Monday, December 8, 2008

Personal economic indicators

This morning, I watched a video clip by Jim Jubak about creating your own economic indicators. This idea made perfect sense to me. When I was in the restaurant business, I could tell where the economy was headed based on the behavior of my customers.

It is because of that fact that I say that the economy has been in trouble for a long time. We only recently officially declared a recession. But from the ground floor, the recession has been here for a long time.

The economy started to look sluggish before 9/11. I was already cutting loose employees because sales were down. Then 9/11 happened; and in the space of an hour, the economy jumped to what it was going to be two years in the future. And from where I was sitting, it never actually recovered (official numbers say differently; my customers would have disagreed).

I was using this personal economic indicator, as well as the rent and house prices in my neighborhood, to time my own personal entry in the real estate market. I knew that based on those indicators that we were in a housing bubble. My wife and I brought our house when the prices softened.

Personally, I wanted to wait longer until the bubble broke, but I could not afford to. My rent was going to go way up if I stayed in my apartment another year; as it was the rent on two apartments (me and the wife were only engaged at the time and living in separate apartments) and the art studio was the same amount as the mortgage payment we ended up with.

And in hindsight, the timing was right (despite the fact that we currently have an upside down mortgage): little did I realize that the economy was going to go so far south that I was going to lose my job and end up in college to earn a degree while the economy recovered. Fortunately, we brought a house that we could afford if one of us had employment difficulties (though I admit that I thought it was going to be her and not me).

But those of us on the ground floor saw it coming. As Jubak points out the official numbers are boiled and diced (my description, not his) and become misleading and confusing. So I agree with him that we all need to develop our own set of economic indicators for investing and business purposes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

South Park as satire

The other night, I was watching a rerun of South Park. And I was reminded about the fact that South Park on one level is satire.

The espisode was about time travelers coming back in time to our present to look for work. Or so it looked like on the surface; I occasionally write science fiction myself and I am a big fan of it, so I realize that science fiction is almost always about the present.

And this espisode was all about immigration. "They stole yer job," was the big line of the espisode.

I did find it amusing that one of the suggestions to fix the problem was to improve the future so that the time travelers would stay in their own time period. This sounds like my idea that perhaps we should invest and improve the lands of our immigration problem (if it is a real problem), so that the immigrants can find work at home and not have to come here.

The other solution, the one that South Park had fun with was "lets wreck the future, so there is no future." Reminds me a great deal of what actually happened in our economy. I wouldn't go into detail about how they planned on wrecking the future, but many will feel that the CEOs of banks have done exactly that to us.

Ironically, now that our economy is in the tank and circling the rim, the immigrants are starting to go home. Grats CEOs---you have screwed all of us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Remember to vote

I would like to remind everyone that is registered to remember to vote Tuesday. This election, no matter who you support, due to the issues is a very important one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Give me 7000 dollars please

Last night, I heard in passing that the little bailout for the banks is going to cost each one of us seven thousand dollars, and that is provided that we pay for it right now. (So actually because we are not paying off it upfront, it is like putting 7000 dollars on a credit card).

Now, I am not sure if the figure is correct. I don't care. But it did get me to thinking:

What could I do with seven thousand dollars?

My quick answer is that seven thousand is about what I am borrowing every college semester for living expenses. It is also about five mortage payments. It is also a lot of cat food, gas, and vending machine meals.

I wish that the government would just give us poor people the money, rather than bailing out the rich. And besides it is not like the money is actually going to keep us out of a recession.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Political jokes

At one time, the American people were given a three-year long vacation from Presidential politics every four years. Once the Presidential election was over, you didn’t have to listen to any more Presidential campaign ads for three whole years. Those were the good old days. Nowadays, Hillary Clinton is already starting up her 2012 Presidential bid, and her first television ad is scheduled to appear the day after the 2008 election.

I am bored with the Presidential campaign. It seems to have been going on as long as John McCain has been alive.

I have timed Obama’a speeches, and he has been saying the word “Change” every 5.1 seconds. If someone else was doing this, it would qualify as a compulsive-obsessive disorder.

If a protestor was not seen or heard by a delegate, or the media, were they still protesting?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Peace and Islam

This was my response to someone who thought that there would be world peace if the entire world converted to Islam.

Even if the entire world converted to Islam, there would still be war and fighting. When the radical Muslims are not bombing and attacking us, they are bombing and attacking other Muslims who they do not believe are Muslim enough. They are like every other religion when they don't have an outside enemy, they fight amoung themselves. The only way there will ever be peace on earth is if it becomes a burnout cinder orbiting the sun.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Oh My Obama!

The 19th August 2008 cover of
CCD Campus Connection
the student newspaper of
the Community College of Denver

Is political correctness a danger?

Are we placing too much faith and hope on Obama?

DNC jokes

There is a rumor that a whole houseful of urine and feces is being stored up for use during the DNC protests. As a result of this rumor, some politicians want to pass a law to prevent the use of urine and feces. My question is: Wouldn’t this not also outlaw politicians?

If the law does pass, I guess one should go to the bathroom before going to the DNC. After all, you wouldn’t want to be guilty of having illegal substances in your system while protesting at the DNC.

And wouldn’t the neighbors notice a houseful of urine? Ok, maybe not; the neighbors always seem surprised that the quiet ones turn out to be ax-murderers.

Given the fact that serial killers always turn out to be the quiet neighbors, shouldn’t we encourage our neighbors to throw more loud parties?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My position on the death penalty

In one of my recent entries on my Golden Dawn blog, I said that I was semi-pro death penalty. This disturbs both camps---for some reason, people believe that this is one of those issues that you either have to be all in or all out on.

At one time, I was completely pro-death penalty. To be quite honest, I brought into the argument that the death penalty acted as a deterrent.

One can rack up the loosing up of my opinion to college. A few semesters ago, I took my public speaking (speech) class, and one of the speeches we had to do was an emotional issue.

Personal experience in the past has taught me that people are emotional about the death penalty; in fact, one of the members of one of the rival Golden Dawn lodges here in Denver refuses to sit in lodge with me because of my views on the death penalty (someday, I might go into more detail on my GD blog).

One of the things that I discovered while researching the subject is that it does not actually work as a deterrent. Most murders turn out to be unplanned, spur of the moment affairs.

So if that justification for the death penalty does not hold up, is there any reason to have a death penalty?

This question recently arose when a court overturned a death penalty for a child rapist, calling it cruel and unusual punishment. In the court’s opinion, only crimes resulting in death merit the death penalty. I bet the child’s mother and father beg to differ. I know some witches who would beg to differ (which is another reason why some people will not sit in lodge with me).

Death penalties give comfort to the victim’s relative. Yet, in the end, beyond the fact that it makes victims relatives feel better, is there a purpose to keeping the death penalty as an option. In the end, we have to say yes.

The government wants to keep it as a punishment for treason. Personally, I understand that.

But I would insist that certain terrorists, who want to become martyrs by being executed (with the added bonus of going directly to a happy afterlife), be excluded. Sorry, if you really want to die for your political cause, I vote that you become a lab animal for testing the latest longevity treatments.

Back to treason, there is more than open threats to the American people and the government that the death penalty should be reserved for.

Recently, a jury here in Colorado decided that there was a case that deserved the death penalty. It involved the killing of several witnesses to a crime. Unfortunately, the sentence’s purpose may be simply symbolic based on the research that I have done; people on death row are more likely to die of old age than anything else. But nevertheless, this is one of those times when I think that perhaps the death penalty is the proper punishment. I know that the victim’s parents think so, and an entire jury; I guess that none of them are suitable lodge members either.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Politics and friendship

One of the things that I am worried about lately is that my changing political views are going to start costing me friendships.

I always been strong in my political opinions, but I have always been able to see both sides of the problems that face this country. But lately, I noticed that I am leaning far more towards certain opinions than I used to.

I am not sure if it is because I am in college, and am absorbing the views of my professors and classmates, or if these changes in my outlook are just a natural growth of my own mind.

Either way, I am starting to notice that more and more I am starting to disagree with friends that I used to agree with.

For instance, I don't think that locking our borders and outlawing outsourcing is going to help our economy. I also do not believe that our, or any other country's, economy is a zero sum game. I think that we should be focused on the long term and not just quick fixes.

Unfortunately, I have some friends who lean towards the opposite. I did not realize how much my own politics had changed until I started to avoid talking politics with them. I know that I can not bring them around to my point of view, and I really don't want to bow down to their opinion either. And in the end, I think that my changing worldview might just be enough to destory the few remaining friendships that I have left.

I hope not, but I am not going to hold my breath either.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Selected definitions from the Zealot's Dictionary

Oil: Black gold. A substance made cheaply by nature from old dinosaurs and refined into a precious substance by the new dinosaurs running the oil companies.

Baggage check: The check that you write to the airlines to send your luggage to the Bahamas while you go to Cleveland.

Ethanol: A way to turn corn into gold.

Lottery: A way for the government to tax your hopes and dreams of getting lucky, winning big money, and telling your burger-flipping boss where to go.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Podcast Review: Common Sense with Dan Carlin

"Common Sense with Dan Carlin" is a political podcast that sooner or later you will disagree with, but that is one of the things that makes it so much fun to listen to. I first learned of Common Sense though a blurb that Carlin did on his another podcast, "Dan Carlin's Hardcore History." I liked his history podcast, so I thought I would give his political podcast a try. I am glad that I did.

For those who have yet to get involved in the world of podcasts, podcasts are audio, and occasionally video, shows that are periodically released by their creators. They can range from the absolute silly, like "Ask a Ninja," to academic and instructional (many college instructors are recording their lectures). Common Sense falls in between these two poles. Podcasts can be downloaded to your computer and listened to at home, or be transferred to mobile devices, such as IPods.

Dan Carlin is an ex-newsman, who has decided to go into podcasting. His political views do not fit neatly in any particular political box. There are times that he sounds like a conservative; other times, he sounds like a liberal. He is pro-gun, but anti-war. I am not sure what label to slap on him. Then again, I am not sure what label to slap on myself politically either. Read the rest of the Podcast Review: Common Sense with Dan Carlin, click here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Selected Definitions from the Zealot’s Dictionary

Superdelegate: An invention of the Democratic Party to soothe the hurt feelings of the non-nominated and to heal the wounds of party infighting; unfortunately, some hope to use them as leverage to bring back cigars and overthrow the results of the Democratic Party’s biggest popularity contest.

Divorce: A method of robbing the worst half to support the better half and their lawyers by dissolving a less-than-perfect marriage.

Vulcan: A stoic from another planet, frequent carriers of the disease of Nerdish Trekkus.

Same-Sex Marriage: A legal procedure that will allow homosexuals to be as miserable and cynical about love as heterosexuals; opposed to by some on religious grounds, the opponents saying that their god does not want sinners to suffer in the same manner as saints.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dan Carlin--politics and history

Recently, I have been listening to a lot of podcasts. This is mainly due to Toni having to do Spanish homework, and needing me to be relatively quiet (I am never perfectly quiet or still--it might or might not be ADHD); and partially due to the fact that I have a new IPod.

I have been exploring a lot, searching the podcast library for things of interest. Looking for the usual stuff--French and Hebrew podcasts (my languages of choice)--and things to entertain me. So I started looking at the political and history podcasts; it has never been said that my idea of entertainment is normal.

One of the podcasts that I stumbled across was Hardcore History, a podcast put together by Dan Carlin. One problem with history is that it can be boring, especially when it is talked about by professors. Carlin is not a teacher of history; he is an euthastic student of history. Because of that, he talks about the parts of history that fascinates him, rather than dry dusty dates.

And at the end of one of the Hardcore History podcasts, there was a mention of the other podcast that he does--Common Sense, a political podcast. I think that Carlin's ideas about politics and what really is going on to be interesting.

I know that some people will point to Carlin as proof that allowing people to make podcasts is like giving every lunatic in a tin hat their very own radio show, much like allowing people to blog is like allowing every nutjob to run their own newspaper. But I like Carlin--maybe that is because of the type of person that I am.

Why do I like Carlin? In one of his latest podcasts, he talks about how the whole issue of Obama and his minister is a guilt by association tale cobbled together on a slow newsday; it also helps those who are trying to slow Obama down. Carlin believes that it is a tin hat story; nothing really to worry about.

And in another podcast, he talks about what the founding fathers really meant the right to bear arms to be all about; I understood it. The founding fathers never meant the right to bear arms to be a separate amendment; it serves a greater purpose.I would go into greater detail, but that would rob you of the joy of listening to Dan Carlin yourself. So go hop over to the Itunes Store, or Dan Carlin's website, to download these great podcasts.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Zero Tolerance

As an example of zero tolerance and how far away it is from common sense, I present the case of the third grader who was suspended last week for using a permanent marker of his jacket, and then snuffing the jacket. Three days suspension for this major offense.

The school before this point had no policy of what type of markers the kids were allowed to bring to school. But snuffing markers, for those of us who failed to learn this in art class, is a gateway to heavier drugs.

(Much like fortune telling is a gateway to heavier crimes, like prostitution and drug use, or so the Denver police say).

What next? Locking magic markers in stores behind security glass, like they do spray paint? (Ok, completely different, but you get the idea.)