Thursday, October 21, 2010

How It Will Go Down

Any questions?

[via Glasperlenspieler]

Puff Daddy and Magic Johnson to Buy Buffalo Bills, Bring NFL back to LA

Sean "Puffy" Combs and Magic Johnson have both been making noises about buying an NFL franchise and bringing it to LA.

Puffy is estimated to be worth about half a billion, and Magic just sold his stake in the Lakers as well as his many Starbucks franchises, and both have expressed interest in moving the Buffalo Bills to LA.

Together, with their money, clout, and business acumen, they could do it. And they probably will.

Neat huh?

Social Security Stalemate

Social Security is a budgetary trick that is virtually indistinguishable from a Ponzi scheme. Workers pay in, theoretically so that they will have something to take out when they retire. However, this money doesn't go into a lockbox. It goes straight to current beneficiaries.

There is no Social Security Trust Fund. There was supposed to be, but it ended up getting spent by our government. In it's place are billions in Treasuries, which when the time comes to cash them in, our broke-ass government will just print some more dollars, making those T-bills effectively worthless.

Social Security is broke, and any attempt to fix it is met with FIERCE liberal rhetoric, even though they bring no ideas on how to fix it themselves.

Bush's attempt to privatize Social Security went down in flames. Current Republican reforms are being met with cries that they are killing Social Security, and that they want old people to live in abject poverty.

The funny thing is, these attempts are actually trying to save Social Security, while the Left simultaneously sits on their hands and puts their fingers in their ears while Social Security sinks deeper into the red.

The time of Social Security reckoning will come, and we will know who really brought the pain.

Of course, both sides will continue to play the shell game. Once the program hits the wall, the Right will call for reforms and blame the Left for spending too much, and the Left will say the Right wants old people to live in the streets.

But we are catching on to their game.

Railroads Get a Boost

Not everyone is struggling in this economy, as railroads see strong surges in profit.

Union Pacific Corp.'s third-quarter profit jumped 51% as the railroad company posted volume growth for the third consecutive quarter and noted freight revenue improved across all business segments.

Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Young said strong volume growth, pricing gains and operating efficiency "combined to produce another record quarter" for the company. Results easily topped Wall Street's expectations.

The company's results further highlight the transport sector's rebound from last year's moribund levels, as the U.S. economic recovery continues. Already, peer CSX Corp. and transport companies J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and United Parcel Services Inc. have reported results above prior-year levels as volumes jump higher. Union Pacific has said it sees a peak autumn intermodal shipping seasons, although it warned of industry uncertainty.

As the dollar weakens and commodity prices rise, commodity movers like railroads should see a boost, as I wrote about a year ago, when Warren Buffet bought railroad company Burlington Northern.

I should really start listening to myself.

They Took Our Jobs! [Robot Apocalypse]

These cold, heartless bastards aren't content to just conquer the world, they want our JOBS too!

Today, a Japanese company called Fanuc, Ltd., has industrial robots making other industrial robots in a "lights out" factory. (That's the somewhat unsettling term for a fully automated production facility where you don't need lights because you don't need humans.) That's where we're headed.

It's not just manufacturing, either. Automated call centers are replacing customer-service agents. Automated checkout stations are replacing grocery-store clerks. When the science of computer vision advances sufficiently, we'll have algorithms, not humans, evaluating X-rays at airport security checkpoints and screening user-generated content for sites like Facebook.

The robots are going to do all our work, better than us, at a fraction of the cost.

Or, as the denizens of South Park so eloquently put it:

The Gramophone Makes a Comeback

Or should I say "GramiPhone?" No, no I shouldn't.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gadsden Flag Redux

Molotov cocktails: when a snake just isn't threatening enough.

America... FUCK YEAH!

Language Learning Computer Insults Obama [Robot Apocalypse]

NELL, the smartest language learning computer with a Twitter account, recently insulted the commander in chief.

And as recently as Saturday, she even ventured into political satire territory - or at least, something that sounded very much like it when she decided that "US President-elect Barack Obama" is a #politicianus.

Nobody seems to know exactly what a politicianus is, but for now we're assuming they're like opinions - everyone's got one, even NELL.

A "politicianus?" I may criticize our government from time to time, but at least I have warm blood and a squishy brain. These metal and silicon bastards have gone too far. They are supposed to serve us, and here they are insulting our highest leader?

DARPA is playing with fire.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Great Unraveling

Americans are losing faith that their government can provide a fair society. They see that government works for those with money and power, and no longer for the little people.

The bitter truth is that the nation's Financial Power Elites are not constrained by rule of law, and as a result of this revelation Americans' trust in their government and political class has been shattered.

Despite raising their voices 600 to 1 against the TARP and related bailouts of the nation's Financial Power Elites (who stripmined the nation's wealth from their investment banking and mortgage banking fortresses) in 2008, the government shoved trillions of dollars of bailouts and guarantees into private hands with pathetically little control in return.

In their rage at this abject, cowardly surrender of their government to the Financial Elites, the American people tossed the craven bankers-lapdogs Republicans out and replaced them with an untested young president who talked the talk and old-line Democrats.

All of whom proceeded to attach the same leash to their necks and become craven lapdogs of the Financial Elites.

Now that the housing crisis has nearly run its course, how are the Power Elites gaming the system today? It starts with the Fed, and ends with you having no more money:

Zero interest is nothing but a transfer of wealth from the citizens to the Financial Power Elites in the money-center and investment banks. Please note the bankers divided up $144 billion in bonuses last year, despite their insolvency. That buys a lot of politicos--basically all of them.

Secondly, the Fed is destroying the nation's currency, the dollar, to drive money into the stock market. This is designed to create a facade of "prosperity" which gives some sort of credence to the government's claim that a "recovery" is underway. Since the Grand Stimulus has failed utterly and completely, then juicing the stock market is the only way left to bolster the illusion of "recovery."

Unfortunately for the incompetent toadies of the Fed, much of the "hot money" speculation they have incentivized is flowing into commodities, driving up the prices of food and fuel. Once again the Fed has engineered a policy which siphons money away from the citizenry in order to reward and enrich the Financial Power Elites.

The Fed, which controls the money supply for the entire nation, is firmly in the pocket of the Financial Elite. It's policies of zero interest rates and money-printing bailouts are designed to help its Elite masters, on the backs of everyone else in the country.

This will go on as long as we let it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The O'Donnell Conundrum

My Facebook news stream has taken on an interesting tenor lately. It is awash with opinion articles decrying the idiocy of Christine O'Donnell, and defending the "elites" she opposes. Liberals are nodding their heads in such unison, that I'd swear they were Republicans.

The meme of a pretty conservative lady with questionable credentials was, of course, pioneered by that lightning rod of liberal disdain, Sarah Palin. Her critics fell over each other to find new ways to call her stupid. She has been used to cast the entire Tea Party movement as merely a know-nothing rabble.

Enter one Christine O'Donnell. Riding on the Tea Party momentum, she ousted the Republican incumbent in the primary. Representing for many Delaware voters a political outsider who might better represent them, she has created a media firestorm.

Images and videos of her deep past have come to light, casting her in a sharply negative light. In fact, the media's obsession has boosted her campaign contributions significantly, and she has collected more money from outside of Delaware than inside.

Yet these things have not helped her campaign. She is a 15-20 point dog, with little chance against her Democratic opponent. And herein lies, for me, a conundrum:

Why does the Left continue to bash her so viciously?

Here's what I think. For one, they are attempting to position her as the figurehead of the Tea Party, so that her loss can be framed as a victory of Democratic Reason over Tea Party Madness.

Second, by piling on, the Left can all feel good about a common cause against the Tea Party menace.

Thirdly, and most interestingly, the Left feels compelled to say, "I'm not an idiot!!!" by loudly insulting Ms. O'Donnell, because if she's a dolt and wrong about everything, then the Left is still smart and right about everything (even though Obama and the Democratic Congress has clearly shown this to be false).

It's the same reason some closeted homosexuals express violent homophobia. To deny their own perceived weakness, they lash out at anyone who reminds them of it.

In order for the Left to deny it's own stupid mistakes, and thus bolster their own belief that they have all the answers, they must excoriate a relatively harmless candidate for perceived stupidity.

In other words, "the lady doth protest too much."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ben Bernanke is the Most Powerful Man in the World.

Bernanke's actions at the Federal Reserve ripple throughout the globe, especially into emerging markets.

A surge of capital is flowing into emerging markets as money flees the U.S., Europe, and Japan in the hope of higher returns.

The perception is that emerging markets offer stronger profit growth for their stocks, higher interest rates for their deposits, and the potential for currency appreciation.

Yet it's not all roses for the emerging economies involved.

That's because the surge of money seeking emerging markets is an example of how easy monetary policy in the developed world spills over into the developing one. Emerging markets nations try to tighten monetary policy... but are then beset by waves of foreign capital entering their countries. This negates the domestic tightening effort since foreign money is sloshing around their economies, and it's how Ben Bernanke is actually the entire world's central banker.

Inflating our dollar's value away so that we are forced to bubble-ize emerging markets doesn't seem like great policy to me, but I'm not a central banker, so what do I know.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Watching Dumb TV Makes You Talk Like an Idiot

It's science.

"When two people start a conversation, they usually begin talking alike within a matter of seconds," said James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and an author of the new study published in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "This also happens when people read a book or watch a movie. As soon as the credits roll, they find themselves talking like the author or the central characters."

Pennebaker and his colleagues tracked language use by 2,000 college students responding to class assignments written in different language styles. The results confirmed that language style matching extends to the written word. When an essay question was written in a dry, confusing tone, students responded with dry, confusing answers. If the question took a flighty, casual tone, students responded with "Valley girl"-like answers peppered with "like" and "sorta."

If you watch dumb people talk, you will start to talk like them. If you talk like them enough, you may even start to think like them.

So try to keep your exposure to dumb TV to a minimum.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Desert Patrol Bots [Robot Apocalypse]

And the robots take one more step towards world domination.

America Despises her Poor

Kurt Vonnegut nails it in Slaughterhouse Five

America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, 'It ain't no disgrace to be poor, but might as well be.' It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: 'If you're so smart, why ain't You rich? ' There will also be an American flag no larger than a child's hand-glued to a lollipop stick and, flying from the cash register.

The author of the monograph, a native of Schenectady, New York, was said by some to have had the highest I.Q. of all the war criminals who were made to face a death by hanging. So it goes.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue, the monograph went on. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.

Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves. Once this is understood the disagreeable behavior of American enlisted men in German prisons ceases to be a mystery.

Howard W. Cambell, Jr., now discussed the uniform of the American enlisted in the Second World War:

Every other army in history, prosperous or not, has attempted to clothe even its lowliest soldiers so as to make them impressive to themselves and others as stylish experts in drinking and copulation and looting and sudden death. The American Army, however, sends its enlisted men out to fight and die in a modified business suit quite evidently made for another man, a sterilized but unpressed gift from a nose-holding charity which passes out clothing to drunks in the slums.

When a dashingly-clad officer addresses such a frumpishly dressed bum, he scolds him, as an officer in an army must. But the officer's contempt is not, as in other armies, avuncular theatricality. It is a genuine expression of hatred for the poor, who have no one to blame for their misery but themselves. A prison administrator dealing with captured American enlisted men for the first time should be warned: Expect no brotherly love, even between brothers. There will be no cohesion between the individuals. Each will be a sulky child who often wishes he were dead.

America hates its poor, but why? And how can we stop it?

Bernanke Talking, is Anyone Listening?

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has joined the chorus of people warning Americans of our government's unsustainable debt load.

[I]n the United States, governments at all levels are grappling not only with the near-term effects of economic weakness, but also with the longer-run pressures that will be generated by the need to provide health care and retirement security to an aging population. There is no way around it--meeting these challenges will require policymakers and the public to make some very difficult decisions and to accept some sacrifices. But history makes clear that countries that continually spend beyond their means suffer slower growth in incomes and living standards and are prone to greater economic and financial instability.

Everyone outside of Congress and the Obama administration is saying the same thing: We must balance the federal budget. Unfortunately, the only people with the power to do this are in Congress and the Obama administration.

Russian Space Hotel

Russia, already the leader in space tourism, has plans to build a new space station focused on tourists, scientists, and engineers.

Construction is set to begin in 2012 or 2013.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Amazing New Stuff

Popular Mechanics announces its Breakthrough Awards 2010.

Highlights include a radical, super-efficient airplane design, earthquake-proof buildings, and a completely new way of thinking about magnets.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Smells Like Revolution?

‎"Revolutions are most likely to occur when a prolonged period of objective economic and social development is followed by a short period of sharp reversal. People then subjectively fear that ground gained with great effort will be quite lost; their mood becomes revolutionary."
--James Chowning Davies