Monday, February 16, 2009

Moving on down the road

I feel that I have outgrown this blog. It was started that the height of the blog boom, since then blogs have matured and so have I.

My posting style has also evolved. I don't feel the need make to comments about the most interesting news articles of the day. I don't have anything funny to say. In the information area, others do a much better job than I. My thoughts and writing come slower and with the knowledge that I am responsible for what I write. I feel that my niche will be in well thought writing, pointing out the subtle issues that many have missed - not ranting - but providing calm and well reasoned input on the issues at hand. I feel it is best to make a clean break and start over at some place new. This blog was the first and you always remember you first - for better or worse.

My new home will be at this blog: Man of Issachar


Friday, February 06, 2009

The great economic experiment

This is the first post concerning the state of the economic world as I see it, maybe my last. The issues talked about affect all of our kin and all of our future namesakes. I probably will present the economic facts with a slight bit of distortion and with huge gaps in knowledge, but I think you will find these ideas potentially of some worth.

The history of money
Economy and civilization are tightly intertwined. If fact, I cannot see a situation where once can exist without the other. As our civilization grew, so did the complexity of our economic systems. Kings minted coins, countries printed paper. The reason why the countries and kings were involved is twofold I believe. First, economies function best when there is a common medium of exchange. Secondly, it is hard to tax your people if they all have different mediums of exchange or just barter. Of course, a system that only the King or state wants will only last so long.

The governed also enjoyed the advantages brought by money. Money did not rot like the food they grew, so it serves well as a means to store wealth. Is a lot easier to exchange, once everyone agrees on what it is worth, the than the raw goods and services they had.
For most of our history, “money” has been a tangible item. In some cases, it was an item that held utility: cows, wheat, or something else. I am not so sure you can call that money in the traditional sense. In other cases, it was an item that was highly desired (such as gold) or an item that was declared and agreed on as medium of exchange (seashells). For me recently, money really has just become some numbers on the screen. I watch the inflow; make sure it is less than the outflow. I monitor the outflow, for irregularities and look for ways to lessen it. Money for me is really just bits and bytes that buys me bites for the belly.

For much of our history, the amount money has been fixed to some degree because of it’s connection to the real world. Gold was real, printed money was able to be traded for gold. Recently money has been decoupled from the physical world. An American dollar is only worth what people will pay for it in other currencies. They decide the worth of the dollar based off the relative strength of the American economy or their economy - it is a strange circular relationship. Additionally, we have been able to manage money better because the advances in computers and software. The power of the electron has given us power over financial data that no other civilization as ever seen before. Needless to say we have come a long way from counting the number of cows that we are owed on our bare hands.

The system is the problem
Every system that has been put into place was an attempt to fix a perceived problem. Driving on the right side of the road, fixed the problem of not knowing which side of the road you are supposed to be on. Schools are supposed to fix the problem of dumb people. Money solves the problem of commerce, and it solves it remarkably well. We moved off of the gold standard to remove the limitations that gold placed on our money and our economy. The problems of a currency that has no inherent value are also painfully clear. If you hold on the cash, you slowly lose value due to inflation. If you take any real risk with your cash to maintain your wealth, you are “investing” and past performance is not indicative of future performance, as the last ten years have show you.

I am not some reactionary saying we need to go back to the gold standard. The system we had was flawed and our current system is not so hot either. We need to move forward. We need a system that can accommodate our powerful economy, our need for liquidity, our need for growth. It also needs to provide for stable growth to allow individuals to growth their wealth without having to get degrees in finance. Of course, if I knew the exact details I would start the system myself and become king.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What I really need

This post was a really important idea and statement when the government was talking about buying up troubled assets. It is not so important now since the the government has moved to providing loans to banks and car makers. In other words, the post would have been great and insightful had things turned out different.

The point
What I really need right now is the government competing against me buying homes. In other words, the last thing in the world I need right now is the government propping up home prices.

The data
I don't think home prices are not going up in the near future. The number of people buying homes is not getting higher (higher unemployment). The supply of homes of the market is only increasing or at least it is not going down. I live in an area that has escaped much of the home depreciation. But I think there is a some of risk in buying a house, especially since I think the area I am in is just behind the rest of the nation.

If the government steps in and starts buying homes, they are just going to raise the price for all the other buyers. The government will not be inclined to get good (or as good) deals as a private motivated buyer would be. Keep in mind, that they will not be spending their money. They will pay more than what the market will bear and keep the prices higher than what the market would have paid. Both bad things for the first time buyer, who is the first link and spring board in the entire housing chain.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The score

The little wife and I are looking to buy a house in the near future. In preparation, I recently pulled our credit scores. On average we had a higher credit score than about 75 t0 80 percent of the US population. We were in the second to highest level of credit scores, though not the highest. I am never satisfied with second best, so I have been trying to think of ways to raise the score.

There were several common areas, that while they were not negative and did not count against us, we did not score as high as we possibly could. One thing that we could have scored higher on, was amount of available credit. I don't know how much credit we should have available, and I am endeavoring to find that out. Mostly likely, i will end up speaking to a credit doctor. Unfortunately, just like a woman, good ones are hard to find.

We also have a lot of revolving credit accounts (credit cards). What can I say, we were both suckers for free stuff from credit cards that were offered to us in college. I still have a poorly made Chris Farly t-shirt from of those offers. We both canceled the cards as soon as they came in and have always used credit responsibly. Though the damage is already done. Just goes to show you, that there are always consequences.

We are also debt free. Which actually has some negatives. Oh sure, paying the loans off helps, but once the loans are paid off you have no installment accounts listed as active. In this case, no information is not good. I am sure that a person reading our credit reports, would understand and approve, but the machines in the ether apparently don't.

So i am considering taking a out a loan to increase our credit score. I know that sounds absurd...but I did not design the system, I am just trying to abuse it. It is almost as if, the rating agencies give better ratings to people who are in debt (within reason is suppose). It makes sense when you think about it. The rating agencies are not really on your side, they are the lender's side (their customer), and are just trying to make money off of your information in the mean time.

Les jones has twice linked to an article saying that stupid modern software makes us stupid.

"We borrow money when we don’t need to, for example, to feed the type of data to the programs that we know they are programmed to respond to favorably. In doing this, we make ourselves stupid in order to make the computer software seem smart."

Living inside of a system and adapting to the situation, manipulating the system to our own gain, doing what we need to do to survive (Or in my case, what I need to do, not merely to survive, but survive in style) - Does not make us stupid, it makes us extremely bright.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Visual Impressions

One of my unique traits (or special abilities) is that I am really good with faces. I mean...I am really good. That guy, I haven't seen in 6 years , yea I recognize his face...immediately. The thing is that it does not extend only to real people. People on TV trigger the near spidey like feeling that I get when I absolutely know I recognize a face, but cannot place them.

For example, Cassidy Freeman who is now on Smallville. I was watching Smallville and realized that I recognized the face. I thought that I seen her before, but could not figure out from where. I thought that it was from Smallville because I had seen her on the show before, but I would have had the near spidey like feeling last time I saw the show if i recognized her face. So I must have seen her on something else, between the last time I watched Smallville and tonight. After some googling and reading around. She was on "Cold Case" True Calling (2008).

While I was on a roll, the guy who plays Jimmy Olsen, look familiar as well. Well it turns out that i have never seen Aaron Ashmore, but he has a freaking twin brother Shawn Ashmore, who was in the X-Men movies.

Check and mate.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

New real life friends

Well I went to shoot at my favorite range the other day, but some guys from Texas came and screwed up the range so bad, no one could shoot on it. While they were in town, i was able to meet a few of them. I met "The Girl", "Catfish", "SgtDave", and "JR". They are as fun in person as they are on the web, which is more than i can say for myself.

Goverment run service

Recently (years in web terms), Kos made this comment on his blog.
"How could a government-run service be any worse than these unaccountable, unethical, disgusting creeps?"
He was talking about the health care\health insurance. This comment was after a fairly lengthly post complaining about some insurance troubles he was having. My only comment would be to ask, what makes him think that a service run by unaccountable, unethical, and disgusting government creeps, with the weight of the law behind them would be any better.

Sarah Palin reminds me of...

Just thought I would mention how Sarah Palin reminds me of Annie Camden, the mom from 7th Heaven.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bailout or optout

I just wanted to drop some thoughts to the web concerning the “bailout”. First I would like to point you to a few posts by some very smart bloggers that are for the idea of the bailout. For example, Daniel Drezner is for the bailout. The Skeptical Optimist is also for the bailout. They state so here in these two posts.

I don't know if the bailout is a good idea or not. The way it was proposed and brought up in its initial form were absolutely horrible. The constant reminders that we have to do it now, only made the situation feel more and more like I was wearing wool underwear and running 6 miles. I just want to expand on the central idea of the bailout that bothers me and provide some basic information if you are having hard time keeping up.

One of the key issues that got us into this mess in the first place, was too much liquidity. The low interest rates of the mid 2000's help set us up for this calamity, in the first place. Easy money, help lead to bad loans, which led to bad investments, etc. So telling me that the government needs to buy investments, that no one else will buy, to make sure that the money keeps flowing, just does not set well. The only problem, is that there is an actual problem that needs to be solved concerning liquidity.

The LIBOR rate is climbing higher and higher. The LIBOR rate is the interest that a bank would charge another bank when the former bank makes a loan to the latter bank. The entire idea that banks would loan money to each other was a brand new idea, to me. It makes sense. If you are full on cash and you cannot find enough customers to loan to, why not loan it out to other banks instead of keeping it yourself. It also makes for an extremely efficient way of moving money around in an economy.

The problem is when banks don't trust each other and they start wanting to keep money for their selves. If LIBOR gets high enough it causes a liquidity crisis. It could lead to certain banks being unable to lend out money or at a worse case bank runs by the general populace.

I personally think that it would take awhile (time scale of weeks) for the liquidity crisis to affect the accounts of an everyday person. No data or anything to back that assertion up, just some basic understanding of process flow and human systems. It sometimes takes time for effects to work their way downstream. I believe that we have more time than we are being told to fix the problem, of course that is just speculation.

To summarize, liquidity helped get us into this mess, now no liquidity is the problem. I just don't know if more liquidity is the answer. I just hope for a solution that fixes the problem long term, not postpones it until after the election. I doubt i get what i want for Christmas.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Financial meltdown

What to do about financial meltdown?

The recent global financial meltdown comes as no surprise if you read either of these guys (Survival blog and Mish). Their predictions are/were dreadful and horrifying. According to them, we have not reached the bottom yet, and we have a long way to go. So you can start preparing for the worst possible case, buying bullets, beans, and band-aids, or start looking for buying opportunities. I don't know if we are at the bottom yet, but I have made several moves, because I believe we are close.

One option is to Buy, buy, buy.

Earlier this year, I increased the percentage I was saving in my 401k. Admittedly, I would have taken this move regardless of what the market was doing. In this case though, I made the move with the full knowledge that the market was going to be trending downward for the next year or so. As a consequence I knew I would be losing money, in the short term. I saw this as a great buying opportunity to buy shares on the way down, through the bottom, and as things start to look up.

My new wife as an annuity she started her first few years of work. It was started out of the desire to save for retirement and not lose any money. With her change in jobs and some wise financial counseling on my part, we started her into a 403b account. We had planned to slowly withdraw money from the annuity and place it into the 403b to avoid penalties associated with moving the money. I personally think if we can dollar cost average the money in fairly close to the bottom, the penalty will be quickly made up over the next couple of years.

Current climate

What has amazed me the most has been some of the comments about those who work on Wall Street. Some people have as much love for those guys, as they do politicians. Kim highlighted what he felt was the true nature of the market in his post “When Bookies Fail”. The AnarchAngel wants to turn the virtual stock market that we have today, into an actual stock market, in “Three step plan to fix the street”. Mark Cuban thinks the fact CEO’s take no risk will is the real root of the financial problem and says so in “Stock Market Meltdowns – Why they will happen again and again and again.” Meanwhile, in the crime filled capital, Congress is looking at yet another bailout. Are we seeing money go down the drain, in hopes of preventing total financial meltdown? Will they succeed? I don’t know, but God help us if they fail.

Problems as I see it

My suggestion is not meant to cover all of the problems that I see in our current financial world just the main one that I see which is causing the bailouts. This is by no means meant to cover the history of how we ended up drunk and broke on the Las Vegas strip, either. Additionally, the suggestion is not meant to keep companies from failing or to provide for an every steady increasing stock market. No institution man has every created has been perfect and I expect no less out of our financial system. I just don’t want to have to pay for others mistakes, in the form of bailouts. Bailouts or the worst investment you can make: All the risk and no reward.

The free market is the victim of…

The free market and evolution have a lot in common: Constant pressure to survive, scarce resources, and constant competition from others in the ecosystem\market. That is why I am not surprised to hear examples of ultra success stories in the market. When you have evolved kill, you do it well – and then you get fat. The free market is the victim of its own success. At a certain point in time, you become too large, to unwieldy to operate in a changed environment and you die…or get a bailout.

Break up extremely large entities

While I think AnarchAngel's and Mark Cuban’s suggestions both have merit, I would like to suggest a different approach and would prevent the “too big to fail” phenomenon, and therefore bailouts.

When a company captures over 20 percent of a market place, they should be split into two different companies.

Harsh? Yes. Will it complicate things for everyone? Yes. Will it increase the cost of goods and services? Possibly. On the positive side, it will give those busy bodies in congress something to do with their time. Instead of over regulating those willing to take a risk with their own money, they can spend their time searching for the next victim to split up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Been real busy. I got married. The associated planning for the wedding, move, and process of combining two lives have taken up a not so small portion of my time. The wedding was great. We were on budget for the wedding and honeymoon. Needless to say i was pleased by that. Now on to the next task - getting a house. I hear they are easy to find these days.

Just to make the ladies jealous here is the engagement ring i purchased my beloved.

It was a custom job, I have three dimension wire frame pictures as well. The above is the final render. I choose the symbol of the Celtic trinity, because my wife has worn one trinity earring for as long as i have known her. The side stones ended up a little larger than the picture. Other than that and the changes that have been made to size the ring, it looks like the picture.

I also purchased a Sig P226, again for the wife. Stainless slide, so it matches the ring.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Feelings, Nothing but Feelings

BEIJING, May 22 (Reuters) - China will move Olympic-bound and provincial-level athletes from quake-hit Sichuan, after coaches said low morale was affecting their training, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

The athletes, including 19 headed for the Beijing Games in August, escaped unharmed from the 7.9 magnitude quake that struck the southwestern province last week, though some had lost family members and a number of training facilities had been destroyed, state media said this week.

China's sports ministry had ordered authorities in other provinces to make arrangements for most of the athletes, who number about 500, after psychological counselling had failed to lift their spirits, Xinhua said.

"It's actually very serious. While we can manage people in such times, it is difficult to manage their feelings," Xinhua quoted Zhang Rongwei, head of a local sport institute, as saying. "At present, the athletes' coaches are not satisfied with their training," Zhang said. Several Sichuan teams had already moved to other provinces, and the rest would be moved over the next few days, Xinhua said. Many of the athletes had been training at damaged, albeit safe, venues in and around Chengdu where regular aftershocks have been reported.'

I can't stand those communists. It is thinking live the above that over time will make these less and less effective over time. Trying to control feelings is like trying to manage the raging Mississippi. Here is the original link which has expired.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dumbest headline I've seen in awhile.

Found this article on the net awhile back. The headline was so spectacutally dumb that I had to share it with you.
One of the most eminent scientists of our time says that global warming is irreversible — and that more than 6 billion people will perish by the end of the century.

You know me, I can't miss an opportunity to poke fun at at an aging scientist. The problem with that statement is that, within the next 100 years, 6 billion people are probably going to die anyway ( i.e. old age). Upon actually reading the article, I found it quite informative. It covers the career of James Lovelock, who has made a profound influence on climate science. If you have time, the juice is worth the squeeze.

Of course, by actually reading the article you will find out what Lovelock said:
By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth's population will be culled from today's 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with most of the survivors living in the far latitudes -- Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the Arctic Basin.
Leave it to a reporter to screw up a quote.


Monday, March 31, 2008


Here are the results of my latest blood test. To recap, I have been eating healthy for the past two years (Shorty after my first blood test). I lost some weight and have gotten in a lot better shape. This was the first post that I made concerning my cholesterol. Below are all the tests I have ever had.

Overall not great news, but not bad news either. My LDL, triglycerides, and VLDL were all higher. The triglyerides and VLDL were both still within the optimal levels, though. Which is great, I seemed to solve those poblems! The HDL has been rising slowly, which is good. It is now just within the optimal range. Keep in mind, at 60 it starts to confer a protective benefit.

The LDL is higher than it should be, less than 100 is Optimal. As you can see the LDL has been steadily rising since I have started monitoring it. That is really discouraging. I have put in a lot of work and effort. To see that number going to wrong way makes the task at hand seem...impossible. Talking with my doctor, eased some of my concerns. Your cholesterol can vary by a large amount day to day. He also was not worried, because I am young and it takes a long time for cholesterol to kill you. The only positive thing I can think of, is that because I am eating healthier and eating more antioxidants the LDL is not sticking to my arteries as much, so it is building up in my blood stream. The down side is that the LDL is building up in my bloodstream so their is more of it to stick to my arteries.

Recently, my dad (in his 60's) also had a quadruple bypass. His father also had serious heart problems which killed him in his 60's before I was born. My doctor is not worried, but I know the clock is ticking, ticking slowly, but still ticking.

After the test and Dad's bypass I made several changes. I have started drinking more tea. I was already drinking a lot, but I bumped up my consumption. I also have gone organic. Basically it is an experiment to see if my LDL is rising because of something I am eating. Next test we will know something. I also started eating more oatmeal and flax seeds. If that does not help, I am going paleolithic.


Friday, January 25, 2008

CFLs: A Republican's dream?

If you hate the environment and love money, the invisible hand has created just what you need. They are called CFLs (Compact fluorescent Lights). These lights save your money by using less of your electricity than the normal incandescent light bulbs and they last for thousands of hours.

They destroy the environment, because they have lead and mercury in them. When you toss them in the trash, they will poison the earth for thousands of years to come. You would recycle them if it was in your best interest. If you are caught just say you didn't know what "Dispose of properly" meant.

And get this, certain states want to make incandescent light bulbs illegal. So these environmental time bombs will be your only choice. Heh, those crazy eviron-ists think they are so smart.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Match Ranking

I only posted a few hours ago about how I did in my first IDPA match. Already, I have had many people ask how I did. I could give you a bunch of numbers to read and let you figure it out or...I could give you a picture.

Here are the match scores below. I am the one in the green.

My squad shot the match backwards. We started at the sixth stage and worked to the first stage. The first one I started out strong, but that was just beginners luck. From the fifth to the first, I steadily improved. My final place was third from the bottom. The first column is my overall rank. I shot ESP Unclassified and beat the other person who was unclassified and one who was classified as marksman. I have also discovered that I don't slap my women, but I slap my trigger.



Sunday, December 02, 2007

Prickly Sheep

I am on the path to becoming a sheepdog (background here). Recently, I took a two day shooting class with TDSA. It was only the entry level course, which taught me just the basics. After the two day course, I went to my first IDPA match. Let's just say I didn't come in last. I also recently started martial arts classes (ketsugo jujitsu if it matters).


Follow the Red Ball

One thing people fail to realize when wishing for total government health care is that all of the people employed in private insurance will lose their job. It will not happen all at once, by any means, but eventually the private insurance that we all know and hate will be put out of business.
If government run health care kicks into high gear, two things will happen at once: the number of people working for private insurance will drop, the number of people working for new the government health care system increase.

In a nation with about 4.7 percent unemployment, the people hired by the government will be the same people fired by the private insurance companies.

And certain people think that the government can do a better job running health care....


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Running with knives

When I run, I like to carry a knife with me. Sometimes I run in some areas that are fairly remote; other times I run in the heart of the city. Whether I am on my on, where nobody can hear me scream, or coming in constant contact with people, I like to carry a bit of self defense. So I started carrying a folder on my jaunts.

After a few rainstorms it got a little rusty. Secondly and more importantly, there were several problems with deploying it. It is lot harder to present to an attacker than a fixed blade. Also, because some of my shorts do not have pockets, it would move between waistband and pockets, depending on the shorts I was wearing. When in the waistband, the knife tended to get flipped upside down. I set out to solve these different problems.

I was looking for a fixed blade knife that would be very resistant water, sweat, and dirt. It does not have to be too large, but I would like to fit the hand well. I had considered neck knives, but if I was on the ground in an odd position, the knife would not be in a consistent spot. I looked around and Gerber has a river shorty which is made for wet environments, like river rafting. I saw one in the store and the point was blunted. Great for making sure you do not pop you inflatable life jacket, not so great for poking holes in people, and let's face it that is what we are looking for here.

After some searching, I found a line of knives by Cold Steel, Nightshade, which look like they might fit the bill. The only catch is that these knives are plastic (ok fiber glass composite). After debating it with myself I ordered two. I ordered the FGX CAT TANTO and FGX BOOT BLADE II. Let us start with the bad, then I will move to the good.

The bad, these knives are NOT work knives, survival knives, or knives to be used for skinning game. While they could possible be put to use in those capacities, they are not designed for that. Their only goal in life is to poke holes in things. The edges on these knives are dull. The tanto is a little large to be concealed easily. The boot blade is a little thin and the point is fairly flexible. Additionally, they do not come with sheathes.

While the tanto is a little two large, the boot blade is just right. It fits the hand great and the rubber handle is grippy when wet and sweaty. While the boot blade is a little thin, it has a spine that runs the length of the blade, which I believe provides enough strength for simple thrusts. Another great advantage is that the knives are both very light, this makes them easily to carry while running. Besides, the blades were only about 10 dollars a piece. I also figured that I could make a sheath from duct tape. What better material to make a sheath for a plastic knife out of, than duct tape.

Here is the finished product.

Overall, I have been happy with my purchase, though I would prefer the boot blade to have a little bit less flexible blade. As I was gathering links, i found out about the river runner. It is a river shorty with a sharp point. I will probably replace the knives with that one, because I honestly have a hard time trusting my life to a plastic knife.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My current favoite place

There is not much I like better than TV, but I have found something that consistently makes me happy, makes me feel smarter, and better informed. I present TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). Basically, it brings people in and lets them talk. You see wonderful presentations on a range of subjects. The best talks i have seen recently range from exploration of the earth, moon, and Europa to how we should reorganize our military. Most of the speakers are really good and compelling, others are just pandering there ideas and beliefs...but they do it very well. The videos can be anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes long, just when I am getting tired of something, it is over and I can move one to another neat idea.