Saturday, November 29, 2008

Poor Butterfly



Poor butterfly
'Neath the blossoms waiting.
Poor Butterfly
For she loved him so.

The moments pass into hours.
The hours pass into years.
And as she smiles through her tears,
She murmurs low:

The moon and I know that he'll be faithful
I'm sure he'll come to me by and by.
But if he won't come back then I'll never sigh or cry,
I just must die.
Poor butterfly. 

Fascinating News From the Discoverer of HMS Titanic


Image via Wikipedia

It turns out that two very important lost nuclear submarines happened to sink on either side of where the HMS Titanic laid to rest. The Titanic's discoverer, Robert Ballard, was a Naval Intelligence Officer of 30 years who convinced the Navy to fund his exploration as a cover story for finding and exploring the lost submarines. This was recently revealed by an interview with Mr. Ballard for the St. Petersburg Times. (via Neatorama)

Friday, November 28, 2008

My First YouTube Upload

What a world!


Body and Soul

When Consumerism Kills


Image from Barbara Kruger circa 1987 via The Tate Modern


From NY Daily News:
A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said...

Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life...

Only a few stopped
"Black Friday" has taken on a wholly new and depressing meaning. I looked up Valley Stream to better understand the neighborhood. Here are some of the things I found:

New Comment Format

I am trying out a new commenting format with the commenting coming below the post now instead of on a new page. Please let me know your responses. It is easy to change this back to the way commenting used to be, but I think this might make for a slightly better experience. Let me know.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

KInda where I expected I'd end up

Happy Thanksgiving



Wishing all of you a very happy Thanksgiving.

Again

The Quakers  Deccan Mujahedeen strike in India.  

This is the first second time I've come across this

So, I thought's I'd share with those of you for whom this symbol is new, it seems to be coming into common usage (whether that is a good thing or a bad thing I leave to your own discretion).

o_O

it is an emoticon of sorts representing the below-
Confused, stunned, or weirded out.

Turkey Finds Its Inner Duck (and Chicken)

ONCE upon a time, possibly at a lodge in Wyoming, possibly at a butcher shop in Maurice, La., or maybe even at a plantation in South Carolina, an enterprising cook decided to take a boned chicken, a boned duck and a boned turkey, stuff them one inside the other like Russian dolls, and roast them. He called his masterpiece turducken.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I laughed out loud when I read this... had to share

Dan Liebert,
Verbal Cartoonist.
By Dan Liebert
www.verbalcartoonist.com

- - - -
Evolution?

The sumptuous pattern of a peacock's tail, the bronze-green armor of a pineapple, the sensuous curves of an orchid ... No! These are not the work of blind evolution but of an intelligent gay designer.

Atlas Shrugged updated

ATLAS
SHRUGGED
UPDATED FOR
THE CURRENT
FINANCIAL
CRISIS.
BY JEREMIAH TUCKER

- - - -

1.

"Damn it, Dagny! I need the government to get out of the way and let me do my job!"

She sat across the desk from him. She appeared casual but confident, a slim body with rounded shoulders like an exquisitely engineered truss. How he hated his debased need for her, he who loathed self-sacrifice but would give up everything he valued to get in her pants ... Did she know?

"I heard the thugs in Washington were trying to take your Rearden metal at the point of a gun," she said. "Don't let them, Hank. With your advanced alloy and my high-tech railroad, we'll revitalize our country's failing infrastructure and make big, virtuous profits."

"Oh, no, I got out of that suckers' game. I now run my own hedge-fund firm, Rearden Capital Management."

"What?"

He stood and adjusted his suit jacket so that his body didn't betray his shameful weakness. He walked toward her and sat informally on the edge of her desk. "Why make a product when you can make dollars? Right this second, I'm earning millions in interest off money I don't even have."

He gestured to his floor-to-ceiling windows, a symbol of his productive ability and goodness.

"There's a whole world out there of byzantine financial products just waiting to be invented, Dagny. Let the leeches run my factories into the ground! I hope they do! I've taken out more insurance on a single Rearden Steel bond than the entire company is even worth! When my old company finally tanks, I'll make a cool $877 million."

Their eyes locked with an intensity she was only beginning to understand. Yes, Hank ... claim me ... If we're to win the battle against the leeches, we must get it on ... right now ... Don't let them torture us for our happiness ... or our billions.

He tore his eyes away.

"I can't. Sex is base and vile!"

"No, it's an expression of our highest values and our admiration for each other's minds."

"Your mind gives me the biggest boner, Dagny Taggart."

He fell upon her like a savage, wielding his mouth like a machete, and in the pleasure she took from him her body became an extension of her quarterly earnings report—proof of her worthiness as a lover. His hard-on was sanction enough.

"Scream your secret passions, Hank Rearden!"

"Derivatives!"

"Yes!"

"Credit-default swaps!"

"Oh, yes! Yes!"

"Collateralized debt obligation."

"YES! YES! YES!"

2.

Dagny and Hank searched through the ruins of the 21st Century Investment Bank. As they stepped through the crumbling cubicles, a trampled legal pad with a complex column of computations captured Dagny's attention. She fell to her hands and knees and raced through the pages and pages of complex math written in a steady hand. Her fingers bled from the paper cuts, and she did not care.

"What is it, Dagny?"

"Read this."

"Good God!"

"Yes, it's an experimental formula for a financial strategy that could convert static securities into kinetic profits that would increase at an almost exponential rate."

Hank studied the numbers. "The amount of debt you would need to make this work would be at least 30-to-1, but a daring, rational man who lives by his mind would be willing to take that risk!"

"Yes, and it's so complex the government could never regulate it."

"It's perfect. There's only one problem—half the pages are missing. Could you reconstruct it, Dagny?"

Her answer escaped her lips like air from a punctured galvanized-steel duct:

"No."

"I didn't think so, but why leave such an achievement to rot here? It's the greatest thing I've ever laid eyes on, made by a monumental genius, the sort of mind that's only born once in a century ... Dagny, why are you fondling your breasts?"

3.

There was still the breathless tone in her voice when she asked, "The financial strategy ... the financial strategy I found ... it was you who made it?"

"Yes," he said.

John Galt's face betrayed no signs of pain or fear or guilt, and his body had the clean tensile strength of a foundry casting with skin the color of a polished full-port brass valve. In the center of this secret mountain valley where the titans of Wall Street had retreated for an extended junket was a 3-foot-tall dollar sign of pure gold atop a granite column. It was tacky, yes, but it was also their emblem, a symbol of their triumph.

"But why did you leave it behind?"

"Because once I committed the plan to memory I no longer needed it."

"I don't understand."

"The capital-gains tax, Dagny," Galt said. "We loathe it."

He pointed to the houses of men she knew, and the names sounded like the richest stock market in the world—a roll call of honor.

"Our money represents our spirit's values," Galt said. "When the government takes our profits, it is literally robbing us of our souls. I will not apologize for my wealth to a nation of looters. We who live by the mind could've been engineers, scientists, doctors, extreme-sports enthusiasts, but there is no purer pursuit than the pursuit of money. A is A. Money begets more money, and ..."

Galt went on like this for what seemed to Dagny like hours, until, finally, something he said piqued her interest.

"And that's why I created the financial plan you found. It's true, it works. But it is not sustainable. It will ruin this country's financial system, and then we'll see how those who despise us prosper when their lenders and investors refuse to invest or lend." He laughed joylessly. "Funny, isn't it? I must destroy the very thing I love in order to save it."

"Just to avoid paying taxes?"

"I do not compromise my beliefs, and I will kill anyone who asks me to!"

A silence fell between them, and it was awkward.

Finally, Dagny asked, "So, just out of curiosity, how much are you worth?"

He shrugged. "What is infinity?"

She let out a rich, powerful moan, like the sound of a passing diesel train in the night.

Barry Ritholtz Figures Out What the Bailouts Cost More Than



This is quite a list. He utilizes a respectable inflation gauge, so this isn't completely silly. For a sense of perspective, NASA, The Louisana Purchase, The New Deal, and the Vietnam War make the list. Oh right, I forgot to mention, this is a sum total list. NASA, The Louisiana Purchase, The New Deal, the Vietnam War, the Marshall Plan, and others, COMBINED cost less than the bailout. Yay? I hope we're getting something really good for all of this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

infidelity

You're doin it wrong:

Infidelity Fail

Detroit: Marketing Failure

I'm not sure I buy this argument, but it does raise some interesting points. The Big Three, stubbornly insisting that they would never learn a lesson from their own experience, married themselves to the dimwitted big, cheap to build, high margin SUV and light truck business. They continued to fight the labor battles of the 1930s long after the rest of the world had moved on. FYI, designers are rarely union. The managers and designers were executing the brainchild of upper-management to run these companies straight into the ground, and to do so with haste. It takes a unique brand of aloof indifference to contemplate your company's dividend while simultaneously contemplating bankruptcy as Ford did when its debt was downgraded to junk a few years back.

Non-expert observers living in suburbia could see the absurdities for years. We mocked the supposed 'soccer moms' unable to handle their land yachts in the mall parking lots back in the mid and late 90s. Short-sighted, incompetent and uninspired leadership led the companies to bloat, sloth and arrogance. It's as if they hadn't even realized that it wasn't the 1970s anymore. They no longer commanded a healthy portion of GDP, they were not one of the nation's leading exports, their home-city was a decaying pile of ubran waste long before they contemplated bankruptcy, and hell, they hired Bob Nardelli, the guy who never once returned a year over year gain at Home Depot while commanding the ship for 10 years to head up Chrysler. Really?

Nonetheless, Adam Hanft, in his article at TDB, believing that the world revolves around his industry and expertise chalks up their failures to insufficient marketing prowess. In the process, he raises a few points of interest:
  • Many miles ago, long before Detroit started losing billions a month, they lost something even more important: their roadmap to the American unconscious.

    So while we’ve heard all the arguments for the impending demise, it’s high time we took Detroit’s slow-motion suicide for what is: a marketing failure, probably the biggest one in history. It takes years of monumental incompetence to squander the biggest, deepest love affair the American consumer has ever had.
  • The image destruction started when their brands began to exhibit the worst kinds of corporatist behavior, summoning up dark memories of the tobacco industry. They battled against every safety initiative, starting with mandatory seat belts. They tried to beat back higher CAFE standards. They lobbied against electric cars and alternative fuel.

    As consumers were increasingly making purchase decisions based on the practices of the company behind the product, the domestic auto industry became a loathsome choice.

  • And in a colossal marketing mistake that scraped away any chance for individuality, Detroit’s legions of PR firms continued to let their brands be bundled as the Big Three. Can you imagine Apple permitting itself to be bundled with Dell and HP this way?

  • I’ve also believed that smart marketing could have turned Detroit’s union hurt into an emotional benefit. It’s absolutely amazing to me that for decades, Detroit took the heat for paying decent wages, and providing health care and pensions. Hey, isn’t that what big companies are supposed to do? Hasn’t Wal-Mart been pilloried for precisely the opposite?

    Imagine if Detroit had created compelling advertising that showed its workers living the American dream, and gotten the UAW to pitch in? The sweet stroke of marketing would have made everyone who drives a domestic car feel virtuous, ennobled. Think how much credit Starbucks gets for paying its coffee growers a few measly cents extra.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Alternate Thanksgiving plans?

While visiting the Motherland this past summer, one of the most pleasant experiences was in Moscow at three in the morning after a night of doing what Russians do best. While roaming around the most expensive city in the world, sobering up, and wearing out yet another pair of sandals I was offered a most exciting solution for my sore feet and empty stomach - "Two-eggs-over-easy-with-bacon-and-white-toast?". In the middle of Moscow, hidden inside a small park and neighboring a renowned theater sits the Starlite Diner - and everything inside is "right". While it cannot possibly rival New Jersey's best, if only due to the hookah room in the back and some bad menu translations, the diner certainly provided a cheap 45 minute excursion back to the US. Unfortunately, I was there the week when Exile was shut down, but the eggs were phenomenal.

Why am I am telling you this? Thanksgiving in Moscow anyone?

Very Funny, Enjoy

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Everybody Must Get Stoned


Here is a video of two people buried to their waists, wrapped in white, and stoned to death.  Let's see if Jumco can contort his relativism around this one.  Perhaps he will equate this with Proposition 8.  And I mean "equate."  


Please watch before you comment from your armchair.

"Death Is Too Good For Them"


Moderator: Other than life imprisonment and the death sentence, what can be done?

Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: According to Islamic law, a homosexual should be thrown from a tall building.

Moderator: What would you do with them?

Dr. Sa’d Al-’Inzi: To be honest, death is too good for them. They should be gathered in a public place, where they would be flogged and tortured, so the truth about these people is made clear and they serve as a lesson to others, because they are an epidemic plaguing society.

Sunday Roundup

Politics
Business
Food & Wine

In Finland, Life Is Different



World Sauna Championship


Be sure to explore the gallery where this was found: About.com's, Weird News Photographic Index.