Month: December 2009


Brews  You Can Use.jpgSundry Drinking Items

I head out to the Drinking Club this afternoon for college bowl games, manly conversation, and beer. It won’t be the same without my father, but I’m still looking forward to it. I won’t be running a Brews You Can Use tomorrow, so I’m doing an abbreviated one today.

Tonight is all about midnight debauchery, right? Not really. In fact, the tradition of striking the clock is relatively new. People used to greet the new year with a “somewhat sober, respectful and reflective morning celebration.” To me, such an approach makes much more sense: It’s a new year, time to move forward and reflect on where we’ve been . . . and the pitiful amount of progress we’ve made since the last new year. The WSJ has the complete story of how we went from reflective morning celebrations to midnight debauchery.

I blame the Scots for the worldwide embrace of midnight debauchery. And, of course, whoever it was that, some little while beforehand, went and invented public clocks.

Clocks are the real key. The whole notion of bidding formal and raucous farewell to the Old and offering optimistic greeting to the New was something that could really only occur once we in the public square knew when the exact moment of midnight was. Until the manufacture of proper clock escapements, and until Galileo exhibited the marvels of the pendulum, the slow appearance of dawn just had to do. First light was the only clue anyone had as to the start of a new year.

But then came clocks, at first great clanking iron engines equipped with enormous hanging bells that

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Autobiographical Corner

Whew. Another whirlwind holiday. When I rolled over at 6:10 a.m. yesterday morning, I couldn’t believe it was already time to get up. I was plastered to the mattress after five Christmas celebrations, which included stops in Detroit and car troubles.

Overall, it was a very nice couple of days. Tuesday at the office was awfully rough: clients wanting their stuff, mail stacked on desk from the 24th and 28th, etc., but hey, it beats starving. Just as employee job satisfaction went up dramatically after the October 2008 meltdown, my contentedness with client demands went up dramatically . . . and I had already been thankful for my good client mix.

BTW: Thank you very much for patronizing this blog through Amazon. I had my second-best month ever. It’s much appreciated.

Shoulder Shrug Investing

Cyberspace is filled with economic predictions for 2010. The predictions I trust the most: shoulder shrugs, like Bonner’s here. Entertaining, filled with facts . . . and says nothing that helps, through no fault of his. He doesn’t know. Nobody does. Even this guy who says a lot I agree with–Prepare for a Keynesian Hangover (WSJ)–doesn’t know.

I’m sticking with my plan: stay away from the U.S. equities. I went ahead and liquidated another chunk of U.S. equities yesterday. I never thought they’d bounce back after the Dow slumped to 6,000, so I figured I was pretty freakin’ lucky to get back up to 10,500, so I cashed in a chunk and bought this highly-intriguing closed-end fund.

I also continue to brace for inflation, though the whole inflationary prediction now has me nervous … Read the rest

From the Notebooks

Random Bill Bonner quotes. That guy slays me:

“If markets do the work of God, as has been suggested, it is the God of the Old Testament, not the New.” Bill Bonner

“All major governments seem to have come together in some unholy socialism, but where are all the socialists? Few politicians will even admit to the creed they all share. And what voter really cares? Bill Bonner

“The major trend of the entire Western world since the French Revolution has been toward more voting and less liberty. ‘Give me a liberty or give death,’ said Patrick Henry, at a time when government regulations were almost nonexistent and the total tax intake was less than 3 percent. What could he have been thinking.” Bill Bonner

“Every two or four years, Americans celebrate their democratic freedom by shuffling off to the voting booth. Then, they go back to doing as they are told.” Bill Bonner

“Thanks to Information Age communications, people grow more ignorant every day.” Bill Bonner… Read the rest

Something for Sunday Morning

“According to many authors of spiritual books, progress in our life of piety depends a good deal on our recognition and understanding of our dominant defect. This is the defect that has the biggest influence on our behavior and thinking. It typically becomes evident in what we do, what we want, what we think: it can be vanity, laziness, impatience, pessimism, a critical spirit. . . Each person has his or her own path to holiness. Some people require more fortitude. Other need more hope or joy. . . We ought to ask ourselves: What worries us most? What leads us to suffer or lose our peace or fall into sadness? Most of the temptations we experience will be related in some way to this dominant defect. . . Progress in the interior life requires knowledge of this defect.” Francis Fernandez… Read the rest


From Reader’s Digest:

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just held a two-day summit about the hazards of “distracted driving,” which includes texting and talking on a cell phone while at the wheel. But researchers knew the dangers back in 2003, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collected data showing that cell phone use had caused 240,000 accidents the previous year.

Today, the government estimates that more than 500,000 people were injured and 5,870 were killed last year in crashes involving driver distraction, in many cases because of cell phone use. “Years went by when lives could have been saved,” one California legislator said.

It took a Freedom of Information Act request by nonprofit watchdog groups to uncover the NHTSA’s findings. Turns out that more than six years ago, the agency’s researchers drafted a letter warning that a crackdown on vehicular cell phone use was necessary to prevent future deaths. But DOT officials convinced them not to mail it and to bury the findings instead. Congress had warned the DOT not to lobby for new laws, and department officials worried that releasing the report could antagonize powerful lawmakers and jeopardize the DOT’s funding.


These kinds of stories always bring me back to one of my favorite articles regarding cell phones and driving. Excerpt:

Those two experiences combined make me think phoning and driving is about as safe as reading a book and driving.

But why? I can talk with a passenger and drive. I can listen to the radio and drive. I can even listen to the radio, drink a Big Gulp, and air guitar while I drive. Why not

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