"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Back in September, our very own Sgt. Mom, aka Celia Hayes, was shamelessly plugging her new book, Lone Star Sons. I bought a book and was pleasantly surprised to find what appears to be a personalized inscription on the inside:
Low Dow –
Our Mom in Madison!
Wide op predator –
Undeterred by what appeared to be a cipher of some sort, I forged ahead and read the book. I really liked it.
I don’t read much fiction, but if I do, it needs to be historically based, and Hayes does a great job of really bringing you into the time period of old Republic of Texas. The descriptions of the scenes were very realistic and I could almost smell the stews that the Mexican ladies were making on the square on a daily basis.
Lone Star Sons is six short stories of Texas Ranger Jim Reade and his Indian helper/comrade Toby Shaw. They travel far and wide on their assignments which vary from murder investigations to search for buried treasure.
The end section was most enjoyable for me, as Hayes explains what parts of the short stories were hers, and which were historically based.
The book reads very quickly, as once you start getting interested in the characters, the book is difficult to put down. I would highly recommended it if you need a good idea for a stocking stuffer for someone who likes these type of frontier stories.
You can order Lone Star Sons from the Amazon link above, or directly from Ms. Hayes here. You can order her other books here.
My comment in Carl’s previous post was getting a bit long and morphed into this post.
“First off, I want to thank God. I want to thank God for his abundant grace and mercy – win or lose, it is more than sufficient for each and every one of us”
The above quote is how Scott Walker began his victory speech Tuesday night, after winning here in Wisconsin for the third time in four years (Gov. in 2010, recall in 2012, and Gov. in 2014). Here is the clip if you care to watch:
When I was watching it, I was sort of sitting there, mouth agape. What a way to start your speech. While I am not the most devout of individuals, I can appreciate a politician who answers to a higher and just power. The rest of the speech is good, after all of the thank you’s. Rebecca Kleefisch, our Lt. Governor is looking good out there too.
I have been emailing and texting Lex Green back and forth over the last few months about Walker. His campaign was one of the most interesting that I can remember. He simply circled the state nonstop. He shook hands and took photos at businesses for ribbon cuttings, job announcements, and the like. He stopped at farms to talk to people. He went to diners, restaurants and broke bread old school style. There were very few massive rallies. But every single day Walker was out there rubbing shoulders with, as O’Reilly calls them, “the folks”.
In contrast, his opponent had giant rallies with Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, and President Failure himself. The rally with the President was toward the end of the campaign and I think was a desperation “Hail Mary”, so to say. Walker’s opponent was one of the few Democrats that wanted a photo op with the President toward the end of the campaign. Walker actually took time to take a photo with the President a few months ago when he was in the state. At that time, Walker’s opponent was still at arm’s length from the President – what a juxtaposition.
The polls were always wrong. They were pegging the race as a dead heat, but I called it from the start – Walker was ahead comfortably. I think he knew it from his internal numbers. He never showed any sign of desperation whatsoever. So this could be just bad polling data, or the polls could have been in cahoots with the media to sell more ads, and/or the Democrats to help pull their (bad) candidate over the line.
For the last four years, Scott Walker has been subjected to the very worst of the worst. The capital building packed with “protesters”, dumb drum circles, and all the rest. They even came out with some sort of “freedom flotilla” and were shouting at the executive residence from Lake Mendota. The politically motivated John Doe investigations failed. Act 10 stands. The whole state of Wisconsin is still run by Republicans; Governor, Assemblly, Senate, AG, and now even Treasurer. I love the Republican who won the office of Treasurer running on the platform of eliminating it since it is basically a symbolic office. I hope he actually does it.
The bond rating for Wisconsin over the last several years has gone to practically gold status, relative to other states, and on the 10 year, the spread to AAA is only around 25 basis points. Compare that spread to Illinois at 156 basis points. Wisconsin’s pensions are 99.9% funded, number one in the US tied with South Dakota (compare to Illinois at under 40%). Wisconsin is running a gigantic surplus, and through Act 10, the cities and other municipalities aren’t locked into monopolistic negotiations with the government unions. And on and on.
Through all of the attacks, Walker has come through them with the sort of class that I have rarely seen. If people were threatening my family, I would just start shooting and ask questions later, in a figurative sense. I think Walker actually just sits down and prays for them. It is readily apparent that he is driven by religion and actually cares about people and the State.
I would be sad if we lost him to the job of President, but I think he certainly has the stones for it after what he has been subjected to here. The state would be left in good hands with Rebecca Kleefisch, but time will tell to see if she could win an election. I always think of this clip of Walker during the “protests” when he was handing out awards to Special Olympians and some sort of zombie protest entered the ceremony. It is easily the most disgusting event of the whole “protest” deal.
I would have gone nuts. But he just held his own and continued. Pretty amazing.
I hope he can convince you to vote for him if he decides to run. You won’t be disappointed. Then again, it is early, and I imagine there might be something in Walker’s past that might hurt him, but at this point, after all the angst we have seen in Wisconsin, I am having a hard time imagining what that may be. Time will tell, as always.
Over the past year or so I have been dinking around on the banjo. I bought a decent instrument along with a couple of books and have been watching a few youtube videos here and there. In general, along with getting some basics down, I am trying to listen to bluegrass songs to try get my ear put together. I am stuck for time – running a business, raising kids, running a tiny farm and all the rest and didn’t want any big commitment – so when I feel like playing, I play. When I don’t, I like looking at it in the corner of the room. After I get some decent basic technique put together and know basic cords, and have some extra time, probably in 2024 or so, I may start taking some lessons.
The banjo is a surprisingly fun instrument to play, and even when you miss, the mistakes aren’t really cringeworthy, like if you were playing a clarinet or trombone. Progress has been slow, but I probably have 25 or 30 years left on this mortal coil to perfect my skills – or not.
Anyways, on the way home from work, after I get the financial headlines from Bloomberg on XM, I typically flip it over to the Bluegrass channel. A few days ago I heard this remake of a (bad) familiar song. The original, from The Proclaimers:
I really have always hated that song.
This is the remake I heard, by Wayne Taylor and Apaloosa:
Obviously, this is the way this song was meant to be played.
One of the ways I like to put “disasters” into perspective is to try to understand what the markets, in general, think. This from today’s Bloomberg Municipal Market Brief:
Debt issued for Texas Health Resources is gaining even after the death of a patient from Ebola and the infection of two nurses raised questions about practices at one of its 25 hospitals. Bonds sold through an agency of Tarrant County, Texas, that mature in February 2021 traded Wednesday at an average yield of 0.55 percent, or 0.09 percentage point above benchmark munis, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the smallest yield spread in at least 20 months. Obligations due in 2036 and 2040 changed hands this week with the least extra yield since last month.
Hospital debt has gained 12 percent this year, better than any other investment-grade area of the muni market, Barclays Plc data show. Texas Health has the fourth-highest grade from Moody’s Investors Service, which said in August it could raise the nonprofit’s rank. That was enough to make David Jaderlund of Jaderlund Investments LLC a buyer Wednesday. “I’ve been following them for years and they continue to have
strong debt coverage — I’m really not worried,’’ said Jaderlund. “I’ve been a buyer of that hospital for years and will continue to be. I’m not concerned and the market doesn’t seem to be either.’’
Well, I guess, at least for this company, Ebola doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal, for now anyways.
As I was growing up in the 80’s I listened to heavy metal music of all types and had a great time doing so. I went to a lot of shows as well and that is part of the reason that my hearing is fading at an early age, I assume. No regrets. Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing on the theme of recipes from my grandmother’s recipe box, today we have Lori’s Amish Peanut Butter Cookies.
I honestly have no idea why these are “Amish” – I guess Lori got the recipe from an Amish woman somewhere along the way.
First off, the ingredients:
1.5 cups shortening
4 tsp vanilla
2 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 cups sugar
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups brown sugar
3 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, well beaten
There were no instructions on this card, so I just began mixing stuff together. I finally used my grandmother’s old standing mixer, pictured below.
I am guessing it is from the 60’s but don’t really know. It is a heavy beast – that much I do know.
As you can see from the ingredient list above, this recipe is GIANT. It barely all fit in the mixing bowl, and I needed to use my hands at times to prevent all of the batter from overflowing, but it all worked out in the end.
The card then said make loose balls with a tablespoon and flatten them with a sugared cup. Bake @350 for 8-10 minutes. I made mine a little larger and ended up with about 85 cookies. Here are most of them.
I have mentioned before that my grandmother died a few years ago and one of the best things I received when we were cleaning out her house was a giant box of recipes. In the box are some recipes from her friends as well. Yesterday I tried Maxine’s Fresh Orange Squares and they came out pretty well.
I bought a giant bag of oranges from Costco last week and frankly, they are pretty bad. I hate wasting, so went to the recipe box to look up a recipe to try to use a few of them.
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
2/3 cup finely chopped peeled orange (about 1 large)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
*Orange glaze: Mix 2 tbsp. grated orange peel, 1/3 cup sifted confectioners sugar and 2 tsp water until smooth
Heat oven to 350. In small mixing bowl, beat sugar and egg on high for 3 minutes. Stir in flour, orange and nuts. Spread in greased 9x9x2 pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. While warm spread with glaze. Cool, cut into 1.5″ squares.
The squares were pretty dense. I substituted almonds for the walnuts because that is what I had laying around and it worked fine. The orange glaze is delicious on top. I imagine this would be even better with good oranges.
Today is a good day in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that Act 10, the legislation passed three years ago that severely limited the ability of government workers unions to collectively bargain, is constitutional. The margin was 5-2. This is pretty much the end of the road for the court challenges, as the Seventh Circuit already ruled it constitutional on a federal level. The odds of this getting cert with the SCOTUS are extremely small, and I doubt that the unions would want to waste any more money with it in the first place. I shall raise a toast to our Governor and legislature this evening when I get home from work.
My mother, who still lives in Rockford, Illinois, sent me a link today that was pretty surprising. It says that the Republican candidate for governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, has an actual shot at winning, and it appears that he isn’t insane. I am going to do a mini-fisking of the article and ask some questions along the way that I hope that some of our Chicago/Illinois based readers can answer.
Why are the stakes so huge? Because Illinois is arguably the worst-run state in America.
I don’t think there is really any question that Illinois is THE worst-run state in America, hands down.
Illinois could become a laboratory experiment about whether conservative ideas can work in a state that has been ruled by teachers’ unions and a self-serving political machine in Springfield and Chicago.
How could this experiment possibly happen with a solid majority in the Illinois House and Senate? I guess Rauner could slag them unmercifully in the press when they don’t change anything, but I am not sure how that will work.
I caught up with Mr. Rauner in Chicago last week. He’s ruffling liberal feathers by going into black inner-city schools and Hispanic neighborhoods and talking about school choice, economic opportunity, family stability, and jobs. “I’m getting standing ovations when I go to black churches and talk about school choice,” he says. “Parents understand it is their kids that are victimized by lousy public schools in Chicago.”
This seems like very good politics to me. The Chicago Public School System is a disgrace.
He’s running as a non-politician who has the business experience to turn around the state’s finances. He won his five-person primary by telling voters, “I’m the only one up here who isn’t a professional politician. These are the people who created the problems in Springfield.” In this era of rage against the political class, the message (and the millions of dollars he poured into his campaign) carried the day.
Sounds like he has money and is sincere. This may be an appealing choice to the people of Illinois.
He’s promised to take a jackhammer to the bloated state budget. The Left is already rolling off the shelf the anti–Mitt Romney campaign — i.e., rich people like Rauner don’t care about people like you.
“The Left” won’t vote for him anyways. But again, I don’t see how effective the “jackhammer” will be without help from the House and Senate.
Some skeptics say that even if Mr. Rauner wins, he won’t be able to overturn the corrupt machine in Springfield. Don’t be sure about that. If Rauner makes it to the governor’s mansion, he will have a gigantic mandate from voters to turn Springfield upside down and get the finances in order. The big losers will be the teachers’ unions, whose clout will be greatly diminished — it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.
I hope he wins, and I hope this last paragraph is right. Maybe, perhaps, finally, the people of Illinois have had enough of the nonsense. At least this might be a start.
I love a lot of things about France, and the food is probably one of the things I love the most. The French, at most restaurants that aren’t fast food joints, take their time eating and put all that they can into making their meals taste great and look great. Even when I dined at lower end establishments, they did whatever they could with what they had to make some sort of artistry on the plate. They just appreciate it more than having meat, veggie and potatoes all separate with a hunk of parsley as plate filler like we do in the states.
I am not saying that once in a while I don’t like a great steakhouse and/or ‘Mercun style meal. I do. I am saying that I prefer to take more time, relax and enjoy the artistry of a meal.
One thing I really hate about restaurants in France (at least in the south of France where I have cycled the last four years) is that they all let dogs in. Bars too. At first I thought it was novel and cute, but that wore off rather quickly. Most of the time I see the dogs under tables. This scene above from a few weeks ago made my skin crawl.
Yesterday here in Wisconsin, a (Jimmy Carter appointed) federal judge here in Dane County struck down the constitutional amendment that did not allow gay marriage. Immediately the clerks offices here in Madison opened up for extended office hours and began the ceremonies. Other counties did not follow suit, waiting for clarification.
The clarification is for the legal beagles to figure out. Some say you can start the gay weddings now, some say not. Of course the Dane County clerk doesn’t really care and off we go.
Glad they had extended office hours when conceal carry was decriminalized. Oh.
Me? Well, gay marriage is something that I never really cared that much about. Personally, I have no clue why the state is even involved in marriage, but that doesn’t seem to be the point. The gay marriage issue seems to me to be about the money. Of course, outside of being married, you can leave your assets to anyone you choose, assign powers of attorney and health care to anyone you choose, etc. etc. So to me, it is just about getting on someone’s insurance? Outside of that, I don’t see why so much time and energy was wasted on the gay marriage deal. In general, gays weren’t persecuted, like most Muslim countries where they are beheaded or stoned or whatever. So it is about insurance = money. Is that really it? Is it all about money?
That might be a bit cynical. But that’s me.
The constitutional amendment banning gay marriage passed 60% to 40%. That is pretty overwhelming. Now a judge overturns it. So much for the power of the people. But people need to be careful here. Don’t think that in the future, something else may be overturned. Anyone that can afford a good attorney can play this game.
It seems that the end game is in sight for gay marriage and honestly, I am somewhat happy. I am very tired of seeing gay pride marches, parades, and all the rest. All of this should now end, no?
I don’t care if anyone is gay. Just do your deal and live your life like the rest of the non gay people. I don’t go around parading my sexuality for everyone to see. It all seems so childish.
Living in Madison, I associate with a larger than typical number of lefties, liberals, and others who lean to the left of the political spectrum. Oddly, being a leftist seems to be associated with anti-science and other oddities.
When at parties and having discussions with locals, I always stay out of politics. I always shift the subject. Most of the people I deal with are extremely nice, good folks, but they are true believers, and nothing I say will do anything but make situations uncomfortable. But one subject I never hold back is not getting your kids vaccinated. My wife always cringes if it comes up because she knows the bazooka is coming out.
I use the big words too, like “bullshit”, “nonsense” and interesting catch phrases like “have you ever seen a child with whooping cough?” or “I hope your kids don’t get measles because mine won’t”. It does fall on deaf ears, but with the anti-vaccers (is that a word?) I don’t care.
Separately, my wife, while not a squishy leftist, does have a soft spot for marketing buzzwords like “organic”, “natural” etc. She typically spends more money than need be to offer food choices to my kids that are pesticide free, purchases “safer” chemicals and does other things like that – things that I offer to you are probably nonsensical. However, I have chosen not to “die on that hill”. Besides denting my wallet a bit, I don’t think that it is harming anything, so I let it go. I don’t have many complaints about my wife and I am probably way ahead of most husbands in that department (she puts up with me so that pretty much overrides any of my tiny complaints).
But. Lice. Several years ago, both of my children got lice from school. Fortunately (?) I lost my hair a long time ago so was not in the loop, but my wife was mortified. I will never forget the moment – she said (and I am almost quoting) “get down to Walgreens and get the nastiest, strongest chemical you can find and get back here and help me with this”. I almost fell over and stumbled out to the car in a daze, wondering how my wife could have made such a radical change in the five minutes since my kids came home from school.
But I did learn something. When the excrement hits the air conditioning, people want this crap solved. Now.
Back to the anti vaccination folks.
Everything is great and works until it doesn’t. Today I note this story about a famous anti-vaccination group, the Amish. Funny how one’s religion doesn’t seem that important when your kids contract a terrible disease. All of a sudden, vaccines look pretty good.
More than 135 people crowded into a local woodworking business Thursday where nurses used up every available dose of vaccine — and then ordered 300 doses more, said Pam Palm, a spokeswoman for the Knox County, Ohio, Health Department.
“Not getting immunizations has been the way the Amish have felt in the past, but they certainly have responded in this situation,” Palm said.
The outbreak was detected this week when four unvaccinated Amish community members showed evidence of measles infection following a March trip to the Philippines to offer humanitarian aid to typhoon victims. More than 20,000 people have caught measles in the Philippines and at least 50 have died in a severe ongoing outbreak.
I think this might be a good example of stated preferences vs. revealed preferences. Revealed in a most uncomfortable manner. I assume most of my left leaning friends here in the Madison area would do the exact same thing in the circumstances.
My wife, while succumbing to some of the marketing for organic and natural products, thankfully didn’t fall for the vaccine scares that were prevalent when our children were born.
I think if anyone were going to a third world place that was under duress (like the typhoon ravaged Philippines) that they would be REQUIRED to get boosters for measles, cholera, and whatever else I could think of. And why wouldn’t you anyways? But I guess that is my Midwestern common sense sneaking through again, and heck, what do I know.
I do know this. Kids with measles = parents getting measles vaccines for everyone.
Lookie here – an Easter present for the farm. Introducing Dexter. We think.
We were lucky enough to receive this bundle of joy on Easter Sunday. It comes right up to humans and other cattle alike. Pretty friendly. We think it is a boy, which is awesome. A dun bull calf is highly prized in the world of Scottish Highland cattle, and there are already breeders and others sniffing around the farm to take a look at him. If it is a boy, this will be the first one we outright sell for breeding purposes, and his name will have our farm’s prefix in it, and so will his descendants, which is pretty cool. It also saves us the hassle of us castrating him. Which isn’t that big of a deal, but still. We won’t have our normal beef haul from this guy, but the money we will get for him will more than offset that little inconvenience.
I do enjoy watching things blow up for the left. That I will admit.
Today, the Seventh Circuit Federal Appeals Court upheld Act 10, in yet another victory for the Walker administration.
After all the protests and nonsense in 2011 – after all the Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth – after the senators fleeing the state and all of the other drama, the left pulled out one of their “old reliable” tricks – try to win in the courts. Each and every time, they have lost. Lost, lost, lost.
So the score now reads Walker infinite, the left, zero. The left is out of money, and running out of court options. The only thing left that I know of is a pending Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that I predict will also go in favor of the Walker administration.
The election this fall for Gov. of Wisconsin, according to the latest poll, sits at Walker 56%, and the Democrat candidate Burke, 40%. Unless Walker seriously screws something up, he will coast. The DNC will not be sending Burke any money for what is essentially an election that is over before it starts.
Somewhere, sometime, I read a bit of great investing advice. A guy listed ten things to do and not do over your investing life, and number one on the list of things to do was to read Warren Buffet’s shareholder letters. I finally found some time to read this years version, which recaps 2013. You can find them all here.
The letters are always entertaining to me, and I just love the way he uses “plain” English to describe his successes, operations, and failures.
One part really stuck out this year from page 6:
Indeed, who has ever benefited during the past 237 years by betting against America? If you compare our country’s present condition to that existing in 1776, you have to rub your eyes in wonder. And the dynamism embedded in our market economy will continue to work its magic. America’s best days lie ahead.
In the title of America 3.0, it says:
America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come
Yes, we will have some short term pain, but I have fully come around to thinking that indeed, we are eventually going to move forward at a rapid and profitable pace. And I won’t be betting against Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger any time soon.
Last Friday I was the MC for our first Midwest Business and Markets Conference. It was a great day, and Zen went over it pretty well in this post.
The day before, Thursday the 6th, I had a few hours to kill so I worked out and walked all around the Union League Club of Chicago. The place is like a museum.
Of greatest interest to me was the library.
It is an old school room, where they are still using the Dewey Decimal System. It reminded me of days long gone, when I used to have to go to the library in my hometown of Rockford, IL or at school at U of I and use the Dewey system to find out where texts were that I needed.
The ULCC library isn’t that large, so I just strolled around looking at all of the books and magazines. They have a giant signed book collection of the people who have spoken there, as well as many rare volumes under plexiglass. There were a couple of old guys who were sleeping in the soft leather chairs. It was QUIET in there and the only audible sounds were guys pecking away at their keyboards and the turning of pages.
I sort of enjoyed this quiet, as my life doesn’t afford much quiet time with work and kids and wife and farm and all the rest.
After a while I grabbed an unusual volume (to me), and below you can see the title page:
Basically, this offers a prayer (or a few) for every day of the year, including holidays and other special events. The book was printed in the thirties, and had a calendar for the prayers extrapolated out to 2013.
Some of the prayers were interesting to me, as I don’t really know squat about the Episcopalian religion. I also read a few Psalms. It brought back a few memories as when I was a child I was raised Baptist and we were forced to memorize many of the Psalms (in the King James Version).
The books in the library could be checked out by ULCC members and they used the old school cards in the front of the book, stamped with the date it needed to be returned. The prayer book had been checked out a total of once, in 1993. That may have been the last time it was touched, besides to be moved or cleaned.
Most importantly, when I opened the volume, a note fell out into my lap. Watch over our child, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide her wherever she may be.
Give us, her parents, the wisdom to teach her the realities of life.
Strengthen her when she stands for what she believes in; comfort her when she is discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she falls in trying to grow; and in her heart may your peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
After reading some of the prayers and Psalms, I carefully folded the letter, placed it back in the book and put the book back on the shelf.
Over and over President Zero bungles things that are to me, supposed to be slam dunks. I have blogged about this before but it is now getting to the point where it is driving me crazy.
Yesterday on the way home from work, Bloomberg radio broke in on this hastily arranged presser:
Lets just step outside of the fact that I am sure that Putin and the other principals of the situation are laughing (or cringing, as the case may be), knowing that our administration literally has no clue what to do right now.
My main point is that if you are arranging a presser on a matter of importance, I imagine you may want to understand who the major players are in the scenario. At the 2.21 mark, Obama boots the name of the Ukrainian prime minister. As I was sitting in my car I wondered aloud if he was reading off of a teleprompter, or was going off the cuff. I am glad I found the video above, but it doesn’t really answer my question completely.
After looking at it a few times, I am not sure if he was unable to pronounce the name, or if it wasn’t on the cue cards he was reading off of. Either way, he looks like a dunce, and once again, America looks to be a laughingstock to the rest of the world.
Whether or not Obama’s handlers didn’t have the name on the card or he was unable to pronounce it (at least make a stab at it, Barack!) isn’t really that important in the big picture. What is more important to me is the following.
Are Obama’s handlers this dumb, or is he just blowing them off, or a combination of both? These things like state dinners, quick pressers, and the like that Obama constantly bungles should be no-brainers, and the work should be 100% correct each and every time. No excuses.
Last year on my annual pilgrimage to cycling valhalla in the Pyrenees I took my GoPro camera for the first time. Below is my descent of the Col du Chioula, headed back toward Ax les Thermes (best viewed in HD).
This was probably my best descent of last year, the road surface and weather being just right. Everything fell into place. For those wondering, my top speed on this descent was 48.2 mph.
I took an insane amount of footage with my GoPro last year, and I am glad I did. But the problem is that when you bring back these hours and hours of video, there is nowhere for you to go with it. Options are buying an external hard drive and storing them there, or uploading them to one of many websites that do this sort of thing. I am about two thirds of the way done uploading my videos to YouTube, and it takes absolutely forever. A 15 minute video takes several hours to upload. I usually start one video a night and begin the uploading process before I go to bed.
Bob Casale, guitarist for DEVO – aka Bob2, died this week. My wife found this awesome version of “Gut Feeling” on Youtube that I will post here in remembrance. DEVO is a very underrated band and I encourage you to take a deep dive past the “Whip It” stuff if you haven’t already (although I like “Whip It” too).
A while back I dissected the debt of Detroit, the classic America 2.0 case. By this, I mean a gigantic government presence, working with manufacturing and unions to push off obligations into the future with no clear plan of really what to do. In the end, of course, it all came crumbling down and yesterday we got a slight glimpse into just how bad it can get.
To review, here is the diagram I had to make after reading several sources on the subject, to help wrap my head around the calamity that was the city of Detroit’s books:
This looks crude, and it is, but it really helped me get my brain around the nightmare.
From everything I have been reading, Kevyn Orr is getting ready to propose that the general obligation and pensions get settled out at .25 on the dollar. That sounds a bit expensive to me, and as Lex Green said to me in an email certainly isn’t “fire sale” prices yet, but that is what the consensus seems to be saying.
In an odd bit of news, many private foundations have been trying to gather enough money to offset an auction of Detroit’s art collection, estimated by some to be worth up to a billion dollars. If I were Orr, that would have been the first thing I would have done is liquidate that stuff, but I am quite a bit less sensitive than I would need to be to ever consider a career being a politician.
All of this is subject to the whims of the BK judge, but if I were a retired Detroit fireman, I would certainly begin tightening the belt stat, if that wasn’t done already.
This may affect municipal investments, but honestly I imagine any fallout from it is already baked into the pie.
Is Chicago next? We shall soon see.
From a political standpoint, the Republilcans should make the Democrats own this just like they should own Zerocare ™ and the nightmare in Illinois/Chicago that is coming down the tracks. How easy can it get for a Republican? All they have to say is “look at that” and they should get easily elected in any of a number of districts in 2014.
(Disclosure – I have many different municipal investment vehicles in my portfolio).
Much has been written both here and elsewhere about Hurricane Katrina, and one of the last chapters was written in court yesterday.
Ray Nagin, the ex mayor of New Orleans, who we saw pointing fingers, yelling, cursing, and giving us the “woe is us” routine for days and weeks on end after Katrina, was convicted on seven million counts of bribery, wire fraud, filing false income tax returns, and setting fire to children. Well, not that last part.
Many of the crimes were from his pre-Katrina days as the standard, run of the mill mayor scam in New Orleans. I imagine these crimes are the tip of the iceburg but I will take it. He will be spending the next 15 plus years in jail.
I really, really miss InTrade. Looks like they are going to start up again, but after the last debacle, I don’t see how they can ever establish a level of trust that will get them really going again. I think that eventually internet gambling and the sure flow of revenue will get the best of all of the states (except perhaps Utah and maybe one or two others) and we will be able to place wagers from the comfort of our offices and homes. But that is certainly grist for another post.
Hillary Clinton – 7-4
Marco Rubio – 9-1
Chris Christie – 10-1
Jeb Bush – 14-1
Paul Ryan – 16-1
Andrew Cuomo – 20-1
Elizabeth Warren – 20-1
Rand Paul – 20-1
Martin O’Malley – 25-1
Rob Portman – 25-1
Bob McDonnell – 33-1
Condoleeza Rice – 33-1
Deval Patrick – 33-1
Joe Biden – 33-1
Mark Warner – 33-1
Rahm Emmanuel – 33-1
Susana Martinez – 33-1
Bobby Jindal – 40-1
Michael Bloomberg – 40-1
Scott Walker – 40-1
Amy Klobuchar – 50-1
Cory Booker – 50-1
David Petraeus – 50-1
Jon Huntsman – 50-1
Mike Huckabee – 50-1
Mitt Romney – 50-1
Rick Santorum – 50-1
Sam Graves – 50-1
Sarah Palin – 50-1
Tim Kaine – 50-1
Eric Cantor – 66-1
Evan Bayh – 66-1
Mike Pence – 66-1
Dennis Kucinich – 100-1
Herman Cain – 100-1
John Kasich – 100-1
John Thune – 100-1
Julian Castro – 100-1
Kathleen Sebelius – 100-1
Kay Hagan – 100-1
Mia Love – 100-1
Michelle Obama – 100-1
Newt Gingrich – 100-1
Rick Perry – 100-1
So, a few thoughts. I don’t live in a cave, but I am not a political junkie either. I listen to probably 45 minutes or so of financial news on Bloomberg every day on my drive to and from work, and they sprinkle in a news cast twice an hour. I also quickly scan a news website or two per day. So I don’t know if I am above or below average as far as my media/news consumption goes. With that disclosure, I have never heard of:
Martin O Malley
Mia Love (sounds like a prON actress)
Your mileage will vary depending on where you live, but I would guess that most folks in the US have never even heard of at least a third of these candidates.
Rahm Emmanuel is on there? Michelle Obama? No way.
The Hillary! odds are daunting. She is the obvious front runner, but it is a LONG time from November 2016 and she can for sure do very poorly in any debate. Looking forward to the Benghazi hazing when the time comes.
I had some time to kill a few months ago and was stumbling around a local bookstore when this book caught my eye. I went ahead and bought it and am very glad that I did.
Six Frigates is a fairly long book that takes a deep dive into the origins of the US Navy. The book is very well written, easy to read, and tells some great stories for those interested in the subject matter.
The book gives in detail how the original six frigates were paid for, why they were conceived, and the associated debates that went along with those appropriations. Toll blends perfectly in the book a balance of the politics of the day along with the realities of sailing vessels in this era. It is rare in my experience to find a book that balances these things so well. It is clear that Toll spent a LOT of time researching the presidential and congressional archives to pick the correspondences and events out that were appropriate for the subject matter of the book. Toll lets the statesmen of the past speak for themselves during the debates about the original appropriations and also enlightens the reader as to the politics of the day. Also mentioned are the debates about the continuing maintenance of the frigates.
There is a detailed section about the construction and engineering of the frigates. Toll explains very well how the boats were made and how the raw materials had to be obtained – again, just enough information for a relative layman such as myself to understand the how’s and why’s.
Now that the frigates were built, Toll explains how they were used, and again blends in the politics of the day so the reader can understand why the ships were where they were. Along with this, he recreates many of the battles that the frigates were involved in. This part was to me the most enlightening.
I have read many times of the famous battles of some of these frigates, the most famous being the Constitution. However, I never understood how insanely bloody and violent these ship to ship battles were. Toll goes into full on gore mode, sparing no adjective to make the reader get a feel for how the sailors felt and what actually went on. This book is extremely bloody so if you can’t handle that sort of thing, I would perhaps not recommend it. But it was a very good dose of reality for me, as I had never fully understood the power of the cannon they used, and how they used it. Also enlightening were Toll’s descriptions of the marine actions during battle. It was very interesting to hear how each side would use sharpshooters to try to pick off officers on the decks of the ships during battle.
Great detail is given to the first Tripolitan war. This is a subject that has always interested me, and it was amazing how Toll was able to even blend in the politics of the Tripolitans into his narrative.
Finally, we move to the War of 1812. Most readers here probably know the basics, but again, Toll is masterful blending in the politics of not only the US, but of Great Britain into the narrative.
The book uses a LOT of sailing terms which I, not being a sailor of any sort, didn’t understand. This was on purpose. In the beginning of the book, Toll puts out for the reader his reasons for this. Basically he says that he could explain each term and have the book be twice as long, or let the reader pick and choose what they wanted to research as far as terms went. I think he took the correct approach. I have no clue what this sentence from page 348 means:
Constitution stood on to leeward before the freshening northeast breeze, wearing double-reefed topsails and courses, with her royal yards struck down on deck.
However, it is easy to imagine a ball park idea of what Toll is saying in the context of the overall topic – that the Constitution was getting ready, somehow, to engage the HMS Guerrierre in battle. It was really no big deal after you got used to the flow of the text. I did look up a few terms along the way, but not many.
It is very clear that Toll spent a long time researching and writing this marvelous book. It is easily one of the top ten books I have ever read on any subject and I highly recommend it if you have any sort of interest in sailing, or early 19th century politics or even just to get a flavor of those times. Toll also speaks about the early cities and how they worked to a certain degree although the focus is on the Frigates, their battles, and the politics surrounding them.