The US Banks Were Bailed Out in the Past, But Uncle Sam Wasn’t The Savior
September 22, 2010

Banks Have Been Bailed Out Many Times in US History

Banks Have Been Bailed Out Many Times in US History

Dow Jones Since 1900-It Took Until the 1950's for the Dow to reach Pre-Depression levels
Dow Jones Since 1900

On This Date in History In 1906, San Francisco had a great earthquake. The effects of that quake led to a financial trouble spot that turned into a full-blown economic crisis. At that time, there was no central bank or Federal Reserve. With the system stretched by the stress of the San Francisco quake, some doofus tried to corner the copper market and when that failed, all of the banks who made loans to back the scheme were in trouble so they started calling other loans and the Panic of 1907 was created. People lost confidence in the system and several banks  failed. A bailout was needed. President Theodore Roosevelt was claiming that everything was fundamentally in great shape and threatened a federal takeover of all trusts if the bankers and financial gurus couldn’t get thier houses in order. Who came to the rescue? None other than J. Pierpont Morgan was the savior; the same JP Morgan who had bailed out the system in 1871 and 1895 and the same JP Morgan that is related to JP Morgan Chase who bailed out Bear Stearns in 2008.   To fend off the threats from Teddy Roosevelt, Morgan huddled with his banking brethren and convinced them that they needed to work together to salvage the system in order to save all of their hides and the future of the banking system.   He also convinced the Secretary of the Treasury to pony up $25 million to the effort. The recession did not turn into a depression and the 1907 Panic led directly to the eventual establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

JP Morgan May Have Looked Like a Wild Old Man But He Saved Uncle Sam Bailed Out the Nation Several Times

JP Morgan May Have Looked Like a Wild Old Man But He Saved Uncle Sam Bailed Out the Nation Several Times

While the numbers are not as large…not the $700 billion to $800 Biillion that the banking bailout became in 2008-09, the other numbers are not as large either. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 39% in 1907. On this date in 2008, the market had lost and gained about two percent over the previous month and politicians ran around making comparisons to the Great Depression when a comparison to 1907 might have been a better barometer . In order to equal the fall of the 1907 panic, the Dow that was around 11,015 on September 22, 2008 would have had to fall to 7000 and it was on this date in 2008 that the Dow fell some 300 points and arguably didn’t stop falling until March 9, 2009 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out at 6547.   So, while it was, and in some measure still is, an extremely difficult and precarious situation, it was not totally unprecedented and it wasn’t necessarily a good match with the Great Depression. It’s just the depression of the 1930’s is all the general public, politicians and most people in the media know about.  Several times in the past,  it was JP Morgan engineering a bailout with some government help and this time it was the Federal Reserve and Uncle Sam engineering a bailout with some other private help. When you hear also of rumors that today’s problem was a plot by those who stand to profit, keep in mind that in 1907 it was rumored that the banks had caused the whole panic just to line their pockets.   Aside from the Great Depression, there were a bunch of “panics” in financial circles and the resultant recessions or depressions  that came fairly regularly…perhaps too regularly. The Dow is currently in a trading range between about 9900 and 10,70o and, in recent days, there has been a declaration that the recession is over. 

Year Unemployment rate
1923-1929 3.3
1930 8.9
1931 15.9
1932 23.6
1933 24.9
1934 21.7
1935 20.1
1936 17.0
1937 14.3
1938 19.0
1939 17.2
1940 14.6
1941 9.9
1942 4.7

With unemployment still hovering near 10%, the rebound of the stock market and the claim that the recession is over are by no means a guarantee that the market and economy won’t go back in the tank.  Nevertheless, both are, and especially the Dow Jones, are certainly at a different place than anyone in March 2009 could have foreseen.   If something happens that causes a big drop in stock prices again, then maybe we can start to refer to the Great Depression as it relates to the stock market, which is but one indicator.   Unemployment is pretty bad but its more like the late 1970s and early 1980’s, not the 1930’s.

No Hoovervilles Today Like in 1930

No Hoovervilles Today Like in 1930

The big thing about the Great Depression is that its depths were so far reaching that it led to new regulation by the government into financial markets than had ever been contemplated by the founders or anyone else in an effort to try to control the economy such that these setbacks wouldn’t be so deep or so frequent. To a large degree, it has worked pretty well but to expect these things to never happen or think its some sinister plot just is to not accept reality.

Sometimes, news people say they need to give commentary to “give perspective” or a particular news event. Dan Rather used to defend journalists providing analysis instead of just reporting for that specific reason. Yet, it helps if those giving “analysis and perspective” had some perspective in the first place. It’s probably hyperbole and just outright ignorance that media types or politicians trot out the Great Depression comparison.  I remember when President Clinton was running for his first term against George H. W. Bush, they said then that it was the worst economy since the Great Depression.  It certainly wasn’t even close to the economy of the Great Depression then and it’s arguably not the same now.   It’s probably best to leave that moniker on the shelf until its truly warranted.   Let’s hope it can stay on the shelf and we can call this the great recovery. Some of us need a job, not panic.

Weather Bottom Line:  We will continue with this mid to upper 90’s nonsense through Friday.  A front will be approaching then and will pass through.  As it does so, our rain chances will go up. Trouble is that we are so dry there may not be enough moisture for this guy to give us as much rain as one might ordinarly expect from a strong front.  But, it’s a chance.  The good thing is that it will knock the mercury down to the upper 70’s to low 80’s for the weekend and it may be the sign of a pattern change.  Some models are showing a big ol’ storm dropping down into the central plains and the Ohio Valley by the middle of next week.

Advertisements

Some Say Friday 13th is Bad Luck; Study Claims It’s Bad For The Economy
August 13, 2010

jason

Horse or Driver?

Bad Luck: Horse or Driver?

This Date Happens At Least Once AYear:  Because there are 7 days in a week, there is at least one Friday the 13th each year. Sometimes there are two and occasionally, there are three; 2009 was one of those years. It looks like to me, though I haven’t researched it fully, that whenever there are three it often happens in February, March and November, but not always. The next time the trio of malaise shows up will be in 2012, then 2015 and then again in 2026.

According to the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, “It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 Million  is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do. ” Some people are apparently so fearful that they won’t even get out of bed. I guess it’s Friday 13th for me every day because I never want to get out of bed. People won’t buy a house or even buy stocks. They claim that Friday 13th phobia affects some 20 million Americans. They’ll probably get a bailout from the “stimulus bill.” How do you know if you have the phobia? Symptoms are described as ranging from mild panic attacks to huge panic attacks that render the victim pretty useless to the point that they don’t go to work. If I had a job, I wonder if that would qualify as an excused sick day from work. An English psychologist interviewed about 2100 people in 2003 and found that about one fourth associated the number 13 with bad luck. Apparently, people who think of themselves as unlucky are most likely to believe in superstitions.

Deceptive Loki

Deceptive Loki

Apparently, this obsession with the number 13 goes back a ways, as most of these type of things seem to do. This one is blamed on the Norseman that involves a story of 12 gods having a party at Valhalla. Presumably they aren’t talking about the golf course in Louisville. In walked an uninvited guest…a party crasher named Loki. Loki went and got Hoder, the blind god of darkness to fire a mistletow dipped arrow at Balder the Beautiful, the joy and gladness god. I suppose that mistletoe isn’t too good for you because Balder died. With the god of joy and gladness gone, the earth turned dark. Everyone was sad and it has been associated as a bad, unlucky day ever since.

They also try to drag Christianity into it by pointing out that Judas was the 13th person to show up at the Last Supper and then was the one who betrayed Jesus of Nazareth. If that’s not enough, then there is the Roman story of how 12 witches who routinely would gather together with the 13th who showed up being considered the devil.

A mathematician blames it all on the number 13 suffering the fate of following 12. This guy says that numerologists consider 12 a complete number as there are 12 months in a year, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus and 12 signs of the zodiac. If you exceed 12 by one, then you get a little beyond completeness and “the number becomes restless and squirmy, which suggests that numbers are alive. This fear of the number 13 has worked its way into modern culture as the claim is that 80% of all high rises lack a 13th floor.

Was I Cursed on 13th Floor at Jester Hall?

Was I Cursed on 13th Floor at Jester Hall?

What does that mean for me? I lived on the 13th floor of Jester Hall at the University of Texas. I was a cursed freshman and didn’t know it.

Many airports apparently do not have a gate 13, Hospitals and hotels often do not have a room 13, in Florence, Italy houses between 12 and 14 get an address of 12 and a half instead of 13. French socialites are known as quatorziens or fourteeners so as to make sure they have 14 dinner guests. Wonder what happens if someone gets sick? Do they cancel the party?

Apollo 13 Doomed by 13?

Apollo 13 Doomed by 13?

Want proof of the evils of the number 13? Why just look at Apollo 13, the ill fated trip to the moon. It departed on April 11, 1970 at 1:13 pm Houston time. Never mind they launched on east coast time. Anyway, 1:13 pm is 13:13 in 24 hour clock time. April 11, 1970 can also be written as 4/11/70. Four plus One plus One plus Seven plus Zero equals 13. Or you can say 4+11+70 + 85 and 8+5 =13. Their last television broadcast was on April 13. They entered the moon’s gravitational field on April 13 and were scheduled to land on the moon on April 13. The failure of the number 2 oxygen tank occurred on Apirl 13th at 3:08:53.555 UTC which in the eastern time zone would be 9:08:53:555. 9+8+53+555=625 and 6+2+5 =13. If the explosion that caused the damage had occured on earth, it was supposedly estimated to cost $13 million to repair the damage. Seems like someone had a lot of time on their hands.

Gristle Can Cure What Ails You

Gristle Can Cure What Ails You

Now, Friday seems to get suckered into this by going back to Christianity and pointing out that Jesus died on a Friday. What they fail to mention is that Christians ironically call this “Good Friday.” Supposedly, some biblical scholars claim that Cain killed Able on Friday the 13th and that Adam was tempted by Eve on a Friday. How they can know this is beyond me.

If you find yourself believing in all of this and have a fear of Friday 13th, then you should consider yourself a

Burn'em if you Got'em

Burn'em if you Got'em

triskaidekaphobe. But, there is hope for you. Modern psychology says that all you need to do is focus your mind on pleasant thoughts. You haven’t lost your mind, you’ve just lost control of your mind. You should realize that you have the ability to create your own luck and its up to you to decide if that is good or bad.

I don’t like those ideas. Since most of this is folklore, I like the old remedies. One is to climb a mountain or the top of a skyscraper…kinda like King Kong. Once you get there, burn all of the socks you own that have holes in them. What if you don’t have any holey socks. Then you can stand on your head and eat a piece of gristle. If you can’t stand on your head, don’t know what gristle is and don’t have holes in your socks, then I guess you’re just out of luck.

Weather Bottom Line:  We will again push toward 100 and there will probably be a few t’storms in the late afternoon.  Saturday we will see an increase in activity with the approach of a cold front.  That front will slowly pass through; slow enough to provide a fairly decent chance for rain on Sunday as well.  The front will pass through and we’ll knock some 10-12 degrees off the temperatures with someone lower humidity….in other words we’ll get back to seasonal average highs for a few days.  Some relief but not a real pattern change.

Could Donald Trump Lose His Name?
March 1, 2010

Trump May Have to Fire His Name!

Surely Dad Won't Have To Kiss Ivanka Goodbye with his Name?

What’s In a Name?  Donald Trump and his casino arm, Trump Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy for a third time in February 2009.  This third bankruptcy filing is not too big of an indictment on Trump given that the economy has hurt the gaming industry nationwide.  Trump tried to flip a deal in which he would buy out the bondholders but those who owned the bonds didn’t go for it but it was announced in November 2009 that Trump and his daughter Ivanka would retain a stake in the company and take it out of bankruptcy in a new deal.  But there was a fly in the ointment.  That fly was none other than Carl Icahn who is a very prominent investor.  Seems Ichan bought a bunch of the bonds and Icahn announced a rival plan to take over the Trump casinos.

Carl Icahn Has A great Name for Investing...but a Casino?

So, now the two titans face off in bankruptcy court and the most interesting charges flying have to do with the “Trump” name.  Icahn want’s to buy the casinos and keep the name without Donald or Ivanka.  Some say that the Trump image has been tarnished by a number of financial battles in which The Apprentice star finds himself.  In fact, Icahn lawyers in court filings said that, “The Trump name may no longer be ‘synonymous with business acumen, high quality and style, a luxury lifestyle and enormous success’ as Mr. Trump asserts.”   Say what you want about Donald’s hair but there is no way that Mr. Trump would allow an attack on the family name to go unanswered.  He implied under crossexamination that Mr. Icahn’s name has been associated with some less-than-successful deals of his own saying,  “Well, Mr. Icahn has led companies into many, many bankruptcies.”

"Con" Works with Extermination Products

So the fight goes on.  Trump is arguing that Icahn does not have the right to take his name if he takes the casinos.  Icahn says that he does.  But, there’s the kicker and perhaps the ultimate insult.  A Wall Street Journal article says that the main reason Mr. Icahn wants to retain the Trump name is that it would cost $15 to $20 million to change the signs.  He says that, otherwise, the name has nothing to do with the future success of the properties.  Ouch!   In court, Trump says that Icahn should not be able to to take over the casinos at all, painting an unflattering picture of a quick buck artist, perhaps not unlike Gordon Gekko.  Trump doesn’t say that Icahn won’t spend money to rebuild the casinos and the brand name, the New York Post reported that he says Icahn is a “cheapskate” who wouldn’t spend three dollars.  Mr. Trump says, “If Carl spends $3, I’d be shocked.” 

"Con" Worked for a Movie But Not Sure if it Fits Casino

Now, who knows how this whole thing will come out in the wash.  But, the fact that anyone is saying that the only reason he wants to keep the Trump name on the buildings is becuase he doesn’t want to spend the money to change the name is amazing.  It may support Trump’s assertion about Icahn or it may be Mr. Icahn’s way of sticking it to a rival.  Either way, it seems rather odd for someone to be able to lose his name if he loses his business. I suppose it has happened before but still…a Trump named casino without a Trump?  I guess it’s better than an alternative like “Icahn Casino” which is pronounced Eye Con.  Somehow I think that there may be a bit of a difficulty in the marketing department with attracting customers to I Con Casino.  It workd for ConAir which was a ficticious movie starring Nicolas Cage and it works with bug killer..D-Con…but I’m just not certain about a Casino.  Maybe the Trump name is worth more than Icahn is letting on.

By Wed AM, all critical thickness or freezing lines are well south

GFS claims a little moisture in our area with East Coast Storm Early Wed AM

Weather Bottom Line: We did get to 41 but largely, the day was just like Sunday which was still cold and not feeling like much of a warm up.  A system is running along the Gulf Coast and will take a turn across Georgia and then off the North Carolina Coast and up the eastern seaboard.  Look for more snow stories from the Northeast this week but not as dramatic as the last couple of storms.  The bulk of this guy should stay far enough offshore as to not affect more than coastal regions with snow, but it still may be significant in some areas.  As the low passes us to the South, the long wave pattern will again adjust with the base of the trof to our South.  A couple of flurries will be possible Tuesday night or early Wednesday but the moisture will more or less be cut off by the Appalacians so it doesn’t look like a big deal.  I still think that we don’t get out of the 30’s on Tuesday or Wednesday and maybe even Thursday.  We get some sun on Friday and  move to the low 40’s before getting into the average range for Saturday…which is about 51. So don’t break out the tanning butter.  But, if we can’t have snow, I say go to 70.  This Houston-type of winter weather in the 40’s and clouds stinks.  If its gonna be cold, then lets have some exciting snow. If not, then let spring hurry up and get here and let me plant my sunflowers.  A little rain Sunday or Monday won’t be out of the question as the long wave pattern may be breaking after about 2 months of it being stuck.

US Economy Was Salvaged By One Man
February 5, 2010

JP Morgan Bailed Out Uncle Sam in 1895

Gold Used To Back US Currency-Now Backing if the Full Faith and Credit of the United States

On This Date in History:  Once upon a time, most currencies were based on the gold standard.  The US operated on the gold standard until 1971 when President Nixon took the nation off the gold standard.  Since then, the US and most other nations operate under the fiat money system.  Basically, the gold standard calls for a particular currency to be backed by an equal amount of gold pegged at a standard price set by a particular government.  Under a fiat system, a currency is not really supported by any commodity at all but instead the value is established through supply and demand market forces as well as the full faith and credit of the issuing entity.   One of the problems with a fiat system is that, since it is not based on any commodity, governments can simply print money to inject into the currency supply and that can lead to inflation because it is often an aritificial increase in supply versus the market based demand.  That is a concern involved in today’s financial and ecnomic crisis around the world.

1893 Panic Led to Near Collapse of US Treasury in 1895

But, at the end of the 19th century, the US was still on the gold standard and the underlying commodity backing the US currency was the concern.  There was a severe economic depression beginning with the Panic of 1893.  The economy became stifled and large financial institutions were fearful that there would be a devaluation in paper money.  So, they began trading in their greenbacks for gold.   By January 1895, gold reserves in the United States were flowing out at a rate of $3 million a day.  That led to a fear that the public would lose confidence in the dollar and the paper money would be worthless.  So,  the solution would be to replentish the gold supply.  It wasn’t really practical for the government to quickly go to public lands and start mining for gold so they needed to find another solution.  President Grover Cleveland looked into the political crystal ball and decided it was best to push Congress to act with a bill that would authorize a sale of bonds.  In other words, the president thought that governmental borrowing was the answer.  Sound familiar?   The money borrowed would then used to buy gold.  Now, the financial expert of the day was not the President of the United States but instead was John Pierpont Morgan and he wasn’t so sure that publically announcing that the government was going to borrow money  for the purpose of replentishing the gold supply in the treasury was a great idea .  He reasoned that an announcement of such a bond sale would signal that the treasury was weak and only intensify the rush to cash in dollars for gold.  In other words, the government solution would make a bad situation worse.

Grover Cleveland's Great Idea Might Have Led to Disaster

So, J.P. Morgan decided to meet with President Cleveland to try and show him the error of his ways even though Cleveland continued to be convinced that his plan was the way to go to save the nation’s financial system.   While in that meeting, the president and Morgan learned at noon on this date in 1895 that the New York subtreasury only had $9 million of gold left and Morgan knew of at least one man who could present a draft for $10 million in gold that day that would send the system into collapse.  So, Morgan used the opportunity to present the president with a better idea.  For some reason, no one else knew of a law that was already on the books, thus making any announcement of governmental borrowing necessary.  But information is a key ingredient to success so it is not really surprising that J.P. Morgan knew of a Civil War era law that allowed the US Treasury to acquire gold coins directly through the issuance of bonds.  In essence, it was still governmental borrowing to buy bonds but the law would allow Cleveland to buy his gold the way he wanted but to do so privately and not with an act of Congress that might panic the public.   But, surely the saavy financial institutions would know what was going on and what was to keep them from going ahead and cashing in their greenbacks for the same gold that Uncle Sam would acquire.  Enter the power of persuasion of John Pierpont Morgan. 

JP Morgan Knew How To Take Charge...And The President Needed Him to Take Charge

It is rather amazing but in order for this scheme to work, President Cleveland needed one man, J.P. Morgan to assume control of the entire international financial community in order to maintain support of American paper currency.  Morgan had to convince large financial institutions to stop converting their currency to gold.  Perhaps no one else in American history could do what Morgan could do; Morgan promised that there would be no further drain from the financial community.  The bond gold currency exchange took place and no further drain of gold from the treasury took place due almost entirely to Morgan’s power of persuasion.  Now, at this point, it may be common to think that Morgan must have had a dog in this fight; he had to profit from this.  He did in the sense that the system that had made him wealthy and powerful was saved but as to the transaction and the effort, Morgan’s company made less than a one percent profit.   This little story tells us a few things.  One is that the US has been in severe crisis situations many times in the past.  This 2009 fiasco was not the first  time that we have been “on the brink.”  Another is that government alone is rarely the solution; it usually takes cooperation between public and private policy and action to solve a complex problem.  

University of Chicago Founded by John D. Rockefeller

Now, J.P. Morgan bailed out the US government on many occasions and he is often labled as one of the “robber barons.”  But, while these men of great wealth did have tremendous power on a large scale, they used their power for the general good of the public.  John D. Rockefeller argued that a monopoly was the most efficient way to bring products to the public at the lowest price.  You know what? He’s right and he generally did that, though he did run competitors into financial ruin to gain that monopoly.  But, the trouble is that it is impossible to expect everyone who is in charge of a monopoly, including any government, to actually deliver products to the public at the lowest rate. Rockefeller is often demonized for his fortune that pushed toward $1 billion in 1912 yet, he established education systems in the South specifically to bring education to minorities, though this researcher trys to denegrate his Calvinist intention to aid Blacks with ulterior motives.  Even if he’s right about the motives, the fact remains that Rockefeller was instrumental in helping to bring equality of education to America.   He established the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, the University of Chicago and provided so much philanthropic funding that when he died, his worth had dwindled to about $26 million.  He gave most it away and his son used his inhertitance to revive Colonial Williamsburg.  

Andrew Carnegie's Legacy Lives in Today's Libraries

Then there is Andrew Carnegie who has a tremendous rags to riches story and he left a legacy of the free public library system across the United States and other parts of the world when he donated over $56 million for that cause.  He believed that his gift of attaining wealth should be used for the benefit of all.  But, early 20th century labor issues were often tumultuous and Andrew Carnegie is associated by many for the brutal response to the Homestead Strike.  I suppose that the point I am trying to make is that wealthy people aren’t necessarily bad simply due to their wealth.  They do good for society, if nothing else, they provide incomes and opportunity to people. Same is true of corporations.  And historically, it is been shown repeatedly that cooperation between the public and private sector most often provides the best solutions to problems that face the nation and society as a whole…but we tend to forget that. Perhaps a few more “robber barons” today may be a better alternative to many who currently call  Wall Street home.

NAM Fri 18Z seems content with 2 inches of snow

GFS Fri 18Z Likes 3 Inches of Snow

Weather Bottom Line:  Okay, it’s here.  Rain all day then turning to snow overnight.  Daytime temps mainly in the upper 30’s will be the rule and as the upper low swings around, the air column will chill down from above and so there will be no risk of icing except on roadways and I think that is somewhat of a concern.  The wet roads will probably still be wet when we eventually get to freezing and since there was no opportunity to treat the roads, Saturday morning drive will be problematic areawide.  I’m still thinking something like 2 inches of snow with areas north of the river with higher amounts.  I still think that afternoon temperatures on Saturday will be in the upper 20s for most people. 

The next system for Tuesday still looks interesting but there are so many potential solutions that I don’t want to deal with it right now.   There are some machines claiming a fair amount of rain, others call for a huge amount of snow while others have a some of both with  a popular idea being snow, rain, snow.  I don’t like that last solution because I don’t want it.  It does appear though that it will be more of a Tuesday/Wednesday event and not Monday.  We’ll look at it closer when there is something more concrete to deal with.  I wouldn’t totally pooh pooh the risk of decent snow just yet but the trend in the models has been for a track of the storm to not support the giant event that one bucket of bolts still is looking for.

Answer to Haiti Crisis to Create Bigger Global Financial Woe?
January 17, 2010

 

How Will Citizens of the World Pay?

Crisis in Haiti Demands attention (Click Image for recent slideshow)

US Intervention: First off, just a note.  A few days ago I posted a piece that suggested it was time for US intervention in Haiti for the umpteenth time in the past 150 years.  I had someone suggest that I had rocks in my head for comparing relief efforts to an intervention.  Well, Time Magazine seems to be on the bandwagon now as they have called it a “compassionate invasion” by the United States.  In my view, the article starts off by making some comparison to New Orleans and Katrina. Here is a recap of the real problems associated with Katrina.  A difference is that the Haitian government invited the US in almost immediately whereas the Governor of Louisiana did not ask for federal help in such a timely manner. What the media does not say, or does not know, is that the Federal government cannot just send troops willy nilly into any state, even in a disaster, without an official request from that state’s governor.  In the Civil War, the United States did not send troops into Kentucky until the state asked for assistance to rid the Commonwealth of an invading Confederate force.  In any event, the Time article does suggest that for all intents and purposes, Haiti is now the 51st state.  It will be intersting to see how this all turns out and if US intervention this time ends up in something positive for Haiti and for the Western Hemisphere.

US total debt

Who is going to Pay and How? The world is coming to the aid of Haiti as nations and individuals are pledging money.  Earlier this year, several creditor nations had agreed to cancel all Haitian debt but France is now asking those nations to speed up the process of Haitian debt forgiveness.   The global community is pledging all sorts of financial support.  But, the question must be asked: where is this money going to come from?  The US is pledging $100 million.  That comes out of the US treasury.  The US is also footing the enormous bill for deploying troops, transportation and supplies.   The US national debt already is past 50% of the GDP and experts recently warned Uncle Sam to not let the debt rise beyond 60% of GDP.  

Olbermann, Limbaugh Probably Not Best Friends

America is stepping to the plate en masse.  USA Today reports that in 2005, private American donations following Hurricane Wilma, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina totaled nearly $6.5 billion.  USA Today says that Americans are on pace to surpass that total following the earthquake.  Rush Limbaugh recently took heat for reminding people that President Obama’s pledge of $100 million was from the US Taxpayer.  Limbaugh said that he did not trust the Obama Administration to properly collect and use donations made through the White House web site.  Keith Olbermann, among others, attacked Limbaugh for his statements.  Many have suggested that Limbaugh was encouraging people to not donate monies to relief efforts, but Limbaugh defended himself by saying that he never said any such thing.   As I had commented regarding Pat Robertson,  I am not sure what the value was for Limbaugh’s timeliness in expressing his opinion on the subject as, without evidence to support his fears, he stood very little chance of gaining sympathy for his position.  As it stands, the USA Today report indicates that Americans are indeed opening their wallets.  So, if Limbaugh’s detractors claim he told people not to donate to anyone, this would be proof that listeners don’t necessarily do what he says. 

US Debt to GDP Ratios

Nevertheless, the issue of international debt is something that must be considered.  While a time of crisis is not a time to be pinching pennies, someone has to figure out how meeting the needs of humanity today will not create a larger global crisis tomorrow.  Businessweek published an article that details a potential global debt crisis.  It claims that the US is already way beyond the 60% ratio of debt to GDP as it assert Uncle Sam is running at over 93% of a Debt to GDP ratio.  It puts Iceland at over 300%, Greece at 125%, Spain over 66%, Britain and Ireland around 82% and Mexico a winner at just under 50%.  The monies allocated for earthquake relief do not generate any return income so any contributions made from the public sector of any country comes directly out of the treasury. 

Citizen Taxpayers Carry Gov't Debt Burden

 Jamaica is trying to negotiate its way out of it’s debt crisis and Argentina is struggling to find a pathway from its big hole.   But, it’s not just nations that are teetering on bankruptcy.  Word out of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is that banks there remain burdened with bad debt.   Brazil’s main bank, Banco de Brasil,  is issuing quite a bit of debt at low, but slightly higher, interest rates.   In Europe, Hungary is finding ways to lend to that country’s banks to try to prop up lending.   In the US, banks in Illinois, Minnesota and Utah were recently seized by regulators.   So, while the stock market continues to rise, there are still many landmines remaining in the global financial system.  We are told that we are in recovery, but China is warning that the slew of international debt may be a roadblock to the future.  China is fearful that a global recovery could be stimied by faulty exit strategies by the international community as well as weak demand and high unemployment.

Global Money Tree Drowning in Debt

So, the world is clearly not out of the woods just yet.  The world must respond as it is to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti.  It is completely necessary on many levels for the US to take the lead in helping Haiti immediately and creating an environment for a better Haiti in the future.  And, while Limbaugh’s reference to funds coming from the US treasury was extremely untimely, the question remains for Uncle Sam and the rest of the world: how do we pay for it?  It used to be in America that charitable giving was completely the responsibility of individuals and they gave  what they could.  Since the Great Depression, America and other nations have grown increasingly comfortable with their governments providing funding for domestic and international social and relief efforts.  Unlike individuals though, governments tend to give more than they can afford, reasoning that taxes can always be collected to make up the difference.  But, at some point in time, someone has to pay.  Care needs to be given because solving one crisis by creating a bigger crisis is not much of a solution.

NAM calls for over 1/2" of rain by Sunday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  I told you that Saturday would be good and it got even warmer than I thought.  Mid 50’s were commonplace across the area.  Now, a system is lifting up from the Gulf and up the Appalachians to bring rain on Sunday.  By Sunday evening, the NAM advertises over a half inch of rain.  I would think somewhere in the neighborhood of .75″ areawide would be a good bet.  As the system lifts northeast, we get slightly cooler air behind it with a decent Martin Luther King Day on tap with highs around 50.  Then a front comes down and gets hung up across the Ohio Valley bringing a few days of clouds and showers with temperatures cooler, but still above seasonal norms into the mid to upper 40’s.

Study: Friday 13th Costs Business near $1 Billion; Could 3 2009 Friday 13ths Be Root of Poor Economy?
November 13, 2009

jason

Horse or Driver?

Bad Luck: Horse or Driver?

Be Afraid For the Third Time This Year! Because there are 7 days in a week, there is at least one Friday the 13th each year. Sometimes there are two and occasionally, there are three. This year must be unlucky because there have been three after today is over. It looks like to me, though I haven’t researched it fully, that whenever there are three it often happens in February, March and November, but not always. The next time the trio of malaise shows up will be in 2012, then 2015 and then again in 2026.

According to the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, “It’s beenestimated that $800 or $900 is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do. ” Some people are apparently so fearful that they won’t even get out of bed. I guess it’s Friday 13th for me every day because I never want to get out of bed. People won’t buy a house or even buy stocks. They claim that Friday 13th phobia affects some 20 million Americans. They’ll probably get a bailout from the “stimulus bill.” How do you know if you have the phobia? Symptoms are described as ranging from mild panic attacks to huge panic attacks that render the victim pretty useless to the point that they don’t go to work. If I had a job, I wonder if that would qualify as an excused sick day from work. An English psychologist interviewed about 2100 people in 2003 and found that about one fourth associated the number 13 with bad luck. Apparently, people who think of themselves as unlucky are most likely to believe in superstitions.

Deceptive Loki

Deceptive Loki

Apparently, this obsession with the number 13 goes back a ways, as most of these type of things seem to do. This one is blamed on the Norseman that involves a story of 12 gods having a party at Valhalla. Presumably they aren’t talking about the golf course in Louisville. In walked an uninvited guest…a party crasher named Loki. Loki went and got Hoder, the blind god of darkness to fire a mistletow dipped arrow at Balder the Beautiful, the joy and gladness god. I suppose that mistletoe isn’t too good for you because Balder died. With the god of joy and gladness gone, the earth turned dark. Everyone was sad and it has been associated as a bad, unlucky day ever since.

They also try to drag Christianity into it by pointing out that Judas was the 13th person to show up at the Last Supper and then was the one who betrayed Jesus of Nazareth. If that’s not enough, then there is the Roman story of how 12 witches who routinely would gather together with the 13th who showed up being considered the devil.

A mathematician blames it all on the number 13 suffering the fate of following 12. This guy says that numerologists consider 12 a complete number as there are 12 months in a year, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus and 12 signs of the zodiac. If you exceed 12 by one, then you get a little beyond completeness and “the number becomes restless and squirmy, which suggests that numbers are alive. This fear of the number 13 has worked its way into modern culture as the claim is that 80% of all high rises lack a 13th floor.

Was I Cursed on 13th Floor at Jester Hall?

Was I Cursed on 13th Floor at Jester Hall?

What does that mean for me? I lived on the 13th floor of Jester Hall at the University of Texas. I was a cursed freshman and didn’t know it.

Many airports apparently do not have a gate 13, Hospitals and hotels often do not have a room 13, in Florence, Italy houses between 12 and 14 get an address of 12 and a half instead of 13. French socialites are known as quatorziens or fourteeners so as to make sure they have 14 dinner guests. Wonder what happens if someone gets sick? Do they cancel the party?

Apollo 13 Doomed by 13?

Apollo 13 Doomed by 13?

Want proof of the evils of the number 13? Why just look at Apollo 13, the ill fated trip to the moon. It departed on April 11, 1970 at 1:13 pm Houston time. Never mind they launched on east coast time. Anyway, 1:13 pm is 13:13 in 24 hour clock time. April 11, 1970 can also be written as 4/11/70. Four plus One plus One plus Seven plus Zero equals 13. Or you can say 4+11+70 + 85 and 8+5 =13. Their last television broadcast was on April 13. They entered the moon’s gravitational field on April 13 and were scheduled to land on the moon on April 13. The failure of the number 2 oxygen tank occurred on Apirl 13th at 3:08:53.555 UTC which in the eastern time zone would be 9:08:53:555. 9+8+53+555=625 and 6+2+5 =13. If the explosion that caused the damage had occured on earth, it was supposedly estimated to cost $13 million to repair the damage. Seems like someone had a lot of time on their hands.

Gristle Can Cure What Ails You

Gristle Can Cure What Ails You

Now, Friday seems to get suckered into this by going back to Christianity and pointing out that Jesus died on a Friday. What they fail to mention is that Christians ironically call this “Good Friday.” Supposedly, some biblical scholars claim that Cain killed Able on Friday the 13th and that Adam was tempted by Eve on a Friday. How they can know this is beyond me.

If you find yourself believing in all of this and have a fear of Friday 13th, then you should consider yourself a

Burn'em if you Got'em

Burn'em if you Got'em

triskaidekaphobe. But, there is hope for you. Modern psychology says that all you need to do is focus your mind on pleasant thoughts. You haven’t lost your mind, you’ve just lost control of your mind. You should realize that you have the ability to create your own luck and its up to you to decide if that is good or bad.

I don’t like those ideas. Since most of this is folklore, I like the old remedies. One is to climb a mountain or the top of a skyscraper…kinda like King Kong. Once you get there, burn all of the socks you own that have holes in them. What if you don’t have any holey socks. Then you can stand on your head and eat a piece of gristle. If you can’t stand on your head, don’t know what gristle is and don’t have holes in your socks, then I guess you’re just out of luck.

Russian Sees US “disintegration” in 2010; Norwegian Sees US collapse in 2020; American Sees Mary Todd as misunderstood
November 5, 2009

USpanarin

Russian Professor Says This is Our Fate

At the end of last year, the Wall Street Journal reported the assessment of Igor Panarin who said that US would “disintegrate” by June or July of 2010.   He said that a collapse of economy and of morals would result in a Civil War that would end with the United States being broken into the Republic of Texas, The Californian Republic, the Central North American Republic, Atlantic America and Russia would lay claim to Alaska while Hawaii would hook up with either China or Japan.   The journal describes Mr. Panarin as a “Russian Academic” and later points out that he is a former member of the KGB.  It seems that another professor  has come up with a similar prediction in a new book called, The Fall of the US Empire-and Then What?  Johan Galtung explains his new rationale in and interview with Russia Today.  He thinks that the fall began with the Korean War and claims that he had successfully predicted previous events, such as the fall of the Soviet Union.   But, Professor Galtung, the Norwegian sociologist and a principal founder of the discipline of Peace and conflict studies, offers hope.  He says what the US can do to avoid his gloomy forecast and its not another stimulus package, but instead a mixed bag of geopolitical action.  Keep in mind the book was published by Transcend Peace University Press and it provides the prolog to Galtung’s book.  I wonder if he would have had any marital advice to give Abraham Lincoln because…

Mary Todd-19th Century Hottie?
On This Date In History: On this date in 1842,  Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd. She was considered quite a catch in her day. I don’t think they had a “catch and release” program back then.

Lincoln-Todd-Mary28

Mary Todd at age 28...catch of the day?

She actually is a rather interesting figure and there have been several biographies about her and numerous…hundreds…..written about Lincoln which delve into their relationship, how it affected his presidency. Its probably a good idea to read several to get some sort of perspective because each author will come at it from different perspectives and sometimes with a preconceived agenda or notion of what they want to say.   Jean Baker has one of the more recent biographies of Mary Todd and it paints a very sympathetic portrait by often using late 20th century sensibilities and transporting them back to the 19th century.  In my view, that is a flaw because you really can’t take modern psychology and modern ideals of society and try to use them to create a portrait of a person from the past.  I believe its like comparing apples to oranges and is often a problem when trying to draw conclusions.  One must understand the thinking and customs of the day when examining the events and people of the past.  If you look closely, you find that Professor Baker received funding from the Elizabeth Connolly Todd Foundation. Like I said, biographers look at subjects from different perspectives and different photos…the one adorning the Baker portrait of Todd is not the same presented above.

Denied Wife Her Glory On this date in 1965, speedster Craig Breedlove’s wife, Lee Ann, tried to steal his thunder when she became the first woman to drive more than 300 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. I’m not sure if Craig got mad, but he certainly made sure he shared the spotlight. Just few hours later, Craig Breedlove got in his car and shattered his land speed record by reaching over 555 mph in his Spirit of America jet powered car. I don’t have a photo of Lee Ann.
FriAMtemps

Friday Morning Temps (NWS LMK)

Weather Bottom Line:  Lee Ann Breedlove might have been hot and someone in the mid 19th century might have thought that Mary Todd was hot, but our weather will remain on the cool side.  Thursday morning found some lows below freezing in the extreme southern and eastern parts of the viewing area and Friday morning, there may be more wide spread instances of the mercury tickling the freezing mark.  The National Weather Service in Louisville under the steadfast guidance of John Gordon provided their notion of area temperatures overnight in map form above.  What’s gonna happen is that the big fat area of high pressure that is over us now will move to the east and we will get a nice return flow.  That means are temperatures will be on the rise to the point that Saturday afternoon we will see mid to upper 60’s and Sunday afternoon maybe even some low 70’s.  A front moves through here on Monday bringing some rain and an end to the mild conditions.  That same front may also dictate what happens with Tropical Storm Ida, if it has not been broken up by its current trek over Central America.

Stock Market Crashed in 1929; 80 years later some say we are in recovery
October 29, 2009

Brooklyn Newspaper Oct 30 1929

Brooklyn Newspaper Oct 30 1929

rabbitunemployed

Until you have a job, it's a depression, not a recession or recovery

The GDP numbers for the third quarter of this year came out today and after months of contraction in the economy, the US Gross Domestic Product rose by about 3.5%. How can that be? Some say we are in recovery while others say it can’t lastCritics point out that there was about a 23% increase in durable goods and that the overall increase cannot be sustained. They point to the US government’s “cash for clunkers” program and that created a one-time, artificial jump in new car sales. It is said that it is not sustainable. Then there was the real estate numbers which also rose about 23%. That too, critics say, was a result of another government program of giving several thousands of dollars in tax credits to first time home buyers. That too is seen as unsustainable. Interest rates have been near zero for a long time now and now there are fears that the Fed will raise interest rates, though others point out that a rise in interest rates would indicate that the economy can handle it and that the economy is indeed pulling out of the recession.  Then there is this oddity.  Edmunds.com is a site that is an advocate for car buyers.  Their analysis of the cash for clunkers program says the government spent $24,000 per car sold, which is about 6 times more than the actual allowance provided.  They say that only 125, 000 of the 691,000 cars sold were directly tied to cash for clunkers.  While that’s a criticism, is that not also an argument that car sales were indeed real and not a facade?  Yet, the government disputed their numbers as if to say, “hey…those car sales were too ginned up by our program and not a real indicator of growth!”    Of course, theI have yet to hear about this duplicity in the media.

Who knows?  No one predicted the big decline in the economy, yet we are supposed to believe that the sages know what will happen in the future.  If you look at the chart below, you see that after the crash of ’29, the markets rose several times over the next 3 years, only to fall farther.  So, who knows what will happen.  One thing that is for certain.  Millions remain without jobs and until those who want to work can get work, it matters little what the data shows or the experts say.  If you have a job, its been a recession.  If you are out of work, it’s a depression.  Which is what began 80 years ago.

1929 Wall Street Panic

1929 Wall Street Panic

On This Date in History: On this date in 1929, the stock market crashed. The Dow had been quite

Dow Chart Before & After 1929 Crash

Dow Chart Before & After 1929 Crash

volatile before suffering a sharp drop on Oct 24 and then again on Oct 28. On Tuesday October 29, 1929, a day that became known as “Black Tuesday,” The market collapsed. 16 million shares of stock were sold as prices tumbled with a loss estimated at $9 Billion, which was a lot of money back then. The decline continued and by mid-November losses totaled some $30 Billion. (Video from 1929)

Fortunes were lost and eventually jobs were lost

Panic at the Exchange 1929

Panic at the Exchange 1929

and then there was the Depression that followed. Many historians of economics suggest that it was not the stock market crash that caused the depression, but rather governmental action and reaction that caused the economic malaise. Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Act that raised tarriffs on 3200 imports by 60% in late September. On October 21, Congress defeated an attempt to exempt agricultural goods. Three days later, the market began its decline. President Hoover could have vetoed the measure but instead signed it 7 months after its passage and the resulting market crash. Prices on many good rose. Taxes were also increased. This is why you hear politicians today say that now is not the time to raise taxes and not the time to be closing the global market place.

Why would they say this now?  Last year, we were  in a stock market decline with shares falling some 40% from the all time highs from the prior year. I have compared this with the panic of 1907.(Click Here) However, I must say that history is not prescriptive and what happened in the past does not necessarily repeat itself. The times and conditions are different on a number of levels.

A Long Recovery

Dow: A Long Recovery

Nevertheless, if you must look at history as a guide, you need to know the truth. In general if you bought stock at the highs in 1929, you did not see your portfolio back to even for 25 years. Some individual stocks took longer than that. The speculation running rampant in the “Roaring 20’s” was probably more comparable to the run up in the market in the 1990’s than this past run. The decline in the late 1920’s into the 1930’s was about 87%. An 87% of a drop from the Oct 2007 highs would be about 1700 which would take us back to the 1980’s. Last fall’s decline took us back to numbers we had in late 2001 and early 2002 then they fell even farther before bottoming out in March 2009.  Now, we have rebounded to near 10,000.  So, we’ve gone up and down and up and down again in the past 10 years, which is not comparable to the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

Anyway, with all that in mind, I offer you this. It is an excerpt of a letter written by Earnest Elmo Caulkins to

Confident Investor

Caulkins: Confident Investor

the New York Times on this date in 1929, the day after “Black Tuesday.” Caulkins was a successful advertising executive who had a rather extraordinary life story.(Click Here) He was deaf but was an achiever who did not let his disability get in his way. It’s really remarkable when you consider that he did this in the late 19th and early 20th century when it was particularly difficult for deaf individuals living in a hearing world.

He began by saying “I have a feeling that fewer persons are affected by the stock market drop than one would infer from the figures, just as fewer persons were affected by the previous rises.” That can be said today but not entirely. Today, millions of Americans have pension plans and 401K plans that are affected. For instance, I have a 401K but its decline does not affect my standard of living today.

He goes on to say that one day, the men on the market decide his AT&T stock is worth $310 and a few weeks later $232. He bought the stock at $98, so he is disappointed but he doesn’t consider it a loss. First off, he points out that its still more than twice as much as what he paid for it. So, to suggest that lumping he and other together and say that millions have been “lost” is a false implication. Compared to the previous day its a loss but compared to a few weeks before, he’s even and compared to prior to that, its a gain. I think what he is pointing to is the only difference is time. Millions of shares were NOT traded and for those who did not trade, what was a great position of happiness and wealth in September was being characterized as a position of gloom and despair in late October.

He went on to review his portfolio and said that his previous high profits were on paper and his recent losses were on paper and reasoned that the two cancel each other out. He concluded with a story of a farmer who told his friend that Mr. Stebbins offered him $200 for his horse. The friend replied, “But Stebbins ain’t got $200.” The farmer answered, “yes, but ain’t it a good offer?”

Much of what Caulkins says here is true today. The Dow at the end of Jan 1980 was at 874.40. Oct 28, 2008 it closed at over 9,000. Yet, in October 2007, the Dow hit 14,000. When I worked at Merrill Lynch, my office mate, Martin Feinberg, used to say “Stocks go up and stocks go down.” They do. The question here is time. We like it when stocks go up quickly but then get upset when they fall quickly, as if one is normal and the other is a crisis when, in fact, both signal volatility.

I have always reasoned that it is not wise to “play the market.” Over the past 30 years, people have entered the stock market like they are going into Churchill Downs to bet on the ponies. Men like Caulkins entered as investors.

Inspirational Quotes

Lombardi:Inspirational Quotes

I guess what I am saying is that it’s silly for people to claim this is 1929 all over again. I took a look at 1907 but I never suggested that this was 1907 all over again. That was then. This is now. The future has yet to be written. It is often said that it’s not whether we face adversity but how we react to adversity that counts. I’ve read a quote from Vince Lombardi(inspirational quotes) (origin probably elsewhere) that said “the greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but rising again after you fail.” The past is the past and its how we conduct our future, whether it be governmental policy or personal actions, that really counts. With global intervention, coordination and new policies, this may be the beginning of a turnaround and, then again, it may be the beginning of a long fall. Who knows for certain? But, I do know that nothing lasts forever either way. If you believe that the sun rises every day and will again on this nation, this economy and the global economy, then invest in the future. If you do not, then stay out of the market. In my view, its as simple as that. Mr Caulkins overcame his disability and had great confidence in the future. You need to ask yourself if you have the same ideals.

QPFweekend

Rain but not as much as feared

Weather Bottom Line:  I made a mistake yesterday.  I thought that Halloween was on Friday. It’s on Saturday.  I never know what day it is.  I took a quick looksee at the models and I’ve got a bit of a dillema.  See, the GFS numerically claims that rain begins lightly on Friday morning then more in earnest by late Friday and then carries it through Sunday for a total of about 1.33″.  Yet, when you look at it graphically, it advertises all of the rain is out of here by Saturday afternoon.  Now, the NAM is a bit more consistent as the numbers reveal .77″ from Friday evening through midday on Saturday and the graphic presentation shows the same thing.  Either way, neither model is bullish on the big rain event that loomed in yesterday’s numbers and some folks on TV decided to take as Gospel.  It was never really forecast but, the area was reasonably close to keep an eye out for that possibility. 

Now the HPC rain forecast has come in line with what my contention was several days ago, which was that the convergence zone is really in the lower Mississippi Valley and I had reasoned that would be the area of big storms and that it might tend to cut off the moisture our way.  Well, now the 3-day total QPF from the HPC indicates over 4.5″ inches of rain in that convergence region and just about an inch around here.  All of that seems reasonable.  So, my bottom line is that it will be cool for the trick or treaters but probably dry.  Look for rain activity from say noon on Friday to noon on Saturday.

McDonald’s is off the island; So much for free: religion, range, tv and from the bambino
October 27, 2009

no mcdonalds

icemac

Icelandic Menu Too Pricey?

Svo lengi mcdonalds kostar það of mikið að frábær stærð mig. That means “so long McDonalds. It costs too much to super size me.”  McDonald’s hasn’t been voted off the island, but it just simply can’t afford to stay there.  Seems that Mickey D’s has to import it’s materials from mainland Europe to supply its two franchises in Iceland.  Because of changing currency rates, that means that they would have to raise the price of the Big Mac to the dollar equivalent of $6.36 to turn a profit.  The Hamburglar must be doing pretty good in Iceland because that’s a crime.  And apparently the pooh-bahs at McDonald’s agree.  They are taking down the golden arches and leaving the island.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard thinks Icelanders will survive quite well without Ronald and the gang.  But, how does he know?  I mean, Iceland now joins Albania, Armenia,Bosnia and Herzegovinia and Vatican City as the only countries in Europe that don’t have McDonalds and I dont think any of those places are exactly economic powerhouses, though Vatican City has revenues of between $300 million and $400 million.

A DAY OF FIRSTS ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY!!!

Mary Dyer Taking Her Turn At the Gallows

Mary Dyer Taking Her Turn At the Gallows

So much for religious freedom:

On this date in 1659, two men gained infamy in the Boston Commons as the first Quakers executed in the New World for their religious beliefs. Mary Dyer and William Leddra soon followed. After that, those who were sentenced to death had their sentences commuted to simply being whipped out of the colony. Marmaduke Stevenson and William Robinson had left England to seek freedom of religion. Their first mistake was to settle in the Massachusetts Colony where the Religious Society of Friends, the formal name of Quakers, was banned with the punishment of practicing their Faith being death by hanging. Seems that the Quakers opposed a central church authority and preferred to seek spiritual counseling through local Quaker meetings. They stood for a truely egalitarian society in which there was equality between men and women and they opposed the notion of slavery. Oh…such dastardly people those Quakers. Robinson and Stevenson left a legacy of staying out of Massachusetts as others who followed found refuge in Rhode Island and other colonies. But, the legacy of Massachusetts lives on. While we are taught in school that Massachusetts was the cradle of liberty, we must remember the fate of the Quakers, those who were to be bussed to get equal access to schools in the early 1970’s, the tax system in the Commonwealth and of course, all of the anti-global warming folks who opposed windmills off the coast of Cape Cod because the clean-energy devices spoiled their view. Yes, indeed. Quite a history of freedom in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Barbed Wire That Closed the Open Range

Barbed Wire That Closed the Open Range

So Much for the Free Range: On this date in 1873, Joseph Glidden applied for a patent on his version of barbed wire. He had seen the barbed wire of Henry Rose at the DeKalb County Illinois State Fair but he was not impressed. He came up with a new design that used two wires to hold the barbs firmly in place. His proved to be the first to be mass produced and his inexpensive wire fencing was up to 80 million pounds in production by 1880. By making it available to farmers en masse on the plains, it effectively brought to an end the big cattle drives because ranchers driving their cattle to market suddenly found their routes cut off by barbed wire fencing all across the plains.

If You Got Close Enough You Could See The Screen

If You Got Close Enough You Could See The Screen

So Much for Commercial Free TV

It all started on this date in 1946. Geographically Speaking debuted as a travel show on TV. It showed travel films. It was about as exciting to viewers then then as it would be today as it only ran until Dec. 1, 1946. Real clunker. But, it was the first TV show to have a sponsor, Bristol-Meyers. And we’ve had commercials on TV ever since.

 Today with everyone having a remote, advertisers have had to get more creative in order to keep us from changing channels during commercials. It’s called zapping. We see an ad and “zap” we change channels. That’s why so much money is spent on ads for TV in production. We need to be entertained as well as informed. It doesn’t work with me when there are various sports on.

Remember when cable TV first came out? It was initially promoted as the public paying for TV so we wouldn’t see commercials any more. Well, that quickly evaporated. Many of the original cable TV outlets were “superstations.” We thought it was so cool getting a New York station and a Chicago station and of course Ted Turner’s WTBS. But we quickly realized we were paying to see shows with other areas commercials. Now, we pay for cable networks so we can see more commercials. Some time when you have nothing better to do, look at the Weather Channel and count how many minutes in an hour are devoted to weather and how many to commercials. You’ll be surprised. Then you will get mad when you realize you are paying for the privilege of watching all of those commercials. At least ESPN commercials are funny.

So, now I have all of these “premium” channels that show no commercials and all movies. Of course it costs me another $15 a channel on top of the premium cable charge so I don’t have to watch commercials.
It all began on this date in 1946 on a crummy show. But, without advertisers, I’d be out of a job so by all means, frequent all of our advertisers and watch their messages. In fact, I’d recommend that, when you are tuned in to another channel and they show a commercial, zap over to channel 32. Odds are the commercial is just as good as the one you were watching and you know the news that follows will be much better…especially the weather!

Ruth Pitching 1918

Ruth Pitching 1914

So Much for the Curse of the Bambino:

On this date in 2004, the Boston Red Sox won that franchise’s first World Series since 1918. They had suffered from what is known as “the curse of the Bambino.” See, a young pitcher who was also developing as a slugger at the plate played for the Red Sox. His name was George Herman Ruth, known as Babe Ruth. He was a pretty good pitcher. He still shares the American League record for most shut outs by a left hander in a season with Ron Guidry with 9 white-washings. But, his hitting became apparent as he was hitting home runs when no one else was doing so at the time. By his 4th complete season, Ruth only pitched in 17 games but hit 29 home runs to lead the league…a new record at the time. The Sox won 4 world championships between 1903 and 1918. Ruth went to the Yankees in 1920. The story has always been that the owner, Harry Frazee sold him to finance a play. I think that is how all of the

Ruth Batting 1918

Ruth Batting 1918

movies have portrayed it. But, other sources claim that Ruth had demanded a double in his pay to $20,000 and the owner refused. When he tried to trade him, the league president supposedly wanted to mess up Frazee’s enterprise and force him to sell so he talked most of the owners out of dealing with him. The White Sox though supposedly offered Shoeless Joe Jackson and $60,000 but the Yankees, who were terrible at the time, offered $100,000. Imagine what might have happened if Frazee took the White Sox deal? As it was, Frazee took the bigger wad of cash and the Red Sox never won another World Series until 2004. So, the team was cursed. But that’s not as good as the Cubs’ curse.

Billy Goat Bellies Up To the Bar

Billy Goat Bellies Up To the Bar

I think it was in 1945, when the owner of a tavern tried to bring his lucky goat into Wrigley Field for the
World Series. He was denied and he put a curse on the Cubs, who have not won a World Series since 1908. You can visit the Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Michigan Avenue right by the Wendella Boat Tours in Chicago. Get a cheese burger and ask for a coke and see what happens. Snow White went there and asked for fries. Try that out too. BTW, I hope the curse is never broken…Go Astros.

fri12z

Friday Morning

Weather Bottom Line:  Okay…I took one on the chin.  I knew we’d get rain but I held out the prospect we wouldn’t see any until late in the day or the evening.  Only made it through midday and then the rain came. It was dreary.  The system will move out of the area leaving us with a good Wednesday and Thursday.  Thursday night, a system approaches and rain chances go up.  It still remains to be seen if we get any thunderstorms or possibly strong storms.   The convergence area is in the lower Mississippi Valley and will probably cut off any big stuff our way and the SPC outlook area goes that way with the severe risk area for Thursday night into Friday from around Memphis to the south.  Weekend looks good but with highs in the mid to upper 50’s on Saturday and near 60 on Sunday.

Could You Stand Life Without High School Football? Some Districts Eliminate Sports
October 7, 2009

What if Your Nice High School Was Empty This Friday Night?

What if Your Nice High School Was Empty This Friday Night?

Some People Have Lives That Revolve Around High School Football

Some People Have Lives That Revolve Around High School Football

We are in the midst of football season and in many parts of the country, high school football is the big social event every Friday night.   A movie was made concerning the rabid fans in West Texas called Friday Night Lights.  But, what if the lights were turned off? School districts around the nation are facing a budget crunch.   I’ve often wondered if some of the universities main priority was  to educate students or entertain the alumni as I see new sporting facilities go up on a given campus and no construction of anything related to academics, which is what a university was supposed to be alla bout.   I often ponder that question about high schools and their priorities.  In some districts, test scores continue to drop but the sports facilities are top shelf.  Well, some districts have had to face a decision and at least one cut bait.  The South-Western City School Board (Ohio) voted to eliminate all high school sports after voters did not pass an operating levy.  So, now the stadiums are silent and the kids are left to do their homework, not hit the practice fields.  The measure has failed 3 times but its coming up for a fourth vote on November 3.  Some fear that “the community is going to die” without high school sports.  Can that be real?  Its not just this Ohio community.  Other’s have had to face similar decisions and in the Seattle area, they tackled the problem by charging students who wish to play high school sports a participation fee of $275 per sport.  How does this sit with you?  Are high school sports so important that taxes should be raised?   Are you willing to pay more in taxes exclusively so kids can participate or is it okay to just charge the kids who do want to play?   Would no high school football on Friday night kill your community?

Boys at the SPC aren't too enthused about severe chances Friday

Boys at the SPC aren't too enthused about severe chances Friday

Weather Bottom Line:  As expected, we had some rain early Tuesday with a warm front and then another round in the evening with a cold front and that leaves us with a nice fall day on Wednesday.  The rest of the forecast is on track as well.  We start to get a rapid return flow on Thursday as the front that just cames through starts coming back from the southwest as a warm front.  That is in advance of a strong cold front.  So, look for high clouds to be on the increase probably by midday.   Thursday should be dry but rain chances start to increase on Thursday evening.  There will be waves of energy running along the frontal boundary as it kinda gets bogged down in our area so some decent rain is possible on Friday.  As the cold front pushes through, there may be enough instability to create some strong thunderstorms but I would think that with all of the clouds in the area, we may not really be unstable enough for all that…it will depend on timing of the waves and the slope of the cold front to create enough lift.  We’ll look at it closer tomorrow.  But, the bottom line here is significant rain is probable on Friday and behind the front, we may not see 60 until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.  Don’t be surprised to see some frost in northern areas and temperatures in the 30’s Sunday and Monday morning.