30 December 2008 · Comments Off on I Knew There Was a Blog Post in There Somewhere · Categories: Political Economy

This came through in my Quotes of the Day email a few days ago (emphasis added):

On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament!], ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
– Charles Babbage, 1792 – 1871

I figured I could do something with it, but what it was was not readily apparent.

So I decided to let it sit on the back burner of my brainpan for a while.

Then my friend Nancy nailed it. Put in the wrong numbers, and you get the bailout:

Re the quote: “. . .if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?”

That sounds like the Sec’y of the Treasury & Congress wrestling with the housing crisis!! {How in hell did it happen & whom shall we give the bailout $s to??}

30 December 2008 · Comments Off on Charity Begins at Home Finance · Categories: Political Theatre

30 December 2008 · Comments Off on I Hadn’t Read This Column Yet · Categories: First Looks

Fortunately, Steve saved me the trouble.

30 December 2008 · Comments Off on Nowhere To Go, Nothing To Do · Categories: Political Economy

The Bushie Legacy:

But a review of some of the publicly held builders’ annual reports reveals another human cost – job loss in the industry.

Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., of Red Bank, N.J., filed its Form 10-K on Christmas Eve, disclosing employment of 2,816 people as of Oct. 31. That was down from 4,318 a year earlier, or a loss of more than 1,500 jobs.

Beazer Homes USA Inc., of Atlanta, had 1,444 employees as of Sept. 30, 2008. It cut 1,175 jobs since Sept. 30, 2007, or 45 percent of its workforce.

Regionally, Orleans Homebuilders Inc. reduced its headcount by more than 20 percent during its fiscal year ended June 30, to 544 people. The Bensalem company said between June 30, 2006, and Aug. 31, 2008, it slashed its workforce by more than 50 percent.

Toll Bros. Inc. , the nationwide luxury home builder, eliminated 1,169 jobs over its fiscal year ended Oct. 31. Its workforce of 3,160 is now smaller than it was during its fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2003. Employment peaked at 6,147 as of July 31, 2006.

Free hand of the market my anatomy.

Free hand of greed, fraud, and duplicity.

We’ve all been enronned.

30 December 2008 · Comments Off on “The Kinetic Fallacy” · Categories: First Looks

Tim F. explains it here.

30 December 2008 · Comments Off on Going Where No Car Should Go · Categories: It Is To Laugh

29 December 2008 · Comments Off on Swift Responses · Categories: First Looks

Jon Swift has posted his Best Blog Posts of 2008 (Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves).

Read it.



He may well be the best writer on the innertubes. His thumbnails of the entries are a hoot.

(Plus I’m right near the top because I happened to be sitting here when his email requesting a submission came in.)

29 December 2008 · Comments Off on Folk Songs · Categories: Political Theatre

Listen here.

29 December 2008 · Comments Off on Drinking Liberally · Categories: First Looks

Tuesday, Triumph Brewing Company, Chestnut between Letitia and Second, Philadelphia, 6 p.

If all goes well, I’ll be somewhere else.

Hoist one for me.

29 December 2008 · Comments Off on When He Says “We” . . . · Categories: Political Economy

Robert Samuelson:

It’s the end of an era. We know that 2008, much like 1932 or 1980, marks a dividing line for the American economy and society. But what lies on the other side is hazy at best. The great lesson of the past year is how little we understand and can control the economy. This ignorance has bred today’s insecurity, which in turn is now a governing reality of the crisis.

. . . he means only those persons who think like him. Ya know, the ones who persist in error, despite reality and human nature.

He doesn’t include all those other folks, such as–just to pick a name out a hat–Paul Krugman (you may have heard of him–Nobel Prize and all that)–who have been predicting the failure of Reago-Bushonomics for years.

29 December 2008 · Comments Off on Who’s on the Brink? · Categories: Political Economy

Robert Reich shares his analysis. Follow the link for his rationale:

1. The poor and near poor, with family incomes typically under $20,000 a year. . . .

2. Middle and lower-middle class households whose breadwinners are within five years of being eligible for Social Security. . . .

3. Middle and lower-middle class retirees. . . .

29 December 2008 · Comments Off on Bushonomics: Life in the Fast Lane · Categories: Political Economy

No, not that fast lane. This fast lane:

Back in October 2000, just before he was elected president, George Bush described his base as “the haves and the have mores.” The remark was made in jest at the annual Al Smith Black Tie dinner, but the joke turned out to be on all those people who used to have just about enough, and who now, eight years later, have next to nothing.

According to government data, as of September, 31.5 million Americans were using the food stamp programme, up 17% from the previous year. That’s 10% of the US population. These are staggering figures.

They bring to mind another staggering figure I recently came across that I have been unable to remove from my subconscious. It is $163,987,000 – the salary that Henry Paulson, now secretary of the US Treasury, took home in 2006 for his services as CEO of Goldman Sachs.

More here.

29 December 2008 · Comments Off on Birthday Rodent · Categories: Geek Stuff

The computer mouse turns 40.


I sure hope 40 cheese straws constitutes a balanced supper.

(Aside: The recipe is wussified. If you want to try it, remember to quadruple the cayenne and add some Frank’s Red Hot, then sprinkle the straws with cayenne before they go in the oven. Oh, yeah, and use a metal cookie press with the squiggly mold. A plastic cookie press won’t take the strain.)

28 December 2008 · Comments Off on Linux dot com Reviews the New Slackware · Categories: Geek Stuff

Slackware runs this site.

The review is here.

They’re not dummies. They like it.

28 December 2008 · Comments Off on Great Moments in Indecision · Categories: It Is To Laugh

Cheryl Logue, of the 100 block of Landing Drive, jumped into a Comfort Ride Taxi around 10:45 p.m. and told the driver she didn’t know where she wanted to go, said Cpl. Gary Fournier, a Delaware State Police spokesman.

When the 35-year-old cab driver continued to ask for an address, Logue began punching his right arm, Fournier said.

The cabbie then ad libbed a destination: the local pokey, where our heroine chose verbally to assault the gendarmarie.

Aside: You know it was a slow news day when the first story on the front page of the Wilmington local rag is a high school basketball game.

27 December 2008 · Comments Off on We Must Have Fog on the River · Categories: Personal Musings

I hear the groaner down by Fox Point.


Unintended irony strikes deep. Into your soul it will creep.

“We hope to do to this industry what Wal-Mart did to theirs, Starbucks did to theirs, Costco did to theirs and Lowe’s-Home Depot did to their industry. And I think if we’ve done our job, five years from now you’re not going to call us a bank.”

— Kerry K. Killinger, chief executive of Washington Mutual, 2003

He was right, though not in the way he intended.

Starbucks sells something. They sell really bad coffee, but it’s still something.

Costco sells something. If you have a chest freezer, it’s a great place to shop.

Walmart sells something. Inferior products from cheap labor, but still, it’s things.

Lowes and Home Depot sell real things that weigh lots of pounds.

WaMu sold (note the past tense) boxes of air.

And now they are gone with the wind.

They are truly not a bank.

At least, not any more.

Via Duncan.

27 December 2008 · Comments Off on Bushonomics: No Room at the Aid Station Dept. · Categories: Political Economy

Back when I worked for the railroad and had an office in 30th Street Station, I would wander the waiting room floor during breaks, enjoying the floor show that the public always provides.

Occasionally, I would be approached by a panhandler whose strategy was to say, “I’m trying to raise money for a ticket to Lancaster.” (Why Lancaster, I never figured out. None of them looked like anyone I’d ever seen in Lancaster, and I’ve spent a lot of time there. Besides, Lancaster is not well known for MD 20/20.)

I used to suggest that they check with Travelers’ Aid. Not actually being interested in getting home to Lancaster, they usually slowly moved away.

Well, no more.

27 December 2008 · Comments Off on “Pardon?” (Updated) · Categories: Political Theatre

Josh Marshall looks deeper into the Toussie almost-a-pardon. He has his doubts:

Needless to say, I’m not an attorney or a constitutional expert. But I’ve seen few if any press write-ups with quotes from people with relevant expertise who say the president is actually able to do this. And my discussions with people with relevant expertise give me the strong impression that the president’s action is highly dubious in constitutional terms, even if no Court case has specifically addressed this combination of facts.

Using “Bush” and “highly dubious in constitutional terms” in the same sentence. NOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo!

Addendum, the Next E-ve-ning:

Josh has more strengthening the case that Toussie may be able to hang on to his pardon.

Typical Bushie incompetence. No. Strike that.

A new high in incompetence, even for the Bushies.

And they’ve set a high bar in that field of endeavor.

H/T Karen for the link.