Saturday, January 31, 2009

Need a Cool Earthquake Testimonial?

We had an earthquake here a couple of days ago.  I didn't feel it.  But I didn't feel left out with all the truly amazing stories people told me because if I needed to...I could've had a cool story to tell anyone who would listen...over and over again.  If you've gone through an earthquake and don't have a story to tell...I'm here to help you.

Seattle is prone to earthquakes and on occasion they are large.  Most of the time they are isolated to small areas and produce no lasting damage. 

After a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in the year 2001 that rocked our little region I began to hear some commonality when it came to people describing how they felt the earthquake.  Everyone had their own account and talked as if their experience was incredibly unique and important. 

As a service to all of you, I will help you generate a cool earthquake testimonial that you can use to impress your friends.  Follow these steps:

  1. All testimonials begin with where you were and what you were doing.  Don't miss this simple step as it adds flavor to your story. 

    For example:  I was at home and I was in the bathroom going poop.
  2. Then describe what happened when the earthquake began.  This is an initial observation that there is something to talk about beyond your bowel movement.

    For example:  My cat suddenly ran out of the room and I heard something fall in my bathtub.
  3. In this step describe what you thought it was.  This is important because no one thinks what they're experiencing is an earthquake, they always think it's something else.

    For example:  I thought the sound was my roommate passed out drunk in the bathtub.  Mr. Whiskers never liked him and I was sure that's why he ran out of the bathroom.
  4. Then slowly, and in the most painfully boring way possible, outline how you used simple reason to deduct that your initial thoughts on what you were experiencing were completely inaccurate.

    For example:  Then I thought to myself that it couldn't be my roommate because he moved out two months because he wasn't paying me his half of the rent and he never slept in the bathtub while I was home during that part of the day because he was always afraid I'd hassle him for rent money even though I never did because I figured...hey...he's an adult and I don't like to nag people about...
  5. This is the big finish.  This is where your whole story begins to climax into the now obvious conclusion that you understand that you're in the midst of a natural disaster. 

    This step goes like this:  ...and then I thought...OH MY GAWD...WE'RE HAVING AN EARTHQUAKE!

Go ahead.  Practice a bit and create your own and leave them in the comments.  You can thank me later when all of your friends and co-workers marvel at your awesome account of an earthquake you never felt.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Detroit Bailout


While the news media has characterized this as an automobile industry bailout, it is truly just a Detroit bailout.  In Mississippi, and Alabama for instance (Nissan and Hyundai) no such bailout exists.  And why would it?  They build cars in America that people will actually buy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Okay, prepare to be stimulated

It has passed. The stimulus package is days away from being signed into law to great fanfare. I get email from you out there that support Obama and I also get email from Republicans that think government has to "do something."

Please enlighten me. This is not a trap, but deserves an honest answer to this question. Here it is:

Where is this money coming from?

My follow-up question would be:

Knowing now where it has come from, can you tell me exactly how it will save the economy?

Feel free to pass this along to any Keynesian out there that wants to explain it. This subject deserves a chance to be discussed here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Citizens Engaging in Freedom

The Canadian Revenue Agency wants citizens to make a trendy YouTube video to warn Canadians that their fellow citizens should not have the audacity to engage in freedom.

Sure tax revenue pays for roads, schools, and endless Canadian government programs, but do you know what the underground economy provides?

  • The freedom for people to save money.
  • The freedom for citizens to pay their own way.
  • The freedom for people to decide what they will/won't pay for.
  • The freedom to pay for timely medical care in the US.
  • The freedom for people to give money where they choose.

The underground economy doesn't hurt Canada's economy, it just hurts the collective power that has concentrated in Ottawa.

I'm encouraged that the underground economy is a big enough problem for the CRA to have to address.  Perhaps the spirit of freedom is still burning, if ever so dimly, in our northern neighbor.

Friday, January 23, 2009

We now return you... Ron Paul making sense...already in progress.

It would be nice to hear someone else in Washington DC just tell the truth about throwing bad money after bad.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Historic Piles of Garbage

The large crowd of advocates for change left 130 tons of garbage on the Washington Mall.  How inspiring. 

To Obama's credit one little bit of our nation's garbage has been cleaned up.  The detention facility at Gitmo will close as well as various other "secret" prisons around the world.  Not right away but within a year which is plenty of time to decide what to do with these people.  In many cases their countries of origin will execute them anyway.

Now Mr. trade with Cuba.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Okay Chrysler...the joke is over.

You've gone too far this time.  It was bad enough how it started:

  1. First you take my money from me because I don't buy your cars.
  2. Then you spend my money to thank me for the money you took.

and now...your strategy for rebuilding your company is to align with...FIAT!?!?

Chrysler will have you believe that they'll benefit by sharing platforms and technology with the likes of Maserati and Ferrari but don't hold your breath for the new Ford Focus to appear on a Magnum PI reunion show.  Forget those famous Italian brands and think more along the lines of Lancia.

What next Chrysler?  Who is your next strategic partner to join your road show of scrap metal debris?  I'm thinking you probably already have AutoVAZ on the phone ready to import the Lada.

This whole thing would be funnier had I not be paying for it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

C'mon...make a creepy pledge

The whole video is sickening but the ending may keep you from sleeping tonight.  Just a warning.

Disclaimer:  As always, I accept no responsibility for damage to your monitor or keyboard due to projectile vomiting.

Inaugural Speech

I was a little unimpressed.

I was troubled by his estimation that greed was somehow the reason for our difficult economic times.  He admitted that market forces have an unmatched capability to provide for us but must be reigned in so that it does not spin out of control. 

The market doesn't spin out of control, but fraud and force can and does.  It is the role of government to protect its citizens from doing harm to each other through force and fraud.  Don't blame the market because a corrupt government (of which he has been a member) does not take seriously its role to protect the right of people to engage freely and put their capital at risk.  Call it greed or whatever you want but we ALL benefit when people take risks to improve their own personal well-being.

I loved the benediction...a good vision for America in my view.

What did you guys think?

Peaceful Transition of Power

Our country does something that many countries can't imagine.  We peacefully hand over the keys to the White House to a new guy and throw a big party.  Every new president shares high approval numbers as people who didn't even cast a vote for the winner share in the hope.  That's the way we do it.  I like that.

Obviously, I'm a partisan.  I have ideals and core beliefs.  You all know Obama doesn't fit into these and because you pay attention to politics you know that there is truth to the stigma that he's a socialist in many ways.  Today I will forget this and just celebrate the peaceful transition of power.  Just like Germany did in the early 30' be a good German for one day and enjoy the inauguration. (Yes, I'm kidding)

There will be many references to Dr. Martin Luther King made tomorrow and snippets of his speeches will be played but I can't recommend enough that you listen to some of his famous speeches from beginning to end.  So many memorable moments for me in those speeches never became sound bites.

Thanks for the many warm wishes regarding Chesty.  It sucks losing a pet and so many of you had many encouraging and comforting words.   Thank you again.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chesty the Cat - RIP

Chesty the Cat - 199?-2009

Chesty came into my life back in the 90's like any stray cat would. He wandered up to my door and wanted food. I didn't give him any. I decided if he came back and was friendly even though I didn't feed him then he may actually be worth adopting.

He did come back and I did adopt him though the jury is still out on whether it was worth it. That said, I liked Chesty quite a bit.

I named him Chesty because I thought he was a female and I gave him a stripper name. Chesty LaRue was his full name. I took him to the vet to get him fixed and even the vet was fooled...until they called me back about an hour after I dropped him off and told me, "We're calling about Chesty...the cat is apparently a male...after closer examination we discovered a penis." I knew at that point I had a bond with this cat that would be long lasting. How many people can claim they have a cat with a wang so small that it even fools a doctor?

Chesty peed in my kitchen. It was annoying. I put down puppy pee pads in the kitchen because he would use them and it controlled the mess and odor and clean up. He also used the litter box too, just not exclusively. I tried everything to break him of it but he was beyond help. The cat was retarded.

He visited me last night in his last healthy moment and I pet him. He didn't really eat yesterday and I knew with his weight down so much it was only a matter of time. He labored all night and I knew this morning that today would be his last day.

I called the vet to see if I could get him put to sleep humanely and got a 10am appointment. He died just after 9am. I called back the vet to cancel the appointment and they said it would've been helpful to give them more notice. I told them that my cat didn't bother to tell me when he was going to die and that I would not be taking any animal to them in the future. A tip: Ask for a reason for the cancellation if you don't know why the appointment was made in the first place. Assholes.

My son and I dug a grave and had a brief Anglican graveside service for him. More than the cat deserved really but I wanted to convey to my son that what we were doing was respectful and thankfully he understood. My 3 year old son's eulogy was this:

"Chesty was a good kitty. Now he is dead. Bye bye Chesty!"

Indeed. Bye bye Chesty.

Related Post

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why Centralized Planning is wrong

You have heard much about central economic planning over the last year of the failed Bush administration and will hear even more in the coming months of the Obama presidency.  In both cases they will be wrong and against your best interest.  Here is why.

A free society and a free market requires not just voluntary exchange, but informed voluntary exchange.  In a voluntary exchange, all parties benefit from a transaction.  The role for government is to protect the freedoms of everyone to enter into voluntary exchanges.  Government would work to prevent fraud, it will protect contracts of all kinds.  This enables people to have lawful protection while doing business with another party that they do not personally know.

When Central Planning begins, it accidentally removes many of the fundamental components of free and informed exchange.  Central Economic Planning can attempt to make things "fair" by fixing a price, or fixing a wage.  The price of something in a free market can tell a consumer immediately if it is a good deal.  If the price is too high there may not be a market for it, if it's too low it may lend information about the quality or reliability of the product.  These are decisions that you and I make a thousand times as consumers.

Once "fairness" or "stimulus" has been added to the market, the ability to make an informed decision about an exchange becomes more difficult.  When a price becomes fixed, or more money or credit is allowed into the system, all the information we seek becomes harder to find.

The other piece of the exchange disappears as well.  The "free" part of the exchange goes away with choice.  After an industry has gone under the wisdom of central planning it's not long before the winners and losers in the industry are chosen by bureaucrats rather than consumers.  Protectionist policies, tariffs, regulation and bailouts all lead to a reduction in choice by the consumer.  It isn't long before the consumer loses the freedom to exchange with whomever they wish...after only a few choices remain.

The heart of a free society is the voluntary and informed exchange.  Once a government compromises this then believe me...there are no free markets.  President Obama would do well to ignore central planning and work hard to build a government that enforces fraud and tirelessly protects the rights of people to voluntarily exchange with one another.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Obama's Raw Deal

There has been a great deal of talk about Obama's plan for America and his first 100 days.  From universal this and that to bailouts, new era WPA, and mandatory civilian service...not much to like in that list frankly.  His advisor's have actually used the term New New Deal.

My hope is this type of thing will go by the wayside in the same way privatizing a tiny part of Social Security failed with the Bush administration.  This country doesn't need any of that and the last thing this country needs is dependence on the federal government to provide life support.

It's hard to say how much political capital there is to spend for Obama, but there could be a great deal as long as our current economic status is compared to the Great Depression.  It'll be interesting to see what signature line will be chosen for his inauguration speech...some type of "...nothing to fear but fear itself." line is what some speech writer is agonizing over somewhere.

I will celebrate inauguration day by paying bills.  Not my bills but those of my mom's.  While she would certainly qualify to have some of your money, we decided it would not be right to take your money unless you offered it first.  We're funny that way.

Let's hope Obama's call for change isn't just turning back the clock to the 1930's.