Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The More I Understand, the Less I Get

I will start by saying that I have no formal educational in Economics, financial investments or Politics. I grew up being told that Republicans stood for small government, fiscal responsibility by the individual, and “trickle down economics”. Democrats were for big central government and government-managed retirement, and social programs as “safety nets”. Yes, I know that has changed. I follow the news with a mix of humor, despair, cynicism, knowing more bad news is reported than good, and the reality is that most of it will never affect me. I am not the smartest person I know, nor the dumbest. Considering myself as neither Republican nor Democrat, rich or poor, tall or short, young or old; I am a statistically average American Citizen.

So the more I learn about the “credit crunch” or the “bank bailout”, the more I wonder if really don’t understand things as well as I think I do. Why does the Government need to buy up to 700 Billion Dollars worth of shares to save private financial institutions? So, to keep things a little more simplistic I would like to refer to the following two articles linked off CNN to Time.

The first is “The Credit Crunch: Where Is It Happening?” By Barbara Kiviat. It talks about how the money has slowed in flowing down, the credit card companies has sent out less credit card applications, student loans will be harder to find and how that may affect ‘main street’. Please read the article, I will wait.

The second article is titled “Let Risk-Taking Financial Institutions Fail” By Ari J. Officer and Lawrence H. Officer. This touches on how the banks got into the situation and they use a phrase that I am very fond of. Follow the money. Please read the article, I will wait once again.

Why do I point out these articles? Well, as Steve Martin is quoted; "Let's face it, some people have a way with words...other people...uhhh...ohhh...not have way". But in a simplistic one page article I feel both of these sum up what is really going on better than I can. One article is talking about how these bank failures might affect you--what could happen if it gets worse. It is well written and connects on a personal level. The second article is about the facts of the issue and gives the reasons why the banks should be allowed to fail. The second article also mentions if it does get worse and the money does stop ‘trickling down’ then the government can still step in.

But Bush wants action, or else. Why? In my opinion, to save political face. Bush has been saying for years the economy is strong. The economy is strong, but all markets go through corrections. (I remember the early 80’s with Reaganomics with bank corrections and out of control government spending.) Not to mention the fact that the real people that will be affected by this are the people with the money invested that flows both ways between Wall Street and DC. That’s why both presidential nominees want this bailout.

But then again what do I know about Economics, Financial investments or Politics? I am a statistically average American voter.

Monday, September 29, 2008

China's First Spacewalk

"Three Chinese astronauts arrived Monday in Beijing to a homecoming parade after completing China's first spacewalk and putting the country closer to building a space station and landing a man on the moon."
China wants to send people to the moon by 2020. The last time anyone stepped foot on the moon was 1972. I wonder if the space race will be back at full speed by then.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman 1925-2008

One of the first movies I saw that made an impression on me was "The Sting". I was only about 10 at the time but I still remember it making me interested in not just the cinematography of a movie but the acting of the people involved.
I also love his cookie. "Fig Newmans" have been a family favorite for a long time at our house.
RIP Paul Newman.

Bank Notes, and a Light Note

I once thought I understood the world, at least at a high level. In my cynical eyes, money runs the world. To a point, money buys everything. Power wins most everything else. So what happens when the people with money and power abuse it, misuse it and give it away for sub-prime mortgages? Then when they screw it all up, the people with the power say forget about it, 700 billion dollar do-over?
Rant done.
Seriously, I don’t understand why the government needs to bail out the largest and richest banks in the world. And then those failed banks give the executives million-dollar payouts because their contract said they deserved it. Seriously, if someone can please explain all this to me I would appreciate it.
Oops, did I say rant done?
On a lighter note, a co-worker told me today about a new t-shirt, found on an auction site:

Damn Rebellion.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oil and Drugs and Sex Oh My

I will always be amazed on what topics stay in the news, and what topics don't. Any topic with anything to do with crazy celebrities saying or doing dumb things seem to stay in the news. If an issue comes up that is actually newsworthy and should be a campaign issue, it seems to disappear very soon.
"... the department's inspector general released three reports detailing how officials at the office had accepted gifts, steered contracts and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of energy firms." Why doesn't this get more press? There are very few articles about this since this news was released, compared to other news posts.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Guess I Was Not Clear On My Point

Forgive me if I was not clear in my post about Palin's email. Let me try to express my point again.
I am not complaining that Palin uses email. Good for her, welcome to the 90's.
I am not complaining that hackers got her into email. For better or worse, that is what they do.
I am not complaining that Palin emailed at work from a personal account. Its called work/life balance.
I am not complaining that Palin uses a free email like Yahoo. Who doesn't use free email; but you get what you pay for.

I am complaining about Palin refusing the turn over emails that she was subpoenaed for, which had to do with the current legal inquiry against her. (I know little of the inquiry so I will not comment about that at this time.) The reason was the same as Karl Rove's, when there was an inquiry about his emails sent a few years back. Rove never used the White House email systems. Instead he always used the Republican National Party's email systems and therefore maintained that the email was outside the subpoena.
I personally do not like much about Rove, but I do respect his intelligence. He used a secure email system.

I personally do not know what was in the emails that were stolen, but if there was any confidential State documents I hope that is at addressed at some level. I know of people fired for less.
I also hope that the people who did break into the account are exposed. I know of people jailed for less.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hackers Access Palin's Personal Yahoo email account

I would be amazed by this if I didn't see this every day.
"A group of computer hackers said yesterday that they had accessed a Yahoo e-mail account of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, publishing some of her private communications to expose what appeared to be her use of a personal account for government business."
This does not surprise me, people use their personal email accounts everyday for business passing confidential and private information. Email is not a secure means of communication.
My favorite line in the article is the following;
"McLeod's Anchorage attorney, Donald C. Mitchell, said Palin declined to comply with a public records request in June to divulge 1,100 e-mails sent to and from her personal accounts, citing executive privilege."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Indian Woman Convicted of Murder By Brain Scan

I saw this on Slashdot.org and it just makes you think.
"Neuroscientist Champadi Raman Mukundan claims his Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature test is so accurate, it can tell whether a person committed or only witnessed an act. In June, an Indian judge agreed, using BEOS to find a woman guilty of killing her former fiancé. Scientific experts are calling the decision "ridiculous" and "unconscionable", protesting that Mukundan's work has not even been peer reviewed. How reliable should a test have to be, when eyewitnesses are notoriously fallible? Does a person have a right to privacy over their own memories, or should society's interest in holding criminals accountable come first?"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Busy at work means slow to update

I know, not many posts lately. Heres some pictures.

Baltimore Inner Habor