coolish outside (mid-50's) and I was just in a polo shirt.

When I arrived I was tired (my handicapped legs can only take so much). I moved into the building and I was then very warm and sweaty. I was 40 min early class so I sat down in a conference room to wait for the class to begin.

Outside the conference room was a soda machine that dispensed for only 75¢. I bought a Dr Pepper and just chilled. I was thinking about the old Dr Pepper 10-2-4 "Dr Pepper Time".

Bored a bit and with not much to do, I began to do different things with my phone. I texted to Chase and received my CC balance. Then to Wells Fargo and received our account balances. I rarely use my cell phone's camera but messing with it a bit I took a picture of the Dr Pepper can and emailed it to my son.

Today he asked me why I sent him a picture of a Dr Pepper can. I texted "Be a Pepper". He texted back "What does that even mean?" Well it's an old advertisement. See below

Trayvon Martin: Take a deep breath and wait for Lady Justice

Rush to judgment in Trayvon Martin case

It's clear that some of the people raising the most noise are trying to make this less about the horrible death of a young man and more about claims of racial resentment that may or may not exist.

The loudest voices should be particularly careful not to rush to conclusions. Remember the Duke lacrosse case, in which members of the team were accused of a gang rape. The public rushed to judgment long before the young men were eventually acquitted.

Zimmerman may or may not be guilty; there may or may not be racial motivations. We do not know yet. In the absence of complete evidence, inflammatory comments and belligerent reactions will not aid the search for justice. An angry crowd should not be in charge.
Comment: William J. Bennett's editorial reflects my view.
He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him. (Proverbs 18:13)
Image: Lady Justice


Aging and spending patterns

FROM TOYS TO TOMBSTONES: How The Spending Patterns Of Americans Change Throughout Their Lives


HS Dent, an economic forecasting firm, compiled Census data spending behavior and presented them as demand curves, which measure average annual expenditure for a given product over age.

HS Dent's charts couldn't be more simple, but we can't stop looking at them. They offer an elegant glimpse into how spending really evolves over time.

What are some things we learned? Well, as we mature we use a lot less plastic cutlery.

But our towels get a lot older and cheaper. Not surprisingly, alcohol consumption is pretty steady from ages 20 to 70.

And it looks like we do all of our vacationing long before retirement.
Comment: View article for charts. What I've noticed:
  • Becoming an empty-nester really impacts expenses. When the kids move out (and it's been over 10 years for us), the phone bill (we used to have 2 lines!), utilities, groceries, and auto expenses really go down.
  • Auto insurance is probably the # 1 saver for us!
  • Auto expenses: We once had three cars. Now 2. (I think we could live with one but I don't want to get rid of my truck!)
  • Groceries is right up there
  • Clothing is in the mix too!
  • On restaurants ... we rarely eat out unless we are traveling. We bag lunches to work

Wells Fargo at 160!

Wells Fargo is now the nation's biggest bank by market value


Although Wells Fargo still has fewer bank deposits than its closest competitor, its total stock market value is now about $178 billion — that's about $70 billion more than Citigroup and about $9 billion more than JPMorgan. It has even overtaken the largest bank in Europe, London's HSBC.

This newly assumed title is not just a quirk of the stock markets. It symbolizes an important shift that has taken place over the last year: Investors and bankers have increasingly lost faith in the old Wall Street model that helped New York consolidate its status as the financial capital of the world.

The new favorites in the banking industry are institutions that focus on the more straightforward business of taking in deposits and doling out loans. Wells Fargo is the only one of the four U.S. banks with more than a trillion dollars in assets that does not have a major Wall Street operation.

"A lot of the trading and Wall Street-type of revenues are just going to go away or become much lower," said Eric Oja, a bank analyst at Standard & Poor's. "Wells is already miles ahead in terms of that transition."

The bank has plenty to celebrate these days — on Monday its chief financial officer will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to mark the company's 160th birthday this month. That comes a few days after the Federal Reserve announced that Wells Fargo stood up better than the nation's other mega-banks in stress tests.
Comment: From an investing standpoint I have confidence in these three banks.

Advice to Santorum

Poll: Santorum’s Pennsylvania Lead Vanishes.


Support for Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania is crumbling, according to a new Franklin and Marshall College Poll of the state he represented in Congress for 16 years.

Mr. Santorum, is statistically tied with Mitt Romney in the poll with a 30% to 28% lead, within the poll’s margin of error.

Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich came in with 9% and 6% respectively.

By contrast, the college’s February poll found Mr. Santorum with a commanding 45%-16% lead over the former Massachusetts governor.

The landscape changed significantly during the last month as support for Mr. Santorum has been dropping nationally, but Mr. Santorum has been banking on Pennsylvania’s April 24 primary to help keep his candidacy viable.
Comment: Advice to Santorum ... bow out after Wisconsin (April 3rd).


Santorum as Mitt's VP?

David Brody’s interview with Rick Santorum

David Brody: If he for some reason asks you to be the vice presidential candidate on his ticket? I know, after is all said and done. Would you even consider it?

Rick Santorum: Of course. I mean, look. I would do in this race as I always say, this is the most important race in our country’s history. I’m going to do everything I can. I’m doing everything I can.
Comment: Like when hell freezes over!


"Continuance for dismissal" - Paying for a break

Some drivers find that cash can make the ticket go away


In Hennepin County, most cities allow qualified drivers to get a deal, called a continuance for dismissal, simply by going to the courthouse and getting the OK from a hearing officer. The ticket's fines and fees are dismissed and replaced by "prosecution costs" which go entirely to the city, along with a state surcharge. The total bill can run as high as $325 in some cities, far above the $145 or so that the speeding ticket would have cost.

If the driver doesn't violate traffic laws for a specified amount of time -- often a year -- the ticket is dismissed. If the driver is convicted, both tickets will appear on the record.

Prosecutors who issue the deals say they are giving relatively law-abiding drivers a break and encouraging them to drive with care in the future.

Each city sets its own parameters for which speeding situations qualify for a continuance. Many require that there was no accident, that the driver cooperated with police and wasn't going more than 15 or 20 miles per hour over the limit.

Minnetonka prosecutor Rolf Sponheim called it a compromise; motorists have to pay more while the city is "compromising our goal of having the person's driving record reflect their driving conduct."

Attorney Steve Tallen, a long-time prosecutor for several cities in Hennepin County, makes no apologies for charging prosecution costs of $250 in speeding cases.
Comment: Interesting. More on here.  I still have not been charged with anything. It's been 3 months!


Low income housing at $ 392,000 per unit

$100 million in flour power to transform Pillsbury A-Mill

More than 130 years after the Mississippi River was diverted to power the Pillsbury A-Mill, it continues to flow beneath the building -- its dull roar a constant reminder that this landmark helped make Minneapolis the flour capital of the world.

The mill stopped operating a decade ago, but the building is largely unchanged. Gaping holes in the floors mark where there were once grain chutes. Broken window panes reveal stunning views of downtown Minneapolis and St. Anthony Falls. In the disheveled offices, there's unopened mail and a pair of reading glasses on a desk, as though the people who once worked at the mill are just away on break.

Now, a robust rental market and an ambitious plan from a local developer could mean new life for the site. Dominium Co. plans to convert the complex into 255 rental apartments for low-income artists, including studios and performance spaces. The project will cost more than $100 million, making it one of the most expensive residential construction projects on the books in the Twin Cities.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save this place," said Owen Metz, senior development associate for Dominium. "It's going to be an amazing project."
Comment: Of course the only way this could be financed is with state and federal government funds. Have to be a poor artist to live there! More on the A Mill here

Best ... Worst

Looking at the old portfolio today:
You never know with these things! Chart (image above)


Jets trade backup QB Drew Stanton to Colts


Drew Stanton, the Jets backup quarterback who grew upset with the team when Tim Tebow joined the depth chart, has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts, the Jets announced Friday. The Jets get a sixth-round pick in April's draft in exchange for Stanton and a seventh rounder -- one of the picks acquired from Denver in the trade for Tebow.
Comment: Manning to Broncos .. Tebow to Jets ... Stanton to Colts


"Maybe the copy key got stuck on the presidential speechwriter's keyboard."

  Danish TV Host Mocks Obama for His Rhetoric

Santorum shills for Ohio Art

Etch A Sketch sales jump 1500%

Mitt Romney's presidential hopes may have been shaken up when an aide compared his campaign to an "Etch A Sketch" toy, but the publicity blitz has been a delightful surprise for the U.S. makers of the well-known erasable children's art tablet.

Ohio Art, the low-key, family-run company that has made "Etch A Sketch" for half a century, saw its sales of the toy soar to 1,556 on Amazon.com within 24 hours of the gaffe. The company's thinly traded stock more than doubled, to $9.65.
Comment: I had an Etch A Sketch back in the sixties. The most I accomplished was to erase the entire screen to figure out how it worked. Ohio Art. Seriously Rick, it's time to wrap things up! I didn't know Ohio Art was publicly traded (as OART.PK)


Cincy & Ohio State

Cincy & Ohio State

I don’t know if I’m the first to say this, but I believe it with all of my heart: No. 6 Cincinnati is going to have a very, very good chance of beating No. 2 Ohio State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night in Boston for the same reason that Kentucky beat Ohio State last season in the Sweet 16. (I had that upset in my bracket, no big deal.)
Comment: My Alma Mater (Cincy). I think the game starts late (like 9 ish Central) but will try to watch (until Mr Sandman visits)

Preview: ObamaCare before the Supremes

The Supreme Court Weighs ObamaCare

WSJ article - 1st paragraph:

On Monday, the Supreme Court will begin an extraordinary three-day hearing on the constitutionality of ObamaCare. At stake are the Constitution's structural guarantees of individual liberty, which limit governmental power and ensure political accountability by dividing that power between federal and state authorities. Upholding ObamaCare would destroy this dual-sovereignty system, the most distinctive feature of American constitutionalism.
Comment: So much at stake!


Why my son peed on me

Study Finds Newborn Infants Can Tell If Parents Are Losers

Joe Mayo

Joe Mayo

 Comment: Just found this .... funny! I completely forgot that quote.

Don't be an investing "muppet"

How to avoid becoming a Wall Street muppet

With three layers of agents, everyone has their hand in your pocket. That’s what defines a muppet! Here are three ways to reduce agency risk:
  1. RIA vs. broker: Do you know the difference between a registered investment adviser (RIA) and a broker? They are as distinct as chiropractors are to orthopedic surgeons. RIAs are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and are not allowed to earn fees from any source other than you. Conversely, brokers can be paid in many ways that you don’t see. Spend some time learning this critical difference. While you are at it, search the term “breakaway brokers” and learn why brokers are leaving their firms in droves to start up RIA firms so they can operate with less conflict.
  2. Index funds vs. actively managed funds: Most investors don’t know the difference between an index fund and an actively managed fund. If you are one of them, do some homework. With an index fund or exchange-traded fund, you can save on fees and replace fund managers with computers that buy every stock in a particular market. Performance? The statistics are indisputable — owning active funds is an expensive loser’s game. That’s one reason why Vanguard Group, which created index funds, is now the largest money manager in the world with $1.75 trillion.
  3. Clearing brokers: Where your money is located is a critical decision. Make sure that your money is held by what is called a “clearing broker,” like Charles Schwab or Fidelity Investments — not your local independent broker dealer. Clearing brokers are much more regulated and plugged into what is called the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTC). This dramatically lowers the risk of fraud and helps insure that no one but you can move money out of your account.
Enjoy watching the Muppets; don’t become one. Having your own account at well-known firms such as Schwab and Fidelity, with an independent adviser (not a broker) buying you a portfolio of index funds, means you’re investing with fewer strings attached.
  • This is hard to do (if you like the person) but fire the weath advisor. They can take between 1-2% off the top every year.
  • If you can't invest in stocks (or bonds) ... use ETFs. I found this book to be very helpful: The ETF Book: All You Need to Know About Exchange-Traded Funds
  • We have all of our investments at Wells Fargo. (our "clearing broker") (point 3 above)
  • Read, read read about investing. Money magazine is very helpful. As is the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Finance
  • Diversify, diversify, diversify!
  • Don't get emotionally attached to your investments (although we did buy MMM because our daughter works there!
  • Regularly invest and save. We started way too late (20 years ago). Start early!

Hard to beat "Gas" engines

Leaf, Yaris, Cruze Compare

My dear Mother just gave up driving (she's almost 92) and sold her 2007 Toyoto Yaris.

What a deal the buyer got on her Yaris .... just 11,000 miles. We thought about buying it ourselves but it would have involved flying to Dallas and driving it back so we did not!

Her Yaris got me thinking about the Leaf. We've had a reservation in for a Leaf for several years. Well we got the call that we could buy one in Minneapolis. I declined and got a refund on my reservation fee.

Mom's Yaris was certainly nothing fancy but the Yaris is a well-built car that would be perfect for driving around town. I'm a big, tall, handicapped guy and I could get in and out of Mom's Yaris.

I used the Microsoft auto site (link above) to compare and contrast the Leaf, the Yaris and the Chevy Cruze.

As cool as electric will be someday ... it's hard to beat "gas".


Illinois - a Romney win?

In Illinois, Santorum’s Chance at Nomination Is Slipping Away

Illinois had appeared to offer Mr. Santorum a chance at a breakthrough. Instead, unless the polls are very wrong, it may represent a breakthrough of sorts for Mr. Romney – by far his biggest delegate grab and margin of victory in a Midwestern state so far. If Mr. Romney wins Illinois by that margin, it will take the political equivalent of the Bartman ball to cost him the nomination.
Comment: Santorum keeps calling Romney a weak candidate but if that's so he's weaker!


Ancient negative political ad: "he disgraced himself by going down to the market and buying a girl to be his sex slave."

Campaign tips


  1. Promise everything to everyone. .... tell them what they want to hear
  2. Call in all favors. If you have helped friends or associates in the past, let them know that it's payback time
  3. Know your opponent's weaknesses—and exploit them.
  4. Flatter voters shamelessly. ... A candidate must make voters believe that he thinks they're important. Shake their hands, look them in the eye, listen to their problems.
  5. Give people hope.
Comment: BC political advice. Some things never change. Post title:
Quintus practically invented opposition research: "Consider Antonius, who once had his property confiscated for debt…then after he was elected as praetor, he disgraced himself by going down to the market and buying a girl to be his sex slave." A winning candidate calmly assesses his opponent and then focuses relentlessly on his weaknesses, all the while trying to distract voters from his strengths.
More on Cicero

Battle of the Alma maters

No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Cincinnati

Kathee: FSU '73
Jim: UC '71

I don't think Kathee really cares. But we will be watching


TREFIS analyzes MSFT

TREFIS analyzes MSFT

 Comment: With INTC one of my favorite stocks


Bank Dividends are Rising, so Which is Better: JPMorgan or Wells Fargo?

But sometimes, unassuming can mask an inner strength. Firstly, Wells Fargo plans to hike its dividend by 83% to 22 cents a share per quarter, compared with a mere 20% rise for JPMorgan to 30 cents a share.

Secondly, for investors looking to stocks for income, the steadiness of Wells Fargo’s business is more comforting than the sometimes-erratic nature of JPMorgan’s exposure to investment banking. Both suffered some wackiness during the recession, but remove that period from the chart below and Wells Fargo demonstrates a continuous, steady rise in net income. Kind of looks like a utility, say PPL Corp. (PPL).
Comment: The two best large banks. Good stocks for investors. Image

Optomap (retinal scan)

At the eye doctor today: I had the retinal scan (beats the "drops"): Optos

 In saying this I am not being critical of the eye doctor. This was more of an embarrassment than anything. They have a swivel chair by this machine. As I sat down, the chair rolled and swiveled and I landed on my keister. Kathee was called (from the lobby) and she helped me get back on my feet.

Healthy milestones


The Artist

The Artist

 Comment: Kathee and I saw this today. Excellent.

Fat Nat's

Fat Nat's

Comment: K and I have the day off (burning off carryover PTO that has to be used by tomorrow). We were at the Hennepin County Service Center (Ridgedale) at 8:15 (I thought it opened at 8! Nope ... 9!). Renewed the driver's licenses and then out to breakfast. Got to try Fat Nat's!

Bond ETFs

The Beta Investment Report: U.S. Bond ETFs

[On] the short list of investment-grade U.S. bond funds that cover the waterfront in this corner of the capital markets.

The first point to note is that the short list really is short. That’s partly because there’s only a handful of ETFs that cover the broad spectrum of investment-grade bonds in the U.S. in one fell swoop. We’re talking here of Treasuries, government agencies, corporates, and a small amount of international dollar-denominated bonds (inflation-protected Treasuries and munis are excluded, however). We’re also limiting the choices to market-cap weighted benchmarks exclusively in the ETF space. That leaves us with four choices, as shown in the table
Comment: The absolute easiest way to invest in bonds is through a Bond ETF. We have investments in both BND and AGG. Neither are exciting (like an IBM) but they are stable.

Inexorable Delegate Math

Romney won Tuesday delegate haul

After Tuesday votes in Mississippi, Alabama, Hawaii and American Samoa: DELEGATES WON

  • 41 Romney
  • 35 Santorum
  • 24 Gingrich
  • 1 Paul

Comment: The Romney train moves on. Paul stays in because of message. Gingrich stays in because his campaign pays him and because of his GIANT EGO.


Flaws in the Stadium Plan - II

Vikings stadium bill trips over projections of gaming revenue


Gov. Mark Dayton and supporters of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium scrambled on Monday to blunt doubts that electronic bingo and pulltabs could raise enough money to pay the state's share of the $975 million project without putting taxpayers at risk if gaming revenue falls short.

Over the weekend, Dayton and Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans reached out to charitable gambling officials to dull growing criticism of the state's $398 million financing proposal. Charities had fought for years to increase their take from pulltabs and bingo, only to see stadium supporters take much of the new revenue to pay for a Vikings stadium.

With a crucial legislative deadline fast approaching, King Wilson, the executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, said a "large gap" remained between the charities and the governor on the issue.

The impasse left key legislators unsure about pressing forward, particularly those on House and Senate panels where the stadium legislation would get its first votes. One DFL legislator said on Monday -- two days before the bill's first Senate hearing -- that the proposal was being held together with "duct tape."

"I do have some concerns ... about the funding -- absolutely -- whether or not it truly is a stable source of revenue," said Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, a member of the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee.
Comment: And of course if the funding comes up short ... raise general revenue to pay for it!


When Curtis LeMay "bombed" Dayton

The 'Dayton' Lesson for America's Shrinking Military

It was simply called the "Dayton Exercise" and for obvious reasons it was kept secret for decades. It was also one of the clearest examples of the trouble the United States encounters when it decides to precipitously draw back its military in a troubled world.

.. On Aug. 19, 1949, the Soviets successfully tested their first atomic bomb, years before U.S. intelligence believed they would. Six weeks later, Mao Zedong's communist army took control of China. Eight months after that, the North Koreans crossed the border and quickly crushed U.S. and South Korean forces. Things have a way of changing when you least expect it.

One year after World War II, the U.S. had placed its strategic nuclear advantage in the hands of a new entity called the Strategic Air Command (SAC). It made sense to hand the country's nuclear punch over to this new branch of the Air Force, since only that service branch had the delivery system and prior experience. The B-29s of SAC were meant to so petrify any foe that they would never consider an attack on the U.S. The reality was that the new command was a shockingly disorganized, ill-equipped, nonfunctioning organization. Worse, no one seemed to care.

In 1948, the commander of SAC was replaced by Gen. Curtis LeMay, who had proven himself the ultimate problem solver in World War II, first in Europe and then in the Pacific. LeMay immediately understood the severity of the problem. He also comprehended the constantly changing geopolitical landscape.

So he walked into his office in Omaha, Neb., on one of his earliest days on the job and ordered every single bomber in SAC to take off immediately and electronically "bomb" Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Compared with a real war, this should have been a cakewalk. Crews would not have to fly over an ocean, nor would they be flying into unfamiliar or unfriendly territory. Everyone knew Wright-Pat. It was a relatively short, peaceful distance away. The control tower in Dayton would be able to track the trajectory of each plane's "bombs" by radar.

But it turned out that many of the planes couldn't even take off. The best mechanics had left the service for higher-paying and easier civilian jobs after the war ended, leaving SAC's planes in woeful condition. Of the planes that could get to Dayton, not one was able to hit the target. Not one. For obvious reasons, the results were kept classified.

... The Dayton lesson serves as a cautionary tale. The next time some unforeseen event threatens the mainland as the U.S. is slashing its military budget, this country won't have the luxury of time to rebuild what it will no doubt need.
Comment: Image and article on the B-36. On 8/19/1949 ... this boy was born!


Republican Primaries - the Fat Lady is about to Sing!

Republican 2012 race 'mathematically' over: Graham

Mitt Romney has all but won the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, top senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday, agreeing with the candidate that "mathematically, this thing is about over."

Romney has won 14 of 25 state-by-state votes that decide which Republican candidate takes on President Barack Obama in November, compared to eight wins for Rick Santorum and just two for former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

These victories have given Romney almost 40 percent of the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination. He has 446 delegates, Santorum 199 and Gingrich 117, according to authoritative poll aggregator RealClearPolitics.

"Mathematically, Rick would have to win 75 percent of what remains," Graham, a senior Republican who serves on various Senate committees, told ABC's "This Week" program.

"He's done an outstanding job, Rick has, of starting with almost nothing and being a real contender, and Newt's come back from the dead two or three times," Graham said. "But mathematically, this thing is about over, but emotionally it's not."

Graham was speaking ahead of two do-or-die contests for Gingrich on Tuesday in the conservative southern states of Mississippi and Alabama -- although the former House speaker has pledged to stay in the race until the bitter end.
Comment: Image Source.

Flaws in the Stadium plan

Stadium deal may test Minneapolis charter

[Bob Greenberg] wrote the city charter amendment that now poses the greatest hurdle to supporters of a Vikings stadium in Minneapolis -- mandating a citywide vote on stadium subsidies of $10 million or more. Seventy percent of city voters approved that language in 1997 during talks of a new Twins ballpark, but it now faces its first real test as the Legislature considers a bill to ignore it altogether.

"I did not write this charter amendment to prevent the building of a stadium," said Greenberg, a former Twin Cities activist who moved into a woodland tent two years ago and lives off the land, including roadkill. "But only to force the city to put it before the voters."

The activists who fought for the referendum requirement have long parted ways, but now find themselves revisiting the passionate case they made for a public say in sports subsidies. Some are offended at what's going on. Others have changed their minds.

The three sentences in the Minneapolis charter have prompted a majority of the City Council to speak out against the latest stadium plan, which would bypass the referendum. When the referendum idea was born around a table in St. Paul 15 years ago, then-Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton wanted to dedicate $50 million to a new home for the Twins.

"I knew, as I said at those meetings, that they were going to get around it," said then-mayoral candidate and City Council Member Barbara Carlson, who supported the referendum requirement. But times change. Carlson now believes it was "a bad decision" and "referendums are insanity."

Mayor R.T. Rybak's latest proposal to fund a Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis would pay for the city's share of the facility by redirecting a group of sales taxes that currently pay for the convention center. That money becomes available when the convention center debt is paid in 2020. Stadium backers argue the sales taxes are state-authorized and therefore not city resources, an argument reflected in the stadium bill introduced Friday.

Greenberg knew any loopholes would be exploited, which was why he included a laundry list of funding options to spur a vote, including "sales tax or other taxes."

"I pulled my brains out [imagining] what is every single way that they could finance this? How could they find a way around this?"

Rybak has argued that his deal, which he says will lower property taxes by paying debt on Target Center, is a much more complicated package than what the referendum is meant to address. But Council Member Gary Schiff, who developed the idea with Greenberg, says voters still want a voice in this deal.
Comment: The two flaws ... and they are major:
  1. Bypassing the City charter and bypassing the declared will of the people.
  2. Guessing at the amount of the funding source (the electronic pull tabs)
I could almost say I don't care because I don't live in Minneapolis. But the 2nd flaw will cost all Minnesotans when the revenue stream is inadequate.

Organ removal of BHC's [beating-heart cadaver's]

What You Lose When You Sign That Donor Card - Giving away your organs sounds noble, but have doctors blurred the line between life and death?

But in at least two studies before the 1981 Uniform Determination of Death Act, some "brain-dead" patients were found to be emitting brain waves. One, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the 1970s, found that out of 503 patients who met the usual criteria of brain death, 17 showed activity in an EEG.

Even some of the sharpest critics of the brain-death criteria argue that there is no possibility that donors will be in pain during the harvesting of their organs. One, Robert Truog, professor of medical ethics, anesthesia and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, compared the topic of pain in an organ donor to an argument over "whether it is OK to kick a rock."

But BHCs [beating-heart cadaver]—who don't receive anesthetics during an organ harvest operation—react to the scalpel like inadequately anesthetized live patients, exhibiting high blood pressure and sometimes soaring heart rates. Doctors say these are simply reflexes.

What if there is sound evidence that you are alive after being declared brain dead? In a 1999 article in the peer-reviewed journal Anesthesiology, Gail A. Van Norman, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Washington, reported a case in which a 30-year-old patient with severe head trauma began breathing spontaneously after being declared brain dead. The physicians said that, because there was no chance of recovery, he could still be considered dead. The harvest proceeded over the objections of the anesthesiologist, who saw the donor move, and then react to the scalpel with hypertension.

Organ transplantation—from procurement of organs to transplant to the first year of postoperative care—is a $20 billion per year business. Average recipients are charged $750,000 for a transplant, and at an average 3.3 organs, that is more than $2 million per body. Neither donors nor their families can be paid for organs.

It is possible that not being a donor on your license can give you more bargaining power. If you leave instructions with your next of kin, they can perhaps negotiate a better deal. Instead of just the usual icewater-in-the-ears, why not ask for a blood-flow study to make sure your cortex is truly out of commission?

And how about some anesthetic? Although he doesn't believe the brain dead feel pain, Dr. Truog has used two light anesthetics, high-dose fentanyl and sufentanil, which won't harm organs, to quell high blood pressure or heart rate during harvesting operations. "If it were my family," he said, "I'd request them."
Comment: Makes on wonder!

God answers

William Hamilton Dies at 87; Known for ‘Death of God’

In large red type against a black background, Time boiled those ideas down to three words: “Is God Dead?” It became one of the magazine’s most famous covers, and it upended Dr. Hamilton’s quiet life as an academic theologian.

The article, appearing in the season of Easter and Passover, gave a primer on the history of the war between religious and secular ideas in Western culture going back to Copernicus. It quoted Billy Graham and Simone de Beauvoir as exemplars of the two sides, and it introduced the world to Dr. Hamilton as the leader of a new school of religious thinking it called the “Death of God Movement.”
Comment: Original Time cover below:


Something I am really good at

When Buying a New Car, the More You Know, the Less You Pay

New car shoppers who look up a car’s invoice price, shop multiple dealerships and aren’t afraid to haggle can save as much as $800 on average on a vehicle purchase, according to a study that is one of the first to test economic bargaining theory against real world data from the $340 billion U.S. auto business.

Just coming to a dealership armed with the invoice price of a vehicle can save a shopper as much as $140, according to an analysis of data from 1,402 shoppers who purchased one of eight car models in California between April and May 2002. The analysis is the foundation of a paper by F. Scott Morton of Yale University, Jorge Silva-Risso of the University of California Riverside and Florian Zettelmeyer of Northwestern University.

... Shopping around, visiting at least one additional dealership to get a competing quote, can save more, the study found.
Comment: The first new car I "bought" was for a widow who needed a new car. She wanted a Pontiac. I was a senior in college. I shopped and shopped the details (it was much harder back before the Internet) and called and called. I used my deepest voice to sound as adult as I could sound (I was 21). Basically I negotiated the deal over the phone and went to the dealership with her. This was back when I lived in Cincinnati. The best deal was in Northern Kentucky .... I think in Covington. It was a 1971 Pontiac Ventura. New cars are easier to buy than used because there are less variables and there is more information available. The keys (just off the top of my head):
  • Separate all of the elements: Financing from trade in from add ons, etc.. Arrange financing in advance. The dealer may be able to beat it but by separating it out it makes negotiation easier
  • Either don't trade in a car (sell it yourself) or know the value of it.
  • Don't buy any dealer add-ons: undercoating was a big deal years ago and a waste of money. Don't by the extended warrenty
  • Back then I used the phone. Today check the internet. Know what cars are available. Be willing to drive to another state to buy a car. Our last car was purchased in Wisconsin
  • Be willing to buy a different brand. There's little difference between a Ford and a Chevy
  • Be flexible of colors
  • Know that the salesman is powerless to make a deal. It's the guy above him
  • Be willing to walk away.


CNN's delegate count

CNN's delegate count

Delegate Math

How math virtually guarantees Romney's nomination

The Associated Press' estimate puts Romney currently at 415 delegates, to Santorum's 176, with Gingrich and Paul controlling 105 and 47, respectively. A candidate needs a majority of all delegates in order to win the nomination, which this year comes to 1,144.

Two of the remaining winner-take-all states will be uncontested, Utah and Pennsylvania. Romney is all but guaranteed to win Utah's 40 delegates on June 26, and so if Santorum win his home state's 72 delegates on April 24, his net gain is 32 -- leaving him about 200 behind Romney, with about 1430 remaining. The remaining states are scattered geographically and demographically, distributed evenly between Romney's base (the Northeast), Santorum's (the heartland), as well as the Romney-leaning West and the Gingrich-Santorum South.

If Romney were to stumble and win only a third of the delegates in the remaining states, Santorum would have to win more than half of all the delegates in order to pull ahead, meaning that Gingrich and Paul together would have to be held below 16 percent. To date, not even counting Romney's blowout in Massachusetts, Romney has won nearly half of the delegates while Santorum has won about one-fourth. That means the only path to Romney losing is Santorum doubling his past haul, while Romney dropping by about 70 percent. That's not likely.
Comment: Image from Romney campaign email. Remember delegate math is imprecise. On why Gingrich continues (basically his campaign is paying him):
Gingrich, meanwhile, directly benefits from continuing to run. His campaign has paid him, personally, more than $100,000 in "unspecified expenses in what amounted to petty cash," as the Washington Times' Luke Roziak puts it. The Gingrich campaign has also paid or otherwise subsidized Gingrich's for-profit enterprises, in the process raising his profile and, presumably, his speaking fees. Gingrich's top aides are rewarding themselves with plenty of Sheldon Adelson money, too -- one super-PAC aide paid herself $220,000 for about 10 weeks of work.

Electronic pull-tabs: Revenue Reality Check

Can electronic pull-tabs pull in enough stadium revenue?

A major pillar of the Vikings stadium proposal unveiled last week is tax revenue from an expansion in charitable gambling. But such a financing plan has lots of unknowns — and one key question: Will the introduction of electronic gambling gizmos generate enough income to repay the bonds?

The financing proposal depends on electronic pull-tabs supplying funds to repay $398 million in bonds the state plans to float to build the facility. (Minneapolis will back another $150 million in bonds with sales taxes, pending City Council endorsement to the financial arrangement.

The entire public financing plan, Gov. Mark Dayton said last week, wouldn't use "a single dollar of general fund tax revenues.")

Minnesota already allows paper pull-tabs. To win cash prizes, players match pictures on the front of the cards they purchase, usually for $2 each, under tabs that they tear off. Bars and restaurants sell them on behalf of nonprofits, and the proceeds -- minus the prize money, expenses and taxes -- go to charity. Among those who benefit in Minnesota: American Legion posts, VFW groups and others who use the money to support local sports leagues, scholarships and the like.
Comment: I'm not particularly naive but until pull tabs were recently explained to me, I didn't even know what they were. Sounds like a giant waste of time and money! The linked article examines the dubious propects of the electronic pull tab revenue source. A must read because if this stream fails, all Minnesotans will be holdlng the bag for the Vikings stadium

The MSM and Repubican "Bloodletting"

Romney Scores Big Win; Press Fails to Notice

Romney is being widely panned by the press for an “inability to close the deal,” and yet the description seems far more apt for Santorum, who now has blown huge leads in the most critical contests of recent weeks, Ohio and Michigan. If anything, the more voters look at Santorum, the more concerned they become and less likely they are to sign on the dotted line.
All reporting is now sports reporting. Reporters love a battle and they love to go on TV and rave about how exciting everything is. And editors seek a bracing and never-ending storyline because it draws readers and ultimately pleases their corporate bosses, who want to sell papers and generate pageviews.

 The headline “Romney Scores Six Wins and Continues Methodical Drive Toward Nomination” is just not going to drive eyeballs to your story.

 And reporters also tend to be moderate to liberal. Bloodletting among Republicans at some level is agreeable to many of them. I have to believe that if this was Obama instead of Romney, the stories would be about the growing inevitability of Obama’s nomination.

That Romney is in all likelihood on the march toward nomination will probably soon become too apparent for any serious journalist to deny. At that point, for the reasons listed above, we will begin to hear feverish talk about the prospects for a third party candidacy.
Comments: Source of images: 1. bloodletting; 2. Screen capture.


Hot air

Click for larger image.

Can't decide which stock to buy? Buy 'em all!

Pick an index: Wilshire 5000 is easier to track

The DJ Wilshire 5000 and MSCI U.S. Broad Market index both try to measure the entire stock market. Unlike the Standard & Poor's 500, which tracks 500 of the stock market's most valuable companies, the DJ Wilshire 5000 and MSCI U.S. Broad Market indexes try to own the big, the small and everything in between.

... It's also easy to track the DJ Wilshire 5000 because investors can buy shares in an ETF that tracks it, the SPDR DJ Wilshire Total Market ETF (TMW). You can track the index by entering TMW into any stock quote service.
Comment: Chart above (from Yahoo finance) shows it beating the DOW over 2 years.

Broad diversification. Chart below. Source


Arrived the same day as my tax refund

Comment: Murphy's law!