Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SAR #14108

Innocence Is a Poor Defense

Grace Period: After the government wisely chose not to slaughter the tax-evading ranchers and their survivalist nut-job supporters, none of the US mainstream media reported the story as it was – a case of armed terrorists in the heartland getting away with armed rebellion. If you owed the government 20 years of back taxes, how do you think you'd make out?

Salesmanship: According to the IPCC, climate action is an opportunity, not a burden! Yes, to prevent catastrophic climate change, energy systems (and the lifestyles that they provide for) must be urgently and fundamentally transformed. But we can do it. Yes, we have to stop burning coal, oil and gas. And we can. Soon. Easily. Clean, renewable energy is getting bigger, better and cheaper every day and can now provide the solutions the world needs. The "age of renewables" has arrived, said Candide. “Wouldn't it be wonderful if China, emboldened by its domestic actions, were to lead the world to a new global climate agreement by presenting an ambitious new target with binding emission cuts?” Said the little engine that could. Sure, we're looking at a “breakdown of food systems,” more violent conflicts, and ultimately the breakdown of civilization, but let's not dwell on the negative. It's an opportunity, let's accentuate the positive, whistle while you work. Or while Rome burns, whichever.

Union Busting 101: The NCAA is urging colleges to spread fear among would-be unionizing athletes that joining unions would result in heir losing their scholarships, playing in fewer championship games, a withdrawal of academic support (basket weaving classes), and career counseling. They'll also be charged to use the whirlpools.

Boring: Greenland's ice caps are continuing to accelerate the rate at which they are melting away – exceeding the upwardly revised upwardly revised scientific expectations.

Squeaky Wheels: The states that want the least to do with Washington are the states that are the most dependent on Washington's money – MS, NM, AL, LA, ME, MT, TN, WV, SD, and AZ. Too bad we have to put our money where their mouths are.

Parting Note: I am traveling, so postings will be erratic for a couple of weeks. Okay, erraticer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SAR #14105

If ignorance was bliss there'd be a lot more happiness around.

First Step: Riding on Edward Snowden's coattails, The Guardian and the Washington Post (Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman) have been honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. 
Excuses, Excuses: Mortgage originations have cratered, falling to levels last seen 15 years ago even though economists claim the recovery is marching along. Banks blame rising interest rates, rapidly rising house prices, winter weather, and the general lack of excitement over this year's American Idols. Long term unemployment, stagnant wages and the withering of the American middle class were not mentioned as factors. Don't want to scare the horses.

Bright Idea: The Netherlands has build a 'glow-in-the-dark' roadways which, after a day of sunshine, glow all night. The idea is to reduce the energy used for street lighting and to improve safety. 
Bad Idea: Western Nations (for which read Uncle Sam) will be giving Ukraine $3.2 billion in aid, which – after their politicians skim off a handling fee – will be passed on to Gazprom. Why? Because Europe needs Russia's gas, no mater what those yokels in Congress think.

Worse Idea: the US is reportedly considering sending arms to Ukraine. Okay, let 'em consider it, then decide not to do it. And surely those arms won't be attached to US soldiers, right?

Crybaby: Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière says that America recognizes no bounds to its electronic espionage, and has “low expectations that further talks will prove to be successful. But of course these talks are continuing.” As is the NSA's spying.

Short Form: In the case of Tesla vs The Auto Dealers, “There isn’t a rational argument for why a new company should have to use dealers. It’s just dealers trying to protect their profits.”

Excuses, Excuses: It is a long standing tradition for market commentators to make up a story that explains whatever the markets have just done. After. Solemnly and with great and convincing gravitas. These explanations seldom can withstand close examination, but we need them. It wouldn't do for the marks to know the whole thing is a charade.

Growth is good? In most of the world economic growth is the magic elixir that everyone strives for, lots and lots of growth. Endless growth. Growth gained by using energy to turn resources into garbage. More energy, more cars, more TVs, more and more and more. Especially more CO2 emissions. Growth. Too bad that growth will doom us. Or has.

Cause And Effect? In the Netherlands - where pot is legal – they are closing 19 prisons because they haven't got enough criminals.

Simple Fact: In 31 of our States, daycare for your infant is more expensive than sending your teenager to college.

Green Shootlets: Retail sales picked up in March, increasing 1.1% m/m, the biggest gain since late 2012.

Yeah, so? Who would have suspected that the 'grassroots' campaign against a free, simple tax filing process would be growing out of TurboTax's front yard?

Another One: Ohio has joined the growing number of states that have been ordered by the judiciary to recognize all out-of-state marriages. It's a simple mater of contract law and the several states obligations under the Constitution. And yes, that means same-sex marriages.

Meditation Prompt: Google is going to buy drone-maker Titan Aerospace in hopes of expanding Internet access. Or so they say.

The Quote: "If you want to know what the U.S. military is doing in Africa, it’s advantageous to be connected to a large engineering or construction firm looking for business." Sort of 'if you build it, the troops will come.'

Asked And Answered: Are Americans really jingoistic yahoos? Yes, really. And note that the Mr. Wang sets up a straw man to argue otherwise.

Porn O'Graph: Earnings... sort of.

The Parting Shot: