Thursday, January 31, 2008

Obama Hopes for Change - Mike Rosen

Just a couple of things to keep in mind if you were considering backing Barak "The Magic" Obama, from radio talk show host and Rocky Mountain News columnist Mike Rosen's recent column:

While Hillary appeals to Democratic grownups, Obama scores with idealistic young liberals who've been turning out in record numbers. He's their Bobby Kennedy. Since perception is reality in politics, the perception of Obama as the vehicle for utopian change could get him elected president.

It's been noted that the problem with the younger generation is that they haven't read the minutes of the last meeting. That is, what's seems new to them isn't new at all; it's just new to them. As for independents, they're typically naive about the nature of real-world politics in our two-party system. Calling for change is a cliche. The party out of power always calls for change and reform. But change isn't always for the better.

This phenomenon of idealistic young'uns is also known as "freshman syndrome." The new (to them) idea of the moment is the most revolutionary, coolest, best idea ever and they are sure glad that they thought of it. [I.e.: "Why don't we just get all the world leaders together in one big room and talk out the world's problems? It would be the end of war, famine, disease..."] Little do they realize that there are very few new ideas out there anymore, at least in the political realm.

And for those believing that a President Obama would usher in a new era of bipartisanship, remember this:
In the Senate, Obama's voting record has been sharply to the left of Hillary's already liberal one. And he's the man who's going to bring America together? His candidacy has been a parade of platitudes. They might get cheers from fawning audiences on the campaign trail but they're not worth much when it comes to making wise decisions in the Oval Office.

But, I guess if you're just into hoping for a change, good luck with that.

Kennedys <3 Obama

When Ted, Caroline, Patrick Kennedy endorsed Obama for the democrat presidential nomination there was plenty of stir in the media. Here is the New York Post's editorial cartoon take on it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Candidates On The Economy

The recent turmoil in the world financial markets gives us one more chance to the the differences in Democrats and Republicans first-hand. Consider the reactions to the Federal Reserve Bank's 3/4 point rate cut early this morning, from the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire:

Hillary Clinton -
“This is a global economic crisis,” Clinton said at a news conference early this morning. “It has pushed the Fed into an emergency meeting and a rate cut in an effort to take whatever action can be taken on the monetary side to begin to try to stabilize this situation which is obviously deteriorating.” She went on to say that President Bush already should have convened a “working group on financial markets. … This has to be regulated across markets with regulators here and regulators around the world.”

John McCain -
McCain, on the other hand, didn’t apply the pressure, though he did put in a plug for his stimulus plan, consisting mostly of tax cuts, and a plug for the Fed. “The role of the Federal Reserve is to ensure that our financial markets are well-functioning and to support economic growth,” he explained in a statement. “I am confident that the action taken this morning to cut two key rates will support these goals. The U.S. economy has proven to be quite resilient. I am concerned about financial market events, but with the right leadership and pro-growth policies the economy can weather this upheaval.”

Mitt Romney -

Getting serious — and optimistic — Romney said: “I can tell you from my own personal experience that every time I’ve seen things really get scary and the markets really collapse that I put aside that fear for a moment and say, ‘Ah-ha, is this a buying opportunity?’ Because my experience has always been what goes down, comes back up.”

He then returned to the presidential pitch, saying that restoring the economy’s health “is going to require, I believe, action on the part of leadership in Washington to do those things which will convince the world that America is going to come back strong and our economic foundation is secure.”


If we decode Hillary's feverish panic, we see fear, reactionism, short-sightedness, and a propensity for oversite and regulation. Contrast that with the realism, confidence, optimism, and enthusiasm presented by McCain and Romney.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of either of the Republican candidates, they do understand that the stock markets operate on speculation, fear, and hope. I think that it is obvious which party has a better grasp on moving forward and growing the American economy.

Thompson Drops Out Of Republican Race - WSJ.com

Damn. Now that the only consistent conservative is out of the race, I guess I'd better figure out who to caucus for on Tsunami Tuesday (05 Feb).

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Wine Antisnob - WSJ.com

From the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition:
Tim Hanni hasn't had a drink in 14 years. He's also one of the wine industry's top experts. Hanni is matching customers with wines based on factors such as how they take their coffee, rather than relying on his own palate. His maverick approach is transforming the way that Americans drink wine.

Try the (taste)Budometer! It's a pretty nifty little survey / experiment. It got my taste pretty close to right, which is relatively amazing, considering what little information it had to go on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Combative Thompson Sways Voters - New York Times

Go Fred, go!

The guy has an 86.1 percent lifetime (1995–2002) American Conservative Union vote rating. That's pretty good, in my book.

Even though he really doesn't stand much of a chance at the Republican presidential nomination, I still like him.

Fred08.com

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Religious Truths

There are three religious truths:
  1. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
  2. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith.
  3. Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store or at Hooters.
lol.

Friday, January 04, 2008

It's a Doozy!

I had always assumed that "doozy" referred to the Duesenberg cars of the 1920s and '30s, but as Michael Quilian writes, doozy (or doozie) was already in wide use before the Duesenberg brothers sold their first car in 1920.

Apparently, 'doozy' comes from 'daisy,' which "was once English slang, from the eighteenth century on, for something that was particularly appealing or excellent." Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Also on Mr Quilian's site, check out why 'lb' is the abbreviation for pounds (weight, not British money).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Matt's 2007 Stock Market Wrap

Despite Doom And Gloom, Stock Markets Post Gain For 2007

The U.S. stock market finished out 2007 with gains in all three major indexes, despite the fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the economy - the credit crunch, real-estate slump, and a "looming recession" in particular.

Even though the Dow Jones Industrial average lost 101 points on New Year's Eve, it still ended the year up 6.4%, at 13,265. That ain't bad, but it is down quite a bit from a high of over 14,000, reached for the first time ever in 2007. The S&P 500 only rose 3.5%, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 9.8% on the year

Even though there were some impressive gains, there were some substantial losses. Citigroup, who apparently bought my mortgage from Dutch lender ABM AMRO this fall, was the worst performer of the blue-chip index, falling 47% on the year. Marketwatch.com reports "The banking giant was 'the poster boy' for this year's subprime-market meltdown and subsequent credit crisis."

The year 2007 grew increasingly volatile as the year went on. As the Arizona Republic reports:
As 2007 progressed, the market was characterized by rising volatility, with what seemed like day after day of sharp losses on Wall Street.

"From May 2003 through January 2007, the Dow never dropped more than 2 percent in a day," reported Phoenix investment firm Keats, Connelly & Associates. "That was a period of stock-market stability unmatched in more than a century, but it couldn't last forever."

Indeed, it didn't. In the second half of 2007 alone, the Dow fell 2 percent or more on nine separate trading days, with most of that coming after subprime-mortgage woes made headlines in August.

The Dow also had three daily gains of 2 percent over that stretch.
From what I'm reading around the internet, for 2008 it looks like technology and health care have a potential for growth, which makes sense with everything these days relying heavily on tech and an aging Baby-Boom population willing to pay for decent health care. Potential trouble stops could include the financial sector, auto manufacturers, and other transportation stocks, which also makes sense with the price of oil and trouble in the lending industry.

Looking ahead, the Arizona Republic goes on:
As 2008 unfolds, the key question centers on recession risks. A contracting economy could push stocks into a tailspin, as happened from 2000 to 2002. But if the economy can avoid a slump, the market could be poised to make it six winning years in a row considering that interest rates are easing, corporate profits are holding up and inflation so far remains under control despite a weak dollar.

"I think we're seeing the worst of the financial situation now," said Barbara Walchli, Phoenix-based portfolio manager of the Aquila Rocky Mountain Equity Fund. "I see slow growth or even no growth for the economy, but I don't expect negative growth," she said.

One wild card for the stock market is the election and campaign rhetoric. With no sitting president or vice president in the race, the field is wide open.

"The election will cause some anxiety," predicted Jeff Young, an adviser at First Financial Equity Corp. in Scottsdale. "It's a big unknown since no incumbent is running."
All in all, I'm going to have to agree with the cautiously optimistic outlook of the AZ Republic. I feel that the economy can probably weather the coming year without any major issues, even if the housing sector doesn't come back. I would not expect a lot of broad growth, but don't expect the market to tank, no matter what the Dominant Liberal Media would like you to think. I am pretty impressed with the resiliency of the U.S. consumer and markets in light of all of the volatility and overblown news about the subprime mortgage problems. Which, by the way, only make up something like 4% of the mortgage industry.

Sources: Arizona Republic, Marketwatch.com

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year and 25 Years of TCP/IP

Welp, it's 2008. I'd better try to remember to write that on checks and stuff now! I hope your 2007 was great and your 2008 will be even better.

In other news today, TCP/IP turns 25 years old today. It's good to know that I am older than the protocol that makes the entire internet work. I guess you could say I'm 'Pre TCP/IP'. As with most things that really took root and changed the technological / industrial world, TCP/IP was adopted and backed by the United States government with the ancestor of the modern Internet, its ARPANET network.

Basically TCP/IP is the set of numbers that make allow the internet to find itself. Every connection to the internet has its own, specific IP address (like 216.136.227.255 which is one of Yahoo's) which is organized by the TCP system so that your browser, search engines, etc, can find the stuff that you are looking for. The DNS servers convert those numbers into names, but that's a totally different story.

Also, I was reminded to eat my black eyed peas today for fortune in the new year, so you'd better do that too. Here's the recipe I think I'm going to try.