Wednesday, August 31, 2011

That Explains It!

Engineers and scientists will never make much money.  A rigorous mathematical proof explains why this is true:
Postulate 1: Knowledge is Power.
Postulate 2: Time is Money.
And, as everyone knows,
Work/Time = Power
Since Knowledge = Power, and Time = Money, thus:
Work/Money = Knowledge
Solving for Money, we get:
Work/Knowledge = Money
Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity regardless of the Work done.
Conclusion: The less you know, the more money you make - regardless of how hard you work.

The Good News:  The older I get, the less I know!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wall Street Beware!

Why Iceland Should Be In The News, But Is Not
By Deena Stryker

     An Italian radio program's story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt. The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.
     As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here's why:
     Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors. But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt. In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent. The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro. At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.
     Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution. But only after much pain.
     Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures. The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.
     Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros. This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.
     What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.
     Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country. As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF. The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North. But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)
     In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt. The IMF immediately froze its loan. But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis. Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.
     But Icelanders didn't stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money. (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)
     To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.
     Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution. And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.
     They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.
     That’s why it is not in the news anymore.
(Borrowed from http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/728.1?frommailing=1)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Night Irene, Goodnight!

Okay, Gus, turn her up!
Good night indeed.  I don't know about you, but yours truly really found CNN's coverage of hurricane Irene to be over the top.  Sure, when you don't know where it's going to hit or how strong it's going to be, monitoring the situation closely is fine, even laudable.  But once you know that it's lost its punch and dying, maybe ease up a bit on the hyperbole, Wolf.  Beating a dead horse gets a bit boring after awhile, even in The Situation Room.

The Good News:  There's still some August left!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Wobbly Throne

        We've all been there.  You know, you're at someone's house, or you check into an otherwise respectable hotel, the Call of Nature comes, you square yourself for the landing, and sit down for what my university roommate used to call a near-religious experience.  And - oops - suddenly you feel like you're "one bun on, one bun off" and teetering on the brink of dethronement.  From bliss to panic in the middle of at least one bodily function.  All because of a loose toilet seat, one of my personal pet peeves.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

The Good News:  Irene is history, and so is CNN's attempt at mass hysteria.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vicious Dog Homicides

"Studies indicate that pit bull-type dogs were involved in approximately a third of human DBRF (i.e., dog bite related fatalities) reported during the 12-year period from 1981 through1992, and Rottweilers were responsible for about half of human DBRF reported during the 4 years from 1993 through 1996....[T]he data indicate that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF in the United States between 1997 and 1998. It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities." (Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab GC, Lockwood R. Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998. JAVMA 2000;217:836-840.)  The Clifton study of attacks from 1982 through 2006 produced similar results. According to Clifton study, pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes were responsible for 65% of the canine homicides that occurred during a period of 24 years in the USA. (Clifton, Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to November 13, 2006.)  Other breeds were also responsible for homicides, but to a much lesser extent. A 1997 study of dog bite fatalities in the years 1979 through 1996 revealed that the following breeds had killed one or more persons: pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds, huskies, Alaskan malamutes, Doberman pinschers, chows, Great Danes, St. Bernards and Akitas. (Dog Bite Related Fatalities," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 30, 1997, Vol. 46, No. 21, pp. 463 et. seq.) Since 1975, fatal attacks have been attributed to dogs from at least 30 breeds." (dogbitelaw.com)

The Good News:  Road trip today!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vicious Dog Insurance


     I didn't know that: "The ownership of a dangerous dog may end up being a financial decision in addition to being a legal one. A Calgary man found that his home insurance had been cancelled after his insurance company decided it would no longer cover people who kept pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, or Doberman pinschers. One of the largest insurance companies in North America, Allstate, has a policy that even a mixed breed dog whose bloodlines may include any of those breeds is considered unacceptable. Such policies are a growing trend in the insurance industry. The bottom line is that any dog owner who chooses to own a breed of dog that may be considered dangerous may also have to choose a place to live that will tolerate their choice of dog. And the more vicious dog attacks there are, the fewer such places there will be." (Buzzle.com)  Or that "... injuries caused by dog bites result in nearly one billion dollars worth of insurance claims annually. For this reason insurance companies have used statistics gathered by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics and other sources of research to designate the breeds at highest risk for biting. Based on this data, many insurance companies refuse to issue homeowners insurance to owners of specific breeds of dogs considered ‘‘vicious’’ or at high risk of causing injury. The six breeds or types of dogs most commonly identified as high risk for aggression are the Akita, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, Pit Bull (usually includes Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers), Rottweiler, and Wolf-hybrids." (Dr.Stanley Coren, Psychology Today)

The Good News:  We have special guests this weekend!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vicious Dog Owners

from a Pit Bull rescue website
     As regular readers of this space will know, I consider vicious dogs to be weapons and believe they should be regulated as such. Thankfully, as more and more little girls' faces get chewed off by these monsters despite the professed efforts of their asshole owners and canine vested interests, more and more jurisdictions are banning certain breeds outright. On a quick trip to our country store yesterday I was only mildly surprised to see just such an asshole straining to hold back two gigantic pit bulls as he strutted down the main road. I've always suspected that vicious dog owners had some pathetic deep-seated need to be in the limelight that they could not achieve other than by owning one of these throwbacks, recently confirmed by several researchers.  Dr. Stanley Coren, in Psychology Today: ..."Back in 1996 I conducted a study of over 6000 people in which I was able to show that a person’s personality predicted the breed of dog that they would most likely select ... In 2006, Jaclyn Barnes led a team of researchers in Cincinnati which looked at the behaviors of owners of high risk for aggression dog breeds ... had nearly 10 times more criminal convictions than other dog owners. ... high risk dog owners were 6.8 times more likely to be convicted of an aggressive crime, 2.8 times more likely to have carried out a crime involving children, 2.4 times more likely to have perpetrated domestic violence, and 5.4 times more likely to have an alcohol related conviction when compared to low risk dog owners. ...  Laurie Ragatz led a team of researchers from West Virginia University and they have recently published their study in The Journal of Forensic Sciences. ... A significant difference in criminal behavior was found based on dog ownership type. Owners of high risk dog breeds were significantly more likely to admit to violent criminal behavior, compared to large dog owners, small dog owners, and people who did not own dogs. The high risk dog breed owner sample also reported that they engaged in more types of criminal behavior compared to all other participant groups ... In general high risk dog breed owners were significantly more likely to engage in sensation seeking and risky behaviors. As a group they were also more careless, selfish and had stronger manipulative tendencies. They also seemed to engage in more self-defeating behaviors than the low risk dog owners.  One final distressing finding suggests that the high risk for aggression dog breed owners did not appear to be as well bonded to their dogs as the other groups of dog owners. This conclusion comes from the fact that their attitudes were much more accepting of the maltreatment or abuse of animals than was found for owners of low risk for aggression dog breeds."

The Good News:  I think the lowlife with the pit monsters was just passing through.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just How Sneaky Is The Fed?

  The answer?  Very sneaky.  There's an old and very sage saying, "Don't fight the Fed".  But what if you don't know what the Fed is doing?  What if you end up fighting the Fed unknowingly?  As speculated upon last year in this space, it turns out that I was correct in suspecting the U.S. government of surreptitiously propping up the stock market back then (to my own great detriment as I shorted it over and over again), now that "secret" bailout loans to major U.S. banks have been revealed.  (It turns out there even was a bona fide "run on the bank" at Morgan Stanley, as it happens.)  Now I'm not one to embrace conspiracy theories, in fact I abhor them, but I fear those secret bailouts weren't - and aren't - the end of it.  We all know the Fed is running out of "silver bullets", and a curious coincidence that happened last week may just show how close to the precipice Helicopter Ben Bernanke (and the rest of us) are.  To wit: a 7.34% rally in the S&P 500 over three days last week for no reason.  No news, and nothing substantial from Uncle Ben and the FOMC either.  However, as it turns out, that rally started 3 hours after the New York Post ran an old 1989 quote from Robert Heller, a former Fed governor, who suggested way back then that the government should directly purchase stock index futures contracts to calm the markets in times of distress.  If indirect market intervention ain't working, why not try some direct intervention?  Call me crazy, but stranger things have happened.  It's almost enough to make you embrace Dr. Ron Paul's "End the Fed" stance (an interesting read for those so inclined).  Hey Ben, I've got some shares you can prop up, gimme a call!

The Good News:  What doesn't kill us makes us stronger!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jack Layton

Good guy, even if I don't agree with his politics.  Jack Layton, I must admit, seemed like the kind of guy you could have a beer and a couple of chuckles with on a Friday night - my first test of character.

The Good News:  Lloyd Blankfein is on the hot seat.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Zero Hedge

Zero Hedge is one of my favourite blogs.  As a matter of fact, it currently IS my favourite blog (sorry, Jeff).  Why?  One reason is because nobody knows who writes it.  Sure, it's written under the Tyler Durden nom de plume, but that's just a pen name borrowed from a Brad Pitt movie.  Nobody really knows if the writer is a he, she, or - more likely - them.  All I know is that Zero Hedge often scoops stories long before they hit the mainstream press, that it is highly irreverent ("shit disturber" comes to mind on occasion), that it's pretty obvious these folks are (or more likely, were) Wall Street-connected or at least are highly WS-saavy, that they admit to being "conflicted" (as in "conflict of interest"), and that therefore one should read their articles with a critical eye.  The latest ZH uproar comes as a result of a post thereon questioning the financial stability of Canadian banks.  That little number made a few of us self-righteous Canucks sit up straight and elicited a "who are those guys?" rebuttal in the venerable Globe and Mail.  Interesting, though, the flurry of comments to the G&M piece (mostly from diehard ZH fans like me), shows how widely these guys are read - but not much else.  Ya gotta love it.

The Good News:  Send me some, my sailboat leaks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Piano Stairs: The Fun Theory


The Good News:  Gaddafi is on the way out!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Whither Winston?

Blackmore, that is.  Now that his American equivalent, Warren Jeffs, has been handed several life sentences for the rape of young girls, will the Canadian justice system step up and enforce the law of the land here too?  I understand that Prophet ... er, Profit Warren was proven guilty by comparing state records of some of his wives' birthdates with the birthdates of their Jeffs-spawned offspring.  So why can't B.C. do the same?  These polygamist perverts need stiff sentences if women and girls are to be protected from them - and the rest of us are to be protected from subsidizing their sexual circus masquerading as religion with our tax dollars.

The Good News: Carlo is okay.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Schadenfreude ...

from The New Yorker
... is "pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others".  Why do we secretly take joy in the minor (or sometimes major) troubles of others?  Is it that their lives seem too perfect?  Or that they've been so much luckier than we have.  Its envy, of course.  One of the Seven Deadly Sins, I believe.  (Don't fall over in disbelief, fellow atheists, that's just Sunday School stuff from the fifties regurgitated.  Amazing how indoctrinated people can become if you get them young enough!)  Should we worry about a little schadenfreude?  Probably not.  It's a perfectly natural impulse I would think.  But it is probably something to be aware of, lest we ourselves take a tumble at some point.  Which - when you think of it - is almost inevitable.

The Good News:  It's Friday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

China Eats My Shorts

        As regular readers of this space will know, I've been shorting the Euro for a while now, without much success.  The Eurozone is a debt basket case, and sooner or later the Germans and the Greeks will not deign to live in the same house together - let alone lie in the same bed.  So why am I not making money hand over fist?  At first my problem was that the Euro and the US dollar that I short it against were in a "race to the bottom", ie. they were both floating earthward from their lofty heights, the former because of continuous bailouts and ratings downgrades, and the latter because of the debt ceiling debacle followed by the S&P downgrade.  In the long run, it only makes sense to me that the USD will come out on top of this (although you'd never know it from the shameful display Congress put on two weeks ago) because it has to be easier for one government to deal with its debt than 17 disparate governments.  Today, however, I learned that China has entered the mix, ever eager to subjugate the U.S. any way it can, and is buying Euros like crazy to support it against the USD.  Me against China.  I knew it would come to this someday.  So now, China officially "owns" the U.S. and Africa - and is buying Europe.

The Good News:  It's rodeo weekend in The Jewel of the West!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Royally Dumb Idea

Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta
The word "Royal" should not be added back to the name of our Canadian Forces, period.  Whether it be to stimulate the economy or because Peter MacKay is so smitten with Kate Middleton (she's married after all) that no expense is to be spared to somehow re-attach ourselves to a largely dysfunctional regal family, this is a DUMB idea.  Since its removal from the "Canadian Land, Sea, and Air" contingents over 40 years ago (which I opposed at the time) virtually every soldier, sailor, and airman who served under the "Royal" moniker has been retired at least a decade.  It's over.  That was then, this is now.  Our fighting forces are not like some hockey arena that you can just add a corporate sponsor's name to - in this case, for nothing in return.  Let's show some pride in Canada.  Our fighting men and women did a good job in Afghanistan, and we're proud of them.  We don't need an artificial umbilical to a nation in decline.  Get over it.

The Good News:  We had a great visit with LEB & Co.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cicero Weighs In On The Debt Crisis?

Marcus Tullius Cicero

    “The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.” - Cicero, 55 BC.
     This alleged quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero that began circulating on the Internet in October, 2008, is based on a true statement from the great Roman orator, but someone added a lot to it to make it match some of what the United States is facing economically.
     The actual quote is: "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall."
     Hmmm ... taking artistic license with a 2066 year-old quote isn't kosher with me, I'm afraid.

The Good News:  CBLI bounced back to life yesterday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hoodie = Hoodlum

        The "hoodie" has become the uniform of the hoodlum ("a gangster or similarly violent young criminal").  I'm not talking here about the one from your alma mater worn with pride around the firepit while camping with old friends on a chilly summer evening, or the one with your kid's soccer team logo emblazoned on the front and "Dave" or "Coach"on the sleeve that you bought to support the team - but has hung in your closet unworn ever since.  I'm talking about oversized designer-logoed (if it has a logo at all) grey or black one that you see on inner-city punks and suburban mallrats.  You know the look; baggy hip-hop jeans halfway down the crack of their ass, wallet chains, unlaced Nike basketball boots, pierced face, cellphone in hand, belligerent look.  If this picture is your kid, he's headed for trouble; show him a little tough love and then sign him up for soccer.  If he's not your kid, donate money to an inner-city soccer program.

The Good News: The herd appears okay but the veggies suffered while we were away. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gone Sailing

While the financial world melts down.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lethbridge's Red Lights, Part 3

"The first Lethbridge brothels were the teepees the Indians pitched on the Belly River Flats 300 feet below the flatland on which the city itself was eventually located.  However, as the Galt mansion and the rather elaborate houses of the mine manager and the foremen were also built on the flats, the Mounties tended to run the Indians off into adjacent coulees and away from the settlement.  The first permanent brothels were built in the coulees on the west side of the river by women who came in from Medicine Hat and Great Falls with the railway.  As employment in the mines expanded, Lethbridge, except for the prostitutes, grew almost as a town without women.  While a few of the European miners brought wives and children with them, most of the first settlers were single.  The result, according to legend, was that the river-bottom brothels did a roaring business until the coal company began opening up its pits on the area above the river valley...When the coal company built a huge bunkhouse on the flats above the river to serve its single miners, the other miners gradually moved into lodgings close to the upper pit heads.  As their clients moved away, the madams also moved to the top of the hill and established an enclave of brothels on a triangular spit of land on the extreme west side of the settlement.  It was flanked on the north by a huge coulee that extended from the river clear up to the back door of the Lethbridge Hotel on Round Street, which later became 5th Street South.  On the south another deep coulee extended from the river almost to 4th Street.  The widest point pf this triangle was at 2nd Street between 3rd and 4th avenues...By 1890 there were six brothels and the coal company dormitory within the triangle which was famous throughout southern Alberta as "The Point".

Today's Good News:  Mountain stage of the Tour de Balf today!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lethbridge's Red Lights, Part 2

"As a long-retired cow hand recalled it:             'When I was a boy growing up in Lethbridge, this was the cattle shipping point for the last great open range that extended from Macleod to Maple Creek.  The spring round-ups would extend for hundreds of miles.  When the round-up was over the cowboys would be paid off and they went looking for entertainment with pockets full of money.  Cow hands are not like miners.  If you have ever been in a mining town on pay day you've seen miners rushing for the whorehouses like an army on the attack.  You could often see them lined up outside the front door waiting their turns and they'd be in and out of the joint in a matter of minutes.  The cowboys were different.  After weeks or months of nothing but cows, horses and other riders for company, they wanted to enjoy the pleasure of female companionship, to sit and relax and have a drink and listen to talk.  Most of all they wanted to take their time doing everything, to string out the enjoyment of whatever they were doing.  Because they were never tight with their money the cow hands were given special treatment, and the Lethbridge places that catered to them seemed to be able to attract higher class girls than those at Macleod, or in the Crowsnest Pass, for example." (from Red Lights on the Prairies by James H. Gray)

Today's Good News:  Gone sailing!

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Home IS My Castle

I'm in the turret window, third floor.
        It seems that earlier this week a fellow taking his girlfriend home one night got suspicious about signs of an apparent forced entry into her home (her mother's, actually), and decided to check the house for her.  He found a burglar hiding in the house, a fight ensued, and the burglar got the worst of it - leading to assault charges against the boyfriend!  This sort of story pisses me off every time I hear one.  A guy's home should be his castle, PERIOD.  It is a place supposed to protect his family and possessions from the outside world.  I've always maintained that if I was awakened in the middle of the night by an intruder I'd shoot first and ask questions later (above all, don't try to come through my back deck door, Scuzzbag, you'll be perfectly silhouetted by the light), because I owe it to my wife and children to protect them.  There are too many weirdos out there these days to take a chance on your loved ones being raped and/or killed.  To me it's pretty basic; protect the people I love or take a chance with a Charles Manson.  Did you hear that pump-action twelve gauge loading just now?  Good.

Today's Good News: We have a variety of varmints out here from grizzlies to wolves and cougars so, according to the law, I'm allowed to keep the guns and ammo within easy reach!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lethbridge's Red Lights

     "Isolated as Lethbridge and Drumheller were in remote corners of the Alberta boondocks, it was inevitable that their brothels would develop lifestyles of their own, in legend if not in fact.  What other community, for example, could claim that its gaggle of whorehouses doubled as cultural centres, as Lethbridge's did during the expiring years of Victoria's reign?  There, after savouring the primary pleasures of the joints, a young cow hand ... could relax with a good book and, if necessary, be taught to read by a former schoolteacher turned prostitute.  Or he could lean back and enjoy a piano solo by one of the talented bawds, or learn the latest dance steps from a new girl from Wichita via Great Falls, Montana.  He might even be instructed in how to spot a crooked card dealer in a poker game, by a girl who had been a faro dealer in Fort Benton.  And after a cowboy had blown what was left of his wad in a Round [5th] Street gambling joint he might seek shelter from the weather in a bagnio on "The Point" and not be turned away."  (from Red Lights on the Prairies by James H. Gray)

Today's Good News:  I looked 'em up fer ya: faro is a gambling card game in which players bet on the order in which cards will appear, and bagnio is a whorehouse (originally a bath house in Turkey or Italy).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beware The Chalkmeister!

          Now I'm not the billiard god, but I enjoy a good game of eight ball as much as the next guy.  And being a highly psychological contest, when you're playing pool it's not a bad idea to try to intimidate your opponent a bit.  The first step in unsettling him (or her) is commonly accomplished by opening up an expensive case and assembling an exotic-looking pool cue with - of course - great flourish.  My own favourite cue is far from exotic or expensive.  And it's a one-piece at that.  But it does have an 8-ball floating in some aquamarine fluid in a compartment next to Elvis Presley's autograph!  Pretty hi-tech if I say so myself.  (Okay, I doubt if he or his heirs even know his signature is on there, but - hey - it could be his autograph.)  However, over the years I've learned that real pool sharks don't bring custom cues to the table to intimidate - they bring their own cue tip chalk!  (Mine is in a rubber holder on the end of a retractable cord that has a clip for my belt.  Pretty stunning I have to admit.)  So try it fellas, get yourself a retractable-pool-cue-tip-chalk-holder and really put 'em off their game!  You'll thank me for this.  Really.

Today's Good News:  Three sleeps until Loofy's house!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

MIA: Mitt Romney

          Have you seen this man lately?  Like a missing child, he should have his likeness on a run of milk cartons throughout the U.S.  Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney finally broke his silence yesterday on the debt ceiling debate: he objects to the deal finally agreed to by the leader of his own party and the majority of its members, thereby placing himself squarely in the Teapublican corner.  He's been missing in action for weeks on this question, hunkered down with his head in the sand - not wanting to come down on the wrong side of this issue.  Now that's real leadership!  But then he's one of those guys who believes the Garden of Eden is in Missouri.

Today's Good News: The debt ceiling deal sealing is half done!

Monday, August 1, 2011

It Ain't Over ...

Gourmet Pizza
... until it's over.  Nice little pop in the stock futures this morning after Obama's eleventh hour announcement (aimed specifically at the opening of the Asian markets last night) that "we have a deal".  Not so fast.  The bloated, vulnerable underbelly of the U.S. has been exposed - its super-polarized electorate.  Let's not forget the overriding motivation behind every democratically-elected politician on the face of the earth: to get democratically-re-elected.  And a goodly number of both Democrats and Teapublicans won't if this deal goes through.  So, it won't go through.  My predictions: a) Obama is forced to invoke the 14th amendment, b) the Teapublicans go wild and attempt to impeach him, c) Boehner is out as Speaker of the House, d) the American people toss the Teapublicans in 2012, e) Obama gets a second term after a serious revolt in his own party, and f) Al's Pizza franchises itself before eventually going public.  Ya gotta love the Excited States of America!
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh



Today's Good News: We had a very pleasant evening around the fire pit last night.  Quite the star show.  Reminded me of this painting.