Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Once upon a time...


Once upon a time, a Prince asked a beautiful princess,

Will you marry me? The Princess said, NO!

And the Prince lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and fucked skinny

big titted broads and hunted and fished and raced cars and went to nudie

bars and dated women half his age and drank whiskey, beer and Captain

Morgan and never heard bitching and never paid child support or alimony

and ate pussies and fucked cheerleaders in the ass and kept his house and guns and

never got cheated on while he was at work and all his friends and family

thought he was fuckin cool as hell and had tons of money in the bank and

left the toilet seat up The end

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chinese Inflation...

Some famous finance guy in China gave a closed door speech on how China is in deep trouble and possibly bankrupt. He told everyone not to record his speech or put it on the internet...so naturally its on youtube now.


Take this all with a grain of salt or two, but here's the link.

Key points is that a lot of Chinese growth the past few years is just stimulus money and loans spent on real estate, and that as these loans go bad, the shit will hit the fan.

He claims inflation is really running at 16%...which might be good news for my RMB appreciation-wise if China was trying to really stop it. But its scary when a bank account only pays 5% for a 3 year CD.

Plus, if China has an economic collapse, the value of the RMB probably won't be going up...should have cashed out last visit. Thought about it but was lazy.

Oh, well, everything seems to be falling apart this year, so why not one more thing...get it over with fast.


This is what I'm talking aboot! (click to link)

I can screw the pooch for much, much less.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Overheard at Pops

"There's Sodom, there's Gomorrah, then there's Bangkok. "

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sadly True

I would love to say it isn't so...but the list about things people do in Montana is spot on. Oh, and she is also correct that Montana is adding jobs...

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Yahoo Headlines

Economy adds 103,000 jobs, but it's not enough


WTF? and I don't mean Win the Future.

What kind of headline reporting a statistic can say 'but its not enough?"

Its a statistic being reported for gawd sakes.

I mean, sure have an analysis section to your story or have 'but analysts say it not enough'

OK rant off.


FUN WITH FORMOSA


This old map has a lot of place names in Taiwanese...I enjoyed testing out my Taiwanese speaking relatives to see if they could guess what the hell I was saying...




Also, I will be in Taiwan this November if anyone is up for hitting the bars in the Chung.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Last Post?

As the posts become fewer and fewer, I am wondering if this won't be the last post on our beloved experiment?

Anyhow, greetings from Montana. It has been a crazy summer, so crazy in fact that this is my first weekend in Helena since early June. Many tales to be spun, hopefully in person with some of you at hand.

Back over July 4th weekend, Jim was kind enough to host a reunion of sorts. Rye, PIMP, Dean-O and myself were able to attend (apparently the price of gas for the six hour drive from Lubbock to Denver was too unbearable for the J-Hole). A concert was attended in Steamboat, a baseball game in Denver, a fireworks display from Jim's roof, and lots of cigarettes and even more bullshitting went down over three days.

Stoney and I made the drive from Montana (once his plane landed a mere ten hours late). Yellowstone, Teton and the nothingness of southern Wyoming proved just the trick for two old friends catching up. We did get stonewalled by some snow high in the Wyoming mountains near Jackson, but that just added to the fun. Next year, Vegas baby! Stoney, you should publish some pictures here.

Later in the summer a few friends and i attended Red Ants Pants music festival in White Sulfer Springs, MT. A bit of Texas came to Montana, as Jerry Jeff (Austin), Lyle Lovett (Houston), Carrie Rodriguez (Austin), Rodney Crowell (Houston), Guy Clark (Houston), the Trishas (Austin) and a few others showed up in the hills of central Montana for two days of awesomeness. The awesomeness culminated with Rodney and Guy sitting on the stage playing songs for each other on Sunday afternoon. Poor Guy can barely get around, and can't remember his own songs anymore, but still amazing, especially since his solo show was on Saturday, thus giving us a real treat by sticking around just to play with Rodney Crowell. During his solo set on Saturday, Rodney and Lyle sat just off stage simply to watch Guy Clark play music.

I did manage to squeeze front and center for the shows, because, well, that's just who I am.

Here is Guy Clark singing with Verlon Anderson. Yes, it was The Cape.

Rodney Crowell crooning Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight



Rodney watching Guy trying to remember the Lyrics to Old Friends


A sober Jerry Jeff singing Mr. Bojangles or Navajo Rug, I forget which at this point.

In other news, my brother submitted some photo and became season ticket boy for the Houston Texans. Monday night was meet the team night. Here's a copy of the ticket for all none of you that are interested:

I reckon I'll follow this up at some point with a few more summer details (hikes in Glacier, work trips to Florida, Vermont and Alberta), but who knows, maybe I'll just fade into the distance...







Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chinese Inflation Continues

Inflation rose to a three-year high of 6.4 percent in June, data showed on Saturday. The comments mark a fresh attempt to show the inflation fight is far from over and the government is determined to bring prices back under control, analysts said.
I guess this didn't work:
The central bank has raised interest rates five times and bank reserve requirements nine times since last October as the inflation threat has grown.
Bank reserve requirements may not be able to be used as a further weapon:
Many analysts expect the central bank to lean more on interest rates to fight inflation in coming months, partly because they see limited room for higher bank reserve ratios, which for big banks stand at a record 21.5 percent.
So, the other two tools that they can use are interest rates and exchange rates.

Higher interest rates tend to make your currency stronger. If you try to keep your currency rate down while raising interest rate, you just get more foreign money pouring in. To fight inflation you want to lower your monetary supply not increase it.

Looks like I will sit on my RMB CDs for a while longer...I will enjoy the higher interest and then hopefully some more currency appreciation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fixing the odd tweak

Fortunately I found this video to help take the stitch out of my knee and ham string.


God bless the Dutch.
Too bad about Vancouver, drunk and high riot and looting?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Not Taiwan

So, I'm drinking some yellow bellies and the wife is transfixed by the credits of Bourne Identity.


She demands I find the song played during the credits. Child's play for any non-senior citizen, but she is impressed. (Google search is indistinguishable from magic for her.)

Extreme ways. Moby. Ennnnh, sounded better with the credit rolling.

Anyways, bored, I plugged in Taiwan on amazon.com's MP3 website to see what would come up. Surprisingly, many bands use the words Taiwan, but have nothing to do with Taiwan.

Tex Taiwan - actually a Belgian industrial band or something. That's confusing.
Maiden Taiwan - ha ha, weird rap not from Taiwan.
Taiwan Typhoon - punk rock.

Anyways, I am forming a new band called Anglo-Japan. We sing in Swahili and are based in Brazil. Yes, we are all pretentious now.

My God, page 4 of the search result calls up:

Everyone Eats Taiwan Rice I think you use this one casually, acting as if you have no idea how dumb this song sounds. "What? Honey, don't you like Taiwan and Taiwan rice?"




Music you figure would have been suited to Taiwanese conscripts fighting for Japan in WW II in Pacific: Kiwi & the Papaya Mangoes...

Taiwan Ko-Ro seems nice...might even buy that.

If there was a Taiwanese version of Hawaii 5-O... this would be the theme song.

There are a bazillion more songs, from techno to jazz, but I will leave you with a nice song in old-school Mandarin exhorting Taiwan's economy to take off...



















Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Awesome Review of China's Problems


Very clear and concise in explaining a lot of the problems facing China.

Highlights...

The need to allow Chinese capital outflows unfettered by foreign exchange controls is growing more intense with each passing month. During the first quarter, China's foreign exchange reserves grew by another $197 billion, pushing total reserve holdings over $3 trillion. Because China was unable to sterilize the positive impact of money inflows (that is, neutralize their impact) on the growth of its money supply, inflation has accelerated while economic growth has remained at a level high enough to be generating more inflation. China's reported inflation on consumer goods rose to a 5.4 percent year-over-year rate in March, an acceleration from 4.9 percent in February. This is the highest inflation rate since July 2008 and is substantially above the level of 3-4 percent that China says it desires.

Think about that. They have $3 Trillion in reserves and are socking away $197 billion a quarter. They stopped buying so many US Treasuries to sterilize this, so their currency should appreciate.

The article also has an excellent explanation for the crazy real estate prices in China (and Japan, and Taiwan for that matter.) They happen when the government does not allow people to invest anywhere except domestically.

On a more fundamental level, China is tracking what one might call the Asian "work, save, and invest" model that proved so unsuccessful for Japan after its economic boom period in the 1970s and 1980s. During those decades, its financial sector failed to develop, and Japanese citizens were discouraged from investing abroad. Inside Japan, investment-allocation decisions were made largely by government agencies that recycled household savings deposited in Japan's Postal Saving System and its sheltered banks. As a result, Japan's financial sector developed far more slowly than its production sector. Saving was very high, as in China today, so there was a huge supply of funds for the government to allocate inside Japan. The government agencies favored investment in Japanese manufacturing facilities, especially those in the export sector.

As Japanese citizens grew wealthier, by the 1980s they looked for ways to store and enhance the wealth they were accumulating as a result of their hard work. They invested in the Japanese stock market and even more vigorously in Japanese real estate. In the late 1980s, the Japanese real estate bubble grew so large that the emperor's palace in central Tokyo was said to be worth more than the state of California. Of course, the bubble burst a year later, and Japan entered a lost decade that included wealth losses equal to nearly three years of national income followed by persistent deflation and generally stagnant growth.


Not only that, but the average person cannot afford a home in China. This is a problem in Japan, in Taiwan, and now in China. These countries all pursued very similar policies.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

China Currency

"So far, there has been no announced change in China’s currency policy. But the People’s Bank of China allowed the currency to rise more quickly in April than previous months, and on Friday set its target level for the yuan at 6.49 — the lowest since the early 1990s."

Well, its been trading at 6.53 for a long time...how much lower is 6.49 in percentage terms?

Less than 1% different. Yawn. Major currencies are swings around like a bunch of drunks playing crack the whip, and the RMB just slowly, ever so slowly appreciates.

But there is a glimmer of light at the end of my speculative tunnel...

'Meanwhile, officials from the People’s Bank of China have begun speaking in public about using the exchange rate as a way to control inflation — an approach that top Chinese officials have in the past tried to minimize. Monetary policy committee member Xia Bin said in a news Web site interview that rising prices might require a “one-off” jump in the value of the renminbi as well as “long-run, gradual appreciation.”

It is “a must,” he said, “unless we don’t want the economy growing ... and don’t want internationalization.”'

Dude, did I just see an actual monetary official say they may need a "one-off" AND gradual appreciation? SWEET.

I guess I need to apply this to Taiwan a bit...if the RMB appreciates, most likely the NTD will match it. Good news for teachers sending money back home and people who buy imported beer. Potentially bad for exporters.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sesame Street Economics

One of these 4 is not like the others!

Chart forUSD/TWD (USDTWD=X)

Chart forUSD/EUR (USDEUR=X)
Chart forUSD/JPY (USDJPY=X)

Chart forUSD/CNY (USDCNY=X)

If you had to choose, which of these currencies would you guess is "manipulated?"


By the way, if you look at percentage change, say over the last week when the dollar has plummeted, you will also find it interesting that one currency rose only about half as much as the other currencies. Any guess what currency that might be?

Now, to be fair, that currency over the last 5 years has fallen by about as much as some of the others. But in the week of dollar mayhem, its curious to see which currency seems to just sit suspended in air like Neo in the Matrix.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Over Kill



So, the AC-130 Spectre Gunship has a 105mm Howitzer, a 40mm Bofors gun, and twin 20mm Vulcan cannons.

The 7.62 mini-guns are optional.

OPTIONAL!

Why not have a 420mm Krupp siege mortar, too?

You know, just in case.

This plane circles around the battle-field, steeply banked so that these guns can fire down to the ground. They basically hose down areas with lead, but are also very accurate.

They are the descendants of Puff the Magic Dragon, a similar aircraft used in Vietnam.

Do other countries not have these? You'd think they would be pretty cheap to develop. Its just mounting guns onto a cargo plane.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inflation in China

The thinking among some at the Fed, evident in several public speeches, is linked to a 1997 paper by then-professor Ben Bernanke in which he argued—along with two other academics— that the right response of the central bank to higher oil prices is to do nothing.

The paper argues that it's the central bank's reaction to oil price shocks that creates recessions, not the shock itself.

The best test for using the interest rate tool against commodity prices is whether:

  1. There is a general wage/price spiral
  2. The rise in commodity prices looks to be permanent
  3. Inflation expectations get out of control

One gauge of the first measure is unit labor costs, or the cost of labor per some dollar amount of output. This essentially measures wages relative to productivity.

It is only inflationary for wages to rise if workers are not more productive. They have been very productive the past several years and yet wages have been stagnant. In the past two years, unit labor costs have fallen in five of eight quarters, including the most recent one in the fourth quarter of 2010.


This is a quotation from an article about inflation in the USA, but we can apply it to China:

  1. There is a general wage/price spiral
Wages are going up, ostensibly by government fiat on minimum wages based on the rationale that food costs are going up. They have been going up pretty drastically, too. I am not sure if this is due to the minimum wage increases or those are just lagging actual increased prices for labor. I don't the productivity has gone up at all - maybe the old wages were too low and the new wages are NOT inflationary. But we do have a potential mechanism for a wage/price spiral in China, whereas we do not have that in the USA.
  1. The rise in commodity prices looks to be permanent
Probably is the case if its due to additional demand from China, at least for oil, but maybe not for copper if they ever stop building buildings. But good news! Because houses cost so much, the government will build subsidized, low-cost housing. Doesn't that sound like it will increase the demand for building materials!
  1. Inflation expectations get out of control

I think people in China already assume high growth, increase in prices, increases in land prices, etc. will go one forever. Why else would you buy empty apartment after empty apartment? Of course, the best evidence for this is the fact that interest rates have been hiked already - so the central bank must be worried, and they know more than me.


Fun Facts on Chinese price levels:

20 years or so ago, workers in Fujian province wanted RMB 8 / day in wages. Say RMB 200 a month. Now, the wage level in Dongguan is above RMB 2200.

A man-tou bun sold at , a chain restaurant, used to cost 1 RMB only a few months ago. Now it costs 4 RMB.

Now there are articles in China about how cheap Bangladesh is, or how cheap Myanmar is. They must be getting worried.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Times They Are A' Changin'

Bob Dylan played a concert in Beijing on Wednesday, the American music legend's first ever gig in mainland China.

His visit had to be approved by the national ministry of culture.

Officials said the singer would have to abide strictly by an agreed playlist.


As if anyone can understand what he is singing now anyways.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Taiwan Weekend Redux

Denver, CO. July 1-4. Be there or be perpendicular.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Update

Still snowing in Helena, MT. ENOUGH ALREADY GODS OF WEATHER!

-- practicing law enables one to deal with idiots on a daily basis. kind of like teaching.

-- fantasy baseball draft this weekend, always nice to catch up with Stoney, BigEl, PIMP, Dwayne, etc.

-- shout-out to Dean and his Spiders. Two Richmond schools still alive, not bad. And firm up those dates for Denver. Try to wrap them around a weekend and a Rockies game and we gotta chance. I think PIMP was talking of getting down there at some point as well, let's just make it a party.

-- heading to Houston for a family reunion crawfish boil next weekend. i get to see all my ass backward kinfolk who debate the finer points of Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. YES!

-- the current legislature in MT has made itself famous nationwide with some unusual bills:

1. a bill stating global warming is good for MT
2. a bill implementing the gold standard
3. a bill nullifying federal rules (nevermind that supremacy clause in the constitution we all love!)
4. a bill adopting the cowboy code as the code of MT (no kidding)
5. a bill legalizing hunting with a spear
6. a bill to give sherriffs authority over the feds in terror cases (amended to make it more cooperative)
7. compulsory marriage counseling for those seeking divorce (i thought tea party folk wanted government out of our life?)
8. legalizing hunting with silencers (don't want to spook the elk away from other hunters -- nevermind the corpse at the elk's feet)
9. require the feds to prove in court national parks were legally obtained ( i reckon this has to do with national monuments and not parks, but I haven't read the bill)
10. withdraw the US from the UN (ummmmm)
11. omit obama from the 2012 ballot bc he was born outside of the US
12. create fully armed militias in every town (yes!)
13. eliminate state incentives for developing wind power (i.e. tax breaks, you know those things we all hate!)
14. allow concealed weapons in courts, churches and bars (so you can drink, pick off the guy sitting next to you, appear in court, go to church on Sunday for forgiveness, and never have to get rid of your piece!)
15. allow guns in schools

This doesn't even touch the abortion bills (16 if them!), the school cuts, the screw the indian bills, the closure of our one veterans home, etc. BTW, Montana is one of the few states in the black...and it's not by a little. Fortunately, some of these bills have been amended, and few, if any, will be passed by both houses and signed by the governor, but Jesus H! Jobs Jobs Jobs was the mantra if I recall. Aaron, I have no doubt you will look into these blurbs and set us straight about how they are helping us find jobs (i.e. cottage spear chucking industry).

Friday, March 18, 2011

3 Paragraphs from AP

At the same time, the rebels were sending their own warplanes in an attempt to break the regime's assault on Ajdabiya, a city about 100 miles southwest of Benghazi that has been under a punishing siege by Gadhafi's forces the past two days. But by Thursday afternoon, Gadhafi's army were holding the southern, eastern and western outskirts of Ajdabiya.

The unrest in Libya began Feb. 15 in the eastern city of Benghazi and spread east to Tripoli, the capital. Like others in the Mideast, the protest started with popular demonstrations against Gadhafi, rejecting his four decades of despotic and often brutal rule. The tone quickly changed after Gadhafi's security in Tripoli forcefully put down the gatherings there.

Soon rebel forces began arming themselves, quickly taking control of the country's east centered on Benghazi, the second largest Libyan city, with a population of about 700,000. Some Libyan army units joined the rebels, providing them with some firepower, but much less than Gadhafi's remaining forces, and crucially, no air power.

-------------------------------

Can you find the inherent contradiction in this piece?

I guess the editors at AP have some problems coordinating their information.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sigh

Every inning of every game? Maybe in another life.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chinese Vegetarian Challenge

OK, so we all know about the crazy quirks of Chinese vegetarianism/Buddhism and the inevitable questions they raise:


"What do you mean you can't eat garlic? Its not an animal fer chrissakes!"

"If you buy a caged bird and set it free and it dies a day later because its not a wild bird and has no idea how to survive in the wild, how was that not just the same as killing it?"

"If we all became vegetarian tomorrow, wouldn't the farmers kill all of their cows and isn't that bad?"

and my wife's contribution "You may be vegetarian up there, but you're still eating meat down there." That may be Chinese humor, by the way.

After watching some food show, I now have a new question for the Chinese Vegetarians...and this might even apply to normal veg-heads, too.

The Stone Crab has its claws harvested to be eaten, and then it regrows its claw.

Harvesting is accomplished by removing one or both claws from the live animal and returning it to the ocean where it can regrow the lost limb(s). To be kept, claws must be 2.75 inches (70 mm) long, measured from the tips of the immovable finger to the first joint. If both claws are legal size they may both be taken. Studies by the state of Florida have shown that removing both claws do not harm the Florida stone crab in any way when removed properly. In fact numerous studies have shown that by removing both claws, Florida stone crabs are forced to eat sea grass which has been proven to be more healthy for their diet and regenerate their claws faster and female Florida stone crab have more baby stone crabs since they are unable to fend off the advancements of the male crabs. These studies are what caused the State of Florida to change the laws to allowing two claws to be removed instead of just one. Florida stone crabs are legal for harvest from October 15 until May 15.

So, if you eat Stone Crab claws, you are NOT killing an animal. In fact, by taking both of their claws you make them healthier!

So, its okay for Buddhist vegetarians to eat these crabs right?

Just don't use a garlic sauce and everything will be kosher.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

accumulation

That's it. I've had it. Too much snow. Too few snow days. We need to move.

Monday, February 07, 2011

have a seat

show cushioned adirondacks

I Call Bullshit

That the Inuit have a hundred words for snow is a myth.

That I have a hundred phrases marrying snow with curse words is no myth at all.

3 hours of shoveling this latest effing bullshit weekend snow dump has once again led me to explore my curse word vocabulary followed by a nice cool bottle of Russian Standard. Enough snow already!

Enjoy the football game fellers. Go Pack!


Saturday, February 05, 2011

great map

world map labeled with what country's names actually mean -

i thought Taiwan meant super-effing-cool-place-that-i-miss-so-much-cuz-i-never-had-to-shovel-effing-snow-there-bay

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Smokes for Karl



I just watched a video with a 30 year veteran smoker promoting this product. He thought it was great, he switched over in just one day. "Electronic cigarettes so you don't feel like a criminal!"... "You' can't do this on the patch!"

Allen Carr set me straight, and I ain't going back.

Check out the proud kit owners braggin' about making "water-vapour rings",

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inflation in China...a feature not a bug?

China has had some high inflation this year, 5.1% annualized rate in November, and now 4.6% in December. Those numbers really don't seem that high, and inflation supposedly doesn't get really nasty until wages have to be indexed, creating an inflationary spiral. (Prices go up. Workers demand more money to pay for stuff. Prices then go up again, as labor costs more. Workers then demand yet more money...repeat until you reach Brazil or Argentina.)


So China is fine, right? They don't index wages and have a vast pool of labor to exploit.

Actually, maybe not. Local governments have started to raise minimum wages multiple times this year, and by large amounts. You do this twice in one year and if I was a worker I'd start expecting it.

Workers also went on strike last year (not something usually seen in Communist China) and got big pay raises at a Japanese engine plant. I would imagine that they think they could do that again if needed.

Chinese New Year provides a great excuse for price increases, too. And not just for goods and services. Workers can sit at home and wait until wages go up enough to stir them to go back to the coastal factories. Or just find work near their ancestral homes instead as factories come to them. They may take less for a while to work near home, but I bet the labor arbitrage between coastal and interior China doesn't last long.

This seems to me to getting close to a quasi-indexation of wages - the sort of expectation that you will get more money (and rightfully so as food prices soar in China the workers need it in many respects.) This is what cause runaway inflation, a perception that everything will keep going up in price, so I'd better jack my price up too.

Now, here is my crackpot theory. I think the Chinese powers that be may actually prefer inflation, especially wage inflation, than to have price stability. I think they are letting it happen, perhaps even unintentionally, for the following reasons.

Obviously, one-party rulers that base their legitimacy on delivering the economic goodies have to keep the boom going as long as possible. Who wants to be the Suharto of China? So best to err on the side of boom not bust. Hell, that's the rule in democracies too.

To stop inflation, they would need to raise their domestic interest rates (which are essentially negative now) but that could bust the investment boom and also personally hurt the party princelings who are furiously throwing up villa apartments and hotels.

Or they could let their currency appreciate. That would hurt their export industry which is huge and employs a lot of workers. Plus, it could look like they are caving in to the Americans.

So how about this? Let inflation fly. Raise the minimum wages. The cost of Chinese products goes up but the currency peg is still technically held, and no one looks like they lost face to the Americans. The workers love all of the new raises they are getting. They might feel richer for a while, until they see the price of vegetables. The government actually put price controls on vegetable prices - we know what happens when you do that...less supply of vegetables and rationing in the form of waiting in lines. But it looks like you are doing something. The peasant farmers will complain but the city-dwelling middle class and workers won't. Buy some time and hope America recovers to keep buying Chinese stuff with borrowed money from China.

I solicit opinions on whether this is crazy - is it even possible? Did I completely blow the economics? I have a bunch of RMB sitting in accounts waiting for revaluation that may not come if this is their game plan. Shudder.


Most of the above came from this article.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Feeling down about the world?

Check out this video showing the progress made by humanity.