September 29, 2008

Bicycles Would Cost Less

             
When the wheels of government and commerce come grinding to a halt, we will need some way to get around.  Bicycles will cost less than the current government bailouts.

Now, don't laugh.  Just hear me out for a sec.  Assume we have 80 million workers and 20 million teenage school children who could get to work and school by bicycle.  This is the heart and soul of our economy, and our future economy, isn't it?  That's 100 million bicycles needed.

Now like in any war, I'm quite certain bicycle producers could produce serviceable bicycles for $100 each (not these fancy things you see for $400 and more).

That's 100,000,000 x $100 = $10 billion.

Let's say that I'm off by a factor of 2 as to the number of people who could use a simple bicycle to get to work or school (which I may be), and I'm off by a factor of 2 as to price (which I am not).

That would be 200,000,000 x $200 = $40 billion.

The AIG bailout was $85 billion, by itself.  The Iraq War costs at least $10 billion per month.  The current Wall Street bailout plan (misnomer for sure) is $700 billion.  The cost to the economy will be staggering, even if no plan, or some alternate plan, is passed.  According to CNET the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout cost us $200 billion, the Bear Stearns financing took $29 billion, and, well, the list just gets longer.

So by comparison, I'm suggesting we stop all the bailouts, take our hit, say shame on you to all the bright executives and politicians who failed to avoid all this, and give ourselves all free bicycles.  With side baskets for groceries.

This will keep us moving, save the environment, avoid paying anything for gasoline, reduce our collective weight, reduce the occurrence of diabetes and the risk of heart attacks, lower future healthcare costs, and stop all car thiefs in their tracks.

Maybe, you think, a free bicycle program wouldn't work.  Thiefs would just steal them.  Good.  They are FREE.  So just go get another one.  Go to work.  Go to school.  For FREE.  This may not help keep enough people employed, or lower the cost of a safe home and decent living environment for all Americans, but it would be a start.

And if you think this is really off base, then I suggest it may at least get us thinking about what the right questions are.  Someone should actually try prioritizing our public spending decisions a little better, and a little more openly and truthfully.  The Presidential candidates could have actually answered Jim Lehrer's question about the financial crisis (rather than just deciding to slam each other for a few more votes).  And a whole bunch of people, respectfully, in Washingon and on Wall Street, should do the honorable thing, and simply resign.

And maybe someone in the national media could actually report on all this nightly in a thoughtful and intelligent, rather than headline grabbing, sound-bitey, sort of way.  Have you noticed how they like to say that a report which lasts more than 30 seconds is "in depth?" Are you kidding me?  You know, the last I checked, those public airwaves were supposed to be public, and not merely a vehicle for selling the latest prescription cure-all.  I think a few people in the national media should also do the honorable thing, and resign.

Unless the world collapses, I'm going to go back to philosophical issues.  Good.  Yah, I heard you.  Well, we'll see.  No, I mean it.  I really want to know what you think about the meaning of life.  Too big a topic?  Yah, probably.  Hey, I won't charge you anything if you want to guest author a piece or write a comment.  Luv'n it.


              

September 27, 2008

Posted: Keep Out of Washington

              
This is not a political blog.  It's only supposed to be a gamey philosophical one.  You know, for fun and to perk up the reader's intellectual curiosity about arcane and esoteric topics that may make our collective lives a bit richer and perhaps help us all focus on the long haul.  But really.  I mean.  Sorry, but ......... why exactly is it that both presidential nominees have been asked, encouraged, and just plain told to KEEP OUT OF WASHINGTON DURING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS.  Cheez . . .

I almost missed this point, what with all the carefully developed clear and open explanations of the causes and fixes for the current economic crisis clogging up the television airwaves and internet lines, but it's there: the Washington paid politicians don't want the Presidential Nominees (of either party) in Washington while the real work of the people is in progress.

Now, why is that?  Isn't the real work of Washington relevant to the national election process?  I guess not.  Neither candidate bothered to actually answer Jim Lehrer's question about the financial crisis facing the nation.  I suspect they actually agreed to this ahead of time.  It will be much safer making talking points about it after the fix is in.  And clearly nobody in Washington wants them speaking up about the details of the crisis or the details of the possible fixes.  "It just makes things harder for them to be here," to paraphrase the various statements being made.  Why is that?  Aren't both of these guys actually United States Senators?

Oh, I know.  If they are around, the United States Public might actually hear too much about the people's business and how it gets conducted.  So ... back to the show ... Make-up!!


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P.S.  If you disagree, please comment.  Incidently, I'm trying to figure out how to show all comments all of the time.  If I can just figure out Blogger's software settings.  If I can't, then just click the 'comment' line below each posting and make your comment.   Remember, you can use any 'moniker' you want for your comment by selecting 'Name / URL' in the menu area below your comment (your URL is completely optional), or just click the 'anonymous' line.  To see all the comments, click on the Title of any posting and then scroll down.  Do it.  Luv'n it.  It's about our future.
 
               
                

September 24, 2008

$700B ... Maybe It's Just 'Dark Flow'

                             
Sorry, I wasn't listening . . . what was that again?

Did I hear you right, did you jez say $700 billion . . .  for a lil' biddy bailout?  Shor, why not.  Pocket change, I'll jez take it out of my next week's bonus.

Greed, you say, did that?  I doubt that very much.  Now how could a lil' biddy bit of wallstrutting greed do that?  Maybe it's jez som'a that 'dark flow' stuff.  Not snuff ... stuff!

What?  You did'n hear 'bout that one earlier today ... about those scientists who jez discovered that "patches of matter in the universe seem to be moving at very high speeds and in a uniform direction that can't be explained by any of the known gravitational forces in the observable universe."  At least that's according to Clara Moskowitz at Space.com, in an article entitled Mysterious 'Dark Flow' Found in Space.

No, no, no ... Clara's not writing about Greed, dummy, she's writing about what they discovered far out in space ... what researchers think must show that sumthin is out there past the observable edge of our 'universe.'  Don't you member?  I told you 'bout stuff like that, stuff that hurt's my head jez thinking 'bout it.  In my lil' piece entitled Things That Make Your Head Hurt.   Yah, a couple of weeks ago.

Yah, 2nd and 3rd items on my list.  Yah, and below there, too.  No, no, not the part about the lil' boy in the ghetto.  That part's about Elvis.  No, not the part about the beer in the refer.  That part's about ... well, now you made me thirsty.  Thar ya go.  Further down.  That's it, the part about wondering what gravity really is, and what it might be like at or beyond the edge of the universe.  Now ya got it.  Right.  What?  DynaSoar at Slashdot got a lil' sumthin 'bout 'dark flow', too?  Slashdot, that's the news for nerds.stuff that matters place, right?

Yah, I like that place, shor.

No, dark flow is not the same as dark matter and it's not the same as dark energy.  Dark matter is dark cuz we can't see it, dummy.  And dark energy, well, that's the stuff Einstein talked about, which causes galaxies to shove each other apart at ever-increasing speeds.  Yah, I agree, you are not a dummy for not understanding sumthin it took an Einstein to talk about.  But you are still a dummy for not knowing that dark matter is dark cuz you can't see it even when you shine a light on it.  I don't know why it doesn't reflect light.  But it's the most common stuff in the universe.  That's why you should know about it.  It's what keeps the galaxies from blowing apart at the seams.  Yah, now you got it.  No dark stuff, no galaxy.  And no galaxy, no dummy, dummy.

What do you mean you want a picture of it?

But dark flow, now that's new, I think.  It says sumthin really, really big is out past the edge of the observable universe and its pulling stuff towards it.  No, I don't know what's out there.  I just said it's out past the edge of the observable universe.  But the stuff that is moving towards it is moving towards it at a speed of some 2 million miles per hour.  Yah, that's pretty fast.  And the 'stuff' being pulled is, like, a cluster of a thousand galaxies.  That's right, that's a lot of dummies on the move.

Maybe $700 billion worth.

No, that doesn't mean I think we should bail out the financial dummies, dummy.  I mean that the rest of us, not counting them, are worth at least that much.  Well, the book is still open on you.  And I suppose on them, too.

No, I'm sure they don't have $700 billion to pay us back if we bail 'em out.  Yah, I do think Greed did it, or at least a lot of it.  Not telling the Truth has a lot to do with it, too, I suspect. 

No, I don't know if they are Hawks or Doves ... What?  Women?  Now, cut that out ... a lot of them are women, but probably far less than half of the Wall Street dummies are women at this point.  Some people say women would never have gotten us into this mess, but what's either of those points got to do with 'dark flow'?

Why are we worth so much?  Well, so we, or our grandkids, can figure out what's out there, don'cha think?  Yes, we need a telescope.


       

September 23, 2008

Why Men Like Women

    
Duh.

Show me a curve, a round area, a soft spot, a leg, the nape of the neck, hair, some cleavage (any amount is fine), an up skirt angle, high heels, make-up, a panty line, the lack of a panty line, an empire waist, a tight waist, a loose flowing look, no waist line, a smiling female face, a pouty female face, okay, any female face, and I'll show you a place my eyes will focus, no matter what "I" do to avoid it.

It cannot be avoided.  Men like the way women look.

Duh.

Do we like women for their brains?  You must be kidding.  Of course we do.  (Didn't expect that, did you!)  But it's not a woman's brains that attracts our wandering eyes.  No, lawdy, it's our brains (not that other part) that "see" a woman and cause us to react to what we see, automatically, instanteously, without hesitation or excuse.  Bingo.  Later we will apologize for the wandering "I" and like Jimmie Carter, may even admit to some lusty stuff there in our heart, but in the short run it's all about our mind's eye.  And if we happen to be blind, we can smell a woman.  Hooah.

Why do I report this?  I have daughters, you might say, and incredibly, when I see my daughters, it is pride I feel not that other stuff, yet I report on this anyway.  Why?  O, why, take up your time with these trivial observations?  Because, in my humble opinion, it goes to the heart of how human life works, and needs to be truly accounted for, along with that predator/dove stuff.  Stop kidding yourselves, it's pretty primal out there, and maybe getting primalier - urr . . . more primal.  As rw says, in a world of hawks, doves are not going to survive.  Or are they?

Since I'm not a woman, only a woman can say why women like men.

What say ye, women?  Speak up.  Are ye all just pretty doves?


         

September 21, 2008

Unavoidable

        
Been thinking a lot about game theory.  Nothing new about that, I play quite a bit of poker.  Game theory is all there is to fall back on sometimes in a tough game, and I tend to view poker as a microcosm of life, another tough game.

I started applying game theory to the rise of humanity.  Using the Hawk/Dove scenario it seems reasonable to me that predators (hawks) and prey (doves) have always existed.  I will use the labels Predator/Prey because the Hawk/Dove labels carry political connotations that may have a place, but would cloud my point.

Predators by definition are less likely to form co-operative social structures than prey for the simple reason that they can't truly be trusted to cooperate.  Predators improve their position solely by defeating opponents.  Prey, on the other hand, form complex social structures of interdependency in order to secure their position and provide incremental improvement to all prey equally.

The meteoric rise of humanity to become, I have read, the most populous vertebrate species on the planet is a result of the success of the cooperative strategies designed by prey to create a system where cooperative strategies are sufficiently beneficial to marginalize the all or nothing strategies employed by predators.

At some point though, the law of diminishing returns rears its ugly head and the benefits of co-operation fall to the point of little or no value.  In poker this break point is clearest when you and another have eliminated all the other players, and now you must decide if heads up play with its inherent difficulties is worth the risk of losing your stack, against the gain of winning their stack.  What may be less obvious is when you initially sit down to the table you face the same decision which will lead to the same end game scenario throughout the game.  There is always, always a point where co-operative strategies are no longer of benefit.

As a species, I think we are very near that branch in the logic tree where all players become hawks, and in a game of hawks only, doves don't survive.

              

September 17, 2008

So Much for Silence

      
What can I say? 

$85 billion dollar (is that redundant?) 
  ~~~~ bailout loan for AIG. 

Gird your loins.




       

September 16, 2008

Silence is Golden

        
           
          
             
              
                  
                       
                                 
                                      
                         
                               
                                
         
            
                
               
               
               
                          

September 15, 2008

Hurricane on Wall Street

     
One storm has wrecked physical havoc while the next will wreck financial havoc.  Wall Street is not the customary site for a hurricane but Lehman is filing Chapter 11 while Merrill is selling to Bank of America.  On the same day.  After Indy/Mac collapsed only weeks ago and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became overwhelmed even more recently.

Reports continually state that 110 banks are in serious trouble and may not be here next year.

Cheez.

Guess somebody didn't tell the truth about how adjustable rate mortgages might not work out for the folks.  Not that this problem has a single cause.  But truth telling, and greed, have something to do with this financial hurricane.  I think, anyway.

Hope everyone gets a chance to rebuild their homes and businesses in Galveston.  Hope some high level financial executives don't get their bonuses this year.  Hope Bank of America and CitiBank don't end up owning everything in America. 

What makes us think they won't collapse, too?  Nah, of course they won't.  I feel certain they at least pay out nice bonues for executives who successfully protect long-term interests.

Cheez.

Somebody send FEMA to Wall Street.


               

September 13, 2008

Storms in Twos

  
Seems like hurricanes now hit the Gulf in pairs.  Katrina and Rita, Gustav and Ike.

Of course, there's no magic in the number 2, or any other number.

Remember Alicia (1983), Allen (1980), Celia (1970), Beulah (1967), Carla (1961), the great Galveston granddaddy storm (1900, killing maybe 8,000), and those are just some of the Texas ones. 

Remember Andrew (Fla, then La, 1992), Hugo (SC, 1989), Camille (La, Ms, 1969), to name just a few more.

So what's it all about, Alfie?  Well, mother nature is real.

And humans are part of that.

We just have to remember to save the children. 


     
       

September 11, 2008

Remembrance

                   
9/11
                     
         
                    
                  
            
                       
                                                  Save the Children
               
               
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Credits -

          Photographs courtesy of:  cemerson (June 2008)
    

    
               

September 3, 2008

Lipstick on Pitbulls

   
No, that's not it.  It's lipstick on hockey moms.  That's how you tell Palin from a pitbull, says Palin herself in front of a wowed audience.  Gotta admit, she was effective.  Home run, perhaps, for John McCain.  Spunky 44 year old mom.  This should eliminate the clatter about her family, at least for now.

But not about experience.  Attack, she did, Barack Obama, with the full force of a humorous pitbull.   'What does he actually seek to accomplish after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet?' she wants to know, pointing out how little Obama achieved in his various political offices.  Why, to grow a bigger government and take more of our money, she says, answering her own question.

But we knew that.  All democrats do that.  No republicans do that.  Republicans use the veto, and leave somebody behind.  Democrats squander all of somebody's money on wasteful and ineffective programs.

So what's new?

Don't get me wrong.  I liked her.  I imagine everyone liked her.  That fiesty pitbull with lipstick and rouge.  But I like Obama, too, you know, the guy with the sappy slow cadence who will bring us change.  Yes, yes we can.  We think we can, we think we can.  We knew we could, we knew we could.  Now where have I heard that before?

But wait . . . if Obama gets done 'turning back the waters and healing the planet,' why would he then need to grow a bigger government and take more of our money?  Seems he would have accomplished a lot by then, and might choose to rest on the seventh day, and leave the government and our pocketbooks alone for awhile.  Oh, I get it, it doesn't have to be logical, just an emoting political slap in the face against the democrats, kinda like the emoting political slap in the face against McCain, saying he'll just be another 4 years, another 4 years, another 4 years, of, ah . . . the previous guy.  Well, that wouldn't be change.

So how can any of our leaders say this isn't just politics as usual?  And what in the world did we just go through more than a year of primary campaigning for?

I know this much.  I still can't get through an airport in America without taking my shoes off, and watching a lot of grandmothers take their's off, too.  Remind me again, please, which party is against that?   That's the party I want to vote for.  In the meantime, I hope somebody heals the planet.  Seems pretty important, whether ye be favoring lipstick or old spice.

      

September 2, 2008

Historic Truth, Political Blunders?

        
It may be an historic truth that the democrats just lost the opportunity to elect the first woman as vice president.  That is, if we can sort out our value responses to Palin’s seventeen year old daughter being pregnant.  On the other hand, why did the republicans pick a woman governor with such admittedly limited experience to be a heartbeat away?  What’s actually going on in Washington?

At least we don’t have to worry about the economy, Gustav, terrorism, the Iraq War, illegal immigration, global warming, healthcare or lack thereof, a runaway legal system, collapsing infrastructure, highest bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures in history, free trade, loss of American manufacturing, decline in American standard of living or world hunger.  We can all spend a welcome and restful few days looking into other people's family values.

As is life's want (to borrow a phrase from a friend), one of Claude Monet’s women with parasol paintings randomly popped up on my monet google gadget, inspiring me to write the above piece.  The one looking left, oddly enough.  But that was before I learned Palin had a daughter.  I have since had to modify the intended short piece by adding the second sentence and the whole second paragraph.  Cheez, what breaking news does to a fellow.  What say ye?  Do you think Monet’s model was pregnant?  Take a look.

And don’t take any meaning from the fact that the model is facing left.  Monet also painted the model (apparently his stepdaughter) facing right.  Of course that’s from Monet’s perspective.  The left facing model is facing right, from her perspective, and vice versa. 

                   

Essai de figure en plein air (vers la gauche)     Essai de figure en plein air (vers la droite)
Figure in open air (to the left)                                    Figure in open air (to the right)
Claude Monet (1886)                                                           Claude Monet (1886)
Musée d'Orsay, Paris                                                          Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Or have I not asked the right questions here? 
I mean, there is no shadow cast by the figure facing right. 
What is that about?  I wonder if Sarah Palin has been to Paris.

Your turn.


 * * *

Credits -
       the Democratic Party, currently led by Barack Obama & Joe Biden
       the Republican Party, currently led by John McCain & Sarah Palin
       the American Public
       Paintings: by Claude Monet (1886), at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris
                         please click rite chere to see the museum's home page
       Phrase borrowed and adapted:  'life, as is its want,'
                         from Lemonade Out of Curveballs,
                         RandomWalk, July 11, 2008
          
           
        

September 1, 2008

Hurrah

   
The levees in town held today, hurrah, hurrah
Power is out and the water topped, hurrah, hurrah
but the men have cheered and the boys will shout
while the ladies they will turn about
And we'll all feel gay
When everyone makes it home


 * * *

Credit -
        Musical arrangement:  Johnny Comes Marching Home Again,
              song credited to Patrick S. Gilmore,
              bandmaster of the Union Army
        Musical link with original lyrics: 
              http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/johnny.htm