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Χρόνια Πολλά

September 4, 2009

Would have liked to get the squidlet a beluga balloon ride but she seemed to enjoy the blocks she got. Surprisingly enough she made it through a whole year of nurturing under her parent’s unpracticed hands which is more than I can say for some pets and houseplants I’ve been responsible for.

Χρόνια Πολλά little hellraiser!


Lyrics – Disjointed translation available upon request.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 9:22 am

    For any of our vast readership who happen to be in the Philadelphia area this weekend, be sure to go get yourself some cul-chah and go see The Gonzalez Cantata – a short opera based on Alberto Gonzalez’ ridiculous testimony before Congress a few years back. You can get a ticket through The Gonzalez Cantata website which is much more entertaining than the WSJ article in the first link.

    The trailer –

    And yes, Gonzalez is played by a woman. As the website explains:

    IN PROTEST OF MALE DOMINATION OF AMERICAN POLITICS, THE GENDERS OF THE PERFORMERS HAVE BEEN REVERSED IN RELATION TO THE CHARACTERS THEY PORTRAY…

  2. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 9:31 am

    Here’s a precedent that I find disturbing – a Massachusetts school has decided to do away with all the books in its library.

    Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception.

    This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks – the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.

    ~snip~

    Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a “learning center,’’ though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.

    I agree with the librarian’s take:

    Liz Vezina, a librarian at Cushing for 17 years, said she never imagined working as the director of a library without any books.

    “It makes me sad,’’ said Vezina, who hosts a book club on campus dubbed the Off-line Readers and has made a career of introducing students to books. “I’m going to miss them. I love books. I’ve grown up with them, and there’s something lost when they’re virtual. There’s a sensual side to them – the smell, the feel, the physicality of a book is something really special.’’

    On the plus side, this should make it a lot cheaper to acquire the dusty old books that I like to collect from used bookstores. Maybe with all the money saved on book purchases I’ll be able to afford the addition on the house I’m going to need soon to house them all.

  3. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 11:29 am

    Bwahahahaha! Hilarious post today about commercial real estate from Mr. Ben Dover at zerohedge.

    But more importantly, the doomsdayers are making the classic mistake of confusing subjective value with objective value. (Bear with me here even if you don’t have an advanced economics degree.) These economic relativists think that a product only has value to the extent someone is willing to pay for it, i.e., to the extent that, in the subjective opinion of some prospective buyer, it has value. But we all know that’s not how the real world works. Goods and services have intrinsic value. That’s why FASB had the courage to yield to the greater wisdom of Congress and the banking industry and relax mark-to-market accounting. No market exists for CRE loans and CMBS, just like none exists for commercial real estate generally. But that doesn’t mean that CRE, and the loans and securities that are derived from it, don’t have value. They retain their objective value despite the fact that everyone thinks they’re so worthless that they’re unwilling to buy them at virtually any price.

    A simple example illustrates the principle. Suppose I produce a giant steaming turd. Now if I put that turd up for sale, I probably wouldn’t get any offers. Why? Not because my bowel movement is unsaleable, but because no market for it exists. Sure, the relativists will claim that the absence of a market is an indication (if not irrefutable proof) that my feces is worthless, but they’d just be describing its subjective value. Their opinion wouldn’t indicate anything about it’s all-important objective value. And since I produced the product, I’m in the best position to know its objective value and account for it accordingly.

    So, for lack of a more palatable metaphor, the CRE market is analogous to a pile of crap. Just because everyone thinks it stinks doesn’t mean it actually does. Because no market for it exists, we’ll never know what it’s true value is at this moment, which means that CRE lenders should continue to value their legacies at whatever price they subjectively believe they’re objectively worth. Later on, that fetid stool I produced might just be used to fertilize a garden, and what seems like worthless shit today might end up smelling like a bouquet of flowers tomorrow. And that’s what REITs and banks with CRE loans are doing. They’re looking ahead to the brighter future of CRE, where today’s turds are tomorrow’s tulips.

  4. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 11:48 am

    Another good one from Zerohedge, this time about the extent to which high frequency trading is used to manipulate markets.

    The movie “The Grifters” comes to mind when I read about HFT. In the movie, con men manipulated the odds at the horse track to cash in on long shots. I fail to see how HFT is all that different. Hopefully if Zerohedge and others keep banging the drum about this issue something will be done about it. I won’t hold my breath waiting though.

  5. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 12:02 pm

    Surprise surprise. Israel is going to keep building settlements on Palestinian land.

    Ignoring pleas from the Obama administration that Israel should suspend all building work at Jewish settlements, officials unveiled a plan today authorising the construction of hundreds more houses on Palestinian soil.

    In a nod to Washington, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, indicated that he would then agree to a temporary freeze on settlements in the occupied West Bank.

    So, just a few hundred more and then they’ll agree to a temporary freeze, which is really no freeze at all.

    “We regret the reports of Israel’s plans to approve additional settlement construction,” Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said. “As the President has said before, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge it to stop.”

    “In the end, America will be forced to do what is necessary to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the negotiation table. But the Netanyahu Government has proven difficult to work with,” said another US official.

    Oh really? The US “will be forced do what is necessary”? Like what, say “pretty please” the next time they ask the Israeli government to stop something they have every intention of continuing? How about cutting off the billions of dollars in aid we hand over to these bastards every single year so they can continue with their apartheid state. Maybe then somebody might believe the US government, which continues to be in the thrall of the Israeli lobby, was actually serious.

  6. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 12:52 pm

    More from Bradblog on the Mean Jean Schmidt v. Krikorkian hearings which are continuing in Ohio. The day ended without any resolution yet, so hearings will continue on Oct. 1 at which point Sibel Edmonds could testify again.

    You have to wonder if Mean Jean is wishing that she had just kept her fat yap shut yet.

  7. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 1:39 pm

    Nice reminder of some of Eisenhower’s words of warning from Max Blumenthal. And no, they aren’t the ones we’ve heard so frequently in recent years about the military industrial complex. In response to a concerned citizen who wanted strong decisive leadership, Eisenhower penned a personal letter which Blumenthal describes.

    “I doubt that citizens like yourself could ever, under our democratic system, be provided with the universal degree of certainty, the confidence in their understanding of our problems, and the clear guidance from higher authority that you believe needed,” Eisenhower wrote on Feb. 10, 1959. “Such unity is not only logical but indeed indispensable in a successful military organization, but in a democracy debate is the breath of life.”

    Eisenhower also recommended a short book — “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer, a self-educated itinerant longshoreman who earned the nickname “the stevedore philosopher.” “Faith in a holy cause,” Hoffer wrote, “is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”

    Though Eisenhower was criticized for lacking an intellectual framework or even an interest in ideas, he was drawn to Hoffer’s insights. He explained to Biggs that Hoffer “points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems — freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.” The authoritarian follower, Eisenhower suggested, desired nothing more than insulation from the pressures of a free society.

    You can read the whole letter here.

  8. cometman permalink*
    September 4, 2009 2:50 pm

    Nice article from Ralph Lopez – Why the Wars Roll on: Ban Campaign Money From Outside the District.

    Very few people know that on average 80 percent of their Congress members’ and senators’ campaign funds come from outside the district, and largely from outside the state. They come from industries like defense, telecommunications and financial services. What do they get for these contributions, even in cases when the Congress member votes against those contributors’ positions on certain bills?

    The 1976 US Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which equated money with “free speech,” affirmed your right to buy your own congressman. But it did not explicitly affirm your right to buy mine.

    I may be mistaken since there is probably more than one Ralph Lopez in the world, but this sounds a lot like the guy at Klub Kumquat who wrote extensively about the need for impeachment and if he wasn’t being ridiculed for it, he was being ignored. Nice to see the guy writing good stuff on a better platform.

  9. triv33 permalink
    September 7, 2009 7:56 am

    Taibbi up.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/29988909/sick_and_wrong

    • cometman permalink*
      September 8, 2009 8:46 am

      Thanks for the link triv. Another great article by Taibbi. I’m one of those with the crappy insurance that causes me not to go to the doctor for minor ailments because of sky-high deductibles, and if I ever had something majorly wrong I’d go bankrupt even with the insurance. Pretty much worthless and as the article explains, none of the plans in Congress will do a damn thing to address this and millions of others are in the same boat.

      • triv33 permalink
        September 8, 2009 11:48 am

        Oh, don’t I know it. I have a crap policy too. If I read correctly, those of us that are covered now, will be mandated to keep our shitty coverage, which will be grandfathered so as not to be subject to any of those new rulez. I wrote Senator Casey a nice note. I told him that it looked like he was about to “help” me in much the same way he did with his credit card bill. I told him I might not survive another round of his sort of “help.”

  10. cometman permalink*
    September 8, 2009 12:02 pm

    Very good read from Ron Paul on the Fed via the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The following was particularly interesting since it harkens back to the Cross of Gold speech I mentioned near the end of this post.

    In the jargon of the day, the system lacked “elasticity.” That’s another way of saying that banks couldn’t expand money and credit as much as they wanted. They couldn’t inflate without limit and count on a centralized institution to bail them out. This agenda fit well with a growing political movement at the turn of the 20th century that favored inflation (sometimes summed up in the slogan “Free Silver”) as a means of relieving the debt burden of farmers. The cause took on certain populist overtones, and many people began to believe that an elastic money supply would help the common man. They identified the gold standard as a system favored by large banks to keep credit tight. Even today, many writers on the Fed mistakenly believe that the central bank and the largest banks are working to keep credit tight in their own interest.

    It does make sense that having some inflation would make it easier for people to repay debts as William Jennings Bryan argued so long ago in 1896. But the Federal Reserve probably was not what he was bargaining for. Here’s paul again:

    The Fed is in the business of generating inflation. It might attempt to stop the effects of inflation, namely rising prices. But under the old definition of inflation — an artificial increase in the supply of money and credit — the entire reason for Fed’s existence is to generate more, not less of it.

    Prices must be kept low so that people can still afford to buy things after their wages have also been kept low. The net effect of all these policies seems to be to squeeze the working class while providing as much cash as the oligarchs desire.

    In this piece at least, Paul doesn’t have very good answers about how to protect bank depositors if there were no Fed or FDIC other than to say they need to keep a closer eye on their money:

    What about depositors? In a competitive and free system, deposits would not be unsafe; any that were not paid back that were promised would fall under the laws of protection against fraud. Unsafe deposits would be loans to the bank that would be treated like any other risky investment. Consumers would keep a more careful watch over the institutions that are handling their money and stop trusting regulators in Washington, who in fact have not done a good job in ferreting out incompetence.

    That isn’t really good enough. If people need their cash and the banks can’t come up with it, most we be hard pressed to have to wait for a fraud lawsuit. And even if it were found the banks committed fraud, how do you get your money back from a bankrupt bank? It’s one thing to order them to pay, but another to actually collect.

    Paul does a good job of describing the flaws in the current system however. Definitely worth reading the whole thing. Maybe he has more answers if you read his book on the subject.

  11. cometman permalink*
    September 8, 2009 12:22 pm

    This article – Did Lehman Brothers Fall or Was It Pushed? – brings up some of the issues surrounding naked short selling we talked about a while ago.

    Although Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Monday, September 15, 2008, it was actually “bombed” on September 11, when the biggest one-day drop in its stock and highest trading volume occurred before bankruptcy. Lehman CEO Richard Fuld maintained that the 158 year old bank was brought down by unsubstantiated rumors and illegal naked short selling. Although short selling (selling shares you don’t own) is legal, the short seller is required to have shares lined up to borrow and replace to cover the sale. Failure to buy the shares back in the next three trading days is called a “fail to deliver.” Christopher Cox, who was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008, said in a July 2009 article that naked short selling “can allow manipulators to force prices down far lower than would be possible in legitimate short-selling conditions.” By September 11, 2008, according to the SEC, as many as 32.8 million Lehman shares had been sold and not delivered – a 57-fold increase over the peak of the prior year. For a very large company like Lehman, with plenty of “float” (available shares for trading), this unprecedented number was highly suspicious and warranted serious investigation. But the SEC, which was criticized for failing to follow up even on tips that Bernie Madoff’s business was a ponzi scheme, has yet to announce the results of any investigation.

    The SEC hasn’t announced any results because they are still too busy working on how to make it sound like they did an investigation without actually doing one. Assholes.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 9, 2009 12:34 pm

      More on Lehman’s fall here with good links to Bloomberg articles in the post.

      The more you read about this financial mess, the more you realize that it was a relatively small number of people who made all the decisions while refusing to listen to anyone else who was trying to tell them they were wrong, and the decisions that were made were all for the benefit of Goldman fucking Sachs.

  12. Stemella permalink*
    September 8, 2009 6:39 pm

    A very happy birthday to the little squidlette and congratulations to her parents for their nurturing skills.

    I’ve been nurturing someone on the other end of the spectrum. My parent patient is still not out of the woods, still getting tests, still fighting infections, better, but not well.

    I did want to share a vid I saw a while back, of Taleb giving the whatfor on those so called shoots of green.

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb: A Crazier Future Than We Thought It’s about an hour and a half long. The series is affiliated with the Whole Earth Catalog guy, Stephen Brand.

    I’ve been scanning the news on the fly when I can. I hope I’ll be able to contribute more now. Thanks for keeping on.

    Oh, and here’s another story I wanted to share. It is out of the “You can’t make this shit up” genre: Mormons Become Victims in $50 Million Scam to Sell Gold Bullion Someone could make a killing creating a screenplay out of this one someday.

    Feeble waves and hugs to all.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 9, 2009 7:16 am

      Glad you’re back! And happy to hear your patient is doing better.

      That Mormon story was pretty funny I have to say, especially this little snippet:

      “It was almost like a cult,” Flanigan says. “There were prayers at the end of most of the calls. That element was key. There was a real sense of camaraderie, a sense of community, and everything we were going to do involved humanitarian efforts to change the world. That’s why you felt like you didn’t dare disrupt it. God’s behind us, and you shouldn’t betray him.”

      Ned Hill, a professor of business management and a former dean of the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, says Mormons have a history of being victimized by financial scams.

      The Mormon says the financial scam was “like a cult”. Sort of like…..the Mormons! Who have a history of being victimized by religious scams as well. Anyone who does what the angel Moroni tells them to do seems a little on the credulous side to me.

  13. Stemella permalink*
    September 8, 2009 6:56 pm

    There were four Triv comments caught in the spam zone. I liberated them.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 9, 2009 7:18 am

      So that’s where they all went. Triv mentioned having problems with posting but I never checked there. We had had 4 real spam comments before so I thought that was what was in the spam file. Thanks for setting them free.

      • triv33 permalink
        September 9, 2009 9:21 am

        Did I tell you the blog was fucking with me? I knew it!

  14. Stemella permalink*
    September 9, 2009 8:15 am

    Out of Georgia?

    The conventional view of human evolution and how early man colonised the world has been thrown into doubt by a series of stunning palaeontological discoveries suggesting that Africa was not the sole cradle of humankind. Scientists have found a handful of ancient human skulls at an archaeological site two hours from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, that suggest a Eurasian chapter in the long evolutionary story of man.

    The skulls, jawbones and fragments of limb bones suggest that our ancient human ancestors migrated out of Africa far earlier than previously thought and spent a long evolutionary interlude in Eurasia – before moving back into Africa to complete the story of man.

    Experts believe fossilised bones unearthed at the medieval village of Dmanisi in the foothills of the Caucuses, and dated to about 1.8 million years ago, are the oldest indisputable remains of humans discovered outside of Africa.

  15. cometman permalink*
    September 9, 2009 10:25 am

    Just poked my head in at the Bloomberg homepage and saw this:

    U.S. MOST ACTIVE BY VOLUME
    PRICE %CHANGE VOLUME
    CITIGROUP INC 4.6976 0.38 561439188
    BANK OF AMERICA 17.092 0.42 91004707
    FANNIE MAE 1.67 2.45 88509804
    GENERAL ELECTRIC 14.9 2.76 75050338
    SPDR TRUST SER 1 103.88 0.91 69108388

    The numbers aren’t important to the point here, which is why is there so much volume being traded in dead financial stocks? This isn’t a one day thing either since Zerohedge has been noting this trend for a while now. That type of volume isn’t being generated by the average investor – it’s the big guys using high frequency trading that are causing it from what I’ve read there. WTF are these people up to?

    • cometman permalink*
      September 9, 2009 12:20 pm

      Here’s Zerohedge from today weighing in on trading volume:

      As the market shoots up once more, there is absolutely no volume breadth participation aside from the traditional program traders who now enjoy complete domination over daily market moves. The SPY intraday volume is plunging relative to average, and at last check 62 million shares were traded compared to a 105 million average by this point in the day: a 40% drop! This should account for all those on the “sidelines” who have taken the Wall Street equivalent of the Main Street revolt to heart, and refuse to participate in what everyone realizes is a market that has no connection to any underlying fundamental reality. We wish the computers all the best as they gun the S&P to 1,600 on 20% real unemployment, $9 trillion in budget deficits, a CRE collapse, waning stimulus effects, and a fast approaching 10% savings rate.

      This whole stock market rise seems to be based on financial firms trading zombie stocks with their computers.

      • Stemella permalink*
        September 9, 2009 2:04 pm

        I think what they are doing is called “laundry”

        They are washing their skidmarked underoos in the frontloaded zombie washers and that come out of the dryer looking remarkably like freshly minted money from Bennie’s printing press. On the tags it says something Italian, the word Ponzi, I think.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 9, 2009 12:38 pm

      This explains GE being on the list today. Evidently JP Morgan upped GE’s price target yesterday and Goldman upped it even more today. Rat fuckers, every last one of them.

      • Stemella permalink*
        September 9, 2009 2:06 pm

        Speaking of which, I drowned my 58th rattus this morning. It is raticide. I’m a raticider.

        • cometman permalink*
          September 9, 2009 3:41 pm

          Ha! Those are some fertile little buggers you have. What the heck do you keep feeding them? :P

  16. cometman permalink*
    September 9, 2009 11:55 am

    Bwaaaahahahahahahaha!!!!!! Another hypocritical republican gets busted through their own stupidity.

    More at Rawstory. Don’t look if you’re squeamish because Mr. Duvall is a dirty dirty man :)

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 9, 2009 2:11 pm

      I saw the videotape of him relishing the spankings on youtube. I can’t believe that pustule who calls himself human is only 54 yrs old. He looks more like a 70 yr old. Yuck. The married lobbyists who took his spanking and fucking are no better. Politics as usual. Kalifornya is doomed.

      • cometman permalink*
        September 9, 2009 3:48 pm

        You have to be a slattern of epic proportions to prostitute yourself to the conglomerate that writes your paycheck to begin with and then on top of that bump uglies with a cane toad like that guy just to make sure he votes your way. Power may be an aphrodisiac but you’d think it’d take more clout than what a Cali assemblyman has before anyone would do that scumbag.

  17. sisdevore permalink
    September 10, 2009 10:34 am

    I should visit more often. This is an incredible blog.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 10, 2009 11:07 am

      Thanks Miss D. We try to keep it interesting. New post coming up soon…

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