Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

I'd guess most of my readers know this already, but today's the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door. If you wonder why the Pope got so angry, take a look at them. The very form of Luther's theses leads anyone familiar with the Scriptures to a position harshly antagonistic to that of Rome at the time.

You can celebrate with a good German supper, preferably followed by a copious release of anti-hypertension drugs. Luther is said to have joked that he kept evil spirits at bay by breaking wind. Now how that would work, seeing that those spirits have their home in a sulfurous Hell, is beyond me, but he said it.

Salvation and 120/80, man. It's time to celebrate!

Obama's friends

Here is a nice Wall Street Journal article about the friends of Barack Hussein Ayers Rezko Daley Wright Pfleger Khalidi Obama. If he's elected, he'll bring about change in Washington--specifically doing his best to bring corrupt Chicago politics to the nation as a whole.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You're welcome

Listing to the radio yesterday morning, I learned that gasoline prices here--about $2.10 to $2.20 per gallon--are a full 70 cents lower than they were a year ago. Looks like my (and Pentadad's, and Mitch's) bike riding has been having its desired effect. You're welcome. :^)

How much of an effect? Well, the EIA notes that in July, gasoline deliveries declined by 17.6 million barrels vs. a year before, a 5.7% decrease in overall usage. I would guess that August deliveries will be down in a similar manner.

Notice also that the previous big drop in consumption didn't start with the imposition of CAFE standards in 1975, but rather with the 1979 oil crisis. The next one occurred during the first war with Iraq, when obviously those supplies were not in production. Those who think that government regulations are the key to managing our energy supplies would be well counseled to take a close look at this graph.

Also in good news, I noticed a lot of "deals" at the grocery store while shopping last night. Try as I might, I don't think that I can take any credit for THAT--my appetite while riding is pretty hearty! Maybe people are using this time of short credit, low levels of free cash, and more to start their diets?

Pray for Gino

He's apparently in a very significant surgery right now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More liberal "logic"

Took a look at Barack Hussein Rezko Daley Ayers Wright Pfleger Khalidi Obama's tax plan, and there are two very interesting things in it that you might want to note to your socialism-minded friends:

1. Apparently, BHRDAWPKO doesn't think that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire amounts to a tax hike. As one who stands to lose $400/child in child tax credits and $1000/family or so in a reinstated "marriage penalty," I beg to differ. This would be a massive tax hike for my family.

2. Apparently, BHRDAWPKO thinks that adding new tax credits to the tax code is the best way to simplify it and make it possible to file your taxes "in five minutes." Of course, anyone who has ever done his own taxes knows that five minutes is about the time it takes to simply fill out the first line or two of the 1040EZ form, and that every tax credit has its own form requiring about 15 minutes to figure out.

It's also instructive to parse out what is, and what is not, "blessed" by the BHRDAWPKO tax plan. Parents lose part of the child tax credit, but get some of it back if they put their kids into daycare. Parents get slammed with a reinstated marriage penalty, but get some of it back if Mom leaves her kids in daycare and goes back to work. Parents get slammed if they buy a vehicle capable of going on a family vacation (and say, towing the family boat or camper), but get a credit if they buy a hybrid.

See a pattern here? They won't admit it, but the BHRDAWPKO campaign is waging war on the traditional family with their tax plan.

Also, astute observers will notice I've added a new middle name to Barack Hussein Rezko Daley Ayers Wright Pfleger Khalidi Obama: Obama is evidently a good friend of Rashid Khalidi, even allowing this former PR man for the PLO and Yasser Arafat to babysit his children. If you think the public deserves to know about this (akin to a Republican kibbitzing with someone from Aryan Nations, really), send a note to the LA Times and see if they'll release the tape of Obama toasting him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


In all of Senator Daley Ayers Rezko Wright Pfleger Obama's rhetoric about people desiring "change," one thing is forgotten; economic calculation proceeds best not in an atmosphere of uncertainty, but rather consistency. Even beyond the socialistic nature of the changes Senator Daley Ayers Rezko Wright Pfleger Obama is desiring, the very fact that he seems to desire change for change's sake poses a great hazard to economic security for a lot of people not lucky enough to have rich and powerful people paying their bills, as Obama has.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let me get this straight....

....government sets up Social Security, and despite a fourfold increase in the tax to support this Ponzi scheme since it was started, it finds itself with a ten trillion dollar debt (GAAP standards).

....government sets up Medicare and Medicaid, and it's got a forty trillion dollar debt by proper accounting standards only forty years into its existence.

....government sets up prescription drug coverage for Medicare, and it's already well over budget.

....and Democrats are telling us that the CURE to all of these problems is to trust the same actuarial models that grossly underestimated the costs of government involvement, and put effectively ALL medical care and ALL of our retirement into the hands of the government?

Apparently Democrats are learning logic from the same people who trained global warming "scientists," and believe that it doesn't matter that their models don't work, as long as they haven't been persuaded that there is a better one.

Compassion for the Wolverines

As someone who was born a Buckeye (Circleville), grew up a Hoosier, and became a Spartan by the Grace of God, sympathy for fans of the University of Michigan doesn't come easy. Yet this year, it seems to be coming to me--they've beaten their last years' performance of losing to Appalachian State by losing to a number of teams they're not used to losing to--Penn State, Michigan State, Utah, Notre Dame, and others. It looks like they've probably got a good flogging coming up in the horseshoe come November, too, and they may have compounded their woes by giving their head coach a contract extension (now if we can only get Gerry Faust back in South Bend!). So a little bit of compassion for our (least) favorite weasels might be in order.

So if you're a Michigan fan reading this (Go Blue, and take the Lions with you!), keep in mind that your favorite team is doing a great favor to its fans by stinking up the Big House; they're helping hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, control their blood pressure. Moreover, there is some more good news; American Standard has apparently just issued the weasels a bowl invitation!

Finally, a huge blessing; if you're a Michigan fan who has always wanted to invite your favorite player to a Christmas or New Year's party, this year the Wolverines will be available. Contrary to ordinary opinion, you don't need to double your order at the caterers, 'cause this year, they obviously ain't hungry.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The real shame...

...about Sarah Palin's $150,000 wardrobe is not that apparently she's wearing $5000 outfits. People who NEED to look good every day have been doing that for decades--start with a pair of Alden shoes ($500), add a tailored shirt ($300-500) and a custom made suit ($2000 or more), hold it together with a great tie ($200) and belt ($100) and cover it with a tailored overcoat and hat ($1000 +), and you're pretty much there. Lawyers, politicians, executives, and others have been doing this for a long time--and if that's a scandal, let's send Barack, Joe, and John out in their Wranglers.

Eww....let's not. As others have said, there comes a time when most men really look best in a suit. Biden and McCain have clearly reached that point, so suits it is.

The same link tells us what the real shame is about Gov. Palin's new wardrobe. It's not that each outfit costs $5000; it's that the RNC evidently bought her 30 or more of them. Reality is, though, that a man really only needs a few good suits to look his best every day. A woman, maybe five to ten. Just enough to mix and match for virtually infinite unique looks, really.

In other words, the RNC should be ashamed for knowing clothes (each outfit looks great), but not wardrobes. It's a lack of the "big perspective" that...shows all too clearly in both political parties.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A hearty thank you to some atheists in England

By putting this ad campaign together, they've brilliantly demonstrated a philosophical point that Christians and others have been making for centuries; where there is no knowledge of God, men cast off restraint. The results, as prominent atheists like Mao, Lenin, and Stalin demonstrated well, are often horrific.

So a hearty thank you to this campaign, and remember--there are only 159 shopping days until International Atheism Day!

Expletive deleted, it's true

When I read Ann Coulter's column this morning, I thought that it couldn't possibly be true that Angela Davis was a professor of "History of Consciousness". No way a university could be that stupid.

I was wrong. She is listed here. If we doubt that our educational institutions are losing their contact with reality, this is exhibit A to the contrary.

Or probably exhibit CYJ, given the number of goofball things done in ivory towers these days.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I use environmentally sound diapers for my son

Pampers disposables, of course. A British government study has revealed that in terms of energy use, wastewater generation, and so on, that old fashioned cloth diapers actually do more damage to the environment than disposables.

Now to those of you who were lugging a pail of stinkbombs to the laundromat every few days in a misguided effort to save the environment, I have just one thing to say.


OK, I'll be fair; it is a GOVERNMENT study, so we need to treat the results with a grain of salt. But still:


Environmentalism. The world's best way to destroy the planet we live on.

God is so good!

Research indicates that if you want a long, healthy life, you'll do well to eat a lot of chocolate and drink a fair amount of coffee. And eat the delicious fruits of the land. It is as if He knew what He was talking about when He told Adam and Eve that they could eat of the trees of the Garden, save one.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Carbon sequestration and organic farming

A while back, I suggested that one of the big reasons for losing topsoil--and also the key to retaining and increasing it--is to simply allow the land to grow the plants that are suitable for it instead of plowing it every year to grow grain for chickens, turkeys, and pigs. Let animals graze it directly instead of harvesting it with a tractor, and you'll soon find that you get both healthier meat, as well as healthier land.

Well, I may be insane, and this may prove it, but I can at least argue I'm not alone. In this article, Joel Salatin argues about the same thing; that if we abandoned the feedlot, we could re-sequester all of the carbon that has been emitted by human sources in the past century within a matter of years.

For fun, let's check his math. My family probably eats about half a ton of meat and dairy per year, meaning probably about ten tons of feed was used to grow it. Do it with forage, and we would conclude that about twice that amount would be used, and that an equivalent amount of roots (new organic matter) would be put into the soil. So if we changed to pasture fed meats and dairy products, we'd be sequestering something around 20 tons of carbon annually. We also could reduce the farmer's fuel usage by a few tons of diesel fuel.

In contrast, our family burns about 1400 gallons, or ~4 tons, of gasoline per year, and probably an equivalent amount of fuel for heat and electricity. So if indeed pasture based agriculture does put organic matter into the soil, and if indeed plow based agriculture destroys it, one great way of reducing atmospheric carbon would be to let grazing animals, you know, "graze."

It also might do wonders for water quality, seafood availability, and flood dangers. It is as if God wants us to know something about His Creation.

From the mouths of babes

Or, rather, 10 year olds. Three of my daughters are joining our church, and one of the subjects that our church has been forced to deal with in its constitution and other documents is how various forms of perverted sexuality violate Scripture. Hence, I've had to give explanations of what those big words mean--not in graphic detail, of course, but a basic explanation, say, that bestiality is treating an animal as if it were your spouse.

My oldest daughter's reaction; laughter at the absurdity of claiming to love a cow as if it were one's wife or husband. And so I wonder; if the people who are pushing these perversions are simply in need, as Andersen's emperor in the story, of a little boy (or girl) to say

The emperor has no clothes!

I don't think it would hurt.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some good news

ColdFusionGuy noted a while back that he hoped that families would respond to the credit crisis by living within their means. Well, he and I are getting our wish, at least according to this; down payments on vehicles have gone up by a cool $1000 or so to a full 12% of the purchase price. So when people drive off the dealer's lot today, they're only slightly underwater vs. what the vehicle is worth. It's also worth noting that the purchase price now is about $25000 vs. $40,000 a few months ago, if the % financed and down payment statistics can be trusted.

Fun reference; the favored vehicle of actual millionaires (non-house net worth > $1 million) profiled in "The Millionaire Next Door" is the Ford Crown Victoria, a vehicle that could be had for less than $25,000. Maybe with consumers choosing more vehicles of this nature, there's hope for our country yet.

I don't get it

Evidently, the guy hired by Hank Paulson to dole out the $700 billion (or $850 billion, or $1 trillion, or whatever) bailout is also a former executive of Goldman Sachs. The man may be a genius, but all I can see is how he helped take his employer nearly to Chapter 7. As such, it's unclear to me why I ought to trust him with a hot dog stand, let alone with a bailout plan that could either rescue or wreck our economy.

It's really one of my persistent pet peeves; executives take their company to Chapter 11 or 7, and promptly get hired in another executive position, often one with more responsibility and pay. What ever happened to telling a man "Bob, you're very talented, but you took your last company down the toilet. It's time for you to re-start a few levels down."

On the down side.... appears that Barack Hussein Daley Rezko Pfleger Wright Ayers Obama wishes to declare carbon dioxide to be a "major" pollutant. (H/T Mark)

If so, well, it's time for B.H.D.R.P.W.A.O. to show some leadership here. Stop flying your private jet, stop heating your house, don't drive anywhere, and shut down your website, too. One of the biggest carbon sources, of course, is operating the masses of disk drives that form the backbone of the Internet.

No, we won't demand he stop breathing, but if he's going to call a harmless gas a pollutant, then he owes it to us to show that he's serious about reducing his personal contribution to emissions.

Yeah, that goes for you too, though in fairness, it looks like you've got a serious amount of carbon sequestered in your rear end.

Some good news in the political world

Hawaii is apparently ending their universal child health care plan after learning the hard way what any decent economist, or for that matter anyone educated in basic logic, could have told them; that given a choice between using their own money or somebody else's, people will use somebody else's money. Unsurprisingly--just like with Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare part D, and other attempts to provide health care for nothing, expenses exploded, and in response, the state shut the program down.

And yes, this is a remarkably similar plan in these respects to that of Barack Hussein Daley Rezko Wright Pfleger Ayers Obama. Hopefully voters and legislators realize that this kind of thing goes against basic human nature and vote him, and his plan, down before it's too late.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Government at work at the FAA

Apparently, the FAA has been sitting on a plan to implement GPS for airlines for over ten years. The details appear to be really incredible; despite the fact that most luxury cars have this, and despite the fact that the satellites are already up there, they're claiming that implementing GPS for airliners will require a new set of satellites and about $200,000 per plane, adding up to about $35 billion overall.

You, the taxpayer, will get to pony over $20 billion of this, while airlines will get to keep all of the $10 billion annually they'll save on fuel.

Call me simplistic, but I have to point out that military jets have been using the present GPS units for about two decades. I don't really think that they system is going to require new satellites, $20 billion from taxpayers, or $200k per plane to implement if they take a few hints from the good folks at OnStar.

More thoughts on the Krugman Nobel

It's not a completely direct link, but one of the outgrowth's of Paul Krugman's economic research is the concept that if indeed economies of scale have something to do with trade patterns and economic prosperity, then why not see if one can "prime the pump" and set up "enterprise zones" to get a "critical mass" of enterprise in one area to get things going?

Well, we've been doing exactly that in many ways--policy-makers didn't wait for Krugman's thesis and following papers to get started--and we've got the results in now.

Stadiums and convention centers in big cities ("they'll jump start downtown!") that not only haven't paid for themselves, but also are surrounded by virtual ghost towns. Acre upon acre of empty lots in New London, CT. Broken promises from Best Buy here in the Twin Cities. A half-empty, money losing Mall of America.

And then you've got the other side of the equation; solvent small businesses taxed heavily to bring these big "helpers" into town. In the 1990s, California saw a huge outflow as tax piglets left communities that would no longer let them suckle--many of those piglets coming to Colorado. Now many of these companies have either failed or moved on as well, leaving devastated downtowns behind.

Moral of the story; yes, Krugman was right in noting that trade patterns owed something to economies of scale, but no, you cannot create these by appointing a bureaucrat and giving him a budget.

Chicago crime rate to fall soon!

Mayor Daley will be shutting down city government for six days. Don't ever say I never said anything nice about the Daleys now. :^)

Sad to say, it'll be a temporary drop in the crime rate.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have they ever heard of Lindt?

Evidently, a spokesman for Hershey (now threatened for market share by M&M Mars) has made the claim that "Hershey is chocolate," Saville said. "We've made the world's best chocolate for more than 100 years."

With all due respect, I suggest to Mr. Saville that he might do well to visit Europe and learn what real chocolate tastes like, or perhaps to even visit Hershey's own Scharffen-Berger division and learn what chocolate tastes like when it has more than 14% cacao.

Another reason to homeschool

Evidently, a high school literature textbook wastes 15 pages on Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father." Now no disrespect intended to the Senator, but it used to be that one would wait until at least after an election, if not a few decades before deciding that a particular work really belonged in the canon of great literature.

I would also have to guess that if I took a good look at this book (and I don't intend to), it probably turns out that the inclusion of Obama's work is one of the lesser sins of those who put the text together. After all, 15 pages for Obama is 15 pages that cannot be used for those "lesser lights" like Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Dickens, and so on.

H/T Bear Creek Ledger

Afterthought: it's probably worth noting that the very fact that schools would use a textbook to teach great literature, instead of the literature itself, ought to persuade us that our government schools have absolutely no clue about how to teach literature and writing!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Paul Krugman's Nobel Prize in Economics apparently has to do with how economies of scale affect international trade patterns. Now I'll admit that I haven't read Krugman's entire body of work here, nor is it terribly likely that I'd be able to understand it in detail either without a lot of work, but seems to me that concepts such as comparative advantage and economies of scale were well discussed in the "recent" past by those such as Adam Smith and Fredric Bastiat, among others. Hence, it's not entirely clear to me exactly what his contribution is. (Shawn? you reading?)

And here's a list of laureates. Scary listing; Leonid Vitalyevich Kantorovich of the U.S.S.R. in 1975 for work on "optimal allocation of resources". One would think that a laureate honored for work in the "optimal allocation of resources" might have come from a country without long lines for bread and other essentials, but evidently not. I guess he had ample reason to know what didn't work.

(dare I suggest that some of these listings demonstrate that the Sverige Riksbank prize may sometimes mean little more than a Nobel Peace or Literature prize?)


Apparently, biscuit-makers in Thailand and Sri Lanka have discovered the "magic" of putting melamine in food products. It is bizaare to me that one would use a chemical with a fairly complex (and toxic) synthesis in place of readily available and cheap foodstuffs, especially for biscuits--which tend to be made with lower protein flours to prevent being too chewy.

Ironically, adding melamine (which on initial analysis looks like protein) shows the product to be inferior.

So why do they do it? Well, look what melamine is made from; animal waste. I have to wonder if a big part of the problem is (government sponsored?) melamine factories near stockyards without sufficient legitimate demand for their product. Getting a price somewhat less than that for rice might be their best (short term of course) business decision.

Your best business decision, of course, just might be to avoid processed foods from Asia in general. If biscuit makers can't clue in to the fact that killing their customers is bad business, maybe they'll clue in to bankruptcy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another benefit of compact flourescent bulbs

Apparently, they give off UV light, which is a great way to get your vitamin D during the winter, and also stave off seasonal depression. Yes, the article doesn't make this connection, but given that they're talking only of a "little bit" of redness from these bulbs, it would seem that what we have here is a small, but real, way of getting the UV rays one needs in the winter.

Not a big issue for those of you in the Deep South--you know, places like Colorado Springs and Western Pennsylvania or Washington DC--but up here in Minnesota, where the entire population is said to be UV deficient in the winter, it just might be really helpful not only to one's electric bill, but also for one's general health.

Are you ready.....

....if the stock market crash turns into a severe recession? I'm going to indulge my "broken record" habits and remind my "vast" (ha ha) audience of Dave Ramsey's steps to financial freedom. The further you've gone on this, the better you can ride out the crisis, and if you're not very far, it's time to get cracking!

For those too lazy to use the link:

1. $1000 emergency fund in your checking account.

2. Use debt "snowball" to pay off your non-mortgage debt.

3. 3-6 months' expenses in savings.

4. Invest 15% of household income into pre-and-post-tax retirement funds.

5. College money for children.

6. Pay off home early

7. Build wealth and give.

I personally switched #5 and #6 to simplify my finances, but overall, this is a great plan for riding out the ups and downs of the economy. Notice also that if you've got a 15% cushion in the family budget (the retirement funds savings in #4), you're going to do a lot better with an income compromised by recession.

Here's some theological dissonance

Evidently, Louis Farrakhan, theoretically a Muslim, is saying that Barack Hussein Daley Obama is "the Messiah." I believe that would be blasphemy not just for Islam (which strictly speaking doesn't believe in one, let alone refer to one with a Hebrew name), but also for Judiasm and Christianity.

Calypso Louie should be very glad that burning heretics at the stake is no longer in vogue!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Global warming, or agricultural practices?

Mark sent me this; researchers are claiming that global warming will end the practice of eating haggis because warmer temperatures make a better climate for lungworms that effect sheep. Now it may be that warmer weather (not necessarily linked to human action) may make a better climate for lungworms, but there are two big weaknesses with the theory.

First of all, the article concedes that a large contributor to the epidemic of lungworm is the fact that farmers are no longer treating all sheep for this parasite--just as the failure of parents to vaccinate is leading to outbreaks of childhood diseases, the failure of farmers to treat their stock is going to lead to outbreaks, no?

Second, what of the reality that farmers worldwide are trying to squeeze the "last bit of blood out of the turnip"? That is, is this an issue with climate (Scotland has rarely had consistent harsh winters to begin with), or is this an issue with how sheep are raised today?

I'm guessing the latter.

How many illegals?

HUD estimates five million fraudulent mortgages have been issued to illegal immigrants. This would be, of course, a huge portion of those underwater and in default, and it would also suggest to us that 10 million is probably a very low estimate for the number of those here illegally.

This, in turn, would lead us to a revised estimate of the cost of illegal immigration; close to a trillion dollars over the past few years. I think that would pay to build a border fence and hire some more ICE agents.

How to be an injury-free musician

Well, I'm not a great musician, but one thing that I've noticed among friends who are good musicians is that an awful lot of them spend time in the infirmary for various maladies due to playing, especially carpal tunnel syndrome.

Enter Mr. Richard Dowling, who was recently in Minnesota to play a mini-concert at Crown College while on tour with the Piatagorsky Foundation to interest people in "flyover country" in classical music. It was strange to see a musician of his caliber eagerly presenting his work to an audience of less than fifty people--it was clear that this was a labor of love for him.

Very significantly, my daughters' piano teacher, who had told us of this (free!) opportunity, noticed the man's strength in playing, and asked whether he'd had any injuries. To our surprise, he said no, and explained how he did it; by taking a daily run in Central Park, and by doing an awful lot of walking. In other words, by training his whole body for fitness, he avoided overuse injuries peculiar to piano--and also trained himself to treat playing the piano as an exercise of the entire body, not just the arms. He even demonstrated how doing this led to an improvement in the sound from the instrument.

So if you want to be a great, injury-free musician, take a run. Also, if you get a chance to attend a concert by a Piatagorsky artist, do so. It is well worth your time!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

B. Hussein Daley

Apparently, the Democratic nominee has learned a lot from Chicago's first crime family, and no, I don't mean the Capones. Word has it that the graveyard vote is lining up 100% for Obama.

An interesting thought

While riding to work today, I had to use the pedestrian buttons in order to make a left turn--the stoplights don't detect my ride very well. Two walkers who saw me approach (and took mild evasive action, thinking I was heading for the sidewalk) suggested that I'd do well to use hand signals. I pointed out that with both hands on the brakes (kinda necessary for safe riding), it was difficult at best to give a hand signal.

Hand signals for stopping and right turns made sense, I guess, when every bicycle had coaster brakes and you could stop easily with one hand off the handlebars. Not so for anyone over the age of ten in the past thirty or forty years, though.

Banker of what resort?

Way back in the early 20th Century, a big argument for the establishment of the Federal Reserve was that it would serve as a lender of last resort. Let's check out how that's worked out with Wachovia Bank. (h/T Cold Fusion Guy)

According to a group working to get a higher price for Wachovia (than Citi will offer), Wachovia has $800 billion in assets (loans) and only $450 billion in deposits. Absent other reserves, that would be a -60% reserve ratio. Yes, that would be illegal. What does it mean?

It means that Wachovia has something around $400 billion in loans (again, perversely called assets) from other banks and the Fed. Now is the Fed the lender of last resort, or is it rather one of the dominant factors in the banking economy?

I suggest the latter.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A thought on fashion

KingDavid's latest demonstrates to me what I would call (sorry, Rush) #36 of the Undeniable Truths of Life; that fashion is not about how to clothe one's self well, but rather about how fashion designers are breaking the rules of good taste this season.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sarah Palin tax returns and financial statement

Here. My take:

1. Charitable giving is a bit low at 1.5-3% for 2006 and 2007, but it's (ahem) better by far than Joe Biden's, and comparable to superior to Barack Obama's--at least prior to Obama's book-writing.

2. Mortgage interest is reasonable at about $10k/year, and declining, not increasing. The Palins do not appear to be using their home as a bank account. The interest also suggests that they have significant (well over 50%) equity in their home.

3. Unlike Obama and Biden, the Palins do show consistent interest, dividend, and capital gains income.

4. Very unlike Obama and Biden, the Palins show very significant savings, including a number of mutual funds, Todd Palin's business, and more.

Overall, except for the charitable giving aspect, I give the Palins an A- on their financials, vs. an A for McCain, a D for Obama, and an F for Biden. We can probably trust her near a three trillion dollar budget.

Skwushy things and otherwise

In a brilliant scientific move, my almost four year old daughter learned (after cleaning out the kitty litter) that cat poop is skwushy. Thankfully, she found this out when it was in the bag, but I made her wash her hands anyways.

Also in the world of science, I learned that haggis isn't really half bad. It's just that anything to do with organ meats grosses us modern Americans out. I crumbled it into a skillet with some potatoes & fried it. Yum!

No melamine involved!

And for a spiritual thought on our nation's financial troubles, read the book of Haggai. Israel was punished with poor crops for its failure to bring the full tithe to the priests; I have to wonder if a great part of our nation's current distress is God graciously allowing us to suffer the consequences of our poor decisions. Perhaps this time we will learn.

Or, perhaps, we'll pass some more subsidies for Puerto Rican rum and bicycle commuting. Sigh.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Here's a hazard....

....of being good friends with missionaries to Scotland. It brings to mind a great work of Robert Bruce.
Fair fa your honest sonsie face
Great chieftan o' the puddin' race!
Aboon them a ye take your place
painch, tripe, or thairm
Weel are ye worthy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

We'll see how it comes out with potatoes and bashed Swedes (turnips).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

As we find melamine in children's candy, too....

.....check it out here, it's worth noting that a technical magazine to which I subscribe carries a listing each month of products recalled for known safety hazards. Want to guess where about 80% of them are manufactured?

I don't like to say this, but if you value your health, you'll do well to avoid buying products made there, especially if they're not imported under the supervision of a reputable company. People who don't care about the other effects of shoddy goods do indeed care about damage inflicted on their pocketbooks by those of us who refuse to buy.

The volatility of fractional reserve banking

Cold Fusion Guy links a very interesting piece from the New York Times about how things started to fall apart for major financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns in the past couple of months. Flight to quality can take a terrible toll, and very quickly.

The Mises Institute shares a bit from Murray Rothbard about why this is, and why we have business cycles. More or less, it boils down to the very nature of fractional reserve banking; the very nature of "leverage" via debt is to accelerate the ordinary ups and downs of life. For example, if you've got a mortgage for 95% of the house's value, you're going to be very concerned when the housing market drops 5%--or ecstatic when it rises 5%. Not so the man who owns his house outright, right?

And if you wonder why Democrats in Congress prevented meaningful reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the past decade, take a look at the American Spectator. Apparently, Barney Frank and others have been on any number of "events" paid for by the bankrupt companies, and it may even turn out that a fair number of them were not just metaphorically "in bed" with their executives.

What to do when Congress appears poised for a bailout? Remember that in reality, it may be a tradeoff between paying that money in a bailout bill, and paying out that money for a massive FDIC payout. We're probably on the hook for this either way, and what can be done, realistically speaking, is to take steps to reduce one's exposure to the volatility imposed by fractional reserve banking. In other words, listen to people like Dave Ramsey and take steps to reduce your debt.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Here's a CRA primer

Thanks to the Northern Muckraker, here's a little primer on why the Community Reinvestment Act didn't start to do any real damage until the Clinton administration. Keep this in mind when liberals try to tell you that the CRA bears no blame for the current financial mess we're in.

Not what we need right now.....

While driving to work today (legs will only take so much!), I heard a commercial for Norm Coleman pointing out that he knows what it's like to take out a second mortgage to pay for his kids' school.

Say what? A lawyer with 32 years experience, age 59, has not only a first, but also a second, mortgage? OK, he was having kids around 1980, so it might have been a few years back that he was doing this, but he still would have been above 50 at the time.

Maybe I'm a "throwback" here, but I've got this weird idea that after 25 years of a lawyer's income, a man ought to have paid off his mortgage, and have enough savings to pay for his kids' educations without applying for a loan. Coleman's apparent failure to do so doesn't tell me that he's like the common Joe, but rather that he also isn't terribly good with money.

Of course, it's nowhere near as bad as taking part in the pillaging of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, as his opponent has done, but it's still not something that will cause me to relax as I hold my nose to vote for him this November.