Friday, February 27, 2009

More Citi

Remember back when the government backstopped $350,000,000,000 worth of bad Citi debt (i.e., the return on the sales on that debt are guaranteed by the government, i.e., the holders of bad Citi debt got to switch their crappy Citi debt for U.S. treasuries) and in return we got a paltry $7,000,000,000* worth of preferred shares in bank that should be bankrupt? The out used by Washington was that they were 'preferred shares' so the taxpayers would get a guaranteed dividend and the taxpayers would be first in line for the assets if the bank went under.

From WSJ:
Separately, Citigroup announced it will record $10 billion in write-downs for the fourth quarter, boosting the year's net loss to $27.7 billion. Citi is also suspending dividend payments on common shares, which had already been slashed to 1 cent a share per quarter.
So unsurprisingly Cti doesn't have the cash for the dividend (or much else, except enviro BS), so the government is going to convert a fair portion of their/our shares to common stock. In order to keep government ownership under 50%, they're going to do it at an artificially inflated price of the common stock, so we're all losing money on the deal despite what the news says.



*These numbers are all over the place, so apologies if they're wrong.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tom

When growing up we would, of course, make the occasional visit to our grandparents house and at least at my dad's parent's house my Uncle Tom would be there to keep me and my brother entertained. He was only around ten years older than us so the stuff in his room was cooler than the rest of the house and he at least tolerated the rambunctiousness of his wound up nephews*.

As my immediate family grew, it got to be pretty hard to keep track of everyone beyond the house I lived in, not only for myself but for everyone else as well (at least i think). Over time my Uncle Tom drifted off to grow up and do whatever it was that grown-ups do (or not, at least from what I'd heard).

I had only seen him a couple times after he had joined the Navy several decades ago. He left the military after his tour and held jobs of different flavors (I assume). At this point only the funerals of my grandparents spring immediately to mind as to when I saw him last (from what I gather, I wasn't the only one this applied to). I know my dad would have been upset at the funerals, but I recall my Uncle Tom being...umm...'distant' might be the best term. I thought nothing of it at the time given the circumstances, but now I wonder...

I learned this morning that my Uncle passed away a short time earlier from sclerosis of the liver at the age of 45, apparently done in by self treatment of depression with alcohol.

We weren't close by any means, but I still cared about his well being, much as I hope that distant cousins whose names I cannot recall would care about not wanting me to starve to death in an ally. In instances like this I always like to think that there was something I could have said, some note I could have passed along, or some button I could have pushed to help someone such as my Uncle avoid such a fate. However I've learned in last couple of years that most of the time there is no such magic button to be pressed, that someone's combined biological, economic, and personal issues can make such a fate preordained.

Still, I have to think that such fates can be avoided and that my Uncle is somewhere in the great beyond and may be casting unneeded forgiveness at those who were completely unable to do anything. Guilt is probably an inappropriate emotion, but it is a very effective salve particularly to those who should in actuality be carrying none; those who usually in such circumstances would feel regret and sorrow; those who hardly know the subject of their concern.

I can be a bit of an airhead especially when it comes to family relationships; but this one is not all on me, in fact none of it is. Goodbye Uncle Tom. I hardly knew you, but unfortunately I think you wanted it like that**.


*This would have been back in the late seventies/early eighties so there wasn't much amusement outside of my grandparents subscription to On TV.
**Not my warmest obit, that's what makes it all the sadder...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Real Racial Wuss

From Connie Schultz, incompetent PD columnist, on Eric Holder's boring and typical 'Nation of cowards' comment:
Holder was trying to make an important point that was all but lost in the ensuing uproar over those three little words. He is right that, when it comes to race, far too many white people still fear the tough conversations ...
As opposed to black people who are completely open to discussing the failure that hunts their culture.
This week, for example, two young white men were gunned down outside a bar in downtown Cleveland. One died; the other was critically injured. The first story reported four assailants, but didn't identify their race.
C'mon, we all know how the game is played. If the assailant is white the race is noted, either outright or with pictures, ESPECIALLY if the victim is black (God help us all when that happens). However, if the assailant is black that fact isn't reported quite as clearly, if it is reported at all, ESPECIALLY if the victim is a white woman.

Plain Dealer, we know who the real cowards are.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Justice Not Delayed

While researching a company by the name of ILD Teleservices that's trying to perpetrate a scam on my employer, I came across this interesting note on the hole in Florida where they are located:
During World War II the German submarine U-584 debarked four saboteurs at Ponte Vedra as part of the failed Operation Pastorius. The four German spies, all of whom had previously lived in the United States, came ashore on the night of June 16, 1942 carrying explosives and American money. After landing they strolled up the beach to Jacksonville Beach, where they caught a city bus to Jacksonville and departed by train for Cincinnati. The invaders were captured before they could do any damage. They were tried by a military tribunal and executed.
FDR had his faults, but being the world's biggest pussy wans't one of them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Give Me My F'n Money Back

Left wing tech rag mag Computerworld has a profile up on one Michelle Erickson (LinkedIn profile) who is the, ahem, "Initiative Director, Environmental Sustainability for Global IT" at none other than Citigroup. How about a taste?
I ended up speaking to people from around the bank and got the program approved by the leadership council in September 2007. The bank has committed $50 billion toward sustainable efforts over the next 10 years. We also have a plan to reduce our own greenhouse gas [emissions] by 10% by the year 2011. And we're operating from a 2005 base
Citigroup? Hmm, that name sounds familiar, and well it should!
Late Sunday night, the government announced $306 billion in loan guarantees for the giant bank as well as another $20 billion cash infusion in exchange for preferred shares in the bank. The banking giant got $25 billion under the first bailout plan announced earlier.
I have no problem with businesses using their own money for their pointless pet projects, but it....upsets me greatly when a slimeball, corporate welfare abusing, please-to-die organization like Citigroup is blowing taxpayer money on horse crap like this. And no, the money didn't come out of a 'different bucket', they're broke and the only bucket they have is the one that they're squeezing the taxpayer teet into.

As well, I don't want to hear any bull about how a cash strapped organization like that should be blowing that much change to switch to mercury laced light bulbs. 'Green' initiatives either a) make economic sense or b) don't. Money itself is a representation of scarce resources and needs to be conserved, especially for a poorly, half-ass run outfit like Citigroup, blowing $50,000,000,000.00 on environmental feel-goodery is a horrible waste of precious resources, especially WHEN THEY DON'T HAVE MONEY OF THEIR OWN.

Shame on Computerworld for shining up to the dinner party set instead of looking out for the interest of their readers. Shame on Michelle Erickson for parlaying her talents into such a worthless, 'Stuff White (or in this case Jewish) People Like' tick on society's ass. And most of all, shame on the appalling Citigroup for still existing.

Even More College Radio

Hot on the heels of that 'pigeon' j-pop tune that John Carrol played a little while back, the local Case station (WRUW) played this obscure anime tune. I don't know what's more disturbing, the original version or the fact that someone decided to make a, ugh, fan made version.

If they're going to be playing anime music, they should get their act together and play some good stuff:



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reinventing the Mouse

HP is coming out with a new touch screen desktop, the HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC, in order to get ahead of those hot, hot Windows 7 orders (Windows 7's BIG change is the inclusion of touch screen interface support). The design is quite obviously stolen from the iMac desktop design*.

This seems like one of those times when I scratch my head and ask, "why?"
From Redmond Mag:
"We're looking forward to Windows 7 as it relates to this product," says Kirk Godkin, manager, Americas business desktops at HP. "Customers are naturally going to say, 'give me a device, give me a client, give me a PC that takes full advantage of the experience that Windows 7 is going to deliver. If it's going to have these built-in attributes as relates to touch, give me a device I can roll out in my environment.' Yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

But HP is looking beyond already touch-friendly markets. Health care will be a major target area, Godkin says -- and so will the enterprise in general.
How long has Microsoft been putting out tablet PCs that no one outside of a few niche markets has seen? Ten years? I sure hope they're kidding about regular business users buying into this stuff, one has only to hold their hand above their computer for a few minutes to figure out the stupidity of this idea. If you think that you get carpel tunnel from a mouse, oof!

*Still a slight bit different from the iMac, especially when compared to Sony's wholesale ripoff. Apple, R&D for the computer industry.

Money Mystery

From here:
The total U.S. obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits to be paid in the future, effectively have placed the U.S. government in bankruptcy, even before new continuing social welfare obligation embedded in the massive spending plan are taken into account.
Well, one guess as to what fate lies ahead for Social Security and Medicare?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Green Paper

This article on China continuing to buy IOUs from the U.S. that's linked up on Drudge is interesting:
“Except for US Treasuries, what can you hold?” he asked. “Gold? You don’t hold Japanese government bonds or UK bonds. US Treasuries are the safe haven. For everyone, including China, it is the only option.”

Mr Luo, whose English tends toward the colloquial, added: “We hate you guys. Once you start issuing $1 trillion-$2 trillion [$1,000bn-$2,000bn] . . .we know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys but there is nothing much we can do.”
Well if it makes you feel any better, we hate you for putting us further into the hole.

China is discovering that they've built a house made of (NOT built on) sand. China desperately needs export related jobs to keep the civil peace since they have NO domestic consumption (most everyone in China is dirt poor). So they ship their plastic and electronic junk over here and we in turn send them freighters full of green paper. What to do with that green paper? Well they don't buy anything worthwhile from the nation that issues the green paper so that's out. They could buy stuff from the other suckers on the planet that accept green paper for their goods, but again, there's no domestic consumption so you only need so much of that stuff. So what China is left with is loaning the green paper back to the U.S. so that they can buy even more Chinese stuff.

When stated like that, how long is a system like that really gonna work? What's worse is that the U.S. can (and has) been printing mountains of new green paper and debt, devaluing the store of wealth that the dollar has historically had.

Don't get me wrong, this is BAD for the U.S. as well; however China will eventually face the prospect of not accepting green paper for their goods which will completely sink their economy since their main export customer would then have a worthless currency. They could delay this somewhat by using their excess green paper to buy other stuff (gold, silver, etc.); but purchaing that amount of commodities will artificially drive up their prices and present logistical issues (transportation, storage, etc.). Buying commodities will only work for so long though since, with the main purchaser of U.S. debt missing, the incompetent American regime(s) will probably turn to more drastic measures that will make China's treasury holdings worthless and, again, making the U.S. currency worthless.

China's other option (that they've elected to go with for now) is that they can continue the current game of keeping their currency worth substantially less than the U.S. 'Amero' which will make them poorer and poorer with each mountain of debt that they purchase from the U.S.

The bottom of the bucket is nearing, and unfortunately for China they're going to land there under the U.S. if they keep buying our bad debt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sparks of Sanity

The occasionally insane Senator George Voinovich took the time to vote against the horrific bailout bill. Makes me sorry that he's decided to retire.

You can thank him here.

The Impossible Education Dream

From Cleveland.com:
EAST CLEVELAND — An unused four-story building on GE's Nela Park campus in East Cleveland sprang back to life Monday as a pioneering public high school.
...
STEM techniques teach critical thinking and other skills that rank high on Strickland's new education agenda. The Cleveland schools are the first in a wave of STEM initiatives that the governor hopes to continue, spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said.

MC2 STEM will add a grade in each of the next three school years. Tenth-graders will attend classes in another yet-to-be-announced corporate setting. Juniors will study somewhere downtown and work internships. Seniors will take courses at Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University.
Typical educrat scam: cherry pick students for a model school, then pretend the model can be scaled out to the entire district. It's past time to quit pretending that we're one bizzaro idea away from turning every student in inner city America into a rocket scientist and instead focus on making sure that there are viable employment opportunities that meet the skill sets of the vast majority of students that come out of those districts.

At this point we've been trying to find that magic, bizzaro idea for forty years, so I doubt that the outlook will change soon. The fact that Ohio's governor recently said that everyone would need their masters degree is only icing on the cake.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

It Came From Evernote II

From Here:
The Pasadena-based dating website, heavily promoted by Christian evangelical leaders when it was founded, has agreed in a civil rights settlement to give up its heterosexuals-only policy and offer same-sex matches.
EHarmony was started by psychologist Neil Clark Warren, who is known for his mild-mannered television and radio advertisements. It must not only implement the new policy by March 31 but also give the first 10,000 same-sex registrants a free six-month subscription.
So much for freedom of association. Best to host your website in a more open minded country, such as communist China.

Next:
In the Los Angeles County school system, health, pension, and workers compensation liabilities are so mountainous that an estimated one of every three dollars budgeted for the L.A. schools goes to teacher retirement costs. "The three Rs in the L.A. County school system are now reading, writing, and retirement," moans Richman.
Cadillac retirement plans will be the death of big government (or the governed) much as they're putting old manufacturing union shops on the ropes. It's one thing for a third world country to try and pull this stuff, but there's no IMF loan coming for us.

Another:
President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday braced Americans for the unparalleled prospect of "trillion-dollar deficits for years to come," a stark assessment of the budgetary outlook that he said would force his administration to impose tighter fiscal discipline on the government.
I don't know how that guy could come to the conclusion that years of trillion dollar deficits can in any way equal 'tighter fiscal discipline on the government'. It might not be beyond the Saudis or Chinese to give us enough rope to hang ourselves with, but I would tend to think that even they have an interest in getting paid back someday.

From a Reg article on additional warning labels on video games:
The type of parent who would buy their 8-year-old Grand Theft Auto is also probably not someone who's going to catch the additional warning — given they've already ignored the ESRB warning, the title, the guns on the cover, and the description on the back of the box.
In other news, I got some new HP Procurve network switches at work, and I plugged the warranty into HPs site to make sure they were set. The graphic below shows that HP REALLY stands by their switches:

How about some more Obama madness?

Obama's "regulation czar" Professor Cass Sunstein wants animals to be able to sue.
Animals can't reason or express themselves, naturally, so the litigation would be handled by human lawyers, acting as ventriloquists on behalf of the animal kingdom. Think Mister Ed the talking horse, crossed with Eliot Spitzer.
"Any animals that are entitled to bring suit would be represented by (human) counsel, who would owe guardian-like obligations and make decisions, subject to those obligations, on their clients' behalf," according to Sunstein. The Harvard legal scholar first proposed the argument in 2002
Well at least, so far as we know, he didn't cheat on his taxes.

A little Ohio news:
Gov. Ted Strickland last week warned that the tough economy would force him to make painful decisions in his new two-year budget. Today, he revealed details, which include employees in the executive branch taking pay cuts of 3 percent to 5 percent and reducing the state's contribution from 100 percent to 90 percent for vision, dental and life benefits. The savings would be about $200 million a year.
Executive branch employees paid NOTHING for their medical care? No wonder the state is broke. Speaking of which, if and when that travesty of a bailout goes through I'd like to thank our neighboring states of Kentucky and Indiana for helping to pay for Ohio's governmental goodies since Strickland's balanced budget relies almost entirely on Federal bailout money to do the balancing. Suckers!

Speaking of bailouts, here's a thought brought up in relation to the U.K., but it's just as relevant here:

"The UK has been hit hard because the banks took on enormously large liabilities in foreign currencies. Should the British taxpayers have to lower their standard of living for 20 years to pay off mistakes that benefited a small elite?" he said.
As we'll find out on Monday when our own banking bailout plan is pitched, that's certainly what TurboTax Timmy, Bling-Bling Obama, and the rest of our corrupt coastal elite think.

Speaking of which, isn't it nice that our law enforcement officials have enough time to make sure that dangerous criminals like Barry Bonds and Michael Phelps are locked up while our betters like Bernie Madoff, Congressman William 'Freezer Money' Jefferson, and countless corrupt banking execs walk the streets? I guess it's like they said on The Simpsons, there's no justice like mob justice...