Debtors suck

And I may be pissed at you.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was pissed because of the current economic situation. I'm now pissed just a bit more. Banks, in all their wisdom are trying to "forgive" credit card debt.

On one hand, I get why this is important - it will open up those full lines of credit and spur our economy, relieve the millions of debtors that are at the end of their ropes and cause far fewer debtors to default on the debt they have accumulated and thus save the banks money in the end.

On the other hand, I think this is just another bad idea in a string of bad ideas. It won't repossess the big screen TV or the multitude of other unnecessary things that built up that credit card debt in the first place.

The worst part of this plan is that it won't teach anyone a lesson. Nobody will learn that you can't "charge it" forever. Nobody will learn that you can't lend to people who can't afford to pay the bill.

Lets talk about the reason I'm pissed.

It's simple. I'm pissed because I didn't "charge" a new TV, so I'm still watching a 12 year old 32 inch "tube" TV that takes up half the room. While I've been able to "afford" a new TV for a long time, I have been waiting to purchase one until the prices came down and it made more economic sense or until the current TV broke. "Charging" a new 1500.00 flat screen on a credit card seemed foolish. Now I feel like such a fool for being so fiscally responsible.

Had I known that I'd be able to charge that TV and not have to actually pay it off, that it would ultimately be as much as 40% off, I would have charged up every card that I had.

Of course, I feel like double the fool because all the money that I was not spending on TVs and home appliances went towards investments that are now down.

So, I'm just a little more pissed.

But this time, I think I have a solution:

I should go run up my stack of unused credit cards, take out a home equity line and buy a lot of things that I can't afford. It's the new American way, and I can't believe that I've been blind to it for so long.


p.s. Still have a credit card? Are you one of the few, the proud, the over chargers that will get "relief" from the "unjust" credit crunch where people "tricked" you into borrowing more money than you could afford to pay back?

Paypal me $1500.00 so that I can buy a new TV.

Zombie love

Another great zombie post.

Great ad for Obama

McCain in his own words.

Hard times coming for the next president

An interesting article in the NYT (registration required) mentions something fairly obvious but overlooked about the current election amid economic crisis. The idea that the candidates are basically fighting for the right to face down the demons that have us in their grips.

Personally, I think this says a lot for the mettle of both men.

However, I cannot wait for the prime time speech that Obama will be giving during the world series. I don't watch baseball, but this year, this game, will certainly have my rapt attention.

Go Colin Powell

Powell endorses Obama... Nuff Said.

A lot of original Mac and Apple stories

Check out It's a great site with a lot of stories about the early days of the Mac. I'm a sucker for early silicon valley, and this is a treasure trove.

Probably the best reason to vote Obama

Because the rest of the world might just start thinking that we aren't assholes anymore.

Obama roasts McCain

I didn't know that Obama could be so funny. If he hadn't passed away, I would swear that this was written by Dean Martin.

Part one:

Part Two:

Stop paying your mortgage?

Sad but true. It's come to this. I know that the article is a rant and does not propose that as a real solution, but after reading, I found quite a few articles that do propose that as a real workable solution.

Anyone else here feel like a sucker?

I propose a new law. Let's just shoot on sight anyone who does not pay their bills.

Too harsh?

RIP: Wall Street, Main Street, and any other street.

I guess that there will be no value in business after this week.

Maybe every ounce of value is gone. No company that has a ticker symbol will make it through even the next few months. It's all just over.

Maybe we have reached a point that is unrecoverable. Not in terms of a short term stock market hit where a lot of people get scared out of stocks, but a point much worse. A point where everyone gets scared and freezes up.

Maybe we've decided collectively, as a species, that it's over. That we need to end any kind of good thing that is going on and just stop.

Probably some companies during this earnings season will report good numbers. But all forward guidance given by any intelligent CFO will be cut "just in case" anyway so any good won't matter.

Oh well.

Guess what. It's not even Wall street that is the real problem. Wall Street is just an indicator of what is to come. Wall Street will probably recover pretty soon and start making more money for all of the people who still have money. But based on what is going on in the market right now, this next 2 to 5 years will be a real shit-storm for Main Street. As they say, "You ain't seen nothing yet"

But how bad could it be?

Enough of the bad news has leaked out into the general population that "Everyday Joe" everywhere will now cut back because they are now scared and it takes a long time for "Everyday Joe" to recover. Anyone who has not lost a house is battening down whatever hatches they still have.

This is a self fulfilling prophecy of the worst kind and I don't think that we'll see a good indication of a recovery for many years. I think it's truly possible that we are actually going to see the worst.

A better question is "did anyone see this coming?"

This is where this gets interesting. I sort of did, but I didn't want to believe it. I read about this back in 2005 in books that foretold this very thing. I even made a point about talking about it to anyone who would listen.

One of the books that I read at that time was a book by a crazy man named Harry Dent.

Not Harvey Dent (the Two Face) or Arthur Dent (the galactic traveler), but some whack job called Harry Dent. Read the reviews on Amazon and it will seem that the world hates him. (but do they hate him now?)

What makes this interesting is that despite some timing differences (He's off by a about a year) the book was written years before this cycle really got underway.

His book is based on a theory called the Kondratiev Wave, or the "Long Wave". (If you haven't guessed, it's a theory by a Russian economist named Kondratiev.)

Long Wave theory is nutty stuff that states simply there is a season for everything and everything must have it's season. It goes on to state that these seasons are cyclical in nature and that there are many cycles that overlap. 4 Year cycles that follow presidential elections, Ten year cycles that follow decades and even 20, 40, 80 and even hundred year cycles.

These waves bring up and down times and right now, all of them, every last one, is lined up at the perfect low. The last time this was set up like this? The great depression, this chart shows a few seemingly perfectly spaced dips, with each following a spike. This alignment of cycles is called the Grand Supercycle in Harry's book.

Pretty Ominous really. But it made a lot of sense to me when I read it. The charts were what really scared me. They make a bit too much visual sense.

I've been trying to figure out whether this is all crap or not for the last few years of my life. I guess that the next year will make me a believer or show me that this is all bunk.

So how does all of this affect you and me?

As I said before, the stock market is a great indicator of what will happen to the economy going forward. Stocks drop before main street feels the pain. The great depression didn't happen during the course of a single day on Wall Street, it happened over ten years after everyone went home that day. We may well face that same situation right now. And if so, I'm not looking forward to what comes next after the size of the train that is in process of running us over right now.

I sincerely hope that things do not get this bad, but it's possible that we could be facing a time when the best investments are food and guns.

Me, I'm crossing my fingers that this will turn around and hoping beyond hope that wave theory turns out to be the aforementioned bunk. Because If I'm wrong, not much matters anyway.

Holding and buying (selectively).


If you are interested in the Kondratiev wave or Harry Dent's book, here are some helpful links:

Wikipedia page on the Kordnatiev Wave

Long Wave Analyst

Google books has a great preview of the book.

And of course, I have no idea where I found this chart, but it's great. I have had it for several years and it shows wave theory very well in many aspects. Use your right mouse button to zoom in and your mouse to pan around once you have. Awesome stuff.

New Macbook Pro

I do wish they had announced the 17 inch. I was hoping to move to a larger screen resolution.

But I need a new computer so bad that I had to make the leap. I'm tired of the little spinning beach ball.

I have to say, this computer that I'm using now has been a champ. Back when I was freelancing full time, I would upgrade almost every six months. In contrast, the Macbook Pro that I'm on now, a first gen 15 inch, has lasted almost 3 years. Phenomenal in computer years, but definitely starting to show it's age.

In a few short days, I'll be typing on the beauty pictured here. I ended up grabbing the top of the line with all kinds of upgrades. It will be an awesome machine and I'm looking forward to feeling cutting edge again.

I'm still going to put OS X on my Wind though. Maybe this weekend.

One picture is worth a thousand words.

Found on Flickr

I hate being a fanboy - But I need a new laptop

And of course, the object in question can be seen here. (perhaps, if true).

Here is a list of Apple liveblog locations for today's "The focus turns to Notebooks" event you will find me watching these today as I'm taking a day off to try and finish up some needed tasks at home. (um... taxes for last year.)

News from the 1929 Stock Market Crash

This country is fundamentally sound and the economy is strong.

Hmm... Sound familiar?

Regulation is bad... Just ask this guy... (or John McCain ;-)

And of course, the end result, a lot of you will get out of the market for good like this lady who lost her million. Of course, had she managed to place the 25,000 she had left in the market or kept the stocks that she owned, she'd probably be a millionaire a few times over before she grew old.

Fox Movietone news by way of "the big picture"

WSJ - what history tells us about the market.

We're at a strange time. Financial advice has essentially turned to prayers and shrugged shoulders. Financial news sites are reporting on events that have few living witnesses not because there was massive death at the scene, but because most alive at the time have passed on from old age.

That's not a bad thing. This article by the WSJ is, I think, more helpful than any other advice or modern news on what the G7 are up to this weekend. An article in a news site about events that took place almost 80 years ago. About as far from "news" as you can get. But you should read it. Another feature comes from Newsweek. Also a great way to spend a few minutes.

If you have some time to read about the events of 1929 and other crashes, I'd recommend listening or reading Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (here is the iTunes link: Edwin Lefevre - Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (Unabridged))

It's a story about a stock operator modeled on Jesse Livermoore from the turn of the last century who lived through a lot of what we are living through now and thrived on movements like these.

I listened to it a few months ago and have thought back to it many times during this crisis. If I could have embraced Jesse's love for "plunging" earlier, I'd be a very rich man. Sadly, I believe too much in the country to bet against it so strongly.

Interactive bear market chart NYT

The NYT does it again with an awesome chart showing this bear against all other bears. Looking at this chart, it looks as if we have a while to go, but possibly the worse is passed and now truly is the time to look for bargains.

I'm still in AAPL, and I feel they are at a bottom. I'm playing a lot with QID when the market goes down, and I'm keeping my Marvel. I've pretty much sold out of everything else.

I usually don't play things safe, so this downturn has hurt a lot and I felt it before many others did. This bear has been painful to say the least.

Speaking of the bear markets on the chart, none of them, including this current one compares at all to the awesomeness of the bear cavalry.

Zombie Saturday

After the financial Armageddon, I'm sure the zombies will come. Personally, I'm fortifying the house with zombie proof barricades, shotguns and many more defensible items I recently gathered frm my local Walmart. And to practice my defenses, I've been playing these two awesome zombie killing games.

Mindless... Unrelenting... Bloody...

Just what good zombie games should be. Enjoy.

The two games are a series, so play the Last Stand before the Last Stand 2. There isn't much difference stylistically or with general game play, but there are some difficulties added in LS2 that make the game a little harder.


YouTube in "Super HD"

er... Sorry.

Suddenly, SNL is relevant again.

Believe it or not, Saturday Night live has come back on the radar. It seems that everywhere you look, there is a clip or link or comment about something political. The amazing thing I just noticed is that they all seem to be from SNL.

Aside from the first season DVD's that we picked up, I haven't watched much SNL for about fifteen years. I think that my viewing time over those fifteen years can probably be counted in minutes, certainly less than a couple of hours.

But now, with this great commentary on very relevant topics, I think that John Stewart and Steven Colbert have some real competition for the crown.

This clip shows the bailout bill announcement in a hilarious and yet, very poignant way. While there is some banter around blaming republicans and democrats, in the end of the clip the people who I think are real culprits get lampooned as well.

Congrats SNL.

McCain and Keating via Obama

I watched this last night and I wanted to pass this on to do my part.

This is a video paid for by the Obama campaign that details some of the interactions that John McCain had in the "Keating five" Savings and Loan issue.

Just because I don't expect anyone to take anything for face value. I'll also include a link to CNN factchecker so that you can take their word for it that this is all true. What did CNN find out? Hint: It's true.

Did social media just cause the second great depression?

By now, everyone knows that we had a huge bailout that did not pass and then did pass.

One of the stated reasons for the bill not passing the first time by many representatives was the high number of their constituents who contacted them saying that this bill should not pass.

In this video, congresswoman Bachmann states that she received a 10 to 1 ratio of calls against the bailout and that was similar to the experiences of other members.

Of course, there have always been people who would contact Washington to give them a piece of their minds, but now in the world of immediate contact through email, online forms, massive social organization by sites like Facebook, Digg and Reddit, community organization is far easier than it ever was.

Think about it. Social media has had a huge effect on the campaigns of the more technology savvy politicians like Obama and those with social savvy followers like Ron Paul. This theory is not unrealistic.

At one point prior to the first bill failing to pass, while I was reading Reddit (My favorite site) I noticed that there was one post on "stopping the bailout" for every five other posts Everyone was pushing to have people contact Washington and tell them the bailout was a bad thing and to vote it down. Digg was in a similar state. Twitter was "all atwitter" about stopping the bailout.

I think that it's a plausible scenario that all that social activity on Reddit, Digg Facebook and other social sites could have tipped the first bill from "pass" to "fail" in the minds of some congresspeople and swayed their votes to stop the bill.

I'm not saying that the actual sites themselves were read by the congress, but that the power leveraged by distributing the message "of the people" much more efficiently than it would have happened twenty years ago.

I'm saying that social media allowed much more efficient recruiting of constituents to sign petitions, attend rallies and telephone representatives.

The bill failed when it really needed to pass. It didn't pass until almost a week later. Had it passed the first time, we might be in a better place.

I know it seems hard to fathom but in a situation as dire as the one that we are in, a week is a very long time. A lot of things froze up in the economy during that week. Things that might have provided just enough liquidity to keep the economy from going over the edge that it has seemingly gone. That one week could have been the "tipping point".

If that proves true, then it's possible that the failure of our economy can be partially blamed on the popularity of Reddit, Digg and Facebook. Potentially it could actually be the fault of those social sites. The votes were close enough that a clown car load (23) of congressmen would have changed the outcome.

A pretty small number that could plausibly be affected by calls, emails and letters.

What will monday bring?

The hoopla about whether the bailout should be passed has passed and now we must focus on all new hoopla about what the fallout from passing the bill will bring.

Will our taxes skyrocket? Will our stocks drop or rise? Will banks get enough money to survive or will they all fail anyway?

Considering that My taxes are already rising, my stocks are already dropping and at least one of my banks have been acquired, I'd say that all of that sounds plausible.

I'm thinking that we'll see a rate cut, a stimulus package and a number of small bank failures before we get out of the month of October.

Currently thinking: puts and QID on the next rally up.

Steve Jobs heart attack rumor is a "fail" for citizen media, big media and blog media.

On Friday, October 3rd 2008, CNN proved how costly "citizen" news and blogs can be.

It cost a 10% drop in AAPL in about ten minutes. 10% adds up to about 9 Billion Dollars of their market cap at today's prices and is an awful big hit to take from an untrue rumor spread by a blog.

By allowing news stories to be written and published directly by readers, CNN is expanding on our great democracy and the importance of a free press. But by presenting that un-verified news with the CNN logo, they are also lending a certain amount of validity to things that are just not true. So much validity was added to one false story that Henry Blodget's Alley Insider decided to push out a story prior to adequate fact checking.

The item in question is a citizen journalist's "iReport" that Steve Jobs had a heart attack. The text from that iReport is below:

"Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven’t seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it."

As it turns out, Steve Jobs did not have a heart attack. Apple released a statement almost immediately to that fact. All that was actually newsworthy was that this incident proves that CNN does not understand the dangers of web 2.0 and Alley Insider is more on par with gossip sites than professional news sites.

If people had read this on the Yahoo or Google message boards or on a blog like this one, I don't think the story would have traveled much farther. But being attached to the CNN brand, and being passed along by the Alley Insider brand, this was taken very seriously and caused a massive drop in the shares of AAPL causing a lot of people to lose a lot of money.

Currently, Bloomberg reports there is an SEC investigation underway but I don't think it will produce much since level of credentials that an "iReporter" has to provide to make a report are small and easily faked. All that is needed are a username, email, a password and an successful response to a captcha. All of which can be accomplished in a completely anonymous manner. In fact, this guy's account was only open for this one post.

My hope is that the investigation might uncover other suspicious activity or potential manipulation in the stock. The rumors about Steve Jobs health have been pushed suspiciously hard for the last few months and I think that there is a good possibility that whoever pushed this rumor might have something to do with older rumors as well.

One place the SEC might start looking are social bookmarking sites like or the 4chan message board as indicated by Arnold Kim who suggests that he found the story being promoted by users. Whoever the first users were to post the link may have some connection.

Another place that the SEC should start looking is at This is a somewhat respectable source and they look to be the first to grab onto this iReport and present it as real news - giving the story even more credence. I only wish they had fact-checked prior to publishing.

An excerpt from the AlleyInsider story is below:

Apple’s Steve Jobs Rushed To ER After Heart Attack, Says CNN Citizen Journalist

“Citizen journalism” gets its first real test. A story of major consequence that, thus far, no one else has reported.

CNN’s iReport:

Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven’t seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.

We’re making calls, but as yet we have no idea whether it’s true. Confirmation/denial the moment we get it.

Meanwhile, very interesting that this report appears on CNN’s site. If it proves correct, CNN will look great. If it is wrong, CNN’s credibility will likely be significantly damaged–and we wouldn’t be surprised if this caused them to pull back from “citizen journalism.”

It is probable that this article is just an attempt by AI at getting headlines on Techmeme and other aggregation sites. However, considering that there don't seem to be any disclosure statements specifically relating to ownership of AAPL anywhere on the site and considering the site is run by Henry Blodget, who was charged with securities fraud in 2003. (wikipedia) I would imagine that the SEC might be calling on him.

Alleyinsider removed the story about ten minutes after they published it, but this should never have made it to their site in the first place. Publishing that story shows how unreliable Alley Insider really is.

In my opinion, this second post about Apple probably shouldn't have appeared on AlleyInsider either. This second article questions why AAPL was still dropping. Placing it's decline in the spotlight a second time that day for what appears to be no reason.

This would be news if other big tech stocks were not dropping at roughly the same rate at the same time. But with AAPL matching the broad market decline, one has to wonder why the second article was relevant to publish at all. Read the short article yourself, but I think that the last line of the article says it all: "Anyone heard anything?" To me, this appears to be rumor mongering, plain and simple.

In the end, the really sad story is that one guy, seemingly unchecked and unverified by CNN or Alley Insider in any real way prior to publishing, was able to leverage the CNN brand to destroy a lot of wealth for others and potentially make a lot of money for himself.

Of the three players, nobody had enough integrity to stop a bad story from leaking through the system. Not the citizen journalist, not the Big media company that enabled them and certainly not the blogger.

disclaimer: I own Apple stock and have for years. I occasionally buy calls and puts on apple as well.

Who won the VP debate?

Liberal blogs are saying that Biden kicked ass. Conservatives are thinking that Palin proved the winner. Honestly, my opinion is somewhere in-between.

Biden is clearly the best VP candidate. He's more knowledgeable, experienced and capable in almost every way that I can conceive. However, Palin came across as much more personable overall and performed much better than everyone expected.

Palin is a trained monkey, but they trained her well this time. Her direct look into the camera should proove very compelling to "Joe six pack" and about a half a dozen times, I felt as if she was personally flirting with me with all the winking and referenced to "tapping" her. I found this psychologically disturbing and while subtle, I'm sure that it was not my imagination that it was strategically placed.

One thing I noticed was that right before her repetitive tirades against "wall street greed and corruption" her demeanor changed and she sounded like she was repeating from rote. You could tell that someone in the audience was "handling" her and telling her to get "back on script".

Biden had someone in the audience as well, but it was a completely different relationship. When Biden looks out, his eyes are saying "yep, I told you she would go there." Palin's interaction was more of a remote control switch, taking her from bright and cheery to a schoolchild repeating the memorized report her parents helped her write - A brainwashed beauty queen.

She clearly didn't understand everything that she was saying, she was just attending and repeating the words.

What she did well was what I fault her for most. She avoided neary every question. Refusing to provide answers to important questions and redirecting back to one or two repeats of questions that she had down pat.

Overall, I found the debate to be a non event with the exception of new knowledge about Biden's personal life. I like Biden more that I did before and I fear Palin about the same amount as I had prior to the debate.

I've posted the debate here complements of YouTube, watch and make your own decision.

When Rome was sacked, did it look like this?

This is a very sad and depressing video that hits the nail of the crisis we are in square on the head. It's about a half hour long, but very well worth your time.

Great financial graphics from the BBC

I'm loving the BBC graphics that explain the financial crisis. If we get enough mainstream news sources to put out "pretty pictures" that can visually show what's going wring, maybe there is hope that mom and pop America can get the picture that the "bailout", while painful, is needed for everyday life to go on.

I'm waiting for the graphic that shows average American consumer income vs. spending and credit available before and after crisis.

lil' o'reilly

Too awesome for words.

Kudos to whoever put this together. I wonder if Bill will watch this and, realizing these are his words, change his ways.

Does Palin read at all?

(I'm temporarily changing the name of this blog to "All about Palin"

If you listen carefully, you'll find that Sarah Palin can't name a single News source or magazine that she has ever read.

I love the way that Couric does her questioning.

Couric: "What newspapers did you read prior to your being called upon by McCain?"
(insert non-answer from Palin)

Couric: "Could you name any of the newspapers that you read?"
(Insert second non-answer by Palin)

Couric: "Can you name even one of the newspapers that you read?"
(Palin does not answer, and changes subject to defend how Alaska is not filled with shut ins)

Dear reader, how many newspapers can you name?