Or where to spend some time away, maybe drop a few bills —
and it’s not such a bad place to raise your family either.
LPV is a breeding ground for all manner of fascinating insects.
It is schlock, but we have learned to call it home.
E Pecunia Unum
Or from money, one. One aspiration,
one destiny, one ruler, one country.
The final tarnish of all held dear in a democracy.
Economics and Lucre
Who or what I like, and who or what I don’t...
I still stand by my creed: “Making sense of the world, without making a dime.” I’m not making any money listing anyone here, or anywhere else on The Other Letter. This is where I make the most in-depth Charlie Hebdo risk assessment (that, and in the depiction of Christians as apes).
People on the street often corner me, and ask, “Where are the links in ‘What I like...’?” After I call the police, but before the police arrive, I tell them, “Links don’t appear consistently with striped text. But even more importantly, these are just opinions, off-the-cuff, non-actionable remarks characteristic of blogs, without any attempt at firm, backing research, aren't they? This is why there are no links.”
A new day has dawned on What I Like... Are you ready for subject headings? I know, hard to believe, but they’re there now. Scroll down a page, then come back, I’ll wait... Absolutely mind-blowing, don’t you think? New York Times, eat your heart out.
|Who or what I like...||And who or what I don’t...|
If putting a down payment on your 35-room mansion somehow seems in the far, far, distant future, why not take up a hobby, like tinkering with electronic gear. You’ll have several steps ahead of the wealthy, who are notoriously non-technical. The following are devices that perform a very useful, if exotic, function.
Profits can never come before Journalism
The Other Letter offers what even the New York Times cannot provide, and that is the unimpeded discovery of the truth. The Times has to satisfy its constituencies. This includes advertisers, its sources (credible or not), both sides of the aisle in Congress, and coverage that will satisfy the entire political spectrum. This placation puts honesty in the back seat....
Every mass media outlet presents reality in a manner that will get more people to subscribe to their copy — except this one. Right now, Trump, while sleazy and deplorable in both his policies and in his character, has done nothing illegal, yet the Times tries to claim he is a criminal. The worst anyone has on him on that count is that he fired his FBI Director as he was investigating Russian influence in an election that the Director himself decided with Server-gate eleven days before the election.
The Times are not serving the truth, they are only serving circulation annual plans, and most importantly vis-à-vis their revenue model, they are serving monied interests, or the powers that be. The Other Letter on the other hand, holds itself up to one ideal only, and that is not money, but instead it is the laser-sharp journaling of what matters the most, and that is seeking out the truth beholden to none. The newspaper business is not a popularity contest, unless the newspaper in question is really a tabloid. 7/19/17.
Google is just a nasty machine...
Google decides what the World sees, and they do a war criminal job of it.
June, 2015, Global User Searches —
Google: 70.8 Bing: 9.8 Yahoo: 9.6 Yandex(Russia): 0.0 Other: 9.8
This is a feed of a data file with what is
essentially a percentage, daily pie-chart of
Other Letter’s visitors according to
which search engine referred them here.
Bing lists me, Google refuses to do so.
...That needs to be taken out of service. I will explain. Google gives the most desirable page rank to web sites featuring puppies and kittens, or the nauseatingly innocuous, banal equivalent. They whole-heartedly honor and endorse all pro-Western, pro-corporate expression, so promoting the very hurtful, anti-Muslim variety of hate speech on its Youtube subsidiary was hardly a stretch.
If it will make them any richer, they will support and embrace oppression, just like they did in facilitating the censorship of China, and suppressing Democracy there. It also licenses its technology off-shore to pay less in taxes. As the fifth largest lobbyist in the World, they have the federal government, and its bought Congressmen, serving at their beck and call.
They claim their credo is “First, do no evil,” the much more accurate motto is, “First, only do evil.” George Orwell wrote of the Ministry of Truth in his seminal, cautionary work 1984. The Ministry of Truth would decide truth for the unprivileged; bending it any which way the powerful felt it should be bent to maintain their position. In a post-1984 world, Google is now effectively the Ministry of Truth. They decide what, and what will not, be seen by readers of the Internet.
Through the Google forum, I tried resolving my issues resulting from their denying me page rank worthy of the flagship piece, the Crucifixion eclipse. Page rank, you may know, is necessary to get advertisers, or visitors. However, the Google troll-functionary only lived in a frigidly effete, corporate culture, so the first thing I was told was that Other Letter was “a hate web site.” I flagged their responses as inappropriate. The next day I attempted to save what transpired, but like any practiced criminal organization, they deleted the evidence. I spoke to some other Google functionary that week, but they only sided with Googola.
If Google goons, Google trolls, or the prohibitive cost of suing a Fortune 100, were not a concern, I would sue Google in a heartbeat (because I would love to permanently lower their stock price, I do not need money gotten in the commission of crimes). So instead I have this recourse, the evidence against Google. The first row outside the table demonstrates the percent of traffic Google gives the rest of the World, followed by the daily percentage of traffic it gives Other Letter. I am the only website in the World that gets more traffic from Bing, than from Google, and by a five-to-one margin.
Doodle4Google reminds every Kid that They work for Google 5/06/14. Doodle4Google is a drawing program designed to get kids hooked, at a young age, on the destructive Google search engine, and censorship tool (see article prior). Doodle4Google allows one child in your kid’s school to be promoted to superstar status, so the rest can feel like chumps. The entire school-full of newly minted losers gets visited by Google functionaries with t-shirts of the winner’s doodling design. Just as McDonalds indoctrinates children into eating crap their entire lives with Happy Meals, Google indoctrinates them into relying on a web page that has been used in the past, and will be used in the future, as a tool for censorship.
Knowing Google, every school in the country will have its kids seeing green in an effort to win the $30,000 in scholarship cash, with an additional $50,000 in booty going to the school of the winner. When all is said and done, pupils will only consciously remember three things, Google gives out great t-shirts of another student’s art, Google was the search engine they were using since their corporation’s contest came to town, and I have a classmate who is now much better than myself.
I can see Google’s teaching method, have the entire school feeling burned and inadequate, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to catch up again. What they should do instead though, is just give $80,000 anonymously to the poorest schools in the country, not give money ostentatiously to the ones with the best art program, thereby shaming the rest of the country in the process. Google would never do this because, like everything else Google does, Doodle4Google is just an exercise in self-promotion; and if you thought Common Core was invasive, check out what Google has in store for the nation’s school day.
Google is proved to be Racist and Misogynist 5/29/14. Those bromancing Googlers would much rather be sharing office space with other White males than anyone else. Their Mountain View, California offices contain 70% males, and only 3% Hispanics, and just 2% African-Americans. This is in an already prejudice-ridden Silicon Valley, tech sector, where 7% is the norm for both minority races, and yet 16% and 12% respectively, represent the percentages for the nation as a whole.
While not having any idea how they could change company policy, Google felt releasing the numbers would make everyone feel good about their organization, because they would seem to be doing something about discrimination. Strangely enough, no U.S. Government contracts with Google were suspended, as racism is apparently seen as just good ol’ boy business sense.
Now “to Google” can have a new meaning besides just looking something up on a search engine, it can mean to hire someone based on race or gender. For instance, “Jack gets the corner office, because he was Googled.”
...and Fecesbook is no better
“Our data policy and federal law limit our ability to share user data and content, so we won’t be releasing any ads...” — A Facebook official
[As of 9/21/17, they will be sending 3,000 ads to Congress, of how many fake news posts in total, they would not say.]
Fecesbook was defended in some circles for not burying Russian involvement, but shouldn’t this social media colossus be attacked for not rooting this out in the first place? Zuckerberg, the out-of-touch CEO, claimed just after 11/08/16, that any Facebook role in throwing the election was “a pretty crazy idea...” Zuckerberg may very well be the World’s wealthiest bum, one endorsing troll heaven.
Fecesbook does not want to reveal Russian customer info to Congress, even when those customers are criminals overthrowing the U.S. Election process with Fecesbook cooperation and participation. This would mean Congress could see all the criminals Fecesbook is effectively harboring.
Zuckerberg intitially wanted to keep this laissez-faire, either out of ignorance, or because he wanted to sweep it under the Fecesbook rug. Fecesbook is a business run on the cheap, just watch how they handle trolls there (hint: Fecesbook welcomes trolls, why else would they do nothing about them?)
Now Zuckerberg is facing a firestorm of criticism for his role in getting Trump in the White House. There may be people who love Fecesbook, but of the big three including Twitter and Instagram, he is the one who operates troll heaven. He deserves all the grief he is getting today. 9/19/17.
Ashley Judd and I are going to get married (shh, it’s going to be a surprise), so I was gobsmacked when I was blocked from her Fecesbook page. I have no idea why, and Fecesbook has no customer service so I will never know the real reason. Zuckerberg is so rich because Fecesbook is operated on the cheap, they have one employee per 100,000 Fecesbook users. I treat Ashley with the utmost of respect, I am one of her biggest fans ever.
I have noticed, though, that foul neo-Nazis are still given free rein on her page, doing their best to take her down. I had tried to rebut the arguments of her haters, but I can no longer, Fecesbook iced me. I can still comment freely on other celebrities’ pages, but I can only watch while Ashley receives blistering attack after blistering attack.
Mark Zuckerberg, the Fecesbook founder, knows by now that he runs a hate site, but he has no intention of doing anything about his “winning formula.” I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Fecesbook, with its easy means of attacking others, is a major cause of teenager suicide.
Very surprisingly, they could correct this without a downside, but they really could care less as long as they have ad dollars rolling in. This is the fix. Add an option to block replies from everyone but the top-level, original poster. That way, all the trolls found everywhere on Fecesbook wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone.
Zuckerberg likes the idea of spirited, communal combat on his site though, he thinks this makes it lively. Word of haters and trolls never reaches the penthouse of his Facebook mansion anyhow. If he still needs user feedback on haters, that could still be done with a reporting button. As it stands now though, Fecesbook is a popular tool enjoyed by Satanists worldwide. 4/21/17.
I’m no hacker, but I do know a thing or two about PCs. Here is a little hack of which not even MIT grad students are aware. Type Windows-key plus “r.” Then enter “cmd.exe,” and press return. Then type: “ping favorite-website.com” or “tracert favorite-website.com,” substituting in your favorite web site.
Pinging within iterations of a coded loop is effectively a Denial of Service attack which will get you arrested, and put you in prison indefinitely, but a ping or two hurts no one. All this essentially tells your favorite site is: ‘A-okay? Shields up?’
Now, you may be thinking if my entire readership does this it would be a coordinated and untraceable DoS attack against some evil, unnamed goliath. Yet not to worry, my readership is so, so small, no one cares, but please feel free to try out these Microsoft DOS commands on your absolute favorite web site — the one that really gets your blood pumping through your veins. Then just type “exit’ to leave the session without any trace of the fun you had! Class dismissed! 5/31/17.
Facebook proves there are two sides of America, and never the twain shall meet. You’ll find the Nazi spirit lives on in America, just get a Facebook account, you’ll see. These are the Sunday Church-goers who beat their dogs, and just as likely, their kids, and their wives. They are the Right-wing pigs of America, and one day they will get their royal comeuppance.
Until that day, the way to prevent the healthy ones from getting stuck dealing with the aggressively psychotic online, is to allow only the initial Fecesbook poster to reply to your comment. There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of psychotic losers out in Fecesbook Land — and social media in general, as trolls fully populate every platform. The only way to keep the dog crap from alt-Nazis off the shoes of good people, is a limited reply option.
Otherwise, if you write anything thought-provoking, the binge-drinkers will go into drunken high gear and retardedly attempt to change your thinking by the online equivalent of many kicks in your head.
Thank you very much for the torture, Mark “The Clown” Zuckerberg, chief Fecesbook sadist. He is considered in many quarters as being asleep (or at the very least, unresponsive) behind the wheel of corporate governance. Ultimately, you sadly realize that half of America is comprised of extremely hurtful losers, all enabled by the fifth wealthiest “American.” 5/30/17.
You can see the logo, and the new branding strategy. It’s Fecesbook, the place to go where feces is slung at everyone else, and management will do nothing to stop it. When you report the hate, Fecesbook does nada, you are just another sitting duck lined up in a row.
Sure, you could only get replies from the top-level celebrities, and make it impossible for the lurking trolls to attack you, but what fun would that be? Think of Fecesbook (or if you are insistent on its old name, Facebook) as a survival mission. You’re looking for fun, and a good time, but as per the poor design, and the ever-present Right-wing trolls, you end up knee deep in, well, feces. Veteran users cannot wait until the, well, you know, hits the fan, and Mark Zuckerberg, their founder, has to finally deal with all the hate he has unleashed.
Thank you, multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, you get all the credit for founding a hate site. I bet you are a major cause of suicide among teens who do not have the resources to get beyond your pathetically designed, and never policed, communication Hell software.
As explained in the prior piece, Google is just a nasty machine, but Fecesbook is no better. In fact, it can be much worse. Google will only take away your business, but with the unchecked evil found on Fecesbook, it has the power to take away your life (at least for teenagers).
The Facebook Marisa Tomei Scam 11/02/16. On Facebook, you get a friend request from a major celebrity with the exact same Facebook page as the celebrity. This piques your interest, until she says: “I am not here to answer questions, only to get donations for my charity.” Plus, when did Marisa start sounding so sick and feeble? — like she just left long-term psychiatric care (the real Marisa just premiered on the Great White Way).
Between scam artists and verbal assault, Facebook is only monitored by you, the end-user, they do nothing to stop treachery. When it is reported, they offer no sanctions against the malefactors; and they do not bother notifying people any of the latest variants of this problem.
Stop being so lazy, and post your own home pages, America. Facebook and the rest are only bad news. They are dens of inequity where people get burned, and where the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram do nothing to stop it.
Bill Gates’ Selflessness is Surprisingly very Selfish
A monopoly that recalls its product every month, assuming the recall function even works
(mine doesn’t, and I have a perfectly legal copy of Windows 8.1).
Bill Gates’ eponymous Foundation performs two functions: it gives Microsoft a better reputation than it deserves on the basis of its product line; and it makes Bill, and his wife Melinda, look like Gods, charging themselves with fixing all the World’s problems, that in agreement with Right Wing consensus, they have been charged to fix. The Gates Foundation will not fight for reproductive rights, abolishing the death penalty, or ending the proliferation of guns. In disturbingly large measure, this is a multi-billion dollar investment in milquetoast, Microsoft self-promotion.
The Foundation pushes for Common Core standards, without pushing the understanding that this also involves heavy, long-term, computer equipment outlays by school districts to support the Microsoft data processing requirements. One would have to imagine that after recent and extensive Microsoft layoffs, the more pressing problem in his Richmond, Washington HQ is lack of superior, Apple-scale innovation, and not tuberculosis, a disease he personally wants credit for eradicating.
The Foundation Trust end of the operation is heavily invested in sugar water Coca Cola, slaughterhouse McDonalds, and small-town killers, Wal-Mart. The Gates do not believe in socially responsible investing, they only concern themselves with the exclusive goal of maximizing their return on investment. They create problems with their Trust that they supposedly try to correct with their Foundation.
The Foundation itself’s main mission is to “eradicate poverty,” apparently by throwing money at a problem, handing out loans, giving savings accounts to those making under $2 a day, and helping the poorest women entrepreneurs sell their straw hats more effectively via village, thatch-covered kiosks replete with Microsoft Windows (okay, they don’t exclusively sell straw hats, they sell wooden masks, and they would much prefer Apple OS/X). They also pour money into funding high-profile illnesses such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria which require very specialized care, thus creating a brain drain away from the clinical needs of the average poor person.
Matriarch Melinda Gates feels that she cannot provide women contraception if she also provides them with other reproductive rights services. She will not admit to this political cave-in with which she so quietly subscribes. If her Foundation provides abortions, good luck selling MS Office to the South and Midwest. The Gates will not spend a dime on pregnancy termination services. This is all just Microsoft greed and cowardice for which they are well-noted.
Because our global computing monopoly is the product of the World’s wealthiest human being, who couldn’t handle college, and who wiped out an Internet browser competitor, Netscape, by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, a rather clear but exceptionally well-defended exception to antitrust law on monopolies. He went on to destroy Wordperfect, the word processor, and Lotus 1-2-3, the spreadsheet, by bundling these functions within Microsoft Office at a monopolistic and predatory price that, individually, his competitors couldn’t compete against.
Gates coded an operating system that by the end of their Junior year, every computer programming undergraduate has written a facsimile (considering how primitive personal computers were then, I believe Gates wrote a stack and a disk input/output routine). This is the same operating system requiring product recalls monthly (every second Tuesday) so updates can be applied to fix it.
Major elements from the graphical user interface in Windows 1.0 were licensed from Apple. In Windows 2.0, Gates et al turned around and expropirated the Apple GUI for good, Microsoft saying its development had nothing to with Apple. When Apple sued to get back the rights to their GUI, they lost. The judges all cited the survival of the most aggressive, and economically well-positioned, provision of the commerce penal code. They would never say that exactly, but just reading the Wikipedia summary you can see the odds were stacked against Apple from the start, likely because of the judge’s desires to back the horse with the meanest pedigree.
At least get a decent haircut, Bill, because otherwise you’re little more than an embarrassment, one who wastes everyone else’s money.
P.s., if you were wondering if this article was libelous, it is either factual, satiric, or my opinion. Show me where it is an intentional misstatement of fact, and then you might have a case against me. Meet me in my oak-paneled library, and we can discuss in detail. It will feel like home, Bill, we can throw darts at my servants’ buttocks.
Windows 10 is a downgrade not an upgrade. 5/10/16. Getting a never requested Windows 10 upgrade at 11pm on a Monday? It’s just another reason to despise Microsoft. (This update courtesy of an Apple iPod, which I only hope helps to drive Gates, Microsoft, et al, into bankruptcy)...
What I see here in 10 is a grossly elaborate pursuit of the collection of marketing data, task bar icons that are too small, and an uglier user interface, if that is even possible. My Windows 10 may be a no-wait roll back to Win 8... This will be a roll back, my web editor just crashed, under conditions it wouldn’t have in Win 8. So far at least, 10 is less stable than 8, 10 is only a feature-positioning and encapsulation-sizing reshuffle.
I will say this though, the wallpaper has improved. Congrats to Microsoft. They must have gotten a Flickr, stock photography account. Unless my user experience improves remarkably, Windows 10 is a Windows downgrade. I am this much closer to chucking the Bill user experience for the mostly unfamiliar Apple one, or what could be the most compelling, setting up a free Unix-based, Ubuntu disk partition.
Microslop is in the mature stage of their product cycle, their founder is absent, and they are making nothing new (Cortana, for instance, is a feeble, strangely legally-uncontested, rip-off of Apple’s Siri). There won’t be a Windows 20, unless they start skipping five releases at a time. Given the monthly recalls, release skips would just be more evidence of Microsoft’s quality level as they rush to cash in on what is left of their ill-gotten monopoly power...
Okay, three days later, it hasn’t crashed like it did the one time on Day One, and it might be a bit faster, although you will get real processing speed improvements by putting more RAM in your PC (Crucial is a well known brand of RAM supplier, so is Kingston). You get multiple desktops, which you had ages ago in a Linux distro like Ubuntu. There is also a reorganization of the position of operating system features like apps, that will take awhile to get acclimated to, and hopefully the purpose for shifting all this around will become apparent.
Bill Gates says, “I riddle you this.” 2/11/15. Since I ran the Microsoft monthly, Windows Update, recall patch this morning on my standard issue, Dell-Vista machine, my fonts are all messed up, the font pack was compromised. They look really ugly, the edges are no longer smooth, they’re essentially broken. Below are two, unretouched, high-resolution screen shots. The first one is of Other Letter via a browser, and the second, code from a non-Microsoft program called Adobe Dreamweaver, that I used to produce this page, and the rest of OL. As you can see, Dreamweaver’s editing screen is essentially unusable now.
My Apple iPod displays perfectly though. Even more interesting is the fact that people I know are not having this issue, only I am. There’s a lesson or two to be learned in there somewhere. First, stay as far away as possible from Microsoft-branded goods; and second, investigate why people are so enthusiastic about Apple. Goodbye, Bill! Your corporation’s monthly recall did in a perfectly-good machine.
Well, what follows is how I spent much of today to get a fully functional machine to partially function again. With System Restore I rolled back the updates to before this month’s second Tuesday recall. No trouble with fonts, although when it was time to reinstall the recall patches, these messed up my machine right back to the way it was before.
I did notice that one patch would not install, the Malicious Software Tool. So next time I rolled back the patches, and reinstalled everything except the Malicious Software Tool, which for all intents and purposes was malicious software. Yet that still did not fix Windows. My only recourse was to turn off Windows Update altogether. Windows Update is supposed to prevent problems, but as you can see here, it and Microsoft only causes them. So when I don’t rely on Microsoft to fix their own garbage, I have a partially functional PC, otherwise it belongs in a landfill.
My next likely step, is to bring my machine to people who fix them for a living. That will cost $200 plus. By the way, if these screen shots look familiar to you, and you would like to start a class action lawsuit against Microsoft, drop me a line. I have completely lost my patience with these schmucks.
Saving Detroit with their Classics
If Detroit were to rebuild their classic cars they would tap into a deep pocket of never satisfied demand. Have Chevy rebuild their Bel Airs, Biscaynes, and Nomads Have Ford rebuild their Galaxie 500s, Crown Victorias, and vintage Mustangs And have Chrysler-Plymouth rebuild their Barracudas and Road Runners. The guts of the car would all be current electronics and drive train, the body though would be original dimensions. Detroit could even include the original colors, or go for entirely different ones. The Big Three should float this by one of their focus groups, many have to think positive of this. Detroit may be dying, why not give it some real life.
The Federalist Manse on the River
The money was, and still is, near the water
Water-based travel has been around long since before Christ. Boats do not generate as much friction as other modes of transportation, so are capable of carrying heavy loads with little power. Ships and boats traveling along inland waterways were one of the most common modes of commercial transportation before railway locomotives arrived in the 1840’s.
In 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, the last spike, the Golden Spike, completed the Transcontinental Railroad . This first transcontinental railroad linked an existing eastern railroad network with one newly constructed in the west.
This coast-to-coast railway was created despite the greed of its developers and the trammeling of its rightful owners, the First Settlers. This rail line, tragically but true, led to the decline of the Plains Native American.
Native People rightfully had issue with the U.S. government about the encroachment of the ‘Iron Horse’ on their land and how it violated sovereignty treaties. Indians would raid rail road camps in a futile attempt to scare them off. Bison, their primary food supply, were slaughtered by marksmen hired by the railway to starve the disinherited Native American to death. With salt for the wound, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad companies were given huge land grants, land grants to the tune of ten square miles besides each mile of track.
Railway transportation, although rarely offered point to point, would service land-locked regions, often regions built around a station along the rail line. With the wide availability of trucks in the 1930’s, rail-bound and road-bound deliveries made for mixed-mode transportation. An advantage of rail service to this day is that it is largely impervious to weather conditions.
Private transportation was limited to rides on horseback for a great portion of mankind’s existence. Many early inhabitants, especially the enslaved, could not expect to ever leave the town where they were born. With the mass production of Henry Ford’s Model T, America, and then the world, would be able to travel in any direction.
The creation in the 1950’s of the U.S. Interstate Highway system was not without its mistakes in judgment. Any town nearby an exit on the new ribbon of superhighway would be at a great economic advantage to those that were not afforded ready access. Funds that could have been used in developing forward-thinking, pollution-reducing public transportation, were instead used in making America a haven for the motorist.
The Corporation of the United States
Ticketmaster, the ticket reseller, and Front Line, the artist management impresario, were recently acquired by Live Nation, the concert promoter. Once the deal is finalized — and unless Europe steps in, you can bet it will be finalized — the music ticket, management, venue, and endorsement businesses will be almost fully consolidated. Artists, their concerts, and the venues where they appear, will all be handled, and bundled, by one conglomerate.
You may be asking why should any of this matter? Live Nation is saying the same thing to the Federal Trade Commission. The reason this matters is because the price you pay will be a lot more when you are buying from a monopoly than when you are buying from the competitive marketplace. There is no incentive for a monopoly to lower price, you cannot bring your business anywhere else.
The reason I mention that Europe would intercede in an American merger is they actually did in 2001. General Electric was looking to buy out Honeywell and had full permission to do so from the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Injustice. The European Union had to step in to block a clear market monopoly in aerospace, effectively enforcing America’s own laws against restraint of trade and monopoly power.
The trend in mergers and acquisitions is always towards fewer players in a given market. To be sure, there are occasional divestiture sell offs, but the money is in growing through M & A. Capital will much more likely go towards buying one’s competitors, in horizontal integration, or buying the market’s suppliers, with vertical integration.
Wall Street demands, and then rewards, this kind of non-organic revenue growth, external growth outside a business’ current core of operations. These often unrealistic expectations of continuous profit growth are beyond a company’s internal cash-generating capabilities. For an American company to remain competitive in the eyes of the financial community, it must cannibalize its competitors.
Fast forward, extrapolate this consolidation trend further, and Live Nation becomes Entertainment Corporation. Toyota becomes Auto Corporation. News Corporation becomes, well it already is News Corporation. Dell becomes Computer Corporation, General Electric ultimately becomes Corporation Corporation.
And with the unfolding of former Treasury Secretary Paulson’s unprecedented, bailout investment package, the United States is now going private. The United States Government will soon be calling all the markets’ shots. We will then be known as the Corporation of the United States, with China Corporation the one hungrier fish in the pond.
That is One, Shiny, Ripe Apple 6/27/10. Charlie Rose had a very interesting show last night. One of his guests was the Wall Street Journal Technology Editor (name withheld pending legal clearance). The visitor just got back from an Apple Computer Conference and was there to talk about the latest in mobile technology. I was wondering why the journalist had taken such a shine towards Apple’s product line.
The most likely answer: Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder, had named the Wall Street Journal one of three newspapers of consequence and of record (the other two being the New York Times and the Washington Post). The Journal’s hope must be that Apple will ultimately afford the Journal the status of featured content provider for their computer products. Because of the Internet, newspaper sales have fallen. What better way to get earnings back on track then to include the Wall Street Journal’s content on the biggest emerging portals in the world, the IPad, the IPhone, and the IMac.
The editor went on to explain that the IPhone had a feel of quality and value, and of smoothness and heft. Hear that CEO, surgeon, and litigator? Unlike the panned and unconnected Canadian Blackberry, the IPhone had no sharp edges, no burrs to snag into your suit. Be at the cutting edge of your operation, the envy of the Ivy League, buy Apple is the message. Forget the competition — the Android and the Blackberry — Apple today, Apple tomorrow, Apple forever.
What is it like to be an American?
Well, to loosely paraphrase a Seventies song by British band Supertramp, “Everyone’s a millionaire.” The truth is everyone within its borders likely has a different take. I have lived in the States all my life, and I cannot offer a ready answer. For many, it is life in the land of milk and honey. We visit spectacular National Parks. Our people are always warm, welcoming, and obliging. Most importantly, we have several rights that used to make us Americans completely unique. I have never lived without freedoms of expression, the press, and religion, and all too often I take them for granted.
We live in a new America now, home to the Tea Party, and post-9/11, conservative insurgents, where redress of grievances get swept under the rug. We have personal freedoms for the majority, economic justice for far fewer. For a very sizeable number of Americans, the American Dream is just that, an unattainable dream. Given all of America’s resources, many still live without — without steady supplies of food, and with a standard of living below the poverty level.
Because billionaire Warren Buffett earns his income from investments instead of wages, he is in a lower tax bracket than his office secretary. He has proposed a bill to rectify these widespread, egregious inequities. Given the changing sentiments in Washington and given the drafter’s age, the Buffett Bill will likely never get the votes for passage.
Then we have the Volcker Rule. Named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, it is designed to rebuild the walls between a banks’ individual depositors, like you and I, and the bank’s investment banking operations for their own account. The problem today is there is nothing to stop a bank from taking your money and investing it in, say, risky sub prime, mortgage-backed, securities. Volcker’s proposal was written to take the place of the repealed Glass-Steagall Act. That legislation, written in 1932, prevented a second (and perhaps final) Great Depression. Like the Buffett Bill, the Volcker Rule has also languished in Congress.
This is Trickle-down Economics, American style. After 9/11, the American body politic has shifted far, far to the Right. For the rich, this is all fine and dandy — celebrity billionaires get a free ride, what could possibly be wrong with that? Many of the rest of us though, are entertaining thoughts of a second American Revolution. Witness the Occupy Movement.
Then what is it like to be an American? It is often about keeping the greedy in check: be it purchasing investments, cars, and homes; or preventing the financial community from hijacking the economy. Better, I can write about all that is wrong here, and know to not fear reprisals. Right?
Money, Let it Burn
Unlike gold or silver, government issued money is intrinsically worthless. It’s not backed by any precious metal. Without the U.S. government’s stamp of approval it would only be worth the paper it’s printed on.
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Initially the United States adopted the gold standard, and the treasury printed yellow backs indicating they could be fully redeemed for gold. Greenbacks are a more modern currency, they’re not backed by anything other than the faith you have in your government.
If the United States government could no longer vouch for the dollars’ legality as a financial instrument, the world economy would collapse, and probably collapse overnight. All U.S. paper currency has this printed on its front: “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.” Essentially you can buy goods with it because the fiscal reputation of the U.S. government (or any other currency-issuing principality) legitimizes its bearer’s purchases.
The switch away from currency towards electronic banking doesn’t change matters. The majority of your net worth is ultimately a numeral formed from magnetic charges on a hard disk. You pay for things with plastic cards, a replacement for engraved paper. Someday we may pay for our groceries with our fingerprints. Makes me a little nostalgic.
Can Uncle Sam print money, then hand it out?
In other words, can the U.S. Government, or its Treasury, hand out money to anyone who needs it or to anyone we owe? As it turns out, there is no need to do so, printing up money to settle government debts is unnecessary and, in point of fact, is not even authorized by the Constitution.
What is often necessary though, is to print government bonds. These interest-bearing I.O.U.s are then sold by the Treasury to either the public or the Federal Reserve Bank (commonly known as ‘the Fed’). If the Fed buys them, cash is released from the Fed’s vast, private coffers and money is created. If the public buys them, the public’s money supply remains unchanged. Either way, the sale allows the Treasury to pay the government’s bills, and any remainder is added to their tax receipts. The downside is the financial burden from servicing all this newly originated government debt.
Outside of lending reserves to its member banks, the Federal Reserve’s major role in all of this is to speed or slow the economy. The Fed, our nation’s central bank (and the one with the most assets on its balance sheet), implements monetary policy predominantly through what is known as open market operations. The principle mechanism implementing this policy is the Fed’s buying or selling of bonds on the open market.
When the Fed buys back government notes in the secondary market, they are adding to the public’s money supply — cash from the Fed is tendered for debt paper. So when the Fed buys back bonds with cash it makes money, and thus access to credit and lending, significantly more securable. This also means lower interest rates, money is more readily available, and spending is spurred. The downside is that too much paper money chases too few goods, and price inflation can start to rise.
When our central bank sells bonds from their asset inventory, they get cash in return. This does the opposite, the public’s money supply is reduced, credit is less available so interest rates rise, but inflation stays in check. Here, Fed Chairpersons are avoiding inflation because it erodes wages and investment income. Inflation also diminishes consumers’ purchasing power.
Real estate, because it cannot be turned into cash easily, lacks liquidity; gold is liquid internationally. Essentially the Fed’s open market operations are liquidity swaps, they alter the liquidity of lending institutions and individual investors. Perfectly liquid cash is swapped for much more illiquid, yet very investment worthy, U.S. bonds. In aggregate, these transactions effect how each of them conduct their business and how much lendable cash they possess on their balance sheet.
Who deserves the thanks for inventing this multi-geared monetary vehicle? Between 1870 and 1920 many nations created central banking systems, one of the last being the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in 1913. For industrializing nations, a central banking system proved to be very workable, although for our trinket exchange economy, it has never been a panacea or cure all.
Perspective on the U.S. Debt Ceiling 8/05/11. The average of prices striked at a stock market are a consensus on the future performance of the economy. This price index is a “leading indicator,” on how smoothly all the economic or financial cogs might soon be turning. When timed with the debt crisis, 2011’s stock market downturn was a vote of no confidence on the handling of debt ceiling regulation — and the accumulation of budget deficits, that is, debt itself.
Republicans, Tea or otherwise, would not raise the debt ceiling until they got concessions on the taxes necessary to close the shortfall, and additionally, on measures to cut the big ticket safety net of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The U.S. debt ceiling has been raised 68 times since 1960, and the increase in the limit has been routine until this session of Congress. No other country except Denmark has a debt ceiling, and Denmark’s, as a practical matter, is not said to be reachable.
As recently as 2009, the debt limit was exceeded with little publicity. What makes 2011 so different is that federal debt is accelerating beyond historically unequaled levels. Beginning with the Bush tax cuts and his Iraqi/Afghan Wars, the national debt doubled. This was not a product of Congressional partisanship, both sides led with Bush’s tenure.
A major contributor to today’s crisis was lowered tax receipts from Obama’s inherited, faltering economy — borrowing has not abated with the current President’s leadership though, as he has increased the federal debt by approximately a quarter. The New York Times extrapolated from Congressional Budget Office data that two thirds of Obama’s contribution to the crisis is the endorsement of his predecessor’s policy, one third a product of his own, new measures.
Just a Favor, from One Chairman to Another
Since the middle of the second millennia, the Krupp family’s dynasty has been manufacturing military equipment in Germany. During World War II, Alfried Krupp took charge of his father Gustav’s empire, then subjected slave labor to all manner of abuse in his factories. Alfried was later tried at Nuremburg as a war criminal, and convicted for crimes against humanity.
During the Third Reich, Krupp insisted slave labor be used for his machine gun manufacture, even when the German army wanted this precision work done by German workers. An eye witness recounted the scene at headquarters: “Krupp considered it a duty to make 520 Jewish girls, some of them little more than children, work under the most brutal conditions in the heart of the concern, in Essen.” All told he used 100,000 persons in his forced labor program. Furthermore, he had the “closest understanding” and working cooperation with the Auschwitz Extermination Camp, a cooperation that he guaranteed for the future.
Alfried Krupp’s son, Arndt, renounced his billion dollars plus inheritance because he knew it was blood money. In walking away from a fortune in his name, Arndt showed the scruples his ruthless father lacked. Stronger evidence of the schism (or chasm) between father and son was that his father not only manufactured tanks and ordnance for the Nazis, the elder Alfried made very substantial donations to the Nazi Party as well. Arndt was next in line yet he wanted no part of the company business. The abdicating heir was also known as being very openly gay, I would have to imagine there are not too many gay neo-Nazis out there (on second thought, in another sense of the word, maybe they all are).
Alfried’s Nazi legacy lives on, his eponymous foundation has a 25% stock stake in the current incarnation of Krupp, Thyssen Krupp. This makes it the controlling shareholder, giving it the final say in all matters Krupp. Looking at the company web site, it is of high end design and it includes a very sympathetic portrait of its Nazi Chairman. After the Liberation, Alfried’s embrace of Nazism did not cool his operation’s smokestacks. To boot, Thyssen Krupp is currently in the top 15 in sales revenue for German corporations, up there with the likes of Mercedes, and BMW.
— “Thanks for everything, John.”
— “I’m just sorry it took so long.”
What makes this all the more interesting is that three years into Krupp’s twelve year sentence he was pardoned by John McCloy, U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary. Mr. McCloy has a slightly less than honorable record as a public servant. As Secretary he wouldn’t endorse bombing train tracks heading into Auschwitz. As High Commissioner for Germany he pardoned, and returned all forfeited assets, of Alfried Krupp and others like him. He was on the Warren Commission and backed the lone gunman theory. He was an advisor for every President from Kennedy through Reagan. And he was the Chairman of both the clandestine Trilateral Commission and the secretive World Bank.
John McCloy and Alfried Krupp are not alone, there are many more like them. Smoking Cubans in oak-paneled rooms, while their chauffeured stretch Mercedes Maybach idles silently outside. Summering in Maine, Malibu, or the Mediterranean and evaluating measures to oppress the undesirables, the ones ‘not like us.’ Anything they want, for them, is just a hand shake. Even if they are a war criminal.
That Mercedes has some Pedigree
Reading this web site, one might conclude it is designed to get Americans depressed. Regardless, we now have something to get Germans, and owners of German cars, depressed.
Did the Mercedes hubcap
spawn the swastika?
Back in 1931, Mercedes placed advertisements for its cars in Nazi newspapers. In return for the ad space, the Hitler faithful got new autos. Mercedes was also the leading armaments maker in Nazi Germany. They made aircraft engines, tanks, trucks, and cars — they were an integral, indispensable part of the Nazi war machine. At the time, Daimler-Benz claimed they “helped to motorize the movement”. The company was a favorite of Der Führer. Hitler owned shares of their stock, and he was a close personal friend of Jakob Werlin, a Daimler-Benz director.
Daimler-Benz exploited tens of thousands of worker slaves. In the final weeks of the war, one female slave-labor group was removed from a Daimler-Benz factory back to the camps, apparently to be gassed. The camp’s gas chamber failed to function so they survived the camps until the liberation.
In 2001, German industry, including Daimler-Benz, agreed to settle all claims and pay $4.3 billion in restitution to laborers then alive, $7,000 each for slave laborers, and $2,200 each for forced laborers. How can that be enough? Can any financial atonement ever be enough? Then when is it time to forgive? If the crime is the sadistic murder of millions of people, then forgiveness may never be possible, or deserved.
There are, of course, other companies complicit in evil deeds. Considering the devastating health complications tobacco causes, every manager at the Big Five tobacco manufacturers must have a non-functioning moral compass, and capable of living comfortably without remorse. With their 1998 multi-state settlement, Phillip Morris, Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, and Liggett Group, will contribute $246 billion over 25 years to prevent people from using their product. That’s about $5,000 for every American adolescent or young adult. This sounds like the type of money Daimler-Benz should have paid, although Benz never directly killed anyone, tobacco does that every day.
P.S., after I wrote this, I read that Volkswagen may have made a swastika hubcap, making it a part of German folklore. Although a Mercedes swastika hubcap is a possible mold, a VW swastika hubcap is not. Yet any elusive, never-photographed VW swastika hubcap has been thought to exist prior to World War Two. For evidence, take a swastika, overlay it with a ‘V’ and a ‘W’, and you just get a VW hubcap with a completely hidden swastika. Overlay a swastika on a Mercedes Benz emblem and you get a dead on swastika hubcap.
So where did the idea for a VW swastika hubcap come from? Who did Hitler turn to for Nazi firepower? Which manufacturer had the closest association with der Führer, and would need to redirect negative publicity about its ties with him, to its closest competitor?
End the IRS’ Federal Honesty Exam
Have you ever stopped to consider that whatever your financial institutions and employer report to you at tax time, they report the same to the government? With today’s technology, the government can easily compute your taxes, and just mail you a receipt. If doubts arise, the government would simply require you to compute them, just as you compute them today. This is nonsense having people spend their weekends working on how much they owe their public goods provider. The government already knows what you owe, this is Uncle Sam’s annual honesty examination.
Imagine cries for tax help,
unanswered all levy season long
An automated system would ferret out cheating from a filer under-reporting his income or over-reporting his deductions. This system will work because the filer would no longer be reporting anything. The government sends you a report, this is what the bank tapes apprised your government, you tell us different.
Today, when a taxpayer makes a mistake, he is fined for his failure to understand tax code. With voluntary filing, this will be the one reason to go to a professional, just to clarify the code. Sure, there are lobbyists from accounting firms, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, et al, that will work against any change in preparation procedure. Bear in mind, as the buggy whip maker goes, so goes the tax preparer.
There is also a little bit of poetic justice in all this. The one’s with the easiest returns, and having the humblest of means, will be the ones no longer dreading the nearing of April 15th. The ones hiring a Big Six accounting team to account for their taxes, and then their lives ... well, some things never change.
Filing your Taxes is a Third-world Exercise 4/03/16. It is tax season again, so it’s time to despise your current occupying power, the U.S. of A. You probably would like to disrupt and bankrupt Uncle Sam right out of his business of governance just as the forsythia are blooming each year.
My complaint is that I am transcribing info from one form to another, info that the IRS already has. What is most aggravating is if I make a mistake, and that’s so easy to do, I could face unusually stiff penalties including jail time. If they didn’t have this data already, how would they be able to know if I was cheating?
Probably more than ninety percent of returns filed are straightforward ones. If the IRS ever got its act together, they would take what banks and financial firms send them, and then have the IRS figure your return. Only if you disagree with the IRS statement of your taxes, would you file your own return.
Why is the IRS hated everywhere, and by those from every walk of life? (The honest hate doing taxes even more than the dishonest, because they work harder at making them accurate.) It is hated because it is a form of tax receipts extortion and torture, in a country generally believed to be founded on democracy.
What is the reason for the tax arcana, the minutia of madness? The more confusing and convoluted the tax code is, the longer IRS careerists — the keepers of the tax Tower of Babel — stay in office. The rat maze we are sent through before each April 15th is one expected of a Third-world nation, not a First-rate one.
Which side of the immigration fence do you sit on?
The immigration debate should be pared down to this: Republicans do not want anyone besides those who are currently American to have a slice of the American pie; and Democrats hope that anyone who seeks refuge from hunger and strife into this country will be treated as those at Ellis Island were a hundred years earlier.
The GOP with their closed door policy insist that only those whose fathers lived the American Dream are privileged enough to live it themselves. Yet at the turn of the last century, all that their huddled masses were given was grunt work, work that today’s Americans would never do, even though their very ancestors were tasked with it. Immigrants will accept doing our menial work for a better place to live than they have ever known, and this is certainly fair enough for both the guest and their host.
The Business of Show Business
Country music is about men going for other men?
“If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,” according to radio exec Keith Hill. “If you play more than 15 percent female on [country] radio, your rating will go down.” That’s the comments he made to Country Aircheck, claiming women don't belong in country music. Drawing from a weak if not incomprehensible dinner appetizer analogy, he later said that, “The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
My impression of country music was that it was so conservative it was homophobic, but apparently the opposite is true — the format is about men who are into grooving about other men. According to Hill, Country and Western listeners must be just plain old gay, with Keith likely being the gayest of them all. At least he had the courage to come out of the closet.
Someone ought to break the news about Country being a male-only format to Loretta Lynn, Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Miranda Lambert, Gwyneth Paltrow (honorary mention here because of her performance in Country Strong), Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, Reba McIntyre, Roseanne Cash, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, et al. I’d bet they would be so surprised to hear this, or maybe they wouldn’t be so surprised at all.
Do nude selfies belong on the Internet?
The recent nude photos scandal — or sex crimes, as Jennifer Lawrence feels they should be known — was caused by the rather despicable, criminal activity of a few hackers. Additionally, Apple is at fault for offering a supposedly secure, storage service that hardly provides any security.
There is another, neglected component of this fracas however, and that is that one does not post very personal mementos such as these photos in an iCloud account where there is the possibility anyone with an Internet connection can uncover them. The nature of digital media is such that left unchecked, it offers the lecher the potential to copy the material in question an infinite number of times. In the modern age, most realize that leaving anything digital away from one’s person might be stolen, be they credit card and social security numbers, or in this instance, explicit photos.
Reputable actresses tend to avoid cinematic nude scenes unless they are done with exceptional taste, and when they are what is required to complete the narrative. Yet Hollywood and the moving picture has always had a great deal to do with sexiness, and a production’s players often find themselves selling it — this, and especially suggestive posing, cannot be such alien territory, even when the audience was never intended. If these actresses were caught buck naked in a threesome, or even a foursome, this would be an entirely different story, and they would have much, much more with which to truly be upset.
Of course, the revealing of what was only meant as secret is an egregious invasion of privacy, but it is one surprisingly unforeseen by these very intelligent actresses, and easily prevented by sending email attachments (which generally auto-deletes from the e-mail server after it is downloaded locally). If you really would like to know how people are reacting to your photos, Ms. Lawrence, there is small consolation. You must know they are coveting and admiring your form, yet never laughing at it.
Hollywood is Boy’s Town, USA
The reason most of what Hollywood produces is trash, and why you can never find anything good worth watching on cable, is because all of the entertainment investment money backs movies for male adolescents, or even younger boys. Our national entertainment industry, really the World’s entertaiment industry, courts children almost exclusively, especially male children.
Most of entertainment investment is spent in getting a captive, young adult audience to spend their allowance at the Multiplex on what amounts to outrageously-expensive cartoons. Of the top twenty grossing films of 2015 (and likely, the top twenty budgets — with similar breakouts for 2013 and 2014), seventeen are for, well, seventeen year olds. These are all treatments of comic books, cartoons, or grade school fantasy. The last three are for those under age 25 or 30.
On the Red Carpet this awards season, most acting glitterati are hoping to approach directors shooting kids movies. Kids’ fare is where Hollywood spends most of its budgets, so these high-tech, low-intellect spectacles are where the money gets returned via ticket sales.
The movie making capital of the world has become a celluloid factory as mall babysitters. The theaters are a safe place to send your little monsters to see bigger ones. It gets the kids out of the house (and out of your hair), establishes their social cohorts, and unfortunately, introduces them to a steady diet of American fantasy-violence culture, as well as creating linkages between their heroes and fast-food and doll product tie-ins. Cultural capital, in this country and the World, is spent investing on brain-washing children.
The Biggest Con in the Screenwriting Game 7/23/16. (Note: As long-time readers of Other Letter are well aware, I avoid personal vendettas on these digital leaves at all costs — but this one is special, yet it might cost me my career.)
If you are an aspiring screenwriter, please take note. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a screenplay competition entitled the “Nicholls Fellowship.” Please also note that the entirely random winner is chosen after 85 readers read 15,000 screenplays, or 17,647 pages per head over a five month period. While a win here will inevitably launch your career in Hollywood, a loss means that the Academy wishes you better luck next time, chump.
Yet it also means that they didn’t have time to fully read your screenplay, as yours is one hundred pages of 1.5 million other ones. The Academy then pockets and walk away with your $80 per screenplay entry fees. The Academy’s cash cow is a lottery of dreams, almost all of them broken.
Yet moreover, this is fraud, and it is worthy of a class action lawsuit. I would have to imagine that rejection here is a not so uncommon cause for suicide. Just remember when you are creating your screenplay themes, the Academy members are the same people that aren’t even sure why Black people are in Hollywood. Ignore writing about social injustices, and do not include a progressive perspectice, the Academy does not care to hear it.
To win your golden ticket: draft an apolitical, and vanilla-bland script, and populate your script with boring yet strong people. Pattern all your characters after John Wayne with long periods of staring and inscrutable silence, and you’ll be in like Flynn — Erroll, that is. You are aiming for high-brow and boring. Make sure you make a reference to the Ivy League, and that you use incomplete sentences. To the minds of the judges this implies dramatic urgency amongst the important people, and it definitely gave the nod to at least one finalist in the winner’s circle.
When it is your turn to win the Oscar, what could ever be greater vindication than saying, “I couldn’t win the dinky, feeble, Nicolls Fellowship, but now as I stand before you admiring my statuette of gold for Best Screenplay, everyone from New York to London to Paris to Hong Kong, is watching knowing I did it with absolutely no assistance from those who are supposed to benefit me the most.”
Did these Sixties’ legends actually die young?
Click for bio
Jim Croce at Age 25
Died at 30
Did stars die as young as publicized by their record labels? Celebrities’ year of death is well known; are we as certain about the year of birth? Jim Morrison sang the baritone in Light my Fire (recorded in ’67) at 23 years of age, dying four years later. Janis Joplin belted out Piece of my Heart (recorded in ’68) at 25 years, dying two years thereafter.
Jim Croce was 25 years of age when this photo was taken. His Time in a Bottle was recorded in ’72. Given he wrote the piece at 29, he was writing unusually profound sentiments for his age. Mr. Croce died a year later.
You could say they sound and look so much older because of hard living, and what’s in evidence here is only premature aging. On the other hand, record sales take off after news of a celebrity’s passing. Conceivably, by moving up their birth dates, studios would be making artists: sound like prodigies, more worthy of sympathy, and closer in age to their fan base at the time.
Note: click song title for video and review of same.