Saturday, December 27, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.
Silver calls his flash of insight a 'tremendous glimpse of the obvious' - namely that opticians weren't necessary to provide glasses. This is a crucial factor in the developing world where trained specialists are desperately in demand: in Britain there is one optometrist for every 4,500 people, in sub-Saharan Africa the ratio is 1:1,000,000."
Gobekli Tepe was first examined—and dismissed—by University of Chicago and Istanbul University anthropologists in the 1960s. As part of a sweeping survey of the region, they visited the hill, saw some broken slabs of limestone and assumed the mound was nothing more than an abandoned medieval cemetery. In 1994, Schmidt was working on his own survey of prehistoric sites in the region. After reading a brief mention of the stone-littered hilltop in the University of Chicago researchers' report, he decided to go there himself. From the moment he first saw it, he knew the place was extraordinary.
Friday, December 19, 2008
BOSTON – His repeated warnings that Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff was running a giant Ponzi scheme have cast Harry Markopolos as an unheeded prophet.
But people who know or worked with Markopolos say it wasn't prescience that helped him foresee the collapse of Madoff's alleged $50 billion fraud. Instead, they say diligence and a strong moral sense drove his quixotic, nine-year quest to alert regulators about Madoff.
"He followed through on everything he ever did. He never let up," said his mother, Georgia Markopolos, in an interview Thursday. "Some kids just let it go if it's too hard, but he wouldn't do that."
"He feels very sorry for these people that got taken," she added. "It wouldn't have happened if they would have listened to him long ago."
Markopolos waged a remarkable battle to uncover fraud at Madoff's operation, sounding the alarm back in 1999 and continuing with his warnings all through this decade. The government never acted, Madoff continued his ways, and people lost billions.
Markopolos reached his conclusion with the help of mathematicians like Dan diBartolomeo, whose analysis of the Madoff's methods in 1999 helped fuel Markopolos' suspicions.
"People should have seen the writing on the wall," diBartolomeo said.
Markopolos did not respond to multiple e-mail or phone requests for an interview.
The 52-year-old resident of Whitman, about 20 miles south of Boston, grew up in Erie, Pa., the oldest of three siblings.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Nobody wants to go it on their own And everyone wants to know they´re not alone. Somebody else that feels the same somewhere?
There `s gotta be somebody for me out there.
Nobody wants to be the last one there And everyone wants to feel like someone cares. Somebody else that feels the same somewhere? There's gotta be somebody for me out there.
One could rightfully fault me for using Nickleback lyrics as the kick off to this post, but as redundant as their melodies maybe, I do find their lyrics to often be quite succinct and poignant. I am sure that reflects poorly on my level of sophistication but so be it. So this Christmas marks 5 years of essentially being single. I mean there have been dates and even some follow on dates and a couple of possibly more than just dates, but for the most part I have not had a romantic reference point for 5 years. In that 5 years, many of my peers have married and had multiple children. So I have spent some amount of time wondering about the difference inherent in living your life single and living your life with a partner and especially with children.
Some things are surprising to me. I expected to feel envy, absence or some level of something missing as I see my peers raise their families. So far that has not been the case. Part of that I know is my deep ambivalence about being a mother that existed even when I had the boy and the ring and the path to the house in some hip urban neighborhood in the plan. I get to know personally that I saw that path and it did not ignite rainbows and unicorns in my heart of hearts. It mostly ignited resignation to predictable obligation that I felt already far too familiar with. But part of it, is also the reality that even with partners and children, me and my friends aren't all that different. Our day to day struggles aren't very comparable. I can't for the life of me imagine how one keeps functioning when all the children have the flu and unpleasant fluids are pouring unceremoniously out of multiple orifices, but I am sure that my life of basically being a nomad and dealing with stuff sometimes I don't even understand seems very odd to them. Yet, still we are friends on a level that I dare say challenges most of my romantic interactions for support, honesty, complexity and fun.
But with all that, there is the inherent difference that being single means going through life without the context offered by those domestic relationships. It means that even if I were to meet a great companion and go forward in companionship, that these years are only mine. That is both a good and bad thing and I don't know if I will think well of how I have spent them. I hope that the lack of external markers of progress won't mean that I forget the internal and external battles fought and either won or lost. I hope I will value the time without a reference point, but it is the thing about singlehood. Only you know if you are making any progress.
Large trees – 50,000 were planted in May – dot the visitor parking lot to offer a soothing greeting, says the plant's 'sustainable initiative' manager. Insulating vines wend their way up the outside of an employee locker building. Some 22,000 square meters of ex-terior walls are coated with photocatalytic paint that, Toyota says, mirrors the ability of 2,000 poplars to absorb nitrous oxide and process oxygen.
The roof of the visitor center is a mat of grass, designed to reduce waves of heat by 3 degrees C. Solar lights dot the streets and 800-kilowatt solar panels blanket the tops of buildings. Even the red roadside flowers were genetically engineered to absorb noxious emissions and help evaporate water."
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States, which prides itself on being the breadbasket of the world, will see its agricultural exports drop 10 percent next year and, for the first time since the late 1950s, will cease to be a net exporter of food, according to a government projection.
The forecast, released by the Department of Agriculture, said overseas sales of US agricultural products were expected to slide to 56 billion dollars in fiscal 2005, down from 62.3 billion the previous year, due to depressed world prices for grains, oilseeds and cotton, "and increased foreign competition."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Many people made it clear that they were deeply apprehensive about Mr. Obama, though some said they were hoping for the best.
“I think any time you have someone elected president of the United States with a Muslim name, whether they are white or black, there are some very unsettling things,” George W. Newman, a director at a local bank and the former owner of a trucking business, said over lunch at Yellow Creek Fish and Steak.
Don Dollar, the administrative assistant at City Hall, said bitterly that anyone not upset with Mr. Obama’s victory should seek religious forgiveness.
“This is a community that’s supposed to be filled with a bunch of Christian folks,” he said. “If they’re not disappointed, they need to be at the altar.”
Customers of Bill Pennington, a barber whose downtown shop is decorated with hunting and fishing trophies, were “scared because they heard he had a Muslim background,” Mr. Pennington said over the country music on the radio. “Over and over again I heard that.”
Mr. Obama remains an unknown quantity in this corner of the South, and there are deep worries about the changes he will bring.
“I am concerned,” Gail McDaniel, who owns a cosmetics business, said in the parking lot of the Shop and Save. “The abortion thing bothers me. Same-sex marriage.”“I think there are going to be outbreaks from blacks,” she added. “From where I’m from, this is going to give them the right to be more aggressive.”
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Investigators believe that Tekenya Wooten ran away from her home at 3529 Manford Drive on Saturday, Oct. 18. Tekenya is eight months pregnant.
Police Chief Jose Lopez said that Tekenya's disapperance does not meet the requirements for an Amber Alert, but police are 'very concerned about her welfare, and we are actively looking for her.'"
"The administration has taken other disturbing steps in recent weeks. In late September, the I.R.S. restored tax breaks for banks that take big losses on bad loans inherited through acquisitions. Now we learn that JPMorgan Chase and others are planning to use their bailout funds for mergers and acquisitions, transactions that will be greatly enhanced by the new tax subsidy."
Monday, November 03, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
In trials, alemtuzumab reduced the number of attacks in sufferers and also helped them recover lost functions, apparently allowing damaged brain tissue to repair so that individuals were less disabled than at the start of the study.
'The ability of an MS drug to promote brain repair is unprecedented,' said Dr Alasdair Coles, a lecturer at Cambridge university's department of clinical neurosciences, who coordinated many aspects of the study."
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
“The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking,” he said of our oligarchic class. “These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”"
Monday, October 20, 2008
“It’s allowed,” he said. Medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact-lens cleaning, don’t fall under the TSA’s three-ounce rule.
“What’s allowed?” I asked. “Saline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?”
“Bottles labeled saline solution. They won’t check what’s in it, trust me.”
They did not check. As we gathered our belongings, Schneier held up the bottle and said to the nearest security officer, “This is okay, right?” “Yep,” the officer said. “Just have to put it in the tray.”
“Maybe if you lit it on fire, he’d pay attention,” I said, risking arrest for making a joke at airport security. (Later, Schneier would carry two bottles labeled saline solution—24 ounces in total—through security. An officer asked him why he needed two bottles. “Two eyes,” he said. He was allowed to keep the bottles.)"
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Mindfulness is concentrated awareness of one's thoughts, actions or motivations.
I will say outright that the effort has in fact made a significant difference in how I interact with life. It has made me appreciate and be aware of dynamics that before were mostly appreciated in theory and in brief glimpses. As I delve more deeply into this life, I am frustrated with the fact that it seems to only grow in complexity and in some ways opacity. Things I thought I knew, I no longer know. Universal truths I believed in have proven to be illusions. The one universal has been the desire for home. To define and create a home and have a space where I exist symbiotically with the space around me. That has been the goal maybe always even when I didn't know what it was or why it was true. So that is the real question, has this awareness gotten me closer to home? dunno.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
'The community decided that it was not useful, that women were not getting anything out of it, so the district council decided to establish an ordinance banning it,' said Nelson Chelimo, chairman of Kapchorwa district."
So just exactly how it gets in the mouth may stun you.
'There is absolutely a link between oral sex and oral cancer,' said Dr. Ellen Rome, of the Cleveland Clinic.
Although no proof exists yet, there is a chance that HPV can be transmitted mouth to mouth.
'We can't rule out the virus could be transmitted in saliva by other types of contact — like for instance sharing a drink or sharing a spoon,' said Dr. Maura Gillison, of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A well-run organizing campaign is the most beautiful thing in the world: people know what they're working for; they have little successes everyday; they prepare for problems ahead of time and have great fun attacking them when they happen. Everyone is in a state of constant euphoria. In the end, win or lose, you have built something that gives you hope for the future—hope that humanity can, as it turns out, work cooperatively towards a better future and succeed."
RAFAEL LARA GRAJALES, Mexico – An angry crowd in central Mexico attacked police and helped nearly three dozen illegal Central American immigrants escape from custody after hearing that officers had allegedly sold the migrants to human smugglers, officials said Monday.
Hundreds of people attacked police as they were trying to load the 34 immigrants into a van Sunday in the farming town of Rafael Lara Grajales, Puebla, state prosecutor Rodolfo Igor Archundia said.
The migrants fled in the chaos, but 21 were quickly caught. Police were searching for the other 13.
After being detained initially, the Central American migrants were allegedly handed over by police to human smugglers who held them for four days at a house. They escaped Sunday with the help of neighbors.
The neighbors then took the migrants to the mayor's office, where they waited outside in the plaza. Hundreds more townsfolk gathered to show support.
The violence erupted when a van arrived to take the migrants away. Members of the crowd shouted "Don't get in!" One woman yelled, "They've already suffered a lot! Let them leave!"
The van sped out of the plaza with only 20 of the migrants on board. The protesters chased the vehicle and hurled rocks at it, and police responded with tear gas.
Some of the migrants jumped out of the van windows. The rioters set fire to a patrol car, two motorcycles and a truck. Eight rioters were arrested.
State Interior Secretary Mario Montero Serrano said five police officers are under investigation for allegedly selling the migrants for $100 each.
Evis Casco, a native of Honduras, said the smugglers stabbed him in the hands until he gave them a phone number of relatives in the United States. He said they were hoping the relatives would send money.
"They tortured me until I gave it to them, but it won't do them much good. My family is poor," said Casco, whose hands were bandaged.
Central American immigrants often suffer abuse and extortion while crossing Mexico on the way to the United States. It is rare for Mexicans to come to their defense.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Home to just 320,000 people on a territory the size of Kentucky, Iceland has formidable international reach because of an outsized banking sector that set out with Viking confidence to conquer swaths of the British economy — from fashion retailers to top soccer teams.
The strategy gave Icelanders one of the world's highest per capita incomes. But now they are watching helplessly as their economy implodes — their currency losing almost half its value, and their heavily exposed banks collapsing under the weight of debts incurred by lending in the boom times.
"Everything is closed. We couldn't sell our stock or take money from the bank," said Johann Sigurdsson as he left a branch of Landsbanki in downtown Reykjavik.
The government had earlier announced it had nationalized the bank under emergency laws enacted to deal with the crisis.
"We have been forced to take decisive action to save the country," Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde said of those sweeping new powers that allow the government to take over companies, limit the authority of boards, and call shareholder meetings.
A full-blown collapse of Iceland's financial system would send shock waves across Europe, given the heavy investment by Icelandic banks and companies across the continent.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
'I would stay outside for a minute, then go back in, there were a lot of kids,' Njie said. 'My throat is still itchy, I need to get some milk.'
Njie was one of several affected when a suspected chemical irritant was sprayed into the mosque at 26 Josie St., bringing Dayton police, fire and hazardous material personnel to the building at 9:48 p.m."
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
That is until this shit started raining down like a fucking deluge. I would like to go back to the world inside my head. It's much more pleasant there.thanks.
Monday, September 22, 2008
How big did this market become? Here's business correspondent Bob Moon and host Kai Ryssdal on American Public Media's Marketplace from back in the spring.
BOB MOON: OK, I'm about to unload some numbers on you here, so I'll speak slowly so you can follow this.
The value of the entire U.S. Treasuries market: $4.5 trillion.
The value of the entire mortgage market: $7 trillion.
The size of the U.S. stock market: $22 trillion.
OK, you ready?
The size of the credit default swap market last year: $45 trillion.
KAI RYSSDAL: That's a lot of money, Bob.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Please consider Paulson, Bernanke Push New Proposal to Cleanse Balance Sheets (at taxpayer expense)."
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke proposed moving troubled assets from the balance sheets of American financial companies into a new institution.
Options under consideration include establishing an $800 billion fund to purchase so-called failed assets and a separate $400 billion pool at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to insure investors in money-market funds, said two people briefed by congressional staff who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans may change.Mish's Comment: I too would want to be anonymous for forever and a day if I was sponsoring a $1.2 trillion bailout of US corporations at taxpayer expense.
Another possibility is using Fannie and Freddie, the federally chartered mortgage-finance companies seized by the government last week, to buy assets, one of the people said.Mish's Comment: Now there's "good thinking"! There is no time to act, so let's act quickly by passing a $1.2 trillion bailout quick enough so Congressional recess can happen on schedule.
"We will try to put a bill together and do it fairly quickly," House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said after the meeting. "We are not in a position to give you any specifics right now" on the proposals, he said when asked about the potential cost.
Regardless of your party affiliation, and with the exception of Ron Paul, I urge everyone to vote against the incumbent in every race.
Professor Bennet Sedacca
The Pain Trade
The Federal Government just declared war on short sellers.
Will it help the real economy? No sir.
Will it help the value of my house? Nope.
Will it blow up hedge funds? Yep.
Is it a selling opportunity? You betcha.
Will the rally last ? No.
Will earnings increase? Actually I think they will fall.
My conclusion? The pain trade, after this burst, is a crash in October. Yes, a crash. I am not talking my book as my firm is delta neutral.
What makes me ill is that folks in the media are the mouth pieces of irresponsible Government officials.
I am sick to my stomach watching Socialism take over. And with that, I head to the Ryder Cup.
Don't let them tell you this economic meltdown is a complicated mess. It's not. Our national financial crisis is readily understood by anyone who has seen greed and hypocrisy. But we are now witnessing them on a profound, monumental scale.
Conservative Republicans always want the government to stay out of business and avoid regulation as long as they are making lots of money. When their greed, however, gets them into a fix, they are the first to cry out for rules and laws and taxpayer money to bail out their businesses. Obviously, Republicans are socialists. The Bush administration has decided to socialize the debt of the big Wall Street Firms. Taxpayers didn't get to enjoy any of the big money profits on the phony financial instruments like derivatives or bundled sub-prime paper, but we get the privilege of paying for their debt and failures.
Let's just consider the money. The public bailout of insurance giant (becoming a dwarf) AIG is estimated at $85 billion. According to one report, that's more than the Bush administration spent on Aid to Families with Dependent Children during his entire time in office. That amount of money would also pay for health care for every man, woman, and child in America for at least six months.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So I had notions of a time in my life where I would have a great job, a great apartment and I would get to create my own space in the world. Well in January 2007, I got the job and a loft apartment with 18 ft windows, dry cleaning, gym and 24 hr front desk coverage. Now here it is September 2008 and it looks like I have to sell my awesome couch to people who will not appreciate it because the notion was not what made me happy. I would like to think of this as a learning experience. A relatively painless way to discover that what makes a person happy can be far different than that person might have envisioned. Instead, I sit here staring at the couch deeply confused as to what the next notion/vision is supposed to be. I spent a lot of time getting to that apartment. Now I am supposed to create a new vision with no confidence that a new vision won't result in a similar result? Life is a pain in my ass. And Oprah doesn't know the goddamn answer either. That is all
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
"Somehow I Think I Knew This Already...
From Gordon's Notes:
Exercise cannot control obesity gene associated weight gain: The title on this SciAm summary is silly...
Do I look fat in these genes? Exercise can cancel out effects of 'heavy-weight' DNA: Scientific American Blog: ... Physically active people who carry gene mutations linked to obesity are no more likely to be overweight than those without the variants -- as long as they exercise at least three hours a day...
Exercising 3+ hours a day is not compatible with life in a post-industrial world. If these results turned out be generalizable to a reasonable portion of the obese population (big if), then we'd know that exercise won't control our expanding (sorry) obesity problem. We already know diet doesn't work, so here's hoping for great drugs ...
Either that, or we get rid of our cars ..."
Monday, August 25, 2008
Some 100 government trucks surrounded the Kalma camp, home to some 90,000 people who have fled their homes in Darfur, a rebel spokesman told the BBC.
There is no independent confirmation of the reports but international sources have been told that Sudan wants to disarm the camp's residents.
More than two million people have fled five years of conflict in Darfur.
Ahmed Abdel Shafie, who heads a faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, told the BBC that the government wants to force people to leave the camp."
Another rebel leader puts the number of those killed higher. Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur, said that 50 people had been killed.
"This really is a catastrophe. People are being killed while the world just watches," he said.
Friday, August 22, 2008
As it turns out, a growing number of Americans disagree.
For the first time in more than a decade, a narrow majority of Americans say churches should stay out of politics, according to a poll released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The results suggest a potentially significant shift among conservative voters in particular. In 2004, 30% of conservatives said the church should stay out of politics while today 50% of conservatives today express that view.
Conservatives are now more in line with moderates and liberals when it comes to their views on mixing religion and politics. "Similarly, the sharp divisions between Republicans and Democrats that previously existed on this issue have disappeared," Pew reports.
The results are encouraging, and more than a little surprising. In the decade between 1996 and 2006, Pew Forum surveys showed a stable trend -- a narrow majority of Americans wanted houses of worship to be publicly engaged in policy debates. Now, the numbers have reversed, and a narrow majority wants ministries to "stay out."
There's bound to be debate as to how this trend developed, but my best guess would be a combination of public disgust for the religious right movement and the unpopularity of George W. Bush, who has been enthusiastic in mixing religion and politics.
That said, I suppose the next politically salient question is how this might affect the 2008 race. The conventional wisdom suggests Barack Obama has been more proactive in adding a religious component to his campaign than John McCain, which might help the Democrat connect with the faithful.
But what if, after eight years of Bush, voters are moving in the other direction?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
They're there for you in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad -- and yet where the law is concerned, your friends don't mean squat. According to The Boston Globe, however, some scholars think this should change: They think that friendship should be granted legal recognition, with some of the rights and privileges restricted to family expanded to include designated friends.
"These could be invoked on a case-by-case basis," explains the Globe, "eligibility to take time off to care for a sick friend under an equivalent of the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example. Or they could take the form of an official legal arrangement between two friends, designating a bundle of mutual rights and privileges ... One scholar even suggests giving friends standing in the tax code, allowing taxpayers to write off certain 'friend expenditures.'" The result would be, as Laura Rosenbury, a law professor at Washington University, put it, legally recognized "friends with benefits."
I think some aspects of the idea would be more of a bureaucratic hassle than they'd be worth, like the idea of adapting the tax code to allow for "friend expenditures." But others make good sense; as Jane Gross points out in a related article in the New York Times, having a legal arrangement with a friend would be very beneficial for single, childless people worried about who might care for them in old age. As the Globe points out, "If a person is incapacitated and has no functional familial relationships, friends are not typically permitted to make medical decisions, unless designated in advance. Hospitals often restrict visitors to kin, or allow family members to vet visitors, which can cause anguish when friends and families come into conflict."
That's why David Chambers, a law professor at the University of Michigan, suggests "permitting people to register as 'designated friends' with mutual benefits and obligations. The friends would have the right (and duty) to make financial and medical decisions on each other's behalf in case of incapacitation; they'd have the same medical leave and testimonial privileges as spouses; and if one died without a will, the other would be entitled to a share of the estate."
So what do you think? In an age where more and more Americans are single and childless, does it make sense to grant legal rights to their friends? Or are there certain rights and privileges that should be reserved for family members and spouses?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles says the suspects used peer-to-peer networks to exchange graphic images and videos, then stored the files.
U.S. attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek (tom MROH'-zek) says San Luis Obispo County Deputy Bryan Jon Goossens and attorney Thomas Merdzinski of San Bernardino are among those charged."
The state sent a team Tuesday to help Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro draft new procedures to ensure patients receive proper care."
"Women did not create the glass ceiling, the invisible barrier blamed for limiting their ability to earn what they're worth, but they help maintain it," Goodson said.
"Being able to draw attention to your contributions and competencies at work has become an important part of modern career management, and it is something most women are still unwilling or unable to do as consistently as their male counterparts," she added.
Goodson's research found that while most men had no qualms about touting their contributions, and even sometimes lying about them, women still cling to the myth that self-promotion is "socially unacceptable," "unlady-like" and "morally suspect."
Friday, August 15, 2008
This week, one of those stories was.
Yesterday, two members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 17 in Boston were honored for rescuing a commuter who had fallen onto the train tracks at Boston's North Station.
The commuter, a man in his mid 50's, had stumbled off the platform and fallen five feet onto the tracks with his arms resting inches away from the 600 volt third rail.
The two sheet metal workers, A.J. Pugliese, Jr. and Robert Johnson, Jr. heard the shouts for help from several commuters standing on the platform. In a video released by the MBTA, the two men are seen springing into action while risking their own safety by crossing the electrified third rail and dragging the unconscious commuter to safety."
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
LAVONIA, Ga. - When police finally searched the squat white mobile home where they say a man held his family captive for three years, the place was so filthy and bug-infested that one officer had to wear a gas mask and another refused to continue.
Finally, a real time thought: Beyond credit card loans, when you are raising senior debt at 6.5%, as Citigroup (C) did yesterday with it's $3 billion senior debt issue, I am not sure what you can finance with a positive spread in today's market. Regrettably, the days of capital destructive debt issuance have begun.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Intel Shows You How a QSERP Works
In just one year (2005) Intel Corp. moved $200 million of deferred IOU obligations from their high-income executives’ non-qualified deferred compensation pension into the rank-and-file’s pension plan through a QSERP. And then turned right around and "contributed" $187 million back in cash to the plan – which they then claimed as a tax deduction.
So when an executive retires, Intel won’t have to pay him/her – the tax-deferred workers’ pension plan will. And that $187 million Intel "contribution" generated an immediate tax break of $65 million for Intel.
That means that you, as a taxpayer, not only just helped compensate Intel’s already wealthy executives retirement, but also got stuck covering the lost revenue resulting from Intel’s $65 million tax write-off. And that was just for one year.
Additionally bothersome is the fact that Intel manipulated the IRS rules so that well over 50% of the tax-deferred money in their rank-and-file pension plan (which is supposed to be designated for worker-bees) is now dedicated to compensating just 4% - that’s right, just 4% of Intel’s entire work force ... the high-income executives.
Plus those rich executives, rather than being required by the law to pay taxes on what they would have withdrawn from their own non-tax deferred pension plans, are now able to roll their wealth over into an IRA – thus further sheltering their money. And that cost you, the taxpayer, even more lost revenues.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
In one email message, an S&P analyst called a mortgage or structured finance deal "ridiculous" and wrote "we should not be rating it."
In another email, an S&P manager said ratings agencies were helping to create an "even bigger monster -- the CDO (collateralized debt obligation) market. Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of card falters."
Friday, August 01, 2008
And since I am trying to be both present in the moment and approach life with compassion, this most recent bout of dissonance seems only more frustrating. The meditation and change in philosophy is forcing me to reckon with trains of thought long since discarded.
I struggle much more concretely on a daily basis to decide how I want to operate in the world and while I understand its necessary, I get frustrated because I thought a lot of this work was done, but it is not and maybe it is never really done and that is the essence of this thing we call life. and well goody fucking who. It is demotivating to think that anytime you feel like you are doing it right its really just a brief pause on that particular plateau and there is no apex of the mountain. I am tired.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Borrowers would default on an average of 17.2 per cent of securitised commercial mortgages over 10 years if the US economy dips into a recession with 0.2 per cent contraction in growth, compared with current very low default rates of 4 per cent, a rise of 330 per cent.
Such a scenario corresponds 'to the negative predictions currently offered by commercial real estate experts', analysts at Fitch wrote. This would happen if the economy suffered a similar downturn to 1991, and assumes that the value of properties covered by the deals falls by 25 per cent, and cash flow from rents by 15 per cent."
'We're in a recession,' Allen Sinai, chief economist at Decision Economics Inc. in New York, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. 'It's going to widen, it's going to deepen.'
Nine of the 13 quarters under review were revised down, three increased and one was unchanged.
The largest downward revision was for the last three months of 2007, as the previously reported 2.3 percent gain in consumer spending was reduced by more than half, to 1 percent. Americans cut back on the use of electricity and gas as fuel bills soared."
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
And in publicly funded I've included not just Medicare, Medicaid, VA, but also the benefit cost of public employees like schoolteachers and FBI agents, also, so-called tax subsidy to private health insurance. And when defined in that way, I want you to just look and see where that yellow bar ends. Look where the yellow bar ends.
That is, we are already through our taxes paying the full price of national health insurance in this country, and then we take an additional $2,500 out of our pockets and pay privately, and we still have the circumstance of 47,000,000 uninsured people, millions more forced into medical bankruptcy.
Now, what do we get for the extra money? And in this set of slides I've got the US in yellow, the other countries in green. What do we get? We do not get longer life expectancy compared to other nations.
We do not get lower infant mortality than other nations. In fact, our infant mortality is twice that of the world leaders.
We don't get more days in the hospital. We send patients out of the hospital quicker and sicker. We don't even get more innovation, more science. And I know one of the speakers brought that up earlier.
When you look at medical journal articles on a per-capita basis (and you get the same results if you look at total scientific output on a per-capita basis_, the United States is not a world leader. So our extra spending is not generating more in the way of science when we look at it on a per-capita basis. That is a myth.
Even for certain high-technology treatments such as bone-marrow transplants, the United States is just in the middle of the pack. Where we do lead the world is in our insurance overhead and our administrative costs. And this is expressed on a per-capita basis for every man, woman, and child in the United States .
We lead the world in insurance overhead. We lead the world in difficulties getting care. This is people are asked, percent, finding it extremely, very, or somewhat difficult to get needed care. We lead the world. This is just the English-speaking world.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Safe & Sound Rating For First Heritage
The above chart is from Saturday, July 26, 2008.
FDIC Information for First Heritage Bank, N.A., Newport Beach, CA
On July 25, 2008, First Heritage Bank, N.A., Newport Beach, California was closed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Subsequently the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver. No advance notice is given to the public when a financial institution is closed."
Thursday, July 24, 2008
That balancing act, however, is becoming a fiscal tightrope.
And to the degree that a credit-crunched economy weakens the federal ledger – either through lost tax revenue or direct bank bailouts – one result could be a higher cost of borrowing for the government – a burden that would fall on all taxpayers.
'The credibility of the sovereign is now at risk,' Mr. Morici says. 'It is no accident that we're starting to see articles about the credit rating of the United States.'"
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The trio is to be ordained in a ceremony performed by a woman at a Protestant church affiliated to the US Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ, in Boston's first female ordination.
The move has angered the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, which has sent out an email to local priests reminding them of Vatican law that women are allowed to have key roles within the church, but cannot become priests."
Friday, July 18, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Negotiations that begun in February 2007 however have to yet address whether Europeans can sue the US government for mishandling information, according to an internal report on the potential agreement obtained by the daily."
Monday, June 23, 2008
Workers with Commonwealth Catholic Charities helped the girl travel to and from the procedure in January and signed a consent form for the abortion, Joanne Nattrass, the charity's executive director, said in a statement Thursday. She declined further comment.
Four of the Richmond-based charity's workers were fired, according to a letter by David Siegel, head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' refugee resettlement program."
Thursday, June 19, 2008
but still I am sitting here, listening to music, drinking beer, chatting with people online supposedly reconnected and alive....but that terror, the total helpless vulnerability is rocking me to the core. i feel terribly, horribly awfully mortal, frail, breakable. I keep thinking this is where you are, embrace, accept, compassion but I am not sure its working. I kind of feel like i am losing my shit and just totally freaking out. lets hope that this too shall pass.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Strange, Stranger, Opaque
I recently received an Email from John Hempton at the Bronte Capital Blog. John is writing Barclays - strange, stranger and truly opaque. I have not had time to go through all of his analysis but these snips caught my eye.
In four years our derivative exposure (total face) has gone from 5.9 trillion pounds to 29.2 trillion pounds. Our credit derivative exposures have gone from 43 billion pounds to 2.4 trillion pounds.
It is not just the derivatives that they grew. The on balance sheet exposures grew to astronomical size too.
Friday, June 06, 2008
As a result, I know that all beginnings are hard. Just because they are beginnings. So as I sit here in this latest beginning and try to be mindful and aware I attempt to embrace that it is difficult by nature of what it is rather than by caprice of events.
Still, while I may get better at being where I am when I am there, the desire to know, to understand, to be peaceful about what is....continues to be the deep throbbing incessant driver of my wanderings.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
While some in the West were protesting the crackdown on dissent, companies like Yahoo, Google, Cisco and a mysterious company called L-1 Identity Solutions have been cooperating with the Chinese government and hoping to profit greatly from helping construct Police State 2.0. Yahoo came under mild Congressional criticism in 2006 for turning over email data belonging to dissidents who had (unwisely) used their free email service. Google custom tailors searches in China to censor out results offensive to the government. Cisco provides the routers for the Great Firewall of China that not only blocks out websites like the BBC but also allows deep packet surveillance on Chinese surfers.
And L-1 may be the lynchpin of the whole system. Some say their facial recognition sofware is the best in the world. Despite American laws prohibiting the export of technology that could aid the Chinese govenment in oppressing its citizens, L-1 is stealthily working with Chinese companies to compete for the contract to make the facial recognition software that will tie China's rapdily growing high resolution camera phalanx into a integrated system that can identify everyone on the street at any time and tie their face to their national ID and the vast amount of data kept there.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I have been somewhat obsessed with financial news the past couple of years. As a result I regularly read Businessweek, Financial Times, WSJ, NYTimes, Economist (although I really hate them) etc. I also read several economic blogs, several who are very good at taking hard to understand finance talk and break it down into understandable scenarios.
And I am officially terrified of the coming storm.
I wish I had more money in the bank. I wish I believed that what I do for a job was actually useful and necessary and thus harder to layoff. I wish I knew how to grow food or even cook from ingredients, because I think this is a new era. I suspected that they screwed the pooch.
Now I think I begin to grasp the sheer amount of money that was lost and understand that a lot of that money was people's retirement, government's savings and generally speaking the bedrock of the world financial system as we don't understand it, and it's gone. It's really, really gone. Never to return.
And people get angry when their money is gone and government's sure as fuck get angry when their money is gone and just for fun we have had an asshole of president who has been handing out the treasury to his cronies for eight years and he will get to waltz off into the Texas sunset while we idiots think hiring Barack Obama will matter. It won't matter, because they stole the country and a lot of the rest of the world's money and they and us are going to be pissed and there may not be a way out of this. Just saying.
Summary: A New York Times article detailed the connection between numerous media military analysts and the Pentagon and defense industries, reporting that 'the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform' media military analysts 'into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.' A Media Matters review found that since January 1, 2002, the analysts named in the Times article -- many identified as having ties to the defense industry -- collectively appeared or were quoted as experts more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR."
Friday, May 16, 2008
"THE POWER OF UPPER CASTE MEN
The relatively prosperous northern state of Haryana is one of India's most conservative when it comes to caste, marriage and the role of women. Deeply patriarchal, caste purity is paramount and marriages are arranged to sustain the status quo.
Men and women are still murdered across the villages of northern India for daring to marry outside their caste, but in Haryana the practice is widespread, and widely supported.
Here, women veil their faces with scarves in public. The illegal abortion of female fetuses is common, the ratio of women to men in Haryana just 861 to 1,000, the lowest in the country.
Anyone who transgresses social codes, by marrying across caste boundaries or within the same village, is liable to meet the same fate as Sunita and Jasbir.
Many such murders are never reported, hardly any result in prosecution, says Professor Javeed Alam, chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research."
He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was “a totally Virginia girl,” as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington’s home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.
But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.
Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit — meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon — eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.
"I was from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school," the now 24-year-old told AFP.
Chiroux joined the US army straight out of high school nearly six years ago, and worked his way up from private to sergeant.
He served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines and was due to be deployed next month in .
On Thursday, he refused to go, saying he considers Iraq an illegal war.
Monday, May 12, 2008
The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world's poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution."
Cargill's net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world's largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.
Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world's largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. The prices of some kinds of fertiliser have more than tripled over the past year as demand has outstripped supply. As a result, plans to increase harvests in developing countries have been hit hard.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that 37 developing countries are in urgent need of food. And food riots are breaking out across the globe from Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, from China to Cameroon, and from Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
NORRISTOWN, Pa. - A woman pleaded guilty Friday tofor killing her bigamist husband just hours before he was to leave for to visit his second wife.
Myra Morton, 48, was upset about the new marriage and her husband's plans to have children with the younger woman, authorities have said. She shot her 47-year-old husband, Jereleigh Morton, twice in the head in August while he slept, and initially blamed an intruder.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sometimes the jokes just write themselves...
Sunday, April 20, 2008
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The U.S. government paid more than $1.7 million in defense contracts over the last decade to companies owned by leaders of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect, with tens of thousands allegedly winding its way back to Jeffs and his church.
The Pentagon had contracts with three companies with ties to Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect.
In fact, some of the deals were made after Jeffs was named to the FBI's "Most-Wanted List" and remained in place while he was on the run.
CNN has learned that between 1998 and 2007, the United States Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency purchased more than $1.7 million worth of airplane parts from three companies owned by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which practices polygamy.
Those companies are Utah Tool and Die, Western Precision and NewEra Manufacturing. Today, the companies all operate under the name NewEra Manufacturing, a company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, that says it supplies precision components "for the aerospace, military, medical, recreational and other commercial entities."
"It was my understanding that Western Precision was paying roughly $50,000 a week into the coffers of the church," former sect member Richard Holm said. "It would have been close to $200,000 a month."
Saturday, April 19, 2008
So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingenue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I'd somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book -- with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.
Here, let me just say that my life is well-sprinkled with lovely men, including a long succession of editors who have, since I was young, listened and encouraged and published me; with my infinitely generous younger brother; with splendid male friends. Still, there are these other men too.
So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, 'That's her book.' Or tried to interrupt him anyway"
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The following are snippets from Lewis Lapham's Notebook which is his opening soliloquy for each issue. Two times in this article women are mentioned in lists of things. Things for sale or things in a place, but things nonetheless. I see this stuff and I don't know how its going to change. I don't know how or where progress will happen and it's really frustrating.
The former housing minister, Carme Chacon, one of the rising stars of Spain's Socialist party, becomes its first ever female defence minister."
Nine of the ministers are women, and eight are men; when the prime minister is included, the cabinet is equally divided by gender.
The naked body of Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, 33, known as Pippa Bacca, was found in bushes near the city of Gebze on Friday.
She had said she wanted to show that she could put her trust in the kindness of local people."
Thursday, April 10, 2008
But Americans are a tough lot. We swallowed $2 and $3 per gallon gas prices with nary a blink or change in our driving habitat (until very recently). But is something about to change? Nearly one in 10 Ohioans now receive food stamps. Middle class Long Islanders are turning to food pantries. In Windsor, CT, 350 households now visit the food bank, compared to 120 in 2006. While I don't believe food riots are in our immediate future, it appears our ability to feed ourselves is becoming increasing difficult, and a day of reckoning may now be on the horizon."
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
On Prisons, Borders, Safety, and Privilege: An Open Letter to White Feminists | Reproductive Justice and Gender | AlterNet
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
As I age, I find that the family dynamic is in fact an amazing mystery that embodies the conundrum described in kill the buddha. I thought for so long that my goal was to get to a place of 'peace' with my family. I now realize how utterly naive and pointless a goal that was and is. I struggle, and likely due to my disposition have always struggled, with the idea of process being the point, not the destination. So as I gamely try to embrace the concept of the importance of process I am awed by how much I love those who have become my family, how willing I am to exist within their sphere, how profoundly my youthful notions of independence as strength have been torn asunder and finally how obvious, enjoyable and satisfying that conclusion is.
At some point all i asked was that it never be boring and it never, not even for a moment has been. Slainte.
Starbuck: You know that the President says that we're saving humanity for a bright, shiny future, on Earth--that you and I are never gonna see. We're not, because we go out, over and over, again, until someday, some metal motherfrakker is gonna catch us on a bad day and just blow us away.
Lee: Bright and shiny futures are overrated anyway.
Kara: That's why we gotta get what we can, right now.
Lee: I'll drink to that. To right now
Monday, March 31, 2008
What can we do to save ourselves from this?
Nothing. The loss has already occurred.
Read it and weep. That junk paper, six times the combined value of all human real estate and all human commerce, is everywhere. Think it doesn't effect you? Got a parent with a pension? Do you hold a life insurance policy? Do you work for an enterprise that is publicly held? That has funded part of its operation with a bond sale?
The unwinding of this mess must come and it will be the financial equivalent of a neutron bomb; the buildings will be standing, but they'll be emptied of people and the associated commerce."
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Defense Secretary Robert Gates orders an inventory of all U.S. nuclear weapons and related materials.
The order comes in the wake of the discovery last week that four nuclear warhead fuses were accidentally shipped to Taiwan in 2006."
I am transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy. Unlike those in same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, or civil unions, Nancy and I are afforded the more than 1,100 federal rights of marriage. Sterilization is not a requirement for sex reassignment, so I decided to have chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy but kept my reproductive rights. Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire."
Mental-Physical Personality Description
rarely expressive of feelings
feelings subordinate to tasks
use words carefully
may need help connecting with others personally.
Factors Causing Stress
insufficient time alone
too many tasks at once
insufficient time for careful consideration of issues and for task completion
conflict with personal values
used with restraint
used to make points
often in the vertical plane (up and down)
Mental-Physical behavioral style makes up only 5% of the Western population. It is the most of all the Mentally Centered Principle.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
“If there’s any illness for which people offer many remedies,’’ says a character in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” “you may be sure that particular illness is incurable.’’…
In one of his stand-up routines, British comedian David Baddiel asks why, when people hear he’s an insomniac, they say, “Really? ‘Cos I fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow.” He adds, “When I see someone in a wheelchair, I don’t say, “Really? ‘Cos I can do this…” and he hops around the stage on one leg. …"
About $460 billion of adjustable-rate mortgages are scheduled to reset this year, according to analysts at Citigroup Inc.
Financial sector losses and job cuts have been mounting since August, when subprime mortgage defaults began escalating, undermining the value of bonds backed by those loans.
Citigroup Inc. will cut 2,000 more trading and investment- banking jobs than previously announced, a person familiar with the plan said last week. That's on top of about 4,000 disclosed in January.
``This year we will have a larger number of reductions as we continue to strengthen the business and lower our expense base,'' the bank said in an emailed statement."
Wildlife biologists fear a significant die-off in about 15 caves and mines in New York, as well as at sites in Massachusetts and Vermont. Whatever is killing the bats leaves them unusually thin and, in some cases, dotted with a white fungus. Bat experts fear that what they call White Nose Syndrome may spell doom for several species that keep insect pests under control.
Researchers have yet to determine whether the bats are being killed by a virus, bacteria, toxin, environmental hazard, metabolic disorder or fungus. Some have been found with pneumonia, but that and the fungus are believed to be secondary symptoms.
“This is probably one of the strangest and most puzzling problems we have had with bats,” said Paul Cryan, a bat ecologist with the United States Geological Survey. “It’s really startling that we’ve not come up with a smoking gun yet.”"
Monday, March 24, 2008
Gen David Petraeus told the BBC he thought Tehran had trained, equipped and funded insurgents who fired the barrage of mortars and rockets.
He said Iran was adding what he described as "lethal accelerants" to a very combustible mix.There has as yet been no response from Iran to the accusations.