Some thoughts on age

Raising a toast to the fallen
Wow. Just got the news - David Bowie passed away, after a long battle with cancer.

So long, Ziggy Stardust. You'll be missed.

For my various employment-seeking friends...
Originally posted by kestrelcat at post

Okay, this is entertaining...

Because I realize I'm not the only one fascinated by this sort of thing...

Fascinating - particularly when you realize that this tech is about a century and a half old. Really, improvements in the cost of precision are about the only change in that time - it's much faster and cheaper for a craftsman to the small-detail work which allows a box of this complexity to be made. Could have been done a century ago, but it would have taken a master craftsman a year or more to do the work. Now, it can be done by a well-trained technician (working from a master craftsman's direction) in several hours to a couple of days.

But it's deeply interesting stuff.

More Media Stupidity - "Doctors Fight to Ban Fast Food From Hospitals — and for Good Reason"

The prize line? “Just as cigarettes are banned from hospitals, why not do the same for meat, cheese, and other junk foods?” Meat and cheese are junk foods? What does that idiot live on? Moonbeams and happy thoughts? (Now, there's an idea. Three months of that diet, and he won't be irritating the thinking people any more.)

Rampent consumerism
Just caught an article about Samsung's latest offering - a 110-inch ultrahigh definition flatscreen TV for $150,000. It took me a few minutes to work out just why the notion revolted me.

Anyone want to guess how long it'll be before we start getting articles about the guy/girl/goat who spent more on the TV than on the house it got put in?

And they're STILL making the same mistake...

And just what, you might ask, is the mistake the writer is making? A mistake, incidentally, which Yahoo! writers have been making for years.

It's quite simple. They are assuming (do you remember the cliche about that word?) that income is the same thing as wealth.

Not so. Income is, as should be plain, what comes into your possession over a given amount of time. It can be complicated in various ways, such as gross (the simple total of what you are paid, regardless of your expenses), net (what you are paid less certain expenses, such as withheld taxes and employer-provided benefits), wage income (which you are paid by an employer under contract), residual (which is paid on an ongoing basis as ideas or other intellectual property with which you are credited earns out), or investment (which can be considered the rental paid to you in return for the use of your resources). In all cases, income is a stream.

Wealth, by contrast, consists of the resources you own. This, too, can be complicated in different ways: Net worth is (in theory) the sum total of your assets (investments which either act as a storehouse of value or produce income, or both) minus your liabilities (debts you owe - not to put too fine a point on it: investments that other people have made in you). (Important digression here: one of the most frequent mistakes people make regarding net worth is to include their house as an asset. Until you have more equity in the house than is owed on the mortgage, the house is a liability, not an asset! And that equity is determined by the market, not by an adjuster, and not by your own wishful thinking!) There are several other ways of figuring wealth, but net worth is probably the most honest of them, and it's certainly more useful than most. In any case, if income is a stream, then wealth is a pool that stream flows into... or out of.

So, getting back to the original subject, what mistake is Hope Yen making, and why is it a mistake?

Quite simply, Yen is assuming (there's that word again) that someone is wealthy if they make above a certain amount - $250,000 per year, in the article. Note that this is a flow of money - income. (Also note that there is no mention of whether this is gross or net income.) The problem with this assumption is that income does not guarantee an increase in wealth. No, not even at the level of a quarter-million or more per year. If you're taking money out of your savings and investments (your wealth "pool") faster than your income puts it in, then your wealth is decreasing, no matter how much you are earning, and even if you can be considered wealthy now, you won't be in the long term.

I'm not even going to start on the errors in the "income equality" thesis in the rest of the article just yet. I'll just leave it for now with the observation that the writer's views on social justice are about as well-formed as his (her?) economic concepts.

Dame Baroness Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello, RIP
Another one two gone. A pity, too - I liked her them. Classy ladies, both of them - although in very different ways.

With this:, Obama has triggered my annoyance once again.

"He will use his powers, he says, to build a country where "you can make it if you try.""


First of all, what makes him assume that this country isn't already a place where you can make it if you try? Everything I've seen strongly indicates that it is. That is, after all, the central characteristic which has drawn immigrants here for centuries - legal and otherwise. They've come here for opportunity - and it's more readily available here than any place else I've ever seen or even heard of.

Second, granted for the sake of argument (and only for that purpose) that America needs to be built into this rather mistily-alluded-to Utopia, what makes Obama assume that his powers will be any use in bringing it about? The office of the executive doesn't have anything approaching that sort of power. Nor do his compatriots in the legislature. To be honest, those would be the powers of a god, not of a legislator or executive.

A quick question...
About how often do you have to deal with spam in your LiveJournal?

I keep getting spammers posting (almost always ads) on posts dating back years. The one I posted observing Syd Barret's death, in particular, seems to attract the vermin. It always kinda puzzles me why they bother - I always delete them as soon as I notice, and they very rarely last more than about fifteen minutes.

Everyone needs to watch this, now and as often as possible!

Madison Rising. These people should rise - to the top of the charts, and to unbelievable success. In an industry that seems to specialize in not cool, these guys are very cool. Rock on, dudes, rock on.

Well, the Fertility Holiday has spawned a whole new crop of vegetables...
Today, kestrelcat had an appointment downtown and found traffic, even public transit, disrupted by
these idiots.Collapse )

(no subject)
Just saw this headline on Yahoo: Could a Democrat challenge Obama in 2012? I kinda liked the presenter's interaction with a Magic 8-ball for answers (hey, it's at least as accurate as most political commentators), but my first thought on reading the line was, "Y'know, the way he's headed, a freakin' potato could probably challenge him!" And really, how much worse could a potato be?

Technical difficulties
Is anyone else having problems connecting to Yahoo? Has anyone heard of something going on which would knock them off the 'web?

Writer's Block: Best book ever!
Is there any book you can read over and over again without ever getting sick of it? Do you discover something new every time you read it?

Many. This is why my home is a bibliophilic event horizon - I don't get rid of books.

Writer's Block: Kill the music
What is the absolute worst song ever written? For what amount of money would you consider listening to it over and over again for 24 hours?
Hey There Dililah - and for 24 hours, I would need a lot of money... after taxes. And if the check bounces, you're a dead man.

The New Economic Realities...
The Same As The Old!

This week in U.S. News, there was an article on "How to Live Happily on 75 Percent Less" - an economic reality which all too many of us are going to need to face over the next decade, unless something nearly miraculous occurs. The article includes lots of happy-happy tips on how to get the same effect out of much-cheaper or do-it-yourself methods (something a few of us have been doing for years, and urging others to do), and much Pollyanna-ish rhapsodizing about things must be good, because they could be so much worse, but there was one part which, for the first time in days, brought me close to shouting at the computer screen. (Okay, so I have a short fuse. BFD.)

The Great Recession--which is technically over, economists insist--may be morphing into a broader epoch: the Great Humbling. Millions of Americans who felt prosperous just a few years ago are now coping with long-term unemployment, sharp cutbacks in living standards, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and a deep sense of failure. That could persist for years. "This is not like earlier recessions, where things fell, then they bounced back to where they used to be," says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for the Gallup polling organization. "We haven't seen this before. It's the only time this has happened since the Great Depression."

First of all, if the recession is over already - less than a year after it officially began - then it can't really be called a "Great Recession", now can it? After all, many of us have already lived through longer recessions than that, and if that were the extent of it, harder ones as well.

But - as the add-on bit implies - the recession probably isn't really over. The phase we're in right now - a moderate upswing which shows all the hallmarks of being temporary - bears a strong resemblance to a phenomenon which economic historians and analysts refer to as a "dead cat bounce" - from the phrase "if it falls hard enough, even a dead cat will bounce." Economic analysts who aren't currently being paid to be professionally optimistic are cautiously skeptical of these claims that the downturn is over. They point out that there were rallies all through the Nineteen-Thirties as well... but those rallies didn't alleviate the major problems of that time; to wit: tight credit and high unemployment.

What conditions do we see in today's economy? Well, how about tight credit? I saw an article the other day on a national credit card company offering a new card program... with a top APR of 79.9%. Personal credit is as tight as it's been during my lifetime, and the housing market is no better, despite all federal efforts to the contrary. And, to be honest, I see no reason why credit should loosen up in the near term; the credit collapse was a clear indication that policies were not aligned with reality, and nothing which has happened since then would change that fact. The federal government has made funds available to allow financial institutions to continue lending money - on the proviso that they continue to lend it under the same failed policies (federally dictated policies, at that!) which landed us in this situation in the first place.

The functional definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result."

And how about high unemployment? Well, we currently have the highest unemployment rate this country has experienced since the Great Depression... with little prospect of that changing any time soon. Our Federal Cheerleaders are loudly trumpeting all of the jobs their programs have created... but the information which gets treated with the pianissimo approach is the fact that nearly all of those created jobs are of short duration - mostly less than fifteen days. Day labor is not going to cure unemployment, folks. In the meantime, those same Federal Cheerleaders are campaigning loud, long, and hard to put further burdens on both the employer (at all scales) and the individual worker. When these new insurance requirements go through, what, pray tell, will happen to the bottom lines of those businesses which provide jobs? And what will that do to the number of jobs which they can provide?

"We haven't seen this before. It's the only time this has happened since the Great Depression."

Okay, outside of the built-in contradiction this pair of sentences carries (If it happened during the Great Depression then we've seen it before, twit!), there's something to consider here. If this has happened before - and the chief economist for Gallup said it has, right there in black and white - then maybe it's time to consider that we may be going through the same thing? The economy is acting like it's in another depression. If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, perhaps we shouldn't insist on keeping it in a goldfish bowl?

A day in the life...
Okay, it's Friday... which means that Kestrelcat is at work and I'm watching JT for the day. It's been a good day so far, with a trip down to Rainy Day so the boys could acknowledge the dominion of their Baby Overlord - their phrasing, not mine - and then back home.

About ten minutes ago, he started fussing, but apparently didn't want his bottle - refused it pretty clearly. So, I sat him up on his rug in the middle of the floor and gave him a couple of his toys. No joy, or not much. He'd play for a couple of seconds, and then put whatever it was aside and start muttering - not crying, but clearly discontent. Bored, was the impression I got.

So I popped up my music program on the computer (best sound system in the place) and brought up Bond, intending it as a placeholder while I searched out something more to his taste.

I don't think there's likely to be anything more to his taste. He's sitting there, rocking out hard (literally; he's nearly headbanging the rug) and shaking the maraca/rattle Kestrelcat found for him, in pretty fair approximation of on-beat. (Let me be fair here: as energetic as Victory is, I'm not sure I could keep time with a single maraca! He's doing well for seven months.)

I think I'll stack up some TTF to follow this album. By then, KC should be home... and probably ready for sleep, given the way the weather has messed with her this week.

Obamanomics in Action, Part Two
From today's press releases: New Obama plans: 'spend our way out' of downturn.

Does this bother anyone else the way it bothers me? What would this mean applied on a personal, rather than federal, level? "Our household budget is really kinda strained this month, honey, so we need to replace the water heater and the window panes and reshingle the roof." Uh, what? Has this man never had to balance a budget?

I don't see this downturn ending for quite some time. Not unless we default and remonetize - the national equivalent of going bankrupt and walking on debt. And even then, the effects are going to last a long time.


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