Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And The Greatest Pancakes in the Universe are ...

Bunkerman's.  :)

A reprise challenge cage match was held the crisp morning of December 24 on the home turf of Big Al.  The participants were buff and prepared, each having a stock of secret ingredients to use.

Big Al chose the go the all-natural, greenie style route with plenty of zest of lemon for his perfectly formed citrus pancakes. Big Al's plating incorporated orange slices on a field of powdered sugar - quite attractive.

Bunkerman used sophisticated science and technology to capture dark matter and dark energy [aka red and green dark chocolate m&m's) and a few Higg's bosons (semi-dried Bing cherries) to flavor his delicate, fluffy (using cosmic inflation aka sour cream), and yes, a bit crunchy (via chopped walnuts) vanilla multigrain pancakes.  Bunkerman's plating used a Christmas motif - mint leaves and fresh red raspberries - to accentuate the red & green from the embedded m&ms.

Naturally, [ ;) ] man defeated nature and Bunkerman won.  The pancakes were graded according to taste (50%), texture (30%), plating (10%) and creativity (10%).  The contest was a bit close, though, with a point differential of about 20 pts out of a possible 400.

Bunkerman was, of course, modest in his win, simply thanking the judges and looking at his shoelaces as his HS coach used to urge. Big Al was gracious, congratulating Bunkerman for a well-fought match.

And Bunkerman began new plans for Relativistic Pancakes to be ready when Big Al issues a new challenge.

Word of the Day

"Felicity" - noun [$10]
Felicity means 1. a. great happiness, bliss; 1. b. an instance of bliss; 2. something producing happiness; 3. an appropriate and pleasing manner or style or an instance of it.
Sentence:  The contestants and judges enjoyed a morning of much felicity, partaking of good food and conversation during the preparation and tasting of two examples of supremely fine pancakes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Education Cost Addendum

When I went to Harvard in the early 1970s, the cost of tuition, room & board was about $4,000 per year.  Let's assume that $3,000 was tuition.  For eight courses of one semester each, the tuition amounts to $375 per course.

Hmmm ... that number is not too far off from the current cost that I computed in yesterday's blog for the cost of a technologically modern course to be delivered to a student.

Thus we see that the entire gains and more from productivity over 40 years have been grabbed by the pharisee class as monopoly profits to themselves by price increases; nothing was passed through to consumers of the education services.

The true cost of college education per course:  about $100 for the lectures on the material, $100 for books and reading, and about $200 for grading services and Q&A.  By technology, this could be kept at early 1970s cost, BUT the pharisees want more ... for providing nothing extra.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Cost of College Education

... is out of control and a bubble.

The bubble is caused by the monopoly of credentials that seem required by employers in both the private and public sectors.

To deem the cost of college education as a bubble, we must look at the cost and whether a cheaper substitute could accomplish the same result - aka knowledge.

The tuition and fees at Harvard for 2011 runs about $40,000.  The standard load is four courses per semester, making eight per year.  Thus a course costs $5,000 each.  For that, one gets two or three lectures per week, some access time (usually with a graduate student), some assigned papers and and an exam or two graded.

At Ohio State University (I'm not using that pretentious and linguistically false "The" with which the state pompously likes to prefix the name), a year's tuition and fees is about $10,000.  Computing an equivalent eight Harvard style courses, that makes $1,250 per course.

I know the content level of undergraduate and graduate college courses in science, math, humanities and social sciences.  My numerous degrees and extensive, broad course work gave me a very wide exposure at a high level.

The Teaching Company offers DVD and CD courses that provide lectures at the good undergraduate college level for prices (on sale) at around $100 each.  One can buy books on Amazon for around $100 per course or go to the public library and order them.  Thus, a diligent student can reproduce a good course and with study, learn the material, for about $100-200.   Missing is the ability to ask questions.  At Harvard, one can get that (at least when I was there).  At OSU, I don't know.  Maybe.  And have graded exams/papers.

How much would it truly cost to provide access for questions?  With today's electronic communication, not much.  How much would it cost to have graded exams and papers?  Ditto:  not much using modern electronic communication.

This won't teach one how to write, BUT it would teach you the facts - the knowledge of the material.

A diligent, self-learner can get college level knowledge of one course for about $200.  Or one can pay Harvard $5,000 or OSU $1,250.

The "overpayment" is between 600% and 2,500%.  That's a bubble - an obvious sign of a monopoly.

Can student learn the material themselves?  Yes.  I have done it, first in high school over 40 years ago and now.

Consider the TV show, Star Trek.  In numerous scenes, that great script writer, Gene Roddenberry showed computers of that period teaching people knowledge.  We have those computers today - even the voice recognition.

Even at the advanced [AP] high school level, free or low cost lectures are available.  For example, MIT open courseware provides lectures by top professors in physics suitable for engineers and scientists for freshmen and sophomores.

Modern technology should be cutting the cost of education by many multiples.  Why isn't it?

The Pharisees [ = professional classes, knowledge bureaucracy ] prevent these savings from being passed thru.  They are propping up that bubble to control access to milk money from the common man and woman wanting to provide their children with the opportunity that a good education brings.

It's really a despicable crime, to overcharge youths, burden them with huge loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, all to enrich and overpay the pharisees.

Over time, this bubble needs to be burst.

[ By the way, the cost of graduate and professional schools likkely cannot be cut as much with technology.  For those graduate courses that require special skills and knowledge, technology can help some, but in my experience, would not be able to replace the direct interaction with good professors with experience at the forefront of the field.

[ I suspect the same applies to grade school and average high school courses.  Students need a teacher to show the way. But technology should permit larger class sizes and cost cutting ]

Word of the Day

"Nonplus" - verb and noun [$10]
Nonplus means (verb, transitive, usually in past tense as nonplussed, or the participle, nonplussing] completely perplex; 2. (noun) a state of perplxity, a standstill (at a nonplus, reduce to a nonplus).
Sentence: Don't be nonplussed by the extremely high cost of college education; recognize it as a monoploy induced bubble.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Dumb Rich ...

... are also dangerous.

First, the stupidity.

From FT online today:  "The average hedge fund manager has lost 4.37 per cent in the year to the end of November, according to data just released by Hedge Fund Research – losing money in six of the past seven months."

The Rich pay big fees for this non-performance. Trillions of their dollars go to support the lifestyles of southeast Connecticut (Greenwich, Stamford, etc.) and Manhattan and the tony suburbs of New Jersey.  They are wasting their money.

Krypto is up almost 3% for the year as of a couple days ago.  A dog, albeight a very sweet and noble dog, is outperforming the "best and brightest" of the Street by about 7%.  Per trillion $ invested, that is $70,000,000,000, yes, $70 billion of value year to date has been squandered by the Dumb Rich.

Second, the danger.

Much of those trillions of the Dumb Rich are "invested" in trading strategies and trading funds and in collateral for derivative "bets".  None of that money builds a factory or hires people for services or does anything productive.  It's all being wasted and bled by the money manager leeches of Connecticut, Switzerland, London and the Cayman Islands.

Those billions of wealth are completely doing nothing productive .. they are a pool of mud around the legs of the world economy striving to climb to a better world.  Those trillions might as well be on the Moon, or even gone, squandered in a stupid war.  The world would be better if that money was spend hiring people to dig holes and fill them up.  At least the laborer digging the hole would spend the money.  The Dumb Rich neither spend it nor invest it.

The Dumb Rich are part of the problem.  They seem too stupid and selfish to recognize it.  Sure, they get a bit of applause when they appear in black tie at some gala in NYC or London or wherever.  But does that philanthropic money really help anyone?  Some does.  Ted Forstmann really did help poor youths get a better education.  I've written about others in the past, too.  Mostly, no.  The money goes to build a monument to themselves. 

Hello Dumb Rich!  Do something productive. 

Here's an idea.  Buy homes for some baby boomers facing homelessness, people who have worked hard all they lives and now face destitution.  $1 billion can buy 10,000 homes @ $100,000 out of foreclosure.  All you have to do is pay the taxes and let them live there, and keep the home up with sweat repairs.  You will have made a real difference for at least 100,000 people, maybe as much as 400,000 people counting children and others who might now have a home.

Or make some real investments.

Listen to Linus Larrabie (played by Humphrey Bogart) from that great movie, Sabrina:

***Quote spoken by Linus Larrabie explaining to David Larrabie the reason for business.  From the movie, Sabrina, 1954 with Humphrey Bogart & Audrey Hepburn & William Holden.***

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?

***End of Quote***
Hello Dumb Rich! 
Do something productive.  Don't just count your gold and work to get more.

Word of the Day

"Obsequious" - adjective [$10]
Obsequious means exhibiting a servile attentiveness.
Sentence:  Obsequious hosts on Billionaire-vision (fka Bubblevision) make me puke as they kiss the butts of the innumerable billionaires whom that put on TV.  We want to hear the common man & woman!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Newt ... ?


A vote for Newt is a vote for Barry. 

How can any rational person think the Newt can beat Obama?

Newt could probably get 1 out of 10 votes from women.  His treatment of his first two wives was scandalous and despicable.  And from that one can only conclude that he cannot be trusted.

And he took about $1.6 million from Freddie Mac for ... what ?  Was that a payoff for decades of support politically?  Or for future lobbying?  He takes $1.6 million from an institution that was at the heart of the 2008 Panic and Great Recession.  Did he do anything to push it towards responsible behavior.  NO.

Can one thus conclude that Newt can be bought?

And in the 1990s, he was attacking Bill Clinton for his sessions with Monica, all the while canoodling with women NOT his wife.  He obviously has a problem with his ... short arm aka second brain?  Perhaps, as he sometimes seems to think with that other organ.

Newt is a lifer politician, a denizen of the Dark City in the Swamp.

He can be bought, cannot be trusted, is a cluster hypocrite, and is part of the problem.

The R's backing him are showing their stupidity - maybe they want Barry to have another four years, when he can get a majority in the Supreme Court.  After that, we'll have a tyranny by the judiciary.

Can the Republican primary voters be dominated by fools?


Word of the Day

"Macaronic" - noun and adjective [$10]
Macaronic means (noun in plural) burlesque verses containing Latin (or other foreign) words and vernacular words with Latin etc.; (adjective)(of a verse) of this kind. [earlier = of the nature of a jumble or medley.
Sentence: [from The Familiar Enemy by Ardis Butterfield, page 25]"... in which love refrains in French are thoroughly interwoven with Latin, and macaronic sermons more generally, ..." [The book referenced is about cultural and linguistic aspects of the Hundred Years War between France and England when they really weren't France and England.]

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bank and Lawyer Lying Epidemic

As more and more facts come out, the existence of an enormous epidemic of lying and perjury by banks and their law firms in the past decade or more is becoming very clear.

Banks created mortgage securities by transferring originated mortgage loans to a trust.  But they violated most state fraud laws by not recording assignments of the transfer of the loans.  Hence under state law, the trust did not legally own the loan.  When trouble arose, the same bank - now under the guise of the servicer of the trust - proceeded to lie to courts or in filings by saying the trust did own the mortgage loan and had the rights to foreclose.  They were simply making it up - no one checked the loan papers to see that the trust in fact did own the loan.  Those statements were made under oath subject to perjury laws. 

Often law firms hired by the banks did that last step.  The bank management did not care about accuracy - they simply send the work to the low bidder, which might even have been a legal boiler room.

How many of these defective mortgage loans exist?  My guess is millions.

I personally know a several cases of this happening in both residential and commercial mortgage loans.  This travesty is not simple speculation or anti-capitalist rant.

Land records of millions of homes is now under a cloud. 

Think about this:  you eventually pay off the mortgage loan.  The servicer signs a release of lien which needs to be recorded.  But what happens when the entity signing that release is not in the chain of ownership back to the original lien recorded.  I wonder if the county will reject the recording?  What about a new title insurer when you try to sell the property?  The title search will show a lien from some entity that has never been properly extinguished.  This problem could arise 10 or 20 years from now.

What happens if the original company - perhaps a special purpose subsidiary of the bank - now longer exists?  Perhaps it was closed when the mortgage origination business soured in 2008-9.  Now what?  No corrective papers can ever be filed.  This is no wild speculation.

Today's FT online"  The Attorney General of Massachusetts has filed suit against five major banks "accusing them of “corrupting” the state’s land records through pervasive use of fraudulent documentation in seizing borrowers’ homes."  Further, "[Ms] Coakley seems to believe what only a few of us have said publicly: robosigning was often only a symptom of failure to properly assign and endorse mortgages from originators to the trusts,” said Mr Rosner, in reference to home loans bundled into securities."

What is to be done? 

The only solution is a massive class action that would require the banks to stand behind the title to all the real estate involved in these mortgage loans, and to commence action to repair the title to every single property affected.  With massive penalties for noncompliance.  And to take it out of bank top management pay.  After all, top management is ultimately responsible.

Word of the Day

"Spoliation" - noun [$10] an old one from the file
Spoliation means 1. the act of plundering; 2. the act of injuring beyond reclaim.
Sentence:  The spoliation by the major banks of the entire land ownership system in America is a colossal fraud that needs severe punishmant on the banks themselves and on the top management who were captains of that fleet of financial Vikings.