Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pissant Newlyweds

Old pal Perry Eidelbus just got married and I am desperately trying to find out where he and his Mail-Order Bride are registered so I can send a proper gift.

But get this. Perry is on his blog announcing to the World Wide Web that he wants "cash" - and "cash is best".

Apparently someone wrote him a check and he cashed it so fast that it bounced. Then he proceeded to complain about it on his blog. What an ingrate!

Well, the check...bounced. They probably didn't expect us to deposit it so quickly. The bank didn't return it to me, so I presume it's being returned to my in-laws. They'll realize what happened, then, although we won't bring it up. They really didn't have to give us anything, and they were too nice to take us to dinner this week anyway.

Money is actually a horrible wedding gift. It's hardly thoughtful. When I was younger I'd just buy a card and insert a check. But over the years I've realized that it's much better to give newlyweds something they will use, enjoy, and/or treasure for a lifetime - like candlestick holders!

Perry's episode actually reminded me of one of my own. About seven years ago we attended the wedding of one of my wife's friends in Vineland, New Jersey. We actually did give cash - about $300 if memory serves me right - though in the form of a CHECK, Perry. The next morning, at the wedding brunch, the bride and groom ran up to us and thanked us profusely for our *generous gift*. We were startled to say the least.

We thought, "What the heck? Did they spend their wedding night opening cards and gifts?????"

It was a *lose an hour* daylight savings night as well!

I could be more specific about the ethnicity of this romantic couple - but I'll let you project your own stereotypy on the anecdote.

If you do go with the candlestick holders....make sure they are Waterford or something.

Other gift ideas would be Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones (haha) or a high-end vacuum from Miele (seriously).

Feel free to do a *chip-in* on these suggestions - particularly the latter one.

UPDATE - Perry has blocked my direct links to his posts. So to get to his blog from here, one must right-click on my links, copy the shortcut, and paste into another browser tab or window. For more on this childish tactic of his - click here.

'Old Coots' - A LARGE Target Demo

Do you know what this is?

It's a ginormous calculator that I saw at the Bose store at the airport.

I can't imagine anyone buying it but 'old coots'.

They need it to *balance their checkbooks* - something no one under the age of 55 has ever felt compelled to do.

Finally Enjoying It

My youthful appearance that is.

Though I have many of the calcified habits of an 'old coot', to the eye I look no more than 25 years old.

Taking the plane home to Boston on Sunday I was seated next to a coed of uncertain age. The best guess I could make would be in the range from 15 to 25 years old. Note that is another stark 'old coot' trait - the inability to estimate the ages of anyone much younger.

This girl was sitting there next to me while we idled on the runway for 90 minutes; thumb-typing away the entire time on her cell phone at a pace I simply could not believe (with one hand, mind you!). And I'll bet she was probably just an average speed texter, for her demographic. Still, I wouldn't wager a nickel on her precise age.

Then, later on, I saw in her bag a laptop and several spiral notebooks. That would most likely put her in college or high school. Ignoring the outside chance of grad school, I narrowed her age range from 15 to 22.

The next evidentiary exhibit was some study material she pulled out. Even without my glasses, I spotted the word "racism" at least twenty times on one page.

Aha! She had to be in an American college student!!! Right? Narrowed down to between 18 and 22.

Now I mostly tried to sleep on the plane, having been up for the past 1.5 days or so, give or take, thanks to an all-night bender after 30 holes of golf on Saturday. Though I did find time to whip out my spiral notebook and brainstorm some blog ideas. The young lady clearly strained to see what the heck I was writing. As did the Harvard chick to my left across the aisle. There was NO WAY they could decipher an iota of my illegible scrawl; I can't even read it.

Point of fact, the Harvard dork next to me had procedural questions to ask the flight attendant about how to *assist in the event of an emergency*. I kid you not. (We were seated in the emergency exit aisle. Remember, I always LIE about my willingness to help others in *the event of an emergency*. Every man, woman, and child for themselves!)

But getting off the plane, I asked the girl next to me what school she went to. Brandeis, was the answer; and she was a 21 year old senior.

She then asked me, "What school to do you go to?"

Now this MADE my day, my weekend, and has a good shot at getting me through the next month.

I laughed. Told her only that I "have been out of school a long time". (Almost 13 years now).

She followed up, "You still carry around a monogrammed backpack???"

Yeah, I do at the airport. It's my wife's from her college years. I also had sneakers on, an Old Navy t-shirt, and jeans to go with my freshly shaved head and spiral notebook.

I should have told her I was a student at Tufts or Boston College. I should have pushed the envelope; gotten her number; and tried to invite her or get invited to a college party.

How much fun would it be to go to a sorority formal at the age of 34!?!?!?

Obviously, I'm going to have to ask Mrs. C-Nut for the go-ahead. Though, in general, she's pretty close-minded about stuff like this.

Monday, September 29, 2008

On Bailing Out Morons...

So I am at the park today (for about 3.5 hours) with my kids and I get text-messaged:

"Time to buy yet???",

...by a cash rich friend.

Now I saw the market down early this morning a hundred points plus before the open but had intentionally averted my eyes all day after that. I am short the financials and have been getting killed with SKF and Wells Fargo in particular. I can't short any more; and won't cover them unless they pry the short shares from my cold dead (broke) fingers!

So why should I even torture myself with the daily gyrations of this schizophrenic, INFLATED market? As far as I am concerned, I am a passive, long-term disinvestor; I am confident in the long term pain of the financial sector, attempted government bailout or not!

So I responded to my buddy with, "How much is the mkt down?", but didn't get a response. I assumed it was down because he always asks me if it's "time to buy" when the market is getting particularly ripped. Coincidentally, this afternoon I was cleaning out my *93% full* text message inbox on my cell phone and came across at least three other "is it time to buy yet?" texts from my buddy this year. Haha.

Yes, this is the guy I got in Google at $440 and tried, unsuccessfully, to get him to dump at $600.

Today, Google closed at $381!!!

Point of fact, Google's PE ratio is currently lower than Wells Fargo's. Last week I sold my Google at $448. I will wait some 30 days (tax reasons) and hopefully buy it back at a good price.

My buddy eventually texts me back, telling me the Dow was down 770 points. He called it another "Black Monday". I scoffed. The market was UP 318 points the past two sessions - for crying out loud.

Then I get a text from another friend about the market. And then another.

Then my wife calls me.

I am so glad to be the person y'all think of when stocks tank.

Yeah, I made some paper profits today; but not nearly enough.

Now watch all the scumbag politicians will blame the *crash* on the rejected $700 billion bailout.

What a mythomanic joke!

It's so much more relaxing to push my daughter on the swings; and chat up the Desperate Housewives on the playground...

Fear not Morons, the market will bounce and give you another chance to SELL EVERYTHING YOU OWN.

Which of course you'll forget to do, again.

Another Week, Another Hopeless Price Drop

A mere 12 days after his last price drop, the local *speculating* Moron dropped his listing by another whopping $6,000. This guy must be watching the stock market *volatility* and banking gore with considerable angst as he prays for a buyer (greater fool) to free him of this investment-turned-liability.

As relatively scarce as real estate sales have become over the past couple of years, I am finding out that more and more of them were actually bought by flippers.

The seeds of the next leg down in residential real estate have been sown and are budding.

UPDATE - September 30th. Boy, this didn't take long - price just dropped to $809,000. Guy must be watching the stock market (-777 pts yesterday).

UPDATE - October 7th. Down to $799,900. We're at breakeven, officially.

Click here to see more UPDATES.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Annual Golf Trip

I'll be golfing and drinking with my South Philly gumbas until Sunday night.

In Naples, Florida.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dodging Barney Frank

Guys on a blog thread were discussing the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and whatnot. The following riposte made me chuckle:

Stupid Credit Card Companies

They won't let you put more than $75 of gasoline in your car (around here) without swiping your card twice. (Some stations I have had to *go inside* to re-swipe.)

Usually, when I get to the $75 limit I just drive away. The kids are invariably screaming; I may be in a hurry; whatever. Furthermore I hate to give the business to the stupid gas station that holds to this policy.

With my 43-gallon Chevy Suburban and $4.00 gasoline, I have had to swipe my card three times (over $150) to fill the thing up a few times.

Yesterday I was at a 7-11 in Hanover, Massachusetts and the gas pump didn't stop at $75. Whew. "Finally," I thought.

Alas, it stopped at $85.

Someone tell the credit card companies that gas is up a heck of a lot more than 15% over the past few years. Please.

It's bad business for them because more and more gas stations are offering gas cheaper (6+ cents) if the customer pays in cash.


...the queen-sized bed.

Yeah, we started locking her in her room - the South Shore Vampire, but sometimes getting up EVERY 20 minutes, all night long, wears us out even the sternest martinets. Last night I brought her into our bed after her fifth screaming episode around midnight. She's actually a little bit sick right now.

She's tiny, but she flops around all-night, kicking you in the head; she lies on top of the blankets, pinning you down with insufficient bedding. Last night I must have woken up ten times. I froze my nads off to boot.

Young couples listen up. Have some foresight, get the largest bed you can find - a California King (longer) or an Eastern King (wider)!

Monday, September 22, 2008

When History Is Written...

I think it's safe to say that George W. Bush will go down as one of the worst Presidents of all time.

While he was hellbent on fighting terrorists on the other side of the planet...

He missed the domestic ones in Congress, in his party, and even in his administration.

These *financial bailouts* - or should I say, this *nationalization* of our banking industry is an unmitigated disaster. Soon it will make his blunders of No Child Left Behind, the War in Iraq, and Medicare's Prescription Drug Bill look like small potatoes.

As forward-looking and as smart as I think I am, I'm having a real hard time hedging myself against this storm.

Nevertheless, I will carry on with precautions. Next up, I am going to open a safety deposit box at the bank; withdraw between $20,000 and $50,000 cash; and plop it in there.

Although now that I read up on safety deposit boxes (read the comment thread), I am not so excited about this option either. Clearly I am going to have to research this further.

Note that safety deposit boxes weren't safe under civil libertarian Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

"I, as President, do declare that the national emergency still exists; that the continued private hoarding of gold and silver by subjects of the United States poses a grave threat to the peace, equal justice and well-being of the United States; and that appropriate measures must be taken immediately to protect the interests of our people."

"Therefore, pursuant to the above authority, I hereby proclaim that such gold and silver holdings are prohibited, and that all such coin, bullion or other possession of gold and silver be tendered within fourteen (14) days to agents of the Government of the United States for compensation at the official price, in the legal tender of the Government. All safe-deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed pending action in the due course of law."

FDR, the architect of Big Government, was memorialized by "bread line" statues.

I'd be surprised if even the most willfully ignorant ever sought to celebrate George W. Bush's eight years.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Marginalizing Mark Cuban, Again

Mavericks forward Josh Howard got into some trouble recently disrespecting the national anthem. On YouTube he was captured saying, among other things,:

"'The Star-Spangled Banner' is going on. I don't celebrate this [expletive]. I'm black."

Okay. Whatever. The geo-political views of one Josh Howard couldn't be less interesting to me.

However, I found Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's response pretty darn funny:

"That said, we will be going through some advanced communication-skill sessions together this training camp," Cuban said Tuesday. "I have explained to him that cellphone cameras are not your friend and that what you think you said on camera is never what people will hear when it shows up on YouTube or TV."

Now I have Marginalized Mark Cuban before. Notwithstanding his financial successes, he's a full-blown airhead.

Let me try to guess what will constitute *advanced communication-skill sessions* for Mr. Howard.

Er,...Cuban will tell him to "shut up"???

Now I really don't think Mark, with all his NBA fines and other personal publicity problems, is genuinely qualified to teach *shut-up* courses. Furthermore, I don't think anyone who thinks what someone *said on camera...won't be what people hear* ought to be teaching communication seminars.

More appropriately, they ought to have their head examined.

Point of fact, I watched the Josh Howard clip and can tell you what made it so unpalatable was the entire lead-up, the full context of Howard's behavior that inquiring minds can thank YouTube for. We've had decades of *filtered* news and information; it's made us ignorant; and we're tired of it.

For sure, Cuban is doing his best at spin control; he's trying to protect the trade value of his player. Why? I just can't imagine that the fans in Dallas will be too pleased with Josh Howard given that he's has a few incidents recently.

Cuban couldn't have offered a more pathetic, transparent spin job. It reminded me of when Jerry Seinfeld crawled out of his hole to try and defend Michael Richards (Kramer) - after his political monologue.

The *spin* business is just one of many eradicated by the internet. Thank you Al Gore!

Marginalizing The Best Of Breed

Yesterday shares of Goldman Sachs cratered. At one point they were down 35pts to a three-year low of 97.78 before closing at 114.50.

I did make one small option trade in the name a while back that worked out (I'll have to confirm) but Goldman has been a tough one to trade from the short side anyway. For the most part, I've steered well clear of this ticker. Admittedly, it has always scared me.

You can see from the chart above that after the *subprime* market woes of August 2007, Goldman rallied hard from 170 to 250. Then again after the selloff in March, it rallied from 150 back to 200. Clearly, it had been a short-seller frustrater.

But, at least on the doom-and-gloom blogs that I read, plenty of hardy souls have reasoned and wagered that Goldman would tank. Reggie Middleton comes to mind most prominently. On that recent link of his, you'll find references to his historical bearishness.

I don't do forensic accounting; nor am I well-versed in precisely how Goldman makes its money. With the demise of a couple of its rivals (Lehman and Bear Stearns), its well publicized victory shorting the subprime mortgage market last year, AND the fact that it's likely been gaining customer assets (from the dead dogs, LEH and BSC) the narrative became that Goldman Sachs would not only be a survivor from this *credit crisis* but that it would be triumphant.

AND the resilient stock action certainly also made a strong case that Goldman Sachs was bulletproof and *Best of Breed*.

With the stock tanking yesterday, I think it's safe to say that thesis has been debunked; that the receding tide is stranding all boats.

So why am I mentioning the saga of Goldman Sachs?

Well because two of my shorts: Wells Fargo and Simon Property Group have both been frustratingly strong.

Both of them are presumed by their cheerleaders to be *Best of Breed*, victorious survivors of this market meltdown.

Simon Malls has been publicly celebrating the wave of retail bankruptcies. They've boldly asserted that it's good for them; that they want their weak tenants to move out so they can replace them with *higher paying* ones.

Wells Fargo has also been out bragging. In mid-July its CEO John Stumpf declared, "We are open for business and getting lots of it."

Okay, John, but what about legacy losses on your mortgages and HELOCs?

I'll bet that handsome Weimeraner didn't win *Best of Breed* for more than a year or two either.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Cashless Economy

I've never used a debit card. So I scarcely get the clowns in front of me in supermarket checkout aisles who use them. Yeah, I guess if they have impaired *credit* they have to use them. But I've seen people I know have credit cards use *debit* to pay for things like groceries and whatnot. If you are going to pay your credit card bill every month, what difference does it make if it's a little bigger. You're going to just pay the bill from your checking account anyway, no?

I guess I am a little gun-shy on debit cards because my wife had her wallet stolen once and they withdrew $500 off one of her ATM cards that we didn't even know had a debit function. She got the money back, but it was disconcerting how fast the thief did this. The wallet was stolen during her yoga class and my wife cancelled everything the minute she got out (1 hour?).

The other thing that I only a little bit get is when retail cashiers ask debit card users if they want "cash back". According to my googling there are no direct fees involved on the consumer. Does the merchant get a small percentage of the transaction? Why would the store want to deplete its cash? Does this make the manager feel safer or lighten his deposit load? Someone can enlighten me as I am too uninterested to research it.

Sometimes I feel like I (and my Luddite jabronis from South Philly) are the only ones who have any cash on them. I can't stand - if on principle alone - these buffoons who I see swiping $3 off their debit card at Starbucks.

So I got to wondering if muggings have gone down as our economy has gone CASHLESS???

Again, no research, just a query. But I'll bet humans today are less likely to have a knife and a wallet-demand pulled on them on the street than they were in ages past. So if it weren't for a few BILLION DOLLARS in annual credit card fraud one could argue that cashless-ness has reduced crime!

When I moved to Philadelphia in 1992 one bit of head-scratching advice I got from a local was this:

If someone pulls a gun on you, DON'T give them your wallet.

BUT, if they pull a knife on you, hand it over.

Because they won't use the gun but they sure as hell will stab you.

Years later I still don't understand the advice.

Now, in my nine year stint in the City of Brotherly Love I only had one knucklehead pull a knife on me. It was a very big piece of metal; and he waved it at me in broad daylight (noon?) on Pattison Avenue. I saw him coming all the way and jumped out into the middle of the street. There was no way he was going to catch this nimble cracker!

If it happened today I could safely hold my ground and probably convince the gentleman that I only used *debit and PayPal*.

Now watch this poor old guy in the clip below get mugged for a whopping $2 at McDonalds. The Moronic perp knocked him unconscious and thus couldn't even get the guy's PIN:

This clip reminds me of an incident in Brooklyn. Every time I parked our car on the street, it was an automatic to put anything of value in the trunk. One time I left a collapsing chair - like a lawn chair - on the back seat. It was worthless. In fact my wife was given it at some corporate event. The next day when I went to get the car somewhere down in Cobble Hill I found the window smashed and the chair gone.

The lesson was, it's not whether what I left on the seat actually was *valuable* - it's whether or not some Moron might deem it so!

After watching that guy above get walloped I'll be hard-pressed to turn my back on any knucklehead for quite some time.

NOTE - There seems to be some web debate over the true meaning of jabroni.

House Buying Insight

Above is a nearby house for sale. At least it was for sale. I saw on my email alerts from Coldwell Banker that the listing was *expired*. I had noticed several price reductions on the property so I figured it might be a distressed sale - which is what I am looking for.

I called the broker who supposedly just lost the listing to see what was going on. I always ask about the seller - Are they getting relocated? Are they distressed sellers? Divorce? I don't even really have to probe that much because the listing agents ALWAYS give me the entire scoop. This I can't believe. I realize they have all sorts of *disclosure* requirements but I still think the info they give me crosses the line. In other words, they too freely tell me things that sell-out their client and convince me to lower a potential bid.

It be like if a broker came into the trading pit, asked for a market in a particular option and then told us to raise the offer because he had a market order to buy. In that case he'd obviously be screwing his client.

The agent I called told me this - that the couple had room to lower the price by about another 40k but that would be it. He told me they didn't *have to move* that they wanted to slide over into an adjacent town for *the schools*. I asked if it was still for sale and he said technically *no* but he could arrange a showing. In other words they wanted to sell but were at their price limit based upon how much they had mortgaged. Sell for more than 105% of what you owe and you have to dip into your pocket!

I told the broker to get back to me with a time to see the place.

Then, a few days later it hit me. Why should I go through this broker? Since his *listing* was expired (there's no sign in front of the house either anymore), if I was interested in bidding for the house I should just knock on the door.

Taking a selling broker out of the equation adds about $20,000-$30,000 more of wiggle room on negotiations - at this price point.

In other words, this couple might not be willing to sell the house at say $600,000 because after a 5% real estate commission they will net only $570,000.

BUT, they may be inclined to hit a 600k bid with no agent involved.

So when the broker got back to me I just blew him off.

I haven't seen the house yet and probably won't anytime soon. The turmoil on Wall Street has, once again, put my wife's job in geographical limbo.

No surprise there. That uncertainty was wisely factored into the houses we bid on last year.

Short Idea - Wells Fargo

This stock is insane. Earnings are down around 40% from its peak and yet the stock is near its all-time high. I could go into much more detail on this company but will leave it at that.

Of course I shorted this pig waaaay too early.

I bought more puts today - Jan 30s at $3.20.

These puts are *expensive* but so were Lehman puts, Bear Stearn's puts, Fannie Mae puts,....

Just in the past few days, Wells Fargo announced about $500 million in writedowns tied to Fannie Mae preferreds and losses from Lehman's bankruptcy. What did the stock do?

Today it closed up 3.93 to 34.93!

As far as I am concerned, Wells is playing a shell game with their non-performing loans. At some point soon it'll be:

Damn, that was a gratuitous swipe at holy matrimony!

Dumb Chick

I love how the dudes are all geeked up. Yeah, the girl, she was just an extra.

Honesty, Accountablility, .... It's All Gray

The other day, BY ACCIDENT, I glanced at an agitprop newspaper at my parent's house in Worcester, Massaschusetts.

Latest Kerry Ad On Fuel Aid May Be Chimera

Federal budget Not Net Set Despite Claim

After state energy officials said last week at a hearing in Worcester that the federal government is investing less in fuel assistance for the upcoming winter despite rising fuel prices, people wondered about U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry’s latest campaign advertisement.

The advertisement, which shows worried-looking people, mostly elderly, says "Many are wondering how they’ll heat their homes this winter." It shows Mr. Kerry, who faces Edward J. O’Reilly of Gloucester in the democratic primary Tuesday, and continues, "But John Kerry is doing something about it."

"He’s gotten new funding to help thousands of seniors and people on fixed incomes in Massachusetts afford to heat their homes."

But state officials said Massachusetts received $115 million from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for the federal fiscal year 2008, which will end Sept. 30. No federal budget has been passed for LIHEAP for the year that will include this coming winter, so state officials expect Congress will approve a continuing resolution.

That would provide Massachusetts with $81 million, $34 million less than last year. The program helps low-income people pay their heating bills in cold states and air conditioning bills in hot states.

It only gets worse because the Massachusetts Legislature has allocated $10 million to supplement the federal fuel assistance for the new fiscal year. That is $5 million less than last year.

When Massachusetts got $115 million in federal fuel assistance last year, it started with $81 million and $34 million in contingency funds were added later in the budget year, said Philip Hailer, state Department of Housing and Community Development press secretary.

"We can hope the federal budget comes through for what we need," Mr. Hailer said. But state officials at the hearing in Worcester, including Ian A. Bowles, secretary of energy and environmental affairs, "have to look at the worst-case scenario."

"People last week spoke in black and white when there are shades of gray," he said.

Hah! Anytime you hear someone insist things "are gray" your Moron antennae should arouse. I would never simply assert that something is gray; I would explain why it was. You see, John Kerry (or his mouthpiece) is so unhappy with the sound-bite "black or white" world that he's offering up his own SOUND-BITE of "gray", "it's complicated", "na, na, you can't pin me down!"

I could care less about his ad and its basis-in-fact. As far as I am concerned, anyone stupid enough to watch ads on TV AND let them shape their beliefs deserves to be lied to.

However, the article served up one illustrative point. The Worcester Telegram showed how unconcerned it was whether or not it was a good thing, a Constitutionally justified thing to throw tax dollars at the furnaces of poor people. If people can't afford to live in this climate, what is the reason for creating a welfare class dependent on energy bill-paying handouts? Won't they be in need every year? Shouldn't they move to where they can support themselves in a climate-controlled environment?

No, the Worcester Telegram is only concerned about how much Federal pork that Senator John Kerry brings home. That is how he should be measured, apparently.

Here's what I wrote a while back about Congress:

Congress is really just a bunch of collusive local lobbyists. The federal government scoops up tax dollars and these wanton criminals divy it up to suit their own perceived political agendas. Congressmen think it is their duty to bring home as much federal money as possible. Think about that for a second. The present-day Congressional metric for success is how much federal tax revenue they can have wasted in their own states.

The foundering Worcester Telegram is, no surprise, owned by the foundering New York Times. Stock chart above - click to enlarge.

If anyone at the Telegram did any substantive research, they'd find that their readers have all left in search of adult-level edification (on the web) or tax relief (in the South).

It's a heck of a gate-keeping job those newspapers have been doing!

Forwarded Levity

Another rib-tickler from my inbox:

Cancel your credit card before you die..........(hilarious!)

Now some people are really stupid!!!!
Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die

This is so priceless, and so, so easy to see happening,
customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.

Here is the exchange:

Family Member: I am calling to tell you she died back in January.

Citibank : The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.

Family Member : Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.

Citibank : Since it is two months past due, it already has been.

Family Member : So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?

Citibank : Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!

Family Member : Do you think God will be mad at her?

Citibank: Excuse me?

Family Member : Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'

Citibank : Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member : I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.

Citibank : The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.

Family Member : You mean you want to collect from her estate?

Citibank : (Stammer) Are you her lawyer?

Family Member : No, I'm her great nephew. (Lawyer info was given)

Citibank: Could you fax us a certificate of death?

Family Member : Sure. (Fax number was given )

After they get the fax :

Citibank : 'Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'

Family Member : Well, if you figure it out , great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.

Citibank: Well, the late fees and charges do still apply. (What is wrong with these people?!?)

Family Member : Would you like her new billing address?

Citibank : That might help...

Family Member : Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.

Citibank : Sir, that's a cemetery!

Family Member : And what do you do with dead people on your planet???

Another Insignificant Price Drop

Read Marginalizing A Speculator for background. If you've already read it, go see the UPDATES I've added to the post.

I can't wait to see his next *reduction*!

What will it be - $1,000?

Don Luskin Said What?

From the Washington Post:

Quit Doling Out That Bad-Economy Line

There have been 11 recessions since the Great Depression. And we're nowhere close to being in the 12th one now. This isn't just a matter of opinion. Words -- even words as seemingly subjective as "recession" -- have meaning.

AND, before that assertion of "no recession", he astoundingly regurgitated this:

Overall, the pessimists are up against an insurmountable reality: In the last reported quarter, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, adjusted for inflation.

For a self-styled libertarian, a man who allegedly thinks government can't do anything correctly, he's got a who lot of faith in its completely debunked statistical propaganda.

Anyone who believes that the economy grew - AT ANY RATE - no less at 3.3 percent in this year's second quarter....Anyone who believes that inflation was a mere 1.9% ought to be yanked off the public stage.

Or at a minimum they should be quarantined in the Moron ward.

It's a shame; on many fronts Don Luskin is an otherwise brilliant man.

It's hard to believe Don could write this article a month or so ago. But it's near impossible to believe he'd write it on a Sunday that Lehman Bros., Washington Mutual, and AIG were all on the cusp of bankruptcy. Heck only one week ago Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's $5 trillion business went belly-up.

Of course Don's perma-optimism dementia spun that one as bullish as well. See Fannie, Freddie Bailout Should Be Good for the Market. (subscription link)

Click here to read my prior post on Don Luskin.

If Only 'Old Coots"...

...knew how to email a resume.

Or order something online.

Misplaced Sympathy

Yesterday I got a taunting email from a friend who's a rabid Philadelphia Eagles fan. She wrote:

Sorry about your quarterback.

That was of course a reference to Tom Brady's season-ending knee injury from last week. Apparently, NE Patriots fans were allowed a one week grieving period.

I fired back at her, "Sorry about YOUR quarterback!"

I mean seriously - Donovan McNabb is worse than a horrible quarterback. He's a tease who will almost always get into a hope-inducing championship position before choking his guts out.

Who could ever forget his 6-minute version of the 2-minute offense from the Super Bowl?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bailout Blather

In a prior thread, DA (Danny Ainge?) asked me to envision the financial landscape with no government taxpayer bailout of Fannie and Freddie Mac bondholders.

Well, quite simply, Agency bondholders need to take a haircut (10-20%) on their interest payments. In other words, the people who bought Fannie and Freddie bonds will have to agree to a lower rate of return than they signed up for. I believe they could refuse and push the agencies into bankruptcy, but then they would just be stuck with the *assets* of Fannie and Freddie. And, obviously, the underlying assets aren't performing as well as advertised.

Most of the people that own Agency bonds are wealthy individuals, hedgefunds, financial institutions, and foreign governments. These people lose money all the time on investments where no one *bails them out* and they have survived.

The mortgage market predates Fannie and Freddie by quite some time; AND it will live on well past their demise. This *bailout* won't do diddly for the housing market as the now explicitly-sponsored entity(s) in all likelihood won't be allowed to expand their balance sheets. Sure the big banks will dress up some of the toxic loans on their books and try to dump them onto taxpayers (through this new entity), BUT, for the most part, all the government will be doing is keeping wealthy bondholders whole.

I, for one, wouldn't be surprised to see the "private mortgage market" start to grow. This is where private individuals write mortgages most usually to people they have vetted or know (family). I think private mortgages may gain steam not only because the banks are reeling in their credit exposure, but also because CDs are paying such paltry yields.

If you had excess cash, would you want to put it all in 3% CDs spread around at different banks OR would you maybe be comfortable lending say 300k at 6-7% to a young professional couple so they can buy a house down the street whose value you think you have a good handle on?

No matter what the government does or tries to do, house prices are going to fall 20-30% to get back in line with median incomes. It'll be at least 20 years before Morons bid them back up to the insane levels of 2005-2006.

Don't buy the government's fear-mongering lines about staving off *systematic collapse* or about Fannie's failure setting off an *economic spiral*. If you chronically believe the rhetoric of politicians (healthcare "crisis", obesity "crisis", WMDs, Bear Stearns "must be saved", illegals "doing jobs Americans won't do", global warming "crisis", etc.) then I can't help you.

The fact is, nobody has any clear idea of what will happen in the future. AND, the last people I am going to look for guidance are the politicians who created the fiasco in the first place.

Probably the only way Big Government could help prop up housing prices in the slightest would be by raising household incomes. That would require massive tax cuts. Certainly don't bet on that!

Typical Stubborn Seller

Yeah, $15 off a million dollar home...that'll help.

It's probably a typo or a correction. I noticed that the listing price was adjusted down around 15k the other day. That won't help either.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Referee Stage

When my wife was pregnant...all we wanted was the kids to arrive.

Then all we wanted was to be done with nursing and 3 hour wake-up screams.

Then it was the bottles and the crawling, the diapers and the darn plastic obstacles (the swing, the exer-saucer). Finally these burdens all faded. In fact, now we are almost totally done with diapers as my 2.25 year old daughter looks very precocious with the potty.

But the hurdles never end. Now all I do is REFEREE my two kids. They fight constantly: physically, verbally, even psychologically. I am beyond trying to teach them how to get along. What I do is put one mischievous kid in one corner of the house and the other as far away as I can. Only then does peace have a fighting chance at a 5 minute reign.

My kids have a knack, make that an Olympian talent for annoying each other. They both know EXACTLY what to do to send the other into a fiery rage.

Obviously, they inherited this proclivity from their mother's gene pool.

Fedex Would Have Been Faster

I just did a google image search of "perry eidelbus" and look what came up:

I can't believe google subtitled him as a "closet invert". He's getting married (allegedly) (to a female) for crying out loud!

Due to a reader request, I had to check up on old pal Perry Eidelbus. Supposedly his mail-order bride arrived (or maybe she didn't; maybe they are wedding offshore). He announced on his blog that he was finally getting married on this past Friday. I hope he posts his gift registry so I don't have to *use my imagination*. Me and my staff here at Marginalizing Morons wish him all the best.

Shoot, he got "engaged" in October. I thought these old fashioned marriages we done a whole lot faster than 12 months.

A Snail Mail-Order Bride?

UPDATE - Perry has blocked my direct links to his posts. So to get to his blog from here, one must right-click on my links, copy the shortcut, and paste into another browser tab or window. For more on this childish tactic of his - click here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Homeschool Success Story

Apparently Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was homeschooled.

Note he's the only underclassman to ever win the Heisman Trophy (2007). Click the Wikipedia link above to read about his unusual path to stardom.

I came upon this nugget while trying to find the jabroni that West Coast Tom mentioned.

Still Can't Show My Face

I've cropped it out. This will be my new *profile* picture.

Note that more than a couple of Morons laughed at me when I started Hip Hop Abs.

When Up Is Down

About 1.5 months ago this blog descended into sports-talk. I penned Boston Does Not Deserve Manny Ramirez - It Never Did.

Well, Manny has since gone on to the LA Dodgers and promptly knocked the cover off the ball. I just got this email from a Masshole friend of mine:

Here are the numbers since August 1st for this particular NL player:

14 HR
40 RBI

(first player since 1940 with numbers this high)

Team: 4 back in NL West on July 31
Team: 4 up in NL West today

Does this player deserve consideration for NL MVP?

That player....

Manny Ramirez

Then of course my buddy's father chimed into the email thread:

Shows you how much he dogged it and stuck it to Boston. May the stagnant urine of 1,000 irate camels fill his water bottle and may black widow spiders find a home in his shampoo bottle.

Now it's but a detail who wrote that. It could have come from my father, any of my uncles, my grandfather, or from just about any grumpy old Masshole you meet.

In their minds, there's NOTHING, NO POSSIBLE evidence whatsoever that could prove to them they were wrong - on anything! If Manny plays great, well, he was dogging it in Boston; if he plays bad, well, we told you he was *done*.

I could see being cognitively dissonant on more emotional, egocentric things like say politics.

But sports? C'mon.

The next thing you know, Massholes will be electing politicians who think *government failure* is an argument for *more government*. [jest]

Somewhat Funny

I found the second part a tad hyperbolic.

A Good Anonymous Tip

A couple of posts ago, Anonymous posted a great link in the comment section. It deserves to be brought to fore.

One of the particular jabs in that video concerned "TGI Fridays". Ironically, right where they filmed that clip (by the Bull Statue on Broadway) there used to be a TGI Fridays that my wife's colleagues often hung out at (i.e. imbibe adult beverages) all the time.

AND, contra to the lyrics, they were Wall Street bankers!

Thanks, Anonymous!

Canine Idolatry

Perusing the calendar for my town's *Recreation Center* I came across this:

Pooch Parties

Wednesday October 29th 7:30-9:00 PM 1 Night $30
Halloween Pooch Party-Events include: bobbing for tennis balls, best costume contest, beginners agility and of course tricks for treats

Wednesday November 19th 7:00-8:30 PM 1 Night $30
Thanksgiving Gobble Doggie Social-Events include, off leash playgroup, obedience command obstacle course, bar jump contests and musical doggie tunnels

Wednesday October 29th 7:00-8:30 PM 1 Night $30
Doggy Obstacle Course Night-Learn basic dog agility obstacles & run a course with your dog.

Wednesday December 17th 7:00-8:30 PM 1 Night $30
Jingle Bell Bark Holiday Party-Events include: canine contests (waggiest tail, best trick, dog owner look-a-like, best holiday outfit), agility games

There are three more events listed for canine idolators bringing the grand total to seven.

Meanwhile, there are only eleven scheduled items for the HUMAN CHILDREN of local property taxpayers!!!

The waggiest tail contest?

Are you sh*itting me???!!!

To read all my blogging on Deranged Dog People, click here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Homeschooling Might Have To Be Imposed!

This month Forbes allowed three nerds to pontificate on what they call "education".

Now the crux of the article was that students should graduate to higher levels of learning PROVIDED they master preceding ones. Captain Obvious might very well sue for plagiarism.

So big deal, right? Vapidity is mass produced by the media.

But one excerpt excerpt from Teaching To The New Test got me rattled:

When K--12 education in the U.S. was done in one-room schoolhouses, most instruction occurred at individualized rates. Then an explosion in the student population in the early 20th century forced schools to adopt one-size-fits-all instruction. They borrowed from factories the concept of batch processing, with a fixed time spent in each stage of the process of assembling an educated person. Repair, rework and reject became a costly element of the system, just as it did in assembly plants.

So there you have another striking manifestation of the authors' ignorance. Saying that a population explosion FORCED factory schooling is like saying that - in World War II, the United States BOMBED thousands of innocent Japanese civilians without any mention of Pearl Harbor or the Bataan Death March.

Only government and thugs have the power to FORCE anything on anyone. One-room schoolhouses were not subject to any mandates or curricula until they were IMPOSED on them from those in power.

Who was it that ran America 100 years ago? Well, it was the powerful industrialists who used an erstwhile small Big Government to impose education of the batch processing variety.

They did it because they were deathly afraid of labor strikes. I will let my prior post handle the enlightening context:

In 1908, when the play opened in Washington, the United States was in the middle of absorbing the largest influx of immigrants in its history – Irish and Germans, followed by Italians and East Europeans, Catholics and Jews – some 18 million new citizens between 1890 and 1920. (link)

Well, the industrial capitalists (Robber Barrons) who ran the country had as their greatest fears, strikes and labor unrest. Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and their cohorts saw compulsory schooling as the vehicle to tame this horde of alien rabble. Schools would teach kids obedience to authority. Immigrant students would be Americanized, molded into productive citizens, forced to cite the Pledge of Allegiance, and LEARN ENGLISH.

There you have it, you Forbes-writing buffoons. The system is broken because it wasn't designed to serve your misbegotten premise!

Sometime I can't stomach for these Morons.

Mass schooling has always been about POLITICAL MIND CONTROL.

It would be nice if Forbes and other solution-minded entities gave a platform to someone with a fundamental clue.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Pro-Choice Morons

Recently I saw a bumper sticker here in Boston that read:

DBC - Dorchester By Choice

For y'all alien to Boston, Dorchester is *the hood*. It's got to be the most dangerous place in Massachusetts - BY FAR.

First of all, I don't believe the *choice* aspect. Granted, there are some really stupid people out there, but I'll bet in these cases, *choice* has been conflated with *price*. I know a guy who bought in an undesirable hood as well. He claimed to have wanted his kids to "grow up in the city" when really, that was what they could afford when they bought (at the peak of the market). Now that the kids are here, they are looking to *choose* to move out!

So, choosing to live in Dorchester (i.e. endangering you and your family's personal safety) when you can afford otherwise is Marginalizable enough all by itself. BUT, to brandish the DBC sticker on your car? That is profoundly Moronic.

One of my best teachers ever's favorite saying was "Don't DISPLAY your ignorance."

The next time I pull up alongside a car with this DBC sticker I will roll down my window and say, "Thank you so much for living in Dorchester. Hopefully you'll get stabbed and the world will be saddled with one less chauvinistic Moron!!!"

I'm open to other suggestions as well. There has to more than a couple *perfect retorts* out there.

Why again would anyone choose to send their kids to Dorchester High School?

By the way, I didn't imagine this DBC sticker. Read this.

Citizens Should Be INSPECTING The State!!!

It seems like all I do is get my vehicles inspected.

Every time I turn around one of them is due for either an inspection or an emissions test. Here in the eco-pagan CommiWealth of Massachusetts cars must have their emissions tested every two years.

Just the other day I brought my car in for an oil change and the mechanic hollered out that my sticker expired last month. I seriously would have driven around for months if he (or a cop) hadn't notified me.

It's a complete joke that every car in the State has to be inspected so often. Furthermore, the grease monkey (offensive?) also informed me that Massachusetts was going to start requiring the emissions test EVERY SINGLE YEAR from now on. Great.

He told me they were doing it so, "They can get more Federal money..."


This reminds me of Mitt Romney's universal health coverage mandate. Allegedly, the reason for that initiative was to get the uninsured rate down in order to acquire, also, more Federal (Medicare) monies.

To say that our *systems* have set up convoluted incentives would be an understatement.

Even worse than the incentives are the *solutions*. See the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.