Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Homeschoolers - Winning The Diversity Bee Too!

Yeah, they mispelled *Virginia* at a spelling bee....I get it.

Moving on....

Recently I appended myself and kids to an advertised *homeschooler* hike.

It's always somewhat awkward to crash a new social group - even one with a clear open invitation. One just never knows what to expect.

Again, my kids are small so I am limited to stroller-friendly paths. Most of the group took steep trails while me and the Prince (age 4.6) and Princess (age 3.0) took the 2.4 mile *leisurely* route with just one other parent and her daughter.

As much as I thought I was *crashing*, this woman totally one-upped me. She lives in Canada; is in Boston for the summer; and just found out about the hike from Google or something. Now how's that for an intrepid act of homeschooler *socialization*?

Would you do such a thing? Most of the *highly socialized* people I know won't go into a local bar by themselves. I've seen plenty of my peers wait in the car until the precise moment their jabronis show up - lest they have to be seen alone for 10 minutes at the bar!

Though she spoke only a little English, by the end of the hike I learned that she was a raging vegetarian, and a staunch *environmentalist*. Just my kind of gal!

I also met another woman, a real crunchy type, who used the term *conservative* quite a bit; let's just say, it wasn't exactly a *term of endearment*! (That was an Oscar-winning film from 1983.) Point of fact, this woman told me that *lawyers are conservative*. I only wasted a second or two trying to decipher that one!

Another mom there had their child wearing a shirt with a quote from Corinthians on it.

And still another drove a very large car with a prominent *Ron Paul for President* sticker on it.

If this group didn't represent real, ideological *diversity* then I don't know what would!

I talked to a bunch of the older kids. I asked one young man what he was studying; what he was good at. He said he didn't know what he was good at because he *was homeschooled*.

Now I knew full well that he was homeschooled - all the kids there were - and I pointed that out.

I pressed the 11 year old to list his favorite subjects. He said he didn't have subjects; that he *was homeschooled*.

"I know...", I reiterated.

He said he'd guess his favorites are math, science, and history.

"What history have you studied? Have you done any world history like the Roman Empire?"

To which I got more shrugs and sighs. This little dude was losing his patience with me.

He snapped, "I'M HOMESCHOOLED....I just read a bunch of books with random facts."

Hah! Take that C-Nut!

Now I knew what he meant, eventually anyway. Many homeschoolers reject the conventional teaching of history. They deprecate dividing history into periods of time or geography. Of course it's most certainly wrong to, right off the bat, tell students about the broader themes of eras and civilizations. They should gather their own data until the events, people, and ideas of the past coalesce in their own minds. I've even heard of some who advocate learning history by strictly reading biographies.

Have to end this post here. I just thought some of y'all would find that last anecdote humorous. Heck, it took Taylor probably 100 attempts to smack me down that good!

Worshipping Birds, Subordinating People

Last week while camping I met some residents of Plymouth, Massachusetts. That's a coastal town about 40 minutes south of me - and, of far lesser significance, it's where the Mayflower landed.

These guys and gals complained to me that they couldn't utilize their town beach on account of the *piping plover*, a bird. Of course I had to google this potential blog material:

Plovers Will Close Long Beach to Vehicles

PLYMOUTH — A pair of federally protected piping plovers has built its nest near Ryder Way, the dirt road that connects the Plymouth Beach parking lot with the rest of Long Beach. Once eggs in the nest hatch, the town will ban recreational vehicles beyond the lot reserved for day parking. (Information initially received said the Crossover was being closed immediately.)

Residents who have homes farther out on the beach will still be allowed to travel through the area, but only at certain times of the day and with an escort.

The ban will eliminate all recreational vehicle access to the Crossover, the passage through the barrier beach’s rock spine that allows cars to cross from the road onto the bayside beach, and points beyond.

The town announced plans for the closure Friday, just two weeks after the Crossover opened for the 2009 summer season. Acting Town Manager Melissa Arrighi said the town warns that access might be restricted when residents purchase $35 Long Beach stickers. She said the town is nonetheless looking for a way to offer rebates because this closure may be unusually long.

The length of the closure will depend on when the chicks hatch and when they fledge. Because plovers nest on the ground and lead their tiny hatchlings across the sand to the shoreline to feed, vehicles pose a threat not just to the nest and its eggs but to the hatchlings as well until they learn to fly, which takes about six weeks after the eggs hatch.

Now, what exactly is the benefit to living a beach town if residents can't even enjoy THE BEACH?

You get the freezing coastal winter and you're cut off from the rest of the world....as it stands, it's bad enough that the summers are so short here in New England.

These Plymouth residents informed me that the bird isn't even *endangered* and that the *whole town* has this bumper sticker on their cars:

They characterized, repeatedly, that the whole thing is so bad, so ridiculous, and a *complete joke*.

But later on, from discussing a different subject, it was revealed to moi that these folk were all unionized government workers; and that they all mindlessly pull the level for the statists who've made *environmentalism* a state-sanctioned religion.

This is the Massachusetts I've lived in for much of my life - a land were Morons incessantly, and vehemently, complain about the BS they themselves voted for.

This is Massachusetts - the *most educated* state in the nation!

Least Masculine Beer Ever?

I saw this in a store last week. Unbelievable. Pomegranate raspberry, low carb, light beer?

Someone tried to explain to me that, "It's for chicks."

NO. Regular Michelob Ultra is for chicks - though I freely admit to drinking it.

But I have to - to maintain my figure.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Harry Lange - Our Best Contrary Indicator?

Last May, Fidelity Magellan fund manager piled into banking stocks. He got killed.

Read prior posts Skim Biz Update - Fidelity Investments and the follow-up Marginalizing Analysts.

Now behold the nugget I just unearthed today:

Fidelity's Magellan Fund Boosts Stakes In BofA, Other Banks

BOSTON (Dow Jones)--Fidelity Investments' Magellan mutual fund appeared to significantly boost its stake in Bank of America Corp. (BAC) in May while it added to its Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) position, according to new records released by the mutual-fund giant.

The fund - a one-time industry bellwether that lost some luster last year amid backfiring financial bets - also boosted its holdings in Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) last month, according to Fidelity's data.

The $22.4-billion Magellan fund has gone back and forth with Bank of America over the last several months. It significantly boosted its stake in the bank last September, for example, then substantially reduced its holdings of the bank months later.

More recently, Magellan has jumped back in. At the end of May, the market value of the fund's stake in Bank of America was $398.6 million, according to the new Fidelity records, making the bank the fund's tenth-largest holding. The value is up more than eight-fold from the amount reported for the end of April.

The bank's stock price rose 26.2% in May, indicating Magellan manager Harry Lange bought at an opportune time. The stock price has climbed further in June.

Goldman was already a big Magellan holding at the end of April, when it was the ninth-largest company in the fund. Goldman moved up to the number six spot in May, though, as the rise in market value climbed nearly 35% to $475 million. Because the stock rose 12.5% on the month, the sharper rise in market value indicates a beefed-up position in the bank.

Among other financial holdings, the value of Magellan's stake in Wells Fargo rose 80% to $349.4 million at the end of May compared with the end of April. The stock rose 27.4% last month, also indicating an expanded position.

The only question now is *how long before my next Harry Lange follow-up post*???

More Landlord Recklessness

I just heard that my landlord totaled his *hot rod* convertible.

Apparently he went off the road and was actually ejected out of the vehicle. Must have been due to that unreliable, unused seat belt!

Supposedly he got banged up pretty bad, but is walking about only 2 days later.

I half think he may have tried to crash the car intentionally for the insurance money.

On that note, I admit that when we go away on vacation and whatnot, I no longer inform the Moron for fear that I'll come home to a house that was hit by *lightening* - if y'all know what I mean.

Remember his mortgage(s) are twice the market value of this house I rent.

AND, for the record, let's just say his ethnicity is completely OPPOSITE to the one normally associated with the *lightening* aspersion.

For the humorous background on his car and whatnot, see:

Update - My Moronic Landlord.

Itching For A Fight

Barry Ritholtz is itching for a fight and I just may be game. He's decided to put up $10,000-$100,000 to debate anyone on, well, you can read his post - $100,000 CRA Challenge.

One dude named John Carney has accepted the bet but Barry, a man whose entire livelihood depends on trading/investing OPM (Other People's Money) has thus far, most hypocritically, refused to accept the challenge because Carney needed a *backer*.

Read my comments on that thread before Barry deletes them.

I'm going to ratchet up my antagonism on this matter. One, because it's warranted. And two, because I've got an smidgen of free time now.

Barry Ritholtz is by no means a formidable intellectual - and I'm amazed how much credence he's won from pure bluster.

Definitely check out - Barry Don't Know Logic - which has links to my other *Ritholtz* posts.

Greg Mankiw - Selective Statism

It seems *nationalized healthcare* is the one statist goal that Greg Mankiw isn't afraid to take on. The same probably goes for the New York Times which recently ran a column of his on this very subject. Judged narrowly, it's a well-written, well-reasoned piece:

The Pitfalls of the Public Option

In the debate over health care reform, one issue looms large: whether to have a public option. Should all Americans have the opportunity to sign up for government-run health insurance?

President Obama has made his own preferences clear. In a letter to Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana, the chairmen of two key Senate committees, he wrote: "I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest."

Even if one accepts the president’s broader goals of wider access to health care and cost containment, his economic logic regarding the public option is hard to follow. Consumer choice and honest competition are indeed the foundation of a successful market system, but they are usually achieved without a public provider. We don’t need government-run grocery stores or government-run gas stations to ensure that Americans can buy food and fuel at reasonable prices.

An important question about any public provider of health insurance is whether it would have access to taxpayer funds. If not, the public plan would have to stand on its own financially, as private plans do, covering all expenses with premiums from those who signed up for it.

But if such a plan were desirable and feasible, nothing would stop someone from setting it up right now. In essence, a public plan without taxpayer support would be yet another nonprofit company offering health insurance. The fundamental viability of the enterprise does not depend on whether the employees are called "nonprofit administrators" or "civil servants."

In practice, however, if a public option is available, it will probably enjoy taxpayer subsidies. Indeed, even if the initial legislation rejected them, such subsidies would be hard to avoid in the long run. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants created by federal law, were once private companies. Yet many investors believed — correctly, as it turned out — that the federal government would stand behind Fannie’s and Freddie’s debts, and this perception gave these companies access to cheap credit. Similarly, a public health insurance plan would enjoy the presumption of a government backstop.

Such explicit or implicit subsidies would prevent a public plan from providing honest competition for private suppliers of health insurance. Instead, the public plan would likely undercut private firms and get an undue share of the market.

You know, it's stuff like this that make the Greg Mankiw's of our world dangerous.

He can be perfectly lucid on one matter like healthcare here....which burnishes his credentials, but then he abuses that earned respect on other matters - such as his misbegotten carbon taxes.

These two-faced clowns are dangerous simply because the sheeple are wholly dependent on *received opinion* and are only fluent in base dichotomies. And, ultimately, Dr. Mankiw amounts to nothing more than a *useful idiot* to be trotted out and hid behind at the convenience of bad people.

Obviously, this so-called *public option* is a ruse, a Trojan horse if you will, for an eventual 100% nationalized health system. As Robert Moses would say, "All you have to do is drive the first stake!"

Now, above I cautioned to judge Mankiw's column *narrowly*. Recall these lines:

Consumer choice and honest competition are indeed the foundation of a successful market system, but they are usually achieved without a public provider. We don’t need government-run grocery stores or government-run gas stations to ensure that Americans can buy food and fuel at reasonable prices.

Okay Greg, you are correct.

BUT, by that same logic, DO WE NEED government-run (subsidized) education???!!!

I won't hold my breath waiting for Greg Mankiw to be arrested by self-awareness and pen that column!

He'll be loathe to indict the system that he's gamed so well. Remember, he's probably made tens of millions off his textbook alone selling it to over-leveraged, tax subsidized, naive college students.

And, that's a shame because, well, competent, in-demand professors would probably make a whole lot more money if Big Government got out of college education. Because, as it stands, schools spend all their resources angling for, well, more resources - from the Feds that is. An effective teacher is not valued in this system - only those who bring research monies, image, and much-needed political influence to the university.

My last point sounds crazy, right? Perhaps it's a stretch.

But consider this. This Mankiw is sneaky. He recently wrote a blog post where he tries to scare (I'll bet) his doctor friends against Obama universal healthcare. He essentially tells them their wages will be cut - but does so in his typical, invertebrate way. He *wonders* and rhetorically asks his *students*:

Explain how a large government healthcare plan (a "single payer" being the extreme case) could potentially reduce the wages of healthcare workers....

And he dangled this graph comparing American doctors' incomes versus those of in countries with nationalized healthcare:

Do you get my point?

Since Mankiw asserts that a *public option* for healthcare will diminish the wages of healthcare workers....

Does it not follow that having Big Government so involved in education reduces the wages of teachers below what they'd earn in a freer market?

Of course it does!

By the way, I've taken this tack before with government school teachers. I've tried to tell them that they would earn MORE money and have better working conditions in a free market, non-union environment. Well, the competent teachers would anyway.

I've asked them if it bothers them that their fellow teachers who are horrible get paid the same as they do. I say that there is no other workplace in America where such *inequity* wouldn't cause employees to grumble, and quit.

And all I get is blank stares - from these people who really are wholly unfit to be sculpting young minds.

Remember, they're not teachers....they're merely clerks in a vast bureaucracy.

I've written a whole lot on Dr. Mankiw - click here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Who's A Jumbo-Sized Moron?

If you live in a tony northeastern locale, as I do, you're surely aware that the high-end of the housing market is utterly falling apart. Inventory is piling up rapidly....and demand is absolutely *bid-less*. Homes in towns near me that would have sold for $1.6 million recently are now languishing at $1.2 million without any buyers in sight. And homes that would have sold for $1 million 18 months ago are now hitting the low 800s without moving.

To ask a stupid question:

Why are luxury homes in the process of falling off a cliff?

Well, look no further than this recent news item:

Bank of America Corp. was the largest jumbo lender in the first quarter, with almost $9 billion in new loans, followed by Citigroup, according to newsletter National Mortgage News. JPMorgan ranked sixth. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. was the top overall mortgage originator, followed by Bank of America, JPMorgan and Citigroup, the newsletter said.

So, just as jumbo borrowers were about to have their collateral walloped....

Ken Lewis decided to become the largest jumbo lender in the country!

Remember, this is the same guy who jumped head-first into subprime lending (er, legacy toxic debt) in July 2007 right when that market was starting to implode.


Barbara Desoer, head of Bank of America’s mortgage unit, said in a March interview the bank was seeking to make more jumbo mortgages, offering "extremely competitive" rates to consumers. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank "has balance-sheet capacity and we’ve allocated it to jumbos given our presence in some of the states and regions where that’s important," she said. "We’re very much open for business."

Bank of America doesn’t now make jumbo mortgages through brokers or so-called correspondent lenders, only its "retail" channel, though that’s "under regular evaluation," said spokesman Rick Simon.

Let me ask y'all another question:

Is Bank of America in any position to be strutting *extremely competitive* on anything?

This Ken Lewis is an out-of-control lunatic....one whose ability to *read the cards* is non-existent. I'm sorry, you can't run a bank, no less one of the largest in the world, if you CAN'T GAUGE COLLATERAL.

This is the guy who declared 2007's fourth quarter the worst his company would ever see.

This is the guy who bought the less than worthless, aforementioned Countrywide.

This is the guy whose firm wrote over $110 billion in unsecured HELOCs in 2006 alone.

This is the Moron who paid a premium(!) for the disaster Merrill Lynch.

All one has to do is see his bets du jour to know where the next shoe's going to drop.

High end homes in *important areas*....see ya later!

See also - Refi'ing A Bubble.

And, for the master link on Kenny, my third favorite Moron - click here.

Holiday Time For Self-Unconscious Dog Morons

Friday was apparently *Take Your Dog To Work Day*. Who knew?

Boston Globe picture gallery here.

Strike 1 - Is actually owning a dog. That's right, all of y'all!

Strike 2 - Knowing about the holiday AND taking your mutt into your wage slavery post.

Strike 3 - Taking a picture of an animal at your desk, signing your legal name, AND then submitting it for worldwide dissemination on the internet!

Almost, almost unbelievably....there were at least fifty(!) such submissions to the Boston Globe on Friday.

Click here for my copious treatment of *deranged dog people*.

Kinda Funny

Children Of The UN?

Does that pic make the poor woman look like Michael Jackson or what?

Getting back on track - from her article:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and opened to nations across the world for ratification in 1989, may significantly weaken the rights of parents to raise and homeschool their children. Crucial parental decisions such as who our children associate with, what type of discipline is used, whether we take our kids to church, what they read and whether we homeschool, would be decided by the state and possibly international law.

Currently, family and education laws are state-based. However, the UNCRC can be ratified if it gains a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate. It would then transfer the jurisdiction for making family and education law to the U.S. Congress. Congress would, in turn, be obligated to follow the UN mandates and the UNCRC will automatically supersede all state laws and U.S. judges will be obligated to follow the provisions of the treaty.

That article is light on specifics, so exercise some personal responsibility and do your own due diligence.

Make no mistake, this is a ruse by and for international elites - those scumbags who do exist, do wield considerable power, and are hard at work pushing for one GLOBAL COMMUNIST ORDER.

Consider this from the UN *treaty*:

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.


The State will protect children from the *beliefs* of their parents!!!

I've written, and many of y'all have no doubt laughed, about the *global elite* before.

See my prior posts - On The Elite and Unity, A Ruse.

So Bad....Laughter Is Only Recourse

Now, shouldn't the eco-pagan socialists out west be against this multi-culti stupidity?

Just think how many extra trees are lost from *bureaucratic*, *political* forest fire fighting?

One other note on English as THE *second language*....

I recently bought a lawnmower ($550, John Deere, on account of my Moronic landlord) and would y'all believe me if I told you the operating instructions only came in Spanish!

Well, who else cuts lawns these days, right?

And, they certainly are going to include instructions written in *teenager*.

Today, in 2009, if a teenager knocks on your door asking to mow your lawn....you ought to call NASA so they can quarantine the alien - a la ET!

Why can't they make movies like that anymore?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Finally Done!

It took me 12 months, but I've concluded reading a study bible - cover to cover - all 2,177 pages of microscopic font!

This book was not exactly a page-turner, but reading it (with application!) is certainly a *game-changer*.

Not much blogging this week, huh?

This has to be the least amount of time I've spent on the computer in at least five years.

So my camping trip was, additionally, a much needed vacation from y'all!

Or was it vice versa?

Anyways, I have plenty to say, on the Bible, and also on my regular *mundane* topics next week when I catch my breath. We're driving home tomorrow morning.

See also - Another Book Rec - The Bible.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Massachusetts - Dumber Than Dishwater

Okay, so taxpayers will be paying MORE for LESS. Got it?

Full article here.

Well, flashback a mere 8 months ago to the election. Remember Mass Morons had a chance to ELIMINATE the state income tax. Not only did they take a pass, they voted down the repeal RESOUNDINGLY.

For more on that, read - Massachusetts- More Morons Than Your State!.

So why would anyone possibly vote FOR an income tax?

Well, people like my father were led to believe that his state pension would be cut.

And, others were led to believe that *local aid* would be slashed. In other words, their local government school budgets would get hammered.

Time and again I heard the essence of the latter. People were afraid that if income taxes were eliminated, that their *services* would really suffer.

But now Mass pols have cut services AND increased taxes!!!

In some ways I really do hope the Morons here keep electing the SAME politicians....so that this economic death spiral can speed up a bit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gone Camping

Well, sort of.

I am up at Sebago Lake in Maine this week with my family. I apologize for not putting up a notice that posting would be light. Though, I do have internet access and should be back posting a bit now that we are settled.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Watermarks Of The Jurassic

Nice pic of my kids, huh?

My mother just emailed it over. Oh, did some of you guess that?

Yeah, the *burned-in date* is a dead giveaway, right?

Tell me something, why, WHY DO THEY ALL DO THAT?

Why do fossils all, for some reason, rig their cameras to ruin EVERY pic with fluorescent, DOS-like fonted *dates*???

It's just got to be because....when they go through their albums today, they can't remember anything about the old photos they have. They don't know when or where pictures were taken; and they often can't even tell you which baby/toddler is which!

What kills me is that these 'old coots' and 'old bags' can't do ANYTHING technological. Heck, their VCRs all still flash 12:00 and their car clocks are off by an hour for half the year. But, by some fluke, they unanimously figured out how to ruin digital photos with unnecessary data.

AND, they all have their cameras set on ridiculously high pixel counts.

Then they try to attach like 10 of them in a single email....which invariably gets bounced back because of excessive size. Then jurassic techno-frustration rears its head....

And they call one of us thinking they have a *virus* - which many of them do get because they click on tantalizing *win $1,000* pop up ads and the like!

The clincher is that high resolution shots are only needed if someone is planning on printing out the photo.

But who really wants a framed picture with the date burned in?!

Hard To Smother Good Humor

2.5 years ago I uploaded this absolutely hilarious clip to YouTube only to have it taken down by *lawyers* for copyright infringement. Obviously, those thugs couldn't keep it out of the public domain. Enjoy:

I wrote about that incident, my being censored, in - Copyrighted Morons.

Funny Wack-A-Doo Kid

First of all, DO NOT go to the website advertised on that video. It's serious p0rn....that really should be vetted by a professional perv. West Coast Tom is already on the job and he'll let us know. If we don't hear anything, we can assume the site crashed his computer (or, both arms are recuperating in slings!).

Now, about the video. I confess I may be guilty of *color* profiling here, but I submit that groovin' little twerp is in all likelihood DRUNK. Because that's what those people do!

Another Disney Boycott?

First of all, google "boycott disney" and you'll find plenty of search results. The array of people that have an issue with Disney is long and wide!

Now I'm not a *boycott* kinda guy by any stretch, but after reading the latest egregious maneuver by the Disney Corporation....

From Drudge this week:

Wed Jun 17 2009 15:15:00 ET

ABC is refusing to air paid ads during its White House health care presentation, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned, including a paid-for alternative viewpoint!

The development comes a day after the network denied a request by the Republican National Committee to feature a representative of the party's views during the Obama special.

Conservatives for Patients Rights requested the rates to buy a 60-second spot immediately preceding 'Prescription for America'.

Statement from Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients Rights:

"It is unfortunate - and unusual - that ABC is refusing to accept paid advertising that would present an alternative viewpoint for the White House health care event. Health care is an issue that touches every American and all potential pieces of legislation have carried a pricetag in excess of $1 trillion of taxpayers' money. The American people deserve a healthy, robust debate on this issue and ABC's decision - as of now - to exclude even paid advertisements that present an alternative view does a disservice to the public. Our organization is more than willing to purchase ad time on ABC to present an alternative viewpoint and our hope is that ABC will reconsider having such viewpoints be part of this crucial debate for the American people. We were surprised to hear that paid advertisements would not be accepted when we inquired and we would certainly be open to purchasing time if ABC would reconsider."


First of all, Disney has a fiduciary obligation to its shareholders to maximize advertising revenue.

Secondly, realize that the thugs have already won. Drudge hasn't stirred up a movement for *balance* on their program; he's only carved an opening for a token, soundbite commercial or two.

Again, I'm not a boycotter by any stretch, but this *news* really got my blood boiling. I sure wish I had an upcoming Disney stay that I could cancel - but I don't. So I decided to, in typical 'old bag' fashion, WRITE A LETTER drenched in my own self-righteousness.

That'll show 'em!!!

AND, I decided that I have to do something more. I will boycott ABC (Lost is over) and ESPN.

Then I remembered that the 2009 US OPEN at Bethpage (golf) starts today, and can only be seen on the All Barack Channel networks....

Alright, personal boycott commences next week!

Lotteries - Voluntary Taxation On Morons

I just came across a recent, informative article on state lotteries.

One excerpt:

CS: Do lotteries actually lower the average person's taxes? If so, any indication by how much?

MS: In numerous states lotteries were presented as a way to hold off a tax increase, yet taxes went up anyway. In the 1980s and 1990s lotteries played a greater role in state budget than they do now. Today, lotteries account for no more than 1 or 2 percent of state budgets. Public perception is often that lotteries are paying for much more than they really are. This is often because the lotteries were over-hyped when they were put into a public referendum.

Even in states where lottery profits are earmarked for education, their contribution to overall education budgets is a tiny fraction of the whole.

As a tax item, the lotteries are regressive. Much of the money comes, voluntarily, from lower income and less educated families and is distributed to the whole of the state without regard for the source of the revenue.

Now there are a bunch of 'old coots' in my family that voluntarily pay extra taxes by *religiously* playing the lottery: scratch tickets, slots, etc. (Private Caller as well!)

I recently heard that Massachusetts has shaved their *payouts* (on scratch tix?) to around 40%. Someone else can confirm or deny since the details are irrelevant for my purposes.

Of course a perpetually bankrupt government should be expected to indulge in such *downsizing*, no?

Anyway, I just want to point out a market reality. When a monopolist gets too greedy, it not only seeds, IT FERTILIZES competition. And since gambling has been *co-opted* by the state....competition in this realm means *black market*.

I recalled that when I lived in Philly, none of my 'old coot' gumbas ever went to a gas station or a mini mart (Wawa!) to *pay voluntary taxes*.

No, they gathered up the dollar bills, wrote down their *numbers* on a microscopic scrap of paper, and then funneled the transaction to a guy, who knew a guy, who was a bookie. They did this....EVERYDAY!

These corner bookies in SoPhilly take and pay out lottery winnings based on the precise numbers pulled by the government agents.

Only they....pay better!

the official bookie at the [censored] pays 600 to 1 for a straight number and 100 to 1 on a boxed number

The state pays 500 to 1 for straight and 80 to 1 for a boxed number

That is a direct cut-and-paste from one of my gumbas that's actually proficient in email!

Now how funny is it that these toothless *numbers' guys* have built livelihoods upon Big Government greed and ineptitude!

That last pic above is a *Soviet black market*.

Remember, it's axiomatic that the bigger the *state*, the bigger the black market.

I wonder if I can do an end-around the Mass Lottery and play numbers with bookies in *Southie* (South Boston)???

See also - On Wage Slavery.

Case Study In Comparative Advantage!

TOKYO -- Who said bras are only for women? A Japanese online lingerie retailer is selling bras for cross-dressing men and they've quickly become one of its most popular items.

Since launching two weeks ago on Rakuten, a major Japanese web shopping mall, the Wishroom shop has sold over 300 men's bras for 2,800 yen ($30) each. The shop also stocks men's panties, as well as lingerie for women.

Full story here.

Now, that Japan kickstarted this market wasn't so hard to predict....

Those Asian countries are, by necessity, experts in sub-A cup sizes.

While my *academic* economics is rusty, I believe this here is an example of comparative advantage.

Crazy Broad Clutter

How bleepin' maddening is it to try to find something in your *life partner's* purse?

Her phone is ringing....or you're trying to find the car keys....BUT YOU CAN'T.

There's all this SH*T in there you have to rummage through - and you do so 5 times unsuccessfully.

My wife even tells me *where* to look and it doesn't help.

These purses have pockets within pockets, within pockets. AND, the black liner camouflages everything.

I can't be better than 1 for 300 in my lifetime sifting through Mrs. C-Nut's purse.

The absolute worst is, 2 minutes later when I am at my wit's end, she comes over, reaches in, and grabs the hidden item with SURGICAL PRECISION.

THEN, inverting justice, she cusses me out!

I know. I know. I know.

Us superficial men wouldn't even look at an *unaccessorized* chick with no-makeup - nor would we care much for one who wore loose carpenter jeans for the pocket space.

But still, as a species they need to de-clutter a bit.

Early Morning Levity

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coddling For Growth?

Have y'all read that book I highly recommended?

I'm meeting more and more people that have - and we can only assume they did so after reading about it on my blog!

In fact, some local guy the other day told me his kid turns 5 in early September. Now, in our government school district, students have to be 5 BEFORE Sept 1st to go to kindergarten.

CaptiousNut - Ah, so he just misses the cutoff....you know you can petition the school to make an exception, right?

Dude - Yeah, but my wife isn't so sure she wants to.

CaptiousNut - Well, don't let her read that new book, 'Outliers',....

Dude - She read it! That's the problem!

Without getting too far into the book's conclusions, I will say that Gladwell's research found that in some endeavors, the highest achievers were people born early in the year (Jan-March). The thinking went like this: those kids who were simply more physically mature were mistaken for *higher talent*....and they were given another leg up via increased training, tutelage, and attention. He uses Canadian hockey as the prime example. But again, read the book because I can't do it justice in a paragraph.

But as for the woman who would rather her son be held back; be a big fish in a small pond; contrast that with how I am raising my kids.

They'll be productive, independent adults in their early teens - and hopefully out of my house! Seriously, every week I am scheming of more responsibilities to lay upon them.

Meanwhile, everybody else is trying to delay education, delay maturity, and defer independence as long as possible.

And yet they all consider themselves *concerned parents*.

See also - Looking Ahead - for another blurb on Gladwell's book.

True Redneck Tanktop!

This was taken in front of the Gardendale, Alabama Wal-Mart, where the young lady was shopping at the flea market.

Look at it closely:

Click image to enlarge if needed.

Now I ask you...

Who stands and looks at a pair of men's briefs and says hmmmm...I can make me a nice summer top from these!!

On the other hand...$6 for a three pack is a good price!!

But what if they weren't bought new? That's redneck recycling at its best.

Don't throw out yer feller's drawers when the skid marks don't wash out no more. Just cut the crotch out and wear 'em.

How very GREEN! Al Gore would be proud.

Now, that pic, for a second, reminded me of that *double loser* I caught in the Lakers tanktop. Click here to see him.

That was featured in my oft-hit, classic post - Marginalizing Red Sox Fans.

There's just something telling about almost any wife-beater....

And I never understood how those undershirts mitigated *pit sweat* either!

Someone, please edify me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Best Turkey Burger, Ever

Above find 9 pounds of partially-mixed, soon-to-be grilled *Southwestern Turkey Burgers*.

If you like spicy, this is the burger for you. In fact, they are so spicy that I've had to take the jalapeños out.

Last year a marginal friend had us over and wowed us with them. I begged him for the recipe which he eventually sent. Turns out, they had the most un-manly of authors - RACHEL RAY!

I told the guy he should have never, EVER admitted to as much.

Me? I have masculinity to spare - and then some.

Southwestern Turkey Burgers
8 slices turkey bacon or turkey bacon with black pepper or applewood smoked bacon
1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast, the average weight of 1 package
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large shallot or 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional - parsley may be substituted
1/2 small bell pepper, green, red or yellow, seeded and finely chopped
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons, 2/3 palm full, ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne hot sauce, several drops (recommended: Tabasco)
2 teaspoons grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
Vegetable oil or olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 pound deli sliced pepper jack cheese
4 crusty kaiser rolls, split
1 cup sweet red pepper relish, found on condiment aisle - pepper jelly may be substituted
Red leaf lettuce

Chop your garlic and veggies.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Wipe excess grease from pan and return skillet to heat.

While bacon cooks, combine turkey meat, garlic, shallot or onion, thyme, cilantro or parsley, bell pepper, serrano or jalapeno pepper, cumin, hot pepper sauce, grill seasoning or salt and pepper. Divide mixture into 4 equal mounds then form meat into patties. Drizzle patties with vegetable oil to coat. Cook in skillet over medium high heat for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Place sliced cheese over the patties in the last 2 minutes of cooking, use 1 or 2 slices for each patty, as you like.

Pile cooked cheeseburgers into buns. Spread sweet relish or jelly on bun tops and set red leaf lettuce into place, using the relish or jelly as glue. Top cheeseburgers with 2 slices of cooked, crisp bacon or turkey bacon and lettuce.

Now, I haven't even done the bacon, and I've skipped the jelly/relish and these burgers are already exploding with plenty of zest, pizzazz, and flava.

Y'all get the idea. Make them a couple of times and you'll be comfortable monkeying with the proportions. I know that most of you who fancy yourselves *real chefs* don't go by *measurements* - and I generally agree,....except when multiplying a recipe by 7.5!!!

I served them at my daughter's birthday party yesterday and they were a hit, again.

The great thing about turkey burgers is that they don't flare up the grill when cooked en masse. And they should cook a whole lot faster which is key when cooking for 40 adults and 30 kids on two tiny grills. Another plus is that women will actually eat them whereas they often shy away from hot dogs and other, more-marbled meat.

Though they are way too spicy for 'old coots'.

Another Abusive, Self-Centered, Malpracticing Parent

He had climbed Mount Everest and Mount McKinley, won the respect of colleagues at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, and was known for his drive for excellence.

On Thursday, Dr. John Mislow and his climbing partner died while scaling Alaska's Mount McKinley after falling about 2,000 feet, the National Park Service said.

Mislow, 39, of Newton, and Dr. Andrew Swanson, 36, of Minneapolis, were roped together when they fell shortly before 2 p.m., the park service said in a statement.

Another climbing team saw them falling between 16,500 feet on the Messner Couloir and its base at 14,500 feet. The Messner Couloir is an hourglass-shaped snow gully with a 40- to 50-degree snow and ice slope that is sometimes used by advanced skiers, the park service said. It is rarely descended or ascended on foot.

Mislow and his wife have two children. "He loved being a dad," said Arthur L. Day, chairman of neurosurgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"He was a terrific person, an inspiration. He had a great work ethic," Day added. "When he was your doctor, you knew he was going to be there with you day or night, completely committed."

Mislow was in the fifth year of a seven-year neurosurgery residency. He had a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. and medical degree from the University of Chicago.

So, he was committed to his *patients* and his own thrill-seeking *self-amusement*....

....But not at all concerned about parental responsibility!

If you have kids, you're not only a Moron to dangle from 2,000 foot precipices, you're a full-blown jerk.

Full article is here.

Now, I've already touched upon this subject, AND received some caustic feedback, in - Unconscious Morons. Read the comments on that *thrill-seeker*.

And the subject also came up about 1.5 months ago with these married posts: Another Massachusetts Moron and Dumb Kid Versus Wild.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The *gutter buddy* who emailed me this queried, "Are women born this way?"

And self-answered, "Apparently!".

For sure, there must be a clip of some sluggard infant somewhere which epitomizes the mouthbreathing, lazy a$$ male.

I have several blog topics ready-to-go on my list - only I am a tad exhausted and thoroughly sotted after my daughter's birthday party.

See y'all tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My New Problem

Just as we did last year, we are turning our daughter's birthday party this week into a combo adult affair. So we don't really mind making it big and expensive ($900 so far).

But we expected a bunch of *NO's* and received almost nil. WTBleep!

So we're faced with prospect of 70 hungry mouths (40 adults and 30 kids) on Sunday. All week I was rooting for *rain*, but not now that all that perishable food is in my fridge!

We haven't done a party this big yet, but should be up to the task. By the way, we do not *outsource* any cooking, ever. And maybe that's why everyone always says *yes*? I generally skip kids' birthday parties - not just because I am off duty on the weekends, but because most of them are *kids* parties, i.e. no alcohol. Anyway, my wife says they are all the same....ordered pizza - which always threatens her *points* counting.

I've learned the hard way not to do burgers. Too many of them on my grill and it flares up uncontrollably. We also try to pick dishes that can be pre-made. Maybe I'll post the whole menu after the affair.

So posting will be light for the next few days while I wrestle with my newfound problem - popularity.

Sure, go ahead and conjecture amongst yourselves that the real draw is my wife, or our cooking....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Marginalizing Affordable Housing

Massachusetts has a law on its books called 40B. Formerly called the *snob law*, it allows developers in towns with less then 10% *affordable housing* to bypass local zoning laws if they are going to include some so-called affordable units in their plans.

In the larger scheme of our thoroughly statist government, that doesn't sound so bad, now does it?

But there's more.

Not only does 40B permit a zoning override, IT PROVIDES FUNDING to the developers through direct private market extortion.

There's some state 40B *bank* that's been forcibly funded by local banks. This bank then doles out the loot with scant oversight. In fact, developers can utilize their OWN APPRAISERS, their OWN CONTRACTORS (with their wives mysteriously on the payrolls), and engage in sundry other shenanigans. Without getting too far into the details, let's just say that 40B has got to be one of the biggest scams I've ever heard about. It's not just un-Constitutional, it's been a total broad daylight boondoggle. One accusation puts the pillage minimally at $100 million!

Yesterday, I received a mailing from www.40Bfacts.com. Apparently, that is some organization devoted to fighting this codified theft. Though, I had to reread it twice to figure out what the flyer was saying.

It was horribly written - so much so that halfway through it I wasn't sure whether it was FOR or AGAINST the law. This garbage had spelling mistakes; and was incoherent and poorly articulated.

The fact is, and I see this time and again from well-intentioned Morons, it's hard enough to *argue* with outright thugs - but it's nearly impossible when using weak-a$$ argumentation!

There another site www.repeal40B.com out there devoted to the same cause. Branded at the top of its web page is *Preserve the Environment*. [Eyes rolling.]

See what I mean about putting forth the wrong counter-arguments?

Alright, don't want to linger on this subject - I just wanted to put it out there. Here's one line from that first website worth highlighting:

Whatever the problems are, one thing is clear: Massachusetts is the only state to use 40B and after 40 years, we rank 49th in the nation in housing affordability.

What's truly disgusting, and depressing, is that despite abject failure and gross malfeasance, that none of our invertebrate pols here in Mass have the stones to stand up and speak out against the disaster of *affordable housing*.

Marginalizing Collar-Phobes

So, again, we were out the other night with a bunch of our suburbanite neighbors.

We were at a bar one town over geographically, but a town whose household tax returns are almost *one third* of the one that we live in.

As the band ramped up and the bar filled in, one guy, on the periphery of our group, remarked to my wife:

DelusionalSnob - We're kind of slumming it tonight, huh?

Now, my wife, despite being a princess of Nassau County pedigree, she was absolutely disgusted at that remark.

I had a lighter take.

You see, this guy, HAS NO BASIS for an ego. So who the heck is he to look down on anyone?

What I mean is that he isn't *independently* wealthy, he went to a nothing college, is bereft of personality and probably of friends, and I don't know of anything that he's good at.

In my book, you have to be good at something, say golf, picking up broads, making jokes, blogging, successful in your work, etc. to have even the rough foundation for snobbery.

And, as my wife pointed out, this clown ISN'T EVEN FUN to hang out with.

Generally speaking, I have no love for, no tolerance for *delusional snobs*. If that guy thought that was slumming it, then what does he think about the even slummier city where I grew up - where most of my family still lives?

Heck, his wife is essentially from the same area!

The fact is, very few of us are so far removed from humbler beginnings that we can condescend on anyone.

And most of us are just a short string of bad luck away from being broke ourselves.

Now, on the other hand....

I've met plenty of *blue-collared* people who similarly can't deal with the wealthier set. And they usually mask their unease with scorn and derision as well.

Regardless, any man that judges another based upon looks or wealth is no man at all.

I hang out with all collars - even green!

Not Funny

That was from the Chicage Tribune in 1934. We may as well re-run it today - 75 years hence!

Click to enlarge image.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Everything's Messed Up

A friend just sent me the above pic with the following caption:

Recently Michelle Obama went to serve food to the homeless at a government funded soup kitchen.

Cost of a bowl of soup at homeless shelter: $0.00 dollars

Having Michelle Obama serve you your soup: $0.00 dollars

Snapping a picture of a homeless person who is receiving government funded meal while taking a picture of the first lady using his $500 Black Berry cell phone:


Whatever about the Blackberry....

I had more of a problem with the *homeless* getting expensive pecans on their *glory muffins*.

AND them getting MUSHROOM RISOTTO!!!

I actually asked my wife to make me her wonderful risotto just this week and she refused. It takes a lot of work to slave over that pot, stirring, adding wine, broth, cheese, and whatnot.

It's hardly fare for peasants!

Indian Nightmare

We all have recurring nightmares and frustration dreams.

The one that hit me last night, yet again, is this:

I'm en route to some wedding in India. At the airport, or on the airplane, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I realize that I am without my passport or something.

So here I am, unable to run back and get it....OR, on a 17 hour (?) flight to a foreign country that's going to make me linger in a customs office or whatnot until my return trip!

That's where I wake up in a heated sweat.

This frustration dream has been torturing me literally for years.

I can't effin shake it!

Now, I've never been anywhere near India and I only have one good Indian friend these days - and he got married in Puerto Rico.

So where the heck is this coming from?

By the way, I still had those *didn't study for a test*, *didn't show up for a class all semester*, and *miscounted the number of credits I need to graduate* frustration dreams for a good ten years after I was released from factory schooling.

One Lucky Headlight

Friday night we were out boozing with a large group of Desperate Housewives and Bored Wage Slave Husbands.

The bar was only two miles away - by design, mind you - but I volunteered to drive home six stranded people additional to me and my wife. Chevy Suburbans are the best!

Of course I was legally drunk (but THEY were absolutely wasted); and of course the cops were all over our suburban neighborhood, as they are every weekend night, looking for *legally drunk* drivers.

In fact I went right past one laying in the bushes on my way to dropping off a bunch of these Housewives.

Nothing happened. And I took the long way back to avoid him.

But the next morning I noticed that I had a headlight out. Crap, I thought, boy did I get lucky. All they need is an excuse to pull you over.

I miss Philly where everyone on the road is drunk and no one cares.

It's total BS what they do here in tight-a$$ Massachusetts because you can't even get a cab home.

Marginalizing The 30th Birthday Party

I'm so glad that at 35, I'm safely passed this ridiculous social stage.

I couldn't stand going to them because, well, what exactly were we celebrating?

Invariably, these parties were for people who delayed marriage or delayed breeding. (And always had a dog!)

And, often they were pathetically thrown by the celebrant!

If not, they were *surprises* from their significant other. Also, when one half of a couple threw a big one for their noopy....then we could be sure to be invited for the reciprocating one soon thereafter. For example, a handful of years ago we had to go to two identical *surprise*, husband-and-wife, 30th birthday parties at Morton's in Hoboken, NJ. The guest lists were also the same; and both parties sported the same flaming, huge, black party dude as the MC.

Now, I'm all for finding a minor excuse to pig out and imbibe....in fact we are turning our daughter's 3rd birthday anniversary into a large scale adult soirée this weekend.

But there's nothing at all inherently worth celebrating about hitting 30.

So all those parties really do is draw attention to the fact that somebody needs attention.

Jon Treon - Real Estate Broker and Total Moron

From Appraisal Discrepancies Hold Up Some Sales:

Jon Treon, a broker for Re/Max Executive Realty in Natick, said two of his pending sales were recently challenged because the appraisals came in about $10,000 lower than the agreed upon price, a last-minute problem he hasn't seen in more than a decade.

In one case, an appraiser valued a Natick home at $11,000 less than the $341,000 price agreed upon by the seller and buyer because an identical property in the duplex sold for $330,000 the previous year.

Treon said he understood the appraiser's rationale, but the decision put at risk a sale that had a willing buyer and seller.

"Buyers are the ones that determine value, that is how real estate works," Treon said.

Someone needs to explain to this complete idiot that so long as lenders put up 80% or more of the purchase monies....that it's not exactly the *buyers* who are *determining value*. It's the freakin' banks!

One word on appraisers....

In the real estate bull market, banks wanted high appraised values and they got them.

And, in this bear market, the banks will want less risk and hence lower appraisals - and they'll get them one way or another.

Okay, here's another word on appraisers:

The whole real estate commission haggling reminds me of diamond ring appraisal at Macy's. Their jeweler will appraise your ring and his charge will be 1% of whatever he appraises it at!!!!!!

A dopey guy I know, took his fiancee's ring there, got it appraised at $15,000 and was ecstatic because he only paid $9,000 for it. For his ectasy, he was charged $150. I guess a good transaction is not when everybody wins, but rather when everybody thinks they've won.

I would almost bet my life that that ring is not worth more than $7,500. HAHA.

Wow. I wrote that over four years ago!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Green Shoots In Naples, Florida!

Check out that house on Tropicana Blvd in Naples, Florida. It's a triplex of (3!) 750 square foot units - each 2 BR 1 BA.

It's *distressed* and obviously at $63,630 on sale for less than a luxury car.

Note the building's sale history below:

Yep, it's on sale for less than half of its 1999 price!!!!!!!!!!

My realtor buddy says each unit should rent for $500 per month. Color me skeptical.

BUT, his *cheapness* point is valid.

At today's rates, $400 TOTAL in monthly rent will cover the mortgage. So figure $135 a month per unit as one's breakeven (at full occupancy).