Incendiary Article on President Obama is Forbes September cover story

October 11, 2010

The article is a must read whether you agree with it or not. Many discount the author’s thesis (which is best captured by the article itself) as distorted, but history reveals that many leaders have motives and values that are only partially understood, or misunderstood entirely, while in power. For a man to rise to the heights of power takes the strength of a core ambition and drive which may seem far fetched.

There is no question the article itself is full of compositional techniques to make the author’s arguments appear absolute and air tight, perhaps to a fault. I find it hard to digest, but even if the author’s tracing of the “true source” of Obama’s actions proves false, I do find the common threads of his actions in office to be troubling and his lack of success articulating a vision for America unfortunate…and yes, I voted for him.

Also, the most important element of the story may be the fact that Forbes published it on its cover. The article is a gloves-off inquiry of the President which frequently read like an outright attack. I think it is a bellwether of more to come.

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Smartphone user graph

October 11, 2010

Nielsen: 32 Percent Of New Smartphone Owners Choose Android Phones

I’m not a fancy enough WordPresser, and I’m tired, so please click the link above to see the graph(s)…I think the second one in the article is more interesting myself.

I was very surprised to see the speed and size of growth of Android usage. I still have a Blackberry vintage 2007, and I am not sure what I would get if I replaced it (which is why I haven’t).

Just Finished (Again) – Leadership and Self-Deception

October 11, 2010

Just finished Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute for the second, if not third, time. The general topic is how we tend to treat others as objects rather than as people, even within our most important relationships. It is one of the most meaningful and instructive books related to leadership (and really, life), I have had the fortune to read. Highly recommended.

Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Just Finished – The Grand Idea by Joel Achenbach

October 11, 2010

Book summarizes and narrates (very well) the relationship between the Potomac River and George Washington. Not a classic, and clearly not intended to be, very informative and enjoyable walk down US History lane. Of particular intrigue was the way Achenbach explored the commercial motivations of the Founders and the new nation as a whole.

The Grand Idea: George Washington’s Potomac and the Race to the West

Lonestar – pulled

October 11, 2010

I heard that Lonestar, the new TV show set in Dallas, was pulled. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but this was pretty disappointing.

Crisp explanation of current economic psychology

October 11, 2010

This CNBC article is an excellent, if brief, overview of current American psychology regarding the economy and their own spending choices. CNBC article – Why we’re not spending

Americans are simply less optimistic, and that view is (justifiably) reinforced by what they read and hear every day in the media.

Even if you have some savings, or credit available to you, you are simply less likely to spend and more likely to save what you have if you are concerned about your future spending power.

Most people might relate with their early experiences with gambling. In the beginning, you might just put your toe in the water. But then, once you have a handle on the basics, you want to get “a little” more aggressive. You still have almost all your money in your pocket, and you know –after all– it takes money to make money. Then, within minutes, you realize you have burned half your money on wild betting where your confidence has completely overwhelmed your mental odds calculator. Then, angered by your own actions, and the “system” that’s clearly cheating you out of your money, you go back to betting small and even then, you don’t take advantage of betting opportunities with chances in your favor, finally draining the rest of your money bit by bit.

Many Americans today are in that latter part of the cycle outlined above. Even for those that didn’t participate in the so-called evils of the last decade with big home equity lines or perhaps investing heavily in tech stocks in the early part of the last decade, they can still see how painful losses are, and how hard it is to get – and stay – ahead. They also see huge national debts, talk of higher taxes, talk of hyperinflation down the road, soaring unemployment, soaring healthcare, and on and on…and they just aren’t going to be as likely to make spending decisions based on rosy future expectations.

Pockets of Growth

October 7, 2010

I read somewhere recently this phrase “pockets of growth” and I wish I could reference it. I like the thought. If you’re like me and assume there’s more downside to come in the economy, and yet you are struggling to be an optimist and logical at the same time, pockets of growth is a good meme, particularly because I think it is both prescriptive and descriptive.

Seek pockets of growth. Don’t expect general growth.

Pockets of growth are implicitly small — the phrase connotes small, perhaps hidden, perhaps elusive, perhaps protected, perhaps surrounded by its opposite, collectively less than the whole.

Everything’s Too Expensive…and why deflation is good for regular Joe’s but bad for investors

October 2, 2010

The Fed’s de facto policy is to stave off deflation at absolutely any cost. The fear related to deflation is it will lead to general economic chaos. The fear of bogeyman writ large.

One of the underlying assumptions with “stimulating” inflation, assuming of course stimulating inflation were truly possible in today’s circumstances, is that wages would correspondingly go up. I just don’t think this is true. For decades, the average Joe has not seen wages keep up with inflation. To assume it is axiomatic that wages will inflate as a byproduct of all this stimulating is off base, just like it is off base to assume that printing money necessarily will cause inflation. Possibly predictable, but far from certain. I hate economists (or, more appropriately, English major journalists trying to report about economic theory) who interchange predictable outcomes for certain outcomes.

An example of what is certain is, if prices go down, the average Joe will be able to buy more for less with the money already in his pocket. This is a certain outcome.

What is a theoretically predictable outcome is, if the Fed Fairy doesn’t print more money, the financial markets will crater again, and jobs will decline further and the average Joe won’t be able to consume expensive goods. And then we will all be part of a Grapes of Wrath story-line. This (purportedly) is a “predictable” outcome the Fed MUST AVOID AT ALL COSTS. (poop.)

The linked article here is a great example of why I do not believe in monetary manipulation, particularly today’s story-line. In India, Gillette is in full gear marketing 15 cent razors. In the US, Gillette spends millions upon millions on advertising so Americans will buy $2-3 dollar razors.

America is already a massively inflated economy compared to most of the world, yet we, at the same time, want to artificially keep it inflated, but present ourselves as a free market player in the global economy. It is a farce.

Gillette in India

So, as I mentioned before, the Fed Fairy theory, based on a stack of “predictable outcomes”, necessitates avoiding deflation by printing money. Let’s say the Fed is successful pursuing this theory. In fact let’s say everything it hopes to achieve is successful, EXCEPT wage inflation. What is the outcome? $4 razors and less money in the pocket of the average Joe.

Property tax increase

September 30, 2010

Dallas voted to increase its City property tax by 6.5%. Curious what the national average increase of similarly sized city’s cumulative property increase is since 2008.

BEA site

September 28, 2010

The Bureau of Economic Analysis provides ready access to an amazing amount of data.

It is the real “no spin zone.”

BEA home page

Things I found interesting were areas of real personal consumption and comparative values therein. State by state and metro by metro comparisons are interesting. Import/export data (drill down).

Things I find less valuable are the big swath stats like GDP, or even the components thereof. It’s not that I’m suspicious of the data, it’s just too hard to really look at the them without really drilling down.