Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Tuesday?

Sorry... a little late on my monday post.

As a unicorn chaser i give you hamster in a wok (though i dont know what the hell the guy with the camera is doing off camera).

Friday, March 27, 2009

A happy friday post gone bad

Why is it when i see stories like this i think 'a thousand years of this?'

The Okies are at it again

Firat they tried to legally ban an athiest from speaking at a university... now they're working on passing this law.

"The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill."

So, for example... let's say you're taking a difficult test and you dont know the answer to a specific question - just lob some religious answer in and you get the question right. Example - what is the protein activator for sea urchin sperm? Rather than discussing Calcium ionophores, one simply says 'jesus' and gets it right. You dont even have to stop at Jesus... in fact, the wicans should have a much easier time of this - and a creative student should be able to simply make things up on the spot. Hell, what's 1+1? Well Jesus fed the multitudes with a fish and a loaf - so it must be a number like 'many'. Have to write a 5 paragraph poetry analysis of 'The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls'? It's obviously about Moses and the Red Sea. Afterall jeebus is everywhere in all things - why not put him into geometry proofs.
Reflexive Property --> God created these lines parallel --> SAS Postulate (4,8,9)... When religion becomes the enemy of critical thinking there will be very little room for the religious in any enterprise I want to be involved in.

The beautiful secondary part of this law is the 'students are allowed to spew religious sentiment as school representatives' - and it's already passed in Texas. Oh to be a student again - the Flying Spaghetti Monster and I could bankrupt the plano school district in moments.

Of course, here in texas we're busy passing new garbage every year. So teachers - be sure to teach that the universe was created yesterday - and that every memory you have and all physical evidence to the contrary is just jeebus testing our faith (because I, as a student, would be sure to make that point on every history test). Easiest way to become valedictorian evar!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Bank Bailout math problem

Lets say I have a bank.
And i have 1 billion dollars of condos in a flood plain on my books.
My buddy Bob leaves my bank, sets up a LLC, and bids up the value of my toxic realestate to 10 billion dollars.

I, as the bank, just made 9 billion dollars.
Bob just put up 800m for the property.
Bob goes chapter 11 - he's out 800m - sucks to be him... except for the offshore account where i slip him his share of the profits.

Who pays for this? why the taxpayer does...

This is a Ponzi scheme to put Bernie Madoff to shame


Good to see there are others who see through the smoke and mirrors on this pillaging.

There is NO excuse for this... none of that 'Obama inherited this mess' crap... this one is all him - he owns it - and it's as bad as anything W would have done in his place. If you want one guarantee that the FDIC will run out of cash this plan is it. I'm at the point where I'm going to start suggesting people take money out of their banks and keep it in the mattress.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Zombie Banks 2: Dead by Dawn

So Geithner has rolled out the latest version of the 'get rich (again) quick' scheme for the bankers - a plan for treasury to drop a trillion dollars on crap to get the banks balance sheets back in line. For example... Bob, a hedgefund manager from Ft Stockton, buys a house for $2m that he intends to flip. Housing market collapses - and since Bob bought the house with a very small down payment the best thing for Bob to do is tell the bank 'not my problem' and walk away. So the Bank now has a house on it's books that, on paper, is worth $2m. Now the govt is going to take the house off the banks books - but in partnership with private investors... Let's say they hold a reverse auction and, for the sake of argument, the house sells for 2m (in a normal market environment it wouldnt sell for this much, but there's a reason the price would be so high). So first off the FDIC comes in and insures 5/6ths of the value of the 'low interest loan' to buy the thing. So just as when you go to a bank to buy a house and they want 20% equity - the govt is running a similar scheme (slightly less than 20%, but you get the picture). So now the investor has to come up with 333k.... but wait! Now the govt comes in again - writing the investor a check for 1/2 the 333k - meaning the investor need only pony up 161k. What's the downside for the investor? The govt owns half the house (if it sells at a profit).

How does this work in practice?

You take 10m in cash, it leverages to 120m in houses, you take the best half of the houses and sell those to your brother at a loss for 1/2 the actual market value (say 1/4 what they were) losing your 10m along the way by defaulting on everything else. Now your brother owns $30m (120m at 50%) in houses for which he paid $15m... you lost $10m... he sells those houses at the new market rate and walks away with $5m.

The banks get all their money. The rich people get more money. Only the taxpayer gets burned.

This is RTC all over again.

Happy monday

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SXSW day 3

Ran into town yesterday to show off Bo-Peep to Robyn's brood - always good when a japanese power trio can so impress the 6 yr olds they insist on having their shirts prized girls rock camp shirts signed by the artist (edit: Robyn's progeny are 7 and 9... apologies). Many CDs were purchased. (I had a feeling Kaori Takebayashi would be a hit with the girls - and man was i right.) Intense energy (even in the blazing sun with the crap acoustics of playing on a roof) these guys came to play and brought no fear. As with Detroit 7 last year - I walked away with a couple cds to support the act. (of course, the blue skies, 80 degrees, whole foods bbq and amy's ice cream didnt make the day any less enjoyable)

Today Jake and I went down to the Guitar show in the convention center. Apparently I'm a fender person (whereas Jake is a Gibson person). I dont know if that's a bad thing or not... but seeing as i have no ability with the guitar whatsoever I dont see that it really matters much. Wandered off... tried to get in to see Airborn Toxic Event but the line was 2 hours long and that wasnt going to happen - so we went early to see Peelander Z. Jake had caught them last year and said they were a must see - and he wasn't kidding. Dressed in power ranger costumes... the bass player climbing the rafters, hooking his legs around the supports, and playing along with the song while suspended upside down... human bowling in mid set... 300 people screaming 'medium rare' every time the question 'how do you want your steak' was screamed into the mic... these guys were FUN. When you wander and peoplewatch you see all sorts of bands in their 'poser' gear - all ready to be the next big thing... and then Peelander is there being all 'mad tiger' and taking it all so much less seriously and thus actually being ENTERTAINING. Some would absolutely hate a band like this because they're absolutely NON pretentious but they are FUN and their stage presence took a jam packed Mohawk and turned it into a rocking and jumping party (attracting a line that went 400 people down the block by the time we left).

Finished the day with food at Mekong and some wandering about.

I'll probably get a wristband next year - not really because there are so many acts i want to see - but honestly I want to support shows like this in austin.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SXSW again

it's that time of year... when the asshole movie people leave the starbucks to be replaced by asshole A&R guys - but then, at least we get the music. I love downtown - but when it's filled with musicians from all over the world - sitting around watching each other play - grabbing a burger together in a distant city or sharing a conversation in over an upscale piano - sxsw is great people watching fun for the rest of us.

That said - it's really all about the music. I really wanted to go see Glasvegas today - i love the jesus and mary chain sound... and jake was rather enamored of one of the other bands in that set (And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead). But alas - it was in conflict with my single big 'must see' - Detroit 7 in the free set at the creekside (a total hole in the wall, but at least it's not in a tent).

Last year they stole the japan set - and if anything their energy is more pronounced now(and damn if Miyoko Yamaguchi isn't the best damned drummer i've seen in a long time). I LOVE seeing them in this sort of environment - it's just fun for them and you can tell they're loving it (as was FLiP - who's members were standing on tables and as into seeing them cut loose as anyone in the venue). I liked FLiP, and i think the Sum41-esque pop-punk sound of SpecialThanks was much better than you expect a band that sounds that produced to be (ie - they're actually pretty damned good) - but the surprise of the show for me was Bo Peep, another 3 piece punk band with a lot of GoGo7188 in em. I've had GoGo on heavy rotation in my car for a year - and though i have no idea what i'm singing i'm perfectly capable of singing along with most of it (terribly i might add). I think i'll drag my ass into town again tomorrow - i think they're playing a show at the Whole Foods lol.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

lowly shepherds? not quite...

next time you think you have too much time on your hands...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Every day there's another tragic story illustrating what's wrong with this country. So many that even the Chuck Grassleys of the world are suggesting some of these problem individuals take care of themselves. The only improvement I could make on your comments mr senator would be to suggest they use fire (perhaps inferno bullets).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hey Bank of America

You know that credit card bill I have?

I want the AIG treatment.

"By seeking to link repayment of the bonus money to the coming $30 billion in assistance, the administration seemed to leave open the possibility that the company would effectively be repaying taxpayers with taxpayer money. A Treasury official disputed that taxpayers would be repaying themselves, but could not specify how else the company would give back the money."

So just, ummm, give me some money and i'll pay my bill with it... Well... some of it... a little... i promise... really... maybe they'll be different actual dollar bills... i might use coins...

If everyone who worked at AIG were hit by a bus the world would be a better place.

Oh yeah...

that's right... it is monday....
and when you wonder whether the accusations of racism are 'too much' - i suggest you rewind the video to the 1:51 moment and tell me why that's not such a stretch

Mondays, a case of

Then again, sometimes, there might be good news on a monday.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

it will never end

So why are we bailing out AIG with so much money? Because without paying off the 'bad bets' that AIG made to the other stakeholders (huge foreign banks, huge domestic banks, huge multinational insurance companies) those other stakeholders will also fail. Also - many entities have LOTS of AIG on their books, but as of now haven't had to realize it as a loss. So long as it exists, it remains an 'asset'... when it disappears they'll have to declare the loss. It is a cascade failure.

So what if we stop paying - other companies go tits up.

If we dont stop paying, then their executives get to continue to 'honor agreements that were contractually signed in the last days before the bailout' where massive bonuses and retention payments were set up for HUGE numbers of employees. "Together, the three programs could result in roughly $1.2 billion in retention and bonus payments to AIG employees." Remember - much of this is going to 'keep' people in the 'financial instruments' part of the company which is now 79.9% owned by the US Govt... keep the very people who made these bad decisions... and pay them huge sums of money because "Honoring contractual commitments is at the heart of what we do in the insurance business."

So here's an opportunity for Obama to use some of Bush's powers (that he seems to love so much). Declare all AIG executives 'unlawful enemy combatants' who waged an unlawful war of 'economic terrorism' on the US economy... and send them to gitmo without a trial.

I want to see a picture of AIG executives being waterboarded with Jon Stewart doing a Lyndie England pose in front - but maybe that's just me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Elmo wants this tape

Thursday, March 12, 2009


sometimes you see the change in your country and it's a good thing...
but sometimes you see the leftover things and wonder when the hell does this crap stop

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So since they're so profitable - how about they pay the govt back and we give them no more money?


Why not?

I swear - so long as entities like Citigroup have people like this involved in their business trumpeting goofball assessments of their stability and health the government's efforts at stabilizing this mess has no chance. It's like a last stage metastasized cancer victim who's talking up his ability to keep food down. Please for the love of god someone record the time of death already...

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Ok. Time for a public service announcement...

Everyone's seen the pictures of Rhianna post Brown's beating...
Here are the details from the LAPD detective's notes (all according to an LA tv station):

Brown then allegedly shoved Rihanna's head against the passenger window of his Lamborghini. When Rihanna turned to face him, Brown punched her, then continued punching her while driving. Blood allegedly splattered over her clothes and the interior of the car. Brown then allegedly told Rihanna, "I'm going to beat the s*** out of you when we get home. You wait and see". Rihanna countered by calling her assistant and saying, "I am on my way home. Make sure the cops are there when I get there." An enraged Brown then warned Rihanna, "You just did the stupidest thing ever. I'm going to kill you." He then punched Rihanna again, bit her on the ear, and put her in a headlock to the point when she almost lost consciousness.

So days after this episode we get this.

"They're together again. They care for each other," says the source. "While Chris is reflective and saddened about what happened, he is really happy to be with the woman he loves."

Ok people, let me 'splain it to ya in case you hadn't got the message. It's called groundrules. When you meet a girl who divorced her last husband so she could have an affair with her boss - the likelyhood of her understanding the concept of 'committed relationship' isnt terribly high. When a girl breaks up with you only to reunite every couple months because she gets bored - she might not have the appreciation for your feelings in the relationship one might assume she must. People dont always have the same vision of 'what is a relationship' that you do. The reality is - when a guy hits you - for any reason - he's going to hit you again. I promise. Now don't make me tell you again (or else).

"I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person." -Chris Brown

Hey Chris - when Jesus was suggesting people turn the other cheek - not to interpret the word of your god - but i doubt this was really what he had in mind.


Spectacular quote from Geithner yesterday in the senate

“The deepening recession is putting greater pressure on banks and in response many banks are pulling back on credit. Critical parts of our financial system are working against recovery.”

So, Tim, when did you become suspicious there might be a problem?



This is what a post-collapse looks like in Iceland.

This is what a pre-collapse looks like in the US.

When people finally come forward and recognize that the banks 'problem is a solfency problem not a likvitity problem' then we can get on with the business of fixing the mess. For the love of god nationalize it before it fails.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Where does America Draw the Line?

Neil Stephenson pointed this one out in Snow Crash. I'm just a decade late echo...

A) Crushing the Genitals of Children?

Doug Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?
John Yoo: No treaty
Doug Cassel: Also no law by Congress - that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo
John Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that


B) Speaking of McNuggets

“Goodman maintained the attitude ‘this is an emergency, my McNuggets are an emergency,’” the report states.

Where's Vinnie Jones when you need him.

EDIT: Seriously - what do we do with these people? FEMA camps? Legalize heroin? What makes people like this think this is behavior that wont result in dire consequences - and how is it that fear of said dire consequences isnt enough to keep them in line? How many people like these does it take before we start looking for larger systemic problems here...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Simple Solution

Here's the important graph from this:

Wall Street didn’t help its case by paying out billions in bonuses in a year when the industry loss billions of dollars. The Wall Street Journal reported that “from 2002 to 2008, the five biggest Wall Street securities firms paid an estimated $190 billion in bonuses. Those companies churned out $76 billion in combined profits during the same period. Last year, the companies had a combined net loss of $25.3 billion, yet paid bonuses of roughly $26 billion.”

So it's easy. We start seizing assets of all people who received money from financial institutions in the form of bonuses going backwards until we have enough to pay for the bailout.

Monday, March 02, 2009


All you mothers out there - if your daughter takes your car without permission, reporting her to the police might end poorly. Here we see 2 police doing something that give the 5% of police who are actually reasonable human beings a bad name.

Then again - she did throw her shoe at him... and in some countries they punish that more severely...

America, importing middle-eastern style democracy since 2001....

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Page Two...

The NYTimes re-explains the AIG mess in a way that finally mirrors what some of us have been saying about it since it happened. The reality here is that the shadow banking system levered up - and i'm glad they're using the word - gambled on credit default swaps at a significantly larger number than the actual home mortgage values.

Or - to put it more simply - we know the housing mortgage mess from the flash video i posted last week. Ok. Now - imagine people putting side bets on whether the mortgages will stay sound or not (like an odds bet at craps). Why did they do it? to balance out their hedge fund equations. So for example - lets say you're playing roulette - and there are 34 numbers on the wheel - and you're getting 34:1 payouts (a zero-sum game). The players start putting more than a dollar down on each number (even though they dont have that much money) - it's ok, because it's zero sum - they cant lose it. Then people start taking risks... putting money down on every number except 12 - and making huge profits (brokers who take risks make more money for their investors - this means those brokers keep their jobs and get big bonuses, while other conservative cover all my bets use the system for what it's for people are pushed out of jobs). Someone was selling insurance on 'what happens if 12 comes up' - but they werent funding that insurance - and AIG was betting BIG on that. If there were 34 dollars on the table - a dollar at each number except 12 - AIG was betting 10 just on the fact that 12 wouldnt come up. They were a multiplier - and when they crashed out - if they hadnt paid out to all the other players there'd have been a domino cascade failure in the banking sector (as there almost was when lehman walked away and started off a the beginnings of the fire).

When people like Phil Gramm - paid pocket spokesman for UBS - are out there telling you this was all the fault of a few poor people who got loans for homes they couldnt afford by banks that were under political pressure - i would hope people would put it into the same crank garbage theory box where they stuff ideas like 'aluminum foil hats prevent space aliens from reading your thoughts via their bose wave radio mind control devices'.