Friday, July 31, 2009

Yard Sale

via Sinfest

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Uranium Ore at

Getting great reviews at

"4.0 out of 5 stars Ok for cleaning teeth, not so great for killing ants.., December 3, 2007
By Nero Goldstein "Bemused by a Muse" - See all my reviews
Picked this up for use in one of my kid's 'diversity' projects in school (Great Success!), and stuck the leftovers in the cabinet next to the baking soda.

Ran out of toothpaste, and remembered how you're supposed to be able to use baking soda to clean your teeth, so of course, I accidentally used this instead, and Wow! all I can say is, my teeth have never been cleaner! They sparkle, they tingle, and for some reason, they STAY clean now, no matter what. Highly recommended!

However, when I ran out of that fire-ant killer powder stuff, I figured I would try some for that too.

Big mistake!

Boy, it sure did not kill those ants!

Fortunately, those suckers get slower as they get bigger, so I have been able to use a shovel to take care of most of them, one at a time though, the sneaky devils.

And the darn trash man refuses to take them away..

I would have given this product 5 stars for the teeth and the project on embracing diversity, but I deducted one star because of the giant mutant ants."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

O'Really O'Reilly?

This deserves an award. In stupidity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Please go away now, you moron

"And getting up here I say it is the best road trip in America soaring through nature's finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it's the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice fogged frigid beauty, the cold though, doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime such extreme summertime about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future. That is what we get to see every day. Now what the rest of America gets to see along with us is in this last frontier there is hope and opportunity and there is country pride." - 'Sarah Palin, from her farewell address and apparently on acid' via Deus Ex Malcontent


You'll find the full transcript of her speech here
And the Edited Version by Vanity Fair here

Fact check

“National New Home Sales, on a monthly basis, don’t even add up to half of the total foreclosure activity in California alone in a single month.” -Mark M Hanson

Is this true? via bp

And meanwhile from Florida comes the following photo essay via Zero Hedge, 'There is something for lease or rent in almost every single plaza or strip mall without exception.'

Headlines today included 'The housing market looks like it has found a floor' etc.

Hmm, don't believe the hype!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Picking the right fight

"Ideally you want to let troubled banks fail, because if you save them, you face the possibility that moral hazard-induced excessive risk taking will lead to larger problems down the road. If you cannot avoid saving the banks, then some subsequent action must be taken to prevent this.

That subsequent action is regulatory reform—limitations on leverage, new rules on compensation, perhaps a bank tax to pay for oversight and future bail-outs, and so on. There is a regulatory reform bill in the works. It is important that that bill meaningfully limit the extent to which firms can abuse the backstop implied by recent government interventions. That's the battle that needs to be fought." More Goldman Madness - Free Exchange

Which was it?

PRESIDENT OBAMA gave a press conference on health care reform last night. How'd he do?

I'm curious to hear what other people thought, but this really struck me as nowhere near his usual performance. Obama avoided giving direct answers, rambled a lot, kept interrupting himself with asides, and didn't explain things in terms that ordinary viewers were likely to understand. He's supposed to be the communicator-in-chief, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people came away more confused than they were when they tuned in. Bottom line: There were bits and pieces that were fine, but overall I'd give it a C-.

- Kevin Drum, Mother Jones blogger

I found Obama’s health care presentation so impressive — so much command of the issues — that it had me worried. If I really like a politicians’ speech, isn’t that an indication that he lacks the popular touch? (A couple of points off for “incentivize” — what ever happened to “encourage”? — but never mind.)

Seriously, it’s really good to see how much he gets it.

- Paul Krugman, New York Times blogger

Quotes of the day - Free Exchange

More vulnerable

"A new order is emerging on Wall Street — one in which just a couple of victors are starting to tower over the handful of financial titans that used to dominate the industry." Two Giants Emerge From Wall Street Ruins - NYT

If JPM and GS dominate as per this article, doesn't that make us more susceptible to the next crisis as the banking industry becomes more concentrated and vulnerable than before?

Paul Krugman: The Joy of Sachs - Economist's View

Kunstler on Kronkite

"The eulogy for Walter Cronkite as "the most trusted man in America" on the CBS "Sixty Minutes" show said a lot about the condition of this nation -- though it did not signify what CBS thought it did. It wasn't about the death of one hugely esteemed individual; it was about the broad institutional failure of TV news in general and the current grievous loss of legitimacy and authority in shaping a national consensus of reality. Watching the old clips of Cronkite delivering the evening news years ago, one couldn't help weighing the contrast with the current spectacle of snide, combative, overbearing idiocy acted out nightly by the likes of Kudlow, Olberman, Kneale, O'Reilly, Matthews, and Dobbs as they shout down their invited guest commentators, pander to their demographic, and diss their rivals for ratings.
It was instructive to notice that the program following "Sixty Minutes" -- in the supreme weekly slot of 8p.m. Sunday -- was a childish and stupid "reality" show called "Big Brother." This said even more about the craven quality of the people currently running CBS. It was also a useful lesson in the diminishing returns of technology as applied to television, since it should now be obvious that the expansion of cable broadcasting since the heyday of the "big three" networks has led only to the mass replication of video garbage rather than a banquet of culture, as first touted." Is Obama Gorbachev? - James Howard Kunstler


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Life's a beach

and then you fly home...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

En vacances

So light posting for a week or so...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sell signal

"The Bank of Japan called the bottom of the slump in the world’s second largest economy on Wednesday." Bank of Japan calls bottom of slump - FT

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Esquire sent one of their most open-minded reporters, a man largely unsullied by any familiarity with the Hollywood-obsessed world, to interview this guy. We gave him a first name and an address, nothing more. They were pretty certain Cal had never heard of him.

"Whatever you do, I get the impression that you do it well." Gerry seems not to comprehend that I truly don't know what he does."

300 Things We Didn't Know About Gerard Butler - Esquire

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bubble bursts

"The photograph, taken by Richard Heeks, of Exeter, shows a soap bubble with one half still perfectly formed while the other shatters in a distinctive pattern of streaks." Photographer captures moment a bubble bursts - Telegraph

Monday, July 13, 2009

Awkward People Island

Reality TV Show idea...

"You would watch Awkward People Island and you know it. Here is a short list of some more of the activities to do on Awkward People Island.

- Call bank and dispute overdraft charge.
- Go on a date and don't talk about work.
- Unexpectedly run into someone you knew from high school.
- Talk to a toddler.
- Sit through a movie with someone kicking the back of your seat.
- Go to a beach.
- Perform CPR on an attractive person.
- Stand in line for a porta potty.
- Canvassing.
- Get a massage.
- Go to a popular night club and don't sit down."

via Overcompensating

Green shoots turn brown in the summer sun

"In a recession this deep, recovery doesn't depend on investors. It depends on consumers who, after all, are 70 percent of the U.S. economy. And this time consumers got really whacked. Until consumers start spending again, you can forget any recovery." When Will The Recovery Begin? Never. - Robert Reich

Nice upbeat start to a Monday...

I agree with the sentiment here. What is going to move us forward? New ideas, new technology, new markets. The old system is broken. Turn the page.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tour de Okutama

Click either for more interactive detail.

Aurore Bakery, Ome Station, Positivo approved.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Waiting for a plane

Waiting to hop on the plane home...

Thursday, July 09, 2009


View from the bar at Morton's over on Kowloon

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hong Kong bizzy trip

In HK til Friday visiting customers. Beautiful blue skies but very hot and humid.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


"Sarah wanted everyone to know that she’s not having fun and people are being mean to her and she doesn’t feel like finishing her first term as governor." Now, Sarah's Folly - NYTimes

Yes, the topic fascinates me. The fact that she was on the ticket to be VP is mind-boggling. No alarm bells here? No-one wants to stick their hand in the air and say, 'Erm, we may have a slight problem with our views on who and what should be running the show'?

*Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Man Who Crashed The World

"When he said that he could not envision losses, that we wouldn't lose a dime, I am positive that he believed that," says one of the traders. the problem with Joe Cassano wasn't that he knew he was wrong. It was that it was too important to him that he be right. More than anything, Joe Cassano wanted to be one of Wall Street's big shots. He wound up being its perfect cutomer."

The Man Who Crashed The World - Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday training ride

134km dist., 1000m vert., 25km/hr avg., 61km/hr max., hr127 avg., hr171 max.

View Larger Map

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Friday, July 03, 2009


Great article in Vanity Fair about the train wreck that is (was?) Sarah Palin. IMO as bat-shit crazy it may seem she isn't going away anytime soon. Cheney/Palin.. brilliant.

'Alaskans of every age and station, of every race and political stripe, unselfconsciously refer to every other place on earth with a single word: Outside. So, of all the puzzling things that Sarah Palin told the American public last fall, perhaps the most puzzling was this: “Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.” Believe me, it is not.' It Came from Wasilla - Vanity Fair

"Republicans were divided on Friday over the move. Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist, said the sudden announcement on a public holiday made her look “inept”." Palin resigns as Alaska governor - FT

"Sarah Palin resigning as governor of Alaska to position herself for the White House is like Limahl leaving Kajagoogoo so his solo career could blossom." This Modern World

"A lot of folks more knowledgeable about the situation than I assumed that she'd not run again next year, mainly because she'd be likely to face (and even possibly lose) a challenge in the GOP primary. It's safe to say that no one expected this, but really -- who's complaining? I can only assume that Palin figured that Mark Sanford and Michael Jackson had already taken the more enthralling paths to news-cycle dominance and that just absentmindedly setting fire to her political career would have to do." Lawyers, Guns & Money

Thursday, July 02, 2009

UK heatwave

I'm not missing those UK trains... still rainy season here in Japan, but the humidity is rising and the heat is coming, ugh.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

There, I Fixed It


Hot water system

Spare tire

Follow-up to Vampire Squid

Matt Taibbi posted a follow-up to his Rolling Stone article on his blog. It's worth a read.

'After my Rolling Stone piece about Goldman, Sachs hit the newsstands last week, I started to get a lot of mail. Most of it was thoughtful and respectful criticism, although there was an amusingly large number of people writing in impassioned defense of their right, under our American system, to be ripped off by large impersonal financial companies.' and it continues here...

Not a clue

So this bear market rally concept that I had been wittering on about ad infinitum...

I haven't changed my view really, but the markets continued buoyancy has me flummoxed.

I see savings rates are up and this will have a positive effect, but I really think we are looking toppy at these market levels. But what the heck do I know?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Some snippets from Jim Welsh:

'Like Don Quixote, believing markets possess a paranormal clairvoyance adds a bit of mystery, even romanticism to the mundane task of tracking daily fluctuations in prices. The truth is far more straight forward, and absolutely impersonal. At every top and bottom, the market is always wrong.'

'any decent rally in the dollar will trigger a decline in oil prices that could be fairly sharp since the underpinnings of oil demand are so weak.'

'Keep in mind that the economy needs to create 125,000 jobs each month before some of the 14.5 million unemployed workers will be able to get back to work.'

'The extraordinary level of government assistance has certainly helped stabilize the economy, but this level of assistance is unsustainable. Unless job losses and weak wage growth reverse dramatically by mid 2010, the V-shaped recovery will stall, since consumer demand will be too weak to launch a self sustaining economic expansion.'

'In coming quarters, this solid rebound in housing will add to the illusion of the V-shaped recovery, since the residential component within the GDP report will swing from a negative to a positive.'

'In July 2006, the non-profit Homeownership Preservation Foundation received 40 calls a day from distressed homeowners. Now, on an average day, they receive more than 6,000 calls. In the first quarter 71% of the callers were seeking help because they had lost overtime pay, taken a salary cut, or one spouse had lost their job. In the next six months, at least another one million workers will lose their jobs.'

'Although the low end of the housing market is near a bottom, the overall housing market is not. Continued weakness in housing will also undermine consumer spending in coming quarters.'