30 September 2008


New federal LRAP provisions - minor update
If you could gain any sense, what would it be?
Michael Moore says the rich are taking money from the poor, not his deepest insight.

Athiests, God loves 'em.

Losing and winning

Feeling good, at lowest weight in a long time (probably over 3 or 4 years) and starting work on Monday.  Not having any money in the stock market also helps (though not as fun when it's part of not having any money at all).  Deep thoughts about drinking games to play during the debate on Thursday and feeling happy that it's too late for them to replace Palin.

Fun with Numbers

So the proposed rescue plan that failed to pass yesterday but which will likely pass within the next 10 days will cost about $700,000,000,000 (11 zeros in seven hundred billion folks), and the Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks by $330 billion to $620 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. So we're looking at a total of about $1.3 trillion.
$1,300,000,000,000,000 ... among 200,000,000 American adults.
This ultimately comes from American's pockets including a chunk from businesses owned by Americans and in proportion to overall income (i.e., our proportionate tax system which asks the rich to pay more as a percentage of their income ... you make $50,000/year and pay 31%, your boss makes $150,000/year and pays 35% ... kinda).

So, on average, the rescue plan will cost each American:
$1,300,000,000,000,000 / 200,000,000 =
$13,000,000 / 2 =

what will the cost be to each of us if the rescue plan fails to pass? That's harder to guesstimate, but let's say American's have 10 - 30% of their assets in the market and another 10 - 40% of their assets are affected by the market (because lack of financial instruments to lend easily affects payrolls, housing values, etc). Let's just say 50% of assets could be negatively impacted for your Average Joe (more for those with more, less for those with less).

Say you have $200,000 in retirement savings and $200,000 coming to you from your pension. You have a house worth $350,000,000 that is mostly paid off. Your net worth is about $750,000,000 and we're guessing half of that could be negatively affected to varying degrees.

So $325,000,000 of your assets are put at risk by failure of a rescue package (assuming it would work which is something of a massive assumption given how poor the plan is as of today). Even if the markets tanked and lost another 2,000-3,000 points (or 20-30%), housing values continued to decline (say another 15-20% over 10 years), and you pension was not able to meet its obligations to you (maybe 10-20% of that $200,000,000) we're talking about a loss of about:
(1) 25% of the portion of your invested retirement savings, about $2,500.
(2) $40,000 from the value of your house.
(3) $15,000 from your failing pension.
Total ~ $57,500 lost from your $750,000,000 net worth.

$57,500 over the next 5-10 years from no rescue plan
$6,250 to pay for the rescue plan + maybe $25,000 from deflating home values and market revaluations

More simply:
Do nothing, lose $57,500 vs. rescue plan that works okay still loses you $32,500

What our congress critters don't seem to be able to communicate to us is that both situations suck and this will mean a very different idea of what to expect out of retirement for those facing it relatively soon (i.e., next 10 years). But they all seem to understand (though cannot explain to to the "low information" or "undecided" or "swing" voters without pissing them off) that passing a rescue plan will be better for people in the long term (again, assuming it works fairly well but even if it's terrible, will restore some market confidence and allow for more banks to lend more money in the short-ish term). Congresscritters are driven by 2 year timeframes between elections, they may be paid to consider what's best for their constitutients in the long run, but they certainly know what's best for them in the short term ... and having their name on this is bad as can be for re-election. Throw into the mix more than a few congressmen who know that this rescue plan is actually quite bad and genuinely draws out their ideological and intelectual disagreement (think Lynn Woolsey) such that they can't back it and there's no way it can pass.

I'd call this setting up failure with an electoral system that has perverse incentives for serious change ... to do the right thing requires self-sacrafice from people who are elected because of their illusions of grandure, people who make calls for millions of dollars in donations nearly every day for years and years just to stay in office ...

In otherwords, a rescue bill will pass, it will likely be so bad that it may not be much better than passing nothing at all because each option will end up costing folks about the same ... but the thing to remember is that each approach will cost a dear amount and much of the rest is guesswork about minimizing a number most people are unaware of and perhaps anxious about as a result of that unknown value. That fear alone is a huge part of the problem pushing aside reasoned approaches for rhetoric and fense-sitting numbnuts like McCain who just want to come out ahead politically no matter which way the issue actually falls in the end ... this kind of ignorance driven fear is the worst position to ask for something from government and it's the worst kind of leadership from government.

28 September 2008

Suiting up, Landslides, Fried drive

(1) Suits me:
My co-workers' parting advice as I leave for a new office: "ah, so you have to suit up?!?"

Co-worker #1:
"Man, you can find great deals on overstock.com - I [a svelt dude who recently ran a marithon] got this suit for $175 and it fit prefect off the rack."

Co-worker #2:
"Well, I'm gonna tell you to spend too much money, but you know I like Baroni and Zegna, they have 75 or 80 percent off sales sometimes and you can get a $6,000 suit for less than $2,000. ... I got these leather soled shoes in 1981 and they still look great [actually, they look remarkable, hey I was born in 1981] but you have to get these verbatum soles put on after a while, but they feel and look great. Also, find a salesman who you can trust."

Co-worker #New York Times (circa 1993):
Two pieces.

A summary of a together suit advice guy, Alan Flusser

Sounds like a question for the metafilter.

(2) Obama landslide
Finally starting to relax about telling everyone that we'd have an Obama landslide, his numbers after the debate are just great ... I thought he did poorly but then I only would have been satisfied if he ran from behind the podium and stuck his finger in McCain's face while glaring at him and ranting off the list of lies and mistakes that McCain was responsible for and continuing to make(up). Meh, I'm hard to satisfy that way. But it seems the low information voters liked the performance and figured that anyone who could understand what was being asked and give confident sounding answers was not a wacky "other" (i.e., Muslim, black, elite, liberal, Anti-Christ, etc) who, since they agreed with him that the Republicans were full of shit, they could feel better about voting for (and if it turned out badly they could always say that they should have trusted their "instincts" even if that was only another word for "subconscious racism").

(3) Fried a Malaysian chip of my Deathstar printed circuit board
Decided to format and reinstall windows on my laptop before starting above mentioned new gig. Easy as pie: back up files, burn and apply "Recovery Disks" to return laptop to original factory state, update Microsoft programs, reinstall programs, transfer files back to computer ... easy, right?

Smoke. White, thin, terrible smelling smoke lazily wafting up from the external hard drive. Quickly turned it off, removed power, opened up, and saw a burned pock on the inside of the enclosure, just above the .... whatever small, relatively unlabled black chip rests on the hard drive's (a Hitachi Deskstar a.k.a. Deathstar because of their high fail rate when previously owned and manufactured as IBM Deskstars) PCB.

Fortunately, eBay had a single auction for this PCB ($30 shipped) and I should be back in order within 4-6 days. We'll see ...

18 September 2008

Really impressive piece for a political campaign - complex vector work it seems.

Was on sale from Obama's website for a donation, but it's sold out now.

You can view a larger version here.

A Barbri legend passes ... you'll be missed Prof. Whitebread

In Memoriam: Charles Whitebread

Charles Whitebread.jpg

We'd like to take a moment and acknowledge the great career of Professor Charles H. Whitebread. Professor Whitebread passed away Tuesday, in Santa Monica, California.

Professor Whitebread was a legend at the USC Gould School of Law, but most attorneys will remember him for his BAR/BRI Criminal Law lectures. We fondly remember the bow-tied professor for adding a bit of levity at a time when we were stressed beyond belief.

He is survived by his life partner, John Golden, and his devoted friend Michael Kelly.

The USC Gould School of Law will hold a memorial for Professor Whitebread at a date still to be determined. Donations to the Charles H. Whitebread Memorial Scholarship may be sent to the law school.

13 September 2008

The Simpsonized Republican Ticket

Why is it that this is the clearest representation of what's wrong with their ticket?
Are the Dems Carl and The Texan who Homer challenged to a duel? Both smart and honorable, but it may break down at the Texas vs. Delaware comparison.
--Via Dailykos

08 September 2008


Click the title for a clever interactive, flash-animated spider

Spider, he is our hero!

via Boingboing.net

Waiting to hear about a job - anxious!
Weight loss going well (unrelated)
PT and meds - "Zee goggles, vey do nozzing!"

01 September 2008

Free credit SCORE (not just report) estimate

[A] Financial ish - Credit scores and reports for free:
There are crappy "free" credit reports or scores available - usually it's a gimme for the first month then $8-50/month to keep the service going - and it's not easy to cancel.  

(1) But you can get a (very) good estimate of your score (300-800) from:

It's not your real score, but it is often VERY close - and it actually is free.

(2) You can also get a free credit report (just contains info on why you're good or bad to lend to, insure, or rent to - not a number) from Annual Credit Report.  All other "free" report sites are gimics or worse.  You can get a free score once a year from each of the three major tracking companies (creeped out that they know so much about you yet?) - so you can get three reports over the course of a year.

(3) I was excited about personal finance blogs and information recently but I find them to be only useful for the best articles in their archives rather than their newer content - most people seem to have only a few good ideas to contribute and after that they post crapola or just link to other related blogs with slightly less useless info.  

[B] Personal fun:

(1) Trying out google's "Chrome" browser - not enough to switch from Firefox yet, but nice, clean and fast without all my plug-ins (ad-block, spell check, and smooth scrolling missed the most) and features (like, oh, a homepage button - but opening a new tab brings up their clever "most visited" feature so it's nearly as useful as a homepage I suppose).  

(2) Added Consumerist and Lifehacker to my RSS feeds with some limitations - actually filters out the BS and promotional crap usually.  

(3) Didn't Palin's speech piss you off?  I mean, I was happy to keep give a few bucks and ride the Democratic tidal wave that has been building steam over the past 8 years, but I'm ready to start giving more time and will be making a stop by the local (3 blocks away!) Obama campaign office to start door knocking beyond my block and phone banking beyond my state.  I'm sure there were a few excited Right-wingnuters but honestly, they always get excited about the evil Democrats trying to kill babies and take away their money (even though both f-ing guys are going to create serious tax cuts when this is the last thing we need - $500 is a lot of money, but nothing compared to the services lost for families to whom $500 is a make or break amount - it doesn't make up for an extra year of head start when the replacement is expensive day care, it doesn't make up for the lost jobs and benefits from replacing and developing our infrastructure, or for even a few months of insurance for a family).  Here's to hoping Obama's team has a good plan for handling Palin - there are too many people saying "what he needs to do is [blah]" and too few people asking what they can do to help - so away I go to offer a hand!