Onion's Obama-Ahmadinejad 'poll' cited as fact in Iran

Onion's Obama-Ahmadinejad 'poll' cited as fact in Iran

An Iranian news agency picked up — as fact — a story from the paper about a supposed Gallup survey showing an overwhelming majority of rural white Americans would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama. But it was made up, like everything in the just-for-laughs newspaper, which is headquartered in Chicago. The English-language service of Iran's semi-official Fars news agency republished the story Friday, several days after it appeared in The Onion. The Iranian version copied the original word-for-word, even including a made-up quote from a fictional West Virginia resident who says he'd rather go to a baseball game with Ahmadinejad because "he takes national defense seriously, and he'd never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does."
Comment: Onion article: Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad To Obama

Update: FARS image from Irish times


Ode to defeat

16-foot version of Zidane headbutt statue erected outside Paris museum as an ‘ode to defeat’

Comments: Interesting ... French. Link has associated video that explains. When I saw the title - Ode to defeat ... I thought it might be about the Vikings 4 Superbowl losses!

Bizarro World

Thank you note from Barack Obama (his campaign!)


Fun with spam

Hello my darling! I want to search a man who will always protect, who is strong minded, reliable, and love to spend passionate nights with his beloved girl! My name is Martha. My teacher of Literature was always telling me, that I am very contradictory. My detailed questionnaire: XXXXXXXXX I like to spend my time by nature. I also like to cook,socialize, travel, playing guitar, playing beach voleyball)) I am ready to give my special man all the warmth of my heart and soul.
Comment: Yeah Sure! Based on the distribution list ... she loves a lot of men!


Save us from Madonna!

Follow up from earlier

Smart Phone Budget Monster

Cellphones Are Eating the Family Budget

More than half of all U.S. cellphone owners carry a device like the iPhone, a shift that has unsettled household budgets across the country. Government data show people have spent more on phone bills over the past four years, even as they have dialed back on dining out, clothes and entertainment—cutbacks that have been keenly felt in the restaurant, apparel and film industries. The tug of war is only going to get more intense. Wireless carriers are betting they can pull bills even higher by offering faster speeds on expensive new networks and new usage-based data plans. The effort will test the limits of consumer spending as the draw of new technology competes with cellphone owners' more rudimentary needs and desires.
Comment: I want one. I priced an IPhone 5 this week. It's not the entry cost of the device that bothers me but the $ 100 per month (give or take) monthly fees.

Iran hacks Bank sites?

Websites at Wells Fargo Latest Hit by Attack


Cyberattackers disrupted websites operated by Wells Fargo WFC & Co. Tuesday, continuing a string of attacks that started last week at J.P. Morgan Chase JPM & Co. and Bank of America Corp. BAC ... Sitedown.com received 330 complaints about the Bank of America outage and nearly 1,000 complaints about J.P. Morgan's problems over the past week. Jeff Herdell, who runs sitedown.com, said the Wells Fargo complaints were significant because the company rarely experiences problems with its websites. A Wells Fargo spokeswoman confirmed that some customers were having problems logging in on Tuesday but said the San Francisco-based company was working to resolve the issue. She added that the outage was a systems problem and that no customer-account information was compromised. The scope of the disruption has raised eyebrows. "The amount of bandwidth that is flooding the websites is very large, much larger than in other attacks, and in a sense unprecedented," said Dmitri Alperovitch, chief executive of CrowdStrike, a private security firm investigating the attacks.

Lieberman: Blame Iran for Cyber Attacks on Bank of America, Chase


Iran likely orchestrated the cyber attacks that impacted the websites of Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase last week in retaliation for U.S. economic sanctions on the country, Sen. Joe Lieberman told C-SPAN. The comments from Lieberman, who is chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, stand in contrast with online claims from a group that claimed responsibility for the attacks and cited anger over a recent YouTube video mocking Islam. “I don’t believe these were just hackers,” Lieberman said on Friday evening while appearing on C-SPAN. “I believe this was done by Iran and the Qods force, which has its own developing cyber attack capacity. And I believe it was in response to the increasingly strong economic sanctions that the United States and our European allies have put on Iranian financial institutions.” According to Reuters, the hacking of websites and networks at BofA began in late 2011 and escalated this year.

Comment: screen shot from: sitedown.co

Another reason to vote for Romney

Madonna strips for Obama, offers profanity-laced endorsement

Comment: Spare us! Image is a snip from the Drudge Report

Mollycoddling before the UN

U.S. President Speaks to U.N. About YouTube Video Posted in June by Southern Californian


“In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask how much they are willing to tolerate freedom for others,” Obama told the United Nations. “That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world,” he said. “I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well--for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion--we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them. “I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video,” said Obama. “The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. “Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense,” said the president.
Comment: The Prez had some good things to say like: "There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy.". But he is still blaming the film!  Dictionary for Mollycoddle

More: Who said: The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.


The Risk Parity portfolio

Risk Parity Investing: A New Allocation Model Is Here
"At its core, risk parity does two things; it targets a specific level of risk, then it divides that risk equally across four component parts of the portfolio to achieve true diversification," Partridge says in the attached video. Compared to a plain vanilla stocks and bonds portfolio where he says a 60% allocation of stocks drives about 95% of the returns and volatility, a risk parity investor's holdings will look totally different.

... Investors can purchase mutual funds that offer this strategy, including one from partridges own firm Salient (SRPFX) as well as several other reputable fund managers like AQR and Invesco (IVZ). In fact, Partridge says, individuals can capture most of the benefits of risk parity investing by simple putting 25% of their funds into four different ETFs that match its key asset classes, such as the S&P 500 SPDR (SPY), the iShares Corporate Bond ETF (LQD), a Treasury ETF (TLT) and a Commodity ETF (DCB). By doing so, he says investors of all ages and levels on the risk scale can be in a ''perfectly diversified portfolio that's optimal" for all investors. ..
Comment: One can forget buying SRPFX because per Yahoo finance the minimum purchase is $ 1,000,000. My spreadsheet shows a $ 100,000 risk parity portfolio ... could be scaled up or down (eg. $ 10,000). I have none of the equities mentioned. I did set up a Yahool portfolio to track (my hypothetical $ 100 Grand). I'll try to revisit in the future to compare to today's prices.



Iran could launch pre-emptive Israel strike-commander

Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel if it was sure the Jewish state was preparing to attack it, a senior commander of its elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, made the comments to Iran's state-run Arabic language Al-Alam television.

"Iran will not start any war but it could launch a pre-emptive attack if it was sure that the enemies are putting the final touches to attack it," Al-Alam said, paraphrasing the military commander.

Hajizadeh said any attack on Iranian soil could trigger "World War Three".

"We can not imagine the Zionist regime starting a war without America's support. Therefore, in case of a war, we will get into a war with both of them and we will certainly get into a conflict with American bases," he said.

"In that case, unpredictable and unmanageable things would happen and it could turn into a World War Three."
Comment: Heating up


Egypt Salafi urges U.N. to criminalize contempt of Islam

Egypt Salafi urges U.N. to criminalize contempt of Islam

Egypt's president and other Muslim leaders should demand the U.N. criminalize contempt of religion after the release of an anti-Islamic film and cartoons which demonstrate growing racism, said the leader of the biggest ultra-orthodox Islamist party.
Comment: A serious threat to free speech

On the middle name "Wayne"

Death row inmate’s last words: “God bless the Texas Rangers”

Robert Wayne Harris killed five people in cold blood and wounded another while robbing a car wash twelve years ago. And yesterday the State of Texas put him to death for his crimes. As he went to meet his maker, he had baseball on his mind:
“I’m going home. I’m going home,” Harris said. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be alright. God bless, and the Texas Rangers, Texas Rangers.”
Comment: News of the Weird: The Classic Middle Name


I have no idea whether the number of middle-named Wayne murderers is statistically significant. I suspect that aggressive-personality fathers during the 1950s and 1960s did in fact hopefully and disproportionately name their boys after that era's icon of ruggedness, John Wayne. Beyond that, I dare not venture. Herewith is the list: ...

Margin Loans and Mr Market

Borrowing Against Yourself

With dirt-cheap interest rates, this might seem like an ideal time to borrow from your investment portfolio. It might also be a dangerous time.

.. "Margin loans" allow you to borrow against the value of your brokerage account to buy additional securities, at rates often below those you could get on other debt secured by your own assets, like a home-equity loan. Rates range from roughly 6% to less than 1%. "Margin-interest rates are extraordinarily low right now, and you don't have to get past a committee" to approve your credit-worthiness, says Owen Murray, director of investments at Horizon Advisors in Houston. "If you want to do it, you just do it."

... When you use margin, you merely appear to be borrowing from yourself. Instead, you are borrowing from one of the most unstable and unreliable lenders imaginable: Mr. Market, that personification of investors everywhere, sometimes euphoric, sometimes miserable, never predictable.

... If Mr. Market trashes your investments in a sudden panic, your margin debts may be "called," forcing you to sell some of your assets to sustain the minimum account values you committed to under the terms of the loan. By definition, margin calls are most likely to come just as the prices of the holdings you borrowed against are in free-fall.
Comment: I've been tempted. But I have resisted investing on Margin Loans. If I have money to invest and the investment looks well-priced, I invest. If I don't have money to invest ... I wait. More on Mr Market here and here.


What's your ATM PIN Code?

Cracking Your PIN Code: Easy as 1-2-3-4

What he found, he says, was a "staggering lack of imagination" when it comes to selecting passwords. Nearly 11% of the 3.4 million four-digit passwords he analyzed are 1234. The second most popular PIN in is 1111 (6% of passwords), followed by 0000 (2%).

... Berry says that a whopping 26.83% of all passwords could be guessed by attempting just 20 combinations of four-digit numbers (see first table). "It's amazing how predictable people are," he says.

... Many of the commonly used passwords are, of course, dates: birthdays, anniversaries, the year you were born, etc. Indeed, using a year, starting with 19__ helps people remember their code, but it also increases its predictability, Berry says. His analysis shows that every single 19__ combination be found in the top 20% of the dataset. "People use years, date of birth — it's a monumentally stupid thing to do because if you lose your wallet, your driver's license is in there. If someone finds it, they've got the date of birth on there. At least use a parent's date of birth [as a password]," says Berry.

... Somewhat intriguing was #22 on the most common password list: 2580. It seems random, but if you look at a telephone keypad (or ATM keypad) you'll see those numbers are straight down the middle — yet another sign we're uncreative and lazy password makers.

... The least-used PIN is 8068, Berry found, with just 25 occurrences in the 3.4 million set, which equates to 0.000744%.
Comment: Truth be told ... I've never changed my ATM pin. Once I had a Sr moment and forgot it.

George's PIN Code

Fauxohontas Warren

Massachusetts Senate debate begins with discussion of Warren’s Cherokee heritage


The first official debate between Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren began Thursday with a discussion about Warren's Native American heritage.

Brown devoted his opening remarks to accuse Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who says she is part Cherokee Indian, of using her background to give her an advantage when competing for jobs throughout her career.

"The professor said she is a Native American, a person of color, and you can see she's not," Brown said in the first moments of the debate, echoing an attack line that has dogged Warren throughout much of the race this year.
Comment: My lovely wife is actually 1/64 American Indian (we have the records to prove it). She's never claimed "affirmative action"! By the way ... time to end all Affirmative Action programs!


Dividend targets

10 Undervalued Dividend-Paying Stocks With Momentum
  1. Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX)
  2. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)
  3. Northrup Grumman (NYSE:NOC)
  4. General Dynamics (NYSE:GD)
  5. Raytheon Co. (NYSE:RTN)
  6. PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL)
  7. Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT)
  8. ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)
  9. Eaton Corp. (NYSE:ETN)
  10. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)
Comment: My # 2 son works for # 1 on this list.

Seven signs that tell you that now's definitely not the right time to retire

7 Signs That Now's Not the Right Time to Retire


  1. You're eligible for Social Security
  2. You plan to work part time
  3. Your spouse doesn't want you to retire
  4. You don't have a place to go
  5. You're counting on the stock market
  6. You haven't planned for health care costs
  7. You have financial obligations
Comment: Operative phrase (from article): "simply retiring because you hit a specific number can be a costly mistake.".

I'm 63 + 1 month. A coworker sent me a birthday card this week thinking my birthday is September 19th. It's actually August 19th.

I'm both eligible for social security and a pension (at my company newer employees do not have a pension but I met the breakpoints based on my age!). I'm not retiring for these reasons:

  • I'm reasonably healthy and don't need to retire.
  • We are basically (my wife and I) financially where we started off ... DINKS (Dual Income No Kids). We have kids but they are adults. Two are married. All are working. Two have homes. One has two homes (renting one and living in another). Being "DINKY" is a great time to save.
  • The house is paid off (that was a day of rejoicing ... 3 years ago!!). Because I am interested in investing you can probably guess what we are doing with the monies formerly going towards a mortgage. This is our time where savings and investing is on steroids. 
  • Every year I delay taking my pension, my monthly pension goes up. 
  • And every year I delay taking Social Security the same. Indeed (from the article): "By delaying the start of Social Security, there is an 8 percent gain each year. Social Security, unlike many pensions and annuities, is inflation-adjusted and offers unmatched spousal benefits."
  • My wife is not ready to retire. And I want to retire when she does
  • I haven't figured out what I want to do in retirement.
  • And we haven't figured out where we want to live in retirement

Beware Feeble And Fading Aristocrats

Dividends: Beware Feeble And Fading Aristocrats

Using dividends as the primary stock-picking criterion is a good way to lose money. The value of a company is determined not by its payout policy, but by its fundamentals -- its ability to earn returns above its cost of capital and to generate free cash flow. Dividends are not necessarily a good indicator of these fundamentals. Many companies with poor fundamentals can afford to pay high dividends, at least for a while. Indeed, some firms, including quite a few utilities, are effectively financing their dividends not with internally generated funds, but rather by issuing new shares. High yields can be particularly deceptive, because they are lagging indicators. When the fundamentals of a company are deteriorating (think GE (GE) in 2008), corporate boards of directors are the last to know; as the stock price slides the dividend yield will rise, enticing investors until the board wakes up and belatedly slashes the dividend (think GE in 2009). One good example of the risk that comes from putting the dividend cart before the fundamentals horse is Standard & Poor's "Dividend Aristocrats" -- 51 stocks in the S&P 500 that have raised their dividend every year for at least the last 25 years.

... Bottom line: It is a mistake to simply invest in the Dividend Aristocrats Index (or an approximation thereof), because you will own too many weak, slow-growing companies while systematically avoiding attractive sectors such as technology and banks. It makes more sense to use the Aristocrats as a "shopping list," favoring those stocks that have fairly strong dividend and earnings growth, positive stock price momentum, dividend payout ratios below 60%, and rising consensus EPS estimates. To these should be added quite a few non-Aristocrats with strong fundamentals, decent yields of 2-4%, and rising dividends
Comment: A good place to "shop". The stated dividend amount and P/E ratio are backward looking and no guarantee of the future.

White House priorities ... "Arrr!"

Obama celebrates 'Talk Like a Pirate Day,' forgets Constitution Day

Comment: Time for "Talk Like a Pirate Day", Refuses to meet Netanyahu. Also time for Letterman ... Jay-Z and Beyonce’s fundraiser.


"A great religion surely cannot be goaded into frenetic mob violence on the slimmest provocation"

Muslims, Mormons and Liberals - Why is it OK to mock one religion but not another?


The "Book of Mormon"—a performance of which Hillary Clinton attended last year, without registering a complaint—comes to mind as the administration falls over itself denouncing "Innocence of Muslims." This is a film that may or may not exist; whose makers are likely not who they say they are; whose actors claim to have known neither the plot nor purpose of the film; and which has never been seen by any member of the public except as a video clip on the Internet.

No matter. The film, the administration says, is "hateful and offensive" (Susan Rice), "reprehensible and disgusting" (Jay Carney) and, in a twist, "disgusting and reprehensible" (Hillary Clinton). Mr. Carney, the White House spokesman, also lays sole blame on the film for inciting the riots that have swept the Muslim world and claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff in Libya.

So let's get this straight: In the consensus view of modern American liberalism, it is hilarious to mock Mormons and Mormonism but outrageous to mock Muslims and Islam. Why? Maybe it's because nobody has ever been harmed, much less killed, making fun of Mormons.

Comment: May be behind the WSJ paywall.


A book about a classmate

In a Child's Name: The Legacy of a Mother's Murder 

I graduated from Oak Hills High School in 1967. This book is about one of my classmates. My sister reminded me about this when when she was visiting two weeks ago.
Kathee fished out my old yearbook and I confirmed that Ken Taylor was indeed a classmate. He was on the football team and the VP of the Student Council. He murdered his wife on 11/11/1984 (the day my daughter was born). I picked up the book on Amazon for $ .01 with $ 3.99 shipping. The author, Peter Maas, was also the author of The Valachi Papers and Serpico.

Sums my view of the Royals!

Dear Royal Family: Please keep your clothes on


QE = "Sugar High"

Romney Calls Fed Move ‘Sugar High’


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in his most explicit criticism of the Federal Reserve’s recent moves, on Friday said the central bank was offering the economy nothing more than a “sugar high” that would cause pain for everyone from savers to the U.S. dollar down the road.

... “Recognize that as the Federal Reserve keeps on trying to stimulate the economy by printing more money that there’s a cost to that,” Mr. Romney said. “The value of your savings goes down. People who are living on fixed incomes don’t see much interest income any more. And the value of the dollar goes down and the risk for long-term inflation goes up. There’s real cost to these stimulative print-more-money policies. The real course ahead for America is to encourage the growth of our economy not just to go out there and print more money.”
Comment: Did  you ever do this when you were a kid? Pop a sugar cube in your mouth. If so you understand the analogy.

The Chinese understand the vacuousness of Barbie

Home Depot Learns Chinese Prefer 'Do-It-for-Me'

Mattel Inc. shut its China-based Barbie flagship store in March of last year after it learned that Chinese parents would rather have their children read books than take a doll for a spin in her plastic Corvette.
Comment: Good article (may be behind paywall) on subject of "knowing your market". Mentions McDonalds offering "bubble tea" (tea with tapioca balls in the bottom). Article calls it "localization strategy". In case of Home Depot, labor is so cheap in China that consumers don't want to "do it themselves"


School vouchers would break the failed Government education monopoly

Cal Thomas: Time for school choice in Chicago


The public school system is a virtual state monopoly inundated by many dictates from Washington and has been unable to consistently produce nearly enough well-rounded graduates capable of supporting themselves or contributing to the nation. Yet public school students, especially the poor and minorities, remain locked in failed schools so that Democratic politicians can seemingly reap the political benefits -- and contributions -- from teachers unions.

Politicians regularly campaign for more spending on education. In Maryland, proponents of an expansion of casino gambling are betting on the success of the familiar appeal that it will provide more money for public schools. But the state, like most of the nation, is spending record amounts on public schools. If money and educational achievement were linked, we'd have a surplus of national merit scholars.

Indiana is one of many success stories. The state has just begun its second year of a voucher program. Parents can decide where to send their kids, whether to public, private secular, religious or charter schools. As World Magazine recently reported, "About 300 private, largely Christian schools in the state are accepting voucher students -- and gaining a financial boost as they arrive." So much else is working in Indiana under Governor Mitch Daniels and a Republican legislature (with occasional help from some Democrats), it is unlikely the school voucher program will fail.
Comment: The Father of Modern School Reform - Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman introduced the idea of school vouchers


In 1955 future Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman kick-started modern education reform with an article titled "The Role of Government in Education." Bucking the "general trend in our times toward increasing intervention by the state" in virtually all economic and social activities, Friedman argued that universal vouchers for elementary and secondary schools would usher in an age of educational innovation and experimentation, not only widening the range of options for students and parents but increasing all sorts of positive outcomes.

"Government," wrote Friedman, "preferably local governmental units, would give each child, through his parents, a specified sum to be used solely in paying for his general education; the parents would be free to spend this sum at a school of their own choice, provided it met certain minimum standards laid down by the appropriate governmental unit. Such schools would be conducted under a variety of auspices: by private enterprises operated for profit, nonprofit institutions established by private endowment, religious bodies, and some even by governmental units." 

Among other things, Friedman prophesied that an education system based on vouchers would minimize inefficient government spending while giving low-income Americans, who are traditionally stuck in the very worst public schools, a better chance at receiving a good education. Vouchers "would bring a healthy increase in the variety of educational institutions available and in competition among them. Private initiative and enterprise would quicken the pace of progress in this area as it has in so many others. Government would serve its proper function of improving the operation of the invisible hand without substituting the dead hand of bureaucracy."
Comment: Image source: Kentucky sits on the sidelines as Louisiana passes school vouchers. Republicans should make this a campaign issue. We deserve to have our school dollars working for our children instead of for the teachers' unions.

An "Angry Market" for Commodities

Gasoline Prices More than Double Under Obama: $1.84 to $3.85

Average retail gasoline prices have more than doubled under President Obama, according to government statistics, rising from $1.84 per gallon to $3.85 per gallon.
Comment: Larry Shover ... friend from way back. "Food prices will go up"

Juxtaposition: the futility of groveling for peace

Then-Senator Barack Obama makes the case for an Obama Presidency on November 21, 2007 by saying he is uniquely qualified to bring stability to America's relationships in the Muslim world because he lived in an Islamic country during his youth and his half-sister is Muslim.
Comment: Consider The second 9/11 illustrates futility of groveling for peace

Go to Technical College

Comment: Source: XKCD

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

Egan-Jones downgrades U.S. rating on QE3 move

Egan-Jones Ratings Co. said Friday it downgraded its U.S. sovereign rating to AA- from AA on concerns that the Fed's new round of quantitative easing, or QE3, will hurt the U.S. economy. The ratings agency said the Fed's plan of buying $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities a month and keeping interest rates near zero does little to raise GDP, reduces the value of the dollar, and raises the price of commodities. "From 2006 to present, the US's debt to GDP rose from 66% to 104% and will probably rise to 110% a year from today under current circumstances; the annual budget deficit is 8%," Egan-Jones said in a note. "In comparison, Spain has a debt to GDP of 68.5% and an annual budget deficit of 8.5%."
Comment: Your money is worth less today than yesterday. Gold however went up!

Melting my neighbor

My garage doors fast West (you know like towards the setting sun!) First install these: Cooper Garage door When the sun sets with my neighbor looking my way this would happen.

IPhone 5 madness, Apple and the Dow Jones Industrial Average

First of all I wish I had more than one measly share of Apple. But I have one! (Kathee bought it for me for my birthday). News today that Apple hits it's record high. I suspect it will go higher. There's a link between the news of Apple's record high and the IPhone 5: Apple stops taking iPhone 5 orders after less than 8 hours, suggesting feverish demand.

 Jim Peet and the IPhone: I wish I had one. But I cannot justify it to myself for several reasons: 1.) I don't need it; 2.) I have a dumb flip phone provided by the company and it meets my needs (I'm not a talkative person!); 3.) And I am Mr. Frugal right now.

 My take on the IPhone 5 is that there is no competing device close to touching it. Not RIM (Blackberry)! Not Nokia (Windows 8)! Not an Android device (but close 2nd).

 And my take on Apple is that at $ 700 it is still a reasonably priced stock. Why I don't have more Apple? Elementary: I can't afford it.

 Now the other Apple news is that someone has calculated that the Dow would be above 15,000 if Apple had been added to the Dow in 2009.

 Now the Dow news: UnitedHealth to replace Kraft in Dow 30. Here's the press release:


The index change was prompted by Kraft Foods’ plan to spin-off its North American grocery business, to be named Kraft Foods Group, Inc. on Oct. 1, 2012. Following the spin-off, Kraft Foods Inc. will be renamed Mondelez International, Inc. The Dow Jones Averages Index Committee believes that Mondelez’s reduced market capitalization and projected lower percentage of revenue generated from the U.S. makes the company less representative of the U.S. Large Cap market space.

UnitedHealth Group, headquartered in Minnetonka, MN, is a diversified health care services company that provides health care coverage and benefits services to tens of millions of individuals across the U.S., and information and technology-enabled health services.

The Index Committee believes the addition of UnitedHealth Group brings added health care diversification to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and reflects the growing importance of health care spending in the U.S. economy. The changes won’t cause any disruption in the level of the Index. The divisor used to calculate the DJIA from its components’ prices on their respective home exchanges will be changed prior to the opening on September 24. This procedure prevents any distortion in the DJIA’s reflection of the U.S. stock market.
Comment: In my own view the S&P 500 index is a more valuable indicator of the US stock market. It's not often cited but should be. Another valuable index is the Nasdaq Composite. A good way to invest in the NASDAQ is the PowerShares QQQ™. It is formerly known as "QQQ" or the "NASDAQ- 100 Index Tracking Stock®", is an exchange-traded fund based on the Nasdaq-100 Index®. QQQ is a way to buy Apple because Apple makes up 20% of the QQQ. More on the QQQ holdings here:

SPY (also known as SPDR S&P 500 ETF) is the easiest way to invest in the S & P 500.


QE: "Take printer out of box with the out tray facing the window ...."

Comment: John Clarke official site


Comment: End of Day image capture of QE3 & Stock prices. The previous post has a snap shot taken earlier today.

Sounds That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard

11 Sounds That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard

  1. Rotary Dial Telephone
  2. Manual Typewriter
  3. Coffee Percolator
  4. Flash Cube
  5. TV Channel Selector
  6. Record Changer
  7. Gas Station Driveway Bell
  8. TV Station Sign-Off
  9. Cash Register
  10. Film Projector
  11. Broken Record
Comment: Each has a YouTube video associated with the sound. Two more that I miss: My 1967 VW bug starting up and a modem connecting.

QE3 and stock prices

What is QE? Quantitative easing

Quantitative easing (QE) is an unconventional monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when conventional monetary policy has become ineffective. A central bank implements quantitative easing by buying financial assets from commercial banks and other private institutions with newly created money, in order to inject a pre-determined quantity of money into the economy. This is distinguished from the more usual policy of buying or selling government bonds to keep market interest rates at a specified target value
Comment: I'm not convinced it is good policy! Here's a view that it is bad policy: How Quantitative Easing Helps the Rich and Soaks the Rest of Us


High Tech Coke Machine

Futuristic Coke Machine Sports An Intel Core i7 Processor Excerpt:

Intel revealed a futuristic Coke machine powered by the company’s Core i7 microprocessor, according to Venture Beat. The contraption looks like something straight out of a science fiction flick, complete with a large digital display, a high-definition camera, and Wi-Fi capabilities
Intel technology drives intelligent Coke machine Excerpt:
If you’re expecting to see rows of Coke bottles, as you would in an average vending machine, think again. The fascia of this machine is dominated by a massive 46in multi-touch screen, on which the user can view what’s available and swipe around to the type of Coke they’re after.
Comment: Created by SIA Interactive. My brother used to have a working vintage Coke machine in his bedroom (he worked for a vending company in the Summers while in college). It looked about like the image below.

Libyan misadventure - What hath Obama Wrought?

Obama's New Libya - November 23, 2011
In a chilling possible foretaste of what awaits Libya, the flag used by Al Qaeda has been flown by the leaders of the revolution there backed by Obama. On November 2, 2011, an article was published in the Daily Mail with the title "Flying Proudly Over the Birthplace of Libya's Revolution, the Flag of Al Qaeda". The pictures accompanying the article show on the roof of a building two flags, one a black flag emblazoned with the moon and Arabic script reading "There is no God but Allah". This black flag, the acknowledged banner of members of Al Qaeda, is pictured flying next to the Libyan national flag on the top of the courthouse in Benghazi. The Libyan National Transitional Council denies that they are responsible for the presence of the Al Qaeda flag, and the length of time it appears is in question, but the photographs clearly show that above the building where the forces in rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi centered their first media and governing activities flies the flag of Al Qaeda. While not widely reported in the press, this event highlights the unpredictable nature of the new government of Libya and the risk taken by President Obama when he actively supported the rebel forces in their attacks on the government of Gaddafi.
Officials say embassy attack in Libya was coordinated Excerpts:
Sources have said they believe it was a planned operation and have pointed out several developments that seem to support the possibility. The incident does not appear to be a random mob scene, but rather an opportunity that militants seized, sources say. The attackers used a rocket-propelled grenade, a weapon not traditionally carried by protesters, but commonly used by terrorists. The attack is believed to have come in two waves. The first wave got inside of the compound, and a second wave penetrated a secure room inside the building. This fact raises questions about how the attackers knew the location of the rooms inside, sources say. On Sept. 11, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri put out a video eulogizing Abu Yahya al-Libi, an Islamist terrorist and high-ranking al-Qaida member, who was killed in a drone attack in June. Sources have said they believe the Libyan incident might have been revenge for the death of al-Libi.
Comments:  Images from: Screen grab from Drudge, Daily Mail article, and screen grab from WTOP. Obama does not understand the agenda of the Islamists!


"Tears don't flow the same in space"

Astronaut Frank Culbertson Letter from September 11, 2001


I glanced at the World Map on the computer to see where over the world we were and noticed that we were coming southeast out of Canada and would be passing over New England in a few minutes. I zipped around the station until I found a window that would give me a view of NYC and grabbed the nearest camera. It happened to be a video camera, and I was looking south from the window of Michael's cabin. The smoke seemed to have an odd bloom to it at the base of the column that was streaming south of the city. After reading one of the news articles we just received, I believe we were looking at NY around the time of, or shortly after, the collapse of the second tower. How horrible…
Comment: The above is the text of a letter from Expedition Three Commander Frank L. Culbertson (Captain, USN Retired), reflecting on the events of September 11. He was the only American not on Earth when the September 11 attacks occurred. MSNBC article . Space.com photos of 911 from space.


21st Century Soup Lines - a modern-day depression

Those Jobless Numbers Are Even Worse Than They Look - Still above 8%—and closer to 19% in a truer accounting

  • Don't be fooled by the headline unemployment number of 8.1% announced on Friday. The reason the number dropped to 8.1% from 8.3% in July was not because more jobs were created, but because more people quit looking for work
  • 40.7% of the people counted as unemployed have been out of work for 27 weeks or more—that's 5.2 million "long-term" unemployed.
  • Fewer Americans are at work today than in April 2000, even though the population since then has grown by 31 million. We are still almost five million payrolls shy of where we were at the end of 2007, when the recession began
  • Involuntary part-time workers ... are working part-time only because they've been unable to find full-time work. This involuntary army of what's called "underutilized labor" has been hovering for months at about 15% of the workforce. Include the eight million who have simply given up looking, and the real unemployment rate is closer to 19%.
  • Adjusting for inflation, wages are contracting.
  • Older Americans can't afford to quit. Ironically, since the recession began, employment in the age group of 55 and older is up 3.9 million, even as total employment is down by five million. These citizens hope to retire with dignity, but they feel the need to bolster savings as a salve for the stomach-churning decline in their net worth
  • the jobs that are available are mostly not good ones. More than 40% of the new private-sector jobs are in low-paying categories such as health care, leisure activities, bars and restaurants
  • food stamps: More than 45 million Americans are in the program! An almost incredible record. It's 15% of the population compared with the 7.9% participation from 1970-2000. Food-stamp enrollment has been rising at a rate of 400,000 per month over the past four years
  • Social Security disability—another record. More than 11 million Americans are collecting federal disability checks. Half of these beneficiaries have signed on since President Obama took office more than three years ago
Comment: Behind the WSJ paywall. Speaks of the absolute failure of the Obama administration!


Why does the Public pay for political conventions?

Parties Weigh Convention Revamp

Driving the debate is a bipartisan push in Congress to cut significant public subsidies to the events. Eliminating the $36 million taxpayers chipped in to help stage this summer's two conventions would put all the more weight on already-hesitant donors.

... The Republicans' Tampa gathering cost taxpayers and private donors about $120 million. The Justice Department contributed $50 million for ramped-up security. Donors chipped in around $55 million, though raising that sum proved challenging, according to several participants.
Comment: Image source: www.britannica.com

Dropping out

Why Did the Unemployment Rate Drop?

The decline in the unemployment rate wasn’t because more people had jobs. In fact, the number of people employed as measured by the household survey declined by 119,000. The fall came from fewer people looking for work in August and dropping out of the labor force. The number of jobs added to the economy and the unemployment rate come from separate reports.

The number of jobs added — the 96,000 figure — comes from a survey of business, while the unemployment rate comes from a survey of U.S. households. The two reports often move in tandem, but can move in opposite directions from month to month. In August, the household survey might have recorded a drop in the jobless rate, but below the headline number were more worrying signs.

The unemployment rate is calculated based on the number of unemployed — people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The “actively looking for work” definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things. That number declined by 250,000 in August, but it was overwhelmed by a 368,000 drop in the size of the labor force. That suggests that many of those 250,000 stopped looking for work not because they found a job, but because they dropped out of the labor force. The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the total number of people in the labor force.
Comment: Article may be behind the WSJ paywall. Results are dismal!

The phantom peace dividend

Obama and the phantom peace dividend

President Barack Obama laid claim to a peace dividend that doesn't exist when he told the nation he wants to use money saved by ending wars to build highways, schools and bridges. The wars were largely financed by borrowing, so there is no ready pile of cash to be diverted to anything else.
Comment: A wife returning from shopping:

Husband: How much money did you spend?

Wife: I saved $ 200 on this purse.

Husband: How much was the purse?

Wife: Only $ 300

Husband: Honey that wasn't in our budget this month

Wife: It's ok. Remember last month I saved $ 200 on my new dress. (it happened to cost $ 300)

Husband: But that wasn't in our budget

Wife: Well, I'm not going to buy a $ 300 dress this month

The Myth of "Saving the ENTIRE Auto Industry"

 George Will: Liberalism, as we know it


Obama’s supposed rescue of “the auto industry” — note the definite article, “the” — is a pedal on the political organ he pumps energetically in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere.

Concerning which: He intervened to succor one of two of the U.S. auto industries. One, located in the South and elsewhere, does not have a long history of subservience to the United Auto Workers and for that reason has not needed Obama’s ministrations. He showered public money on two of three parts of the mostly Northern auto industry, the one long entangled with the UAW. He socialized the losses of GM and Chrysler. Ford was not a mendicant because it was not mismanaged.
Comment: Just to set the record straight

Why are Obama's College Records Sealed?

  Obama Classmate Reveals Why College Records Sealed


Root, a successful millionaire and entrepreneur, suggests through circumstantial evidence that Obama’s college records are sealed because he attended as a foreign student under his adopted name of Soetero. ... If Root is correct, the reason Obama has spent millions to seal his college records is that they prove that he was an Indonesian citizen when he attended college here in the United States. If true, that would be sufficient grounds to end his presidency and aspirations of becoming dictator of America. I believe Root has a very good case and I wish Romney and Ryan would make this a major campaign issue and demand to see Obama’s records. Root even urges Romney to challenge Obama to a show me yours and I’ll show you mine debate.
Comment: I'm not sure how plausible this is but WHY are his college records sealed? My college records aren't sealed!


King Coal is dead! - Coal is the fuel of the 18th century?

The King is Dead: Coal Stocks Have No Place in Your Portfolio

Coal essentially has two purposes: Thermal coal is burned to create electricity and coking coal is used to make steel.

The former is the big one. About 87% of the world’s total hard coal production is used for power.

Yet that’s where coal faces its stiffest competition.

Coal’s dirty and inefficient. So it’s being supplanted by other sources of energy – especially natural gas.

Natural gas has always been cleaner than coal, as it releases half the carbon dioxide emissions when it’s burned. But now it’s cheaper, too. For that reason, power companies that once relied on coal are making the switch to natural gas
Comment: Three stocks mentioned (I don't have any of them):
  • Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU)
  • Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR)
  • BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP)
When I was a kid, we had a coal-fired furance and a coal bin. The coal bin was a room about 12' x 12'. Later our furnace was converted to natural gas. The coal bin was always a dark coal-dusty place. The furance looked something like the image above. Source.

The GM Futurliner

For sale: The GM Futurliner

Years ago GM had something called the Parade of Progress. It's final year was 1956 - not progress (thankfully) but the Parade of Progress. Only 12 were built.

I've seen a Futurliner twice:
  • Once in my childhood (I presume in Fort Wayne Indiana but it could have been somewhere in Michigan as we vacationed there every Summer). It might have been 1955 or 56. I would have been 6 (in 1955) or 7. Seeing it left an indelible impression on my young mind! The thing weighs 30 tons and is 12' tall.
  • Here's a list of Parade of Progress stops from the '50s. Possible places I might have seen it:
    1. Saginaw, MI, Aug 4, 1953 (close to my grandparents' house in Freeland MI)
    2. Flint, MI, Aug 12, 1953 (close to my grandparents' house in Freeland MI)
    3. Bedford, IN, May 26, 1955 (we used to camp at Spring Mill State park near there)
    4. I think it was either 1 or 2 because I remember my grandfather being there with us
  • The second time was outside a museum in Connecticut (our trip East 3 or 4 years ago)
Well now you can buy one! Link above. For a mere $795,000. Click through the photos. More on the FuturLiner:
Have any of my readers: ever heard of the Futurliner? Seen it?