Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gutes neues Jahr !

That means Happy New Year in German, literally Good New Year.

This evening I will do some powerful voodoo to help ensure a prosperous New Year. I'll make about four dozen golden spring rolls. Having spring rolls at New year's is a Chinese "good luck" charm - I learned this from the famous Chinese chef and restauranteur of the 1960-70s, Joyce Chen in cooking classes in the mid 1970s. The reasoning that spring rolls are good luck is that they are made to look like bars of gold. Thus having them for New year's is a good luck charm.

I suppose it's similar to my grandmother saying that having sauerkraut at New Year's was also good luck. Maybe it's for the same reason - sauerkraut can look like golden threads.

My spring rolls are baked, not deep fried - I get the gold color by spraying them with Pam, or brushing with olive oil. The filling is hamburger, bok choy, green cabbage, green peppers, onions, oyster sauce and various other Chinese spices. I'll make four dozen and have them for New Year's eve dinner with Mrs. B along with a fine Golden Kryptonite Martini.

Hey, that's a double voodoo spell !

Wait ... quintuple voodoo - I'm making some golden sauerkraut for New Year's day dinner, along with a pork roast & golden Bavarian potato pancakes. Maybe I'll have a bottle of fine German reisling wine, too. That would be quintuple voodoo as the wine is a golden color.

Doing my best for the common man ;)


I still have the S&P January puts. If the market doesn't drop during the first week, I'll roll them forward into a later expiration date.

Word of the Day

"Preterite" - adjective and noun [$10] Grammatical
Preterite means (adjective) expressing a past action or state; (noun) a preterite tense or form.
Sentence: As all events of 2009 will soon be described only in preterite tenses, we can hope that 2010 will bring good news for the common man in its soon applicable present tenses.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Polls in, Obama Speaks

Obama's pollsters got the overnight results in and ... he speaks !

His hand-picked appointee to the homeland Security Department was being bashed - rightfully, she's a fool - and the polls showed plenty of slippage for Obama's "leadership" and job approval, so he decides to get off the beach and away from the hula girls to speak about the terrorist attack.

WSJ: "A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable," the president said, referencing "a mix of human and systemic failure." In his comments, the president cited information "that could have and should have been pieced together."

Gosh, what a revelation ! Anyone, repeat anyone, motivated to protect the American people as a priority would have done something with any single piece of that data. But Obama's people did nothing. Why ? They have other priorities.

This seems to be a failure at the very top - much like W on the Katrina debacle. Three days of silence tells one all that is needed. He just doesn't see this as a priority. That's rather obvious, based on his record on Guantanamo. This is just more confirmation.

This clown is becoming dangerous. Let's hope the outcries force some changes.

Word of the Day

"Bastinado" - verb & noun [$10]; a Mencken word
Bastinado means (noun) punishment by a beating with a stick on the soles of the feet; (verb, transitive) to punish a person in this way.
Sentence: This blog intends to apply verbal bastinado to Obama and his minions whenever needed, even daily, until they start acting in the best interests of the American people.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TO: Janet Napolitano - RESIGN !

The leader of the Homeland Security Department should resign at once. She is obviously a hack with no skills at enemy identification or willingness to protect the people. And she's a liar, going for the big lie to hide her own failures.

Over the weekend after the terrorist attack, she said the system worked, when it obviously utterly failed. Only the independent actions of a Dutch man prevented a disaster.

The terrorist was flagged as dangerous, but was not searched prior to boarding the plane. Now she covers her ass by having everyone searched. How ridiculous !
These clowns in government didn't even revoke the terrorist's visa. What the hell is going on ?

From today's WSJ: "The warning by Mr. Abdulmutallab's father should have been combined with information from airline personnel, such the suspect's purchase of his ticket with cash and his carrying only a backpack for an international flight. That behavioral profile "doesn't mean he should be on the no-fly list, but he should be checked out," the counterterrorism official said."

Napolitano was the fool who last spring said that returning US war veterans were a risk for terrorism.

Now they impose intrusive searches on everyone coming to the US. That's the typical leftist proto-fascist response. Don't identify and target the likely terrorists. Waste billions searching everyone in the name of "fairness".

Hey Barry ! Get you butt off those Hawaiian beaches and fire her ! Get a real leader for that job.


I bought a short ladder of puts on the S&P 500 - the January expiration puts on SPY with strikes at 110 and 113. My 1-2-3 Fund is now about 300% short effectively from the option deltas. If the year end / year beginning drop does not occur, I'll roll them into longer term puts that have more staying power.

Word of the Day

"Rapscallion" - noun [$10] archaic or jocular; from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain.
Rapscallion means a rascal scamp, or rogue.
Sentence: Congress is full of rapscallions whose only actions are lining their own pockets and those of their supporters with or by means of tax money.

Monday, December 28, 2009


On the drive to SE Ohio & back, Mrs. B & I listened to a CD course titled, Great American Music: Broadway Musicals, from The Teaching Company [ ]. The course was excellent, covering musicals from minstrel shows dating to almost 200 years ago to some current Broadway productions. Plenty of original recordings were part of the course, and the professor is a superb pianist who played many more songs with considerable skill. If you like musicals, give it a try.

From the course one can easily conclude that without the contributions of Black and Jewish people, American musical theatre would have been a fraction of its greatness; that conclusion might apply to American music on the whole, too.

Last evening we watched Golddiggers of 1933, that fine Busby Berkeley movie starring Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler and Joan Blondell. Lots of fund, great songs, beautiful girls and a happy ending. What more could one want in a movie !


The S&P popped up out of an ascending triangle pattern. My gut says its a fake out, to be hit by selling once the beefers book their fees for the year. A weekly chart shows, however, that a move to 1200 is possible in a buying climax.

I don't like the passage of ObamaCare, but the Copenhagen crater outweighs it longer term. Slow growth in the US is possible longer term, but unemployment will be a huge drag for years now. Firms large and especially small will be hugely motivated to shift more & more to machines and overseas production.

For the 1-2-3 Fund, I intend to buy some S&P puts today as a starter. I need to explore how to best implement my 2010 speculative outlook, which is a grinding pullback for at least six months, maybe until the election in November.

Word of the Day

"Toady" - noun & verb [$10]
Toady means (noun) a sycophant, an obsequious hanger-on; (verb - transitive) to behave servilely to, fawn upon; (verb - intransitive) same as for transitive, but followed by "to"
Sentence: When will the media stop being toady to Obama ?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

World's Finest Martini - a reprise

As requested, here again is my World's Finest Martini recipe. Take three parts gin, one part vodka, one part white Lillet, and one lemon twist, mix in a shaker with lots of ice, and serve on ice. This is derived from the original James Bond martini recipe in Ian Fleming's book, "Casino Royale". I prefer more Lillet than Bond ordered. I've taught the bartenders at a club where I stay on business trips to New York City to make my recipe - we call it, "Golden Kryptonite". I keep my gin & vodka in the freezer door in pint bottles and my Lillet in the refrigerator so they are very cold. I also make up an entire weekend's supply (three stiff drinks, one each for Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings) in a cocktail mixer on Friday and put the second two days' drinks in a large, thick glass (no ice) covered with plastic wrap in the freezer to store.

White Lillet is a French appertif wine. No need ot use any particularly fine gin or vodka - the Lillet and lemon provide the flavor. I use Gordon's for both, of course, since that is what Bond specified. The name, "Golden Kryptonite" fits since if you drink too much, you will be numbed as Superman was with gold Kryptonite.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Win for the Common Man

The US papers are unreliable, being pumpsters of Obama, but here are the comments on Copenhagen from the French press.

Le Figaro: "Climat: Copenhague s'achève sur un échec" meaning "Climate: Copenhagen ends on a failure"

That's a win for the common man. Let's hope all these global warming "deals" continue to disintegrate.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Overslept again.

My dog, Spikie, requires a good bit more care now, so that means I get less unbroken sleep.

Today is a triple -witching day, so could be whippy.

Futures are up a bit now this AM.

I will not post next week, as I will be in my hometown in Ohio. It's a long drive. Mrs. B and I need to pick out some CD course or two, or a book or two, for joint listening. Ahh ... the compromises of marriage !

I'm hoping for two fine Christmas gifts for the common man: a dual cratering of Copenhagen and ObamaCare.

Word of the Day

"Copacetic" - adjective [$10]
Copacetic means very satisfactory.
Sentence: A most copacetic gift for the common man for the holidays would be a dual collapse of Copenhagen and ObamaCare. Oh please, Santa !!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Zzzzzzzzzzzz ...

I overslept, so not much today.

Stock futures are down, the dollar is up.

C stock sale flopped ... no surprise that few would want its shares except at a large discount.

The ClimateGate scandal rolls on. With access now to the actual raw data - previously kept secret by the scientists - others auditing the numbers find huge manipulation and outright doctoring of the numbers. Anything not fitting the "picture" was tossed out. What a scandal ! I wonder if anyone will ever trust the scientific community again ?

It's too bad such a protected clique of money-grubbing and power-grubbing swine have now discredited the entire profession. But the signs were obvious to anyone looking. When secrecy and ad hominem attacks rule, any thinking person knows they are hiding something.

Here's a quote from a website that covers Russian language newspapers.

***Quote begins***
Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory.

Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country's territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations. The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations. On the whole, climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations. IEA analysts say climatologists use the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.

The scale of global warming was exaggerated due to temperature distortions for Russia accounting for 12.5% of the world's land mass. The IEA said it was necessary to recalculate all global-temperature data in order to assess the scale of such exaggeration.
***Quote Ends***

Much more and other links are available on

Word of the Day

"Caconym" - noun [$100]
Caconym means a name, especially a taxonomic name, that is considered linguistically undesirable.
Sentence: Ever since the famous WaterGate affair, the American language has been burdened with that ugly caconym, the -gate suffix - for any public scandal. Yuck! French would provide much better names. Compare ClimateGate to L'affaire de climat. The French name would be much more interesting - even a bit suggestive.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Blank Wednesday

As usual for Wednesdays, nothing is happening. I await in hope for a double cratering of ObamaCare and Copenhagen. In both cases the ruling classes are frantically trying to hide the lies and sheer bunco scams in those efforts in order to slip something through as a "start" to get more power for themselves over the common man.


My speculative urges are rather tepid at these prices in the markets. Lots of buying power is being consumed for small gains. The resistance seems rather strong here. Good news produces few new buyers. Again, on a pop higher, I'll try to find short sale plays. And on a serious dip, I'll do some speculative buying. Otherwise, I'll enjoy the holidays.


Polish verbs aren't as hard as I had first thought. German word order is still a big problem. Italian is a joy; I've upgraded my efforts there. French listening and speaking skill is rapidly improving now. Spanish is still at the back of the bus - I just don't enjoy it much. Latin progress is rapid, too; I really like these pithy quotations in Latin from antiquity.

Word of the Day

"Hyperesthesia" - noun [$10]; a Mencken word
Hyperesthesia means an excessive physical sensibility, esp. of the skin.
Sentence: Many [Most ?] Americans have a mental hyperesthesia towards arbitrary or unexplained commands and orders. Whether this is passed through the generations as a cultural meme, or is some deep genetic difference in behavior, is unknown. But it's there, no doubt.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From Where Can Inflation Come ?

Many doomsayers point to the Fed's large balance sheet and screech, Inflation's A'comin !

Yup, I'm imitating Huck Finn a bit there with the country dialect. I think that's wrong for several reasons. Strict focus on the supply of money ignores the demand for money. What is the correct absolute level of the monetary base now ? That depends on the demand for money in the economy and its velocity. Behavior has changed, mooting much historical data now. Many, many people will certainly hold more cash now that they did in the past. The new level of the monetary base must accommodate that demand for cash or cause stagnation for no purpose.

Inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. Demand and supply both matter. If money is demanded and hoarded simply for safety, then, ipso facto, such money is not used to demand goods or services. Whether the current Fed policy will cause future inflation is not now determined. Simply put, it depends on future actions.

BUT what about supply ? Two major decisions loom that will curtail new growth in the supply for goods and services. Those are ObamaCare and Copenhagen. Both can be major barriers to increasing the supply of goods and services in the US and worldwide. If implemented in a strong manner, long term inflation pressure is certain worldwide. Stagnation could occur alternatively, but I think that governments worldwide will not choose that. They will print more and more money to create a fasçade of prosperity. That would produce worldwide inflation.

What to do ?

Keep some long term money in TIPs and gold (metal, ETFs and mine stocks). Now I keep 12.5% of Krypto Fund in TIPs and 5% in gold. I'll increase those positions in Krypto Fund on dips IF both ObamaCare and Copenhagen move forward. I'll rest easier if they collapse.

Historically, real estate has performed very well in inflation, too. Now I keep 15% of Krypto Fund in real estate, but the share is effectively about 25% due to internal leverage in the funds I must use. I added to those positions a lot when REIT prices were very low. Now I'm shifting some money from the more leveraged REITs [via the Vanguard ETF - "VNQ"] to the real estate fund at TIAA which has less leverage. It invests directly in major buildings and seems rather uncorrelated to REIT stock prices. As they've rallied, the TIAA-RE fund has fallen. I made a shift to "sell high, buy low". I figure the stock market is forecasting higher prices for commercial real estate in the future, hence the higher REIT stock prices. But the TIAA-RE fund is priced off current market values of buildings. So I can sell real estate at higher anticipated prices through selling the REIT ETF and buy actual RE at current low prices, To me, it's an arbitrage - free money - if one has the flexibility to make the trade. I did this trade in a big way in Krypto Fund late last week.

I write this just to say what I am doing and show how I think. I'm not sure if the TIAA real estate fund is open to the public. Mrs. B was a scientist, so put a lot of retirement money into TIAA-CREF retirement funds. That's how we can invest in TIAA-RE fund. Another thing. You cannot withdraw money from TIAA-RE fund for re-allocations, only for true retirement income. That means I keep the money in it at a core level only.

Word of the Day

"Trammel" - noun and verb [$10]; from the card file
Trammel means (noun) a net for catching birds; 2. an adjustable pothook for a fireplace crane; 3. a shackle used for making a horse amble; 4. something impeding activity, progress or freedom: restraint (usually in the plural); (verb) to catch or hold in or as if in a net; 2. to prevent or impede the free play of.
Sentence: ObamaCare and Copenhagen will substantially trammel the US and world economies. By reducing the capability to produce more and more goods and services, both will be a force to increase inflation in both the US and the world.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Copenhagen Cluster FUBAR

The media airwaves continue to gush over the ruling classes meeting in Copenhagen to discuss how they can foist more economic oppression onto the common man. That's after information got out that the scientists were fabricating the data and hiding contrary evidence in order to ensure their own gravy train of money for "research".

The real story is yet to come out, as the media air heads write about quotes from top scientists admitting lies and hiding evidence. The real story is in the computer codes and those related e-mails that show they were doctoring data at the deepest levels to produce only "pro-warming" results. That entire field is rife with corruption in search of more and more government funding. They even admit fabricating scare stories in public to get more grant money.

All I want for Christmas is simply a collapse at Copenhagen for whatever reason. I suspect money will cause it. With the current economic situation, the wealthier countries know they can't get their voters to sent big money to the poorest nations to help them develop without existing energy sources. They might put something on paper that will be vague and full of holes. But I think that's all that will come about. That's my hope.


IFF Copenhagen collapses AND ObamaCare, too, I will become longer term bullish again.

For now I see no trading buys or sells that have a good risk-reward profile. I admit I'm not looking too hard. I'll be out all next week, so will not want big, risky positions on my books then anyway.

Uh ... what's going on with the dollar ? I thought it was consigned to the graveyard by the doomsters. Could it be that signs of economic strength in the US are bringing in demand ? Hmm ... where was that posted a few months ago ? One guess.

This is an intermediate term rally. Longer term, the dollar must go down versus all those exporter countries in Asia and other places. They've been riding on the back of the US consumer for decades. That has to balance out.

I read that a large amount of profits at large US multinational companies come from emerging markets. Good. That gave me some more comfort that I have enough exposure to those markets.

Book of the Week

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, in AUDIO version. Mine is a BBC audio narrated by Patrick Fraley. I am now 45% through this book and I recommend it highly. The AUDIO version. The dialects of the characters are part of the crucial value of the book. An audio version produced by a good actor reading the book gives you this. Reading it in print will not.

The setting is the Mississippi river area around Illinois and Missouri circa 1830-1840. The adventures of Huck Finn bring out the culture of that regions and major issues such as freedom, slavery, and oppression, and the riverboat culture of that huge region in the US that had existed for decades as the nation moved west from the Appalachian regions to the Great Plains.

US western culture then was hard drinking, hard fisted, rough and tumble and lots of braggadocio and bombast - the bowie knife and whisky culture of people coping in relatively primitive areas. Histories give you the raw facts. This novel puts a human side onto it.

Word of the Day

Ululate - verb, intransitive [$10]
Ululate means to howl, wail.
Sentence: The Greenies will ululate unceasingly if the Copenhagen circus craters; that will be music to my ears.

Friday, December 11, 2009

La Grande Bouche

The Big Mouth, aka The Bloviator in Chief spewed forth much blether [*Word of the Day] yesterday at his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's a link ->

It's full of nonsense and rhetorical flourishes ... and self-justification - not unexpected.

Obama sees himself not as President of the whole United States of America, but as the chairman of a mass movement - the Democratic National Committee. This is why he is unwilling to compromise. He wants conflict to gain votes and money to help the "party" remain in power. Listening to his recent speech about jobs, I was struck how he inserted several jabs (three, I believe) against the opposition party. He doesn't try to craft workable programs based on reality; he bases his message on slogans and rhetoric.

This is why he has done nothing to lead - truly lead - Congress towards a workable reform of the health care system. He's let Congress create a 2,000 page monstrosity. He doesn't really care what the result is, so long as his party can claim victory in next year's elections.

Does anyone not wonder why it took Obama about three months to make a decision on his Afghan war "strategy" ? He had no idea what to do, so lots of people talked and met and talked and met and in the end put together a rather weak, flabby "strategy". I think he did that just because the media started to question his "leadership" on the grounds that it sure was taking a long time.

I suppose this should be no surprise; afterall, his first "job" out of college was to be a community organizer. He's still acting like one.


Zippo. I don't think there will be many buyers higher, so this rally will stall.

Word of the Day

"Blether" - noun, verb [$100] variant of blather
Blether means (noun) nonsense; (verb) to jabber blether.
Sentence: The Nobel Peace Prize committee got in Obama's speech what it valued: much blethering spewing forth more blether.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another New Feature

I intend to write about the CD and DVD courses that I complete. All are from The Teaching Company [ see ]. I buy them on sale at what seems to me quite reasonable prices. I concentrate on its offerings in the humanities: philosophy, literature, history, and religion. The science and math courses don't interest me as I have such an extensive background in those areas. But the humanities were an area neglected for years, and I am now enjoying myself filling that vacant space in half my brain.

I mainly buy the CD versions, unless the course is art or about a part of the world where I don't know the geography or places. The CD works best since I like to listen in the car driving my dog Sky to sheep herding classes.

A few days ago I finished How to Read and Understand Poetry. The course was excellent - covering many aspects of how a poem is constructed and how the poet makes his/her points. All this technical knowledge helps one appreciate the poetry as a poem, and not simply to read it as prose to figure out its meaning. The professor in fact said "meaning" is one of the least important parts of a poem, as most poems are about traditional subjects such as love, loss, death, heroism, etc.

In my opinion, one must read a poem out loud, preferably twice, to absorb its value. Human language and thinking developed over tens of thousands of years orally, so poetry captures a crucial part of languages' communication dimension. And literature for the first few thousands of years was all poetry. To me, then, it's self-evident that a good technical knowledge of poetry is crucial to having a deep understanding of humanity.

This course helped me immensely. One must buy The Norton Anthology of Poetry to get the most of the course. All poems covered in the lectures are included in the anthology [except very few]. I read them all after reviewing the course notes provided, certainly thus reading more poetry that I had done prior in my entire life.

I recommend this course to anyone seeking to diversify one's knowledge in the humanities.

PS: Another excellent course I'm now watching on DVD is Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt, in preparation for a trip to Amsterdam this spring.


Nothing - still sitting in the shade, waiting for a trend.

Word of the Day

"Tocsin" - noun [$10]
Tocsin means 1. an alarm bell or the ringing of it; 2. a warning signal
Sentence: No one sounds a tocsin when the market herd begins to head to a new waterhole; one must watch the signs and portents to see it and climb onto the elephant in time to ride along.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What to Do IF ...

The worst happens: a nuclear strike occurs near you. Depending on the size, "near" might mean a mile or 20 miles.

The following information comes from a pocket card provided by which can be reproduced and distributed freely. The organization encourages just that. Thank you, Mrs. B, for giving me mine.

To quote from the card, "These principles were developed during nuclear weapons tests test the 1940s -1960s and remain valid today ! The laws of physics do not change."

You should learn this training - it's not complex and even seems obvious once you understand them and the principles behind them. If you don't survive the first minute, first hour or first day, all the rest of one's preparedness means nothing.

***Quote begins***



Drop & cover when you see a flash. Stay down behind cover for two full minutes. Even covering with a newspaper can prevent burns. Keep eyes closed during bright light to prevent blindness.


7 / 10 Rule: Fallout loses 90% of its radioactivity in the first 7 hours after a detonation and an additional 90% for every 7-fold increase in time: 90% in the first seven hours; 90% in 49 hours (two days) and 99.9% in two weeks.


Fallout looks like sand, ash or grit as it falls and accumulates on the ground. If no fallout is visible on the ground, there is no radiation ! To be sure, place a piece of smooth white paper, a dinner plate or anything with a smooth surface on the ground & check every 15 minutes for fallout particles.

If visual indications of fallout appear take shelter for two or three days underground or behind thick walls. (These tips are generally true.)

This card may be the only nuclear training you get. Knowing A, B, & C can protect your life and your department.

Give a card to each emergency responder in your jurisdiction.

***Quote ends***


Doing nothing, waiting in the shade for the herd to start moving out.

Word of the Day

"Carapace" - noun [$10]
Carapace means a protective outer coating.
Sentence: There is nothing in the world like the light of a nuclear explosion - literally, in its spectrum and awesome intensity. But it is still light and any carapace can protect you from severe burns that it would otherwise cause very severe burns.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Death Star

This station is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it. [from Star Wars]

That's what Obama is thinking about his new Death Star, the EPA. His Death Star went on line yesterday, declaring that all human and animal life is a pollutant. Yes, that is what they did. All humans and animals breathe. That is pollution being created. Exhalation pushes that newly deemed deadly poison, carbon dioxide, into the air. Human and animal life are aerobic creatures. They use oxygen to produce energy for warmth and motion. Carbon dioxide is one by-product. YOU are a deadly polluter and must be regulated.

Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!
[The Emperor in Return of the Jedi]

American jobs and lifestyle are the target for Obama's Death Star. He doesn't need Congress now. He can rule by the bureaucracy and enforce his will with the EPA, court injunctions and Federal marshals.

YOU, the American polluter, are guilty and must be punished. You shall be cold in winter, suffer in heat in summer and work with your hands in hard labor, without labor saving tools. Living in remote areas will now be nearly impossible, except in a naturalist lifestyle as the pioneers did. Travel will be restricted - planes and long distance car travel will likely become uneconomical.

American jobs will go in a new wave to China and other emerging markets as those nations will receive US tax dollars as compensation.

The Green movement will need a continual stream of victims to punish to ensure its power. Anyone or any job that is deemed to use energy inefficiently [i. e., not "needed" as they deem "need"] will be suffer opprobrium first, then the Death Star will strangle them/it with permits and bans.

I suppose you think I jest. Not really. All this will happen if the public continues to vote stupidly, for the same old ruling classes. We all might have to re-live the 1970s stagnation, or much worse.


What is not a polluting environment ? That would be one dominated by anaerobic processes which do not produce that newly designated poison, carbon dioxide. Read the recent Book of the Week, Black Sea by Neal Ascherson. The lower layer of the Black Sea is an anaerobic environment. and completely lifeless.


Je ne fais rien.
Ich machte nichts.
Nic nie robię.
Estoy haciendo nada.
Non faccio nulla.
Nihil facio.
I am doing nothing.

I plan to short stocks higher, or buy lower. Here at these levels, the risk-reward profile is poor, in my opinion.

Word of the Day

"Brio" - noun [$10] from Italian
Brio means dash, vigor, vivacity
Sentence: Obama's Death Star will crush the brio of the American people and economy over time, reducing them to serfs on manors of the ruling classes

Monday, December 7, 2009

Whither Now ?

The jobs number came in quite good, as this blog had expected. Friday was volatile as the initial rally brought out selling on the news. I was part of that selling, letting all my speculative positions go on the morning rip up. At some point, however, I think that real buyers will move cash into the market as their confidence in the economy must now be much better. I would not be surprised as a modest rally, but the major resistance at S&P 1200 looms large. Many early buyers will likely sell there, or near there.

The risk-reward is now not what my speculative juices need. I will wait in cash for better long prices lower, or short sales higher.

Long term, two major problems loom: ObamaCare and climate change regulations. Both can create major stagnation as they will divert huge resources to non-productive ends. Instead of investing for growth, business will be forced to spend more money to make the same things. This did happen in the 1970s. That period also saw inflation rise due to central bank errors. Whether the Fed makes errors, time will tell.

I've climbed off the bull elephant and now will wait in the shade for a new trend to develop.

Book of the Week

The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution by Alex Storzinski. This superb book is a biography of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, covering both his heroic deeds in the American Revolution as the chief of engineers for the American army and in his native Poland, where he led two revolutions for freedom. [Note: the 'sz' in his name is pronounced 'sh'.] The extremely well written book uses extensive original Polish source and American source material. Koscuiszko was truly devoted to freedom for all, even more so than American founding father Thomas Jefferson. Koscuiszko left his entire revolutionary war pay in trust to Jefferson, who was a personal friend, to use to buy freedom for slaves in America. He also led early efforts to free serfs in Poland, and the revolutionary constitution of May 3, 1791 is commemorated in the great Polish epic poem, Pan Taddeus.

I enjoyed the details in the book - letters preserved actual conversation in summary. Koscuiszko had personal contract with Franklin, Washington, Gates, and Greene, all authentic heroes of American Independence. I had not known the details of Koscuisko's crucial role in the Battle of Saratoga, which turned the tide and made American freedom assured as long as the nation could hold out. Without Koscuisko's engineering skill preparing the American defenses, that battle could have been lost.

Also, the book's details of his leadership roles in the revolutions in Poland against Russia and Prussia, as well as Napoleon's double dealings were fascinating. Eastern Europe is now an important part of NATO and the EU. Understanding the history of that region and its people's multi-century struggles for freedom is crucial for bridging the huge cultural gap. Kosciuszko is true pillar of strength for freedom - a hero of both America and Poland. This book should be read now by anyone serious about history.

I recommend this book highly. It is best available at Polonia Bookstore (where I purchased my copy) as [Don't be intimidated by the Polish language - type 'Koscuiszko' into the site's search box and you'll see the book in the results. Or you can find it on

Word of the Day

"Numinous" - adjective [$10]
Numinous means 1. indicating a presence of divinity; 2. spiritual; 3. awe-inspiring.
Sentence: The opening ceremony to the Copenhagen conference on climate change tried to put a numinous glow onto its affairs, but perhaps simply added more proof that the entire affair is like a convention of a mass movement: money and power rule by a clique. Freedom of the common man and his prosperity is at serious risk there.

Friday, December 4, 2009

TGIF and some moves

A long week is almost over, and 2009 has just a bit under one month left. Krypto checked her Fund yesterday and as much easy money has been made, Krypto hit the button on the computer to re-allocate. Good doggie ... here's your fee, a fine dog biscuit.

Krypto sold quite a bit of gold (the ETF - GLD), gold stocks, REIT index fund ETF (VNQ), and emerging market ETF (VWO) and the sister index fund. Overall this was about 3.5% of Krypto Fund holdings which were moved to money market funds. All the monies were in retirement accounts, hence no tax affects. TIPS and bonds (except certain municipal bonds) do not seem like good buys to me now, so I'll wait, probably a year until the Fed starts to raise rates. If the stock markets pull back, I can re-buy at lower prices. Patience, grasshopper ....

The speculative 1-2-3 Fund is mostly cash now, too, as all the S&P calls were sold earlier this week as posted. I have some MT stock, MT calls, HBC calls, BA calls and some RIMM, CX and VVUS. I expect a good jobs numbers and will likely take all sugar on all options on any ramp after the number - IF I'm right.

On a push towards S&P 1200, I will look for short plays. My first stop will be any market leaders that fail to make new recovery highs. Second will be whatever sectors I think might be over-extended and ready for a drop. I think the beefers are already distributing stocks like AAPL, GS, etc. They will pull the trigger on all their holdings before year end IF their management fees seem in danger.

I don't expect a big pullback unless something bad happens, like Obama passing his cluster FUBAR health plan. IF that passes, job stagnation will rule for a decade or more.

Yesterday's late selloff had two possible causes: (1) GS put out a negative forecast for this AM's job number to select clients (GS does this the day before the number recently), or (2) general big cap selling by institutions raising funds to buy the BAC offering. Or both.

That BAC offering was something called "Common Equivalent Securities" - CES for short. I suppose they came from some investment banking firm's CESspool. What a bunch of s&^% ! If you want to sell stock, sell stock. Only a fool hasn't learned that complexity is costly and dangerous. Of course, BAC is still run by fools and cads.

Word of the Day

"Desideratum" - noun [$10]
Desideratum means something desired as essential.
Sentence: Strong improvement on the job market is the crucial desideratum for further economic and market advances.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Riding Along ...

À propos my investments, I've been riding this bull elephant for awhile quite comfortably. I'm starting to wonder if a few elephants in the herd are getting a bit hungry, though, or thirsty. For example, AAPL and GS. Those were leaders in the herd, but have faltered and are unable to make new recovery highs as the averages do just that. This tweaked my memories of past bull market runs and some lore from the very, very distant past from that great speculator, Jesse Livermore. I'm not drawing any conclusions, but my investigative urge has been kindled. Today I'll look over a lot of charts to see what they show me.

I expect a good jobs number tomorrow and Ms. Market seems to do that, too, this morning.

BAC says it's going to repay $45 billion in TARP funds. They are going to issue lots of common shares. Ugh ... A problem in analysis for all these big banks ... what is the stabilized earnings potential ? The old EPS levels won't work as estimates because they have all issued so many shares. I suppose one would have to convert the old EPS to $ and then divide by the new shares outstanding.

I am re-checking Krypto Fund for asset allocations. Getting close, perhaps.

World Events

The bad boys continue acting like bad boys. WSJ reports that Iran is threatening people in the US who criticise it on the Internet. Russian judges who criticize the security services get sacked.

Honduras, however, seems to have survived a power grab by proto-fascist ex-President Zelaya. An election is ... an election. Good for the people of Honduras and its leaders.

Is Brazil's President Lula trying to grab attention on the world stage ? He's made some rather odd public statements lately. That's a worry for investments in Brazil in my opinion, Hubris is at work, methinks.

Word of the Day

"Syllabub" - noun [$10]
Syllabub means a dessert made of cream or milk flavored, sweetened and whipped to thicken it.
Sentence: Will tomorrow's job's number be a tasty syllabub for the return to normalcy stock market banquet since early March, to will it disappoint like a bowl of raspberries with a worm in it ?

Btw, I once was served a bowl of raspberries with a worm at a famous NYC restaurant. As I was with a client, I surreptitiously removed the crawling bug.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Delving into Obama's Mind

One has to use the deeds of a person to understand truly what they want, not just the words. This is especially true for a politician, who often can be rather gifted in obfuscating his true intentions with rhetoric.

Where does Obama want to lead the US ?

What simple deeds show his intent ?

I believe his decision to bow to foreign monarchs shows that he wants to downgrade the US as an independent, truly free sovereign nation with a unique free pioneer spirit.

Bowing to a hereditary monarch is NOT a sign of respect. A hereditary monarch is a person who won the lucky sperm contest, a person who perhaps has done nothing significant except not act like a fool in public. The photos of Obama almost licking the floor in front of the Japanese Emperor made me cringe, as did his deep bow to the King of Saudi Arabia, a person who would put all women into harems and keep them as household slaves.

Bowing is a sign of subservience to some of the world's ruling classes, a sign he wants to be part of their club. In protocol, the US President has NEVER bowed for foreign kings or heads of state. Does Obama bow to the French President ? Nope. The Russian President ? Nope. But to kings, yup. This is no accident. It's intentional and is a sign that Obama does NOT believe or consider the US as a bastion for freedom for free people. He looks at the US as just another nation who must kowtow to the world's ruling classes.

Hence, he is kowtowing to the Japanese Emperor. And the King of Saudi Arabia.


I'll read about the plan as announced think about the new strategy. Speeches can hide the true nature of a plan, or not; reading the details is essential.


I flipped the S&P calls that I added Monday AM, so now hold just the position from Friday. Actually, this was a rather large speculation as it made me about 250% long effectively when I had all the calls. Now I'm down to a bit over 150% long. Waiting now.

Word of the Day

"Pointillist" - noun and adjective [$10]; from "Pointillism" - a term from the world of art. From French, pointiller, to paint with small dots.
Pointillism means a post impressionist school of painting associated with Seurat and his followers in late 19th century France and marked by the application of paint in small dots and brush strokes that blend together when seen from a distance.
Pointillist means (noun) a artist embracing pointillism; (adjective) of, by or having the quality of the techniques or style of pointillism.
Sentences: (A) [from WSJ, Peggy Noonan's column, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2009] "This week, two points in an emerging pointillist picture of a White House leaking support [appeared] ..." (B) The Obama Presidency is like a pointillist picture - from a distance, an recognizable image, but looking up close, no substance or solidity.

By the way, the photos of persons featured in The Wall Street Journal columns are made with black and white pointillism.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fading ...

The Dubai panic is fading everywhere but in Dubai and the Gulf markets. Of course, the bulk of losses are going to be concentrated there. Who else would own an Islamic bond, but people who believe the Islamic faith. And of those, who has lots of money to invest ? Rich Arabs.

The world moves on .... the panic mongers failed to start another conflagration. A metaphor: It's tough to start a new fire when the building is soaking wet from the prior fire-fighting effort. And the world is awash in liquidity in the aftermath of the Panic of 2008.

Good economic news came out yesterday morning. On that and the containment of the Dubai defaults, during the morning dip I doubled up on the S&P Dec. call options and the HBC call options. I plan to hold these until the Friday jobs number comes out, which I expect to be good. But IF the markets ramp into that report, I'll take the sugar before the number. I am not a pig. Je ne suis pas un goinfre.

Book of the Week

Black Sea, by Neal Ascherson (1995, about 300 pages). This book is a very readable and interesting work about the cultures surrounding the Black Sea and that sea's ecology. Ascherson covers many facets of the history from the Scythians and Sarmations to the Crimea to the Don Cossacks to events in the war between Abkhazia and Georgia in 1992-3. In scope, Ascherson includes historical and cultural events from Odessa to Trebizond (NE Turkey today) around the northeastern half of the sea's shore. I think he just ran out of pages, so Turkey and its Ottoman past, the Byzantine empire and the Danube area are left out, as is Ukraine.

Ascherson is a professional writer and can tell a story well. If you have interest in this cultural crossroads of the ancient and modern world, you will enjoy this book.

Word of the Day

"Eutrophication" - noun [$10] from "Eutrophic" - adjective [$10]
Eutrophic means (of a lake, etc.) rich in nutrients and so supporting a dense plant population, the decompostion of which kills animal life by depriving it of oxygen.
Sentence: Without some controls, so much nutrient material can flow into the Black Sea from its five major rivers that eutrification can devastate fisheries in coastal waters.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dubiety* about Dubai

*Word of the Day

The request for re-scheduling payment of principal on a maturing Islamic bond caused some screeching by the bears who are trying to start a bigger fire on fears of "what else" ?

First, what is Dubai ? Dubai is a sheikdom within the United Arab Emirates which itself is a federation of seven independent emirates. In classical terms, it's a city-state run by a monarch. How big is it ? Dubai has about 1,000,000 people, but only 20% are citizens. The rest are ex-patriates and guest workers. Where did I find out this information ? Not from any news reports or newspapers stories. They lazily don't tell us. I went to the US State Department website.

Dubai created a number of development companies to manage its hotels, tourism and port businesses. The company in trouble is a real estate company. Gosh, it's such a shock that a real estate company in a formerly "hot" location would get into trouble in a global recession.

What is an Islamic bond ? I don't know, but from poor descriptions in the press, I get the impression it's like a sale-leaseback, where the property/assets are sold to some legal entity, and the seller (borrower) pays rent, not interest explicitly, to the lenders. After some time, the seller buys the property/assets back. So an Islamic bond seems like a sale-leaseback coupled with a fixed price repurchase agreement. The analogous structure was rather common in the US until the mid 1970s until new accounting rules offset its legal and security benefits.

What does this highlight ? The economic risk in ANY debt that requires a large payment of principal at maturity ( a "balloon") is MUCH higher that any debt that requires small payments over time, like a home mortgage or a sinking fund bond. If the maturity happens to fall in a period of economic stress, the likelihood of trouble in re-paying that bond hugely increases. That's why the junk bond market gets hit so hard in recessions, yet recovers so fast when the ability to refinance resumes. Analytically, you can see that the correlation of risk & reward to the economy for balloon debt is much higher than for debt that amortizes slowly.

The bond markets started to prefer bonds with fixed balloon maturities in the 1970s. They were wrong. What made trading easier incurred more economic risk which was not compensated in interest rates. The old ways were better. Bring back sinking fund bonds and mortgage bonds.

OK, I am rambling. Yup. But the Dubai debt rescheduling is the screech of a mouse. No big deal at all. It's about like Las Vegas - another city in a desert - defaulting on a global scale. Smaller, even, as oil-rich Abu Dhabi is backing the Dubai banking system. Those banks probably own a majority of the debt at risk. Thus, it's even less that a default by Las Vegas, It's like the default of a few casinos. Hmmmm ... gosh, that's already happening in Las Vegas. Yawwwwwwn.


I'm cautiously making some speculative buys. I picked up some S&P calls on Friday and some HBC calls, too. I'm phasing this speculation in to see how this panic unfolds. I think it will be over in a few days. On Friday the US jobs numbers comes out. I expect a good number and then a rally to new recovery highs.

Word of the Day

"Dubiety" - noun [$10]
Dubiety means 1. a feeling of doubt; 2. a doubtful matter
Sentence: The debt rescheduling by a major Dubai company is causing a return of dubiety over any heavily leveraged nations.

NOTE: did you notice that poetic title, with its alliteration, assonance, consonance and internal rhyme ?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers

The feast was fabulous: free-range, organically fed turkey roasted to perfection, baked Buttercup squash, cranberries, oyster "stuffing", apple-onion "stuffing", pumpkin cheesecake, and fine German Spätlese wine from the Mosel-Saar-Ruhr region.

I hadn't noticed before, but a relative pointed out to me that most of the principal parts of traditional Thanksgiving dinners are New World foods, that is, native to the New World (vs. the Old World of Europe, Asia and Africa). Here's a few - turkey, cranberries, pumpkin (for pies or my cheesecake), squash, regular and sweet potatoes. Very fitting that our holiday feast and giving thanks for whatever good has happened for the past year are New World foods.

The holiday was variously celebrated in the colonies and Washington proclaimed the first national thanksgiving in 1789 as the new government took shape under the Constitution. Various state holidays were celebrated, but then Lincoln proclaimed the first regular, national holiday in late November. Thanksgiving is a fine holiday and I hope all celebrated it in some appropriate manner, or at least had a moment of thought about what one could be thankful for, such as a few good friends or one's health.

Or perhaps surviving the financial Panic of 2008.


There will be a smashing today as a big, state-owned Dubai company announced that it will not repay its bonds at maturity next month. This a a problem in dealing with a state-owned company. Sovereigns just don't have to follow rules or customs if they wish. So now I suspect the fear is spreading to any Dubai related debt, which I just heard is around $80 billion. Sigh ... why would so many "smart" banks lend money to such entities ? This again reminds me of the great Harry James song, "I've Heard that Song Before" - check out this link:


I am thinking of buying some S&P Dec. call options today IF I can get a reasonable price. To me, this Dubai default is not particularly important and the panic rather senseless. But the old fears are there, so I might as well take advantage of them to try to bang out a trade. I'll put this speculation on in phases, as usual.

I thin the December jobs number next Friday will be good and this drop is a "Black Friday" discount sale.

PS: For squash, you want buttercup squash, not the more common butternut squash. The alliterative mnemonics are, "brown is bad" (butternut squash is brown) and "no on nut". Buy only buttercup squash for baking.

Word of the Day

"Ordure" - noun [$10]
Ordure means 1. excrement, dung; 2. obscenity, filth; foul language.
Sentence: The air in DC is redolent of the ordure filing the 2,000 page ObamaCare "plan".

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Holiday Wednesday ...

surprisingly has some interesting news.

But first, read the Wall Street Journal's annual editorial writings for the day before Thanksgiving. Although identical for almost 50 years, the writing seems to have special meaning every year. If you don't subscribe, I posted a copy last year - see link below.

Now to the News ...

The Russian gangocracy keeps getting bolder: FT - quote begins***

A London-based Russian lawyer allegedly received death threats before and after the sudden death in a Moscow jail of Sergei Magnitsky, a colleague who had accused the police of involvement in a corruption case. ... Hermitage said it believed the death-threat text messages sent from a Russian mobile phone over the last month were a warning. They could indicate Magnitsky was killed rather than dying of natural causes after complaining for months he had been denied medical treatment for a serious stomach condition, it said. "

A text message sent on November 8 said, “If history has taught us anything, it is that anyone can be killed”, according to Hermitage. An earlier message sent on October 23 said: “What could be more frightening . . . I don’t know, death . . . or prison.”

Mr Browder said on Tuesday: “It all started to crystallise after we got the fifth message literally gloating about Magnitsky’s death . . . These messages combined with bruises [that were seen] on his hand . . . and the cover-up over his autopsy lead us to believe there is a real possibility he didn’t die of natural causes.” ***quote ends.

It is rather obvious that Putin & Medvedev are involved in protecting this crowd. No one should be doing any business with this gangocracy until it's cleaned up.

Washington Post concentrates on the DC ruling classes to feed it.

From WSJ - quote begins***
Washington Post Co.'s flagship paper plans to close its remaining U.S. news bureaus outside of the Washington area, in a symbolic retreat for one of the country's major news organizations.
The six affected journalists in the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago bureaus will be offered new posts in Washington. Three news aides in those locations will lose their jobs, the Post said.
The closures are effective Dec. 31

The move is an acknowledgement the paper—which helped force the resignation of President Richard Nixon and recently won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of influence wielded by former Vice President Dick Cheney—is focusing more on its backyard.

"It's necessary to concentrate our journalistic firepower on our central mission of covering Washington and the news, trends and ideas that shape both the region and the country's politics, policies and government," Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and other top Post editors said in a memo to staff.
***quote ends

To paraphrase, the people no longer matter to the Washington Post - all power is flowing to the center and all importance occurs there in the court of the ruling classes.


Ms. Market seems to have endurance for dancing, and the band seems to be tuning its instruments for a new set of songs. What will be the theme song for this set ? Will it be Happy Days Are Here Again or Brother, Can You Spare a Dime ? Maybe a lively Louis Armstrong tune from the 1920s will spur Ms. Market to do a wild jitterbug with a big bull ?

At this time I am still doing nothing. I have plenty of cash, but see few screaming buys or sells. I'm still riding the bull elephant to the next water hole, surveying the landscape to a change in trend.

Word of the Day

"Deontological" - adjective [$10] and "Deontology" [$10]; from Kant.
Deontology means the study of duty.
(A) [from course notes of "Great Ideas of Philosophy", part 3, page 46 - a CD course from The Teaching Company] "Central to any deontological theory is the idea that it takes the imperative of certain moral precepts to be unconditional."

(B) From behavior observed, one can conclude that both the DC ruling classes and the Russian gangocracy both flunked deontology in their studies, or never even signed up, as both are concerned solely with their own power and wealth.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To Solve the Twin Deficits

That problem is how to simultaneously reduce the trade deficit and to reduce the US Federal budget deficit. Those problems are connected by the flow of funds to and from overseas: the dollars sent overseas to buy goods (or services) flow back to invest in US $ denominated debt. Some call them "imbalances". Maintaining stability when both flows are large is a problem, as small changes in big numbers are ... big, and cause serious disturbances.

What is Do ?

First, recognize some causes. IF the US economy had full employment, the Federal budget deficit would shrink hugely. Second, US tax policy both taxes employment heavily AND subsidises imports, so we get less employment and more imports than otherwise would be equilibrium.

How is this done ? Social security, Medicare and various unemployment taxes are a very, very high cost to labor, over 15% of gross wages. Add to that the cost of health care benefits. The gross cost probably is over 25%. Under ObamaCare, this cost for using people will grow. Obviously, less US source employment is used for production and US firms place production overseas where possible.

All that labor tax money flows to provide benefits to US workers/people, and is added to the cost of US source goods. So Americans buying US source goods pay a huge added cost, while buying foreign source goods lets them pay NONE. What do we get ? People can buy imports and not pay for those benefits to the people. So the nation's tax policy effectively subsidizes imports, at the expense of US-based production, AND even taxes exports, too, via US source labor taxes.

All these create a huge dis-equilibrium in favor of less jobs, more imports, and less exports. This poor US tax policy supports the twin deficits.

How to Solve the Problem ?

Replace ALL labor taxes - Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and any health care mandates with a single National Sales Tax ("NST"), or call it a value added tax ("VAT") if you wish, on all goods. Employers will see their labor bill reduced hugely, and can hire more. Firms using foreign source labor will have to pay the NST/VST on sales in the US, so will lose that prior advantage (of not paying for US social benefits). US firms will see better profit margins on exports, as they will not have to pay that tax on exports.

American consumers will pay the tax equally on US source goods and imports, but that total amount will go to US benefits to its people. The opposite is true now, as no benefit to the American people flows from use of imports.

This fair tax policy will hugely reduce unemployment and the trade deficit - helping hugely to solve the twin deficits.

By the way, one has to replace ALL labor taxes at once with the NST/VAT, or no one will believe that the change is real and permanent, and that the public will not end up with both taxes. Also, the tax is on goods only: services are labor. The income tax picks those up directly or in the NST/VAT on price of the goods they help produce.

Additional Benefits

The municipal bond freeloaders and cash income persons will have to pay that NST/VAT, too when they spend their money. This improves fairness.

Word of the Day

"Controvert" - verb, transitive [$10]
Controvert means 1. to dispute, deny; 2. argue about, discuss.
Sentence: To controvert that US labor taxes seriously hurt US employment levels is a pretty difficult position to argue.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Books and More

Stock market futures are up for now, about 1%. Gold continues to rally. The market needs a better jobs outlook for a sustained rally, in my "humble" opinion. That might come in early December.

BBC: "Russia has now turned into a "criminal state", according to the man who was once its leading foreign investor" - Bill Browder. I hope he gets coverage and continues to push. Russia gets way too much slack in the media. It's a gangocracy.

Book of the Week

"Plagues and Peoples" by William H. McNeill. This superb book - "A book of the first importance, a truly revolutionary work" in the words of The New Yorker on the cover - is a "must read" for those interested in the broad human history. Plagues had huge influence on the development of many regions and in many historical epochs. The book also covers how people understood them in the past and dealt with them, and how the growth in population densities changed the nature of the spreading of plagues.

As simple plain history, this book provides critically important knowledge on plagues throughout the world and throughout history. For those who might want to put the current controversies about Ebola, bird flu, and swine flu into historical context, the book is a one stop read to do just that. I read it about 25 years ago and still refer to it on occasion.

Bonus Book

"Life and Fate" by Vasily Grossman. This weekend's WSJ featured this book as #1 of the five best outstanding fiction works on World War II. I read it about 25 years ago when it was first published in the west. The book had been banned by Communist ideologists, but was eventually sneaked to the west for publication. To quote from the review: "Vasily Grossman's "Life and Fate" is the "War and Peace" of Stalinism and the Great Patriotic War, as the Soviets called World War II. This deliberate act of literary homage to Tolstoy uses the Battle of Stalingrad in the place of the Battle of Borodino, and there are several parallels in construction. But the characters in "Life and Fate" and the dilemmas they face when confronted by the moral distortions of the system ... The anti-Semitism that emerged in Stalin's later years convinced Grossman of the parallels between Nazism and Stalinism. This similarity became a covert but recognizable theme in his great novel."

Reading the book helps get beyond the WW II propaganda about the "Great Patriotic War".

Word of the Day

"Feculence" - noun [$10] and "Feculent" - adjective [$10]
Feculent means full of foul matter; fecal
Sentence: The feculence of ObamaCare as manifested in the 2,000 page Senate health care bill is going to get a lot worse as various senators are bribed for votes one at a time.

Friday, November 20, 2009


It's Friday and the holiday season is coming. Next week is a shortened week and Christmas ads fill the airwaves. Hmmm ... that's a bit archaic, as now the "airwaves" aren't analog waves at all, but packets of bits and bytes. But at the fundamental level, the digital bits are still electromagnetic waves, although somehow configured be read by receivers as bits. I wonder how that's done ? Oh well ... you can tell I'm mostly a theorist when it comes to physics, etc.

Marketwise, consolidation continues. A few weeks ago I wrote that to hit my S&P target of 1200 by year end, the markets need some good news on the jobs front. That means unemployment claims dropping solidly below 500,000 per week, and the December jobs number showing a loss well under 200,000. We'll see ...

Europe is now going through the "Articles of Confederation" phase of nation-building. Eventually they'll copy the US Constitution, but it might take a generation for the need for that to be obvious to the leaders of member states. For now, Europe seems rather dominated by the big three, viz. Britain, France and Germany (listed alphabetically), but when will Italy, Poland and Spain (again listed alphabetically) start to get the respect they deserve ?

Hmmm in a year, this blogger will be semi-literate in all the major languages of the EU. I'll be able to add news from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain to my daily posts. I wonder how many bloggers world wide are able to do that ? Perhaps I'll then consider expanding operations to a real web site with more capability.

By the way, I can read enough of those languages to note that the leading newspapers in Italy and Poland did NOT have the appointment of the EU president as a top headline, while those from Britain, France and Germany did. The headline in a leading newspaper in Spain focused on the weakness of the #1 and #2 EU leaders. Interesting ...


The refrain continues ...
Je ne fais rien.
Ich machte nichts.
Nic nie robię.
Estoy haciendo nada.
Non faccio nulla.
Nihil facio.
I am doing nothing.

I wonder if I can make a poem from those lines ? Perhaps next time. I am listing to a course on "How to Read and Understand Poetry" from the Teaching Company. I might be able to combine those lines into some sort of verses with alliteration, assonance, consonance and half-rhymes and other poetic "sound effects". A good project.

Word of the Day

"Proxeny" - noun [$1000] and "Proxenus" -noun [$1000]; both from Greek
Proxeny means the office of function of a proxenus"
Proxenus means (in Greek antiquity) A resident citizen of a state appointed by another state to represent and protect its interests there. Readers of the fine book by Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks, will recognize that function was called "consul" in the free trading cities of pre-1871 Europe. Proxeny is sort of like an official agency of a governmental entity in another jurisdiction.
Sentence: The position of EU president seems a bit like a joint proxeny for all the members states of the EU on the world stage.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Environmental Fundamentals

Enormous quantities of nonsense are bantered about the media in the environmental arena. The principal reason for this is phony mysticism that the Green movement uses to hide from facts about the world. The Green movement blathers about "nature" as if it's an ancient God; some make this express by referring to Gaia, the pagan deity of ancient Greece mythology for the Earth.

Let's begin the deconstruction of the Green movement by looking at some basic truths about the physical world - the "real" Earth composed of atoms and molecules, held together by gravity and receiving truly "free" energy from the Sun. Earth has existed in this form for about 4.5 billion years and has evolved without external intervention or forces (other than the Sun and Moon) for that entire period. Earth continues to evolve and move along its worldline as a roughly closed system, again, other than the energy from the Sun and tidal forces of the Moon.

Here are some truths about this real Earth specifically as related to the Green movement.

All sources of "renewable" energy are NOT infinite. By renewable, I mean wind, solar and biomass. All those require LAND to transform the energy to a form usable by humans. Land is finite - limited to the surface of Earth. Green economists love to blather about "external costs" and claim that traditional power sources must be forced to bear more of those. But they simultaneously always neglect the cost of the LAND in their calculations of renewable energy economics. They also ignore the costs of the initial investment in production of the "renewable" energy, but that's for another post.

Rain falls from the sky for free. This is a true statement. evaporation caused by the Sun creates water vapor that circulates in the atmosphere, eventually condensing out and falling as rain. All free. The Sun provides the external energy and the Earth's gravity and rotation provide the forces for weather circulation.

Water is almost never truly destroyed. It's simply used in physical processes (e., g. washing, cooling, etc.) or chemical processes (e. g. plant photosynthesis). However, even for the chemical processes, when looked at as an entire system, the net gain or loss of water is practically zero. Why ? Water is an exceptionally stable molecule. If broken apart by energy in one process, another process tends to re-form the water molecule, releasing energy.

Carbon Dioxide is not a Poison nor is it a Pollutant. Carbon dioxide is crucial for plant life. Human beings exhale carbon dioxide in every breathe. How can such a crucially, absolutely necessary chemical compound be a "pollutant" ? That's like saying water is a pollutant. because water can cause much harm in the wrong place or in excessive amounts, such as in floods. Or that oxygen is a pollutant, because in concentration is can lead to explosions or fires, or can even cause rust in very small concentrations.

That's enough for now. Let's bring some real science and critical discussion to environmental issues, and leave the sophistry and mysticism out.


Still looking for new screaming buys or sells. None yet, other than the occasional municipal bond. My parameters on those are over 5% yield (both in yield to call and yield to maturity), ten years non call (5 years for a 20 year maturity), acceptable credit (A rated, no CA, AZ, NV, FL, no liberal bastions like NY and NJ, no Michigan). I also reject selected other places; an example was a bond issued by a medical facility located very near the NC coast - a hurricane target zone.

I diversify very, very broadly in municipal bonds. My largest holding is Harvard University. My smallest is an issue by county school system in western Pennsylvania. I buy the bonds in Mrs. B. "Sky Fund" - it's a joint account - with a real broker, so we pay full service fees. But the broker finds the bonds for us and that's fine. Plus the broker provides advice to Mrs. B, who mostly runs the account.

As Obama's huge tax increases for "high income" persons become closer to reality, I think people will realize these bonds offer great value. They also have good value even for AMT taxpayers. A 5% tax free rate is equivalent to 6.94% taxable rate for AMT taxpayers. I do not buy municipal bonds subject to AMT, as for some years I find myself subject to that tax.

And yes, I am a free-loader now, as plans for ObamaCare do not, so far, envision taxing that income. Hence I will not be supporting that folly, at least for that portion of my income.

Word of the Day

"Verdure" - noun [$10]
Verdure means 1. green vegetation; 2. the greenness of this; 3. (poetic) freshness.
Sentence: Carbon dioxide and the sun are the crucial inputs to plant life and its extraordinary verdure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What is Wrong with Wednesdays ?

Sheesh, another Wednesday and as usual nothing is happening. Maybe there is something to that idea I tossed out a few weeks ago regarding a ruling class conspiracy to put all news either at the beginning of the week or near its end. [That's a joke !]

FT says the big beefer and private equity firm, Apollo, plans a listing. Anyone buying that stock should expect to be shorn of one's money. Apollo is planning to capitalize on the aphorism that "There's a sucker born every minute."

The markets held onto all of Monday's gains yesterday, despite early weakness, thus consolidating over the old recovery highs.

DRYS to sell a convertible bond. That firm's management runs a stock share printing machine that Daniel Drew or Jay Gould would envy.

Fido Fund has a few stocks that are approaching the range of prior, pre-Panic highs. As they get to the lower end of that range, I'll take the sugar. Fido Fund capital goes to stocks I think can strongly outperform. Once a stock price gets to its upper range, further outperformance is both less likely and also less in potential magnitude. That double-barreled blow means sell to me.

I continue to seek "screaming" buys or sells. "Have Cash, Will Speculate" is going onto my new business cards.

Word of the Day

"Ascesis" - noun [$10]
Ascesis means the practice of self-discipline.
Sentence: Ascesis is a dirty word to the DC ruling classes; they practice hog feeding bouts seriatim.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Nothing much is happening. I guess the world is returning to normalcy. The press still screeches about the dollar, climate change, "capitalism", and mostly fawns over La Grande Bouche, but I think they are just trying to retain viewers &/ readers. ['$/' means 'and/or']

The common man is hurting still, but it's not getting worse (so far).

The markets pushed to a new post-Panic high. The advance was steady and broad, so perhaps there is sufficient buying power (or covering power) to get to S&P 1200 by year end, which was my intermediate term target posted here last spring, I think.

Checking the allocations for Krypto Fund, Krypto saw no major moves to make (she pushes a butting on the computer). Good doggie, here's a tasty biscuit for your management fee. Krypto is a super fund manager - good performance for ... dog biscuits. Why pay a beefer big bucks ?

I am doing nothing, except monitoring my existing 1-2-3 Fund positions. BA and MT made good moves, but I'm holding those calls for now. I'm still looking for screaming buys/sells.


Below are my initial thoughts on the six languages that I'm trying to learn. My initial goals for year 1 are ability to understand slow speech, speak a bit and semi-literacy, which means knowing the grammar and thus having the ability to read almost anything with lots of help from the dictionary.

French - French is further along - I have already attained the year 1 goals there. Now I am focusing on speaking and listening skills. I neglected them last year in a sprint to learn attain semi-literacy. What is hard about French ? The pronunciation and aural comprehension. French has many difficult sounds for an American and has many letters in the words that are important to know for gender and endings, but silent. What is easy ? Learning a lot of the vocabulary - one can guess the meaning of a huge number of French words. English borrowed a lot of French words and Latin gave many words to both languages.

German - The hard part is the sentence word order. Germans move verbs around, split verbs into pieces and put a bit at the end of clauses, and shift the position of subject and objects. It's tough, but over time, I suppose one gets used to it. For a purportedly logical people, their language is a jumbled mess. The easy part is pronouncing the sounds. American is a Germanic lanugage in root sounds. You might be surprised, but pronouncing those long German words is rather easy. Our mouth and tongues can to it naturally. Germans has relatively few noun cases and few declensions and verbs are fairly simple. Plurals are hard, though, as they are rather irregualr.

Polish - Everything is hard in Polish. Knowing some Latin does help as Latin and Polish are both very old Indo-European languages with deep connections going back at least 4,000 years. However, the sounds are mostly different. Polish has many verb conjugations, many cases in several noun declensions, all the gender and number inflections of Latin, and has spelling and sounds changes depending on case, etc.. Plus you have to pronounce all those z, zh, sh, cz, dz, etc. sounds and palatalize lots of consonants. The saving grace is that it's rather logical in word order and grammar. Spending the time gives progress. The two years of Russian I had in college help my pronunciation. Compared to Russian, Polish is easier for an American as Polish uses the Latin alphabet plus a few Latin letters with diacritic marks for special sounds.

Italian - this is my recommendation for a fun and useful language that is relatively easy. Italian pronounces all the letters - there are a few diphthongs that have odd spelling, but those are easy to get used to as one has probably seem them in American borrowings already. Most letters have the same sound as in American. The cases and verb conjugation are easy to learn - not complex. And it's fun. One can use and see it in restaurants and movies and the culture is old and very high. Art, music, and literature all have heavy Italian influences and borrowings.

Spanish - Relatively easy, too. My Spanish is the least advanced as I must be careful about confusing what I learn with the Italian. They are rather close languages, as you might guess. Spanish does seem to have more letters that don't have the usual American sounds. I suppose one can speak to lots of people in Spanish, but do you want to ? And there is little classical literature in Spanish except Don Quixote. Perhaps my views will change as I learn more.

Latin - I had some Latin in high school 40 years ago, so this is fairly easy for me. I'm re-sparking lots of old, decrepit memory cells with a shot of vitality. Latin has lots of different verb conjugations and noun declensions, but the vocabulary is rather easy to guess, as so many words have American connections via direct borrowing or etymology. Also, listening is not important. Speaking is only party important, but helps the memory of the words. I think if one wants to be multilingual in Indo-European languages, learning Latin helps a lot. Plus no language can beat Latin in pithy aphorisms. One reads so many Latin phrases in books. A modest investment in attaining semi-literacy in Latin pays off big.

Word of the Day

"Sorites" - noun [$100] Logic.
Sorites means a form of arguments having several premises and once logical conclusion, capable of being resolved into a chain of syllogisms, the conclusion of each of which is a premise of the next.
Sentence: Arguments that use sorites must be analyzed carefully before being accepted, as a flaw in any link in the chain of syllogisms, perhaps from verbal vagueness or imprecise definitions, can cause the sorties to fail. A common fallacy in argumentation and rhetoric is the sorites "slippery slope" which relies on vague terms or faulty analogies to scare or intimidate an audience improperly into thinking - wrongly - that something bad would happen if the opposing argument prevails. These can be hard to detect when heard orally, so be wary of any sorites in speeches.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Ramblings

Not much is happening.

Climate change policies are grinding to a halt, as the delusions of the Greenies are running into hard costs and political reality. That Greenie "dream' will either disappear (good) or turn into a nightmare for the common man worldwide.

Obama is bloviating in China.

The Japanese economy grew better than expected, a solid 4.8%,

The Federal government is thinking about putting Guantanamo prisoners in a prison in Illinois. That's good - put them in Obama's backyard. He's foolish to bring them to the US, so let his state bear that burden.


I bought some more tax-free bonds Friday: state tax free, too, rated AA, 30 years, 10 year call, yield to call over 5%. Why do "savers" leave money in money markets when they can get these excellent rates on good credits ? These bonds are a screaming buy. By the way, this is Krypto Fund money - my long term investment fund.

Book of the Week

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe. I read this book for the first time a couple of years ago, but of course, I had heard a lot about it for years. This book was published in 1852 and helped to bring to the people in the North the brutality and capriciousness of life under slavery. I have mentioned it in this place a couple months ago (September 3, 2009) as perfect example of the truth of the "philosophical thinking of David Hume and Richard Rorty on matters of empiricism and pragmatism ... that one must read "good fiction to understand the minds and feelings of others and also situations that one cannot experience with one's own senses."

The book in available in many editions, but I recommend "The Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin", edited by Henry Louis Gates and Hollis Robbins. This edition has numerous illustrations from newspapers and books of scenes and provides excellent historical context and literary analysis. This edition is available on

By the way, the book also brings out the flaws of even "good" slaveholders: when they die, the slaves can be sold at auction like other property, splitting families and mothers from children. This happened to the slaves of Thomas Jefferson. George Washington freed all his slaves and those of his wife upon their death, and he provided for their retirements. This is a good example of deeds over talk.

Word of the Day

"Dissimulation" - noun [$10]; an old one from the card file
Dissimulation means to hide under a false appearance.
Sentence: Climate change policies are the dissimulation of global economic authoritarianism under an environmental cloak. The objective is to massively increase governmental power over the lives of the common man and limit his freedom. The ruling classes want to control him like a serf on a manor.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flaws in Indexing Tactics

Indexing done correctly does work very well for long term investors. The are guaranteed to perform close to the averages and pay very, very low fees for administration and management. Considered collectively, the underperformance of managed portfolios is a virtual mathematical certainty due to the fees, which add up fast. Over 20 years, paying a 1% per annum management fee amounts to 20%, which is one entire bear market. And choosing a good manager is as hard as choosing a good stock. In fact, one is much better off spending time picking some good stocks for a portion of one's long term investments (an "alpha fund") and letting the rest be indexed. This is due to the fact that the reward from picking an outperforming stock is far higher than for picking a good manager.

BUT ...

Indexing can be done poorly. A poorly chosen index can give one a systematic loss or erratic performance over multi-year time periods. Both occur from the same error, which is choosing an index that is a mere component to the "market" versus the entire market.

The way to buy the ENTIRE market is to buy the Vanguard Total Market index fund or its sister ETF - ticker VTI. This is the optimal index tactic for US stocks.

Babblevision and lots of pundits talk about buying the S&P 500 index funds. BUT those invest in only large stocks selected by S&P, not all stocks. They leave out small stocks and mid-cap stocks and the sector weights (industrial, financial, utility) are erratic. There have been and will be multi-decadal periods when large cap stocks underperform.

Also, buying the S&P 500 fund alone introduces systematic errors and costs, too, from the changing components of the index. Periodic rebalancing costs money, as a stock is added or removed. And the tendency is to remove poor (past) performing low market value stocks and add the best performing mid-cap stocks. That's a form of Sell Low, Buy High. The total market index avoids all that. It suffers much, much less re-balancing (really only for cash mergers and buyout). And it buys small companies holds them, capturing all the gains that can occur until such a company gets added to the S&P 500.

So if you choose to index US stocks, use the correct index - the Total Market Index. And the way to do that is through the Vanguard Total Market Index Fund or its VTI exchange traded fund.

My Krypto Fund does just that for its US stocks.


Looking around for screaming buys or sells, finding none yet.

Word of the Day

"Ephebe" - noun [$10/$100] (Greek historical)
Ephebe means [$10] a young man of 18-20 undergoing military training (also "ephebus"); ($100) a young man, especially an ephebus.
Sentence: The Marines are look for a few good ephebes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Very Bad - and Sad - Changes

Some recent events occurring in Iran show alarming changes. This morning's WSJ online had this story that caught my eye and tweaked my memory of other similar stories.

WSJ: Revolutionary Guard Tightens Security Grip
BRUSSELS -- Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has sidelined the country's intelligence ministry, forming a new organization that reports directly to the Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Interviews with Iranian analysts and opposition figures, along with recent government announcements, depict a shift under way since Iran's clerical regime was shaken by the massive street protests that followed disputed presidential elections in June. ...

"Khamenei wants to have absolute control," said Ms. Rajavi, saying that the NCRI's network of supporters in Iran has established that Mr. Taeb [head of new Revolutionary Guard unit] reports directly to Mr. Khamenei's chief of staff, Ali Asghar Hejazi. That would consolidate power in the hands of Mr. Khamenei and his loyalists at a time when deep fissures have emerged within the regime over his handling of the elections. ...

"The Revolutionary Guard is already a military, economic and political powerhouse in Iran. It controls the country's long-range missile program, as well as multiple business enterprises, including lucrative oil and gas projects. ...

""The Guards are in complete control of the country, they are running the show," said Iranian dissident journalist Roozbeh MirEbrahimi. "

Here is the point: This is exactly how the Nazi and Stalinist totalitarian regimes operated. They created a totally loyal party organization with offices parallel to the government, completely unaccountable to anyone BUT the supreme leader - der Führer - the General Secretary. This structure makes reforms will-nigh impossible. The Revolutionary Guards are Iran's SS and its KGB. The Iranian government itself is now secondary and is almost a Potemkin village - a fiction for show to delude the West and Iran's own people with a phony elections.

Unless bigger cracks appear in Iran's now totalitarian government somehow, prospects for long term peace in the Middle east are becoming very, very bad. The Soviet Union was worn down in a cold war of attrition and pressure for 45 years.

The recent demonstrations in Iran show that many of its people want freedom and a modern life. It's a great evil that the Iranian theocracy wants to subjugate them for its own power.


I am doing nothing, but thinking, looking and waiting for some good speculations. To borrow from that great old TV series, Paladin,

"Have Capital, Will Speculate"

Word of the Day

"Seriatim" - adverb [$10]; a very old one from the card file
Seriatim ans in a series.
Sentence: Many recent events in Iran, taken seriatim and not individually, are very alarming and show very great risks to regional peace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cluster FUBAR

That's my favorite term nowadays for a colossal mess, or as the British might say, a big bloody cock-up. I coined it by conjoining that fine WW II slang term, "FUBAR", with part of a very colorful expletive said by Clint Eastwood as "Gunny Highway" in the fine movie, "Heartbreak Ridge".

Today, I am using it to describe the health care bill passed by the House of Representatives this past weekend under the orders of Speaker Pelosi, that paragon of the liberal pearls, wine and brie set. The bill in normal printed form is nearly 2,000 pagers. Like a malignant tumor, it's growing rapidly as it was a mere 1,000 pages just a few months ago. Of course, no one in that august body of "leaders", the House of Representatives, knows truly what is in it. Pelosi twisted arms and / or paid off 220 of those sheep (or is "hogs" more appropriate as they no doubt got plenty of payoffs for those votes) to get it passed.

The action moves to the Senate now. They will debate it - at least nominally. I suspect most of the bloviation will be sloganeering and pontification and ad hominem attacks on the opposition.

On October 21, I published my thinking on this major issue in a post titled, "A Solution to the Health Care Dilemma". Having put my views out for all to see, hence proving I am no mere naysayer, I now feel perfectly justified in slamming the Pelosi bill as the cluster FUBAR that it is.

Can anyone imagine the administrative costs that will occur with that bill ? I suppose one way to see it is as a transfer of the entire insurance company administrative mess to the Federal government. Anyone thinking will lead to cost savings or simplicity must be smoking what Barney Frank's "friend" was growing when arrested in August 2007 (Barney was present, claiming ignorance ... sure). [btw, the press covered this sleaze up for over two years.]

ObamaCare is a cluster FUBAR. Obama and Pelosi want to drop it on the American people without anyone finding out what it will truly do or not do. They will say anything to get it through. All the slogans are propaganda to hide its provisions until to late. There is no integrity there, no reason, no concern for people or freedom. Just sheer power and the push for more of it by the DC ruling classes.


I sold the HBC calls as the stock popped on its quarterly update. The call options strategy worked well. I still have calls on MT and BA (January expiration dates).

Otherwise, I am looking around for the next "Screaming Buy" or "Screaming Sell" to deploy speculative capital. I am also monitoring Krypto Fund for possible asset allocations. I'll post whatever I do, just after I do it.

Word of the Day

"Vomiturient" - adjective [$1000]
Vomiturient means characterized by a desire to vomit.
Sentence: Anyone seriously considering what the state of America's health care system will become under the Pelosi bill should be having strong vomiturient sensations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It is Wednesday ?

Nothing is happening - it sure seems like a typical Wednesday.

The Dow hit a recovery high yesterday. Yawn. The S&P 500 got to within one sneeze of its recovery highs. Why ?

The bears and doomsters fail to realize that returning to a prior know condition or state is much easier than growth into a new domain. They use growth rates appropriate for "new growth" applied to recession earnings levels and moan, "too far, too fast". But they are simply using the wrong method for assessing the changes.

I suppose an extended metaphor might help illuminate this concept. Suppose you are digging a hole in "virgin" earth (undug previously). That ground is going to be firm and hard. You'll have to really put your foot on the shovel and push it into the ground, and break the adhesion of the earth to itself. Now fill it in, and dig again. It's easy now - you probably don't even have to use your foot to remove the dirt with the shovel.

Another metaphor. Suppose you had many years of Latin in high school. And 40 years later, you decide to re-learn Latin. Guess what ? It's a LOT easier to recover that knowledge than it was to learn it first. This is something I now have personal experience with, as I am doing just that.

This is why "return to normalcy" can occur with great rapidity. Everyone already knows how to do what they were doing three years ago. So everyone (worldwide) can simply to revert to "normal" behavior once the panic is over. A bit of government stimulus helps regain the psychological confidence. Once that hits, the race begins to reclaim old business everywhere.


I sold the S&P call options yesterday, booking a 50% gain on quite respectable size. Although I still expect S&P 1200 soon (year end), who knows what the future will bring ? And with the beefers out there, maybe they'll attack and let me re-buy at lower levels.

As I posted in the comments upon the sale of the final chunk, "Je ne suis pas un goinfre" - I am not a greedy pig.

I still have some calls on HBC, MT and BA. HBC reported in Europe today and is trading up. HBC says loss provisions are decreasing - that's good. I'll read the report and decide later whether to sell or hold a few more days.

Word of the Day

"Quondam" - attributive adjective [$10]
Quondam means that once was; sometime; former.
Sentence: Returning to one's quondam state or condition is usually much easier than changing to, or learning, something new.