Friday, September 23, 2011

Hey Bulldog!

"Hey Bulldog"

Standing in the rain
Doing it again
Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles
What makes you think you're something special when you smile?

No one understands
Jack knife
In your sweaty hands
Some kind of innocence is measured out in years
You don't know what it's like to listen to your fears

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me, if you're lonely you can talk to me

Big man (Yeah)
Walking in the park
Frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude is measured out in you
You think you know me but you haven't got a clue

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me, if you're lonely you can talk to me

Monday, September 19, 2011

CNN's Abysmal Coverage of 9/11 Memorial

CNN's coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 looked pretty incompetent. Ten years ago CNN was live on the air showing the events as they unfolded. It was unscripted television. Live, on the air, the second plane hit the building. All of it was made to order for CNN's style: point and shoot. I remember when the first tower collapsed. It wasn't clear in their shot. It was just a lot of smoke. CNN didn't quickly report that it had collapsed. I was looking at the top, blue sky. Still, it felt like I needed some kind of confirmation of such a huge event. I think I remember them talking about explosions and smoke. Then it came. I had seen what I thought were people jumping earlier without CNN telling me. It's very easy to forgive mistakes in coverage of something fluid. "It appears to be..." is appropriate and verification is obviously important.

 The first words from CNN at the beginning of the ceremony are incorrect, "Let's listen in as the haunting sound of bagpipers go by the reflecting pool..." says Anderson Cooper as the who knows where they are from bagpipers play a drum march. No bagpipes. Reading the side of the base drums are the only clue we get. Yet "they" are referenced walking past the memorial. No bagpipes being played, just drums. The ceremony is announced that will include "some entertainment" like "eggo ma (?) will be here" and the names read. I never saw this guys name in print but he seemed like a classical sort of guy by his name. Apparently we will see "some politicians" but not with "political remarks." But didn't I just see the President and maybe a former President walk by? Who knows? If I'm tuning in late, I am completely lost lost by now. "The bagpipers" later play their bagpipes along with their drums but they are never announced. That little bar at the bottom does it's work every now and then. Rudolph Guliani? is not announced, you hopefully, just know. President Obama is not announced, Mayor Bloomberg does make the blue bar at the bottom of the screen in the last 6 words of his comments. No name readers are ever credited as they read off the names of the dead. No research is done for any of this. Nothing is set up so that they can display the family member's names. A mysterious cellist plays in the background, perhaps that "eggo" guy. I didn't really catch his name back when he was one of the "entertainment."

Then the reading of the names is turned down in volume and the viewer hears "So you have watched until the beginning of the reading of then names and, eh eh eh, and Anderson, it's hard to say you love this part of it..." Love this part??? This lady who we must know by her voice, is clearly as unprepared as is Anderson Cooper. They weave words together on the spot, and rely on interviews with others who actually made the effort to be prepared about what they are going to say like Drew Griffin from CNN, with a special on CNN to pitch, who actually made the blue bar. I'm not saying this needs to be scripted like a Thanksgiving Parade, just competently researched.Then the viewer is back to the names for a moment of silence. So far the silences are ironically handled the best. A camera flashes around and I think I see President Bush in the blur. Yes, that is the voice of Bush. We are watching the monument or buildings or long shots. But finally he appears on the screen too quickly for the blue bar guy. The pool cameras seem to know what they are doing finding Peter Negron's name on the monument as his boy speaks just before CNN can find the boy's name for the blue bar. You can imagine CNN's director saying, wait, what was that guy's name, how do you spell it? And then I wonder if the anchors just missed Bush and Obama because the only announcement of them was of "some politicians." I guess "some politicians" need no introduction.

Wolf Blitzer is stationed at the Pentagon with statistics with lots of numbers and dutifully announces all of the politicians who will be there. Wolf is used to reporting like this: blunt, deadpan, but he gets the facts right. Then we go back to New York, the blue bar awakens for a moment to introduce who is speaking "Ari Fleischer" and then "John Miller"  and Mary Matlin. Did someone get to the blue bar guy and give him a good shake? Here we find out there is a way to do a spit screen to show us more than one thing at a time. A general discussion takes place that could be done any day, on any show. I really could go on, but I know you would prefer me not to.

James Taylor sings and we barely get a 5 10 second glimpse of him at tbe beginning of the song. The camera's appear to be covering the action in the scene of panning across the skyline of New York. Odd views of people standing are patched together. When Paul Simon sings later, instead of showing the emotion in his eyes as he sings "Sounds of Silence" probably for the first time on his own, I don't know. We see a few seconds of him here and there. The blue bar guy is awake enough to introduce him and we get treated to a collage of pool feed shots designed to make this appear as a music video. The power of Pual Simon's song was amazing when I later viewed it on a Facebook feed from an international channel. CNN likes to show the skyline.

I admit I saw this abysmal coverage coming early on before the official ceremony began when the President and the first lady, and the former President and first lady stood at the monument in silence. They turned and to shake hands with people that were lined up behind them. There was surely some way to get advance notification of events and people but CNN covered it there was a pregnant moment of silence as the two Presidents coming down the line shaking hands with the unknown people before us: "I... I'm assuming, Anderson, that what we are looking are the two, one former President and the current President, greeting some of the family members that have been involved, and a lot of them have been, in putting, not only..uh..just this day, but this site back together again and that balance you talked about earlier." Anderson interrupts: "that's -intelligible- Lee Ioppi(?) one of the fathers of the firefighters lost..." Thankfully Anderson Cooper recognizes someone and we don't have to work totally on assumptions. This was a planned ceremony, that went off beautifully. CNN's hack job made it appear amateurish.
I'm saddened because I really would like CNN to be the news organization it thinks it is, but it is lazy. With the alternative for viewers being Fox News (who showed pretty much every moment of Paul Simon's emotional song, albeit on a split screen) I really really don't want CNN to be lazy but they have been from the beginning. This was a giant ratings day and they couldn't even do it competently. They had forever to prepare, forever to get the details they needed to do a good broadcast. Possibly the director of the show was having a mental breakdown, but I doubt it.

CNN has pretty much always been a point and shoot network, and if they want to be anything else, they need to fire the director who liked to see the skyline of New York over events actually happening and get someone competant. They probably need to hire a few real newscasters who get what's happening in front of them. Soon I will have a Television Blog and show some CNN stuff that will help in an understanding of where CNN was pre-Gulf War as opposed to where it is now. News lost, personalities won.

I guess my dissapointment with CNN comes from a lot of different angles. CNN developed the idea of covering an event unedited, live. It was fresh but seemed to only work when there was actually a live event to cover. So they changed. Fox News came later claiming CNN had lost this live stuff somewhere along the way and came on blazing (with very little money, like CNN in the early days) and showed things unedited and live. I remember it as being refreshing having two channels to choose from. CNN had gone for less news in favor of nightly segments of opinion or Larry King. When an event was large, these shows would still air but they would have them change format to fit the event. Fox used the slogan "We report, you decide" to describe their new way of doing things, actually CNN's old way. They wouldn't provide commentary like CNN and would just report the news. Yes this is completely ironic and I was surprised to know they still use that slogan once in a while. It's more like "We decide what the news is, comment on it, and you follow."

CNN is much different. They are as incompetant as they ever were. One very obvious veteran news anchor reported the news at some morning hour. It was actual news. When I finally find the video I'm thinking of, you will see (if you follow my TV blog when I get time to do this) how he clashed with the new idea of pretty faces and news as entertainment. He was old and ugly, demanded verification, thrrew fits in the newsroom, and wanting to be the journalist he had always been. He did not fit into the world of news on the cheap, designed for maximum ratings at minimum cost. Entertainment. Of course Fox's short skirted women are the epitome of this, but CNN was the first to go the way of the local news smiley faces. They blazed the trail that Fox followed as it did less news and more right wing opinion.

There are a lot of right wingnut types where I live and they often call CNN the "Communist News Network." Actually, they are too incompetant to hold an agenda. In the spirit of how we percieve Communists as been inefficient and covering up things with gloss, I must agree.

Money is Printed and Gold Falls? Hmmm

The big news of the day: The worlds big central banks (The Fed, ECB, SNB, BOE, and BOJ) have all joined hands to provide liquidity to parched banks.As some might say: money printing! Well, despite the common belief that there's a connection between liquidity pumping and gold rising, today that's not happening, and in fact gold is tanking, falling well below $1800 (it was above $1900 recently).Whatever benefit gold gets from easy money was cancelled out by a brief removal of the "fear" premium.  --Business Insider, 9/15/11
I think this is more extraordinary than BI thinks. The arguments for buying gold are continuously advertised by gold brokers as: "They are printing money and the world economy will soon collapse. All your savings in fiat currency will be wiped if you don't buy gold, and we have the best prices. Trust no one but us." Remember when countries acted in unison to start selling oil stockpiles? They were attacking oil speculation in a coordinated way. Remember when suddenly all the banks raised the rates on loans for silver? They were attacking silver speculation in a coordinated way. Gold speculation? Hmmm.

Now we see a coordinated activity to pump the much needed money into the system. Stimulus is of course what is missing in our current race to see who can be more frugal-- as a double dip recession is forming! It is insanity and the big guys know it. So, government action being all but impossible in the USA, this is obviously the only course of action. They know there has to be a way to get that money out there circulating and creating demand. The way is decidedly not in putting money into gold where it might not rust but sits doing nothing. It IS in printing money, which seems to be easy everywhere--Tea Parties be damned.

Investing in gold seems less like a smart move even when "they are printing money..." because the second part of the pitch is "...the world economy will collapse." Printing money is actually the right thing to do in a world wide recession where other options are off the table. The world economy is then less likely to collapse.

For those who said the Fed had run out of bullets, can we re-examine now?

I have been talking off the top of my head when I would tell people that we need to print money everywhere, like we are actually now doing, much to my surprise. I had odd reasoning, and I don't know much about things. This post is way, way over my comfort level because I am not particularly well grounded in economics. But I have been wondering for a while just what would happen if every single country printed money at the same rate.

What exactly would happen? Inflation or deflation of a currency is usually measured relative to another country's currency. They would all grow the same. So the international problems with inflation in trade would not be tough. I'm guessing that inside a given country, prices would eventually go up as more money was spent. That however is exactly what we want-- more demand. The drop in value for money in savings would result-- thus more demand. Spend it now before prices go up.

It took me by surprise when gold fell the day they decided to let the world know they were going to print money. Now that I think about it, it is not surprising at all. 1) there is more risk that the world can mount a coordinated attack on gold speculation, foreshadowed by silver and oil actions. 2) the banks finally are worried enough, or influenced by leaders enough, that they do the right thing by printing money in a coordinated way (coincidentally or shamelessly before an American election year.) Gold speculators themselves ran for the hills even though they previously claimed they were logically buying it because of the increase in printed money. That is extraordinary because it reveals that the pessimists really do feel that printing money might just work. "A brief removal of the fear premium" hardly states it well. However briefly, they believed it was the right thing to do, all their previous advice to the contrary.

Apple Eats Blackberry for Lunch

Up until recently, Blackberry was keeping up. This year, not so much...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Could anything be odder than the DAWG coach? Why yes.

The CNN intro to the debates:

It's kind of hard to get through the entire field of candidates like this. Press "pause" somewhere, it only gets worse. CNN is slightly...insane.  It is much easier to get through the Storage Wars intro CNN must have used as inspiration:

Moral of the story: news is entertainment to CNN. Trust them and FOX Noise to shape your future at your own risk.

Hmmm... I like cats as well as dogs... I must be a loser.

Must make Russell Athletic proud to be a sponsor.

All in one pretty package this guy wraps up the entirety of the preeminant unimportance of sports to our culture. You gotta get a little choked up:

Chantecler Variety

Consumers Believe No One

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Is Social Security an Issue?

If so, I know which party continously seems to talk about radically modifying what I have paid into all my life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

One More Pop Wisdom Myth Many People Carry to the Voting Booth

Popular wisdom: the federal government is growing bigger and bigger and this is our problem. Except that it actually grows smaller and smaller. Further the best times for our economy were back when it was big.

Just like the best times in our nation's economic history were when we taxed the rich, so the best times were when we spent that money investing in things that were good for everyone, for society, for our nation.

Not so today. In Milton Friedman we trust. We believe that government is wasteful, that paying for government should be done by borrowing, and fear that government is growing voraciously when it is shrinking. Shrinking the good that government does as well.

(Oh, notice the census spikes every ten years. Cool!)

(Also, the gray areas are recessions by the technical definition of such.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

THE Depression Chart - latest update

Five observations (some repeats):

1. The magnitude of the job loss continues to be astounding.
2. The latest numbers of no job growth show the possibility of a downward trend gets more real.
3. The 2001 recession, the only one that even comes close to the long lasting job loss of this one, is also the most recent. This points out that structural problems in our economy are at work having built up over time.
4. The idea that we are no longer in a recession relates to the fact that we were not technically in a recession throughout most of the Great Depression.
5. This chart which month after month shows the actual depression will no doubt be in history books if and when we recover, in it's final form.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Romney's Twilight Zone, "Too Much Information" part 3

Romney's job plan was unveiled today. I think, it is a little milquetoasty but hey, that's really what I want in a Republican candidate. I'm all for sanity.
  • Lowering tax rates for businesses and middle-class housholds. Romney said lowering corporate taxes will help lure firms to invest in the US, while eliminating capital-gains and dividend taxes for households earning less than $200,000 will encourage saving.
Lowering taxes for the middle-class households doesn't really create jobs, nor does personal savings create jobs. Capital-gains and divident tax cuts also do not honestly create more for saving than increasing interest rates, or increasing wages. But, it is, of course, good news for people who are in the investment industry. And good news for the rich who, even though their capital gains taxes won't be cut, they won't be raised from historically low levels anyway. If these tax cuts were truely geared towards a redistribution of income from those who don't spend money on the economy but play with it, then it might do some good. I really honestly need a little more assurance that it won't be another cut where the rich increase their share of the pie yet again. I don't trust you guys anymore, sorry. And there is nothing about raising capital gains taxes on the rich, of course. It is just all magically paid for I guess. But if it means cutting government, the cuts are coming from social programs that monetarily benefit those who are not wealthy, and that hardly would boost savings rates of the middle class. It is all doublespeak for failed policies of the past.
Lowering corporate taxes is truly the oddity here. Lure firms to the U.S.?  Come on. Why don't we just give tax breaks to those willing to locate here like state governments do all the time? Why do things that way? It would be much more cost effective without paying businesses who are doing great right now. Well, take a guess who wouldn't get more tax breaks that way. And that makes me feel even more suspect of "lowering taxes for the middle-class."

I often wonder why the concept of cutting capital gains taxes and dividend taxes plays well with those who can't afford to "play" the stock market. Last time I sold stock I was expecting the income to be taxed at my income tax bracket. It was incredibly low, before Romney helps me. I was happy but I knew that the amount of stock I "play" with is insubstantial compaired to the wealthy.  It bugged me that others got so much more benefit out of something that was brand new to me, but I was indeed happy to pocket the money I didn't really deserve.
  • Reducing government regulation, including a rollback on Obama's health care law. Encouraging domestic energy production.
I'm wondering if a reduction in government regulation will include the banks that caused this economy with the freedom they used to bankrupt us, AND still have, basically. Any more reduction of government regulation and we might not exist anymore. Again, American multinational corporations of all kinds are doing great. They don't need more freedom, they are doing well. That said, Obama has been working on reducing regulations that are ineffective. Again, I don't trust you Republicans who seeem to think deregulation is just a way to reward your political donors. Encouraging domestic energy production: I guess this means more subsidies for the oil companies who are already raking it in from record profits in addition to the subsidies they have now. This is shameful. Encouraging "production" means relying on the same companies that produce now. Oil.
  • Promoting US exports.
This screams milquetoast. Of course we all want to increase exports. How? We export our jobs now. Our big companies rely on this cheap labor from overseas to exist. How much more can we promote exports by just promotion.
  • Streamlining the federal government, so that rising national debt doesn't hobble the nation's potential growth.
Streamlining government. I like that word "streamlining." I see this vision of a sleek 1950's car going down the road. Cutting government is already a plan in place and oddly it is already hooked to the rising national debt. Does this mean even these austerity measures are not enough? This of course is the worst idea imaginable and not only does Romney appear to want more of it, but the amount of reduction we already have in the works will most likely stagnate the economy for years to come. We are in a depression. If streamlining meant to actually fix the government and make it like a sleek car, I' would be all for that. But no, what it really means is reduce the national debt during a depression without help from the low taxed people with all the money mulitplying like rabbits in their gold and bank accounts, where it sits. It means cutting Medicare and Social Security and probably not Defense. And EVERYBODY knows that the sliver of government that is discretionary is dinky small.

Yes, I still cross over parties and vote for Romney in the primary because, honestly, the only thing we have going for us here is that there will be a whole multitude of people who have no reason to vote in the Democratic primaries and who do have a reason to vote in the less extreme on the other side. Milquetoast is better than going past the twilight zone into the darkness.

Man's Fears and the Summit of His Knowledge, or Too Much Information Part 2

These two graphs I came across today serve to disprove their own points. It is sad that there is so much disinformation.

I listen to business stuff everyday on CNBC radio. I find it interesting to know these things. Oh, it is much too much too much, but I am me. :)  My wife puts up with me. I'm fine.

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.   - Twilight Zone Season 1 Intro. - Rod Serling

I submit for your approval:

This pretty chart was found in an article praising the growth of productivity in the United States. Hurray!!!  It is astounding, that straight upward slope at the end...  that is, until one realizes that the reason for it is that there are so few actual workers doing the jobs IN America for American companies. And American companies are making record profits off these kinds of strategies. Productivity increases a lot when unemployment is high and the jobs are performed by subsistence workers in other countries. It's easy to see that productivity per U.S. worker would increase rapidly if the number of workers went down and the number of workers not even counted in the graph are in other countries. So, another thing I studied in school, productivity, is basically a meaningless concept for our outsourced times and less than meaningless for the average unemployed person. Could it be that the statistical meaning presented in this chart is simply there because it includes the productivity of American workers but excludes the productivity of those in other countries which make this possible? I don't know if I'm right here. It seems too obvious. At any rate, it's a win-win for American worker statistics for anyone who wants to misrepresent.  But... if we are in that zone of twilight info....

Next, signpost up ahead:

Now this one is an absolute sparkling gem of Twilight from the Romney camp (oh, yes, he STILL has my vote in the primary over.. well... others who scare the tea plum pudding out of me.)   This chart looks really good. It looks as if it proves a point. Just above the most "sticky out" and startling point of the graph are the words: "The Obama Recovery." Do you see the problem? Check the dates. See it?

2007 - a year of absolute "end of the world looking" job figures.  Gosh, remember the month after month slide? Also, 2007 is not a year Obama was even a twinkle in the eye of a policy. He was actually undergoing a fight to calm fears over whether he would be able to answer his telephone in the middle of the night and abject fear over what would happen to a couple of cute rich kids if he became President. What would happen to these poor sleeping kids? Nothing, their Dads wouldn't lose their tax breaks, no problemo.

Yet, there it is labeled "Obama Recovery."  It doesn't even include the positive 2010 numbers. Now that being said, yes this is a fairly jobless recovery, as was the last recovery from recession, only much much worse this time. Factors causing job loss and lack of job growth are of course the same factors causing the productivity chart to rise, and many many other factors that make our current economic system a shambles.

While I criticize all the politicians, including Obama, for not putting more money into the economy for stimulus, Mitt Romney's party (he's the guy that still stands behind that ill considered chart even after the obvious is pointed out by numerous critics) seems heck bent on cutting government spending or cutting stimulus. Sorry, there are economic rules here that will act like they always have. If we don't stimulate the economy and work towards a long range government agenda of producing jobs, we will not have a lot of jobs and the jobs we do have will be the McJobs we have seen growing for decades. And the concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealthy is the underlying cause of it all. I have to always repeat this ultimate cause of our problem.  It is the new paradigm. Because, this is the real information.... that there is not too much of.

Oh, yes, a smiley goes a long way sometimes to help soften the blow. So...   :)

The Definition of "Too Much Information" :)

Presidential Debates more than a year ahead of time:
Kinda like stepping around dog poop to mow the yard, or schedule a speech on Jobs. :)  

Monday, September 5, 2011

One Step Closer to Switching to Vote in the Republican Primary for Mitt

One concept that has always seemed odd to me is the criticism of puting one's finger up to test the wind. I sincerely hope the cruise ship captain in my near future watches the wind.

Boston Globe: Romney Appearance Draws Tea Party Protest

I'm kinda wondering here if the Tea Party actually doesn't say anything but "no."

Friday, September 2, 2011

I AM awesome. :)

I left my Facebook account open on a public computer and someone wrote "I am awesome" as a status. I have seen much worse things done to Facebook accounts so this was just funny to me. Truth is the best defence anyway. :)