Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holy Crap! Here comes the Digital Nag. Um, I'm Opting Out Right Now

I was reading a list of Tech Trends for 2015 and this made me look for whatever settings I need to turn this crap off.
“You have an 8:30 a.m. meeting with your supervisor. Last time you met, your heart rate was high. Go to bed early tonight, don’t drink coffee before the meeting and leave home early—traffic will be heavy.” 

That’s how much smarter predictive personal assistants like Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana will begin to get, thanks to increased information coming from our bodies, cars, Web searches, calendars, GPS location and more. For some reason, Apple has yet to endow Siri with predictive powers. Perhaps that, too, will change in 2015.
Um, wow that sounds like a scary Big Brother style thing if I ever heard one. "Your heart rate has been elevated Dave and you are punching the steering wheel. I am shutting the car down and pulling it to the side of the road. I am flooding the compartment with sedative gas to make sure you sedated" said in a HAL voice. The junction where cyeberspace meets meatspace is a very scary place. That would be a major reason why you don't want to buy a smart watch or have a need to shut down any biometric data getting to the Internet.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Predictions: A Look Back

What really happened in blue


1. The Syrian war will grind on without the world taking much notice. Eventually there will be a cease-fire brokered by the Russians and the Saudis and the country will be virtually partitioned. In will take years before the UN actually gets around to an actual partitioning of the country.

Partially correct. The war has ground on with the world not taking too much notice. However ISIS as a new player in town have received all sorts of notice. The Syrian civil war seems to be sort of ignored by Russia and the Saudis for the most part. The Saudis do want to get rid of ISIS though.

2. The Sochi Olympics will overshadowed by fear and uncertainty. The Russian military presence coupled with the threat of terrorism will be a big story in the games and will cut into the enjoyment. There will be several terrorist attacks in Russia during the games but none at the actual Olympic village although it is feared.

Wrong. Sochi Olympics were sort of a success. No terrorists attacks because the Russians clamped down on security on the whole country. Also there wasn't really a terrorist threat as far as I remember.

3. Russia will slowly start to destabilize as cheap oil from the US brings oil prices down. More and more pressure will be put on Putin from reformers and terrorists and his government will waver. He holds on to power but has to put some reforms into place to solidify himself.

Deferred to next year. He hasn't put any reforms in place yet but cheap oil might slowly be unmaking him. The Ruble is damaged and they have to charge 17% on their debt in order to make it attractive. If oil stays cheap for months this one might happen.

4. The US will quietly leave Afghanistan and the Taliban will make peace with the Afghan government. This war will slowly leave the consciousness of the US government and a tentative peace will come over the area.

Mostly correct. US is leaving Afghanistan for the most part with little ceremony. The longest war is US history is over and its up to the Afghans to keep the peace. However, the Taliban isn't making any peace treaties and might be the bitter-enders everyone fears.

5. The World Cup in Brazil will be a huge success and will usher the country onto the world stage. Much of what people see are the large gulfs between the rich and the poor and see how bad poor Brazilians live. It will bring in much needed reforms that will help the average Brazilian for decades.

Partially correct. The World Cup was huge and people did see how bad some Brazilians live. However, there were only a few demonstrations and nothing has really changed for the poor in Brazil.

6. The Democrats will retain the Senate by a slim 2 vote margin. The GOP will again control the House. There is a new spirit of bipartisanship as various GOP White House hopefuls hope to get the centrist vote. The "Conservative Industrial Complex" of the Heritage Action, Freedom Works, Club for Growth, Rush Limbaugh etc. power will be diminished by a large margin as men like Paul Ryan and Chris Christie try to jockey for the center in time for the next election. The GOP makes fewer gaffs and does not shut down the government and welcomes more women and minorities into their ranks.

Partially correct. The Dems lost and the Senate belongs to the GOP by a landslide. The GOP not only won the House they did so with the biggest majority since the Herbert Hoover was in office. There has been a little bipartisanship with the last continuing budget resolution that was past. The CIC is still potent but their power seems to have diminished with the Tea Parties power at a low ebb. The GOP made nearly no gaffs and went 1 and 1 on government shutdown attempts. They did welcome a few women (Joni Ernst, Elise Stefanik) and minorities (Mia Love) this past election cycle.


1. Tapering will be a non-event with the FED slowly withdrawing the bond buying and the market hardly reacting. Yellen will be confirmed without issue and kind of go about her business without creating much uproar. The economy will grow strongly at 3% or higher and prosperity will replace quite a bit of the dark clouds of past years. Housing prices will rise and the stock market will stay near record high levels for much of the year.

Totally Correct. Tapering was a whimper and not a bang. Yellen was confirmed quite easily and there really hasn't been much uproar in her tenure so far. The GDP grew after a bad 1st quarter due to the blizzard with a 5% number in the 4th quarter. Housing prices are higher and the stock market was near a record high for most of the year.

2. Energy Independence will finally be realized in many parts of the US. Gas prices will start to come down and the US will decouple from much of the world oil market. The Oil Majors will have record profits and the Energy Sector will lead the rest of the market.

Partially correct. We are slowly moving toward energy independence. Gas prices are coming down and oil prices are a multi-year lows. However, the energy sector was the worst performing of all sectors thanks to the low oil prices.

3. There will be a true split between old tech (HP, Cisco, IBM, Dell) and new tech (Samsung, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter) and their stock prices will tell the tale. The personal computer will hang on and grow modestly as companies just can't shake the form factor. The consumer side will be a mess with double digit losses in growth from year to year. Microsoft will again flat-line as the Xbox One will pretty much carry the company for 2014.

Partially correct. There was a split between some old tech (IBM, Dell is private now, HP is floundering) but Samsung is floundering, Google stock is lower, but Facebook and Twitter did well this year. Personal Computers still seem entrenched in business and the rapid decline has stabilized. The consumer side however is growing great guns with Apple selling piles of stuff. Also Microsoft has taken off and is firing on all cylinders.

4. The Phablet will be very popular in 2014 with more people carrying around an oversized phone instead of a tablet and a phone. Samsung will again lead the pack with Apple failing to bring about a similar Phablet form-factor in 2014.

Wrong. I'm sure someone is buying Phablets but they don't seem to reside in the US. I really haven't seen many people carrying them for the most part.

5. Facebook will finally seem long in the tooth and will start to loose much of its cache to Twitter and other social media. They will go on a spate of acquisitions to stay relevant and swallow other social media sites like it did Instagram.

Partially correct. Facebook seems to be fairly stable with more main stream use then before. It now seems to be the province of your grandmother and aunt and not of your son or daughter though. The young have moved to Twitter and Snapchat and other forms of social media. Facebook did buy a few of companies though for outrageous valuation (WhatsApp for $19 billion!) and Oculus VR ($2 billion?)

6. Here are the end of 2014 numbers:

Prediction                    Actual
Dow: 17100                 17970
NASDAQ: 4210            4774
S&P 500: 1941              2080  
Eur/Dollar: 1.15              1.21 (close)
10 Year Bond: 3.10%      2.18 (big miss)
Gold: $1240 an ounce   $1200 (close)
Oil: $72 a barrel             $53.89 (big miss)

Monday, December 29, 2014

David Tepper Says 8 to 10% upside in the Market: Time to Buy

We do have a US economy that is growing at 5% and stimulus happening in Japan. Hopefully, we can get some wage growth and he will look like a prophet.
"I think we'll have a good year," he said in a phone conversation on Monday, referring to 2015. Fair value, he said is a range, not a specific number and with the S&P having a price-earnings ratio of 16, stocks could rise to the upper band of the range, about 18. Also, central bank easing plays a key role in fueling stocks' rise. 

"You have people responding to deflation all over the place. First thing that goes up when people try to fight deflation is asset prices," Tepper said.
I guess only the FED could screw things up by raising rates too soon.

Credit Where Credit is Due: Obama is About to Hit a Home Run on Trade Deals

I would be willing to give him a hearty round of applause because these trade deals are going to be big for America.

Negotiations for an ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal involving a dozen countries from Asia and the Americas are quietly nearing the finishing line. Another historic agreement, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union, also shows signs of becoming a reality.
It might be one of the only things that will strait up help the middle class as well.
As such, it is estimated that TTIP will boost U.S. household incomes by $865 annually and create 750,000 new U.S. jobs, while TPP would generate about $1,230 per household by 2025–a great boost without a dime of deficit spending, and a strong bonus on top of the $10,000 annual income gains American households have already scored due to post-war trade opening
New jobs and hiring is just what this country needs. One thing that will be great is more European and Japanese goods appearing in our stores. If we can get German and Belgian chocolate and the McShrimp from Japanese McDonalds I will be a happy person indeed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How to Make $1.5 Million? Let the Social Security Administration Invest in the Stock Market

I wish they would just put the amount we all pay into Social Security into a special fund that is run by Blackrock or something. They get huge fees and the fiduciary responsibility to all Americans to grow their portfolios. This growth is just insane.

He's retiring at the end of this year, and he's dependent on his portfolio for most all of his income. Given his present portfolio valuation, a longer-than-normal life expectancy of 90, and the portfolio earning only a 1% real rate of return during retirement, he could take out $43,000 next year and increase his yearly benefit by inflation. That's 135% more than the $18,250 Social Security benefit!

If he chose to withdraw only Social Security's scheduled benefits, his portfolio at age 90 would be worth just about $1.5 million. Market-base financing gives Ernie options. Risky scheme? You decide.
Yup, this theoretical person just became a millionaire at retirement just by taking the money he paid into Social Security all his life and had Blackrock,Warren Buffet, or someone like that invest it for him. This doesn't even count his 401K or IRA or anything. This is just his Social Security money growing over his entire lifetime. Makes you want to opt out of Social Security and convert it into an IRA or something.

I think Rush is Out of His Mind: Idris Elba Would Make a Great James Bond

I think Limbaugh needs to start thinking outside of the box because I think Idris Elba would make a great James Bond.
After emails were leaked between Sony execs eyeing Idris Elba for the film franchise, Rush Limbaugh offered his two (offensive) cents on the matter.
During his news program, the controversial commentator expressed his concern over the Avengers: Age of Ultron star stepping into the Bond role.
"James Bond is a total concept put together by Ian Fleming. He was white and Scottish. Period. That is who James Bond is," Limbaugh said.
"But now [they are] suggesting that the next James Bond should be Idris Elba, a black Briton, rather than a white from Scotland. But that's not who James Bond is."
James Bond is an idea more than an actual man at this point. In fact Limbaugh again gets it wrong because the James Bond character was half-Scottish and half-Swiss. Bond just needs to be good looking, suave, and able to fight his way out of any situation. Elba could pull that off quite easily.

Plus you get away from the thug factor that makes me not want to watch the Daniel Craig version of James Bond. I just never seen James Bond as some SAS remorseless killer type of person. Craig always seems to have those dead eyes and I'm just waiting until they change him out for someone else. In any case Elba would make a great Bond and I would be back in the theaters for sure to see him mix it up. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Terrible Pessimism about this Country

I think something needs to be done about this state of affairs and it should be done soon.
What I see in almost all walks of life is a sense of pessimism about the country.  The pie is contracting. People work much harder to stay where they are, the ability to guarantee the same life for your children is declining, and people feel they can’t afford to be as generous about anything. You have to be warier of new people, resentful of people around you, you can’t expand the benefits available to others without hurting your own chances and those of your children.
This attitude is what is wrong with America today. Everyone is so pessimistic after the Great Recession of 2008. Part of that is that Obama and the GOP really don't seem to be doing anything for the common person anymore. Obama is trying to help people making minimum wage and the GOP is seen as helping the 1%. Both of those groups is like less than 20% of the total population.

Everything seems like a 0-sum game where if someone else wins you are losing. That really isn't the truth though. We can expand the earned income tax credit quite easily and that would put thousands of dollars in each persons pocket. The GDP gains would offset the revenue loss that would come from that tax gain. There needs to be more out of Washington than increase the minimum wage and cut taxes on the wealthy. Maybe the GOP Congress with Ryan doing tax reform will do it but I have to doubt it for the most part. I think the entire 0-sum idea needs to be destroyed for the most part because it is destroying the good things in America.

"Nut-rage" Korean Air Exec Faces Criminal Charges

Wow this escalated quickly.

Seoul Western Prosecutors' Office said Wednesday that Cho Hyun-ah faces charges including inflight violence and changing a flight route. The current airline executive, a 57-year-old man surnamed Yeo, faces charges of pressuring airline employees to cover up the incident, according to an official at the prosecutors' office who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak about the matter.
Sometimes it is better to let the nuts stay in the bag and then put out a memo after you land. She would have kept her job and everything would have been fine. Instead she got crazy and messed things up for herself.

Sony Chooses Freedom: Going to Air "The Interview" After all

Well it seems that Sony grew some balls (or maybe the White House assured them its okay) and are going to show "The Interview."

Sony Pictures reversed course Tuesday and said it would release “The Interview” on Christmas Day, though only a small number of theaters signed on to show the controversial farce amid fears of reprisals from a group of hackers and frustration with the studio’s quick-changing distribution strategy.
They should have just released it to begin with and see what happens after that. If North Korean sappers decide to attack theaters then that is an act of war and we bomb them into the stone age. In any case it seems that we are finally getting a little backbone from somewhere or another.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It Is Official North Korea Now Owns Hollywood: Paramount Cancels Showing of Kim-Jong-Il Mocking "Team America: World Police"

I wonder what kind of films the new head of Hollywood Kim-Jong-Un is planning for blockbuster season? Maybe something with Dennis Rodman and Jennifer Lawrence called "Ew! 2: The Sickening"

It only took a few veiled threats (did people really think North Korean sapper teams are going to be bombing theaters) and they have shut down freedom of expression for an entire industry.

Forget those plans by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and other theaters to run Team America: World Police in place of The Interview. The Austin-based chain says that Paramount has now decided not to offer South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 satire that focuses on Kim Jong-il, the late father of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hollywood Proves to be Spineless Neville Chamberlain's: Pulls "The Interview" because of Hacker Threats

Well it seems the hackers now run Hollywood.
The drama surrounding the hack attack on Sony (which federal sources are now linking to North Korea) to derail the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy The Interview came to an unexpected climax today when Sony announced that it would no longer release the movie on Christmas Day. And many of the actors’ Hollywood colleagues are perplexed and/or downright furious with the studio’s decision, which follows threats of violence against theaters screening the film and the decision by five major movie chains not to run it.
I guess that means North Korea is off limits when it comes to movie making. I'm sure other rogue nations are now changing their cash flow from nuclear weapons (which are so 70s anyway) to funding hacking groups. These nations can do more with some email releases and some veiled threats then they ever hoped to do with a few nukes. I think the Cyberwar has begun and Hollywood has just did a Neville Chamberlain. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Idiot Ted Cruz Commits Own Goal: The Dems Rushed Through Nominees Because of His Boneheaded Move

This guy shouldn't run for dog catcher let alone President in 2016.

They criticized the way the Texas senator caused the Senate to be in session late Friday night and through Saturday because he refused to drop procedural objections to passage of a $1.1 trillion bill to keep the government running beyond midnight Saturday.

Cruz's actions also inadvertently gave Democratic leaders an opportunity to advance nearly two dozen of Obama's nominees, including Sarah Saldana, to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
These nominees probably couldn't get through in 2015 because of GOP control and Obama would have to name someone else. Instead of going home for the weekend Idiot Cruz made them stay because of his objections to the spending bill. So they stayed and voted through their people in response. I think the GOP should censure him and boot him out of certain committees for this infraction.

Walking Dead Knocks off Sundy Night Football in Ratings War: Should the NFL be worried?

It seems some people surviving the zombie apocalypse is more popular than ever.
It turns out the NFL, sports' modern-day television ratings king, is not unbeatable.

During the fall, the super popular AMC drama The Walking Dead scored higher ratings in the all-important 18-to-49-year-old demographic in five out of eight weeks while going against NBC's Sunday Night Football.
I wonder if the NFL should be worried or not. They are still the champion of sports in terms of money and ratings but a TV drama beat them in the important demographics for the first time in decades. I have read that the NFL is becoming less popular to Millennials. This demographic will keep increasing their earning power going forward and those are the ones that Walking Dead just vultured away from the NFL.

I mean the for me the NFL is pretty much the 49ers and the players on my fantasy team. If neither of them are involved I would rather watch college football instead. In fact I would easily switch over to Walking Dead from Sunday Night Football if the game is boring or even if it is close but I have no fantasy players on either team. If I didn't play fantasy or had a team I would probably rarely watch NFL games.  

It turns out the NFL, sports' modern-day television ratings king, is not unbeatable.
During the fall, the super popular AMC drama The Walking Dead scored higher ratings in the all-important 18-to-49-year-old demographic in five out of eight weeks while going against NBC's Sunday Night Football.
- See more at:
It turns out the NFL, sports' modern-day television ratings king, is not unbeatable.
During the fall, the super popular AMC drama The Walking Dead scored higher ratings in the all-important 18-to-49-year-old demographic in five out of eight weeks while going against NBC's Sunday Night Football.
- See more at:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It Seems that Americans are No Longer Supporting Gun Control: African Americans Lead the Turn Around

It seems that all the gun-grabbing by former-mayor Bloomberg and others is having the opposite effect on the majority of Americans.
By a margin of 52 percent to 46 percent, Americans say protecting the rights of gun owners is more important than gun control, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday. It is the first time Pew found more support for gun ownership than gun control in more than two decades of surveys on the issue.
I think the world is seems more dangerous (it really isn't though) than ever with riots, ISIS, ebola, police shootings etc putting Americans on edge. The best way to feel like you are protecting yourself and your family is to arm thyself in case something bad happens. This part was very interesting:
Among African-Americans, Pew found a dramatic shift in opinion. A majority of blacks, 54 percent, now say gun ownership does more to protect people than to endanger personal safety. Two years ago, only 29 percent of black Americans held that view.
I mean a young black male now has to worry that a cop can strait-up choke you to death on camera and is found innocent by a grand jury. The system now seems to be stacked against many people so concealed carry might be one way of making a law-abiding black male feel safe. The idea that only the criminals and the cops are armed no longer works anymore.  

Who is Afraid of Ted Cruz?: No One it Seems

At last the GOP is ignoring Ted Cruz and his stupidity.

But something extraordinary happened in response to Cruz’s hyperventilation: absolutely nothing. The House went ahead with its show vote last week, and all indications are that a bill funding Obama’s immigration policy will sail through the House with bipartisan support on Thursday and then face similarly smooth Senate passage. House Speaker John Boehner boasted on Wednesday that he was “proud” that the House acted “without a threat of a government shutdown.”
He threw his bombs and the GOP leadership shrugged their shoulders. That is how it should be after the GOP establishment has righted the ship and has power like they haven't had in decades. In fact his Presidential run will fizzle because Hillary would smash his face. Hopefully, Ted Cruz will shrink away and be some million dollar a year lawyer/lobbyist and we don't have to hear about him any more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Movie Review: Interstellar: Watch it on Netflix

I saw this movie a few weeks ago and was kind of disappointed. Matthew McConaughey chewed scenery like a champ and shows that he is one of the better actors of his generation. But as a Sci-fi movie it fell flat as far as I am concerned.

First of all, the movie was very long but it did not drag like some recent movies have. It was paced well with scenes of action and drama served up at a pretty decent rhythm. It did not drag on and on forever like Amazing Spider-man 2 did and my attention span did not waver as much as it could have.

The acting was pretty top-notch for the most part. McConaughey did his usual great work and Anne Hathaway did a pretty good job and was somewhat believable as s scientist and astronaut. Jessica Chastain had a few moments of pathos but seemed underutilized a bit. The rest of the cast did not detract from the drama and did not phone it in at all.

What I did have problems with was the science of the Sci-fi. They did a few very interesting things like had them go close to a black hole which warps time. So they had a great scene were McConaughey and Hathaway escape death on this water planet and return to the mother-ship and 30 years had past while they only spent like a few hours on the planet. So the guy on the ship pretty much was alone for 30 years waiting for them to come back. I had the fill in the blanks here but I imagined how lonely it would have been waiting day-after-day and not known if they were alive or dead on the planet. That part was pretty well done and I enjoyed it being in the film.

However, all of the other plot holes could fill a pretty sizable tome so I'll just touch on a few. First, if there is a blight that is killing all vegetables on the planet so instead of figuring out new ways of feeding people (lab grown beef and pork, special nutrient rich gel, etc.) they make farmers the most important job on earth and downplay science. In fact science is so bad people think the moon landing was faked so that the US can beat the Soviets in the Space Race. Of course farmers still use the exact same techniques they have always used with no technology upgrades at all. You would figure the entire world would do everything they could to either stop the blight or figure out alternative food sources but they don't. Instead they just send a bunch of secret astronauts to look for a planet to colonize.

For some reason they send only a handful of astronauts out there for some reason. You would figure they would send out a team to each of the viable planets and have that embryo bomb on each of the probes. That way you have redundancy and increase the chances of saving the human race. Instead they place everything on only 7 people and a handful of weird robots and hope for the best. You would figure that the entire world economy would revolve around next gen foodstuffs that do not have to be grown in the ground and spaceships for colonization and saving the human race. Instead we have farmers with 20th century tech (but drones with fusion power) and a rogue NASA program trying to save humanity. That part was hard to fathom for me.

Finally all the black hole stuff made me have to turn off my brain after a while. The part with the water planet with the black hole's effects was cool even though it would probably be torn apart by gravitational forces or destroyed by those jets that black holes sometimes vent. Everything else about sling-shotting the black hole and falling into it and such made me have to just say "watch the movie and don't think about it." I had to actively suspend my disbelief and hold it through the entire last act of the movie. It was written in a way that you have to not know anything about astronomy and black holes so you can enjoy the action. In any case the movie was a fun romp and McConaughey chewing scenery and interacting with his family was worth watching because I am a big fan of his. The Sc-fi parts needs a very healthy dose of belief-suspension in order to take without going "wait their ship would be destroyed in tenths of a second" if they got close enough to that black hole. 

Movie Review: Horrible Bosses 2: Go See It

I saw this movie last week and I enjoyed it as much as the first one. It had the same ad-libbed feel of the first one where Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day all play off of one another with great chemistry. Bateman plays the strait-man but he has quite a bit more funny lines and situations in this one. We also have Chris Pine added to the cast and he has some pretty decent comedy timing.

The plot of this one is that the three main characters "bet on themselves" and start their own company making Bathroom Buddies which is a weird shower attachment thing. There is a great set-piece of Sudeikis and Day doing a silhouetted BJ scene in a simulated shower on a Live with Kelly and Strahan-type a morning show. That part brought the house down and had me chuckling even after the movie was over.

The rest of the plot is pretty much about the three main characters trying to commit crimes and screwing up over and over. You pull for them like you do in the first movie because they actually have pretty good hearts. Jamie Foxx has an expanded role in this one as Motherfucker Jones and showed good timing and was funny throughout. Jennifer Aniston again played the insane sex-maniac from the first one and has some great scenes with all three in a hotel room that was fun as well.

All in all it was as good as the first one and left my sides hurting after the movie was over. The chemistry between the actors was pitch-perfect and I would not mind coming back for a 3rd helping. In some ways this franchise was better than the Hangover because the characters seem much more likeable and earnest than the characters in that franchise. They really seem like regular guys who are in way over their head trying to commit crimes that they really should not be committing. Also stay tuned at the end for a pretty funny gag-reel that I hope caries over to a Horrible Bosses 3.

GOP Countered the "War on Women" with All-Female Consulting Firm called Burning Glass Consulting

It seems that Romney and his "Binders full of women" has morphed into a force for the GOP to close the gender gap.

As a party, Burning Glass told Republicans, they needed to recruit better candidates, shut down GOP voices that made comments that would be offensive to women voters, and prepare campaigns for the Democrats to replay their “war on women” message in 2014 on a national scale.

“One of the first things that we felt was important was avoiding another Todd Akin or Richard Murdock moment, which was so difficult to deal with in 2012,” Gage said. “The whole candidate-recruitment process, making sure that one candidate was not going to put our whole party in a negative light, was something we felt strongly about.”
If the GOP can only lose women by 4 points like they did in this past election cycle I think they might have a decent chance of winning the Presidency. I just don't see that many Blacks and Hispanics rushing out to vote for Hillary like they did for Obama. All the GOP needs to do is field a decent candidate (easier said than done) and they have good chance. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Korean Air Flight Diverted Due to Nuts

This has to be a prime example of corporate over-reach if I have ever seen one.

According to AFP, the nutroversy occurred as the plane was taxiing toward the runaway. The VP, Cho Hyun Ah (who also goes by Heather Cho), reportedly got upset because she was served pre-flight macadamia nuts without being asked. Then she really got upset when the nuts were served in a packet instead of a bowl. Cho blamed the chief flight attendant for the grave lapse in nut-serving procedure and had the person booted off the plane.
So they turned the plane around and had it land so she could throw the chief flight attendant off of the plane. That means 250 people were delayed so that the nuts on Korean Air were served correctly. If I were on that flight I would have gone crazy. Hell, I would have opened the stupid packets myself and put them in the bowl so I did not have to go back to the terminal. In any case Cho Hyun Ah is the CEOs daughter so she won't be fired or disciplined at all. I guess people will fly JAL to Korea now so they don't have any nut-related delays going forward.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Political Payback: Obama Threatens Veto Before a Tax Cut Bill Could Even be Written to Embarass Reid

Well, it seems that Obama really doesn't like Harry Reid very much.

Reid had been negotiating with Republicans — and was close to reaching agreement with them — to keep the tax breaks in place at least in the near term. The White House’s unusual move, announcing the threat of a veto before legislation had even been introduced,  appeared to many observers to be retribution for the brazen defiance of Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone, who openly criticized the administration after the Democratic Party’s crushing losses in the midterm elections.
So this is just the White House lashing out at Reid for stating the obvious. I'm sure it is not just the GOP that cannot wait until 2016.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

GOP Looking to Punt until Next Year on Challenging Obama on Immigration: Thank God!

It looks like the grown-ups are finally running the GOP for a change.

"This is a serious breach of our Constitution. It's a serious threat to our system of government," Speaker John Boehner told reporters after the conference-wide meeting in the Capitol, referring to Obama's decision to circumvent Congress and shield as many as five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Then he added a key acknowledgment: "Frankly, we have limited options and limited abilities to deal with it directly."
Yeah pretty much. Shutting down the government and then it happens anyway was tried and failed on Obamacare last year. Doing it again on immigration would be the very definition of crazy. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

Also one of the problems is that there really isn't anything the Congress can do other than sit down and write their own bipartisan immigration reform bill and have Obama sign it or veto it. If enough Democrats can get peeled off the Senate might even overturn the veto. In any case sometimes punting is the best play.

Monday, December 01, 2014

A Good Way to Strengthen the Middle Class: Raise the Overtime Threshold

This idea will seriously close that income inequality gap and will probably help the economy quite well.

So let me be specific. To get the country back to the same equitable standards we had in 1975, the Department of Labor would simply have to raise the overtime threshold to $69,000. In other words, if you earn $69,000 or less, the law would require that you be paid overtime when you worked more than 40 hours a week. That’s 10.4 million middle-class Americans with more money in their pockets or more time to spend with friends and family. And if corporate America didn’t want to pay you time and a half, it would need to hire hundreds of thousands of additional workers to pick up the slack—slashing the unemployment rate and forcing up wages.

Unpaid overtime is rampant in corporate America from what I hear. It might make people happier to have the corporate culture change to one of looking out for your employees. If a company wants to make more money they have to hire more people instead of making the people there do more for no pay. Maybe the idea of compassionate capitalism needs to take root.

Social Media Strikes Again: GOP Staffer Resigns After Cyber-Bullying the Obama kids

She was an idiot for attacking the behavior of teenaged girls in the first place.

Elizabeth Lauten, the communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), resigned Monday following a Facebook post that criticized Malia and Sasha Obama's appearance at the annual White House turkey pardon ceremony, according to NBC News. 

According to screenshots posted by Gawker on Saturday, Lauten wrote to the first daughters, asking them to "try showing a little class"
My advice is to stop looking at the Obama kids skirt length and noting how many times they roll their eyes and cut my taxes already. I don't care about Mitt Romneys taxes you can cut them or leave them the same. I just want the GOP to stop with the social conservatism and get with the fiscal conservatism.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Let the Run for the Border Begin: You have until Jan. 1, 2014 to get to the US to Avoid Prosecution

Well it looks like it is official Obama has made 5 million people de-facto American citizens by a stroke of his pen.

Obama will also press ahead with changes to the way the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforces deportations, aides said.

Currently, an undocumented immigration arrested for a broken taillight would be processed by local police, who would alert ICE. ICE would launch deportation proceedings. Under the new system, ICE would only move to expel individuals who fell into certain categories: if they had been convicted of a serious offense, for example, or had ties to extremist groups, or if they crossed the border after Jan. 1, 2014.

“We’re going to focus on deporting felons, not families,” one official said at the briefing.
This will probably now backfire because this is a green-light for people to stream across the border as fast as they can. That cut off date is quick but if they can get here by then they don't have to fear being deported by ICE for years, if ever. We might see a million people at the border just in time for Christmas. 

Whoops! Obamacare Overcounted Sign-ups

Well at least they are finally admitting it.

Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said that the overcount involved about 400,000 people.
Those consumers have separate dental coverage in addition to a medical plan, and were double-counted by mistake, said Albright. They had purchased both the medical and dental plans through and state insurance markets created under the law.
It makes you wonder how much more double-counting and statistical tricks are in the number of sign-ups as well. I guess we are too "stupid" catch these sorts of errors.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Paul Ryan to Chair Tax Writing Committee: Now Cut My Taxes!

This is very good news for the most part.

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan has been tapped by Republican leaders to chair the tax-writing Committee on Ways and Means in the U.S. House of Representatives during the next congressional session.

Ryan, the outgoing head of the House budget panel and Ways and Means member since 2000, was recommended by the Republican Steering Committee on Tuesday for the post.

He knows his fiscal Ps and Qs so here is my wishlist for Paul Ryan and his tax committee:

1. Expand the earned income tax credit beyond $496 for people without kids. That would help quite a few millennials that have not formed families yet. That would be a massive stimulus by itself.

2. Cut corporate taxes to an average of the top 10 Industrialized countries. Then close as many industry specific loopholes and get rid of as many subsidies as you can. Companies should not be able to game the system to pay 0% tax like GE does. 

3. Allow companies to repatriate their income at some much lower rate. Maybe 15% or something. I want our multinationals to be able to move their cash from overseas and spend in in the US. This would get rid of inversions right there.

4. Remove capital gains taxes and taxes on interest for people making less than $150,000. The middle class should be able to invest in the stock market or buy bonds without Uncle Sam demanding his cut. I did all the research and took all the risk. The company I bought stock in has already paid their taxes. Why should I have to double pay this tax. This would also end the stupid tax pruning that people have to do in order to reduce their taxes.

5. Create a rental deduction. This would not be as high as a home owners interest and tax deduction but it should be higher than $0. Many younger people in America rent so this would go a long way toward helping them and encourage them to get out of their parents basements.

6. Allow people to refinance their student debt. 4.66% to 7.21% is outrageous in an era of 0% interest. Make this the prime rate plus a certain amount of basis points and that is it. The government should not be making money from student loans but they shouldn't be forgiven either.

The Far Right Pushes for Yet Another Government Shutdown

I just don't understand the thinking of the far right.

Rush Limbaugh is now telling his audience the federal government “damn well needs to be shut down” because President Obama intends to take executive actions on immigration policy. Erick Erickson is thinking along the same lines, pushing for a shutdown in a blog post, and reminding his Republican allies that their party has never actually faced adverse consequences from their previous shutdowns, so they have no incentive to back off now.
 The shutdown was a massive waste of time and this one will be too. Obama can take executive action on immigration policy no matter what the Congress does. The last time they shut down the government they wanted to get rid of Obamacare. That didn't happen and there was no end game in sight. So the GOP had to slink away and waste everyone's time and the market dropped. This is just a repeat of that sort of thinking.

The GOP shuts down the government against the wishes of their leadership and then Obama goes ahead and gives out amnesty anyway. Then what does the GOP do? Stamp their feet and jump up and down until Obama changes his mind? Cut off money to border security? It doesn't make any sense. 

What Rush and his cronies need to understand is that the best way to do immigration reform is to put a decent bipartisan immigration bill on Obama's desk and have him veto it. Then when Obama does his executive order he actually looks like an "imperial president" shunning the wishes of the Congress.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Democrat Finally Admits that the Middle Class Doesn't Care about Increasing the Minimum Wage

It is nice to see a Dem strategist understand that raising the minimum wage has nothing to do with helping the middle class.

Democrats like to talk about a “populist” agenda that rails against the wealthy and supports the middle class. This year, the centerpiece of that agenda was raising the minimum wage. But tapping their anger against the 1 percent doesn’t engender hope or help middle-class Americans get ahead. While increasing the minimum wage is extremely popular — and we should raise it — I doubt many middle-class workers aspire to a minimum-wage job. We need an economic growth and upward-mobility agenda that offers middle-class families hope that their future will be better than the recent past.
Yeah taxing the rich more and spending it on the poor does not help the middle class for the most part. Middle class workers do not want a minimum-wage job at that is the bottom line. This guy, Al From, also talks about expanding the earned income tax credit which I would like. That move alone would put many thousands in the pockets of the middle class. Adjust that tax credit to inflation and it would be a nice little chunk of change for the economy every April.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why the Dems Keep Losing the Gun Control Debate: Americans Think an Armed Home is Safer

I think this is common sense but the war on terror has changed the minds of many Americans.

Gallup recently conducted a survey on guns, and what Americans think of them. The results of the poll showed that shockingly, 63% of Americans think having a gun in the home makes the home safer. On the other side of the coin, only 30% of Americans say they feel guns make homes more dangerous, and around 6% say “it depends.”
That 30% are probably liberals that have not been around guns very much and are just reading the hype. If you get over the fear factor of owning a gun it does become a tool of protection and not some scary thing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Keystone XL Pipeline Might Get Approved to Save Mary Landrieu's Job

I guess that is a good a reason as any to generate some jobs and get things moving again.

Long-stalled legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline got new life on Wednesday after Senate Democrats suddenly abandoned efforts to block the measure in hopes of helping endangered Sen. Mary Landrieu keep her seat in energy-rich Louisiana.

Republicans responded swiftly to Landrieu's maneuvering, scheduling a vote in the House on Thursday on an identical bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu's Republican rival in a Dec. 6 runoff.
I guess it will hit Obama's desk soon and we will see if he chooses environmentalists over his own party or not. My money is on an under bus treatment given to the green lobby. I mean they didn't help the Dems hold the Senate so they aren't worth it anymore. Jobs (especially Senator Landrieu's) trump ideology in big party politics.

It Seems Piketty Got it Wrong: They Forgot to Include Government Freebies in their Calculations

Hmm it seems that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor hasn't yawned as far as these academics think.

If that dark picture doesn’t sound like the country you lived in, that’s because it isn’t. The Piketty-Saez study looked only at pretax cash market income. It did not take into account taxes. It left out noncash compensation such as employer-provided health insurance and pension contributions. It left out Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and more than 100 other means-tested government programs. Realized capital gains were included, but not the first $500,000 from the sale of one’s home, which is tax-exempt. IRAs and 401(k)s were counted only when the money is taken out in retirement. Finally, the Piketty-Saez data are based on individual tax returns, which ignore, for any given household, the presence of multiple earners.

And now, thanks to a new study in the Southern Economic Journal, we know what the picture looks like when the missing data are filled in. Economists Philip Armour and Richard V. Burkhauser of Cornell University and Jeff Larrimore of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation expanded the Piketty-Saez income measure using census data to account for all public and private in-kind benefits, taxes, Social Security payments and household size.

The result is dramatic. The bottom quintile of Americans experienced a 31% increase in income from 1979 to 2007 instead of a 33% decline that is found using a Piketty-Saez market-income measure alone. The income of the second quintile, often referred to as the working class, rose by 32%, not 0.7%. The income of the middle quintile, America’s middle class, increased by 37%, not 2.2%.

What is interesting is that the things the left out are the cornerstones of middle class living. Leaving out taxes which many Americans get back in the form of a sizable check every April 15th is an big miss in their calculations. Also the sale of a house is usually a massive transfer of wealth for many Americans who didn't turn their houses into a piggy bank. Some prudent families bought a house at reasonable rates 20 years ago and end up selling them for 10x or more gain. They kept building their home equity year after year and paid their mortgages off and suddenly they are sitting on $500K tax free. As housing recovers this kind of thing might happen again 20 years from now.

Ben Carson Might Run for President? Fox News Dumps him from Their Lineup in Anticipation

Hmm, it looks like the good doctor is going to make a run at the White House.

The scrutiny was probably inevitable after Fox dropped Carson as a contributor on Friday. The trigger there was the Baltimore physician’s plan to run an hourlong infomercial on local stations as a prelude to a possible presidential run.

I addressed the development on Sunday’s “Media Buzz”: “This was a smart move by Fox. Because a guy who is more or less running for president shouldn't be on a network payroll. Which means Fox also faces a decision about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who is openly weighing a White House run as well.”

Yeah Huckabee will get his ass whooped by Carson if they both chose to run. I mean Carson is a neuro-surgeon and can diagnose Putin as a madman and maybe provide a prescription to take care of that sort of thing. Also an actual doctor might have quite a bit of gravitas when it comes to Health Care spending and medicare reimbursements and other topics. It would be nice to have a super-smart President as well. I was told Obama was smart but the jury is still out.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Paper Suggests Conservatives don't Like Climate Science because it Suggests Policies They Don't Like: Um Yeah Pretty Much

I think many Conservatives would be okay with some of what Climate Science has to say about Global Warming if it didn't include anti-growth measures in it.

So-called "solution aversion" colors conservatives' thinking about the science itself, the research found.
The researchers say they tested the theory using four different experiments.

In one experiment, two different groups of subjects across the political spectrum were given articles to read, one which talked about a government regulatory policy solution to climate change while another discussed a free market solution.
While Democrats in both groups viewed the science of climate change equally regardless of which article they read, the percentage of Republicans who believed the climate change was caused by humans was much lower among those who read about the regulatory solution. It isn't the science that is flawed (for the most part) but what the science will lead to.

I think the Conservatives viewed climate science remedies as yet another way for the government to control your life. I mean an anti-climate change measure can pretty much be used for any sort of draconian control you can think of. I mean the UN wants to extort billions from rich countries to give to poor countries to "combat climate change." I'm sure the poor countries will use that money wisely and every dollar will be accounted for by independent auditors. Yeah right.

Idiot Ted Cruz Calls Net Neutrality Obamacare for the Internet

I guess we might get some bad legislation from the know-nothing wing of the GOP.

This is an insanely cynical tactic that should worry all citizens regardless of political stripe, and it's coming from the guys at the top; Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a powerful member of the GOP in the Senate and a potential presidential candidate for 2016. Republicans just took over Congress and hold the keys to policymaking for at least the next two years. If the best they can continue to come up with is repeating "Obama is bad!" the internet is in serious trouble.

The only people that want to kill Net Neutrality are the ISPs who cannot wait to charge people depending on what they use the Internet for. So in other words if you are a gamer you will get a Gamer Fee for accessing "gamer packets" tacked onto your bill. Or if you watched lots of Netflix you will get a "Netflix streaming fee" added to your bill. That is strait-up anti-competitive and screws consumers so ISPs can make billions of extra money in fees.

What is especially galling is what idiots like Ted Cruz that want to kill Net Neutrality say they don't want to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. They attacked the since-failed Solyndra (and rightly so) as being hand-picked by the White House as a poster-child for a green company. They also attacked the Export Import bank about being the bank of Boeing.

Now they are pulling for the ISPs to be able to kidnap the Internet and hold it for ransom by charging you for what you want to do with it. That should be against the GOPs own view about the government picking and choosing winners in the economy. It will also potentially mess up businesses that use data in the Internet as well. I mean what is there to stop Comcast from charging companies "cloud access fees" or "big data processing fees?" That means everyone will have to pay more to make up for ISP greed.

Friday, November 07, 2014

#BanBlackFriday Or Why I Will Never Buy Anything on That Date Again

I was talking to my coworkers at lunch time about Sears opening at 6PM on Thanksgiving because Eddie Lampert is crazy and the company is nearly bankrupt. This got me thinking why should we play ball with these retailers that force their people to come in on a holiday and be away from their family? I think it isn't fair that they have to come in and miss Thanksgiving dinner.

Then we couple this with the fact that Jdimytai Damour a Wal-mart clerk died during a Black Friday stampede in 2008 and we have the recipe to avoid this terrible day. So I will not buy a single thing at a department store on Black Friday no matter how good the sales are. A cheap flat-screen TV is not worth a mans life or be the reason behind forcing some clerk to have to come in and miss Thanksgiving dinner.

Sears has broke this camels back and I hope other people will not buy from a department store on that day as well. I mean if you really want to buy something wait until cyber-Monday and let Amazon get your business. No one will have to get trampled and hopefully they will let their employees have Thanksgiving off so they can have dinner with their families.

Why the Dems Didn't Appeal to the Middle Class: The Middle Class Does not Make Minimum Wage

I was reading this postmortem on the midterms and this part jumped out at me.

Some Democrats felt that the party didn’t offer enough obvious relief to middle class voters worried about their job and stagnant wages, a broad group Obama targeted relentlessly in his 2012 campaign.

“I’m a strong believer in raising the minimum wage and it needs to happen,” Democratic strategist Greg Greene told msnbc. “That said it’s not something people necessarily identify with when they see themselves as middle class. That in itself was not enough.”

This is the exact reason why some people in the middle class don't line up for the Dems. If you are middle class you do not want to be making the minimum wage at any time after you got out of high school or college. If you are making the minimum wage chances are you cannot be called "middle class." So when the Dems want to raise it then the middle class shrugs their shoulders because that rhetoric does not effect them.

Also attacking the rich does not resonate with middle class voters as much as the Dems think. I mean most middle class people would love to be upper middle class or rich and aspire to that goal. You won't be a billionaire but you will be comfortable in your old age. Many billionaires got there because of hard work and a knowledge set that many in the middle class cannot follow. Not everyone can be Steve Jobs and not many would want to.

So when the Dems go after the rich and give freebies to the poor they attack what the middle class aspire to while giving something to the class they no longer want to be. So raising the minimum wage would help some other guy and an 80% tax on the wealthy might just hurt the middle class in the long run.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Senate Democrats' Campaign Committee gives up Landrieu for Dead

Well it seems that the some of the big money men are jumping off one of the last Democratic Senate ships still afloat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee initially had reserved $1.8 million in television advertising for after Tuesday's first round of voting. On Thursday, the DSCC dumped the bookings in the state's big cities.

I like this idea by Cassidy who is running against her.

Cassidy, meanwhile, attended an anti-abortion event slamming Landrieu for her support of abortion rights. He agreed to participate in one of the six debates Landrieu had proposed — on Dec. 1 — but threw in a twist: Cassidy said he'd agree to another debate date for every time Landrieu campaigns in Louisiana with the unpopular President Barack Obama.

I'm sure Obama is gassing up Air Force 1 and heading down there at once but the Landrieu people will tell them that the runways are totally full. She should toss caution to the wind though and have Obama hang around down on the bayou for the hell of it.

GOP Gets Smart and Rejects Tea Party Maneuvering on Debt Ceiling

The GOP is finally getting smart when it comes to the Tea Party.

Just days after their historic midterm victories, the Republican congressional leadership is sending out signals to the caucus that infighting and gridlock will not be tolerated.
According to Politico, incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested he will not go along with conservative calls to use the debt ceiling as leverage for spending cuts, an insistence by tea party members which triggered the government shutdown last year. 
It seems that they will be picking the low hanging fruit with Obama as well.

And in his victory speech Tuesday night, he made it clear he would also be extending the olive branch to President Barack Obama, saying the GOP has a "duty" to work with the White House on issues they agree on.
"I'm pretty familiar with our conference including the new members who are coming in," McConnell said, according to Politico. "The vast majority of them don't feel they were sent to Washington to fight all the time."

House Speaker John Boehner is telling colleagues he plans to be a "responsible leader," and that the party needs to be unified to take advantage of its political dominance, Politico reported.

So do the Asian trade deal, ISIS war-powers authorization, create a way for companies to pull money from overseas at a lower tax rate. Then they should send a Keystone XL pipeline bill through and have Obama veto it if he has to. After that stuff is done then work on some sort of immigration reform before Obama just executive orders amnesty. If Obama vetoes the legislation then does his own thing he looks even more like an out-of-touch dictator then he already does.

Monday, November 03, 2014

It Seems that Midterms are Good for the Market: Stocks are Positive 86% of the Time Since 1928

That would be nice and cheerful if we go up 16% from here.

Since 1950, the S&P 500 jumped 16%, on average, in the six months following midterms. The market was green following all 16 of them, points out Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management. 

Since 1928, the market advanced 7%, on average, and it’s been positive 86% of the time in the three months following midterms, notes Barclays Capital strategist Jonathan Glionna.

Why is this? Markets hate uncertainty, and elections remove uncertainty, says Doll. It doesn’t matter which party wins. 
I already think a nice Santa Clause rally is baked into this market unless Ebola gets very bad or we have an escalation (or a big-time terrorist attack) in the war with ISIS. You add low gas prices to this equation and it is like nearly every American gets a raise of a few percent going into the holidays. Hopefully, they will spend this money and feel a little richer and more confidant because of it.

What would be interesting is if the GOP lets Obama win a few like a free-trade agreement with Asia and maybe some tax reform before they go to war over immigration reform. The GOP wants a few wins to run on in 2016 and Obama probably would like a nice roaring economy to make us forget the last 6 years of malaise. Freer trade and tax reform would go a long way to accomplishing those goals. 

It Seems Americans are Saving More and Not Getting so Deeply in Debt

I guess one good thing came out of the Great Recession. Americans are gun-shy when it comes to debt and are actually saving some of their hard earned cash.

“Household Debt” is a combination of your mortgage payments plus the required payments you have to make on “consumer” debt- including credit card accounts- each quarter.  This amount is divided by your quarterly disposable (after income tax) income to find the percent or “ratio” of debt-to-income.

Henry points out that the Household Debt Service rate is the lowest it’s been since the Fed began measuring it.

They first measured it in 1980 so debt at 30 year lows which is awesome. Americans are also socking away the money for a rainy day.

In addition to reducing our reliance on debt. Henry points to another positive factor:  we’re saving more.  “In the mid-80s the personal saving rate peaked at 10%.  And then from there on it declined to 2% as the use of credit continued to expand.”   Again, it’s no coincidence that we sank to that all-time low in saving around 2005-2007-- just before the recession hit.
Since then, according to Henry, the personal savings has been rising.  It reached 6.7% in June 2009- more than twice the rate of December 2007.  By the end of the second quarter of this year it had declined to 5.6%.  None-the-less, Henry maintains that Americans’  “balance sheets have improved even though they’re saving less than [immediately] after the recession.”

It would be great to have a generation that values thrift and swears off most debt going forward. I mean the Millennials will be very wary of debt after they have to pay off $25K in tuition for a major that sometimes never pays them back. It would be hard to see that same person rack up $25k more worth of consumer debt after they have paid off that mountain.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hmm Does the Double-Blind Test Need to be Used for Social Sciences? Maybe Climate Science Too?

This is an interesting article about the biases in the field of social sciences and how they might be influencing the field in general.

For studies and grants, though, even that may not be enough. What is needed in those cases is a blinding of the peer-review system—both in terms of applicants’ names and personal backgrounds and the hypotheses (or findings) of their research. If you want to research Democrats and Republicans, say—or any other ideologically loaded topics—call them Purples and Oranges for the duration of the paper. The methods and research structure will be evaluated without any ideological predispositions. Blind peer review in papers and grants would also solve a number of other bias problems, including against certain people, institutions, and long-held ideas. As for ideologically sensitive papers that have already been published, blind that data as well and reanalyze the premises and conclusions, pairing them with Tetlock’s turnabout tests. Is the opposite approach nonsensical? Chances are, then, that this one is, too.

This is what the biotech field does and it allows for totally unbiased testing for the most part. You have just the data and nothing else there to cloud the issue. Maybe this needs to be done for climate science as well. That way we don't have this supposed 97% consensus that people keep touting like it is gospel. Perhaps some of those 97% can say that it is happening but it won't be too bad after all. Or maybe they don't actually agree with the rest of them but are knuckling under so they won't be called heretics by their colleagues.

It would be nice to just see some dissenting theories be put forth without fear of repercussion. Some scientists even see benefits of warming but seem to be shouted down by the IPCC. When people are afraid to speak out because they will be dubbed a denialist there is a problem with the system. I always thought that questioning the status quo was heroic in science. But climate science (and social science in this article) seems like a monolith that keeps dissent out and only lets money and prestige go toward the catastrophic warming side and nowhere else.

Rate of Returns and Not Scare-Tactics is How High Global Warming Evanglistis Need to Sell Alternative Energy like Solar

This is exactly what environmentalists need to do to sell their ideas to the investment community.

In other words, Altus quickly morphed from using its own money for demos to selling investments in its building projects to commercially minded investors. And the principals developed a sales pitch that eschews talk of rising sea levels in favor of terms like IRR (internal rate of return) and cash flow. “The question any investor asks is how much cash flow they’ll receive,” Norell says. “We have delivered annual returns of 8 to 10 percent to our investors.” (The offering documents he showed me bore that claim out.) And in a world of exceedingly low interest rates—a 10-year U.S. government bond pays interest of only about 2 percent per year—that’s quite appealing.
 They don't have to appeal to scare-tactics that global warming will make the seas 100 feet higher by 2020 or other nonsense. This company Altus, is putting solar panels on roofs and cashing in tax credits and creating a revenue stream out of the power. This revenue stream is pretty solid and recession-proof too because these building owners will be paying their power bill in good times and bad. Also they probably won't be taking these panels off of their roofs if they are cutting their electricity bill by $200,000.

The only thing that would sink Altus would be a cut on solar subsidies. They need some powerful Democratic backers and this kind of thing might appeal to the GOP as well. That party doesn't like the idea of big government going to patronage like Solyndra but public/private partnerships is what the GOP loves. They can also look so anti-environment by backing the idea of solar panels popping up all over the US and allowing investors to make money in the process.

BlackRocks Plan to Have Millennials Convert Student Loan Debt into Home Mortgages Just Might Work

I like this kind of out-of-the-box thinking by a company that would love to get the fees that this transaction would start.

"Fiscal policy initiatives targeted at young workers with high levels of student indebtedness might, perhaps surprisingly to some, have an outsize impact in supporting the housing recovery and financial markets," Rick Rieder, co-head of Americas Fixed Income at BlackRock, wrote in a recent commentary.

BlackRock estimates there are about seven million people in the U.S. that would be eligible for an FHA-approved mortgage but are burdened by student loans. The thinking is that because they are devoting a large chunk of their income to pay down student debt, they probably aren't saving for a down payment on a house. 

If just one million of them are converted to homebuyers through some form of student debt forgiveness, more than three million jobs could be created, Rieder recently told CNNMoney.
You get to convert worthless debt into productive debt and you let millennial contribute that much more to the economy once they are home owners. They get that mortgage deduction and can get off the rental treadmill and actually build some equity.

It would be kind of a GI Bill for people with lots of college loan debt. Maybe the government could also back some loans at below market rates for first time loan buyers for people that were able to pay for college so they won't get left out. In any case this would be an interesting bipartisan bill because it will reduce debt, forgive crushing student loans, might pay for itself and create jobs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quantum Phenomena Might be Explained by Many 'Parallel' Everyday Worlds Theory: That Explains Ghosts

I read about how physicists might be changing their idea about parallel worlds.

The bizarre behavior of the quantum world — with objects existing in two places simultaneously and light behaving as either waves or particles — could result from interactions between many 'parallel' everyday worlds, a new theory suggests.

“It is a fundamental shift from previous quantum interpretations,” says Howard Wiseman, a theoretical quantum physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, who together with his colleagues describes the idea in Physical Review X.

These worlds are supposed to behave similarity to our own and touch and interact with one another but very tenuously. This gives me a good idea of what ghosts are. They are images from a different quantum world that interacts with our own. So we will see a person from that other world for a split second and they might or might not see us as well. Most of the time we only see a ghostly image for a few seconds and then nothing. Maybe "haunted houses" are just areas where that other world bleeds into ours easier for some reason of another. I wonder if physicists did experiments in these sorts of places they would get stronger results?

Another Crowd Walks out on Obama: He is a Team That is 30 Points down

It is sad that a guy that can command a crowd and was a special orator way back when is getting the "beat traffic" treatment from his adoring fans.

For the second time in as many weeks, persons have walked out during a campaign speech given by President Barack Obama. Last week, it happened as the president spoke in Maryland – and this week, it happened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to a WND report on Tuesday. It was apparent that the president was still delivering his speech as people were marching out of the venue where he was campaigning for Mary Burke, the Democratic Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate who is trying to take incumbent Gov. Scott Walker’s job away from him in the midterm election next week.

He is like a team that is getting blown out in the third quarter when you see streams of fans heading for the exits. I guess you can call him the Oakland Raiders of politics. They were great way back when but due to mismanagement they are perennial losers. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

One Good Thing About Millennials: They are Adding to 401Ks like crazy

They are finally getting jobs as the economy improves and are seeing that a 401K is a great way to save for retirement.

In the first half of 2014, the number of Millennials enrolling for the first time in a 401(k) plan jumped 55%, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401(k) Wellness Scorecard. This twice-yearly report examines trends among 2.5 million plan participants with $129 billion of assets under the bank’s care.

The brisk initial enrollment pace is due partly to the sheer number of Millennials entering the workforce. They account for about 25% of workers today, a figure that will shoot to 50% by 2020. But it also reflects a broader trend toward 401(k) enrollment. Across all generations, the number enrolling for the first time jumped 37%, Bank of America found.

Those opt-out 401K forms (instead of the opt-ins of yesteryear) are doing wonders for 401K plan growth. Plus there are apps you can use to manage your account and keep tabs on the amounts going in and growing. I wonder what the numbers are for Millennials re-balancing their portfolios though. Do they set-it and forget it or do they look at it quarterly? Or do they change things around whenever they see something on TV?

Now what the government needs to do is allow people to put more money in 401Ks than ever before to encourage savings. The employee match is one of the few ways a person can accrue wealth tax free left in America and Millennials need to tap that source for all its worth.

Mom and Pop Investors Back in the Market? Is it Time to Sell?

Most of the time when Individual Investors buy stock in a big way the market will drop.

This means that approximately 35% of all household financial assets are “at risk.” In fact, we’re now getting back to investment market participation levels not seen since the third quarter of 2007, during which 34% of all household assets were invested. The two previous peaks before then were Q1 2000 (43%) and 1968 (31%). Bears will note that these moments coincided nicely with the onset of the last three major bear markets, 1966 to 1982, 2000 to 2002, and 2007 to 2009.
 The individual investor is usually holding the bag when the music stops and the pros flee the field. This article points out that these investors are going in using passive Index funds and other more conservative stuff. No or Nifty 50 or other mess as far as I can tell. At least the economy is improving so there really isn't a true reason for a massive drop or recession in our future. 

Darius Foster: The Face of a New GOP?

Well I like his political philosophy already.

With the bulky frame of a former linebacker and a warm, hearty laugh, Foster fashions himself as a Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt Republican.

"The fight-for-the-people Republican. That's what they were. I'm not sure where the Democratic Party was able to hijack that narrative from us. But they did. And they have it. I'm trying to bring it back," he says.

Foster is a 33-year-old business consultant. He's been active in the GOP since he founded a lonely chapter of College Republicans at the historically black Miles College in Birmingham. He's been tapped by the Republican National Committee as a future leader.

So he actually got in the trench and started a College Republican chapter at a historically black college. He also sounds like a happy warrior which the GOP sorely needs. Plus, the idea of the GOP fighting for the average American has been long overdue. Growing the economy so that people can find meaningful jobs and eventually become prosperous is the dream of many Americans. The so called "Compassionate Conservative" should be more than just a buzzword.

His wife has some of my political philosophy as well.

Over breakfast at their neighborhood IHOP, his wife, 28-year-old Setara Foster, a lawyer, talks about growing up black in Houston where her parents were union members and loyal Democrats.

She now identifies more closely with the GOP. But she says she tends to split her ticket.

"I think that when we as a group identify with one party, for one thing, all the time, that party never has to earn our vote. Ever. And so I think that by having a diversity of political ideology within ethnic, racial, gender, age groups, we force politicians to work," she says.

I agree with the GOP on some things (mostly economic growth and taxes) and disagree with them on other things (most social issues.) I think all Americans should have a little of Mrs. Foster's idea that no party should take your vote for granted and have to keep working for it. If minorities had more of this idea then the Dems couldn't just put them in their pocket and to keep doing nothing for them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The First Outrage of the 2014 Election Season: Wasabi Ginger Wins the New Lays Flavor! #OUTRAGE

You got to be kidding me! I enjoy wasabi (with shoyu and ginger afterward) with sushi but on chips? No way!

The entry to the brand’s annual “Do Us a Flavor” contest beat out Mango Salsa, Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, and—likely much to the relief of coffee expert Oliver Strand and Yahoo Readers everywhere—Cappuccino. The unique flavors have been on sale nationwide since late July, and chip lovers have been voting on them. We got the winner of the people’s choice award on the horn to tout her flavor combo. 

I cannot believe it beat out the very tasty Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese. I actually enjoyed the bacon taste of the chips and hope someone makes a bacon flavored potato chip in the US soon. There seems to be one in England but that doesn't help me when I go to Safeway on a chip purchasing mission.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Way to Fight ISIS is with Mockery and these Iraqi Kurds are SNLing them

I hope the real SNL plays their because it is pretty funny.

“We are bearded, dirty and filthy. … We are brainless with nothing in our heads.”

“We are ISIS. We are ISIS,” the singers declare. “We milk the goat even if it is male.”

“Our music is without rhythm. And our leader is called Qaqa,” they sing. “Our pockets are full of Qatari money. Our language is bullets and cutting.”

Their leader is really named Qaqa? So many jokes and so little time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Obama Just Wrote a GOP Attack Ad

I wonder of he is sabotaging their campaigns for some nefarious reason?

President Obama delivered a blow to Democratic Senate candidates looking to distance themselves from his flagging approval ratings Monday, saying lawmakers avoiding him on the campaign trail were “strong allies and supporters” who have “supported my agenda in Congress.”

The president said that Democrats faced a “tough map” and noted that many Democrats in crucial races “are in states that I didn’t win” during a radio interview with Rev. Al Sharpton.

He knows that these candidates are running away from him as fast as they can. So he goes ahead and damages their campaign for his own narcissistic reasons. I guess he figures that the Senate will go GOP and he will have 2 years to cruise and start planning his memoirs.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Could ISIS use Ebola to Attack America and Europe? Very Plausable

I recently read a book on the Black Death a while back called The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time.The book talked about how the Black Plague came to Europe through a biological warfare attack by the Mongols toward a city in Asia Minor call Caffa held by the Genoa in 1347. 

What Jani Beg (the Khan of the Golden Horde) did when the city of Caffa was under siege was use his catapults to toss plague corpses into the city in order to break the siege. The plague corpses infected a number of Genoese sailors who attempted to flee the city (and devestated Caffa) and thus inadvertently inflicted the Black Death on much of Europe. The Black Death caused the death of 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia.

An interesting side note was that Jani Beg was a Muslim. So this got me thinking that what if ISIS decided to send a number of their operatives to West Africa to get their hands on Ebola infected blood. Or maybe even worse infect themselves and become living (not for too long) "Jani Beg plague corpses." All they really need is a blood soaked rag from an Ebola patient in Liberia and every operative can potentially become a living "plague missile."

What these "ISIS plague missiles" could potentially do is send packages of Ebola to various victims in the US and Europe. It would only take a few blood or vomit soaked rags in an Amazon box to be sent to various people in the US and it might be worse than a letter bomb. 

What would be terrifying is that this attack would be nearly impossible to detect. You can detect bomb materials in a box sent in the mail but these are just rags and gauze and things. You cannot use a metal detector or some sniffer to catch this kind of biological warfare attack. Hell, they could just send a bunch of bloody rags that that are not even Ebola infected and it will create the same kind of panic.

The job of terrorists is to inflict terror and this would strait up terrify people. I know it would be fairly difficult to catch Ebola from a bloody rag made in Syria all the way in the US because of the nature of the virus. However, the fear it would cause would be devastating. Each one of those boxes would have to be checked out by health care officials and tested to make sure it isn't virulent. Then disease detectives would have to check the person that opened the box and everyone that person came in contact with. I wonder if the CIA and the FBI are checking to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen. I really hope they are because this attack would be scary in the extreme.