Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Excellent perspective. Elite projection, uncritical exuberance, those are concepts that show up on both sides of the debate. As with so many other topics, the reality lies somewhere in between. Find and acknowledge the reality, and then you can start either pontificating against or proposing improvements.

Lisa Schweitzer

So by now everybody has watched the feud between Elon Musk after his dumb comments about public transit, and transit consultant/writer Jarrett Walker, who noted (politely) that Musk was speaking from an elite perspective, and then Musk turned around and called him an idiot. Walker has made good PR out of this, as he should: consultants and writers, like academics, require building up your reputation/brand/platform in this rotten world, and being St. Michael defending transit from Musk-the-dragon is pretty good grist for that.

Between the Coates-West and Walker-Musk spats, I feel a little like we’ve been watching dude feuds all week.

I want to tread lightly because Walker doesn’t deserve the feud moniker because he’s always been pretty polite as far as I can see. But as much as I appreciate it when transit experts like Walker caution us against “elite projection,” I kind of think all of us and…

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You Betrayed Them

Posted: December 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

I wish I could understand why people really, genuinely feel the need to go out and kill people who are charged with protecting them. It just does not make any sense.

This House Is Our Home


I was driving to a Christmas party when my phone rang. I heard the words and my heart felt shattered. Every fear, every worry, every feeling of panic came rushing into my throat and I couldn’t stop it. I had to stop it. My babies were with me. I was about to meet new people and see old friends. It was a party. Everyone’s supposed to be happy. My heart felt ripped to shreds. I kept looking at my phone, even though I knew there would be nothing good to see. My face kept smiling, my mouth kept speaking but my heart was racing and the tears were always right beneath the surface.

Today it was them. You don’t know them. They’re just names to you. To some of you, they are symbols of heroism and honor, but to many of you they are symbols of “oppression” and “brutality.”


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The key here is “responsible breeders.” Overcrowded shelters are a problem, without question, but there is no reason to sacrifice the entire breed on that thought alone.

AKC Dog Lovers

Dobe stack-WebDAM smAKC Gazette breed column—Anti-breeding ways of thinking distract people from remembering that it’s through the breeding of good dogs that the breed exists and continues.

In the 1970s the Doberman Pinscher was among the top five breeds in popularity. At that time, most specialty shows had well over 100 Doberman entries, with some shows having so many that two judges were needed. The entry at the nationals was between 700 and 1,000 dogs. There were movies featuring Dobermans, and the breed was used by law enforcement. They were the dog of the day.

Serious breeders became alarmed to see our breed becoming the dog for everyone; we knew they aren’t that. Therefore, we started to discourage breeding. “Only breed to champions” was the catchphrase.

Fast-forward 40 years, and today’s Doberman Pinscher specialties are lucky to have a major, let alone an entry reaching 40 dogs. Shockingly, our nationals have…

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Bill Moyers’ website ran an interesting article today. The article was a discussion of what life was like in Iraq under Saddam Hussein before and after the US invasion in 2003. The difference is that it wasn’t written by an “expert” on the Iraqi situation who traveled the country extensively with the military, media, contractors, or an NGO. Rather, it was an actual Iraqi citizen.

“The US destroyed that Iraqi national identity and replaced it with sectarian and ethnic identities after 2003.” Very interesting statement, and definitely runs counter to everything the mainstream media put out, even after Gulf War I. I particularly thought the Kurdish situation was a noticeable internal conflict prior to our involvement in 1990-1991, but the author states that it wasn’t. Personally, I’d suspect that the Kurdish situation was a little more “prominent” than the author may have been aware of, but likely wasn’t as prominent as the US media and political machines made it out to be. Given the author’s statements about Saddam being a “run of the mill” dictator with the usual attacking of dissidents, I’d suspect that the Sunni/Shia conflict was there, but the US invasion that knocked Saddam out of power shifted the balance of power in that conflict and set up opportunities for revenge on years and years of abuses. The New York Times has an interesting “before and after” set of sectarian maps of Iraq that show how the invasion altered the religious and sectarian divisions within the country. Either way, definitely an interesting article.

In the midst of all the doom and gloom out there, we are faced with contradictory news that kind of makes you wonder which way to turn to dodge the oncoming train.

Manufacturing – The Great Hope

Despite the unfortunate yet spectacular collapse of Solyndra, manufacturing as a whole actually grew in September.  According to Reuters (via Yahoo news), “(M)anufacturing grew more quickly in September as production and hiring increased, suggesting that factories would help keep the economy from slipping into a new recession.”  The Reuters article continues, citing the Institute for Supply Management’s index of factory activity rising from 50.6 to 51.6, where predictions had the index dropping to 50.5.  In particular, the auto industry is watching sales volume grow for most nameplates.  As reported by Autoblog, the largest slides for year over year by month were shown by Saab (which has been clinging to life support ever since the GM bankruptcy), and Toyota and Honda, both of whom are still working to ramp production levels back to normal after the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor meltdown back in March.  Combining its divisions, Chrysler actually managed to top Toyota and regain the #3 sales slot for September, behind Ford and GM.

But back to the Reuters article.  They noted that construction spending had also risen…1.4 percent in August due to state and local government building projects.  They also noted that small business borrowing in August rose to its highest levels since April 2008.  Ultimately, though, they acknowledged manufacturing’s 12% of GDP and 11% of non-farm employment, and the expectation that continued expansion combined with cash-rich businesses spending money on machinery and equipment would stave off a double-dip recession.  As I, and many others have noted in many diverse forums, the potential for manufacturing activity to generate indirect economic activity is great, and any serious job creating efforts must include substantial resources aimed at invigorating and expanding the manufacturing base in this country.

The Great Uncertainty

While the employment figures in the sector are very promising, there are still reasons to be concerned.  First, despite the uptick in manufacturing numbers, orders have declined for three straight months.  If manufacturing output doesn’t begin to grow, those recently hired may not have jobs for too much longer.  Second, the Euro Zone debt crisis isn’t going away.  Discussion regarding Greece has pretty much changed from “if there’s a bankruptcy” to “when there’s a bankruptcy.”  With much of the European banking industry tied up in either Greek government securities or in contributions to the European Financial Stability Facility, a Greek default could trigger a domino effect through first the Euro Zone, then Asia and the US.  Such a banking crisis would effectively be a repeat of the 2008-2009 fiscal meltdown in the US, and drive the world back into a credit crunch and an overall slowdown.  Bank stocks, in fact most global stocks are trading dangerously close to bear market levels.

Obama’s Jobs Bill

As expected, Republicans in the House of Representatives have declared Obama’s jobs bill DOA as a complete package.  As reported by Reuters, not only has the House stated that they would only pass portions of the bill, both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have stated that the bill is likely to fail there, too.  Personally, I’m not thrilled about the proposed tax increases but the incentives and infrastructure programs appear to be sufficient to offset the likely negative impact of the tax increases.  In any respect, we’re pretty much as the last option before total meltdown and collapse.  With Asia and Europe teetering on their own cliff edges, anything that moves us back from our edge is not only good for the US economy but will likely have a calming effect on the global economy.  And in all honesty, public spending will further increase the national debt, at least in the short term.  Passing tax increases to boost revenue, even a small amount, will help ease credit concerns over our debt load.  Removing those concerns will add to the calm and stability, and maximize the ability to realize the full benefits from the actual economic stimulus activities.  Sadly, the weak link here will be our elected officials.  As I have stated before, our elected officials need to start looking past their own wants and needs and consider the needs of the country.  I think we’ve gotten close enough to the edge of the cliff that ideas solely from one side of the aisle or the other either will not be sufficient on their own, or won’t take hold quickly enough to avert a complete collapse of the economy.  Finding a middle ground where elements from both sides of the aisle can be implemented is what I see as the only way to provide the confidence to stabilize our economy.  And this stability is what will hopefully keep the rest of the global economy from falling into the abyss.

I’m hoping this is the light at the end of the tunnel, but with our elected officials unable to decide which way to steer, if it is the oncoming train then we’re pretty well screwed.

Not the best of news…

Posted: September 3, 2011 in Economy, Uncategorized

So. The jobs report came out, and we had a net zero jobs created in the month of August. Zero. None. Nada. To top that tidbit, average hours worked (a metric that reflects overall economic output via both the number of people on the job and the hours they put in) also declined in August. Average hourly pay also declined, and the housing market is still dragging.

I know everyone has been trying to put a positive spin on things over the past few years, calling this a “jobless recovery” while we hear of companies raking in record profits and driving economic growth figures up. The problem with this is that the economic growth was almost entirely dependent on gains in efficiency. While this did push up economic output and growth figures, it was never going to be sustainable. There’s only so much a company can do to increase efficiency, and we’ve pretty much hit the limit. The reason that these gains are unsustainable is that to continue to generate economic output, companies need to generate revenue. As more and more people are laid off and cannot find work, they stop buying things. Those people who still do have jobs see this, and decide that it’s a safer bet to hold onto their money and also not spend.

The end result of all of this is that we are in serious danger of slipping into another official recession. In all reality, we never emerged from the 2007-2009 (or whatever the official dates were) recession. All the talking heads say that the economic growth and output that businesses generated met the empirical criteria for emerging from a recession, but in my personal opinion those metrics are not a true or accurate representation of things. It could be a chicken vs. egg thing, but unemployment is not only a cause of a recession but also an effect of a recession. If a recession is a lack of economic output/growth, one of the causes could be a lack of purchasing power due to high unemployment. Yet that same lack of output causes companies to not be able to afford to hire or retain employees, thereby laying them off and furthering the reduction in purchasing power. So my argument is that any measurement of whether a recession exists or has ended absolutely must include a measurement of employment. It doesn’t matter how much profits are being generated if more and more people are finding themselves unemployed. If consumers have confidence that their jobs are secure, that breeds willingness to consume. A lack of confidence leads to a drop in spending activity, which leads to diminished revenues, which leads to more layoffs, and so on and so on. In short, we never exited the recession, and until there is serious and continuous upward movement on job creation, we will remain in a recession.