Tuesday, April 30, 2013

H.P. Lovecraft Said, "Searchers After Horror Haunt Strange, Far Places." Or They Can Just Go To Wall St.

This morning I listened to an episode of Frontline that was scary enough to have been written by Stephen King. Apparently, 401K's and mutual funds are not designed to save money for retirement, unless you're talking about the retirement accounts of mutual fund managers. Using administrative fees, asset management fees that would make a leech blush (and if a leech blushes, it's your blood rushing to its face) and marketing fees (essentially charging you for the cost of selling their fund to you in the first place) they have designed a system where the investor provides all the money, takes all the risk and gets thirty percent of the gain. What you think is a Real Estate Investment Trust, is an ice floe for you and your family to float on into retirement.
The happy ending to this ghastly story is that there is an alternative, (and here's why I'm mentioning it) that I've been recommending for years, low fee index funds.

Monday, April 29, 2013


The thing I use most that I got from my father, is a heart full of hate.
You know how sometimes when you say things like, "You might be surprised how little protection a debit card offers," you really mean, "I was surprised?"
Well, I was. On Friday morning, my credit union called to say it looked like there had been some unauthorized charges to Paypal on my account. I wasn't sure at first because I had used Paypal to send  a small donation a few days earlier to a charity set up to help victims of the Boston bombing. When they told me it was five hundred dollars, and that it was from that morning, I was all, "I'm pretty sure I would have remembered that," so we agreed that those charges were fraudulent, they canceled my debit card, and I went in and got a new one. I changed my password at Paypal and my credit union and thought I was done with an irritating chapter in my life. But as Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Even though they knew on Friday that the charges were fraudulent, they are still letting them clear my account, and tell me that I can't even begin the process of getting the money put back until they all clear. So, to this point, there is a total of more than $1200 missing from my account, and I have to hope that  merchants used by criminals aren't indolent as they ravage my credit.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

This Post Rated NC-17 For Language

Thanks for asking, nobody; my daughter and her husband who live in Boston are fine.
Back in the 70's, the Russians invaded Afghanistan and set up a brutal puppet government (think, Chucky). We helped insurgents to drive them out, obviously making us friends of Afghan freedom.  In the 90's Russia suppressed a liberation movement in Chechnya by leveling the capital, killing Chechens indiscriminately, and then setting up a brutal puppet government. So, 9/11 and now a Chechen bomber in Boston. And they say Americans are bad at geography.
I heard a little bit of the Fox News coverage of the bombing aftermath in Boston. They reported that it was possible that some people might want to use the situation to score political points. They even gave examples that  people could raise, like,  did the democratic mayor of Boston and the democratic governor of Massachusetts lift the "shelter in place" order too soon, or did the Obama government fail to protect the nation? And why weren't any drones being used?
Speaking of the nanny state (well, we weren't, but I'm sure someone on Fox is, or will be) is it a coincidence that the liberal state of Massachusetts pronounces the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency as Meemaw?
Many analysts say that Al-Qaeda has been degraded to the point that it is hard for them to launch major attacks and that they are calling on their supporters to launch lone wolf attacks on their enemies. These attacks don't pose an existential threat to America, but they are designed to, you know, terrorize. At this time, it looks like that's what happened in Boston. Can I just say, though, "Fuck you." You're going to kill some random strangers to scare us? That's what we do. After Columbine, Aurora, Tucson and Sandy Hook, you're going to throw a pressure cooker at us and bring us to our knees?  In the four months since Newtown, there have been 63 children murdered in this country and over 3500 people of all ages murdered.  If you want to shock us, maybe pass gun control.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bias Confirmed

No matter who turns out to be responsible for the cowardly attack in Boston yesterday, I'm pretty sure I already didn't like them. Terrorist attacks are designed to terrorize. Well, duh. So the response must be to act as if nothing's changed. In my case, I can do both because I was already terrified of pressure cookers.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Or Get A Blog, Loser

I could be biased because I work for the Postal Service, but I think if you want to "send a message," you should write a letter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Asking The Hard Questions, Then The Rhetorical One

Is conciousness chemistry? Does it arise in the brain? Can it be identified on MRI's or by the new BRAIN mapping initiative? If we create computers modeled on the brain, will mind and awareness follow? And, if we can do any of that, could we use that new understanding to see if we could make it arise in Alaska politicians?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

When I Was A Boy, April Wasn't Interminable, But Now I've Put Away Childish Things

The other day, I said, "April is the cruelest month," to someone. They asked what that meant, and I had to admit, that I had no idea, but that I knew it came from a poem by T. S. Eliot, maybe The Waste Land. I went on to admit, that I had never understood what any of Eliot's poems meant, not even the ones from Cats. Today, I looked up the Waste Land and I was right on all counts; the poem does say that about April, and I didn't understand any of it. I remember that we studied it in high school, and back then, I even bought a book of Eliot poems. But that was when I thought I was going to be one type of person, but instead I became the Manqué Man.
The poem starts out "April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire." So far so good, but that's followed by several lines of apparent gibberish and German, and then something we can all get behind, "I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter."
I want to go south for the winter, and I'd like to read much of the night, but probably not Eliot because his poems are too dense, or I am.
As for why I'd like to go south for the winter, the whole April thing came up because it's been snowing so much here lately after having been briefly spring-like. Yesterday it snowed a foot, and the Weather Service says another, bigger, storm is looming. Looming? Doesn't that sound a little portentous for a weather forecast? Besides, nothing  good ever looms. Probably because good things don't even approach, they tend to recede, or crumble into dust. At least if April has anything to say about it. And apparently, I owe February an apology.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

What's That Thing You Get If You Do, Or, If You Don't?

Karen can barely walk without her walker. When she tries, she often falls, including the time during the winter when she tore her rotator cuff and did some other damage to her shoulder. The rotator cuff tear will not heal without surgery, but if she has surgery, she will not be able to use her walker for at least three months. Which means she will almost certainly fall, and probably damager her shoulder. Probably requiring surgery...