Monday, October 31, 2011

The Coney Revisited

Yesterday I made a few minor improvements to my recipe for a fine, but simple, food from the heartland aka Ohio.  By the way, natives in my part of Ohio pronounce it, "uh-hi-uh" with the stress on the 'hi' :)

A coney in Ohio is named for its namesake not from Coney Island in New York City, but from the sandwich of the old Coney Island in Cincinnati.  A coney is a hot dog topped with a meat sauce and onions.

To repeat my old recipe from a prior post, fry up a pound of good hamburger (lowest fat content), drain, add a can of Manwich (a sloppy Joe sauce), heat a bit.  That's the meat sauce.  It can be refrigerated and saved, but reheat it before using.  No change there.

For the best coney, use Angus "bun-size" hot dogs - they have the best flavor and the extra length lets you add more sauce evenly.  Apply some Coleman's mustard to the hot dog bun of your choice.  Coleman's is very yellow and a bit hot, so don't use too much.  Boil the hot dogs a few minutes to cook (they are pre-cooked, so all you are doing is heating them). Put the hot dog into the mustard-lined hot dog bun, then slather some meat sauce onto the hot dog and add chopped onions.  Eat and enjoy!

NOTE:  put the hot dog into the bun first, and add the meat sauce on top, then the onions.  You might want a spoon handy as some of the goodies will inevitably fall out when you chomp on the Coney.

Simple, cheap, tasty food for the common man and woman with all-American ingredients.  One need not be rich to eat well in our modern world.

Word of the Day

"Adlect" - verb, transitive [$10,000] from ancient Rome.
"Adlection - noun [$10,000] from ancient Rome.
Adlect means to nominate or choose a person to enter the Roman Senate.  In the principate, the Emperor would adlect senators by nomination. 
Adlection was the term for a process that the Romans used to fill civic vacancies.  It was most known for filling the Senate to the requisite number, when membership fell below the ordained number of members.  The term is a Latin combined word, from "ad" meaning towards, for, and "lect" meaning collect, pick, hence "adlect" mans to pick for the Senate.  Compare to "elect", from 'e' meaning from, out of.  Hence, "elect" means to choose from people.
Sentence:  Caligula once adlected a horse to the Senate, whether out of derision for its other members or in a bit of mad humor.  Today,

Friday, October 28, 2011


Yesterday's big move up triggered some action from Krypto.  She nudged me to run the model, and, mirabile dictu, a strong buy signal appeared for the super class of cash+TIPs+fixed income.  Since fixed income and TIPs are grossly overpriced, the move is to cash.

Moderate sell signals exist for US stocks, European stocks, emerging markets and real estate.

Thus, I sent in orders to sell some US stocks (via VTI), emerging market stocks (via VWO), and European stocks and Real estate (via respective Vanguard index funds).

Hmm ... buy low, sell high.  That's what Krypto did over the past few months.  She's far better that the average hedge fund manager.

Good doggie ... here's your fee - a tasty dog biscuit :)

Word of the Day

"Peripeteia" - noun [$10]
Peripeteia means a sudden change of fortune in drama or in life.
Sentence:  Herman Cain's presidential campaign experienced peripeteia in positive public awareness as Rick Perry flamed out and Cain's simple 9-9-9 plan received attention.  But Herman Cain needs to read my pamphlet and adopt my ideas to develop persistently strong poll numbers, otherwise his flame will puff out, too.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Or should I say that I survived a few days in the belly of the Beast?

The Belly of the Beast is Manhattan, New York City.

Business seems to be booming for that community.  The luncheon and dining spots are full, the bar was crowded on the Tuesday evening.  Tables were scarce at the "club" for lunch.  Many obviously busy people in grey suits and nondescript ties were earnestly discussing something.  One could even observe the younger financial piranhas chatting over drinks in rather good moods.

The French seem to be movivng to NYC.  I was very surprised about how many people speaking French that I passed by in the area of Fifth Avenue - Central Park - upper Midtown.  Most seemed to be residents, sonme were tourists.  Interesting, no?

Meanwhile, a story appeared with data that the new poor in suburbia are both surprising and overwhelming these support agencies in major metropolitan areas across America.  The new poor are not single mothers of minority ethnicity in central urban cores.  They are 50-ish people out of work, losing their life savings and homes in suburbia with few prospects of avoiding destitution in old age.

Few in the Ruling Class of Pharesees, hogs and the dukes of DC notice them or care a whit about the devastation this endless recession is causing.  Sigh ...

Meanwhile, Europe seems to have reached some kind of consensus on the weaker nations.  Lenders get a 50% haircut and its banks have to raise capital.  No surprise there.

By the way, the screechers about the end of the Euro don't realize that the leaders in Europe know that they need the EU and Euro to keep the long term prospects of peace and no more European wars.  They is why they are working hard to keep it.  They have memories of real wars and don't want to suffer those on their soil any more.  Hence less selfish behavior and a willingness to work out a solution.

Word of the Day

"Anagnorisis" - noun [$100] (pl. -ses)
Anagnorisis means (in Greek tragedy) the critical moment of recognition or discovery, esp. preceding peripeteia; a moment of terribl eself-recognition.  Several examples of anagnorisis are the moment that Oedipus recognizes what he had done, or when Lady Macbeth at the end of said play cannot seem to clean the vision of blood from her hands.
Sentence:  Will the Pharisees and hogs and dukes of DC never reform, or will they fight on for their own ruling class until a time of anagnorisis as the deluge rolls over them all?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday's Word

Word of the Day

"Quidnunc" - noun [$10] from Latin for "what now"
Quidnunc means a newsmonger, a person given to gossip.
Sentence:  Why do the faces on a market or business oritented TV show so often devolve to chattering quidnuncs?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Tidbit

Your writer verily applies the recent research result that chocolate is good for one's blood vessels.  He just had a few squares of dark chocolate with his 2nd cup of pure black joe.  Mmmmm.

Word of the Day

"Vernacular" - adjective [$10]
Vernacular means 1. using a language or dialect native to a region or country rather than a literary, cultured or foreign language; 2. of, being, or relating to a substandard language; 3. of, being, or relating to the normal form of a language.
Sentence:  The Federal education efforts for 50+ years has obviously failed, measured by the low vernacular now prevalent in newspapers and TV compared to times as recent as 1965.  Get rid of the Department of Education.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monitoring on a Monday

The model shows weak sells for US stocks and real estate - I will wait.

Word of the Day

"Truculent" - [adjective [$10]
Truculent means 1. feeling or displaying ferocity; 2. deadly, destructive; 3. scathingly harsh; 4. aggressively self-assertive.
Sentence:  A headline you will never see:  "Anti Wall Street Demostrations Grow Truculent".  Modern news writers never use a $10 word.

Friday, October 14, 2011

TGIF and a Word

I read that the rich are putting millions on Obama for the election.  I wonder what they are buying?  I have heard that the legal profession is coughing up millions in "donations".  I guess the pharisees are backing their boss and benefactor.

Word of the Day

"Sonsy" - adjective [$10] also sonsie.  Scottish. Probably from Shakespeare.
Sonsy means 1. plump, buxom; 2. of a cheerful disposition; 3. bringing good fortune.
Sentence:  The sonsy picture of the German lady serving beer on the label of St. Pauli Girl beer brings out good spirits and a smile (at least for guys).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Currency Value is an Economic Weapon

Currency is a potent weapon for trade and economic combat.  For decades many (maybe all?) so-called emerging markets have used the value of their currency as a tool to help them develop export industries.  An economist such as a Friedmanite would say, fine, they are subsidizing American consumers and we benefit.  That is wrong.  That simplistic conclusion applies static economics to a dynamic system and gets the wrong answer. 

The reality is that the American consumer only initially benefits, but over time loses as jobs and production move to those nations.  Too many American consumers eventually lose his/her jobs and become impoverished.

There are many ways to keep the value of a currency unnaturally low.  Why do we care what is the reason?  Let's just measure the result and determine if a nation's currency is unnaturally low.  Purchasing power parity is a fair, long term relative value for currencies.  Everyone can understand it. 

Example:  I know prices in New York City.  When I have travelled travel to Europe and stayed in major cities such as Rome, London and Amsterdam and Dublin, I see that the value of the Euro or pound is close enough to prices in NYC to know that the euro is roughly fairly value versus the US dollar.  Same for the Canadian Dollar.  I have not traveled to Beijing, but good friends have.  They tell me prices are half of NYC.  That's far, far from a range of fair value.  And we know China controls the value of its currency.

The professional statisticians can measure purchasing power parity - they have the techniques and resources.  The American people need some reasonable defense against predator nations that wants to grab industries from America using currency as a tool.

Here is my plan to solve this problem objectively and evenhandedly, as published in my pamphlet in the Jobs section.

"Use objective purchasing power parity tests to identify foreign nations that keep their currency values down in order to grab American business and jobs. For a currency that averages 20% below parity for a year, impose a countervailing tariff on goods and services to adjust the currency to parity.  Keep this tariff in place until the currency’s average value is within the 20% bound for a year.  Nations that force or keep their currency values low are simply engaging in international predatory pricing that hurts American workers’ jobs and pay levels."

Let's do this this way - China is not singled out, and we should not fear if other nations apply the same principal.

Word of the Day

"Salubrious" - adjective [$10]
Salubrious means favorable to or promoting health or well-being.
Sentence:  Some re-balancing of currency values for trade via a tariff bumpers as Bunkerman proposes would be economically salubrious for the common people in America.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Krypto had remarkably good timing Friday with her stock purchases.  Can a dog really outperform all those overpaid hedge fund managers?

I guess John Paulson is no longer the great genius - his funds are down big, the worst 47% for the year.  To his credit, I read that a good bit of the money is his own or his employees.  How well has he done?  Bloomberg says, "clients who came in at the beginning of 2008 have made 4.3 percent, according to Bloomberg calculations".  That sucks and is surely not worth a 2% annual fee and 20% of the ups.

All these beefers do is take big risks with OPM - Other People's Money.  Some win, some lose.  The winners take a big fee; the losers close down and start a new fund.  On average, it's a scam.  Krypto works for dog biscuits and outperforms them overall.

Word of the Day

"Pule" - verb, intransitive [$10] literary.  Often used in its participial form, puling.
Pule means to cry querulously or weakly, whine, whimper.
Sentence:  The dumb rich should stop their puling ways and simply make long term investments the Krypto way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

TGIF and a move

Krypto nudged me to run the model, and she found a moderately strong buy signal for some emerging market stocks, which is intriguingly anomalous to other stock positions.  I suppose the beefers were liquidating those in force as they faced margin calls.  For whatever reason, that asset class needs topping up, which I will do at the close via a mutual fund exchange from money markets.

The relevant mutual fund is the Vanguard Emerging Markets (Admiral) Fund.

Word of the Day

[to come]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Proper Business

Business suffers criticism in many quarters of the public debate, sometimes for valid reasons, sometimes for false reasons.  Some who criticize business have well-reasoned arguments, others are false fronts for ideologies or groups who want power for themselves. 

Suppose one wanted to provide the public with a simple argument for business.  I heard such recently in re-watching the fine old movie, Sabrina, starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden.  It's a great movie, both funny and serious and has a happy ending.  The setting is the US - New York City - in the 1950s.

Linus Larrabie (Humphrey Bogart), the older son who operates the family business, explains to his younger brother, David (William Holden), why business is a good.

***quote begins***

Linus: Making money isn't the main point of business. Money is a by-product.

David: What's the main objective? Power?

Linus:  Ah! That's become a dirty word.
David:  What's the urge? You're going into plastics. What will that prove?

Linus: Prove? Nothing much.  A new product has been found, something of use to the world. A new industry moves into an undeveloped area.  Factories go up, machines go in and you're in business.

It's coincidental that people who've never seen a dime now have a dollar and barefooted kids wear shoes and have their faces washed.

What's wrong with an urge that gives people libraries, hospitals, baseball diamonds and movies on a Saturday night?

***quote ends***

There is nothing inherently sordid about business - it can be a noble activity, if conducted with values and virtues and honor.  Let's defend business - good business.

Word of the Day

"Lugubrious" - adjective [$10]
Lugubrious means 1. mournful esp.: exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful.; 2. dismal.
Sentence: Why let a lugubrious outlook oppress your psyche?  The world will be fine: people inherently want to improve their lives and that desire will carry the world to a new prosperity ... if the hogs and pharisees are stopped from enthroning a new aristocracy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who Put That There?

I refer to the Cosmological Constant (denoted by the capital Greek letter, Lambda, which looks like an upside-down "V").

This year's Nobel prize in physics was awarded to three astronomers who, I suppose, "led" the research teams whose measurements of a certain type of supernovae were used to derive a positive value for the Cosmological Constant.  For fairness, let us at once recognize that the papers publishing the results had dozens of authors, the prize winners being only the two lead authors and one other selected from the pool .  And let us also recognize that use of those supernovae as markers of the structure of the universe has been know for at least 50 years or more.  Why purportedly exalted prizes are given to anoint the results of the few doing rather obvious research discussed for decades, but finally realizable with large amounts of taxpayer money and new technology, is an unknowable that perhaps sociologists or anthropologists can explain.

The Cosmological Constant represents an energy density of the universe, and seems to be about 72-74% of the density of the universe today.  This energy density contribution to the density of the universe is unchanging over time.  Just after the Big Bang, the matter density was much, much larger, but now the matter density and energy density appear to be about in the rough ratio of 1 to 3.

In any case, the Cosmological Constant values bandied about the Internet today are thus, depending on the units chosen:

10−35 s−2, 10−47 GeV4, or 10−29 g/cm3

How big are those numbers?  Let's look at the last one, which has normal density units of mass per unit volume.  The mass of an electron is ->

9.11×10−31 kilograms.

As one kilogram has 1,000 grams, the Cosmological Constant derived is about .01 electrons per cubic centimeter, which sounds like a rather small density.  For comparison, the warm, ionized interstellar medium has a density in the rough range of 0.2-0.5 atom per cubic centimeters.  This represents up to 50% of the volume of the Milky way and is rather well studied and understood.  As a proton weighs 1836x more than an electron, the warm, ionized interstellar medium in our galaxy has a density of about 600 electrons per cubic centimeter.  Thus, the warm, ionized interstellar medium in the Milky Way has about 60,000 times more density that the equivalent energy density represented by the Cosmological Constant.

As the density represented by the Cosmological Constant now dominates/controls the expansion of the Universe, we can see the Cosmological Constant makes up for its small value in volume ;)

What is it?  Why?  Does its existence have a purpose?  Who put that there?

No none has any idea supported by any evidence.

This quote of Hamlet in Hamlet seems appropriate:

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

Word of the Day

"Monism" - noun [$10] and "Monist"
Monism means 1. any theory denying the duality of matter and mind; 2. (philosophical and theological) the doctrine that only one supreme exists.
Monist means a person who adheres to monism.
Sentence:  (A) (from Great Ideas in Philosophy) "For the ontological monist, only one kind of furniture exists in reality, viz., the physical. (B) The seeming existence of the Cosmological Constant seems to rule out monism as a philosophical foundation for the Universe:  dark energy is very, very different from matter.  There's something else out there beyond our current knowledge.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


That is the question.  Humans want to know why something exists or happens; philosophy and the sciences have thinking processes to help us determine "why".  We try to find underlying reasons "why".  We do have to recognize, however, that at a deep level, some concepts are simply there - they exist.

A simple example is the number, one, i. e., 1.  Asking why 1 exists is a pointless exercise in sophism.  1 simply exists as the representation on unity, the existence of something:  je pense, donc je suis, or in Latin, cogito, ergo sum, or in English, I think, therefore I am.  Axioms are necessary as the foundation of a system of knowledge.  For you metaphor lovers, one cannot build a strong house on sand, even if you build it of bricks.  A house built on sand will fall ... eventually.

Now in high school physics, one learns about conservation of energy.  And conservation of momentum.  And conservation of angular momentum.  Those concepts are supremely useful in understanding the motion of bodies and actions of all kinds of materials and our world.

Why?  Why are those quantities - energy, momentum, and angular momentum - conserved (i. e., constants of motion).

This is something one can prove from deeper, more obvious axioms.  All it takes is a bit of multivariable calculus and knowledge of mechanics at the level of an advanced undergraduate or first year graduate student at a good college science program.  Here is a reference:  Mechanics, by L. D. Landau and E. M. Lifshitz, which is Volume I of Course of Theoretical Physics (translated from Russian). In my second edition, which I read in 1974, pages 13-19 cover this material.  Hmmm ... in 1974, this book cost me $10 for a hardcover copy.

I won't show you the math or how those conservation laws are derived, as typing equations and Greek letters is beyond my computer skills.  Here are the results.

The more fundamental axioms upon which classical mechanics are founded are the homogeneity of time, the homegeneity of space and the isotropy of space.

Homegeneity of Time

In simple terms, homogeneity of time means that under very general conditions, the motions of particles or behavior of physical systems will be the same whether one does the experiment or actions now or next year or in ten years or in a billion years in the future or in the past.  From the axiom of homogeneity of time one can prove that energy is conserved.

Homgeneity of Space

In simple terms, homogeneity of space means that under very general conditons, the motions of particles or behavior of physical systems will be the same whether one does the experiment or actions here or in Nebraska or in the galaxy Andromeda.  From the axiom of homogeneity of space, one can prove that momentum is conserved.

Isotropy of Space

In simple terms, isotropy of space means that under very general conditions, the motions of particles or behavior of physical systems will be the same whether one orients the system rightside up or upside down or to the left or right or at a 30 degree angle or whatever direction.  From the axiom of isotropy of space, one can prove that angular momentum is conserved.


At the deepest level of the tree of knowledge are sound philosophical concepts. One needs to understand what are the questions and what are the deepest concepts; scientists - good scientists - try to understand "why" by standing on solid ground.  And if one finds the unexplainable, one needs to re-examine the ground for ... holes.

Skepticism is essential, but once one finds good ground, one must move on to build the structures of knowledge, and fight the good fights.

The axioms of homogeneity of time and space, and isotropy of space are good ground.

[Btw, of course all this can be extended into relativistic space-time by simple generalizations of the definitions of energy, momentum and angular momentum.]

Word of the Day

"Durst" - verb [$10] archaic or dialect
Durst is an archaic past tense of 'dare', showing the old germanic foundations of English.
Sentence:  Obama durst to order the killing of a US citizen without trial in blatant violation of the US Constitution:  resign!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Out in the heartland last week with some time to spare, I began wondering about the "possible" discovery that neutrinos might travel faster than light, at least under some conditions.  First the disclaimer:  the experimenters may have missed a systematic error and the result may be wrong.  BUT they did wait a few years before publishing the complete results to check their work with much care, AND this is not the first time that such a possibility has been contemplated.  Neutrinos are rather odd.

I am struck by the similar nagging notion that when some phenomena is unexplained by past knowledge and theories, that it sometimes leads to a new, better way of understanding the world.

Past Examples

A famous Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, found that the position of Mars was off about five degrees for a few days of the year.  Not much.  Others brushed the anomaly under the rug.  Kepler did not and discovered the true equations of motion for the orbits of planets, leading to Newton's discovery of the classical law of gravity.

Astronomers noticed that the rotations curves of spiral galaxies seemed to imply that galaxies were surrounded by huge, uniform distributions of some kind of mass that had no influence on star formation.  Also, they found that clusters of galaxies seemed to be much, much heavier than explained by the galaxies they contained.  For decades, that was 'brushed under the rug'.  Then other measurements helped prove the existence of dark matter.

The Davis neutrino experiment found no neutrinos from the Sun for decades. Physicists ignored it, assuming the astronomers made a mistake in their models of star interiors.  Later, evidence came that neutrinos were purportedly oscillating over the 93 million miles into other, undetectable forms.


c > 1 ?
m > 0 ?

[in lieu of subscripts, I use 'c' and 'm' here for the speed and rest mass of a neutrino.]

The recently published experimental results find the speed of the neutrino to be 1.000248 as expressed in units of the velocity of light being 1.  Measurements of the flight time of neutrinos from a supernova showed those traveled at the speed of light to within 1 part in 450 million [i. e., to within 0.00000000222].  Those neutrinos has much less energy that the ones observed here on earth to travel faster than light.  Perhaps the speed of a neutrino is not a constant:  all particles with rest mass can have variable speeds.

"Theory" says they "must" have mass (i. e., rest mass), yet all measurements so far find none.  In fact, the experiments measure the square of the mass and those experiments find that quantity is negative.  The error bars encompass zero, so the scientists state the results as an upper limit to the neutrino mass.  But if the results are correct, then the neutrino mass is imaginary.  Yes, an imaginary number.  The canonical imaginary number conveyed by i which equals the square root of -1.  A particle with an imaginary mass has strange properties.  One is that it would seem to travel faster than light.  Hmmm.

Perhaps the neutrino is a form of tachyon.  That has been speculated in the past.  Tachyons are odd particles that always travel faster than light.  They also have imaginary mass.  And they can be used to explore time backwards.  Hmmm.  Other explanations of some phenomena seem to require advanced electromagnetic waves for their explanation.  All this is puzzling.  Are we seeing the effects of some new, now unexplained structure of the Universe?

Time will tell.

Word of the Day

"Endue" - verb, transitive [$10] literary
Endue means (followed by 'with') invest or provide (a person of thing) with qualities, powers, etc.
Sentence: [from the preface of "All for Love", by John Dryden as published in vol. XVIII of the Harvard Classics, page 14] "Men of pleasant conversation (or at least esteemed so), and endued with a trifling kind of fancy, perhaps helped out with some smattering of Latin, are ambitious to distinguish themselves from the herd of gentlemen, by their poetry (Latin phrase omitted here) and is this not a wretched affectation."

Wretched:  one of those fine words now underused.