Friday, March 21, 2008

SAR #8082

The main thing about life is that one day you'll be dead.
- David Shields.

Not About Oil: General Petraeus is calling on "large Western corporations" to invest in Iraq's energy sector as Bush Iraq looks for ways to boost oil production. Part of the job description, selling off the oil.

Conform, Consume: Farmer's Insurance has an ad running that shows folks on bikes, with the subtext message: 'let us help you be normal and get back into a car.' Deviant behavior, not driving everywhere.

Mum's The Word: Thursday the Fed told the leading investment banks "to support Lehman Brothers to try to preserve financial stability." Brokerage departments were instructed not to make any comments that could damage Lehman. The army calls this a preemptive strike.

New IED Threat: GI's in Iraq are facing a new type of IED - Indoor Electrical Device. At least 12 service members in Iraq have been electrocuted - the latest while taking a shower. The Pentagon has opened an investigation into KBR Inc., the Houston-based contractor responsible for maintaining... Yada yada.

Bears In The Woods: Bear Sterns has amended its bylaws to allow for the legal expenses of employees to be reimbursed by the company. Why in the world would they need to do that?

Strike Two: If BinLaden really wanted to cripple the US, he'd be shorting Lehman Brothers and Citibank.

Allowance: Free market capitalist investment brokers pawned about $9 billion in mortgage-backed trash at the Fed and withdrew $13.4 billion in treasury notes. Don't get upset, they could have asked for more. And will.

Down East: The New Hampshire House voted in favor of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. That's nothing, you ought to see what goes on in Albany.

Efficiency: Plans for an elite Canadian military counter-terrorism unit ended up in a pile of garbage on an Ottawa Street and were turned over to the regular police, who were not authorized to receive them.

Revelation! Financial wizards have discovered the obvious: people who bought too much house also bought too much car, too much HDTV, too much healthcare and found that Visa was taken everywhere they wanted to be. And it is not just the mortgage they are not paying, it's the car loan, school loan, hospital bill, credit cards and the church pledge.

Privatization: In Australia, the M2 motorway is a private toll road. Sidney is considering extending the Metro system. One of the considerations is how much to pay the people who own the roadway for their lost traffic. It's called privatization because no one wants to be caught doing this in public.

Containment: Dairy farmers in the northeast are reporting that their credit lines at local banks are being withdrawn. Soon they will start liquidating their herds to survive. I'd make a joke about "liquidating milk cows," but suspect there is not much humor in this.

Shaken, Not Stirred: The National Snow and Ice Data Center has relesed new data showing that over the past 12 months the Arctic has undergone "the steepest yearly decline in perennial [i.e., old, thick] ice on record. Because we had a cold winter, the public might think things have gotten better," the report said, . "In fact, the loss of the perennial ice makes clear that they're not getting better."

Bailing, Bailing: The Fed keeps bailing out parts of the financial world without imposing any discipline, i.e. regulation. Every time Bernanke pushes a stack of chips forward, the Street sees him, raises him and watches to see if Ben will bail them out again. And he will, he has no choice, until the table will no longer take his markers. Then the game is truly over.

Crude-saders: Robert Fisk points out the West has 22 times as many soldiers in the Muslim world today as were there during the Crusades. He asks what in the world we think we are doing, and I have no answer that does not involve oil.

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