Thursday, October 20, 2011

in which i visit a church, visit with my aunt, and see a doctor

I went to church with my wife. This is not the first time I have darkened a church door since I was a child but it was the first time in a while I actually attended a service that wasn't a funeral or a wedding. It has probably been over 20 years. My wife wanted to attend church and has been attending on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights. I opted for the Sunday night but it was still tough to get me to actually stop putting it off and go. :)  I will now actually probably go again and again.

At any rate, I decided that indeed, this church service was not that bad after all. I felt happy in a safe place with friendly people, and there was a spirit that cannot be matched anywhere else. I understand the concept.

However, sitting in the pew, I felt a little like I did when I went to economics class in high school. I have related this before that I learned economics by reading the book because my teacher was so bad at the subject. I read the book over and over. I would sometimes read paragraphs many times to make sure that I understood each word and all the possible meanings. I compared text from one chapter to the other because of my familiarity with the book. It was actually the best class in the world because the tests were based on the book and I knew everything in the book. I would only have trouble on a test when I over thought it. The teacher would chide me once in a while for not paying attention. At first I was doing crossword puzzles, then I found out that while he could stop this behavior, he couldn't stop me from reading my textbook. I remember him asking questions which I had not heard while I was concentrating and reading. I asked if he would repeat the question. He did, I answered correctly. I went back to reading. I'm not exaggerating but he was so awful that I think he did not make up his own tests and went with standardized questions from the book. This teacher gave me a lesson that I was never to forget. Some people do not have a clue about what they are doing and other people may miss or ignore this fact.

(One observation that I found fascinating was the fact that when singing a hymn the "I" and of course all the pronouns referring to God are capitalized. It is really an irony that we cannot give proper respect to God even in our hymns. Perhaps I am over thinking this but I often sign my emails with "michael" or "mike" on purpose. I wish that it was always possible to do so. )

Now this pastor was certainly not my economics teacher, but there was something that reminded me of how far I had come in that economics class by setting aside an hour a day to study. But since I had not attended in the morning, I was in part 2 of the day's lesson. I read the morning verses quickly, then read the verses he was teaching about as I read. At first I didn't really understand what he was saying because he was overlaying a teaching structure on the text. Perhaps this is a theme he uses to teach but it didn't seem relevant to the text. Eventually he started talking more directly about the text itself. The text was about the question of the relative importance of faith and works, something I was fairly familiar with. It was from the relevant portion of the book of James. The guy was pushing the need for faith, saying that faith was necessary despite a verse or too that could trip you up in James. Well, I didn't think James was all that unclear. It was unclear if taken out of context but basically it supported the pastor's words without much argument necessary. That being said there was much spirited argument about something I took for granted. That faith usually came before works. Perhaps I'm too trustworthy but the words sort of spoke for themselves anyway so I was guessing by the amount of time needed to discuss this that they must not be as clear to others in the congregation.

My belief is that faith and works are equally important. While the pastor put emphasis on faith coming first in the equation. I must disagree. Children are often very good and faith in the specifics that churches want faith in, really takes an adult mind. Someone may do very good works, and later come to realize or not realize that it is really an underlying faith that has led to this. A person may not think it is a faith in God, when it actually is. Then there is the obvious problem of a person who is born in another country that does not have a chance to get this particular churchly brand of faith. Well, it is all so difficult to ponder really.
Despite the fact that I disagreed on a few points the pastor made, I felt comfortable there and it was a throwback to my days as a youngster. I enjoyed it. I wanted to speak up like I would often do in class. I remember correcting my Psychology teacher in high school that he had the "id" and the "superego" mixed up in Freud's theory. He dared to say I was wrong without even considering I might be right. I maintained my opinion valiantly and the next day, he went over it again, this time correctly. It wasn't a very good apology, but then he wasn't a very good man. He hated me after that when all I had tried to do was make sure the class was getting it correctly. After that I was fairly silent regardless of mistakes. I remember putting down on the test "you said (such and such) in class but I believe it is (such and such)."  :)   I had studied a lot of psychology by the time I took a class in high school, I was probably pretty full of myself. But I did know a lot about the subject.

I wanted to speak up when the pastor denigrated "doubt" saying it came from the devil. I wanted so much to raise my hand and have a discussion. "Sir, doubt is the beginning of all learning. A good intellectual doubt of something may, when investigated, lead to a strong faith in that very thing if the doubt is proven wrong. If it isn't proven wrong, then there is more to learn. There are subtleties to learn. If I don't doubt you once in a while, I am not doing due diligence to understanding the Word." However, "doubt" here had only one basic meaning, doubt of God. As I have said before, I'm not in doubt in this basic area. But it has only come through a lifetime of experience, a lifetime of doubt which led to reconciliation, a lifetime that has led me to this particular place and time. It took a lifetime of attempting to do good works. And it was ever so that I would come away from a church service thinking "The [dude] doth protest too much, methinks, " or whatever is the contra positive of that. :) When churches are so passionate about this one aspect of Christianity, belief or faith in God, a basic I-wouldn't-be-here-if-that-was-not-understood concept for me personally, I don't learn much.

I enjoyed the experience and will go back. I may want to switch churches but for now, this man intrigues me. I want to learn the things that he thinks other people need to learn, and just perhaps there will be something that I need to learn as well. Regardless, I learn about an aspect of the world I have mainly known from my childhood.

All this was well and fine. I was feeling pretty good about life. I understood the Bible verse and hadn't actually read it before. I understood a lot of nuance about what was happening around me and it was comfortable and safe.

Then I called my aunt on her birthday the next day. My aunt described symptoms similar to my Mom's and asked me whether I knew what disease my mother (her twin sister) had 30 years ago before she died. In her head was the idea that my mother had had the symptoms only in her mind. I tried to explain the disease we know so much more about now that they did when my mother got it and they knew nothing. I tried my best to understand my aunt but she is hard of hearing, it is getting harder for her to speak, and it is just plain hard to communicate with. I gave her what knowledge and advice I could. I hoped she would be able to see the right doctors and be taken care of. But a little bit more of my faith in humanity disappeared. There are varied reasons I cannot discuss this further but I cried for hours after I managed to make it straight through the phone call I was angry for a while, and then I just let it wash under the bridge behind me. I cannot fix the world. Even if I had the knowledge, I couldn't.

So, while I was looking up how to spell the disease my mother had to answer my aunt's question, I looked at a page with a new list of medicines that can cause this problem. The disease is a man-made disease caused by certain medications. Then I saw it. My main medicine was on the list, albeit, not in the primary list.

I went to see my doctor the next day and here, basically is what transpired:

1. There is a small chance of getting [disease redacted] but it is very small and many times smaller than with the drug my mother was taking.
2. There are no other medications for my problems that do not contain this very small risk.
3. He worded things so carefully as he got really close to me, "I am not God but I do not think there is much risk. If you get the disease, I will be there to help you with treatment." He had a small tear in his eye.
4. He said, "You are doing spectacularly on your medication now. There is much more risk of other problems without these drugs."

I patted him on the shoulder and said, "I trust you."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


See Things for What They Really Are
Circumstances do not rise to meet our expectations. Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get.
Open your eyes: see things for what they really are, thereby sparing yourself the pain of false attachments and avoidable devastation.
Think about what delights you – the tools on which you depend, the people whom you cherish. But remember that they have their own distinct character, which is quite a separate matter from how we happen to regard them.
As an exercise, consider the smallest things to which you are attached. For instance, suppose you have a favorite cup. It is, after all, merely a cup, so if it should break, you could cope. Next build up to things – or people – toward which your clinging feelings and thoughts intensify.
Remember, for example, when you embrace your child, your husband, your wife, you are embracing a mortal. Thus, if one of them should die, you could bear it with tranquility.
When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.
What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.
Stop scaring yourself with impetuous notions, with your reactive impressions of the way things are!
Things and people are not what we wish them to be or what they seem to be.  ~Epictetus

Lucky Today

It seems like so long ago that I felt good all of the time. It rained today and of course my allergies got better. Experience in life is all relative. Since I have been feeling bad for a while, I really appreciate a day that all the headaches and trouble goes away. I felt very productive today at work and on my breaks. The need to exercise really seems secondary to the need for cleansing rain.

Avatar is playing on HBO2 tonight and I must say it looked so much better in Blu Ray. I'm sure it was awe inspiring in 3d depending on your theatre. On the cruise I watched one movie and it was truly wonderful. It was "Lion King" in 3d. Nothing beats a brand new Disney theatre with 3d technology. The Lion King was a totally different experience. Sometimes I wonder about my prediction, that 3d will ultimately fail as a broad based consumer phenomenon. 3d has never failed to disappoint before and I can't imagine people wearing glasses to watch most normal television. I have surround sound speakers and rarely turn them on. So at least I will probably be left out of the 3d group for a while.

I did not like Avatar when I watched it before. The effects were the best I had ever seen, but the story is what I enjoy the most and it was not strong in Avatar. I guess in the end, the lowest tech form of storytelling is printed text, and that seems to be more of a passion to me lately. I have not had the time I wanted to read books and I plan on changing that soon.

I have finally gotten my blogs straight and now if I post about one blog entry a day, they would be weekly. I just need more time to read. Reading short articles of news has been very enlightening during this time of immigration laws and the protest against Wall Street. But all is well. Alabama will most likely suffer great economic setbacks and other states will be slow to follow it's lead. And Wall Street has to be worried about the future of it's endless greed.

Before I was reading economic texts one after another but lately, before I fall asleep, I have just been reading pulp fiction. Relaxation is what I need. Unfortunately, I fall asleep rather quickly, but I will set some time aside, relax and read. Right now I'm going to turn off Avatar at about the same place I decided to give up in Blu Ray. Maybe the ending is spectacular and maybe I'll find out someday.

Avatar does make a nice movie to play as a sort of background movie, like a fireplace. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Well it was up to me.

"Up To Me"

Take you to the cinema
and leave you in a Wimpy Bar --
you tell me that we've gone to far --
come running up to me.
Make the scene at Cousin Jack's --
leave him put the bottles back --
mends his glasses that I cracked --
well that one's up to me.
Buy a Silver Cloud to ride --
pack the tennis club inside --
trouser cuffs hung far too wide --
well it was up to me.
Tyres down on your bicycle --
your nose feels like an icicle --
the yellow fingered smoky girl
is looking up to me.
Well I'm a common working man
with a half of bitter -- bread and jam
and if it pleases me I'll put one on you man --
when the copper fades away.
The rainy season comes to pass --
the day-glo pirate sinks at last --
and if I laughed a bit to fast.
Well it was up to me.


My youthful interpretations of the Aqualung album ring true today. Ian Anderson once introduced this song as a bit of nonsense. And so it is, just a song of nonsense, and I have always loved it. My interpretation as a child was that this is the song of a mad man, which fits very well with the other Dickensian characters on side one of the album. I thought the song to be a comment on society and freedom. Everything in our world really is dependent on one person's thoughts, one's own.  As long as our thoughts stay within the norms of society, then we are deemed to be sane. But if we come to believe that everything is totally dependent on how we think about it, and we are free to believe whatever we like, then we either arrive at a grand realization of the nature of God and being, or have gone mad. It is another of Anderson's songs that tweaks the listener into thinking by forcing interpretation of difficult lyrics, and it does this with the literary tradition of nonsense. It is beautifully arranged, as are all the songs on Aqualung. It would widely known as a classic, if it were up to me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What the Hay

My God

People -- what have you done --
locked Him in His golden cage.
Made Him bend to your religion --
Him resurrected from the grave.
He is the god of nothing --
if that's all that you can see.
You are the god of everything --
He's inside you and me.
So lean upon Him gently
and don't call on Him to save you
from your social graces
and the sins you used to waive.
The bloody Church of England --
in chains of history --
requests your earthly presence at
the vicarage for tea.
And the graven image you-know-who --
with His plastic crucifix --
he's got him fixed --
confuses me as to who and where and why --
as to how he gets his kicks.
Confessing to the endless sin --
the endless whining sounds.
You'll be praying till next Thursday to
all the gods that you can count.


Again, the album Aqualung made me think, not just follow blindly. I had just been through the bitterness of believing so deeply, only to have those I followed display hypocrisy of the highest level to justify their personal racist beliefs. Not only is this song not an attack on God, it is a defence of God. And it appeared in my life just in time to stop my spiral into non-belief. I owe a lot to Ian Anderson. I never misunderstood the meaning, but you can guess that those who were as thoughtless as the leaders of my church would have surely misunderstood. I used to sing this song bitterly, especially the line "Don't call on him to from your social graces..." It reminds me of Bob Dylan's famous pronunciation of "Suc.......cess" in it's cleverness at exposing hypocrisy. Yet, Anderson's pause is made just a bit more musically satisfying with the beginnings of the hard guitar movement, which serves to give reason for the pause, and yet to also highlight the descent into the bitterness that follows.

Sometimes I get the feeling that the reason I'm still here is only because it took this long for me to put together the belief that now lives so strongly and deeply within me. Only the entirety of my life could have brought me to this understanding. My recent struggle with sickness...perhaps there has been more guidance than I have ever realized.

I don't doubt at all that it began when I lay down on my parents bed and picked up that book off of the vacuum cleaner box that served as a nightstand and read "In the beginning..."

Friday, September 23, 2011

While You Were Riding To Vanity Fair...

This song has such a specific meaning. It is not like Paul McCartney to do a song like this. Yet, here it is on Chaos and Creation, an album that I kept getting deeper and deeper into. I have said "Wow this is good" countless times. At around the time I first heard this album and up until the present day my life felt like Chaos because I did things I would never dare do before, and consequences resulted, some as dark I knew they would be and some surprisingly positive. It is still a mixture of Chaos and Creation in my life but I seem so much more fulfilled and self-directed. I remember that cute twist of phrase in the Dixie Chick's Not Ready to Make Nice: "It turned my whole world around / And I kind of like it."

Even in it's specificity to McCartney's life, this song has personal meaning for me in every phrase. The music is truly unique in its sadness and regret, not made for pop enjoyment, but seems to be there in support of the words only. The whole album has a bit of melancholy mixed in.

There are no deviations from meaning in the words for the sake of convenience or appeal, as usual with Macca. And yet this one, this one applies so personally to events in my life. There is not much need for artistic reinterpretation for it to fit like a glove. I haven't had such a feeling since Dylan's album Blood on the Tracks.

And the music has that minimalist layering that McCartney has employed a lot recently. Simplicity in musical phrasing just appeals to me more and more in my later years.   

"Riding To Vanity Fair"

I bit my tongue
I never talked too much
I tried to be so strong
I did my best
I used the gentle touch
I've done it for so long

You put me down
But I can laugh it off
And act like nothing's wrong
But why pretend
I think I've heard enough
Of your familiar song

I tell you what I'm going to do
I'll try to take my mind off you
And now that you don't need my help
I'll use the time to think about myself

You're not aware
Of what you put me through
But now the feeling's gone
But I don't mind
Do what you have to do
You don't fool anyone

I'll tell you what I'm going to do
I'll take a different point of view
And now that you don't need my help
I'll use the time to think about myself

The definition of friendship
Apparently ought to be
Showing support for the one that you love
And I was open to friendship
But you didn't seem to have any to spare
While you were riding to Vanity Fair

There was a time
When every day was young
The sun would always shine
We sang along
When all the songs were sung
Believing every line

That's the trouble with friendship
For someone to feel it
It has to be real or it wouldn't be right
And I keep hoping for friendship
But I wouldn't dare to presume it was there
While you were riding to Vanity Fair

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Feel Better

I have been suffering a bit on the health side, I think mainly because of my sinus problems. We have good times coming up next week and thankfully, this morning I feel pretty much normal. The weather seems to affect me and rain is good for me and it is blessedly raining today. I have aches and pains with the rain but I can handle those.

Anyway, as you get older health becomes more and more of a factor in life. Another thing that seems to balance on the edge of importance is the question of what kind of world are we leaving for our children? I think it comes with age, wisdom, and slow burning regret. I think there are always flaws in our past behavior, the memoris of which are haunting. I feel a need to make up for these past mistakes and I hope it makes me a better person.

Earlier, I noticed that childhood bullies remained bullies in adult life when rediscovered on Facebook. It kind of depressed me that these people had not grown an iota, but had just changed their methods of bullying. But I feel better today.

I have been thinking "class war," adopting the opposition's language with honor, was the ONLY way to get significant change, enough change to pull us out of our current economic problems, problems caused pretty much exclusively by the rich. When the City of Montgomery sent me a letter telling me they were raising my health care insurance rate by another $60 a month, added on to a $20 a month raise 2 years ago, it actually hit me like a brick. There are various reasons I see this as unfair, but I won't whine, well, at least in this entry :). Others have suffered far more than I and the statistics I read almost daily show that. But today...

A while back I posted an entry on one of my blogs about a callous CNBC reporter and I wrote something like "Have you heard the phrase 'class war' from any of your rich friends? Because you will be hearing it." And a lot of my economic ideas, that I formed through reading, have coalesced and are now easing their way onto the national stage. I no longer feel so distanced in the wilderness. It is odd though it is like playing at home along with Jeopardy! on TV -- I feel better when I get them right.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

No More

After a particularly disturbing public post on Facebook and a heartbreaking tale (for me) from a young lady at the library, I will no longer remain silent when the racist "N" word is voiced in my presence. I am deeply ashamed I have remained silent in some past situations.

Addendum: My friend in Hungary asked the story so I will tell it with "N" word intact.

This young girl was at the grocery store. She reached for the last loaf of particular kind of bread and another older white lady reached at the same time. They both touched the bread. The younger girl said "Go ahead and take it, it's ok." The older lady said "I don't want anything that a nigger touched anyway."
I think this young lady is one of the nicest people I know, so the fact that this happened in her young lifetime speaks volumes about why I will no longer tolerate this word.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/11 Families

The families of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy actually see no reason to change the ceremony they have been having. I wouldn't do it for Fox News, CNN, or any media outlet either.

In year one, they missed their family members. In year two, they missed their family members. For 9 straight years they have missed their family members, each differently, each uniquely.

I am happy I have forgotten the date my father died. Unfortunately, my mother died on Christmas Day, so it is not so easy. I wonder, are there any family members of 9/11 victims who happened to have birthdays on September 11? Or are there any family's with wedding anniversaries on that date?

Because my mother died on Christmas Day, I didn't celebrate Christmas for a long time. It took a special effort to rehabilitate the holiday. I'm very happy I finally made the effort.

10th anniversary ceremonies are not usually thought of for dates upon which a family member died. Isn't it the same as anniversary number 9? Is it any different from day 987? But this 9/11 anniversary is different for the networks of the news cycle. Perhaps this is the real problem. It is money to some.

Someone posted a Budweiser commercial on Facebook that was "only shown 1 time." The horses bow near the New York skyline, then "Budweiser" is emblazoned across the screen. "Only shown 1 time" leads to the mystique but I sincerely doubt that Budweiser did not consider the possible viral distribution, or the legend of their ad. "Budweiser" not an "anonymous" "We will never forget" or something. The Clydesdales were plenty recognizable.

Death is something very personal and it doesn't do well with cameras. The first responders whose colleagues died in the September 11 attacks can really choose another day or spot for their ceremony. Perhaps they might meet at Central Park. That is very big and a New York icon.

But the families of the victims, which include the families of first responders who died, should have the peace and solemnity that they have had for 9 years. And they should have their spot on the map if they want it. After all, there are many empty graves.

I wouldn't want to attend such an event, I don't think. And I am so blessed that my Mother and Father's deaths are not linked to the retaliatory killing of 100's of thousands of other innocents.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Slipstream


Well, the lush separation enfolds you
And the products of wealth
Push you along on the bow wave
Of their spiritless, undying selves

And you press on God's waiter your last dime
As he hands you the bill
And you spin in the slipstream, tideless, unreasoning
Paddle right out of the mess and you paddle right out of the mess


The rise of consumerism (please don't confuse this with consumer protection) has caused a reinterpretation of the Bible which conflicts with, well, what it seems to say. But unthinkingly many just push into obscurity those passages that are an uncomfortable fit with our economic, political, and patriotic beliefs.

I have always loved the phrase: "the lush separation enfolds you." From about age 14, I guess, I listened to the flowing words. It was a beautiful song. At some point it dawned on me that it was not chimerical at all. The song was word for word like a parable and this phrase was similar to a parodox that explained the whole. It is genius really, to pack such meaning into a bit of seeming nonsense.

The whole second side of the Aqualung album was and is a favorite of mine. It is hard to imagine the influence that music and the interpretation of lyrics had for me. The other songs, with the exception of "Locomotive Breath" are harsher still on organized religion. I know what event made me balk, but, again, it is hard to imagine my life without the poetry that made me think deeply enough about the events surrounding me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wind Up


When I was young and they packed me off to school
and taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
or if they said that I was just a fool.
So I left there in the morning
with their God tucked underneath my arm --
their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.
And I asked this God a question
and by way of firm reply,
He said -- "I'm not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays."
So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers --
I don't believe you!
You have the whole damn thing all wrong --
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
Well you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
and have all the bishops harmonize these lines --
How do you dare tell me that I'm my father's son
when that was just an accident of birth.
I'd rather look around me -- compose a better song
`cause that's the honest measure of my worth.
In your pomp and all your glory, you're a poorer man than me,
as you lick the boots of death born out of fear.
I don't believe you!
You have the whole damn thing all wrong --
He's not the kind you have to wind up... on Sundays.

So, can there be any question that I will always feel this way about organized religion? No, I think not. I related in some other post my early life trauma with a racist church who called themselves Ridgecrest Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama. I have tried to reconsider organized religion again recently. But, I have seen the fruits of hundreds of thousands of dead innocents in just the last decade. I will forever be affected by this particular winding set of events that I know so well from being hopelessly politically aware throughout. Perhaps I was a child during my first bad experience, but this time I am wise enough to see things from both sides. I just cannot believe in gathering together when the results of that gathering are these fruits. And I do not even trust my own judgement to know whether my experimentally stepping into such a gathering will contribute in any small way to consequences as dire.

This does not mean I do not believe in their God. I do, probably more than the gathered will ever be likely to grasp.

I don't argue the point much any more. I am so flawed myself that I feel an improper spokesperson for my God. And I do want those people who need the gathering to have what they feel they need to understand God. I just caution them. Their flaws may end with another leader who...

So I believe in my God, the One who speaks to my heart. The One who tells me specifically not to pray in public but to go into a closet. The One who would hope I would have a problem with collateral damage. The One who would want me to turn the other cheek. The One who has influenced me all through my life. The One who would want me to worry if my neighbor were out of work. And let me go further and say, my God is the One that wouldn't want me to argue with facts and learning but would want me to argue with many of science's moral underpinnings and effects upon the human condition. Or, perhaps put another way, the One that would want me to believe in Darwin's theories without creating an economic and social system for mankind based upon the morals contained therein.

It is this last point (though it is probably not strictly Biblical in any substantial way but is so central to my belief structure) which I think is so crucial to understand. Yes, it is easy to make fun of the fact that many Christians gathered together think that the world is not as old as it is, that dinosaur fossils may have been put here by Satan to test us, or that all mathematicians are wrong about how far the stars are from our Earth. But, I believe as strongly against this kind of disingenuously fundamentalist atheism as I do the beliefs of those they are mocking. I honestly doubt seriously if some sects of organized religion understand science or mathematics, or by virtue of their ignorance, understand what their beliefs beget. I also more seriously honestly doubt those who think they can logically reject the possibility of my God, and I doubt also their understanding of what their belief begets.

An important point I see so clearly after years and years of life, is that Darwin, and those that proceeded and followed him with the same scientific construct, influenced our economic and social the worst possible outcome. No longer is humanity looking up with humility to my God. They look down upon others who failed and prop their own selves up as achievers. They forget the many innocents who are no longer among us. Can it be that those who argue so vociferously against Darwin have completely misunderstood the real threat to their God from Darwin, the implementation of the doctrine of "survival of the fittest" into our entire economic philosophy and system, our foreign affairs policy, our social fabric, and our interpretations of just what God has told us? Rejecting what is most likely scientifically true and then accepting the very same ideas (as a way to organize our social structure based on blind moral values of competition which as humans who believe in a higher power we should want to rise above) is by far the worst mistake that has been made by those who organize. Another way to think of it in our current economic predicament is the adoption of "rich people" values as Godly. I realize that all who organize do not fear Darwin's science in a fundamentalist way. And I know and have read things by some who do understand the way in which Darwin should be feared.

Coming from a particular country and culture with a particular set of beliefs, often people believe they are correct beyond doubt when others around them are so equally confident. I am flawed in many ways and will avoid that temptation. I hope my God approves.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I'm feeling so much better today. I want those antibiotics at least 4 times a year!!! Then again, I was thinking, it might have been the extra salt on the tomatos on my egg sandwiches last night. Maybe that salt has done the trick. When I said I wanted more salt for my health last night probably Wanda thought I had gone round the bend and not only that, about a salt shaker. But it was the iodine I was thinking of. Thyroid health, better metabolism.

There was some other sandwich occurance that I wanted to blog about but I have forgotten it. Oh, now I remember. It is on my camera but I'll check on line.   There, someone else has blogged about it. You would expect that because it is so odd, to me anyway. Yes, it is the Hardee's Fried Bologna Biscuit which incidentally has egg and cheese on it but they are not advertised, just in the picture.

I have this fear of cooked bologna. I can't even eat bologna which is not cold. When I was young, the cool thing to do was to put balogna on bread and broil it, or today we would stick them in the toaster oven. The bologna rounds would crisp and bend upwards on the sides. Somehow, when I was very sick once, I decided it was the broiled bologna that had caused it. Never again could I eat my favorite delicacy of the time.

So, two sandwich stories for my blog. I feel absolutely well themed today, and I am feeling oh so good. What a difference a day makes.


Went to the doctor this morning. The doctor confirmed my own diagnosis of "sinus infection." He looked down my throat and said "Oh. yes there's a lot of stuff there." Good! I said. :)  I like to be right. :)  No actually, I like it when it is easy to fix my body feeling bad.  Then he said, "Heard any popping in your ears." I said, "Well, a little I guess." He looked in them and said "Oh yes, there is a lot of fluid there." Good! I said. :)

So he told me he was going to give me antibiotics and said, "You up for a shot that would help quicker?" And I said, "Oh yes, anything that will help."  It was steroids to go with the antibiotics. If I had any doubt about the sinus infection diagnosis, it was gone now. Then of course, he wouldn't be my doctor if he didn't ask if I wanted anything for my headaches. I said "no. nothing helps." He moved on. I like it that my doctor trusts me.

In came the nurse with a needle. I said, "My wife hates needles," not realizing that soon I would be hating them as well. She jabbed it in my hip and it hurt big time. As I was about to cover it with my clothes (I couldn't see it) she said "Oh wait, let me put on a bandaid on that." She swabbed it first and the swab looked like it was a prop from a Dexter expisode. Oh, yes, put a bandaid on that. :)

I still hurt.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Finally it occurred to me this weekend that the reason I have been feeling bad must be a sinus infection. I have all the signs this weekend. Tomorrow morning I will find out if the doctor agrees.

The weekend went great, despite my nose. I bought a wonderful antique piece of furniture that is probably correctly listed as being from the 1920's from Kudzu Antiques in Atlanta. This place was awesome. The piece, resembling what we would today call a nightstand, was reasonably priced and quickly has become my favorite piece of furniture that was not inherited. I begin Wanda's and my legacy here. Our kids better not sell this! :)

I will probably end all of these personal entries with "I am sleepy, good night." So, I'll create an acronym. iasgn

Saturday, August 20, 2011


After a particularly long day of feeling pretty bad, I finally made it home. I began watching "The One Percent" directed by one of the younger Johnsons in the family of Johnson & Johnson. So far it is very entertaining in that it restates what I already know from a unique perspective. I made it as far as Milton Freidman, now a sad old man who is snotty and supports the inequitable system as a matter of course. It is hard to believe that once I thought this man a great thinker.

I need to try to find some books online by Robert Reich and there is one more I wanted, but have forgotten. Perhaps If I really used this blog as a way to keep structure in my life, I wouldn't be so forgetful.

Today I had lunch again at the Hibachi Grill. Their vegetables and rice is fairly inexpensive and healthy and tastes like I could eat it every day. As long as I am honest here, I must remember to describe "cup-o-meal." But not tonight, search for books, then sleep. Thank you for your time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

To Go Where No Man Has Read Before

Torpedo Sandwich of Truth has yet another 10 year mission. Like the U.S. space program, the Torpedo keeps changing and evolving to suit the needs of the public. The public is you and me, though I'm sure there aren't many, if any, of the "you" part of that. But just between you and me, or maybe, me and me, this now becomes the true blog.

The reasons for this are many. For one thing, I'm not comfortable with social networking. Facebook is interesting but it blows my mind about how shallow the world is. That being said, I don't want to go bowling alone. As I syndicated my 2 other blogs to Facebook to allow others to actually read them now and then, I found the same old creepy feelings coming back. What if...

Another reason is really just a personal longing that I have had for a while to not worry about what the heck I was writing. Even here in the blogs, even with the varied subjects, I have been less than forthcoming. Facebook made it really obvious what social influences were doing to my writing. I thought about a personal blog accessed only by me but that really seems like bowling alone in Antartica with the doors locked.

So, here we are. If you have stumbled into my bowling alley and feel like a game, let's bowl. If you still follow me on Facebook and my other blogs...well, yes, that is also a part of me. Facebook looks successful in a number of ways for the grand experiment that it is. But ever since I was a young man I was conflicted with the joy I found in being in the company of great writers versus the need to be out playing football with my friends. I might want to watch William F. Buckley on television, when no one else in my sphere would have even thought of this. I longed for the depth but found that social integration was just as important to a healthy mind.

It is late. I slept most of the day. But I really need to sleep on a regular schedule, so I must go. I will finish this later, no, never. The end of this blog will hopefully be the day I am no longer able to type it in. Welcome, by the way...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


"It's a good thing librarians are lazy because I wouldn't have this job," said the guy who had just turned off his vacuum cleaner to speak. I do think he meant to be funny. I really do have an affinity for people who do hard work for a living like him and there are times of course when I myself feel that some people in America get a better break than the rest of us. Really, sometimes I actually have that thought. :) I do what I can to shape the world politically to hopefully allow us all an equal break, to try to help those who need help moving up the ladder. But... I also respect my government job immensely. While I am working I represent other people and a government organization and wouldn't consider making such a remark or responding bitterly while I was working. I let his stabs at humor and me pass by. But the vacuum cleaner went off again and again to allow more comments, probably aimed at softening the first. They didn't. Next he said "I probably should say government workers are lazy, whew, they get nothing done." At the moment I was engrossed in fixing an error on a web page that seemed critical to me and had been sent up by our automated system as a broken link. I have multiple problems when this happens. 1) I don't see the broken link on my own computer. I have to go to a public computer to test the page. Often I forget that my computer behaves ever so slightly differently from the others when checking a page, so that every once in a while an error crops up 2) I have to run back and forth to another computer to check the page. It's my job. No problem. But.. one man's work is another man's laziness, I guess.

There has been an idea that government does not work. I am first on the list considering the incredulously ridiculous 60 vote rule in the U.S. Senate and the split in the House of Reps between those who vote one way, those who vote another way, and those who refuse to compromise enough to vote "yes" on anything. The laziness remark, when applied to people I know who work around me is simply inordinately silly. I have worked in libraries for most of my career and a more dedicated staff I have never seen. There isn't a time when the public does not come first. Many of us have small disagreements about how this is to be accomplished, but all are focused on doing a good job. This was not my experience at the last job I worked. I have always been a frequent visitor to the great Mickey Mouse's brand of customer (guest) service, always trying to improve my professional behavior, good nature, and the respect for the "guests," which we call "patrons."  In that previous job, this worked only to a small degree because I stuck out like a sore thumb and suffered the consequences of being the black sheep.

When I came to my new job here, this was the main difference that gladdened my heart. Not one behavior of mine that I thought was appropriate was out of place here. I was in a whole new world. I love my world.

I admire the vacuum cleaner worker's job ethic, well except today. Everyone is important. Everyone has good days and bad days. But blind criticism of government honestly must stop in this nation. Like the Greeks, we should be less concerned with the size or type of government than with the quality of government. And I doubt a morning speech from a Sam's Club manager would get very far if he said, "You are lazy because you work at Sam's. You are a bunch of losers." Reward good government, demand good government. Thank a police officer every time you see one, thank a military service person every time you see one. (Wanda taught me this about military personnel and honestly, just saying "Thank you"alone brightens their faces and they always know what you mean and appropriately reply. People who's sacrifice is great know why they are being thanked.)  People who don't know they are appreciated for their sacrifices, and we all make sacrifices, are much less likely to do their jobs with relish. Thank a smooth grocery store clerk for how professional they were at checking your groceries through the line. Say "thank you" to the busy helpful clerk at KFC. When appropriate say "Thank you so very much, this chicken looks great." It will change the world. I guarantee it.

I didn't thank the vacuum cleaning guy today though. My only thank you would have had to be in the form of thank you for opening my eyes to the sheer magnitude of disgust for government employees people must feel. But I don't think he was in the mood for that particular praise.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Republican members of the Super Congress ALL, every one of them, signed the Grover Norquist pact against new taxes. The Republican Party becomes increasingly more aligned with one core constituency and overiding principle. No matter what happens to America... "NO TAXES FOR THE RICH."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GOP Finally Polling Worse

I listened to CNBC this morning or last night, I can't remember which, only to hear someone mention how consumers would be happy for lower oil prices. Can these people get more callous? Hundreds of thousands may suffer from loss of homes or loss of jobs because of the economy which causes the low oil and commodity prices. Good news for the consumer!

At any rate, the stock market recovered a bit. Don't celebrate yet, though.

Then, I heard the news that the GOP was not polling well. Now.. there's a shocker. It takes events the size of a large asteroid plunging into the Earth but yes, finally...   Quick... let's have an election!

You see, I've had this little thought nagging me about direct democracy lately. I'm willing now to throw caution (and my 5th grade civics teacher) to the wind, turn this car around young man, and change this country to a direct democracy. There are many advantages. Think of how hard it would be to consistently come up with election gimmicks and cheat on the voting machines. Eventually, they would run out of tricks. AND we would have the same power as those lobbyists who run around Washington every day. Surely you can guess that we could have voted ourselves into a debt rating downgrade without them. AND it's just possible, if the question came up about taxing everyone earning above 250 thousand dollars while giving out tax cuts to the rest of us, we would mentally examine our paychecks and our bank accounts and say, "You betcha!"

But before we do that, let's vote on whether to put an ATM at the voting machine spitting out tax cuts! Hey, it couldn't get worse, could it?  I doubt we would stand around arguing with each other before casting our vote at the last possible moment. Heck.. those of us with jobs would vote in the morning to get to work on time. The rest would have the whole day to vote and cheap gas to get them there.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Scary Stuff

Second recession probably worse than first.... but heck, number 1, stop calling it a recession and number 2, it's not a second recession its the depression which started in 2008 worsening from the new tight money policy. Does anyone anywhere in financial circles know what happened in the Great Depression?!  It did not matter that we grew a few points when we had dropped to the bottom. Trees-Forest.

Those with Jobs to Pay for It Will Have Cheaper Gas

Oil down to 81 dollars a barrel.

I dare say restaurant coupons, price reductions, etc. will all follow as the economy tanks or...  as I continue saying, the real underlying depression follows its course into it's ugly second half.

Look at the Vix

The volitility index is starting to look familiar. This thing is substantial and will be volitile for a long time.

Expanded to include 2008

Moody's Hangs Tough

Dow down over 300 points but that's not so bad when you consider S&P continues with what amounts to Guerilla warfare by timing the Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac downgrades on this awful day.

Moody's, by not downgrading the U.S., may well be saving the financial ratings sector from catastrophic legal difficulties. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Black Monday?

Brace yourself. The volitility of Friday's stock maket was frightening towards the end of the day. There were apparently very very big orders being tossed around. I heard the guy on CNBC call it crazy how the Dow was jumping in such a whipsaw fashion.

Perhaps this explains some of it:

I'm not really very good at predicting things, so I don't know whether things will go up or down Monday but there is a potential for something very bad to happen. If anything good happens or nothing happens, that will be an amazing story all by itself.
I'm really curious though. It seems that it would be obvious to everyone with problems that this fanatical protection of the taxes of rich people might be part of the reason we cannot raise enough money to pay for our government. Surely, we will get it soon. Surely.

The 1987 Black Monday wasn't all that tough on Reagan.

Wait... It's Not Too Late is It?

Wait! We could use some of that tax money supporting Exxon and corporate jets and just pay the ratings agencies for their AAA rating and all will be well. That's what the investment banks did so they could hawk Collateralized Debt Obligations. It's not too late, is it? Maybe it will just cost more to get them to change it back before Monday, but we can do this people!

Looking Ahead

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Real Job Report

Don't be fooled by the positive monthly job figures. They give no perspective at all but are great for the almost Orwellian news corporations to report on. In perspective, the following aspect of unemployment, the length of time it takes for an average unemployed person to find a job, coupled with expiring unemployment compensation in the 98% Boehner Crisis Bill is the real threat. It continues it's trend straight up for August 2011:

To the rich and the corporations, the recession is over. It is in that grey shaded area.

Here is how an unemployed person views the end of our recession (current as of July):

Don't worry, large corporations are making all time record profits.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Well, I said I would be happy if it was less than 700...   512 is less than 700.  Yet, it was somewhere around 300 down when I was thinking that 700 sounded like full panic mode. Somehow 512 seems pretty panicky. I hope not. Is tomorrow the release of the unemployment data? I thought that is what I heard earlier in the week. But they seemed to pretty much guess what those numbers would be. I hope they were correct, or maybe even wrong on the downside. Also pushing this panic are terrible numbers from the rest of the world and they keep talking about Europe like they are in the past tense. That sounds scary. One commentator said "Germany needs to realize it is married to the rest of Europe, and either needs to pay the wife's bills, or divorce her." I see the analogy, I just don't see why Germany is the only husband in a gaggle of wives. I haven't understood the European problem from the beginning. No one seems to pay attention to it over here long enough to explain things to me. One thing that gives me hope about it is that Europe seems to have done the same kind of irresponsible rosy scenario forecasts for every piece of duct tape they patched things up with, only to be trounced later. At least we aren't alone in our myopia. Bush II always did hate what they thought in the "halls of Europe."  Oh yeah, I also remember, "Need some wood?"

No, just shoot me instead.

Another one?

"Recession Seen Looming as Jobless Benefits End"

Really?  Didn't we debate this unemployment thing and decide to dump them into the streets? Did I miss something? This was supposed to be good for America.  The Dow is down 400 points now and it has everything to do with the gun to the head manufactured crises. And while the headline is correct about the government stopping unemployment compensation and what that means when lots of little individuals no longer have any money to spend, those individuals must be wondering why we see a "recession looming." To them, first it's probably not a recession but depression, and second, it hasn't ended and has been going on for years. We couldn't be going into another one, we are in one.

The difference is of course how we measure recession. Does it hurt the rich? No, big business is doing fine, record profits! Oil is doing great, and added to their record profits are the usual government subsidies!

I earlier posted a chart that shows our progress out of the worst dip of the depression, by the measure that matters to, well, the rest of us: unemployment. Progress has been highly overrated in the media. It's just not there in any strength, the downside was very far down, and now we are trending down again. Some of this is Obama's fault for giving in to the rosy scenario all presidents give us to boost our moral. This needs to stop now. Give them what they asked for. A depression that has a weak government to guide us out. But Wall Street, always pushing their product, has probably done a lot more to build expectations of investers and.... well, that's profitable for them. We buy, we sell, we pay a fee.

Now, it could all go up tomorrow but the panic is here now. If it falls less than 700, I'll be happy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Told You So :) I'm Now Officially Ahead of the Curve!!

Holy mackerel, Batman. I was right! :)  "Debt Debate May Have Masked Real Threat: Recession"

No kidding! So will the balanced budget vote be a bit more difficult to win? :)  It would be funny if it were actually funny.

Sandwiches in the News

"A Sugar Coated Satan Sandwich"

Just when I stop with the sandwich puns, the politicians grab my idea. By the way, my recipe for a Satan Sandwich includes Deviled Ham and Hellman's Mayo.

attribution unknown, not my graphic

More bad news

Job layoffs.. but the stock market futures seem to be setting up the Dow for a rebound. Let's hope it lasts till the end of the day.

Dow squeeked by... down over 100 at one point... phew



I was looking for a Dow Jones chart earlier as I was guessing in the middle of the day something historic was happening. Leave it to the good people at Business Insider who need a long overdue plug as I have mercilessly borrowed from them.

It's a little messy but the last six months shows "nowhere's ville, man." And the last days of the debt ceiling hostage crises shown in that markedly downhill trail... "kookie, man." It would all be so darn funny if it were actually...well, funny.

Meanwhile... How The Government WILL Now Be Printing Money

QE3 (Quantiative Easing Three)


Probably effective at the end of a month (decision made in Jackson Hole) we will be lowering interest rates for banks! Hooray! How do you lower interest rates for banks? Why it's QE3 (not part of any debt ceiling nonsense, debt ceilings wouldn't have even effected this Fed power.) The rich investment banks will be able to loan more money to people who have none, like they did before when they got vast infusions of money... *cough*  And will that be tied to any limits on bank executives compensation? *Cough-hellno-cough*

This article is interesting in a number of ways. The idea of keying QE3 to inflation ignores the fact that inflation is now here. But... I"ll guess they are smart enough to make the rules so that they can give money to the banks. :)

Do we need QE3?  Here the answer is unfortunately a resounding yes. Limits are now inevitable on any government programs to help us out of this latest double dip. Perhaps long term the dip is not there but those CNBC folks I listen in on sounded a little worried after today's amazing and totally unpredicted post-debt-ceiling-agreement drop in stocks accompanied by a surge in gold prices. Eight straight days of dropping stocks have not been seen since the deep pit, or Jackson Hole, possibly, of the our recent depression.

Anyway, for those Americans who thought the value of the dollar was what we were protecting by demanding the cuts in government spending in the form of cutting stimulus programs that might have actually helped the common man... the banks present us with our reward: more printing of money distributed with the timeless theory of "trickle down."

Oh, if you see any reductions in your own interest rates on your existing mortgage or credit cards... please, please, let me know.

New Sandwich Structure

I'll be ending the dates at the front of the entries to indicate separate thoughts, because now my headings won't be so odd and disconnected. So...  multiple posts on the same day (which lately has happened on my other blogs as well) will have different titles. Just letting you know. No more "triple deckers" in other words. :)  - all my best, Michael

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dow Has Mirrored Gun to the Head Republican Diplomacy

8/2 Apparently, the stock market guys around the world didn't particularly have a lot of respect for a nation who uses threats of default as a political tool OR the depression deepens. Either way...

Monday, August 1, 2011

An End to the Sandwich Buns.... umm Puns

8/01 This historic day marks the end of sandwich themed titles, well, almost. This thing still has to pass and avert financial catastrophe. I'm still catching up because I stay away from the news until it is absolutely necessary. Did influencing the Congress just get 96 percent cheaper? 16 members to bribe to reap incredible benefits. Does this also indicate that the Mad Tea Party is a non-factor in deficit reduction debate? I mean, how many Mad Tea Party members would you put on such a committee? I'm guessing one, at most. Does this effectively split the Republican Party by having a member that agrees to nothing or will there be a countering left wing curmudgeonly liberal? Heck... it doesn't matter. No left wing liberal would have the stick-to-it-ness of a Mad Tea Party participant. :)

Anyway, I'm catching up on what this historic abdication of responsibility actually means to the rest of us.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is That a Spot of Mustard on Your Tie?

7/30 A balanced budget amendment in the midst of a depression.... sound idiotic?   It should.

What does this do to gold? :)  Let's see, on the one hand the contraction of money supply makes gold less valuable. On the other hand the contraction of money supply is exactly what can deepen the depression, causing gold to be more valuable...maybe?  hmmmm.

The idea is, though, a partially brilliant strategic move by the fairly idiotic to get re-elected. Such an amendment would be widely supported and politicians voting against it would do so at their peril. However, any concerted effort could block things as it isn't easy to pass a Constitutional amendment. Even a veto stops it and that would jeopardize only one politician's career, albeit for the sake of sanity.

The obvious? Any economic stimulus we might need in a future downturn (perhaps the double dip that looks to be appearing) would be impossible unless the Fed would be allowed do it. But Fed stimulus is mostly a rich man's game.

Would wars be taken off-budget? Or would we just not go to war? That would certainly be a positive, unless, per chance, we actually needed to go to war. Had we had a balanced budget amendment, the Iraq war would have been impossible but Hitler's Germany would probably have controlled most of the world's oil supply long ago anyway.

All in all, I think I'll start calling them the Mad Tea Party.

7/30 I will have to stop using sandwich shop lingo for titles. I'll make a pledge. If our country doesn't default, no more sandwich puns. :)  The inability of our government to work is becoming shocking even to me. I think this illustration is much more extensive than the first failed bailout vote that sent the stock market off a cliff. Truly awe inspiring.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't Throw that Bread Out Because of a Little Spot of Mold

7/29 I have been saying that perhaps a large wake up call would be better for us than more negotiating and crap legislation that can get through our completely non-functional legislative bodies. Check out this chart on "sovereign" (a nation's) debt that has been downgraded from "AAA" by the rating services. Instead of yield (cost of borrowing so to speak) going higher, after a period of adjustment (9 days on this chart, for heck sakes), it heads on down. The idea, I think, is that a nation who has just been downgraded will... try harder, and investors jump in. Or the uncertainty is gone. Or to put it another way, as we have seen in the past from the ratings just before the current Bank Deregulation Depression, those damned ratings services far from prophesying future problems are merely lagging indicators. Probably this falls in the category of "lies, damned lies, and statistics" but anyway here's the rather humorous chart:

7/29  This is some writing that didnt' make the cut over at Aimless. :)  That should really put the attenna up. :)

I looked up the policies of the 1930’s because I usually believe we have not completely rid ourselves of those policies in the aftermath of the Crash of 1929. Certainly our policies leading up to our current problems look eerily similar to the pre-depression days, and currently it looks like we are making a U-turn on the progress we have made post catastrophe.
While we do not appear to be making the sharp policy mistakes of the 1930s, we do appear to have some longer-term drags—the potential for debt downgrades and the need to ‘write the rules’ still on financial regulation and the Healthcare bill,” said Don Rissmiller, chief economist for Strategas research and one time economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  – CNBC Online  “Debt Fallout: Even Market Pros Don't Know What to Do”\
Below find the general agreement among monetarists about what the bad policies after 1929 amounted to:

“Monetarists, including Milton Friedman and current Federal Reserve System chairman Ben Bernanke, argue that the Great Depression was mainly caused by monetary contraction, the consequence of poor policymaking by the American Federal Reserve System and continued crisis in the banking system.” – Wikipedia   “Great Depression” 
Is this the moment when the Market Pros finally realize that they are in uncharted waters? Is the debt downgrade contemplated by the rating agencies more realistic in its reasoning than we give it credit?  It’s not just an event to avoid but a series of factors that are to be considered when a ratings agaency takes such an unprecedented step.
If I were rating the debt, the big question to me would be whether our current system of government (3 clashing parties in the House of Reps, and a 60 percent majority necessary to pass a bill in the Senate) is viable.  We are in the midst of a historic period of corporations lobbying in profound numbers, pouring record amounts of money into campaigns, having company employees assigned to key government offices like Secretary of Treasury and myriad agencies designed to regulate the very companies they are from, and companies handing out jobs as rewards to ex-government officials. In the midst of this the Supreme Court takes off the caps on the amounts of money that companies can be used to influence the government.  Is that viable?
Do “market pros” think that the debt reduction being discussed in the form of less government outlays, or even in raising taxes should that actually occur, is  not a “contraction of the money supply?” Do they think there isn’t a continued crisis in the banking system with very little money to lend?

The reason that Market Pros don’t know what to do is very broad indeed. If we could actually look at the similarities between what happened in the Great Depression and the current day depression without the moderation of unemployment benefits, fiscal stimulus, government bailouts of banks, and the many other things we have done right UP UNTIL NOW, we would see a more direct correlation. To believe that we are out of this depression because we have moderated it to death is pretty wishful thinking.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Panini Press

7/28 It's becoming more and more fun to blog here than on my real blogs. I really don't want to seriously think too long on the Boner mess. I have two charts today. One shows the reality of the depression which screams for an even easier money policy. Please don't forget that the way out of the famous Great Depression was money being pumped into the economy. Even willy nilly money now termed as "helicopter money" helps get the economy churning. May I have the first chart please? Suzy, will you get the lights?

As you can see, hey, pay attention little Johnny B., stop that sniffling...Suzy stop messing with his name tag, as I was saying, as you can see by the chart, the Bank Deregulation Depression is now doing a double dip. Housing prices seem to be a fair judge of the depression originally caused by a bubble in real estate and those Mad Hatter real estate financing instruments. And look, it is double dipping and gets worse with every month. THIS is reality. The employment graph shows the same double dip pattern.

Meanwhile this next chart is the result of the "boner headed" wrangling over the debt ceiling. Remember, money pumped in is needed. And you can't just get the money needed to end the Depression from the people actually in the Depression, the ones without the jobs and money. You either have to take it from the people who have the money, let's call them "the rich," or you have to borrow the money. So the debt ceiling thing is kind of bothersome since the rich people solution is off the table. And the worst thing that could happen when you need to borrow money is a higher cost of borrowing caused by lenders having no confidence in their ultimate payback. Yesterday, the stock market finally stopped listening to the parade of analysts on CNBC (and other media sources) who claimed we would obviously meet the deadline. Why? The ratings services, who don't want to be behind the curve yet again, let it be known that a downgrade in our credit worthiness score was imminent. This has major conseqences on the debt we already owe and the world who have invested in us. Overnight foreign indices are showing trouble ahead for tomorrow's trading in the US as well. I write at 4am 7/28. (New medication is messing with my sleep pattern.) Suzy, the lights again...

This shows yesterday's loss of faith in the two year US treasury bond. It is probably going to cost us a lot more to borrow and we are borrowed to the hilt now. Is a Greece-like desertion of lenders imminent? In some way, I guess this might occur. Oddly enough, I listened to a Planet Money show (NPR?) the other day that had one of the authors of This Time is Different linkie , I'm not sure which one. They were talking about the tipping point that causes investers to flee in mass movements from a country. Our debt numbers compared to GDP were past the fleeing stage but perhaps...wait for it...this time is different.

Wouldn't it be fun if the ratings services were responsible in a major way for the first and second dip of the GREAT Bank Deregulation Depression? NO, not really.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2 Slices of Bread Short of a Hoagie

7/27  The Tea Party just doesn't want to govern. Threats to the full faith and credit of our nation, yes. Compromise, no.

7/27 I was going to blog this yesterday when I heard about what appeared to be a done deal of the rating services downgrading the USA from a AAA rating. The irony of this is awesomely stupendous. It's the definition of "Oh no they didn't..."  :)   The same rating agencies that actively lied about the CDO's and derivatives would now be rating what they have wrought in regards to the US Economy? I've looked long and hard to find all the villains in the Bank Deregulation Depression but it is hard to top these guys. And now, with all the retirement funds and the like struggling, the retirement funds that could only purchase AAA and were assured that these CDO's and the like were as safe as "treasury bills", white collar criminals at the rating agencies have not gone to jail, but are responsible for rating the USA which they hurt so badly. At the very least, they should recuse themselves. :)   Anyway I was going to write about this rather obvious story but as I was looking up on the internets whether or not they had actually rated us below triple A, I came across this:  The story must be obvious to all. Even Fox News gets the story, well with a few twists. You see, it's the fault of congress, not then but now. And that graphic of the upside down Whitehouse, well that ties them in, too. You gotta wonder why that graphic was considered. Maybe this graphic has been too dull and lame to use in the past and this is it's moment of glory. I kinda doubt it. :)

This self parodying piece ends with the amazingly dull and cliched rhetorical question "Am I wrong?"   Well Greta, you have grasped the obvious and dared to speak it but yes you are slightly wrong that the Congress has only just recently been at fault. Weren't they far more at fault when they sat on their hands when Brooksley Born was warning about the lack of regulation in the derivatives market?  They were wrong then and the Clinton adminstration Whitehouse was upside down, trusting the Wall Street guys with the keys to the deregulation car.  Asking congress to do something now, to cheat the ratings, is to avoid responsibility for the past. The avoiding of personal responsibility again. *sigh*  I remember saying in one of my blogs that I was surprised the credit agencies didn't proactively ding the USA earlier so that they could innoculate themselves and be able to say that any guff from congress after the fact was retaliation. I'm guessing they had their finger on the pulse of Washington and now have decided the time is ripe for a little vacination shot. It will only hurt just a little when Nurse Greta jabs it in a little to deep.

Am I wrong?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Super Deluxe

7/26  The completely non-functioning bodies of the Legislative Branch need extra-Constitutional help to get anything passed.   I'm all for the Super-Committee for all legislation of any kind going forward. The idea is that legislation would actually come out of the legislative branch and then be signed or vetoed by the President, an idea once backed by the Founding Fathers. It is just brilliant in it's simplicity. Let's give it a try. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sweet Tea Tax

7/25  This chart shows the obvious. Cutting expenditures is irresponsible without raising revenues. Easy enough to see:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fillet O' Fish


Some of what I have recently learned in a nutshell:

 If you drop that fish sandwich and hold your empty hand out to help pull a man out of a pond into which a banker pushed him, tomorrow that man is more likely to be around to learn how to fish, learn how to swim, and avoid variable interest rates with balloon payments whose notes are rolled into Mortgage Backed Securities, packaged into Collateralized Debt Obligations and bet against by strangers with Credit Default Swaps.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sliced Chicken

7/18  Haven't been posting. Sorry, my poor brain can't take all the lunacy of the game of chicken being played with the debt ceiling stuff. The worst possible outcome is demanded if neither side backs down.... it's called "brinksmanship." And then there is Rupert Murdoch:

Holy tunafish, Batman, this story has the legs of a centipede. Why, I remember when....  someone improperly abused her authority over me and then.... after at least a year.... lost her job.  It's like that. :)  Endless lies and no one cares, then... all of a sudden the sliced chicken comes home to roost!

Bologna Cake
2 loaves of cheap white Bread, crusts cut off
8 Tbs. of Italian Dressing
1/2 lb. sliced bologna (we used Oscar Mayer all beef)
3/4 lb. american cheese slices (we used Kraft)
2 containers of whipped cream cheese
Ketchup (if desired)
Garnishes: Parsley, Black Olives, etc. (if desired)
It is helpful if you use a springform cake pan, because everything holds together nicely. Begin by layering the bread slices in a double layer in the bottom of the spring form cake pan. Tear or cut up some of the bread to fill in any gaps. Sprinkle 2 Tbs. of the Italian dressing over the two layers of bread. Next, a layer using all of the bologna over the dressing and bread. Next double layer the bread again and again sprinkle with 2 Tbs. of Italian dressing. Next create a cheese layer using all of it over that bread layer. Use the rest of the bread to cover the cheese layer and again sprinkle 2 Tbs. of Italian dressing over the bread. Press the entire thing gently down into the pan.
Next you make the ‘frosting'. In a large bowl, mix the rest of the dressing (2 Tbs.) with the two containers of whipped cream cheese. Remove the metal spring form pan. Using a spatula, ice the cake with the whipped cream cheese the same way you would ice a cake. Transfer the cake to a serving platter or large plate.
If you have a cake decorating kit, use any remaining cream cheese to pipe around the cake. Fill a small baggie with ketchup, seal and snip off the end. Use the ketchup to decorate the cake, write a phrase on the top or just as a side.

Monday, July 11, 2011

No Puns, No Humor

7/11 No humor here.  The other day I had a disagreement in a discussion with a lady about "personal responsibility." She basically claimed that all the people getting into the scammy mortgages obviously should have known better. She said that she and I would not get involved in living above our means. She actually was pretty worked up over the issue. I was merely stating the facts I knew about the mortgage sellers and what methods they used. But it was personal to her because she worked hard for what she has and others may now get houses on the cheap or through government programs. As personal as it was to her, it was more personal to these folks:
Despite the fact that I would probably have had difficulty in holding a conversation with a lot of these people. Let's take a moment to remember the people who sold them their mortgages, knowing full well what they were doing, enjoy their bounty.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fresh Baked

7/08  Remember that chart where the employment was flattening out... Now how can you forget??? That was two entries ago, are you paying attention??? I just want to say that there will be a test!!  November 2012  You will be expected to be in attendance!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

E. Coli

7/6 The Republicans have let it be known with a number of votes that were symbolic in nature, having no chance to be passed, like the medicare thing, that they will be undoing financial reforms as soon as they get their hands on the treasury and power in the congress. This is a signal to Wall Street to start giving money to their campaigns. Democrats have barely managed to put any regulations at all on the financial institutions, especially compared to other countries. Yet, this little amount is too much regulation for these guys. Nothing has changed. They fought regulation of their predatory lending that led us to this point. Apparently still flush with the power over our political system, banks do not want to go back to being banks. They want no controls over their greed; they want the fancy cars, yachts and incidentally the drugs and prostitutes that went along with the last time they had their hands on our money without regulation. Feel I'm being too harsh? I doubt it. These scum continue to control important offices in our government and have shown in the past that they have no remorse. They haven't lost a single financial incentive while driving the rest of us ever downward. There is book after book detailing their vice and financial crimes. I read in amazement and ponder our lack or moral outrage. Bad day for me? You could guess? :)
7/6 Murdoch's empire has serious moral problems. That's in the news but it hardly qualifies as new. If I thought that this development would harm their "journalistic" empire, I would be interested, but it's about as important as the exoneration of that lady who was accused of killing her kids. Tragedy is tragedy and distracts from the actual important stuff. At least the verdict was disappointing to the viewers peeking through the picket fence. Millions left Court TV after the OJ verdict.