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January 3, 2010

And the Winner Is…………

Filed under: Journalism,Journalists,Media,movies,Music,Nebraska,newspapers — baseball91 @ 11:16 PM

There has been a dearth of engineering and math majors pouring forth from universities over the past generation, as evident by the number of news article championing various compact disc, books, movies, as the best of the decade. It was the start of the No Child Left Behind generation.

It still takes 365 days to celebrate an anniversary. And the anniversaries are not numerically counted until the second one. Ten years make up a decade, and from my count I thought we had one more year to go!

Newspapers all over the country this week have written of news stories, movies of, books of, compact discs of the decade.

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August 9, 2009

In the Wake of the Aquino Death


Cory Aquino died this week.

There had been a revolution in the Philippines after her husband who was the opposition leader had been killed.

In 1972, Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. No one knew how long it might last. Marcos effectively exiled and deported Benito Aquino, probably the most popular politician in the country. In 1983, following a kidney transplant, with access to the president curtailed by physical health issues, Imelda Marcos and Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver limited access to the president. Imelda Marcos was said to have flown to New York in May 1983 to convey that Benito Aquino would never again set foot on Philippine soil. There was total chaos as no one knew what was happening, and how the Filipinos might regain control of their country.

Benito Aquino swore to return and, in August 1983 he did, amidst the medical and political crisis. Aquino was assassinated on the tarmac of the airport as his plane landed, by one of the aircraft guards. The guard then committed suicide. Though it was widely believed that Imelda Marcos pursued the elimination of the opposition leader, the chief of staff Ver was tried for the assassination and received a not guilty verdict. The day of the verdict, Cory Aquino announced her candidacy for president, as the EDSA ‘People Power’ revolution removed the Marcos dictatorship and restored democracy in the Philippines in 1986.

The majority of the young people in the Philippines today immediately give an adjective of their Congress men and women. Corrupt is the adjective. Filipino history provides the basis for these feelings, for what occurred both before Cory Aqunino’s election and in the history subsequent to her time in office.

The strength of a democracy is judged by the safety extended to journalists pursuing their stories. Th Philippines ranks next to Russia with pursuit of justice when either an opposition leader or a journalist is killed.

July 25, 2009

Those Domestic Situations

The New York Times reports today that the Bush administration in 2002 considered sending U.S. troops into a Buffalo, N.Y., suburb to arrest a group of terror suspects in what would have been a nearly unprecedented use of military power.

According to U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said that as U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September 2008, he brought up that that the crisis might even require a declaration of martial law, as a worst-case scenario.

The Associated Press notes that dispatching troops into the streets is virtually unheard of. “The Constitution and various laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.”

A 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) allegedly allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage. The Clinton administration had set up the Joint Task Force-Civil Support in October 1999 as a “homeland defense command.”

In 2002 the Pentagon established the U.S. Northern Command, charged with carrying out military operations within the United States. Prior to this, under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the U.S. armed forces had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances.

So that Associated Press note about “dispatching troops into the streets as virtually unheard of” is a historic note. It is a mistake to say the “constitution and various laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.”

Pentagon officials at one point to end 2008 were projecting some 20,000 active-duty U.S. troops to be stationed in the United States by 2011.

January 21, 2009

Homeland Security

 

Former KGB analyst and Russian academic Igor Panarin recently predicted that the US will be engulfed in a civil war which will eventually lead to the fall of the country.   Panarin believes that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war in the United States as early as the autumn of 2009.

 

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There is no news how he feels about the social unrest in Russia over falling oil prices over the last 6 months.  Or over the economic turmoil in Europe.  Spain suffered a credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s.  Last week the agency cut Greece‘s rating and has Portugal and Ireland under review.  “The move by S&P to cut its rating to “AA+” from “AAA,” a level Greece had held since late 2004, sent the euro to a session low against the dollar as investors feared other euro zone economies could suffer the same fate.” 

 

Speaking of the news from Greece over the past 30 days, with the ongoing downturn in economic news, there will be international repercussions to any true economic upheaval.  Look at how the Russians in January have tried to use their power over its neighbors on the flow of natural gas and the price of that natural gas.  Was that in response to the falling price of oil?   

 

From the Phoneix BizJournals:

 

December 17, 2008…..International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned Wednesday of economy-related riots and unrest in various global markets if the financial crisis is not addressed and lower-income households are hurt by credit constraints and rising unemployment. 

 

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even require a declaration of martial law, the two noted.

 

Pointing to a 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) he says allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage. 

 

In another December 2008 new story, in a report by the U S Army War College, Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development,” Nathan Freier, a retired army lieutenant colonel who is a professor at the college, talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.  “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the report.  The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.  The 44-page document written by Freier, a professor at the college, is solely a reflection. But he argues that “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters,” could be the potential aftermath of a sclerotic economy. The Clinton administration set up the Joint Task Force-Civil Support in October 1999 as a “homeland defense command.” In 2002 the Pentagon established the U.S. Northern Command, charged with carrying out military operations within the United States. Prior to this, under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the U.S. armed forces had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances. Pentagon officials are now projecting some 20,000 active-duty U.S. troops to be stationed in the United States by 2011.

 

From Todd Harrison (Marketwatch):

 

“Our current course has ominous ramifications for the dollar. As the greenback is the world reserve currency, those implications extend throughout the global landscape. A currency holds a nation together and the economy — perhaps society at large — assumes more, not less, risk as a function of the path of our attempted fix. 

 

“Structural: As the equilibrium between asset classes remains elusive, the single greatest risk remains a seismic shift in currency markets. Therein lay perhaps the most profound path of maximum frustration, one that punishes the savers who proactively prepared for the current crisis.  While negative sentiment creates fertile ground for bear-market rallies, aggregate risk appetites contract and voluntary and involuntary thrift collide. This continues to manifest despite efforts by government officials to induce borrowing rather than allowing for the painful, yet necessary, debt destruction required for a more stable economic foundation.  Social mood and risk appetites will determine our financial fate and, by extension, the way we live our lives. That proved positive during the era of conspicuous consumption but is troublesome as we edge through the age of austerity.” 

January 16, 2009

Star Tribune Files for Bankrupcy

 

You can try to have someone do the translating.  What it means.  From Minneapolis-St.Paul to Denver to Seattle.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune filed for chapter 11 in a New York court late yesterday while the local media covered the story of the lives saved on the Hudson River. 

 

The news.  What story to go after?  Today?  Why today?  The manufactured news versus the stories that had to be worked at….with sources.  With interviews.  Notice how there are fewer stories these days.  Everywhere.  The year 2009 was now all about economic news.  It did not cost as much to cover statistics. 

by Mark Fitzgerald is editor-at-large at editorandpublisher.com)

 

January 16, 2009 ….. It wasn’t the economy, but Avista’s own business decisions that brought the Minneapolis Star Tribune to bankruptcy, Picard argues. In his blog “The Media Business,” Robert Picard writes that newspapers’ traditional influence in communities was based on a perception of financial probity.  A well-known academic expert on media economics who is editor of the Journal of Media Business Studies, Picard said “traditional” newspaper companies will continue to try to avoid bankruptcy.  Longtime newspaper companies also are in better shape than Tribune and the Star-Tribune, even those that have substantial debt such as McClatchy, Picard said. “Private equity is the most expensive debt,” he said.  The Avista Capital Management partners private equity investors and real estate businessman Sam Zell of the Chicago Tribune are operated by chief executives new to the newspaper business.  “For any of the traditional newspaper companies, (bankruptcy) would be the absolute last resort,” he said. “But, you know, once the dam breaks, sometimes it’s easy to just kind of wash your hands and go along with it. A lot of the old rules are out, but I hope the old rule of reputation stands.”


“They’re blaming the changes in the industry, they’re blaming the economy, they’re blaming the unions — when clearly the blame belongs in
New York with the managers of Avista,” Picard told E&P today.

 

World GDP                        $47 trillion

World stock valuation     $121 trillion

Bond market                      $85 trillion

Credit derivatives             $473 trillion

 

Stock and bonds.  Herds.  Speed.  Information.  Changing direction.  Panics.

 

China-America.  American consumption had started to build a new China.  22 times richer…we need a loan…cheap Chinese labor. American consumption of Chinese goods.

 

Plentiful Chinese saving.  Lower interest rates due to Chinese savings.    50% of all global growth, and 33% of the world economy.   When the Chinese lose money on us.  Will there be Chinese anger at us?  Or when will they turn on the loans?  Escalating political risk.

 

(MarketWatch) by John Friedman

 

“December 22, 2008

….Print journalist of the year — Allan Sloan, senior editor at large of Time Warner’s Fortune magazine.  Sloan, the premier business journalist of his generation, doesn’t write on a 24/7 basis. He may seem woefully out of step in the age of the blogosphere, where spewing ill-informed opinions often count for more than old-fashioned reporting.

 

But Sloan stands out because his pieces always include all of the finest qualities of journalism — in any age — analysis, clarity, curiosity, depth, empathy and a point of view.

 

The financial meltdown has been the story of the year because it has had an impact on so many people.   The story has been ongoing, beginning with the subprime disaster, and extending to the woes of Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Lehman Brothers and other once-glittering kings of finance. All the while, the stock market has crumbled.

 

The crisis has brought out the best in Sloan and his The Deal musings in the magazine.Main Street more than Wall Street in his simple, straight-forward imagery:

 

One of Sloan’s best pieces was published back in March and entitled “Don’t expect another bull market.”

 

Journalists everywhere should note that Sloan doesn’t get his points across with fancy writing. If anything, he reflects:

 

“Hello? Eight years of dead money in the broad stock market? How can that be, given that Ibbotson Associates says the S&P has returned an average of 10.3% a year, compounded, since 1926? Think of it as a six-foot man drowning in a pond with an average water level of six inches — if you step in at the wrong place, the water can be eight feet deep.”

 

Sloan reminds me of a veteran baseball pitcher who gets the batters out by drawing on his ample knowledge and experience, not because he has the best fastball in the league.”

               

More and more we will become a society that reads about the importance of statistics, instead of following the game.  Just as more and more the computer has made us all geeks.  A lot of old rules are out, but I hope the old rule of reputation stands.  If it doesn’t, there will be no place to discover who of your friends had died.  There will be no obituary page.  The obituary writer at the Star Tribune just took a buyout last week.  

December 7, 2008

Ad Hoc: Latin for when there is no plan

“Fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini

Who would have thought that era of Mussolini in Italy would end up feeling so palpable in the United States as 2008 drew to a close? Since George Washington was inaugurated though the times of William Jennings Bryant, whether the United States had a National Bank was like the abortion issue of today day, argued in every national election. The Fed seems to me to be that National Bank. Over the last 12 months news about the Fed and the Treasury Department has been front and center on page one. From the New York Times this week:

“It is clear that regulators still lack a comprehensive plan to address problems in our financial markets,” Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said through his spokesman Jonathan Graffeo. “It is unclear whether they have carefully considered the implications of their continued ad-hoc approach.”

Eric Hovde wrote in the Washington Post: “Looking for someone to blame for the shambles in U.S. financial markets? As someone who owns both an investment bank and commercial banks, and also runs a hedge fund, I have sat front and center and watched as this mess unfolded. And in my view, there’s no need to look beyond Wall Street — and the halls of power in Washington. The former has created the nightmare by chasing obscene profits, and the latter have allowed it to spread by not practicing the oversight that is the federal government’s responsibility. Without Wall Street, the housing bubble would have ended shortly after the Fed started to raise interest rates in 2004, because no lenders would have originated these toxic mortgages if they had to keep the loans on their own balance sheets.”

From the New York Times: “The Fed’s balance sheet expanded $1.3 trillion in the past year as the Fed auctioned $415 billion of cash to banks and purchased $272 billion of commercial paper.

 

“’The model is that there is no model,’ said V. Gerald Comizio, senior partner in the banking practice at the Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker law firm in Washington. ‘It is an improvisation battle plan.’”

“Fed officials have pushed to keep the risks involved in future bailouts at the Treasury, which would be forced to negotiate with Congress about the use of taxpayer funds. Now, the Fed is stepping outside the liquidity boundary once again. The central bank took a step toward risk sharing earlier this month when it opened two new facilities with up to $52.5 billion in loans to help American International Group wind down its portfolio.”  

“‘The Treasury and the Fed are doing what they can do to hold the pieces together, and it hasn’t been easy,’ said Martin Regalia, chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies on behalf of 3 million businesses. ‘If we don’t keep the financial system going that is going to impose costs on the American public that will be real and palpable.’”

“’Many investment professionals operating in my world believe, as do I, that we are facing the greatest financial crisis since 1929…We have a 35-year-old technology investment banker running the TARP that has no background in financials or in real estate or was around during the last banking crisis. Then they switch and change to what should have been done and that’s injecting capital into the banks,” Hovde said. “However, they’ve even messed that up.’”
From the New York Times: “U.S. authorities acted after Citibank, the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets touched $3.05, the lowest level since 1992, threatening confidence among its depositors and counterparties. Citigroup had already received a $25 billion infusion under Paulson’s $250 billion capital-injection program.”

“Other banks ‘are going to show up’ and ask for the Citigroup deal, predicted Joseph Mason, a professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge who previously worked at the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.”

 

As noted on the blog of Fred Norris of the N Y Times: Bob Prince of Bridgewater Associates, on downward spirals:

“The pressure on corporate margins is now passing through to employment cuts. Employment cuts will reduce incomes which will raise defaults. Rising defaults will hinder bank capital adequacy, which will constrain credit growth, which will slow spending, which will hurt profit margins, then employment. This chain of events was virtually sealed when demand dropped off the table in October, although it was highly probable earlier this year when credit conditions deteriorated rapidly. We are now in the middle of it and there really isn’t much that anyone can do besides hang on.”

 

For the time being, Americans are in denial. Listening to GM ask for help came my own realization that all cars were luxuries. What happened when you were in a luxury position? When your employer was involved in products that were luxuries. We are going all going to learn that the only necessities are food, clothing and shelter. In Minnesota there was discussion by the retired Minnesota House of Representative leader, Dee Long, about a sales tax for the first time on clothes here.

It is difficult to see how the political parties are going to line up on issues of bailouts. The quote above from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, traditionally a Republican Party supporter, seems to favor of bailouts. Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank are supporters of bailouts, as Democrats. A sales tax on clothes does not seem to be a populist position.

 

The “merger of state and corporate power” sounds an awful lot like what is coming from Republican and Democrats. There has been a silent revolution that occurred in America, perhaps because of a government formed by lobbyists and what it takes in the way of capital to acquire a seat in Congress. One of those seats cost a lot more now than one on the Chicago Mercantil Exchange.

 

Bill White said, “But in the end, if the fundamental position is that there is too much credit in the system, something has to give.”

December 3, 2008

Waiting Room

 

Newspapers on the brink.  Devalued currency.  Writing.  Ever since the introduction of the internet, writing and the value of the local newspaper was devalued.  It was worth so little, it was given away free.  Never before have opinions been worth less.  There was an anger in the writer, the columnist, who depended upon the survival of the paper for his survival. How could this be happening?  Would his self worth follow his net worth, downward?  The written word had become devalued. 

In a world of distractions, of ideas, there have never been more.  And never have fewer books been bought.  There was a downward cycle coming to Barnes and Nobles, in the 120,000 books published each year.  The newspapers business was compared to that of selling telephone booths in an age of the cell phone.  Even Superman was struggling to jump into the action.

Ironically, the world of ideas was challenged by the changing business model that threatened real freedom.  Never before has it been easy to pull a plug, to censor ideas.  The written word had always been sacred.  The radio and television airways were regulated bu government that granted licenses, showing favoritism to the recipient.

Where was God in all of this?   In this change?  In a world with a diminishing number of Catholic priests.  In a Protestant world of diminishing numbers of denominations supported by fewer and fewer.  Where was God in the world of devalued currency, of downward markets?   

He was, as always, just waiting.  Perhaps for more attention soon.  It was the Advent season.    

Star Tribune To Go After $30 Million in Cuts

 

The  Minneapolis Star Tribune announced today the immediate need for $30 million in cuts, in a newspaper that has made a number of reductions throughout the year.  Its survival was on the line.  

In the information age, there are a lot of insensitive people who leave their insensitive postings behind.  The age of the internet has revealed a lot of stupidity all around us.  The death of a newspaper, its role in a democracy, its role in a community, is incomprehensible.  If you were not following the story, the Tribune credit rating, the newspaper that serves Chicago and Los Angelos, is about as low as it can go.  This is not a local phenomenon.  It is time to change the business model of this newspaper.  Now.  A business model similar to Minnesota Public Radio with voluntary sustaining memberships, corporate sponsors, should be in the works.   On August 12, 2008, Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Partners paid $4.1 billion for ConvaTec, a company that specializes in advanced wound care management and ostomy (artificial skin opening) barriers.  It is time to put this wound care company to work with a new business model on the Star Tribune.  It is not too late.  These announced cuts are another short sighted solution to ongoing management of a media throughout the country in need of help.  Hopefully the people at Avista, with ConvaTec are, are more now thoughtful than those who read the news for free, those who bite the hands that feed us the news.  For free.  You actually need writers, sales people, staff to put out a product.  Too many good people have already been let go.

November 23, 2008

Money’s Role In The Paperless World

 

Money was the paper I held in money funds, in savings.  Fiat money is the international paper unit that fluctuates through an independent fiat monetary system around the world.  Money was paper.  There is a certain amount of dollar hegemony which is created by the geopolitically constructed peculiarity where, most notably, oil is denominated in dollars.

 

Those products made in China, which 40 years ago were made in Japan were why Americans always felt rich.  It was monetary policy.  Monetary policy was constructed so that the value of currency in China was low to the cost of the product bought in the American store.   I have read that 70% of the economy is based on the American consumer consuming.  And all that now seemed at risk. 

 

“World trade is now a game in which the US produces dollars and the rest of the world produces things that dollars can buy. The world’s interlinked economies compete in exports to capture needed dollars to service dollar-denominated foreign debts and to accumulate dollar reserves to sustain the exchange value of their domestic currencies.”

–Henry Liu 

 

“The adverse effect of this type of globalization on the US economy is also becoming clear.  In order to act as consumer of last resort for the whole world, the US economy has been pushed into a debt bubble that thrives on conspicuous consumption.”  –Henry Liu 

 

“To prevent speculative and manipulative attacks on their currencies, the world’s central banks must acquire and hold dollar reserves in corresponding amounts to their currencies in circulation. The higher the market pressure to devalue a particular currency, the more dollar reserves its central bank must hold. This creates a built-in support for a strong dollar that in turn forces the world’s central banks to acquire and hold more dollar reserves, making it stronger.”  –Henry Liu 

 

Bill Gross, the Pimco’s bond fund king and the best bond fund manager in the world, said “What we are witnessing is essentially the breakdown of our modern-day banking system, a complex of leveraged lending so hard to understand that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke required a face-to-face refresher course from hedge fund managers in mid-August 2007.”

 

This market meltdown started in 2007.  Could money all eventually be worthless?  The Treasury Department’s attempts since July 2008 to take hold of, to attempt to fool the market  was to put the value of currency at risk.  There had always been an invisible trust in currency.  It was how society had worked in my lifetime.  Was currency as a medium of exchange now going to be challenged?  “In this way, the Central Banks of the world could inflate together, create a massive system on a global scale and maintain both political and social controls over the various populations of the world without very much restrain or limitations. The problem, of course, is that they appear to actually believe in the system that they created for these purposes ….herding the population into neat, controllable groups for convenience, taxing and at one time regulating to maintain their political controls.” 

 

In an annual economy in the United States of nearly $15 trillion, an article in Forbes this week cited a commitment so far by the Teasury of $5 trillion to resolve this mess.  

 

“The Chicago School was a movement of economic theory which in recent decades had become an aggressive agent of intellectual imperialism applying its economic doctrines to disciplines such as political science, legal theory, history, sociology, and international relations.  Alarmed by the sharply eroding market confidence in the nation’s two GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), the largest mortgage finance companies, the Bush administration announced plans on Sunday, July 13 to ask Congress to approve a sweeping rescue package that would give officials the power to inject unlimited funds into the beleaguered companies through investments and loans.”  –Henry Liu 

 

Companies which were undercapitalized caused this mess.  Like AIG.  Like each of the 5 investment banks on Wall Street which are no more.  When critics cite the sloppiness of rating agencies in helping to create this mess, banks which relied on credit agencies were too busy to do their own home-work?  How difficult was it to see the undercapitalization of AIG, of any investment bank, which was reaping huge profits?  What had changed about the world that all of these profits looked so easy?  Were there many folks in law enforcement, in Homeland Security, who felt that enforcement of laws should be on a voluntary basis on these shores?  The aroma all along on that end of Manhattan had to reek.  The exposes on Henry Paulson’s role at Goldman Sachs in this credit swap scandal apparently will be written after he moves out of Washington.  With the lack of support of newspapers, an industry that no one has mentioned for bailout, Paulson may be hoping there will not be a newspaper left.   

 

How could valuations be false?  In a sense, were we all suffering the effects of the education of the current age, of all those educated in an American public school system where moral relativism was the prevailing philosophy, not supplemented with some kind of belief in an absolute moral authority, and no one actually believed that all men and women were created equal.  Not based on the compensation allowed by boards of directors.  There was complicity everywhere.  Moral relativism was not contained only on these shores, but the entertainment media seemed to send these wisps to the most remote portions of this earth.  Valuations were changing so fast everywhere.   

 

Could American money all eventually be worthless? The dollar is at a 14 year low against the pound, I heard this morning on the radio.  There was a recent 10% change against the Euro.  Downward.  And it is all related to what is happening here.  Soon we will be told what a good thing this is. 

November 20, 2008

Negative Spirals

 

They just announced on the news that the minutes of the last Fed meeting were released.  To limit the current financial turmoil, the Fed announced a reduction of interest rates to 1% on October 29, 2008.  Looking ahead, the Federal Open Market Committee said further rate cuts may be necessary.  Lower than 1%.  Minnesotans think this means that they will be giving away money and a lot of us are planning a trip to meet them.  We are optimistic that money will be available to more than just bankers soon.  Where ever their closed-door meeting will be held, I want to be there.  That bailout was just a precursor of things to come in the way of give-aways.  Most of the risks were to the downside, according to their minutes, with some participants concerned about a ‘negative spiral’ in which financial strains lead to weaker spending, which in turn leads to high loan losses and a further deterioration in financial conditions.”  We have a quarterback here who uses negative spirals, and we all know the meaning of those kinds of downturns….Without using the word, even the FOMC is now forecasting a recession.  And they used to make fun of the way Alan Greenspan spoke. 

 

Minnesota.  Where you never really needed an icebox at this time of year.  It was where about 3 people named Anderson die per day.  And it really is pretty sad.  Especially if you were an Anderson yourself. 

  

Minnesota.  Where we have a place that calls itself the Original Mattress Factory.  But they never explain in their commercials if they are…. if they make original mattresses, or if this was just the place that was the original factory for mattresses.  And they moved back?  But what is an unoriginal mattress?   And they never explain why you needed to sleep on an original mattress, or if their mattresses are like a cocoon and turn into something else after a while.  And what if you are sleeping when it happens?  And then you need another mattress?

 

Minnesota.  Where Garrison Keillor pretty much just reports on real life.  You can’t make this stuff up.  It took a long while for Minnesotans to appreciate that Keillor was a comedienne.  People thought he seemed a lot like Eric Severoid who was from around here too.  They laughed at his stories when he first moved to New York.  Keillor.  Not Severoid.  About the time “Fargo” won an Academy Award.  Since I lived in Fargo for 3 years, I never saw the movie as funny.  It seemed like real life to me.  A lot like Sarah Palin.  In Europe, in most places on earth, they do not understand the American obsession with ice cubes, they say. 

 

Minnesota.  It is a difficult place to live.  Where most of us believed that life imprisonment was a worse sentence than the death penalty.  The death penalty has been outlawed here, by the way. 

 

Minnesota.  A place where either way, you had to vote for a comedienne for Senate.  They both were for the bailout.  Bailouts used to be what was needed if you got arrested.  A lot of those people running Wall Street should be arrested before it is over. 

 

Minnesota, where apparently the folks here don’t count here like they used to.  Those damn public schools, because recounts are in the news.  It is not that tough to count right the first time.  I am worried now about being short changed at the gas station.  But no one is asking for a “do over.”  Yet. 

 

Minnesota.  Where the last indoor college football game was going to be played this Saturday.  When the temperature will be about minus 4 degrees Celsius.  We were building an outdoor ballpark too.  For baseball.  Speaking of ice cubes.  In Minnesota we had thought that global warming would be here by next season.  We were still optimistic despite the economic forecast.  We did not expect that downturn here. 

 

Minnesota.  Where gas is so cheap, we did not expect the downturn here in prices and people are trying to find containers to keep it in. Tupperware doesn’t hold much, though the Tupperware sales ladies are suggesting it.  

 

Wow.  In the news.  Another Anderson died.  He was a former speaker of the house.  In Minnesota.  The state house.  It used to be traditional for all the Andersons to vote for another Anderson.  Even in legislative bodies.  You cannot make this stuff up.  And they say the Chinese had only 7 family names.  If you want to make a Minnesota laugh, one of our Andersons, you just say the name of Deng Xiaoping about 5 times.  Real slow.  Like we talk here.  

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