Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

North Korea Has Some of the Cheapest Beer in the World

I found it interesting that North Korea has some of the cheapest beer in the world, costing only 61 cents. Ethiopia is even cheaper at just 30 cents a beer. It's also interesting that dictatorships seem to have the cheapest beer.

Meanwhile the leftists' paradise of Norway charges you $13 for a beer, and I'm never visiting the Marshall Islands.


Regardless, it reminds me of the time I went to a town called Sublette, Kansas enroute to New Mexico. It was late at night and I was planning to make it all the way to Santa Fe when I decided to pull into the "Walk in Waddle Out" bar in town.

It was their grand opening and they had; 25 cent beers and $1 cocktails.

My vacation plans changed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Price to Earnings Ratio of a College Degree

P/E ratios are used to determine whether an investment is worth the money. In the case of a stock you take the price per share and divide it by its earnings. Thus you get a chart like this one showing us the S&P 500 P/E ratio over time

Applying the P/E concept to other assets can be helpful as well. If you look at a house, a house can be considered an investment. You buy a house and rent it out for its...um...rents. This gives us the housing version of a P/E ratio, the "house price to rents" ratio.

But along with 401ks and housing, the good overlords at the government and your employer's HR department are ordering you to invest in something else. Education.

Have you bothered to look up what the P/E ratio is for a college degree?

You haven't?

Well, you're in luck. The old Captain has!

Now before I go on you all better darn well appreciate this. This took about 2 hours to put together because the NACE (the source for starting salaries) is REAAAAALLY stingy with their data. So I had to go and search out each individual year at third party sites. Also inflation data for tuition rates is somewhat hard to come by. So if you want to say "thank you" to the Captain go buy my book for a paltry 99 cents and contribute to the Kindle Experiment.

First the data.
Doesn't look like much does it? Well that's because your ole Captain is intellectually honest and didn't want to "scale the y axis" to make this chart look more dramatic than what it is. But he doesn't have to. That chart IS dramatic and let me explain.

The above shows you the "price" you pay for college (tuition) versus the earnings you get from a college degree (earnings). As recent as 2000 you could expect your tuition to cost about 11% of your starting salary. Today in 2011 it is expected to be 16%.

At first you may say, "hey, that doesn't sound like a lot," but keep in mind two simple things.

One, you don't go to college to get a job. You go to college to make MORE MONEY when you get a job. Ergo, the above chart is somewhat misleading because without spending the money (and time) going to college, you would still make some money because you could presumably work anyway. So to be very precise when calculating a college degree P/E ratio it really should be your tuition costs divided by the earnings premium you would make over just having a high school diploma. Regardless, the price is going up.

Two, this chart speaks nothing of the drastic increase in the number of unemployed youth. If we were to incorporate all the "$0" starting salaries many of you recent college graduates are experiencing, I think you would see a DRAMATIC increase in the college degree P/E again suggesting you aren't getting your bang for your buck.

But still, I don't have to rely on adjustments or theoreticals to make my point. I'll simply present another chart. A chart showing the increase in tuition costs versus the increase in starting salaries. In theory if we index these together and start at the same point, they should increase at roughly the same rate, correct?



Well looky there kiddos! In just the past decade tuition has gone up nearly 100% while the starting salary (of that absolutely "necessary" sheepskin in "11th Century Middle Eastern Feminist Gender Studies") has only gone up in value by about 30% (and let's not forget about how that's essentially a 0% real increase when we account for inflation!)

So let me explain to you young kiddoes out there who voted for "hope and change" and thought Barack Obama's Magic Unicorn would miraculously fart out jobs for all of you.

You've been had.

You've been scammed.

You've been cheated.

And this has been done to you by not only my generation, but the generation before that.

Understand you weren't the only ones who came up with the brilliant diabolical plot of majoring in some wishy washy subject and then secretly hoping to get a cushy, overpaid government job. No, many people before you majored in "education" or "sociology" because they too "wanted to help the children" (while deep down inside we all knew all along it was just to get summers off and avoid calculus). There's two whole generations before you that had the same idea. And guess where people who major in "philosophy" or "hypenated American studies" end up working?

You got it.

Teaching you kiddies in college.

Of course, along with social security and medicare, this is just another little generational racket they have going on the side. See, they've told you since you were little ones you needed a college education. What they failed to tell you was in what.

You know all those "nerdy" Asian kids and square American boys you laughed at with their "stupid" chemical engineering degrees? Yeah, that's what you should have majored in.

But you see, if everybody majored in chemical engineering then the older people (who had the exact same idea you had) wouldn't have jobs. Remember, they majored in English and anthropology too. They have masters degrees in "sculpture" and "theater." And since they couldn't find jobs in the private sector they had to create entire studies out of whole cloth in....

(are you ready for it?)

(can you guess where these people go?)

(are you sure?)

THAT'S RIGHT!

ACADEMIA!

Studies that don't produce anything of value to society, but can be sold to easy marks like you!

So let me explain to you what's happening and why you are sitting there with an over-bloated student debt (that no doubt I'm going to have to bail you out of). You see, in society STUFF OF VALUE has to be produced. You can't just major in Socialism Unicorn Farts or Political Science like your beloved hope and change leader (oh, wait, he was a professor too, wasn't he?). In the end for society to thrive, let alone survive, you must produce something of value. As I talk about in my seminar on worthless degrees, take out a sheet of paper, list everything you would like to buy or own and the list the degrees of your friends and ask yourself;

"Do we major in the fields that is necessary to produce the I-Pads and X-Box's and cars we want?"

The answer is no. This also explains to you why we have a trade deficit with China.

But also understand you are on the receiving end of what has been a trans-generational scam. Creating "fake" industries so people can have hobbies instead of creating real industries so people may have wealth. Notice the charts below. These charts I discovered when trying to find data going back to the 1940's (because ideally it would be great to calculate the above charts and see what the P/E ratio was for a college degree back then, but the data is just not there). What you'll notice is that sure, under your parents or grandparent's generation a college degree would help, by about the 70's in terms of real dollars there was no upshot. Matter of fact when you look at the liberal arts degrees they were simply a waste (also notice how they didn't start until 1962, gee, I wonder why? Could it be..ummmm...hippies?)





But why the push for college then? Why were you told to go to college? And why didn't anybody tell you about worthless degrees? Two fold.

Most of your parents didn't study economics, let alone see these charts. They just remember their own experiences and the advice at the time was hardly wrong. It's just there's a SEVERE ignorance when it comes to economics in this country and people just plain didn't know. But now we get to pay for it.

And second, lets not forget about all those burnt out hippie professors that need your hard earned money (or your parents money or the taxpayers money) to pay him to lecture you about the evils of capitalism in a "Peace Studies" program.

So in the meantime kiddies, I hope you enjoy you little sheepskin there. I hope you enjoy "going green" by recycling or reusing grocery bags or whatever else you were told to do by your indoctrinators. Because in the end, no matter what you were told, no matter what you believe and no matter how much you may have been programmed to hate it, reality wins in the end. And the reality is you just got scammed out not just your money, but a sizeable chunk of your youth and your future is bleak. And no amount of naive childish "hope and change" is going to fix it.

Enjoy the decline!

They Don't Want This Information to Get Out

In doing the research for the book I thought it would be a jim dandy chart to have showing what percent of mortgages made were done on a "no doc" or "low doc" basis. So after much scrummaging around I finally found the data series. The data series was provided by a company called FirstAmerican CoreLogic.

Phenomenal data.

AMAZING DATA!


Hat tip to them and their work.


Oh, the charts I could make!


Unfortunately they wouldn't let me use the data because presumably my book spoke ill of the banking industry.


Meanwhile I have a chart, a beautiful chart, sitting right on my laptop that would be the envy of all charts, that I can't use showing the percent of loans that were no doc and low doc.


But neither can the New York Federal Reserve. Previously the NY Fed had the same data series up on their web site, but was requested to take it down.





This angers me, because whereas I understand proprietary information, when does it become public information, or just information that society at large has a right to know? Plus, what is the fight to prevent this information from getting out? Like the banks' reputation can get worse????

In any case, I would be eternally grateful if somebody out there knows someplace I can get this information that isn't sourced to FirstAmerican. Any econ grad student out there that happens to be studying this or knows of somebody that might have an idea on where to get this info, I will name my new dog after you.

And that is quite the honor because I like dogs more than children.

In the meantime, check out this link to the NY Fed where you can toy around with different subprime figures and play with some charty goodness.

Border Patrol Agents in GUAM???

Anybody as confused as I am about this?


Who exactly is trying to sneak into Guam????

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Green Ninja

So with gas prices this high I decided to buy a motorcycle (one that works I mean). Hit Craig's List (which I think has alone boosted GDP by .5% a year with all the free advertising they allow) and found an old green Kawasaki Ninja.


I'm very happy with it because it gets 67 miles to the gallon, however my friend had to point out,

"Hey, the "Green Ninja." It's like a lame comic book hero like Captain Planet who fights global warming by increasing your gas mileage. You're probably more green than most of your liberal colleagues."

Now utterly ashamed I drive the Green Ninja thinking people believe I have gone soft and gone green, when in reality I'm just trying to save a couple bucks.

Regardless, this did get me thinking about the psychological apprehension people have to making large or larger ticket item purchases like motorcycles so allow me to impart some economic wisdom.

First, if you blow your money on something like booze, cigarettes, video games, marriage or children (har har har) you are in that sense wasting your money. But if you buy a motorcycle or a moped, you are investing your money. And you will not only reclaim the money you spent on the motorcycle (and jacket and helmet and accessories, etc.) you will be earning back more. Therefore it's not whether you can afford a motorcycle, it's whether you can't afford a motorcycle. Get one, you'll be better off (I've already earned back in gas savings what I spent on a jacket, helmet and gloves).

Second, you don't need to blow a ton of money on a motorcycle (I got mine for all of $2,000). Matter of fact they're pretty cheap used as demographics play a role in this. Namely men of Gen X are getting married and having children. And then the wife puts el-kabosh on the motorcycle riding forcing him to give it up. Ergo if you are single guy (or a single gal) you can find a crotch rocket for pretty cheap.

Third, you can go green with a smart car, a Prius or a hybrid.

Or you can get a motorcycle.

Which one do you think the girls dig more?

Miles Driven Per Year By Americans

I found this chart on the Department of Transportation after hearing a report the amount we're driving is dropping at a record rate. It's pretty neat;



OPEC may yet come to realize its shooting itself in its foot.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I Spy With My Little Economist Eye...

Here's a picture in today's Star Tribune of a bridge collapse in China due to the earthquake.


What do you spy????

I'll give you a hint, it's a sign of capitalism working in China.

Inflation in Zimbabwe


Nice going Mugabe!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thank You Warren Buffett

The banks are to blame.

Which is what I've been saying all along (and will be amply documented in the upcoming book).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

National Oil Companies are the Real "Big Oil"

I saw this on Powerline;


I saw this in The Economist;



I made this post in 2005.

Just read what I write, I'm usually 2 years ahead of everybody else. ;)

Let's All Laugh at Maxine Waters

This is great, you have to let it go to about 1;29 and watch people in the back laughing at Maxine Waters because she;

1. Obviously didn't listen to what the oil execs said
2. "Like liberals could take over the oil industry and run it better than than oil executives."
3. She CAN'T REMEMBER THE WORD "NATIONALIZATION!"

The fact she is a representative is a testament to the idiots that elected her in there and is why I will never move to California.

The Kindle Experiment

As you know your Captain wrote a book a couple years ago. It was titled "Behind the Housing Crash" and my own personal bias aside, it was a brilliant and foresightful book. Everyone who has bought it has liked it and it has very high ratings on Amazon.

Of course only about 2,000 copies sold. And though this is considered a "success" in the self-publishing world, let us be frank...

The Captain wants to make millions, not thousands of dollars.

The problem is quite simply the publishing industry itself. The industry is old, archaic, cronyistic and inept. You need to know somebody in order to get published. And like Dr. Seuss, William Faulkner, Stephen King and many other famous authors, these publishing houses lack the ability to see genuine skill and talent when it's sitting in front of their faces.

You ask, "how can publishing houses turn down the works of Stephen King, Anne Frank, Vince Flynn and Aaron Clarey?" The answer is a simple and economic one;

If you look at who is in charge of these publishing houses you will see nothing more than a bunch of elitists who all have masters degrees in "creative writing." In other words, the people who currently head not just the publishing houses, but the agencies that represent authors are not writers or readers themselves. Oh mercy no, not one of them have written anything, that would be dirtying their little fingies. They are middle management types who have NOTHING in common with the common reader. Ergo, they lack the judgment to discern or predict what is going to be popular amongst the "commoners."

It is here that you are witnessing the extinction of an industry that has proved itself to be self-serving and not a net-positive benefit to society. Much like the mainstream media has proven itself to be an arm of a political movement, the publishing industry is proving itself to be an exclusive club, not concerned about good writing that it can bring to the masses and thus joy to the people, but rather serving connected members favors in the publishing world.

What's brilliant though is the unstoppable forces of capitalism, free markets and economics. Enter the internet. Namely, Kindle.

Digital books, combined with the internet have largely rendered these traditional publishing houses irrelevant, obsolete, and unneeded. Sure, if you're a baby boomer that wants to be lied to about how you're 50 years and you're still going to find love and romance and riches, and you're too damn lazy to learn about the internet, you can find a book called "Eat Pray Love." But once the social security checks start running out and the last vestiges of "The Doors" fans die off, who is really going to want a physical book?

Regardless of what you think about the younger generations, they have made their decision. They prefer to be online over pretty much everything else. Their social lives, their dating lives, their career lives. And when given the choice to pay $22 for a physical book of 99 cents for a book, what do you think they're going to do?

It is therefore why your Captian is pursuing an economic experiment I like to call the "Kindle Experiment."

Your Captain loves to write. He would love nothing more than to have a life where he lives in a small mountain town, drives his motorcycle around, fishes, fossil hunts, tornado chases, polishes agates and salsas the night away all while financing this lifestyle with superior and engaging writing that gives his readers more value than what they paid for it. To achieve this though, the Captain cannot rely on a defunct and corrupt industry such as the traditional publishing houses in New York. It simply won't work. And it is here where the Kindle Experiment in economics begins.

"Behind the Housing Crash" is now available on Kindle.

It is 99 cents.


My business model is much based off of two things. One Amanda Hocking, the 26 year old self-published author who writes books about vampires and twilight and other such nonsense. And two, "Angry Birds" which has made a ton of money NOT because of the profit margins, but because of the volume of sales.

In short, I could charge the $22 for a book which results in 2,000 units of sales. Or I could charge 99 cents and sell millions of copies. The second of which would result in a lot more profit.

Of course, "Behind the Housing Crash" is a dated book. But this experiment is simply just that - an experiment. I don't expect to sell a ton of books. I'm just seeing how much more responsive and elastic demand is to a book that is essentially free and will base future publications on it.

So if you want to buy the book, it now costs you an irrelevant 99 cents.

If you know somebody who would like to read the book, it now costs them the 99 cents.

If you want to read books I have in the pipeline such as "Enjoy the Decline" and "The American Bachelors Guide to Happiness" and "The Battlefield Compendium for 14 Year Old Boys" and other great books, it now costs you 99 cents.

Or if you plain just want to stick it to the elitist commie snobs of the east coast publishing houses, it will cost you 99 cents.

So go forth and purchase, or simply recommend it to friends. Future brilliant works depend on it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Officially Endorse Byerly's

I couldn't afford Byerlys when I was in college. High end, luxury grocery store chain. In any case I poke my head in there now as "Rooster Booster" is no longer being sold here and Byerly's has my second favorite power drink, AirForce.

And whilst in the checkout lane I see among People and Seventeen and all the other filth rags out there an issue of The Economist.

So now, unlike the regular grocery stores where I'm forced to sit behind some soccer mom and her 45 items in the 10 item or less lane and forced to read about Julia Roberts or Christina Aguilera or Britany Spears and who is divorcing who, I can look like a normal human being, feel no shame and look at The Economist.

Byerly's is now my primary grocery store. Seriously, it is. Because I'm willing to spend an extra 10% on groceries to have it send via the market mechanism the signal that a lot of men that would constitute an underserved market would pay extra to have the occasional WSJ, Economist, or heck, Sports Illustrated in the check out lane.

Economic Schedenfreude

I don't know how to spell it, and am too lazy to spell check it, but I must admit to some economic schadenfreude.

The book is now complete and will be going into last revisions and editing. Picking a publisher and then getting some chartage.

Regardless, this puts me in an odd situation in that the book will do better the worse the economy gets. And as long as press releases like this keep coming, I'm happy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Don't Bother Watching the New Indiana Jones Movie

Complete crap. And I'm not saying that for effect, I'm saying it because it's true.

Sorry, not going to capitulate to the American predisposition this "has" to be a good movie.

Utter garbage.

And by that, I mean it isn't even worth renting.

If it were up to me I would go to Spielberg and Lucas and demand, for the sake of an American icon, they withdraw this piece of sh!t from the theaters, go back and redo it with a realistic plot, give Indy a gun that he occasionally fires, and please don't ever have another scene where everybody has guns, but either;

1. Fails to use them when they're right there in front of them with the enemies sitting like ducks
2. Shoots non-stop but fails to hit their target if they're shooting at Americans or Indiana Jones.

And hey, while we're at it, let's throw in some kid that is completely incidental to the plot to tug at the heart strings of mothers.

Seriously, I'm angry they literally murdered an American icon like Indiana Jones. The sad thing is Harrison Ford pulled it off superbly. But this family BS, it would have just been better if he was a childless bachelor, as he always was, and was meant to be and went out and kicked some commie ass.

No, I had to tolerate 2 hours of ill-founded rumors of El Dorado, which were created by aliens, whose corpse we found in Rosewell, and wow, there's a spaceship. To quote Eddie Izzard;

"Oh no, space monkeys are attacking."

Cripes.

Games Economists Play: Mosquito Killing

Let it be known that today marks the first day of the season of a game I play called; Killing Mosquitoes.

I like to keep track of how many times I get bitten by a mosquito versus how many I kill. I keep a running tab and, though I have yet to shut them out, I have won every year since playing this game.

The season is initiated upon either me killing a mosquito or a mosquito biting me, and I just killed the first one. He was sitting there on my house, very still (it's still reasonably cold here in Minnesota so the insects are lethargic, but that's global "warming"), and I squashed him.

Let the games begin.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Are There Credit Card Collection Commercials in Norway?

See, Norway, despite my disagreement with a socialist economy, does have a fair amount of maturity when it comes to managing their economy. notably their petroleum surplus fund. They ensure they have a balanced budget and, not that I've visited Norway, but they just seem to be a more financially disciplined people.

Which got me thinking as I was driving up to St. Cloud and heard a commercial for "lowering your credit card debt!"

"Are you in debt?

Are collectors calling you?

STOP THE ANNOYING CALLS!

Contact us at 1800-NOMOREDEBT

We can end the harrassing calls, cut your monthly payments in half and lower your debt from 30-60%"

And it was one of those things where, yes, we've all heard these commercials before, but you have to pull yourself away from it and say, "gee, how pathetic is this, that we've become so bad at managing our personal finances commercials like this even exist?"

Furthermore, the whole tone these commercials take that you are the victim if you have too much debt. And the insulting premise that they can "Lower your debt from 30-60%."

Well doesn't that just mean you're going to fail to pay back what you owe? And that's OKAY?

And that's why I wondered if any of our friends in Norway (or Scandinavia for that matter) can tell me if they have commercials like this, or is it a purely, and shameful, fact only American's have this? Dtrum, this happen in Switzerland when you were there?? Curious to know.

Monday, May 19, 2008

In John McClane We Trust


When in high school I got personalized plates that said "MCLANE" for my 1978 Cutlass Supreme (spent $50 on it).

I still have them hanging above my bar.

That is because John McClane is one of the few remaining truly American heroes left.

He doesn't negotiate like Richard Gere. Or look to negotiate with people that want us dead like Barack Hussein Obama. He's a real man. Not one of these sensitive 90's guys.

He doesn't care what is politically correct or whether he'll get in trouble with the authorities if he violated some anal retentive rules about giving people their due process even as they try to blow up the Nakatomi plaza. He just kills them.

That's why we should vote for John McClane.

John McClane is the modern day incarnation of John Wayne. I think the first name is not a coincidence.

However, consider this. Could a man like John McClane exist today? In 1945 he would be on par with Audie Murphy, a true American hero. Today he would be sued, lambasted, and accused of racism (after all he killed a lot of Germans in Die Hard 1 and 3, he also killed a Hispanic drug dealer in Die Hard 2, which means he must die). So if it boiled down to it, who would ever step up to the plate to be heroic or in the classical, historic sense, "American?" The answer is no one.

I say it in half jest because I am a carry/conceal permit holder, and though not true to my instincts, I fully agree with what the instructor said, "it is more of a liability than a privilege to carry a gun." Any notions of "pulling out my gun and saving the Nakatomi employees" let alone the lady on the street getting mugged or any truly innocent person is not worth the legal liability. This is the situation political and legal forces has brought us to. To do the right thing, should it be demanded, is so deterred by the legal ramifications, it's just best to sit down and be quiet and not be a hero, even though that's what America is screaming for.

Alas, a John McClane/Tony Stark presidential ticket is just a figment of our imagination and Barack Obama is a viable presidential candidate.

Hat Tip to My Mom

The squeaky wheel gets the grease and this is what my Mom always told me about the 1960's. That basically, not all baby boomers were smoking pot and shooting heroin as they parasited off of the Greatest Generation protesting the Vietnam War. It's just the deadbeat hippies were more "romantic" and "ratings getting" than the rest of them, and therefore got most the press. Ergo the baby boomers were misrepresented as a bunch of idiotic losers listening to Jim Morrison (who, by the way sucks just as much as Kirk Cocaine - and yes, this time I purposely misspelled it. Want to hear good music, listen to this. See, talent. Yeah, actual voice and skill required. And not dying on a toilet bowl while OD-ing).

In any case it was nice to see this which corroborated what my Mom was saying the entire time.

Big Oil Tax Breaks? WHAT BIG OIL TAX BREAKS???

I was listening to talk radio, shouldn't do that, you just get too depressed. But then some idiot (who they let on the air because they show you just how hopelessly ignorant the population is and how doomed we are, but it's good for ratings) came on and started blathering on about how we need to cut the tax breaks we give to "big oil."

And I ask ye all of the economic faith, what tax breaks?

So I looked up the income statements of Exxon to see what kind of tax rate they were paying. You know, because they're in such big cahoots with Bush they should have a tax rate at around 3% or so;



42% FREAKING TAX RATE!

So, what, if they weren't given the "tax breaks" they'd be paying 52%? And if I recall correctly, weren't these "tax breaks" incentives to get them to invest in renewable energies?

And you people wonder why corporations move to Dubai or the Caymans.

To quote Rush Limbaugh, "People have no idea how much ignorance costs us."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Empirical Costs of Weddings

Curiosity kind of got the best of me last night and I had a choice to go out to the bars wherein I'd run into the same ol same ol "Tanya" who majored in "child psychology" and likes to "partay" and watches "Teen Idol" not to mention the Ambercrombie and Fitch Frat Boys with their hats on backwards getting ecstatic or borderline suicidally depressed if some guy they have no relation to scored a goal or not on the TV or...

look up the historic costs of weddings.

Sadly the Federal Reserve does not have this data series in their FRED database, but I kind of poached a couple numbers to make for a somewhat decent chart. I only had about 7 datapoints and just averaged them over the period of time to the next datapoint to fill in the chart, but you get the idea;


$28,600.

Seriously, you know, could you maybe put your kid through college instead? I'm serious, this is just more proof it's all about "them" and nothing about the kids.

$28,600???

And understand 90% of that is for fluff. If you think about the actual wedding it should be about two people; the husband and the wife. Loved ones, be they friends or family should be there too, but this BS where I saw $500 wedding cakes and $2,000 dresses, and limo service and so forth. Here's a screenshot from a web site that shows all the various amenities (though some would claim "requirements" of a wedding);

You add all this unnecessary crap up and no wonder you're blowing through two kid's worth of college tuition in a day. It's all about the show, the bigger the better, the fancier. My feathers are more colorful than yours, my chest is poofier than yours. Forget what the marriage was supposed to be for like "love", no, it's starting to seem to me to be a bragfest. I'll put another chart here, though I have no data, this is just my impression that I got as I was reading through all these sites



Seriously, if I do get married, I'm eloping. None of this limo, free drinks, rent out the Hilton or "horse drawn carriage crap" (I did that once, not get married, but took a girl out on a horse drawn carriage ride, back when I was young and foolish had some notions of chivalry and hope, wasted $85 for 45 minutes, and then the next two dates got the flaking out at the last minute thing, and that was just $85, I can only imagine what they'd charge you for a wedding).

That's another thing, what's the mark up on a wedding. That's the business to be in. I teach dance on the side, the few weddings I've done it's amazing how little they care about price. And there's a time factor there too. They don't want a full hour of lessons, they just want 15 minutes, and then you get the ef off the floor and let the bride and groom do the dance while nobody really learned any real dancing as it's impossible to teach anything in 15 minutes. But for 15 minutes work you can earn about $100. Again, they're not paying for actual dance lessons, thereby implying people would learn to dance, they are paying for the right to brag they had a dance lesson.

Eh, maybe I'm just overthinking the cost of weddings, being too economic. I should realize it's all about love and money isn't an issue...

until of course financial problems arise...

which is a major contributing factor to divorce.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Want to Waste Some Money? Finance a Modern Day Wedding

I swear when I get married, it will be by the Flying Elvises in Vegas, nobody but my wife and I will know, nobody is invited and I will throw a little shindig upon my return at my favorite joint in St. Paul.

With the savings, not to mention the extra time that would have been saved from no planning it, my wife and I will retire 10 years earlier than expected.

Weddings are such a waste of money.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Industrial Production

The old school media wonders why their getting trounced. Press release about industrial production dropping .7%.

Do they provide a chart? No, of course not. That would require some form of programming and would make for less room advertisements.

So here it is, industrial production.


What also stood out about this chart is something I've been contending for years, but I've literally had people tell me I'm wrong and not to believe my eyes, but that the economy is becoming less and less volatile. The reason I point this out is that I think volatility (or the lack thereof) is a measure or sign as to just how much more we're learning about and implementing economics. As we mature we fine tune the economy, adjust inventory levels more quickly, implement fiscal/monetary policy more quickly, etc.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's a Very Sexist Recession

I used to make commentary, but now I just let the figures speak for themselves and let people rationalize it all they want. I leave you to this;

The Big Bad US

Given the Myanmar aid situation I figured it was an opportune time to revisit just how much the US donates in aid.

I love it when the US is criticized about not giving enough in aid by the UN and other self-serving non-profits. That the US is handily outdone by ideal countries like Norway, Denmark and what have you. But as I've pointed out before, that criticism is laid only again government aid. When you consider private aid as well, it shows Americans are VOLUNTARILY more charitable with their own money than any other nation. And don't get me started about how the US military effectively makes it so most of these European nations don't have to have one, effectively subsidizing them to donate aid.


So the next time somebody complains that the US doesn't donate enough aid, you can turn to them with this handy chart and say, "no, actually, we do."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

HAR!!!

I had a buddy from India come into town named Sadeep. When he was here he gained about 12 pounds and his mother, who was previously concerned he would not eat healthy, quickly had her fears calmed as her son put on much weight (this was while he was dancing his ass off helping me with all the extra girls in my dance class, though we introduced him to martini's and Chipotle, so there you go).

In any case I found this absolutely hilarious. I'm so visiting India.

God Damnit

I recall making a post about how using negative amortization loans was foolish because your goal should be to pay off your mortgage, not increase the size of it. And based on household debt to GDP, it seemed nobody was paying off their debts, even as they approached retirement.


Then one poster berated me as to how dare I demand his generation pay down their debts. They were just as entitled to bleed the equity out of their houses if they so desired. I hope he enjoys his nice long lonely stay in a nursing home.

Regardless I don't normally curse, but I'm pissed as hell. And not so much because of the lack of fiscal planning resulting in 1 in 10 boomers borrowing for everyday expenses, but more so because 4 in 10 baby boomers just give their children money apparently instead of letting them fend for themselves.

People are going to have to learn, one way or another, if you keep giving people money, be you the government or a parent, the recipients of the money are going to come to expect it. And not only will you kill any work ethic they may have, but you'll impoverish yourself along the way. Furthermore, you can't live off of borrowing money all the time. You need to work to pay for your consumption (though I'm scared to see what the figures would be for Gen X). The fact household debt as a % of GDP is practically 100% only confirms just how much debt spending as a viable option of supporting one's lifestyle has acceptably permeated this country's think. This is just more proof we're going to learn this lesson the hard way.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

That Reminds Me, It's Time for Another...

"Music Then and Music Now!!!"

Yes, where we compare that obviously inferior, stupid, naive and idiotic culture of American yesteryear to the obviously superior and hip American culture of today by comparing the lyrics of those old foggies to the contemporary geniuses of today.

The first contender is the lame-o loser from the song of 1926, Tip Toe Through the Tulips;

Tiptoe to the window,
by the window that is where I'll be
Come tiptoe through the tulips with me!

Tiptoe from your pillow,
to the shadow of a willow tree
And tiptoe through the tulips with me!

Knee deep in flowers will stray,
we'll keep the showers away.
And if I kiss you in the garden,
in the moonlight,
will you pardon me?
Come tiptoe through the tulips with me!

And now (I have no idea why the font decided to change this color) the superior rantings of 2 Pac Shakur

oh, who hoo hoo
live from the crazy house
you heard that shit nigga
live from the crazy house
yo that nigga be crazy as hell

(hey yo, what you doing with that big ass nigga anyway ?)
my ghetto love song
(set it off, set it off)
lets be friends

mixed together:
(where my niggaz at, where my niggaz, where my niggaz, where my niggaz, where my niggaz at)
(where my real niggaz at, all my real niggaz, throw you mother fucking hands up)
(c'mon, lets go, lets go, lets go, lets see you throw you hands in the air, throw em, throw em, throw em)
(west side in this mother fucker right here, west side)
(throw you hands in the air, let me see you just throw you hands in the air)

[Verse 1]
approach you and posed a minute
all on my double R tinted
as you pass bye
winkin' my eye
freshly scented
what's the haps baby, look
get with me and perhaps lady
you can help me multiply my stacks baby
currency seems small I need companionship
do with that scandalous shit
I bet your man ain't shit
so why you hesitating, actin' like your shit don't stink
check out my diamonds
bitch everyone gon' blink
this be a thug thing, outlaw
nigga with riches cream dreamin' mutha fucka
on a mash for bitches
check my resume, sippin' on crystal and alize
smoking on big weed, key'd the Cali way
don't like trickin' but I'll buy you a fit
I can't stand no sneaker wearing, nappy haired bitch
let my pedigree read briefly
their so cheap
puttin bitch made bustas to sleep with no grief
mash on my so called car
who the man while I'm tuggin' on your main bitch hand
(west side)
understand this, ain't no nigga like me
fuck Jay-Z
he broke and I smoke dearly
(C'mon y'all)
baby lets be friends

[Chorus]
lets be friends
(where my niggaz at c'mon)
you ain't gotta by my man at all
as long as you just give me your
friends
(all my niggaz c'mon)
while you trickin' on them other hoes
lets be friends
(where the bitches that want a nigga with money, where you at baby?)
(hu, huh)
Lets be friends
you ain't gotta by my man at all
as long as you just give me your
friends
(cash making hoe's)
while you trickin' on them other hoes
lets be ...

[Verse 2]
I met you and I stuttered in passion
though slightly blinded
but at last, it was hard to keep my dick in my pants
every time you pass, got me checking for you hardcore
staring and watching
me and you
one on one, picture countless options
was it prophecy, clear as day ?
visions on top of me
erotic, psychotic, would possess my body
far from a crush
I wanna bust your guts
and touch everything inside you, from my head to my nuts
you got my sweatin' like a fat girl going for mine
just a skinny nigga fuckin like she stole my mind
back in time, I recall how she used to be
I guess
money and fame made ya used to me
what's up in 96 ?
lying tricks in drag
fuck Dre
tell that bitch he can kiss my ass
back to you
my pretty ass, caramal queen
got my hands on your thighs
now let me in between
as friends

[Chorus]
lets be friends
(west side in this mother fucker right here)
You ain't gotta by my man at all
as long as you just give me your
friends
(west side in this mother fucker)
while you trickin' on them other hoes
lets be friends
(west side in this mother fucker right here)
Lets be friends
You ain't gotta by my man at all
as long as you just give me your
friends
(in this mother fucker right here)
while you trickin' on them other hoes

[Verse 3]
can you image in me in player mode ?
rush the tricks
I got em, ready for a booty call
I fucked your bitch
was it me or the fame ?
my dick or the game ?
bet I screamed west side when I came
(WESTSIIIIDE!)
scream my name
cause baby it's delicious
got a weak spot for pretty bitches
up and down, similar to switches
my movement, baby let your back dip into it
make it fluent
in and out, all around when a nigga do it
you got me high, let me come inside
love it when you get on top, baby let me ride
who wanna stop me ?
in my top notch
fucking player hating niggaz cause they cock block
you probably hate to see a real thug envisioned with the game
rather see a nigga up in prison, why you change ?
made a living out of cuss words, liquor and weed
a bad seed turned good, in this world of g's
baby got me fantasizing of seeing you naked
it's a fuck song, so check my record
and let me friends

where my niggaz at?
(ahahahaha)
show me where my niggaz at
where my bitches at?
thugstyle

lets be friends
where my niggaz at ?
(huh,huh)
where my bitches at ?
throw your guns in the air
friends
my ghetto love song, it goes on and on and on and on
lets be friends
where my niggaz at ?
(huh,huh)
where my bitches at ?
where my niggaz at ?
friends
where my niggaz at ?
where my bitches at ?
where my people at ? Lets be
where my people at?, Show me where my people at.
where my people at?, Show me where my people at.
where my people at?, Show me where my people at.
all my niggaz now, just my niggaz come.
where my niggaz at ?
just my niggaz now.
be friends, tell me where my niggaz at ?
be friends, tell me where my bitches at ?
be friends, tell me where my people at ?
make money, take money
be friends

[Chorus]
Friends
(get your cash on)
(lets get money)
You ain't gotta by my man at all
as long as you just give me your
friends
(c'mon, get your cash on)
while you trickin' on them other hoes
(lets get paid)
lets be friends
(c'mon, get your cash on)
You ain't gotta by my man at all
(lets get paid)
as long as you just give me your
friends
(c'mon, get your cash on)
while you trickin' on them other hoes
(lets get paid)
make money, take money
make money, take money
make money, take money
make money, take money

No doubt, society is on the right track.

Tip Toe Through the Tulips

Before you read below you must click here and open in another window to get the full effect.

We all know about the Tulip Bulb Bubble, but I've only seen sparse pricing data on it. Until I accidentally happened upon this little report here from NYU.


Seems he priced it on a guilder per unit of weight calculation which was pretty clever I thought.

Valkyrie

I've been watching this movie go through all these various production problems and it's pissing me off because this is one of the few movies I was looking forward to seeing. And I cannot help that with the Germans complaining it's Tom Cruise portraying Claus von Stauffenberg and the fact it might be a war movie that doesn't bomb elements of the left are trying to hold it back. Sadly it would be one of those movies where you would learn about history because until I read up on him I didn't know much about von Stauffberg.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I Sneeze, Therefore Oil Goes Up

I am not an oil analyst beyond just watching the price and the tanking dollar. However I often wondering how hypersensitive oil is. Seriously, I read the news and it's not stuff like;

"Oil refineries blow up in Saudi Arabia, oil jumps $5 a barrel."

It's;

"Potential terrorist attack in Iraq trigger supply concerns; oil up $3 a barrel."

"Oil traders in general poopy mood; oil up $175 a barrel."

"German eats burrito then farts in a westernly direction; oil jumps $6 a barrel on global warming concerns."

"Somebody, somewhere did something and sneezed; threatens inventory levels; oil gains $5.19."

So for all you oil firms, oil traders and OPEC nations, save up that oil money. Not going to last forever.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Why Social Sciences are Pushed More Than the Hard Sciences in College

I got this as a response to a post I made a while back. And rarely do I post commenters' comments beyond just the post they made their comment on. But this was worthwhile as it was similar to what I saw when I was teaching economics. The school I was at needed equipment and gear to teach the kids. This would have required a new building and new equipment. However, somebody got the ingenious idea that they would rent some nearby cheap office space and require the students to get "general ed requirements." Then in shifts the kids would come in and take their general education requirements while the other students used whatever lab equipment they needed. They more or less doubled enrollment without having to spend twice on the gear. Anyway, here's the post;

"Ironicly the worthless degrees are VERY much about capitalisim, or at least very much about greed.

One reason why there are more lawyers than there are engineers is that a school can make more money selling law degrees than engineering degrees. Once you have the sunk cost of the classrooms and the law library you only need some washed up litigators for professors, and if you want to better amortize your sunk costs you can always add a few of them as adjuncts professors and set up a night program. As such the per unit cost of each additional student is pretty low.

On the other hand scientists require labs, materials, experiments, equipment, possibly even field work. This is expensive. It costs a lot for Dr. Wu to research the cutting edge of superconductivity, and Dr. Chandra to research quantum computing and the cost of an observatory for Dr. Goldstien to study Kuiper Belt objects of the outer solar system...well that gets fobbed off on the Government. By comparision it is downright cheap for Prof. Henrette to research the Anit-Femminist Subtext of 14th Century French Divorce Laws...even if that means sending her to Paris for a month.

So a university will prefer to open a law school (along with the prestige that brings) over building a cutting edge hypersonic wind tunnel for aeronautics research. The wind tunnel will cost LOTS of money and few students use it. The tuition is about the same as in the Law School, (probably lower in fact) and per unit cost (to the school) of a Masters Degree in hypersonic aeronautical engineering is going to be pretty high.

Furthermore, the school won't see much if any direct return on investment, and will loose money. (Sure they may get a NASA contract or two, but how many hypersonic aeronautical engineers become a State Senator someday? or come back to the Alumni office and cut a big check to donate a building in their name?)

On the other hand with a Law School they can dangle massively inflated "average starting sallary" figures at prospective students, and gladly take the money that Sallie Mae loans the student victims for three, or four, or seven years. The per unit cost of a law degree is very low (see above). The school makes tons of money, today, and has a handful of influental alumni tommorow.

You see this to an even greater degree (no pun intended) for undergrad. The tuition is the same for an engineering major and a femminist studies major... but what does it cost the school to "educate" the femminist studies major? Assistant Professor sallary and "domestic partner benefits" for a couple of otherwise unemployable ex-activists, a handful of subscriptions to obscure journals for the library, the sunk cost of power and heat for a couple of classrooms, the coffee machine, and some food for the department's cats. At some of the more expensive private schools a single one of Daddy's tuition checks has covered the cost of his little LUG's entire degree, and every dime from there on in is (for the school) pure gravy.

If this means the school then turns these students loose with a mountian of debt and few, if any, marketable skills...well that's not the school's problem."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Why Work When You're Just Going to Pay the Government to Take Care of Your Kids?

It is a curiosity of mine why most people bring children into this world.

Seriously, it is.

For it seems to me that children are viewed not as sentient human beings that have just as much entitlement to life and fair treatment as the rest of us, but rather pieces of furniture that go well with the SUV that we have for our own selfish desires.

And the minute a marriage becomes "inconvenient" the knee-jerk solution is divorce.

No, no, forget about the kid. No, "what, that kid? Why it's just a piece of furniture. It doesn't have feelings or emotions. Besides, our mutual hatred for each other and desire to get furthest away from one another supersedes than that child's "feelings" and psychological well-being if it has any. Why, there should be no ramifications for bringing in another life into this world if it inconveniences us in the slightest."

And again, though I hate children, I don't like to see them suffer. For like dogs, I deem them largely innocent and better than the average human. Thus when I am king I will make it illegal to divorce until all the children you brought into the world are 18 and mature enough to understand the concept of divorce. And there will be a severe divorce tax. Like half your freaking net worth. And I'm not just talking about the guys. I'm a true believer in equality. Women will pay too. I will force people to realize that if they brought another human into the world, then that human, no matter much you desire to treat it like a disposable addition to the drapes, is a human with emotions, feelings and thoughts that is just as entitled to humane treatment as the rest of us.

I will also enforce another thing. Somebody, be it the husband or the wife is staying home to take care of that kid. I don't care if it's unconventional. I don't care if it's old fashioned. I damn right don't care if it's dictatorial. You brought a human being into this world under the pretense you "love it" ergo one of you, by golly, be it the husband or the wife is going to stay at home and raise it. And if you dare outsource that child's upbringing to a nanny or day care center, I hope you enjoy your long lonely years in a nursing home, because that kid is not going to come visit you, and nor should s/he.

In any case what tripped this tirade is these charts I found and I forget where. It showed me something I already suspected to be true. That when neither of the parents decide to stay at home and take care of the kid, it's not like they're saving money or coming out ahead. They still have to spend just as much money on "childcare," as well as pay more in taxes because the default babysitter in most cases is the government.






So look, seriously. I am an evil, nazi, facist, racist, Republican, sexist, evil, capitalist and overall general poopy person. I don't like kids and have been known to trip old people. But do you think maybe one of you might want to stay home and take care of the kid instead of having the government do it for you? I mean, seriously, you brought the kid into this world for a reason, right? Presumably to love it and cherish it? Can you perhaps set the freaking laptop down and instead of just slave away to pay the extra taxes and child care costs to pay somebody else to do it for you, maybe do it yourself? Or heck, maybe just for the kid's psychological health "feign" like you care more about the kid than your career. I don't know, as I am not a father, but it would seem to me (despite my obvious hatred for children and of course being evil incarnate) it would seem a posh lifestyle to have my wife work whilst I play with junior and teach him how to make farting noises with his armpit, spit cherry pits with the pressurized tongue technique and how to make slingshots.

Then again, what do I know. I'm just some dumb economist that refuses to conform, doesn't adhere to group think and has the slightest audacity to concoct the occasional independent thought. You know, crazy thoughts, like children are humans too.

Buy Food

This is hilarious, but he will be shot for his speaking of the truth and common sense.

Food should be free and so should health care and we need to subsidize farmers. And if you disagree you will be shot.

ht to Alice

I Don't Want to Use Recycled Toilet Paper

So it was finally warm enough to run outside yesterday and to keep the finery know as the Captain's bod in shape I decided to go running. I run in the city and since this is Minneapolis, that means everything is pretty much lefty, including the ice cream store I go to, to treat myself after I run.

Ended up having to go to the bathroom and they had done some remodeling and put in a new bathroom. Very nicely done and while I'm sitting there I look to my right and see this on the wrapping of the toilet paper;




I don't know about you, but don't you think we're taking this whole "green" thing a little bit far. I mean, do you really have to recycle toilet paper to save the planet? Of all the things we could do, you know like nuclear power, get more efficient cars, drive motorcycles, allow the population to telecommute, I think recycled toilet paper is a bit much, huh?

In any case, a new item to add to the list of "girls the Captain won't date;"

Item #378c - Girls that buy recycled toilet paper.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Choosing the Path of Least Resistance When It Comes to Women

The Captain is not married, however he is courting a very beautiful dame that he loves dearly.

However, though not married, he has come to some of the same realizations that married men no doubt have and thus, instead of keeping quiet about it (which married men do because they sadistically want to see you to go through the rigamarole they had to) he has opted instead to tell you about it.

The Babe asked your beloved Captain if he wanted an apple.

Now I have nothing against apples, I like apples, but at that particular point in time, I did not want an apple. Thusly I said, "no, I don't want an apple."

However, you must realize the original question was not a question. It was a command. Oh sure, she phrased it as a question. The tones she used suggested it was a question. But it was no question. It was a declarative statement. It was a direct order. A direct order, I did not follow.

"Well why don't you want the apple?"

Kind of perplexed I said, "well I just don't want an apple right now."

"But apples are good for you."

And then I realized what was going on. She WANTED me to have an apple. If she seriously just was curious if I wanted an apple, she would have stopped the interrogation when I said, "no, I don't want an apple." But she kept up with the line of inquiry, which I should have noticed, whereby I should have accepted defeat and just said, "yes, I want the apple." But no, I had to choose the path of most resistance.

Now what you will learn about choosing the path of most resistance is that you are guaranteed to spend more effort and energy fighting for your personal preferences than you would have, had you just capitulated and ate the damn apple. And I know what you're thinking, "If I don't want an apple, then it is my constitutional right to not have an apple." But you are NOT thinking because what married men will tell you is that it's not worth it. Just eat the damn apple. And not only eat the damn apple, but when she asks you say, "yes, I would love an apple."

Now this gets back to what my father had told me and I should have followed;

"When she's happy, you're happy."

I don't claim to know what women want. But I do know that if you love your woman just try to make her happy. And if it means doing something as menial as eating an apple you don't have a particular appetite for, or taking out the garbage or putting away the dishes in a particular way that makes absolutely no logical sense, then just do it. Not just because you love her, but because it's just easier to choose the path of least resistance.

I Hate Blackberries

They tried to give me one, and as far as I can figure out the purpose of Blackberries are;

1. To keep track of you when you're not at work.
2. To give you more work when you're not at work.
3. To give you something that tries to be both a phone and a mini-laptop but accomplishes neither.
4. To piss you off when you have to type on those freaking little keypads.
5. To give you something to make you look important when in actuality you're just telling the world, "Hey, my company just pissed away $500 on this thing that frankly doesn't do much that my laptop and cell phone can't."

The Law of Rationalization Hamster Strength

Law - The strength of a rationalization hamster is inversely related to the looks of its host.

Rationale - The rationalization hamster's job is (simply) to force cognitive dissonance and delusion in its host. If the host is particularly attractive, the rationalization hamster does not have to work that hard. If the host is not particularly attractive, the rationalization hamster has to work overtime to achieve its mandates.

Premises - The rationalization hamster is a psychological entity that cannot tire nor die. It is a limitless energy source. The rationalization hamster will not stop nor relent until it achieves it's objective.

I swear, after reading the article I'm thinking instead of an "Enjoy the Decline" how-to-book, I would make a ton more money writing "Captain Capitalism's Harlequin Romance Novels."

"I looked at her...my beautiful economics professor. Oh sure, she was 47, and sure, she had 4 children and two ex-husbands, and sure the other 23 year old trust fund baby men in my class wouldn't find her attractive...but I loved her for her intelligence. Her unwillingness to conform and teach us economics as told by the establishment. No, she rebelled. She taught us Marx. She taught us Keynes. She showed me what true beauty was, and was meant to be. She was my liberator. She liberated me from the evil thinking that was foisted upon me by my evil multi-billion-dollar father. I didn't have to work. But I didn't care. I was burning for her, I needed to hear her intelligent words and see her exude independence.

I swore to myself, once I earned my A in class through intelligence and parroting, I would drive up in my 2011 Mercedes Series 7 and propose to my economics and romance professor and abscond with my father's trust fund and we could live on the beaches of Gao and burn incense and make candles and eat organic grass shoots, and write environmentalist poetry.

And we'd get cats."

Saturday, May 03, 2008

You "Think" They Might Make a Comeback?

I think buffalo or the more correct term "bison" are quite majestic creatures. I run into them quite often when hiking or fossil hunting in the Dakotas and Nebraska.

But I get a kick out of this "there's a chance they might make a comeback."

A "chance????"

Look, people, all you have to do is go hiking in Badlands National Park in spring and you will be hard pressed not to step in buffalo poo. I covered over 24 miles in one day and it was a continuous task not to step in something. I am left to conclude one of two things;

1. Either a few buffalo poo a HELL of a lot or;
2. There's a lot more buffalo than you think.

I do genuinely hope that the buffalo do return to their previous numbers. But if the do then another problem will be solved;

We won't have a fertilizer shortage anymore.

A Reason to Live Until July 2009

Sweet.

I love the Ice Age movies. Practically impossible to;

1. Get shot down for the date
2. Goof up the date

Just shut up and let Scrat do all the work for you.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Do Not, DO NOT Tell Me Anything About Global Warming

It's starting to piss me off. Not the idiots damning me to ecological hell if I don't believe in global warming, I'm starting to talk about the weather this spring in Minnesota.

SNOW IN FREAKING MAY!!!!!


Oh, wait, I forgot, it's global "change."

I remember having a conversation with my buddy Chico who is on the opposite political spectrum as I;

Cpt. - "We can't get our motorcycles out to go riding because of this damn cold."

Chico - "Yeah, tell me about it."

Cpt. - "Global warming my ass."

Chico - "Dude, it is global warming!"

Cpt. - "What???"

Chico - "When the climate changes that's global warming. So if it gets colder it's global warming."

Cpt. - "Then why did they call it "global warming" instead of "climate change?"

Of course, no answer.