Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Once upon a time....

Adam Smith is almost always credited as the inventor of our modern economic system: Capitalism. He was actually a social philosopher. "Although The Wealth of Nations is widely regarded as Smith's most influential work, it is believed that Smith himself considered The Theory of Moral Sentiments to be a superior work." *link* This work is about ethics. While Smith believed man gravitated towards self interest, he attempted to explain the reasons men made the moral decisions they do. He believed the underlying reason for this moderating of self interest was the concept of sympathy.  "Smith proposes a theory of sympathy, in which the act of observing others makes people aware of themselves and the morality of their own behavior." *same linkie*  In The Wealth of Nations one of the stronger passages describing the "invisible hand" (which is oddly rarely mentioned in his book considering it's preeminent position in today's thought,) Smith says "By pursuing his own interest [man] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it."

While this does show that Smith theorized that the "invisible hand" did indeed tend to work in the direction of the good for society, hedging his bets he uses the word "frequently." I believe sincerely that Adam Smith was a moral man who came up with ideas far ahead of his time. He attempted to assimilate these ideas into economics. The mishmash of speeches and essays that is The Wealth of Nations by no means indicates a man devoid of moral insight who would as soon sell Coca-Cola with Cocaine as an ingredient in order to assure a continued customer base. I doubt he would have favored the cigarette companies withholding information that was dire and important to the public health. From reading him, I see a man who, while fairly elitist in his view of class and workers, truly wanted a moral world.

This series of essays which I have aimlessly set to the titles of the George Martin compositions on the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack will probably have little continuity but, as always, I experiment knowing that someday I will be dead and none of it will matter. :)  The essays are meant to be read together. As in all blog entries, the last is first and the first is last. It does my heart good to know that this is true somewhere.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Credit is Due

I hadn't realized the extensive role of credit cards in the financial crisis. Apparently, credit card debt being refinanced into real estate debt was a major factor in many of the subprime loans made and then securitized and then credit default swapped and then synthetically swapped and whatever else banks wanted to do under the Greenspan system of bank regulation anarchy. I haven't seen many figures on any of this stuff. It would seem that there would be a definitive account of something so historically important, but it seems I can only read around the edges in all the books I have chosen to read. Maybe it's because I have intentionally stayed away from conspiracy theories. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And Furthermore... :)

It's not just the big boys that are publically humiliated. To me it's the entire structure of Ayn Rand's "full, pure, unregulated laissez-faire" capitalism. Rand in her libertarian zeal was such an inspiration  to Alan Greenspan that he believed he should not only believe this way but "advance free-market capitalism from the inside, rather than as a critical pamphleteer." He took the job full well knowing that laws and regulations would be part of his mission but not believing in them he took the opportunity to avoid them if possible.

The reality is so obviously plain. Ayn Rand's ideas have been tried at the highest level. In the absence of careful government regulation and oversight, the free market leads to fraudsters as large as Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan Chase. It simply takes the money out of the hands of the middle and lower classes and concentrates that money in the hands of the rich few who then use that money to exert pressure on any government that is critical of their methods. This is accomplished by direct giving of part of their largess to politicians, buying ownership of the media, and generally funding those who present arguments that confuse the issue. The result of "pure" capitalism, as anyone can see, is a very wealthy 1% or so, and the rest of the population who scrounge for jobs.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Call Me Crazy

There is some satisfaction of knowing that Goldman Sachs and today JP Morgan Chase have had their hands slapped for defrauding investers. Sure the penalty is small and no one goes to jail for the crime, and voters will vote the same squad of politicians who take money from these criminals back into office. And party affiliation hasn't much to do with the politicians who took the money, Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, former chairman of the all important (to bankers) Senate Banking Committee is the obvious case in point. He took money for reelection from the people he was regulating, no problem. Laws to limit bankruptcy for the big banks were originally passed with Democratic votes. This is not to say that Republicans are more likely to regulate banks. Republicans believe in that wonderful market that got us where we are today.

I just feel somewhat of a personal satisfaction because of the public findings of wrongdoing. Some people will get their money back, I guess. Yet when it all comes down to it, life will not have changed. The primary motivating force in our country will still be greed. There is no changing this and greed will lead to more of the unfairness that is part of our country's being. Greed will be exhaulted by just enough deluded people who actually have no dog in the millionaires' race to sway the elections to the advantage of the top 1 percent.

Call me crazy, but at least I get the satisfaction of the public humiliation of the big boys..

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol

"Chasing Cars"

We'll do it all
On our own

We don't need
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I don't quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They're not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life
Let's waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

I don't know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Everything is Broken - Bob Dylan


"Everything is Broken"

Broken lines, broken strings
Broken threads, broken springs
Broken idols, broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken

Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken

Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground

Broken cutters, broken saws
Broken buckles, broken laws
Broken bodies, broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin'
Everything is broken

Every time you leave and go off someplace
Things fall to pieces in my face

Broken hands on broken ploughs
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bullfrog croaking
Everything is broken

Copyright © 1989 by Special Rider Music

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Broken - Jack Johnson

With everything ahead of us
We left everything behind
But nothing that we needed
At least not at this time
And now the feeling that I'm feeling
Well it's feeling like my life is finally mine
With nothing to go back to we just continue to drive
Without you I was broken
But I'd rather be broke down with you by my side
I didn't know what I was looking for
So I didn't know what I'd find
I didn't know what I was missing
I guess you've been just a little too kind
And if I find just what I need
I'll put a little peace in my mind
Maybe you've been looking too
Or maybe you don't even need to try
Without you I was broken
But I'd rather be broke down with you by my side
With everything in the past
Fading faster and faster until it was gone
Found out I was losing so much more than I knew all along
Because everything I've been working for
Was only worth nickels and dimes
But if I had a minute for every hour that I've wasted
I'd be rich in time, I'd be doing fine
Without you I was broken
But I'd rather be broke down with you by my side


Monday, June 13, 2011


I was listening to Animals by Pink Floyd on my mp3 player and had one of those moments that define the future. This album by Pink Floyd is still my favorite album to walk with. I also greatly enjoy listening to various Yes songs while walking. Yes songs are more positive but are somewhat meaningless. There is no perfect album like Animals. It has just the right amount of realistic lyrics and minimalistic classical music. No doubt the the lyrics could be a little depressing if I weren't sort of associating the realism with the world I have left behind, am walking to avoid, so to speak. The next closest perfect walking album would be most of the tracks from Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. While the sparceness of the beginning of Shine On You Crazy Diamond really works, "Welcome to the Machine" is just too jarringly non fluid to walk to. I can get very esoteric in my taste here preferring to hear all the movements of the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" in order without the editing. And I like to hear "Pigs on the Wing" without the edits as well. I understand the reason for editing and making the album more palatable with this semi positive song as a frame to begin and end with, but honestly, it is much better as a concluding movement, where all hope is abandoned with it appearing as more of an unrealistic coda. It's a harsh world and sometimes accepting it and putting it behind you can be relaxing. "Comfortably Numb," I guess, maybe in a 1984Animal Farm sort of way. :)

Just don't ask me why I can listen to such strong themes and relax. Somehow I find the way reality is described to be smartly analogous to what I am escaping. The world has grown to be a closer fit to Pink Floyd's historical lyrics. I must admit that most of the time I do not have the strength to listen to continuously meaningful music. I also have a walking list that includes many friendly accoustic songs, some meaningful, some not so much. But somehow I always come back to this stuff. It isn't when I'm upset with the world. It's when I feel strong and self deterministic that I like to explore this realm of reality tinged with dreamlike minimalism.

Animals (in the order I like) [warning: mature language and adult themes]
Pigs (Three Different Ones):
Pigs on the Wing (parts 1 and 2 bridged with guitar solo):

On the "Pigs on the Wing" video of the photo shoot: didn't you assume the pig was some kind of special effect on the album cover, akin to photoshopping of more recent times? Nope, not in my day. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Trouble IS...

 Problematic email:




 .........and which country do you get when you have a technical problem with your computer?

Comment: wow that was bold and large. I'm still reeling...   Yet, what is true here, aside from the single case scenario pictures? Look at the "school bus" from Japan. Does it look safe to you?  Actually this must be a computer lab of some kind on wheels. Park it next to a school and bring out the computers. They don't even seem to have any unique features built for travel. The bus says "Microsoft" on the side of it. Photographers are taking pictures. The bus isn't rolling down the road. It's a photo op.

While the actual school bus in India has "established 1951" on it. "An English Medium Co-Education" dates it as well. "Medium" I get but "CoEd?" That term is way old. Smack of colonial times? "English Medium School:" you bet it does.When was this photo taken? Sure this is a poor country but swagger and underestimate them at your peril. Further, the comparison made is between Japan and India.  Either way, we are outsourced.

This India school bus may seem funny which is precisely why it was photographed and probably why it was even given to them.... making fun of their unimportant lives. Though, perhaps the missionaries were just carried away with Anglicanism. Perhaps the picture has not even been doctored but again why does it have "English" on it and why is it yellow?  But even a lazy mind can figure out that this is just one picture. Could there be other school buses? Why, yes indeed.

A quick search revealed this school bus in India that someone had photographed. Yellow (this time probably as a result of time and the success of missionaries rather than as a gift, but who knows?) and crude, yes, but actually, anyway, its what your students are doing inside the CLASSES not the school buses. Apart from the bad accents, Indian customer services reps are very bright. I think the Philippines have more friendly customer service (and much better accents) but India usually has the better techs. Their school system must have improved a little in the time when ours just deteriorated. Many many doctors in the USA are from India.

I find email humor to be less than inspiring. No one in their right mind in other media would have things that are this elitist, well Fox News aside I mean. Poor people are actually eating our lunch in the capitalistic system, while we stand by and laugh at their clothes or whatever. No longer fettered by Godless colonialism where industrialized countries bled them dry of resources, they now free to push ahead using the Godless values of capitalism. I'm guessing the former will have been more profitable than the latter, for us.

The comparison made is between the rich and the poor, with the poor being dehumanized and the rich given more credit than is due. I would want to see all the kids on rich school buses with small computers or better yet, learning devices similar to airplane personal TVs safely embedded in the seat in front of them. On airplanes a small remote control gives a variety of options and is wired to the seat for safety. The tech is there, (probably on some very extravagant buses, too, for the purposes of entertainment) but it is used for entertainment for those who can afford plane travel rather than for education. These oversize screens make no sense on a school bus. Is that the underlying message? That both are ridiculous. I doubt it. That is too subtle for this email.

Disney used small TVs for video describing the cruise I was going on. But they weren't very interactive. They were educational and highly entertaining. After all, relax, you're on vacation. Now why again is vacation more important than our schools? Oh well, I'm chilling on this topic. I just hope I get no more emails like this one, reminders that relaxing is not the best idea in the world for our kids.

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20 16) It is ironic that we paid little or less attention to this than India did with an entirely different religion influencing their history. "Blessed are the poor; woe to the rich" (Luke 6 17-26)  Oh, the irony that we have ignored so much, at our peril and possible demise. The seeds of arrogant destruction are continuously sown, even today, after we know better. Relax though. Isn't that Indian school bus a hoot?

My Sakes Michael, or, So Many Michaels But So Little Time

Main Stream Media (MSM) has become a catchphrase for basically all media. I think in the beginning it started out as being just the media outlets the name caller didn't like but it has grown to encompass all media.

I was watching a documentary called Collapse this weekend. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse_(film)  It is described by the director:"In the end, it is a character study about his [Michael Ruppert's] obsession." However, one must wonder just how correct Michael Ruppert is in his obsession given his really tight and seamless world view. He is at least more compelling and journalistic than a favorite MSM, Fox News. His world view really hinges on one concept, that of "peak oil." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

Actually, the prediction of U.S. oil production peaking was accurately predicted in 1956 to be 1965-1970. While the evidence for peak oil on an international scale is somewhat slim because Middle Eastern countries aren't as open with statistics, we do see them beginning to drill offshore. Why would one be drilling offshore if one had plenty of cheap supply onshore? Wikipedia's article puts the prediction of peak oil at about 2020 or later. Does that seem far away to anyone?

There is a great deal of evidence that we have an economic pattern that is systemic in nature. It is indeed sad to see Michael Ruppert's obsession with what people might call "alarmism." Yet the alarmists just before the great fanancial catastrophe of recent years were correct. Some made lots of money and the book about these guys probably is the single most interesting book about the financial collapse. Michael Lewis' The Big Short. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Short

Michael Ruppert says there are three kinds of people in a Titanic type disaster where there is a sinking ship and not enough lifeboats. 1) those who see the boat sinking but have no idea what to do, 2) those that see the boat sinking and want to prepare and build lifeboats and 3) those who refuse to believe the boat is sinking. Personally, I fall in a different category, how do I get my family and myself near one of those lifeboats. That is actually the view shared by the various businessmen Michael Lewis reports on. It's a selfish view but one based on facts and correct predictions. If we knew in advance (and did due diligence to warn others while being ignored) wouldn't we be sleeping in the lifeboat instead of our cabin? Now the businessmen profiled by Michael Lewis did not warn very loudly but they couldn't believe such idiots surrounded them ignoring the same information they had or the obvious ice on the decking.

Over the weekend, I also watched Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism:_A_Love_Story  This is a very funny documentary and might well be the best Michael Moore has ever made. I guess it is funny unless one needs one's eyes opened about things. It is harsh humor then.

Capitalism has never been truely questioned in the MSM, nor has our system of government (the one with the current unmistakeable veto power given to Senators.) The MSM savaged President Jimmy Carter when he talked of things like sacrifice. How would you feel if people were being asked to sacrifice your advertiser's products? So sacrifice is not popular.

Yet in capitalism's lack of values lies the seeds of our destruction. Other countries are simply better at this stuff than we are. As Michael Moore so aptly points out, the reason we were so far ahead in the 1950's was the lack of competition from a war torn world. Now that these US industries are basically gone because of more efficient competition from the rest of the world, do we still want to swagger around spreading good old loveable unfettered capitalism? We are no longer unique with our form of economics nor our form of government. Absent competition we shone like star atheletes. With competition, we were fat guys drinking beer. 

Blaming the MSM for a lack of understanding of the ice on the decks would be easy. The blame should be shared by people who watch and read the Main Stream Media and just no longer think for themselves.  Really, it's not like Michael Ruppert didn't get his "knowledge" from somewhere. He talks about scanning the MSM although he hates the MSM with all his might. Where else is the knowledge going to come from? Where else is ours?

I can watch this documentary of Michael Ruppert's alarmism and still not be alarmist. I can critically read Michael Lewis' The Big Short. I can watch Michael Moore's tongue in cheek humor with a tongue planted in my own cheek. And I can take the MSM for what it is: advertiser supported news.

The point is that we all need to try to understand. We ARE at a critical moment here. Reading and learning is important and we need to take time for it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Gosh Michael

Ok, ok. The new new beginning. Following a cruise... water calm, sun shining, happy times, I decided that blogging to myself wasn't so bad after all. :)

So, first up, Charter Communications. Evidence of Schizophrenia: I called from the cruise ship to make sure that my wife had Internet access. "I am counting on you personally young lady, to make sure that my wife has Internet access while I'm on my cruise. Please do whatever has to be done to get it fixed. Will you do that for me?"  "Yes, sir, I will personally make sure it is fixed." "Thank you so much. That is such a relief."  End Result: no service for my wife for two weeks, no one showed up to fix the problem.

Now... I'm not sure whether this next bit is schizophrenia or anal retentiveness, but this has pretty much been the toughest rebate I have ever done in the history of rebates. As always, I will probably jump through every hoop the set to get every penny as I have in the past. I'm guessing "lost in the mail" will be an excuse because there in the fine print it says "Proof of mailing does not constitute proof of delivery."  But, regardless of how they try to umm keep the money they offered me, I will persist in calling customer service or whatever until I get my rebates. As I submit my photographic evidence below, please keep in mind that each envelope contains full copy of the first Charter bill which goes to the same P.O. Box but requires different envelopes because of the different offer numbers which are part of the address. I combat anal retentiveness with my own super anal retentiveness. A confirmation number is asked for on some of the rebates, others it is already preprinted. The confirmation number I am required to submit is either the one Charter sent me, the one Chartercommunicationsoffers.com sent me, or the one that is preprinted on the other offers. In one of the offers I am to send a "copy" of an invoice of a cable modem that was shipped to me, another requires the exact invoice. In one of the offers I am to send a "copy" of a bar code, on the other I am to send the bar code from the package. Photographic Evidence:

All to same P.O. Box, all with different addresses. Each rebate form says: "Mail these items to: [different addresses with same P.O. Box]. Please keep a copy of all materials submitted for your records."

Should I add on proof of delivery postal costs? Yes Sir, go ahead honorable customer, multiply that times five!

The wait for rebates (10 to 16 weeks).... umm is that 4 months? Why.... yes Sir, it is, honorable customer!

Wait why would Charter treat me so shabbily? Umm Sir... "Broadbandoffers.com is an independently owned and operated company. Charter Communications has contracted with Broadbandoffers.com to serve strictly as a rebate intermediary for purposes of this offer."

Is it fun working there?  I'll guess the answer is "No, Sir."