Great Food Truck Race – yeah, I watch Food Network, you got something to say?

GO HODGE PODGE!!

ETA: Nooo, not the Roxy truck!  They’ve got a truffle mayo!  And the Lime truck boys are pussies.

Dammit.  Take that Lime truck down, Hodge Podge.  I’m rooting for you.

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Comments (4)  

Drive-by blogging

Just a quickie, I’m to busy to blog at the moment.

Brilliant.

*standing ovation*

Published in: on September 16, 2011 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  

GDP 101

There are some remarkably savvy people hanging around here, and I’m betting all of you know what GDP is without my explaining it.

What GDP means is another story.  Most people don’t know what the GDP figure means in any in-depth manner.  Most people don’t need to know this.  It’s not generally considered to be vital information.  My education was in mathematics, and I didn’t know until the last decade (mathematics is a hard science, whereas economics is the art of mathematically predicting what a herd of cats will do next).

The GDP formula is simple by even middle school standards:  C + I+G +(x-m).  Consumer spending plus investment plus government spending (federal, state and local) plus next exports (exports minus imports) equals Gross Domestic Product.

Here’s what this means.

Government produces nothing for the economy, the only thing it is capable of doing is siphoning money out of the economy via taxes.  Further, taxes have a cumulative effect.  If your business will pay an extra $10k in taxes next year, you will not merely say, “C’est la vie, I have $10k less to spend in my business next year.”*  You will trim expenses somewhere to make up for that loss.  It may mean you cut one employee, or you switch suppliers (and then they make less money, and may cut an employee).  Someone, some where, loses a job.  This results not merely in your $10k leaving the economy, but also the spending of the person who lost a job.

An increase in taxes always affects either C or I in our formula, and at a higher figure than the actual taxes removed.

In the natural order of things, government has a parasitic relationship with the market and knows it.  All government spending is a burden upon the taxpayer and the economy, and government must carefully watch for precipitous spending lest it kill the very thing that feeds it.

And then we discovered debt.

These days, the fellow that lost his job lives on credit cards – spending money he doesn’t have and can’t pay back.

The government figured out that if raising taxes would lower GDP by decreasing either C or I, then it would simply borrow lots of extra money from others and promise to pay it back with raised taxes later.  Some day.  Probably.

This is exactly why today’s economy isn’t called a depression.  That’s defined by a 10% contraction of GDP.  C and I contracted like hell; government increased G hugely by adding 100% to government spending through money it borrowed, without the ability to pay back via tax revenue.

If you have ever successfully balanced a checkbook, you can see what is wrong with this picture.  Neither C nor I and damned well not G are figures which can be maintained.  The person who lost his job will not be able to live on credit cards forever – at some point the credit reaches its end and he can only spend what he earns.  Now extend this one person across the broader economy.  U-6 unemployment stands at 16.2% as of August – nearly double what it was four years ago.  And yet GDP has grown every quarter since?  I don’t think so.  16.2% will show up in C.  That is a fact which cannot be ignored any more than one can ignore gravity.

G cannot be maintained indefinitely.  If you think it can, go talk to a Greek.  No one can continually spend ever-increasing sums of money it does not have without eventually getting presented with a bill.  Not even countries.  It took Greece a long time to hit the limit on their credit card (decades, even), but they did eventually hit it.  We will too, and it won’t be decades from now, because we’re right behind Greece in all the debt-to-GDP statistics.  We’re so near the event horizon, we might have crossed it already.  I suspect we have (and if you’d like to know why, I direct you to my recent post wherein I proved that the bill for every individual – man, woman or child – in the state of Texas for their federal and state tax burden is $17,063.50 per year, and that does not include the money needed to pay the government debts).

Do you want to know what happens to countries when their credit cards get cut up?

This happens:

Greece’s gross domestic product per capita of $30,400 in 2008 was close to the European Union average. It was caused not by an exceptional surge in productivity, but mostly by huge subsidies and extensive borrowing. Greece’s continuing current account deficit, estimated by The Economist at 8.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 despite a severe recession, indicates that it remains deeply uncompetitive.

This suggests Greece may require living standards to decline by as much as 40 percent to become competitive…

And this:

Writing in the Die Welt newspaper, [German economic minister] Mr Roesler said: “To stabilise the euro, we must not take anything off the table in the short run. That includes as a worst-case scenario an orderly default for Greece if the necessary instruments for it are available.”

He said such a default would mean “re-establishing the affected state’s ability to function, perhaps with a temporary restriction of its sovereign rights”.

And let’s not forget this:

Another tactic for pulling the debt-stricken country out of crisis could be replacing “the obviously ineffective administrators” there, he added. Because Greek officials have failed at collecting outstanding taxes and selling state-owned assets as planned, Oettinger alleged, experts from other EU nations should be sent in to do their jobs instead. “They could operate without concern for resistance and end the inefficiency,” he told Bild.

Your standard of living cut in half while foreign nationals take over elected positions to make sure to extract from you repayment of money your government borrowed and spent.  That isn’t tinfoil nuttery, that’s actual quotes in the actual goddamned news.

Does no one read history books?  Statements such as the above are soft declarations of war.

This will not end well.  Not for Greece, not for Europe, and not for us.

 

*Or maybe you will.  Some people will say anything.

Published in: on September 12, 2011 at 8:45 am  Comments (5)  

Never forget

This day marks the 10th anniversary of an isolated terrorist event which our government gleefully seized as an opportunity to declare war on American citizens.

American politicians have now killed more young men and women in our military through their ceaseless political war than terrorist killed on that day.  Unlike the terrorists, the politicians demand we finance their actions.

This was the day which gave us the political overlords’ instruction that secret police action, warrantless searches and a list of who’s a Naughty American* is patriotic.  It was used against a 16 year old homeschooled North Carolina boy wherein someone claimed a bomb threat was phoned in.  There is no other evidence in this case.  The boy has been stripped of his due process rights, his mother was given little access to him and a judge issued a gag order which prevents anyone from finding out what has happened.  That is what we’re told is “patriotic”.

I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

In the ensuing ten years, the TSA have made no arrests (zero, none, a complete absence of a positive figure) that weren’t law-abiding Americans.  Their unconstitutional searches and violating the rights of billions of passengers in the last decade have assisted in the capture of absolutely no terrorists at all.

They did strip-search, arrest and spend a year prosecuting a normal middle class, middle-aged white American grandma though.  Over applesauce.

Spetember 11, 2001 was a day of infamy and no mistake.  Always remember the reign of terror visited upon us from that day forward and always, always remember who is behind it all.

Never forget.

 

*Many of whom are small children.  They must have been very naughty children indeed.

Published in: on September 11, 2011 at 10:57 am  Comments (1)  

There’s warm and happy thoughts, and then there’s this…

Y’all, keep a close eye on Greece this weekend.  It’s looking very serious.

I’ve been watching the Greek bonds for days.  The 1yr is sitting at 97.96% and the news is swirling with rumors of default, rumors of denial of default, rumors of failed auctions.

I know to many, who have no idea what this means, the instinctive reaction is to think that what happens waaaay over in some tiny Mediterranean island has dick-all to do with us.  Fight that instinct, because it is wrong.  German banks are in dire danger from the fallout of a Greek default – Merkel is frantically sandbagging as we speak.  The big French banks were already in deep trouble, and I’m talking CEO-eats-a-bullet style of thing.

The big deal with a global marketplace is that we’re all now tied together, much like slaves chained in the hold of a ship.  Toss one slave over, and the weight will drag everyone else down too.  No where is this more pronounced than the financial sector.

My read on this, which may of course be wrong, but unless you’re willing to put as much research into it as I have, you’d be a fool to dismiss out of hand:

Greece can’t be saved.  There’s no way.  Even if the world could find the funds, and Greek citizens could find the balls to fix their problems, it’d be a bad precedent because Italy is likely next on the chopping block and they’ll expect global bailout as well (Hey, Greece got bailed out, why not us?)  TBTF is an idiotic concept when applied to banks, the impossibility of the theory is exponentially greater when applied to whole countries.

It might be able to be sandbagged.  Detach, de-lever, cordon off the damage and sit tight for the ride.  If they do this, they still can’t save the French banks in the long run (too exposed, and to more crap than Greece) but they might be able to salvage enough of the German economy and the Euro to withstand some major shitstorms.

If everything goes perfectly, this weekend will be a nailbiter but come Monday it will be business as usual hereabouts.  For now.  Not so much for Greece, but we’ve known that for a long time.

If nothing goes right, US banking is going to be mass chaos on Monday morning.  Grab your sack with both hands.

Plan for the worst and then you can hope for the best.

Published in: on September 9, 2011 at 11:36 am  Comments (4)  

We can also invest in icebergs as a supply of potable water. I probably shouldn’t make references to old movies, it dates me.

In 2012, vote for the one politician who is truly on your side.

Vote for Nobody!

Nobody Cares!

Nobody will keep election promises.

Nobody will listen to your concerns.

Nobody will help the poor and unemployed.

If Nobody is elected, things will be better for everyone.

Nobody tells the truth!

Talk to your friends and family about the exciting possibility of voting for Nobody in 2012!

“We, the Anti-Electorate, do not believe there is a need for “strong leadership” in government. We are not drawn to “intellectual” authorities and political “heroes.” We are not impressed with titles, ranks, and pecking orders – politicians, celebrities, and gurus. We do not struggle for control of organizations, social circles, and government. We do not lobby the State for favors or permission to control those with whom we disagree. Rather, we advocate freedom. By its very nature, the State does not. Exercise your right to say “No” to the warfare-welfare system. Refuse to vote. Then tell your friends why.” — Wally Conger, The Anti-Electorate Manifesto

Props to my gal Kelly James, from whom I ganked the whole post.  Except the title.  I wrote every word of that title.

Published in: on September 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm  Comments (2)  

Investment advice

Periodically, fellows will ask me for my advice on the markets.  I’m well aware that most of them are approaching it with a talking dog in mind – oh look, an intelligent escort, hur hur.  I don’t know if anyone ever took my advice, though I’d be interested to find out how they did.  Watching my recommendations, they ought to have done well by it.

My response was the same no matter who asked.  First, the caveat that I am not a certified financial advisor, that I was not talking my book (sold the last more than a year ago) and they’re asking someone they met online.*  A year ago, I always said gold, silver, oil and, if you were feeling frisky, copper.  Six months ago, I told everyone to run like hell – take their ball and go home.  The market no longer exists, it’s been replaced with a casino, and while some lucky dog’s gotta win… it probably won’t be you.

Having an account with the Bank of Sealy isn’t a good long-term solution, though.  Whatever Bernanke says, we’re in an inflationary environment and, while keeping your life’s savings in your mattress means you won’t lose it as fast as you would in the market, the point is that you’ll still lose it as inflation erodes away its value.

Two potential solutions here, and they both involve investing in people rather than markets.

The traditional safe plays in an inflationary economy are debt and goods.  I understand the argument with debt; if you take on debt today, you’ll pay it back tomorrow with currency that is cheaper.  I still don’t like it.  This is not an economy wherein additional obligations would bring happy thoughts.  Thus it is that I favor the second play – buy stuff.  It’s the same argument as debt, only in the other direction and it leaves you holding something tangible.  Tomorrow, things will cost more due to currency devaluation/price inflation.  So buy it today.

Take, for e.g., your grocery bill.  You’re going to buy a certain amount of groceries every week no matter what.   Price inflation at the grocery store has been particularly rabid over the last year(s).  It may surprise you, but you can get quite a nice return by making your usual supermarket purchases in big bulk lots.  Say you find your brand of toothpaste on sale for 94 cents.  Buy two dozen of them.  A year from now, when your brand of toothpaste is $1.97, you’ve got yourself a tidy little profit.

Now parlay that out across your entire grocery bill.

Sure, you can’t do it with everything.  Fresh bread and meat, cream, produce, these things have to be bought fresh and cannot be stored as-is.  But if you’re sitting on a shitload of financials and are desperately looking for a better place to put it, trade it in for “things”.  You’ll use it all eventually, including a little place to retire on and a plot in the graveyard, and I guaran-damned-tee we aren’t going to have a strong dollar any time soon.

The first solution is to invest in yourself.  Buy all the things today, at the best price you can find, which you know you’ll be using eventually.  The second solution is to invest in others.

Small business creates more jobs in America than any other element of the market.  Small business owners work ridiculous hours and pour their blood, sweat and tears into their dream, all in the full knowledge that it may not work out.  What helps entrepreneurs the most is an injection of outside capital.

This solution is trickier.  You’ll have to find a likely person who you know to be a hard worker, with a great idea and solid business sense (and since everyone is a fucking moron these days, that’s a tall order).  Even then, you may not see a return if the business fails.  Still, all things being equal, investing in the local small businesses is a smarter move with a better likely return than in the stock markets.

And that’s my investment advice these days.  Let the stock markets go bugger themselves.  Invest in yourself, and invest in local business.

* Yes, for the most part, I think it’s silly to ask someone you met online what to do with your money.  But, since everyone I meet online is a grown adult and therefore old enough to wipe their own ass…  On the other hand, it’s demonstrably far better to listen to me than to fucking Cramer.

Published in: on September 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tunes, man. Tunes.

I hardly ever watch TV, and it gets rather quiet over here without something on, so I listen to a lot of music.  I’ve usually got a playlist going while I write, cook, putter around or actually work.

As some of you who know me bestest will know, this is my absolute favorite song.  The one I never tire of.  Slipknot is not capable of making a bad song.  Such iconic talent.

Mostly I listen to rock.  Some country, some classical, even the odd WTF choice (I seem to pick one pop song at a time to go nuts for, listen to it constantly, and then get bored and not listen to pop for a few months until some other catchy stupid song comes along.  The last one was Bad Romance, remember?  The current is Firework, by Katy Perry.  The video is unintentionally hysterical, with her Chest of Passionate Fire).  But yeah, mostly it’s rock.

B and I sang this in karaoke.  It was glorious.  She went for the high notes, y’all.  Because she is awesome and wins at life.

A classic.  If anything qualifies as my theme song, this is it.  (I still say Brandy’s is Pussy Control, but she can share this one too if she likes.)  One of those songs that will never die, and if it does then it’s because those damned kids don’t know good music these days.  Just a bunch of yelling and strange haircuts.  Get off my lawn!

I used to dance to this song when I was a stripper.  What does that say about my sense of humor?

YOU KNOW YOU LOVE IT.  Sing it with me!  Hummela-bebbela-zeebala-boomela-hummela-bebbelah-zeebalaBOP.  (And yes, I danced to this as a stripper too.  It amused me.)

Siiiigh.  I hear this, and I’m right back in middle school.  (I was actually about five years old when it was released.  It still reminds me of middle school, so shaddup.)

God, now I’m getting depressed.  Whither the talent in today’s music scene?  Alas, we had Billy Corgan and David Mustaine and Slipknot, and the rest are doing covers of better musicians (I’m looking at you, Fred Durst) or are Nickelback version 2.0-3.7.  But there are the guys from Filter.

Yeeeeeeah.  That’s what I’m talking about.

Aaaand we’ll end this with some humor.  As aforementioned, I pay little attention to the TV.  But Brandy, bless her little cotton socks, got me hooked on Supernatural (which brings the total of the shows I watch to… three).  Eye candy!  Guns!  Fights and drinking!  And eye candy!  It’s got it all, man. Also, a damned funny blooper reel.

Eye of the Tiger

It won’t allow embedding, so you’ll have to go to all the work of clicking a link.  Sorry.

I’ve just gone over my post, and I realize now that my taste in music can best be summed up as Stuff You Sing In Your Truck.  And I totally do.  Loudly.

As long as we’re on the subject of music, I find much amusement in ringtones.  My last ex, I set his ringtone to Meredith Brooks “Bitch”.  He found that very unflattering (ahaha – then stop calling me, bitch).  I had Brandy’s ringtone set as Prince’s “Pussy Control” forever, but recently I changed it to the theme song from the Smurfs.  The la-la-la song, yep.  I dunno, I thought it was funny as hell, but my taste has always been questionable.  Anyone who calls on my business line rings as Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (oh, the puns just write themselves, yes they do).

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm  Comments (6)  

Flag on the play!

That sort of checking will even get you two minutes in the penalty box in hockey.

The girl is fifteen, by the way.  That isn’t the most troubling aspect (and that it gets worse is troubling all on its own).  The most troubling aspect is that searching “cop attacks girl” on Youtube gives almost a million returns.  A million.  The fuck?

I’ve also cleaned up the blogroll, and added a few.

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 9:37 am  Comments (2)  

I had a neighbor named Irene. Nice gal. Made delicious chicken and noodles, but her goats were obnoxious. Ah, the price of friendship.

Hurricane Irene is frolicking on the eastern seaboard as we speak, so I thought this would be a good time to go over hurricane preparedness.  Weekend lulz and all that.

There’s Emily’s Guideline to Preparedness.

And then there’s how everyone else does it.

URGENT – URGENT – URGENT (FOR IMMEDIATE DISSEMINATION STATEWIDE)
Warning to all South Carolina residents of a possible hurricane threat. The path of this hurricane is still unclear and may be a threat to our state.

Although meteorologists are predicting landfall somewhere to the north of South Carolina, state emergency preparedness officials are making two basic but important points:

(1) There is no need to panic.

(2) We could all be killed.

Hurricane season is an exciting time to be in South Carolina. If you’re new to the area, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we’ll get hit by “the big one.” Based on experience, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1. Buy enough food, beer, and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.

STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.

STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in South Carolina. We’ll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items: HOMEOWNERS’ INSURANCE: If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:

(1) It is reasonably well-built, and

(2) It is located in Nebraska.

Unfortunately, if your home is located in South Carolina, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you’ll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss.

Since Hurricane George, I have had an estimated 27 different home-insurance companies. This week, I’m covered by the Bubba and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to my premium, Bubba and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.

SHUTTERS: Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors, and — if it’s a major hurricane — all the toilets. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:

Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they’re cheap. The disadvantage is that, because you make them yourself, they will fall off.

Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.

Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they’re very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.

Hurricane-proof windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so. He lives in Nebraska.

Hurricane Proofing Your Property: As the hurricane approaches, check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc.. You should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool (if you don’t have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles.

EVACUATION ROUTE: If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver’s license; if it says “South Carolina,” you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

HURRICANE SUPPLIES: If you don’t evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now! South Carolina tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of SPAM. In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies: 23 flashlights At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes off, to be the wrong size for the flashlights. Bleach. (We don’t know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for, but it’s traditional, so GET some!) A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant. A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.) A large quantity of raw chicken, to placate the alligators. (Ask anybody who went through Hugo. After the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.) $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

Good luck, and remember: It’s great living in South Carolina.

P.S.  You know the drought’s bad if you see a hurricane veer away from the entrance to the Gulf and the first thing you think is, “Dammit, we needed the rain.”  (Says the person whose house is surrounded by trees and yes, yes, sanity did eventually assert itself.  Maybe just a slow-moving TS soaker.  Four of them.)

P.P.S.  I know what the bleach is for.  Not only is it convenient for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces (three days without power or hot running water in steamy post-hurricane conditions is even LESS fun with diarrhea) but you can make questionable water safe to drink.

Published in: on August 27, 2011 at 8:45 am  Comments (3)  
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