Friday, March 26, 2010

Fat Ladies/Ice Tea/Labeling/SciFi/Financial/"1623"

I read about a woman who weighs 600 pounds and plans on bulking up to weigh a half ton! Where or where are the nutritional police on this one?

I have an addiction and it is ice tea. I may drink six glasses a day and when I say glasses I mean 44ounce type. I usually buy Lipton Diet with lemon. Then I’ll add my own lemon slice and a package of Sweet & Low. Plenty of crushed ice.

I just admire the code words that introduce some political diatribes. You know the ones - socialist….racist…trash the Constitution….homophobic…Rush…..Hollywood elitist……Beck…..and so on. This is just a snippet from what I see from the far left and far right and IMO the far left employs it considerably more extensive. You could make quite a collection of them - like trading cards. These represent a mantra that has to be learned and usually is the domain of folks who have not had an original thought in their entire lives.

Decades ago I was involved in the “Mock U.N.” No….not mocking the U.N. but having students actually run a model U.N. The first one I was involved with actually took place at Middleboro High School and there were students from a plethora of school systems. The person who was the real driving force behind our presentation was a Debate Club organized and judged competitions. I watched him prep students and he used a term to describe the above and it is called “labeling.” I remember him warning students never to employ that tactic since it directly shows a lack of substance, competence and intellect. I find myself - like most of us - falling into that trap on occasion. Some never do learn.

Continuing along the pattern established in the two previous paragraphs is another tactic which I have posted on and that is called “Deflection.” Somewhere in the past messes on this blog it can be located. Maybe Adam Bond will actually create a post or two on his blog on some of these maneuvers since this is an important component in law schools. I admittedly know little about it. My method of debate was always to name call and then excuse my insolent behaviors my claiming I have a caustic and arrogant personality. Sound familiar?

I was cruising the local blogs and noticed that Carl Pierce - otherwise affectionately known as “1623” is involved with the local Tea Party movement. I would very much welcome any input he may have regarding that organization since some others feel it is one step removed from Neo-Nazi’s. Maybe he can be one of those posters that BB has the welcome mat out for? I’ve seen some of the Tea Party folks on TV and they didn’t seem to be any skin heads among them. No doubt there is an element within the group that needs to be cut from the herd - much like some of the homophobic and racist comments I have heard at Democratic rallies.

When you think Science Fiction what writers come to your mind? (pause) Do you know who Connie Willis is? Ms. Willis has been honored with six Nebula Awards (more than any other science fiction writer) and six Hugo Awards. Doomsday Book and Lincoln’s Dreams are remarkable works.

Now that the health care debate is diminishing - Jessie James and Sandra Bullock got significantly more traffic two days after passage - the real sink or swim will return to what it always was - the economy, stupid. Housing is a disaster as starts continue to languish and that is with all sorts of incentives. Unemployment and underemployment have stabilized simply because there is little left to cut. The trickle down economics of the administrations various job programs have had little impact but to create more crushing debt. The administration has been dead wrong on the economy from the beginning by vastly under estimating the scope of recovery and the depths of despair. This coupled with residual anger over health care could easily translate into significant Congressional losses in the fall.

I enjoy investing in stocks which provides a far better gambling rush than a casino - I just wish I had an all you can eat buffet and E-Trade, Fidelity and TD would occasional comp me. I have been directing more resources (money) into ETF's since some frustration exists over purchasing the singular versus the broad based. Currently I just run comparisons between my own selected buys and the broad base of the indexes. I will also split similar groups in mutual funds. For example I may wish to buy a fund that specializes in large cap companies. After comparing costs and performance I will not buy one but divide among two or three. This is a strategy that financial advisors frown upon but I have noticed results can be sharply different between funds with similar targets

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care/Woloski/Casino Poll/American Idol

The complexities of the health care provisions in local contracts cannot be dismissed on a whim or by some type of local executive fiat. Many of these provisions were negotiated for decades as more and more concessions were made to improve the benefit structure and now the wheel is spinning the other way and pressure is being applied to diminish the financial contributions of the town and conversely increase that of the employees. Can a viable argument be presented to justify increased employee contributions? Locally I think it is apparent that it has. The health premiums have become burdensome and that coupled with decreased revenues, less state aide and a general fiscal malaise has created the perfect storm for a serious examination of the issue. That means the issue is being squarely tossed into the lap of assorted unions who must face the reality of concessions or job elimination. Famed labor activist - Samuel Gompers - was once asked what unions wanted? His reply was one word: “More.” Now may be the time to say “Less.”

On the above the one item of real interest is concern for those retired. COLA is rare or limited on the pensions so a rapid increase in health premiums or inflation can erode rather quickly any income. A retired teacher of 20 years has a very limited income.

Bank Of America wrongly foreclosed on a house in Pennsylvania and while the home owner was out for the day had one of their contractors enter the premises and disconnect utilities and change the locks. The contractor also took the owners pet parrot. Despite numerous calls to BOA it took a week for her to retrieve the pet and she had to do it by driving to the contractors business. BOA was less than responsive during this whole ordeal and is now being sued for $50,000. Now if this was a pet dog I know just the firm that could have grabbed seven figures on this.

In Attleboro single stream recycling - implemented seven months ago - is being credited with a reduction in trash tonnage and a significant increase in recycling. Prior to the program recycle accounted for 5% of pickup and not it is 30%. When will single cycle start in Middleboro?

Brockton Enterprise Driving section profiled a Mercedes - Benz 300SLS Coupe that sells well north of $200,000. I’m sure there is a big market in the area for them. Do they come in yellow?

Latest poll results from Dartmouth show about a two to one support for DeLeo and his expanded gaming proposal. I’m sure some anti’s will jump all over the source regarding his “data” but this are the same folks who actually believe some of the manure dished out by Jessie Powell regarding “facts.”

What a great weekend! No…not the weather! I was at Hannaford’s and two folks were collecting signatures for a Republican to run against Barnet Frank (D- Lie upon lie). Not only a Republican but one from Brookline. I thought they were extinct.

Woloski Park has become the Middleboro Katrina without the drama. Eight homes flooded.

I have never watched American Idol except for a five minute segment here and there over the years. Exception was last week when I found out they were going to do Rolling Stones songs. Great presentation by all.

Decades ago I saw The Stones at the old Boston Garden in a show that was delayed for hours. I found it comical watching Mick Jagger at well under six feet and weighing 135 pounds strutting around the stage doing his rendition of “Street Fighting Man” with an attitude.

Looks like a certain blogger has hired on the editorial staff of

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ides Of March Or Close Enough

“It’s much more expensive to add an employee in Massachusetts than elsewhere in the world, and we have offices in more than 20 countries.” A quote via The Herald from Liberty Mutual CEO Ted Kelly.

Politicians seem very efficient at one thing in particular - getting more perks for themselves.

There may be ballot questions on lowering the state sales tax and slashing the state income tax. The sales tax was a temporary 3% instituted under the reign of John Volpe. The ballot initiative on the income tax was ignore as many others have been.

Plainville Race Track has added 800 parking spaces in anticipation of slots.

Scott Brown has a 70% approval rating. Didn’t President WOW have one like that 14 months ago?

I no longer accept solicitations over the phone. If it is a local charity I will go to their site and make a contribution.

Wall Street is improving which is great news for the unemployed and underemployed if it is translated to jobs. So far I am a bundle of skepticism on that.

For about the 30th year in a row or so I missed the Academy Awards. Saw a bit about ads for that are as expensive as for the Super Bowl.

The BOS race is shaping up as an interesting one. I think the turnout may actually top 20% with the override issue on the ballot.

Warren Buffett succinctly summarized health care: “ If it was a choice today between Plan A, which is what we’ve got, or Plan B, what is in front of the Senate bill, I would vote for the Senate bill. But I would much rather see a Plan C that really attacks costs.”

Several local communities were honored for their town web sites. The exclusion of Middleboro must have been an oversight.

I like the colors black and yellow. I was planning on an awards dinner for campaign signage but the scheduled date was the 27th of March so the BB concert will take prescidence. I mean it’ll be more hectic at the Flat Iron than when Scott Brown showed. Anyways, I commend Frawley as having the best sign. Black background and smaller print forces you to read it. See…these are the truly important things in my life.

An ongoing issue in Brockton is a business owner who has installed artificial grass rather than the real stuff. As a taxpayer in Brockton my sympathies were clearly with the business that provides jobs and is actually a spiffy clean place. Give the guy a variance.

On the above issue I contacted the City Council. Only two list an email address and I sent an email expressing my opinion. Both replied within a half hour. I may not be 100% satisfied with their response but both are certainly responsible.

Town Meeting will have several interesting items for discussion.

John Kerry has jointly sponsored an alternative to the Cap and Trade disaster that appears - at least to me - quite a moderation over the original legislation. As with most bills we are limited to summaries but if this gets support it appears less invasive.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Posting Spring Training

Full body scanners at Fortress Logan. Great. I can see me being held up in the scanner while the female TSA agents crowd around the screen and point and laugh.

Why doesn’t Middleboro have any hack holidays? Maybe the BOS can inaugurate one in honor of “Billy Fallon’s” great legal victory?

1001 Ways to Die is about as perverse as a TV show can get - yet I actually enjoy it. My wife - The Lovely Cynthia - thinks it is total trash but will often be mesmerized by some of the stories.

Spring training has begun and now the various reporters will file endless fluff pieces to justify their two weeks or so “vacation.”

My own spring training is to hone my rapier like wit, sharpen my harpoon and get a refill on my how to be obnoxious pills.

Local election is coming up in about a month and the interest level seems nil. Although some political signs has appeared on lawns.

Short term performance (less than a year) will soon be off the charts for stocks and mutual funds. Always check the three to five year performance.

Bank of America honcho Brian Moynihan is praising Barney Frank (D- YouTube) for his leadership in the financial crisis and “recovery.” Just another reason to bank local.

I am quickly starting to subscribe to the notion that optimism decreases and cynicism increases with age.

The IRS has always been to be the perfect example of an excessive and vindictive government agency but their online resources are excellent. Tax question inquiries are answered within a few days with many references given and the site is fairly easy to navigate.

The RMV has instituted a $5 fee for any personalized service. More of the same nickel and dime tactics that are so symptomatic of this state. Governor “One And Out” just doesn’t get it. At least they canned it but they just don’t get it.

“Billy Flynn” finally updated his online resume.

No Saturday mail delivery? I’d go for a Tuesday - Thursday - Saturday every other day schedule.

I love the irony that exists with Sal DiMasi being a “hero” of anti’s over his anti gaming stance and a portion of that is based in the ever present corruption that is associated with gambling. And Sal turns out to be a crook!

Barking dog surgery bans is on the legislative schedule. I wonder if Adam’s clients are involved?

Central Falls, R.I. Is a community that has a multitude of problems that run the usual gamut from excessive poverty to high unemployment. The one significant place where a change can be initiated is the school system. That has not happened. Drastic steps have been taken and the various teachers unions better get use to it - this will be the ultimate accountability.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Madness

Repackaging is a gimmick employed by some businesses to make a product look new, fresh and up to date. You redesign the package and reword it but make now apparent change to the product accept downsizing it. Most consumers are readily aware of what has taken place and are savvy enough to realize what is going on. This is exactly what Obama is attempting to do with ObamaCare II. This type of repackaging is laughable.

On the above what is amazing is size shrinkage. Ice cream has gone from 64 ounces to 48 is an example of just one of thousands of products that have been downsized while the price has been increased. Some have even placed emphasis of labeling in metrics in large bold and minimizing Old English measurements in hopes of confusing consumers. Again, laughable.

What is going on with the local override? I see a few letters in the paper but little else. I see nothing on their web site (link on sidebar). There is one informational session scheduled for 3/9 according to the Gazette but little else. Effective override campaigns take months and sometimes multiple tries. This one right now is starting to take on all the images of the illustrious CPA campaign.

I recently booked a flight one way from Denver to San Francisco. After considerable research the lowest fare was $99 for a non stop on Mid West Airlines operated by Frontier Air. You go to the Frontier web site and the same flight has a fare of $129! This is not unusual especially with air fares.

Much is being made lately of flawed research especially in the area of medicine. Researchers tweaking data to allow grants not to dry up. Now the great global warming debate takes on an aura of suspicion with more and more information being released showing the scientific method was virtually non existent. Sounds a lot like some of the “research” that Jessie Powell instituted on behalf of the anti’s to promulgate the casino issue.

With Toyota it comes down to how much they knew and when they knew it. Maybe “Billy Fallon” can enlighten us all on those issues? Anyways, the company is starting to look almost American like in their evasiveness and denial. I saw one Congressman on TV jumping all over their executives and then they flashed his name and the following: D-Michigan! That explains a lot right there.

I have some mixed emotions about the recent changes to credit card laws as a good portion of all the misery is poor personal decision making and financial planning. There are some who have abused the system out of necessity but for most it is based on stupidity. Banks have long seen the cards as a potential cash cow with a variety of fees and escalating merchant charges. Bottom line is if you do not make the minimum payment any new laws have no impact on your situation.

Since I have never had an original thought in my life maybe I should copy Bumpkin and invite guest columnists?

I am still clueless about Facebook.

Those Canadian hockey gals know how to celebrate.

Rotary auction time is coming up. Big chance to clean out your cellar.

To Joshua and all of the 144th stay safe.