Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the War against the Middle Class

From the page at Youtube:
On June 18, 2011 artists Ligorano/Reese presented a temporary monument in the garden of Jim Kempner Fine Art in NYC called "Morning In America." The installation was witnessed by hundreds and lasted a total of 8 hours throughout the hot day. ...A THOUSAND CUTS is a timelapse video of the event. The soundtrack was inspired by an excerpt from Senator Bernie Sanders 8 hour filibuster on the U.S. Senate floor against the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the effects on the middle class. It is orchestrated to music by composer/violinist Michael Galasso.

Morning In America - A Temporary Monument to the Reagan Revolution

The Artists: Ligorano / Reese - http://ligoranoreese.net/

The project page at Ligorano / Reese: Morning in America.

Ligorano / Reese at Youtube:  Ligorano/Reese Videos

Senator Bernie Sanders (.senate.gov)


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Parasitical Trading in a De-regulated, Boom/Bust Economy

The Real News Network is running a series of interviews with Obama's 're-regulation' Czar Bart Chilton, that reveals some of the players in this new, unregulated Boom/Bust market who are leaching off with our pensions - and other capitalizations of the liberal democratic state.

Chilton is one of five commissioners on the "Commodity Futures Trading Commission" (CFTC), which has been tasked by Congress to anaylise the landscape of the new Boom/Bust market place - and find some appropriate regulation strategy to over-see the hither-to invisible machinations in this 'Pirate Market' (notably the electronic milli-second traders, and the over-the-counter derivatives traders). The same entities that packaged sub-prime mortgages into bundles and then - via the ratings companies who were playing along in this lawless unregulated market (Standard and Poor's deserves a prominent mention) - rated them as high yield vehicles and then sold them around the planet.

Looking at the volumes of trades in the two years leading up to the 2007 collapse one might guesstimate that there are 10's of Trillions of these so called, 'toxic assets' still looking for a moment to come home to roost. Just ask the Greek Government - or the Irish, Iceland, Spain, or Italy.

CFTC Commissioner: "A Hair Trigger Away from Economic Calamity" - Home Page

Part 1 - CFTC Commissioner: "A Hair Trigger Away from Economic Calamity"

Part 2 - Food, Speculation and Parasitical Trading

(This series may continue - bookmark the Home Page linked in the title above.)

One of the results of deregulation of the financial sector, and trading sector has been extreme market fluctuations, otherwise known as a Boom-Bust economy.

Back in 1995 when neo-con governments introduced a qualitatively different government revenue stream through the introduction of regressive goods and services taxes - they at the same time forced a portion of people's income into the speculative markets by increasing income taxes to unthinkable levels while at the same time opening loop-holes in the tax law that would enable people to avoid paying income tax by investing a portion of the yearly income in speculation - this created the funds we know well today. Trillions of dollars of our retirement savings tied up in the stock markets, forced there through a change in government tax policy.

Essentially what the neo-con governments did was privatize pensions. Now with deregulation and a institutionalized Boom/Bust economy, these trillions of dollars of retirement savings are vulnerable to the machinations of a volatile market.  So far retirement savings have taken 3 hard hits which causing the collapse of several major funds and the loss of 1/2 a Trillion in retirement savings.

Through a handy, time line of the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis at Credit Crisis Timeline - I found this Financial Times article from 8 April 2008, "IMF puts cost of credit crisis at $945bn":
"The IMF said total losses and writedowns would reach about $945bn, based on market prices in mid-March. Banks would suffer slightly more than half the total losses, with the rest falling on insurance companies, pension funds, hedge funds and other investors."

'..insurance companies, pension funds, hedge funds and other investors.'

All the money is coming from people forced by their governments tax policy into the gamble. It's the Trillions that this is all about. So by the IMF estimate our pensions took a 500 Billion dollar hit in this one Bust - admittedly the biggest Bust since 1929, but the biggest bust since the Great Depression comes within a no regulation Meme - just like that which was in force (or not in force) in the 1920's and '30's.

The kicker is even though the market always regains it's points totals over time - in the correction your fund, or your neighbour's fund gets slaughtered. And the boom/bust cycle goes on and on. And more and more investors in this volotile market are betting against it, shorting down and in many cases these are huge player with both lots of cash and lots of the physical commodity they are hedging. They can depress prices by selling physical commodities in the market, hedge down and down which adds to the momentum of the depression of the commodities price - then withdraw the physical supply, let the normal demand take up the slack in the market and then sell as the market corrects up.

How in the hell do we get to a place where everyones in - but it births a predatory entity - the hedging down shorters who - with enough practice at their wizardry - could wipe out Trillions more in the nations retirement fund? And perhaps the Empire itself!

I've been watching national retailers, like Canada's Loblaws - a food retail chain, part of the Weston Empire that owns wholesale food production enterprises as well as a chain of Hotels. I think they've been trying to even out their retail pricing in these volatile conditions. I assume they're doing it by hedging a price they think is the projected normal over the long average - but once in a while they get caught having to sell long options at prices lower than they had projected. Thus prices begin to spike periodically as they pass on the loses.

The pain has begun. In a labour market where wages have remained level or falling for 2 decades, we have never seen this kind of inflation in food prices, 39% over the last year.

Is this good public policy - to have the future public good in a Pirate Bay with no way out? Seniors will die quietly in poverty and with out access to good medical care - but what of their sons and daughters? Will they not hold government to account?

One is reminded of the storming of the Bastille.

Let them eat cake indeed.

Inflation chart via StatsCan.


Monday, August 15, 2011

SMBC Theater's $76,000 worth of Comedy Entertainment

These people used Kickstarter.com to fund this first DVD. I've been following them on Youtube for about a year - 2 to 3 minutes at a time.

These people have a lot of jokes. Here's an hour and fourteen minutes of never before seen skits.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Obama White House must Act Now to Stimulate Economy

Update - 18Aug2011: Common Dreams 17Aug2011

"Need Concrete Plans to Rebuild Infrastructure; Focus of Efforts should be to Get Back to Work"
  Kucinich Building Support for the National Emergency Employment Defense Act; "Time to Get Real about Creating Jobs"
Kucinich to introduce bill in the House this fall - "National Emergency Employment Defense Act" ("NEED" HR__ pdf).

The Real News Network's "Banks to Cash-In Again on New Fed Plan" video series of interviews with Yves Smith - from November 2010.

In this 9 month old interview, Paul Jay, Executive Producer of The Real News Network, talks to Yves Smith, author of the book, ECONned, and owner of the economics website, Naked Capitalism, about what has turned out to be the Fed's last Quantitative Easing (spending to stimulate growth in the economy) - back in November of 2009.

The first two rounds of stimulus spending, the so called, QE1 and QE2 packages were funnelled to the financial sector and the banks - who instead of loaning it out to create primary investments in plant and equipment, have thrown all the free money (0% interest) into financial instruments - trying to make as much return as possible, as quickly as possible to shore up their books - which are full of toxic derivatives which aren't worth the paper their written on - second and third mortgages packaged to hide their real value. And which - ironically - with the downgrading of US debt last week, were fraudulently labelled AAA by Standard and Poor's (+ others) in the lead up to the 2008 financial meltdown.

It's interesting to see how little the situation has changed in 9 months. The economy is not growing, the stock market is volatile and jobs haven't happened. We're tracking sideways - only now - the stakes are even higher.

The European Central Bank is now on the verge of collapse as countries in the regional free trade agreement struggle against huge financial players who are shorting down their currencies - well aware as they are, that with-in the Euro-zone rules these nations don't have the tools they need to fend off such attacks (the ability to adjust their sovereign's value through interest rate adjustment). Essentially the trade zone is on the verge of collapse, as is the economic co-operation conference of leading industrial economies, the so called G-20. Meanwhile the political austerity insanity in Washington moves forward despite all economic indicators pointing in the opposite direction.

So one assumes the White House must be (hopefully ... they have to be, they've got to be - mustn't they?) on the cusp of using some extraordinary mechanisms and financial ingenuity to find a way to stimulate the economy - despite the austerity agreement - to stabilize the situation. Like through the issue of long term Treasury Bonds specifically attached to a delivery mechanism, National Enterprise Corporations, for example - the sole purpose of which would be to build some actual real world infrastructure - roads, bridges, high speed rail, schools, sewers, a smart electrical grid, ... .

The Office of the President have the tools, but will Obama use them?

So, with no further ranting ...

Just like it was yesterday:..

Part 1 - Banks to Cash-In Again on New Fed Plan

November 9, 2010 More at The Real News

Part 2 - The Turkey Votes for Thanksgiving

November 10, 2010 More at The Real News

Yves Smith is the creator of the influential financial blog Naked Capitalism, author of "ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism".

The series Home Page at TRNN: "Banks to Cash-In Again on New Fed Plan".


Friday, August 12, 2011

I can't view anything on the www with the word BLOG in it

* * *
UPDATE: Monday, August 15, 2011

I think I've figured out what happened. Over at my Blogger Baseball Scorecard I was having trouble uploading a page that includes a html file that is near 500,000 bytes. The page held the file in a text area to make it easy for non-coders to work with  - but I was having trouble understanding the Post Settings language in the Blogger User Interface. As a result, the large file would be re-written to the long form, or interpreted html by the blogger interface - thus uploading gobbley-gook on Publish. When I realized the post had failed to render as I wanted it, I just reset the Post Option to a different setting with out reloading the file from my back-up, thus asking Blogger upload to accept what it intrepreted as a corrupted file. On the fifth try (I'm a little obstinate sometimes) a security algorithm kicked in and blocked my IP address from accessing sites where I had uploaded large files before. This included interestingly, a Word Press blog where at lot of blogger processed pictures reside - and even more interestingly, the security process also blocked me from searching the word 'blog' in Google Search. 

How they did that is beyond me. Amazing power Google has.

 * * *

I'm having internet access problems. Have YOU ever experienced anything like the following?

This is a strange one.

Yesterday I found I couldn't access any of my RSS feeds that are Blogger sites.

Then I see I can't access my Blogger account, and then I can't see one of my word press blogs (but another at the same service is viewable).

My Stat Counter tells me all the sites are up and getting page views - but if I even type the letters b-l-o-g into a google search engine I get a timed out page - with no waiting.

I hooked up an old computer and the same things were happening.

Then I went to cnet/download.com and got an IP masker. That is working (3 day trial), I can access everything now.

So some algorythm in the web has decided mine is not a trusted IP address?

I'm confused - has anyone experienced anything like this?

Yesterday I ran a ping and a tracert over the www to see where my connection to Blogger.com/ stops.


Monday, August 8, 2011

"Hell No" - Your Right to Dissent - Series from TRNN

TRNN's Hell No" - Your Right to Dissent, Series looks at the increasing use by our governments of extra-legal means to suppress decent

As part of TRNN's commitment to provide us a 'Longview' - part of their promise to provide in-depth coverage and analysis of current events - on the 1st anniversary of the 2010 G20 Summit Toronto, The Real New Network, has produced several pieces on the extraordinary Police clamp down on lawful dissent that infamous weekend - and investigated what comeuppance, if any, authorities have had to face.

This Series is likely to continue. Bookmark the RSS feed, or whatever method you use to flag items - via the Series Home Page address: Hell No" - Your Right to Dissent Series Home Page at TRNN - here.

Below is a copy of the TRNN Home Page for the Series. Each headline links back to the TRNN video at the TRNN website.

"Hell No" - Your Right to Dissent

August 8, 2011:

HRW: Obama broke law not prosecuting Bush & Cheney
Michael Ratner: Prosecution of Bush Cheney and Rumsfeld will have to be done in other countries as Obama has refused to pursue it  August 8, 2011
"Hell No" - Your Right to Dissent
Michael Ratner: There is a North America-wide strategy to take away the right to mass protest  July 27, 2011
Toronto G-20: Denying Civil Rights is a Crime
Paul Jay: Responsibility for G-20 "Days of Infamy" mainly RCMP and Federal Gov.  July 6, 2011


Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Real News Network's Series "Address Unemployment, Then Debt"

Five Part Video below the fold

The Real News Network just finished publishing a 5 Part Video Interview with noted Political Economist Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who says 'There is no Debt Crisis'.

The crisis he says, is continued high unemployment and a continuing and increasing political mindset about the economy that thinks cut backs are the solution. Cut backs and union busting measures at the Municipal State and Federal levels are removing Trillions of dollars of spending power from the economy - making a double dip recession inevitable - and a global depression likely.

I couldn't agree more. An invented crisis, flowing out of the real Financial Crisis of 2008, is creating a mind set that is then feeding the root of the problem, high unemployment, a shrinking middle class and tight household budgets - a catch-22 that could, in a worst case scenario, lead to a World War.

This austerity mind set is gaining steam as it feeds the rich and powerful's Lust and Greed for more and more - out of Fear at a time of inceasing uncertainty - in a world caulk full of change on many levels (many of which imho, are really cool!).

Pollin points out that this "politik" mirrors the reaction to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 - after which a series a austerity measures then lead to the global depression known in North America as the "Ten Lost Years" or "The Great Depression".

People who experienced this time (my father, my grandmother) referred to the experience as life altering - it informed everything they were and were to become, and it was a topic that was regularly referred to as I grew up. People displaced by a 10 year drought, as well as a 30% unemployment rate, and in addition, the complete absence of a social safety net, were forced to wander the country looking for work in a state of perpetual slow starvation. A crisis that lasted for a generation.

The global depression ended only after the United States 'spent forward' with massive public infrastructure spending over 10 years. This included the construction of a national electrical grid (and the power generation facilities to feed it, ie. The Hoover Dam, and others) which brought electricity to millions of American farms.

Many anti 'Welfare State' theorists say it was the Second World War that ended the Great Depression - I respectfully disagree. The view belittles the President Roosevelt, Keynesian "New Deal", and President Lyndon B Johnson's 1960's "Great Society" as part of an attempt to dismantle the liberal democratic state.

Here's the Home Page for the Series entitled, "There is no Debt Crisis".
(each headline is a link that takes you to the Part in question at the TRNN website)

The Home Page, "There is no Debt Crisis" at TRNN is here.

Why Austerity and Not Stimulus?
Bob Pollin Pt5: Main objective of austerity is to demolish the welfare state and public ownership 
August 7, 2011
Address Unemployment, Then Debt
Bob Pollin Pt.4: Unemployment has evaporated in Washington policy discussions 
August 5, 2011
The Real Danger is Deeper Recession
Bob Pollin Pt.3: None of the fundamentals that led to the crash in '08 have been corrected  August 2, 2011
No Emergency, But Long-Term Debt is a Threat
Bob Pollin Pt.2: There is no debt crisis, but debt is a long-term danger to the economy  July 31, 2011
Interest Payments at Historic Low - There is no Debt Crisis
Robert Pollin: Interest payments on US debt well below average, there is time to deal with long-term debt 
July 29, 2011


Friday, August 5, 2011

Jones Avenue is Falling Down

Chapter 1

The bus rumbles past the Jones Avenue Branch of the Toronto Public Library like Mayor Rob Ford on a bad hangover morning.

There's a sink hole that been developing in the road for the past two years that when the Jones Avenue Bus hits it the whole intersection shakes - a long rumble that pools out from the epicentre. As a matter of fact, just like, the earthquake we felt here just before the Clamp Down for the G20 - only not as long.

The fact is this whole neighbourhood is built on sand. If we had a real earthquake - like the 1989 California Loma Prieta earthquake - this place would be like the Marina District in San Francisco, the ground would basically liquify. This 2nd floor room I scribble in would end up on Jones Avenue as sure as I'm scribbling now.

You see it here and there. A cone, a set of cones marking a spot where the millions of trickles that make up a river delta have found a route of least resistance, a trickle became a torrent at last weekends storm - and the street begins to sag in on itself. All the basements along Jones are wet. All the storm sewer catch basins are full of sand.

Nova Scotia fishermen's House (via flickr)
The house on the northwest corner of Jones and Dundas is listing for $750,000. It's a two story wood frame thing with a small dormer room in the attic. It has that old wooden siding like you see on all the Nova Scotia fishermen's houses. Just a box with a peak roof, too long for aesthetic proposes - the result of one too many additions.

It's corner property looks a lot wider that it is - the property line actually runs five feet from the side of the house - the other twenty feet is city property. Property that the Debt-Crisis-Theatre Mayor, Rob Ford might sell one day soon.

This house rumbles with the bus too. And there's a new sink hole eating a parking spot just down the ally around the back. But that won't stop the owner from getting three quarters of million dollars for it - after all, Leslieville's got a brand new shopping complex down at Leslie and Lake Shore Boulevard.


Monday, August 1, 2011

I like "Graphics Interchange Format" (GIF) images

3B Kyle Seager's swipe-tag too quick for Ump

Jeff Sullivan from Lookout Landing is making a habit of making .gif images out of clips from television baseball coverage. GIF images are a series of still graphic images, or 'bitmaps' that display at a set speed so they look like a video! I like them so much I've been adding them to the sidebar of my Baseball blog, Michael Holloways Baseball Blogs.. In this fast paced world full of 15 second sound bites and the fleeting of the famous and infamous - GIF's are perfect.

GIF has it's limitations, it doesn't support super high quality photographic colour sets. But as far as I'm concerned, that's good - this isn't supposed to be the original, above for example, is a re-purposed artifact of something the gretaer culture created - it's a parody, a comment. It is an icon of the televised game a memory if you will - and there it plays for poor Kyle Seager, like a nightmare - over and over and over... (Or perhaps for the Ump more so.)

The GIF format was invented by Steve Wilhite in 1987 while he worked for CompuServe. All the relevant patents on the software have since expired.

File:Newtons cradle animation book 2.gif
(Animation of "Newton's Cradle" via Wikipedia - also included in a article about the GIF format

File:Rotating earth (large).gif
(Rotating_earth_(large).gif‎ (400 × 480 pixels, file size: 1.36 MB, MIME type: image/gif, looped, 44 frames, 4.0s) - via Wikipedia)
When you click "copy image" and download one of these "images" all the bitmaps are downloaded; and then they're yours, and then you can put them anywhere you want - just like you would add an image from your computer to a blog post. (Always credit the source - then we'll still be friends.)

You can make your own GIF images in a couple of different ways:

There are Online GIF Maker Programs, (Google Search Page) where you upload your images to their server and then a program produces the GIF according to several parameter you're able to set...

- or -

..you can download the free open source GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) software package - which has a GIF production interface, for all your GIF-Y needs.

Here's a brief introduction to the software: "How to Make an Animated GIF Image with GIMP"
(from MakeUseOf website - one of those answers for everything advertising aggregation websites , but it's  about GNU software - I never go to these sites because they about money not enlightenment, but it is a popular take on the product - and well written and has good graphics.)

This post was cross posted at Michael Holloway's Baseball Blogs.