Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Clips of The Wire

Love Bunk's interrogation technique here.

Here, Bodie buys flowers to D's funeral...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bailouts: Where's all this cash coming from?

A couple hundred billion here and a couple hundred billion there. What's a few billion between friends? The government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to sustain banks, AIG and the big mortgage aggregators, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. Is it really clear what we're buying as taxpayers? The money's being used to buy "toxic assets" but there is no clarity about what prices we're paying for subprime mortgages or other assets from banks to keep them solvent.
Citigroup's pricetag for a bailout grew by another $20 billion from the original $25 billion. The government also agreed to shoulder another $300 billion in losses from bad assets. How did Citigroup and the government come up with this figure? Do they just pull these numbers out of a hat? As a taxpayer, do I really want to own a business whose mismanagement makes GM look like a beacon of efficiency? Would it make more sense for the government to pay $30 billion to acquire all of Citigroup and close its doors? Taxpayers might be better off given the rising price tag for this mess.

Barry Ritholtz, who writes "The Big Picture" blog and is an investment strategist for Fusion IQ, says the bailout pricetag now exceeds $4.6 trillion. It is more than the combined cost of the Marshall Plan, NASA, the New Deal, the Louisiana Purchase, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and the Iraq invasion. Bloomberg did some calculations and said the overall package is over $7 trillion. In other words, this is $24,000 for every American. I think the economy would have been a lot better off if The Fed and the Treasury just cut each person the checks. A $96,000 check for my household would eliminate my debts, pay a few years of tuition at a state college for my daughter and still leave enough for me to buy a car (effectively helping Detroit's autoworkers). Is that any less worthwhile than giving it to some poorly managed banks?

Instead, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury are keeping the printing press going and for no certain benefit, for ill defined objectives and for assets that do not have a clear market value. Our economy will be that like a South American banana republic when this is all done. We'll be begging the Chinese to lend our government more money and the dollar won't be worth much of anything. To top it off, President Bush and his Treasury Secretary have been absent in terms of providing leadership during this economic crisis. Could we just accelerate the Obama inauguration and evict Bush from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Casting A 'Safety Net' For The Homeless

Dr. Jim Withers founded Operation Safety Net after he began making "house calls" under bridges in Pittsburgh, Pa. Now it's one of the nation's first full-time street medicine programs. Could we make this guy a saint? Click on the link to listen to the NPR program.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Star Trek movie trailer

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Casino Royale" opening scene

I enjoyed the opening scene of Casino Royale a great deal. It was one of the best stunt sequences captured on film.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Don't bail out the carmakers: The Economist

Politicians, business and the unions all want a bail-out of Ford and General Motors. That would be a mistake. Chapter 11 was made for situations like this. As article says: Bailing out Detroit would be a bad use of public money. It would be bad in principle, because it would be an open invitation to companies everywhere to apply for aid to survive the recession. Banks qualify for help because the entire economy depends upon their services. They are vulnerable to sudden collapses in confidence that can spread to other banks that are perfectly solvent. A good car company does not face the same threat. And although Detroit employs a network of suppliers, which would suffer if production shuts down, nothing would sap a recovery and job-creating enterprise like locking up badly used resources in poorly performing companies.

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Uh, These Are the Five Most Popular Music Videos on

Esquire's take on the archives...

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New Star Trek Movie

My son and I caught the trailer before the James Bond movie. It looks extremely cool and is the top of my list for movies to see in 2009! This is not as cool as the trailer I caught in the movies, but it gives a hint about what's to come.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"The Big Picture" economics blog -- Bailouts and Handouts

Barry Ritholtz explains why businesses are claiming to need government bailouts: "Free Money!" All of these bailouts have turned into a corporate welfare free for all. Too bad this is going to devalue the dollar and still will not really help consumers. If former Goldman Sachs CEO is correct, it could be grim. Check this out:

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This is that guy from the opening scene of "Casino Royale" and one of the most fearless natural athletes I've ever seen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My friends in Cutlass play fast, loud and still have fun...

I went to high school with these guys. The video is a clip of them opening for Stone Temple Pilots. I can't do much about the camera work. When you are in the Point Pleasant area, please see them. This is their myspace page. These guys have the energy of Iggy Pop in his Raw Power days.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fox News: Palin didn't know Africa was a continent

Republicans are sharpening the knives and chop blocking any chance of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin from running for president in 2012. Unnamed sources go to Fox News, the outlet of choice among Republicans, and release damaging details about tantrums and her being ignorant about basic civics and geography (Is Africa a country?). It's scapegoating at its finest. It also shows something about the lack of vetting within the McCain campaign. She was not ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency and that became clear to many conservatives. That's obvious enough, but the folks in the McCain campaign were thinking of a short term pop in the polls regardless of long-term consequences. I think Gov. Palin is a gifted politician who knows how to engage a conservative audience. I don't think she's stupid and she could have spent the next three years brushing up on her glaring weaknesses before running in 2012. Even before I heard this report, I thought Sarah Palin should study to gain a firmer grasp about foreign policy, health care, economics, defense, law enforcement and other weighty issues. As governor, she could work toward testing conservative solutions that could be used for national problems. I didn't and still don't think her political career is over. However, she has to do more than offer a beauty queen wave to the crowd and some stock lines to get conservatives excited. But the McCain campaign is going into ass covering mode. His handlers are trying to save their own necks and blame the running mate they actually helped select. The same conservatives that propelled her and demonized the "liberal media" for questioning her qualifications are now the ones most aggressively carving her up. Politics is a deceitful business.

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Look at who is scapegoating Sarah Palin

Top McCain advisers who once defended Gov. Sarah Palin are now criticizing her. CNN's Campbell Brown shows where the real blame lies -- on Sen. McCain's campaign advisers who are now in "cover your ass" mode.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Twelve:01 I Will Find

A great band and one I've known for a long time. Time Flies. It's been a long short life!I'm sad that I will miss another of Simo's birthday bashes at John & Peters in New Hope. It usually turns into a boozy, chaotic night.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How Bush Destroyed the Republican Party

A president driven by ideology. A Congress rife with corruption. A political party hellbent on a "permanent majority." A leading scholar examines the radicals who hijacked the GOP — and wrecked the longest conservative ascendancy in American history.

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New Springsteen album due in January: report

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Bruce Springsteen's next album is expected for release around the time of Barack Obama's presidential inauguration in January, according to the fan Web site ( The follow-up to 2007's...

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The many faces of Jocelyn Wildenstein


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Trenton's a swamp that needs to be drained

Ballot questions in N.J. are often overlooked when people vote. Most of the time nobody pounds the pavement about them or advertises a point of view on tv (except in California where many things go on the ballot). However, their impact ends up being felt years later when people wonder "How the hell did we get into this mess?" This year, New Jersey had two ballot questions and they were ingeniously unclear. Here's Question 1:

Do you approve the proposed amendment to the State Constitution which
provides that, after this amendment becomes part of the Constitution, a law
enacted thereafter that authorizes State debt created through the sale of bonds
by any autonomous public corporate entity, established either as an
instrumentality of the State or otherwise exercising public and essential
governmental functions, such as an independent State authority, which debt or
liability has a pledge of an annual appropriation as the ways and means to pay
the interest of such debt or liability as it falls due and pay and discharge the
principal of such debt, will be subject to voter approval, unless the payment of the
debt is made subject to appropriations of an independent non-State source of
revenue paid by third persons for the use of the object or work bonded for, or are
from a source of State revenue otherwise required to be appropriated pursuant to
another provision of the Constitution?

Yep, that's what we were able to vote on. Believe it or not, it can impact our states finances, which are a mess from all the debt on its books ($3 billion a year in debt service). The newspapers also didn't have much to say about it either. Therefore, I had to go to the League of Women Voters to get a true interpretation. See page 3 for the implications. Where are the reporters in New Jersey to write about this stuff? Isn't it their role to interpret complex material and improve voter understanding?

Unfortunately, our politicians are not being held accountable either. This is an act of intellectual dishonesty. If our politicians cannot be up front with the public, what good are they. It just leads me to say, Trenton is a swamp that needs to be drained.