Paul Grignon strikes again with another bon bon, this time, the subject concerns Bailouts along with a concise explanation of how banking really works. Guaranteed to make you angry all over again. :)
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Speaker John Boehner, R. Ohio
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
During this interminable election campaign for president, there are calls for the Mittster to release his tax returns, something his father did, for 12 years, when he ran for president back in '68. As per BRT's wont, this blurb is not about the Mittster but rather about the fact eminent pols, John Boener and Nancy Pelosi, are steadfast against the notion of Congressional members releasing their tax returns, a concept yours truly finds should be a necessity given the fact we pay these people to supposedly represent us.
"When I run for president of the United States, you can hold me to that standard," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who refuses to disclose her returns, told reporters during a tense news conference.
“There are no rules. There are no rules. There’s no rule about releasing his tax return, so what rules are you referring to?” she asked, growing clearly frustrated. Asked about the standard she had cited for a presidential candidate, Pelosi said, “It’s up to the American people. The American people are the judges of that.”
After being questioned about why her demand for more transparency from Romney shouldn’t apply to Congress as well, she briefly changed course and said the issue of tax returns was not important.
Boehner's response was equally interesting.
“I’ve never released my tax returns. That’s my private business, just like it’s your own private business,” he told a news conference.
Boehner called the furor over returns a “sideshow . . . the American people are asking the question where are the jobs. They’re not asking where are the tax returns.”
When anyone strenuously objects to releasing information such as this (Romney Tax Returns?), then something's afoot as the great Sherlock Holmes would say whenever an interesting case would come his way.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Disruptive, the most potent of terms, can appropriately be assigned to Cousera, the online experiment that will change higher education forever. Seen above is Umesh Vazirani's intro to Quantum Mechanics & Quantum Computing, subjects dear to yours truly. The catch in all of this is 1. it's free and 2, it's for beginners like me to learn the intricacies of both without having to know a lot of math. Major universities are signing up as they are beginning to realize the cost of sending Harvey to Harvard for 70K/year is no longer tenable and...in the long run, is becoming financially wasteful, as usefulness and competency in a given field is now starting to take precedence over getting a degree, particularly in tech, a discipline permeating every aspect of our lives 24/7.
PS, I'm taking the course. Hopefully I'll pass but what the hell, the journey's the key, not the destination. :)
On another note, collaboration and innvation on the web continues unabated as seen by the Exquisite Forest, a venture supported by Google and significant others. As often stated in BRT, tech has no moralilty but, because of this, there are no limits, which, in the long term, is a good thing, something nature has known about since the beginning of time. :)
Sunday, July 15, 2012
The wheels are falling off the financial system as seen by this post from the NY Times ...
Barclays manipulated the most widely used benchmark rate, the London interbank offered rate. But Barclays is just one member of the cozy club that sets the Libor, which is supposed to be based on the average rate at which large banks can borrow money overnight. It’s not based on actual transactions, however — and that leaves room for mischief.
And mischief there was, according to e-mails and other documents that Barclays has turned over to regulators in the United States and Britain. The upshot: traders colluded by posting rates that either helped their bets in the markets or their bank’s perceived financial strength during the harrowing days of 2008.
Manipulating the Libor is a big deal because it affects the cost of money for almost everyone. The Libor is used to set rates on mortgages, credit cards and all manner of loans, personal and commercial. The amount of money affected by the phony rates is at least $500 trillion, British regulators have estimated.
So, where does that leave the US regarding the Fed's stewardship over maintaining valid interbank lending rates in this country, particularly when viewed in the light of another quote from Gretchen Morgenson's in depth article.
“Dirty clean” versus “clean clean” pretty much sums up Wall Street’s view of cheating. If everybody does it, nobody should be held accountable if caught. Alas, many United States regulators and prosecutors seem to have bought into this argument.
Ah, this is where it gets most interesting according to Matt Taibbi.
When the rest of this scandal comes out, and it turns out that up to 15 more of the world's biggest banks (including Chase, Bank of America, and Citi) were doing the same thing as Barclays, our regulators better start "inflecting their eyebrows" pretty damn vigorously. Because if it comes out that these other banks were all involved with this scandal (and it will come out that way, almost for sure), and their CEOs and COOs get to keep their jobs, that'll be a sure sign that the fix is in. Let's hope Ben Bernanke, Eric Holder, and Tim Geithner are listening.
New wheels anyone? Maybe now, transparency becomes the law of the land regarding finance because without it, this kind of nonsense will continue to go on ad nauseum thanks to tech, obfuscation and government collusion with the banks and the Fed to keep this unsustainable system going
no matter the cost.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
A tipping point, as one knows, is where a seemingly little thing can make a big difference, i.e. a drop in temperature from 33 degrees Fahrenheit to 32 will cause a pond to freeze over or, if all the CO2 laced oil trapped in the Alberta Tar Sands is extracted, Earth could become Venus, a frightening scenario deemed imminently possible according to James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in his Game Over analysis in stating just how environmentally devastating the Tar Sands project truly is.
If we continue to approve pipelines bringing in the dirtiest of fuels like tar sands he said, “there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.”
But there's more.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
We are running out of planet in our insane way of trying to sustain the unsustainable and earth is beginning to fight back. As often stated in BRT, we need earth, earth does not need us. At this point in time, Agent Smith is right. We are a virus. We occupy a space, extract everything worthwhile from that space and move on but now there's no other space to go to so something has to give. Tech can either save us or kill us depending on the choice we make. The question to to ask now is, do we have the vision and courage to make the right choice before it's too late?
Sitting on your duff can kill you, without question.
Several recent studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can harm our health, weakening muscles and decreasing overall physical fitness.
And now, a new analysis of several studies on long periods of sedentary behavior has concluded that sitting for more than three hours a day can actually take two years off your life.
And that’s even if you exercise regularly and refrain from bad habits like smoking.
But there’s more bad news.
They’ve also determined that watching TV for more than two hours a day cuts your life expectancy by another 1.4 years.
If this data doesn't get you moving, maybe this post from the Wall Street Journal will.
The study bolsters an emerging body of research that points to a number of dangers associated with leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Last year, scientists found that people who worked 10 years in sedentary jobs, or jobs that don't require a lot of energy expenditure, had twice the risk of colon cancer and a 44% increased risk of rectal cancer, compared with people who had never worked sedentary jobs.
And in March, scientists found that the rate of cancers linked to obesity and lack of physical activity, such as cancers of the kidney, pancreas, lower esophagus and uterus, rose every year from 1999 through 2008.
Ah, modernity comes at a cost, just like everything else, but you already knew that, right?
Friday, July 13, 2012
Charles Smith is a gem. Smart, commonsensical and succinct, his take on economics is spot on. Demystification is key to his analysis and his recent post, The Global Economy: It's All About Increasing Leverage, shows why the current system is certain to fail as nothing is infinite save for the multiverse, a notion the banksters will never understand.
If we look at the global economy with unclouded eyes, we reach this conclusion: "This whole thing is about leverage." If leverage doesn't increase, the system implodes. But since collateral is disappearing from the global economy like sand castles in a rising tide, and disposable income has stagnated, there is no foundation for more leverage.
As a result, the State/finance cartel has only one choice: increase leverage by whatever means are left. There are only two:
1. Allow banks to claim phantom assets as capital/reserves
2. Lower interest rates so stagnant income can leverage ever greater quantities of debt.
This explains why the State/finance Empire in Europe keeps lowering reserve requirements for its insolvent banks. If the reserve requirement is 10%, then you need 100 million euros on deposit in cash to support 1 billion euros in loans. If you lower the reserve requirement to 1 euro, then the contents of a child's piggy bank supports 1 billion euros in debt.
The other game is to claim phantom assets have market values that justify their substitution of cash. Let's say a bank owns a villa in Spain since the mortgage went bust. The market value of the villa is 100,000 euros and the bank's mortgage was 300,000 euros. If the bank sold the villa, it would have to absorb a 200,000 euro loss.
Yikes. Absorbing losses that exceed the net increase in reserves from profits would lead to the lender's insolvency being recognized. The "work-around" is to keep the villa on the books at 500,000 euros. Not only does the 200,000 euro loss go away, the bank now has 200,000 in capital to leverage into more debt. (500,000 in assets minus 300,000 in mortgage leaves 200,000 in phantom assets/capital.)
In order to do this efficiently, the banksters use tech to convert dollars (euros, yuan etc., etc.) to bits and move these increasingly worthless currencies at ever increasing speeds from nation to nation to temporarily shore up never ending holes in the system in order for the house of cards to remain standing.
Hans Brinker, the little Dutch Boy putting fingers in the dyke comes to mind here.
As often stated in BRT, if tech ran this way, there would be no fire as creating something out of nothing is impossible save for religion and banking, two systems forever shrouded in mystery to those who lack the initiative to find out why this is so.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Great design is invisible. Not literally, of course, but in functionality. If something is well designed, using it becomes effortless. something just done without having to think about it. Project Glass has the potential to be great design with tech in the background, as Google's Sergey Brin would say, enabling people to interact with it seamlessly, without interruption and without the need to know too much to make it do what you want it to do.
BRT wrote a blurb about this innovative tech stating the hardware looks cool, the potential looks promising and the impact truly disruptive if the interface works as it should in Minority Report Circa 2012.
Seen here is a closeup of the device Google patented back in October of 2011.
Potential uses of this hardware becomes endless, one of which is something yours truly will use to the max when the hardware becomes available, concerns speech recognition (which Glass will have) and it's ability to convert speech to readable text, a boon to folks as deaf as I am.
Monday, July 02, 2012
BRT has often commented on how nature finds a way, always, a notion Monsanto seems to ignore at it's peril.
What will be the end of Monsanto? Could it be lawsuits, new legislation, or perhaps even a tiny insect that is less than 0.10 mm in length. A new report reveals that rootworms may ultimately be what ends Monsanto's crops, despite the biotech giant's rampant success within the United States legislative system. Amazingly, western corn rootworms have virtually no problem gobbling up Monsanto's modified maize crop, as they have developed a serious resistance to the very crops designed to kill them. So much so that these little critters are outpacing Monsanto's top scientists.
When factoring in the use of pesticides vis a vis it's adverse effects on natal intelligence, the necessity to move away from this modality of food production is too obvious to ignore.
Addendum: Click here to see the impact insecticides are having on honeybees, the insect responsible for pollinating 70% of the food crops in the USA.
Pesticides, ubiquitous among not only the food supply but farms and homes worldwide, have been found to be creating lasting changes in overall brain structure — changes that have been linked to lower intelligence levels and decreased cognitive function. Previously linked in scientific research to the massive obesity crisis, pesticides are now known to impact the mind in ways that are still not entirely understood. Despite these findings, they are continually touted as safe by the profit-hungry chemical industry.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, observed pregnant mothers in New York who were exposed to a pesticide known as chlorpyrifos (CPF). Banned in 2001 from household use, the chemical is still used worldwide in agriculture. That’s right, this is a chemical that is not permitted to be used in your home, though it is perfectly fine to spray on your food. What the researchers found was that women who had higher levels of CPF had children with ”significant abnormalities” in brain structure compared to mothers with lower exposure levels.
As GMO products continue to proliferate, the question to ask is, how long can this insanity go on? If it was up to Monsanto, the answer would be, Forever, a concept aided and abetted by the Supreme Court when it allowed seeds to be patented just like the Patent Office in allowing big pharma to patent genes.
Monsanto developed G.M. seeds that would resist its own herbicide, Roundup, offering farmers a convenient way to spray fields with weed killer without affecting crops. Monsanto then patented the seeds. For nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office had refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented. “It’s not like describing a widget,” says Joseph Mendelson III, the legal director of the Center for Food Safety, which has tracked Monsanto’s activities in rural America for years.
Indeed not. But in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, turned seeds into widgets, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply. In its decision, the court extended patent law to cover “a live human-made microorganism.” In this case, the organism wasn’t even a seed. Rather, it was a Pseudomonas bacterium developed by a General Electric scientist to clean up oil spills. But the precedent was set, and Monsanto took advantage of it. Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Farmers who buy Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the seed produced after each harvest for re-planting, or to sell the seed to other farmers. This means that farmers must buy new seed every year. Those increased sales, coupled with ballooning sales of its Roundup weed killer, have been a bonanza for Monsanto.
It is folly to ignore the infinite complexity of life and how it works in the connected realm of the quantum, something Monsanto's beginning to discover as it's GMO corn cash cow continues to be feasted upon by the ever adaptive corn rootworm, another prime example of why nature finds a way, always.