Sunday, September 28, 2008

How Banks Create Money From Debt

Jack Cafferty: "If Sarah Palin Being A Heartbeat From The Oval Office Doesn't Scare You, It Should."

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Tina Fey And Amy Poehler As Sarah Palin And Katie Couric On Saturday Night Live

I nearly coughed up a lung on this one.


Background On Credit Default Swaps

There's a really great article running on Newsweek on the history of the credit default swap, the instrument that ultimately got us into the fiscal calamity that has us teetering on your actual brink.

They even cover that "tranche" is the French word for "slice".

There are two thoughts that have crossed my mind about this whole mess.

One - maybe the Muslims are right that lending money for interest is inherently evil. Not for the reasons that they think, but, say, for the sake of simplicity, if you lend someone $100 and ask for $110 at the end of the year, where is that $10 going to come from?

Yes, pretty much, no matter how you slice and dice it, you're going to have to print that $10, so now $110 is worth the same as $100 was a year ago so you didn't make anything anyway.

My great-great grandfather was right - the credit system is a curse - not only to the buyer but to the seller as well.

The second thing is that no one can predict the future. Oh, you can try - you can come up with huge actuarial tables based on the past experiences of thousands or millions of people and make a good ATTEMPT at pricing risk, but, guess what - just about every time if you wait long enough some new variable will enter the situation and all your old statistics will end up utterly worthless.

Yep ... we're in bad, bad trouble, boys and girls ...

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

General Nikki X Pays A Visit To Axinar's

There's a very old story that starts, "First they came for the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew, so I didn't speak up." That story ends with, "And finally, they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up."

Perhaps some of that sort of sentiment is why I followed General Kabaka Oba in his radio call-in days. In fact, I remember one day seeing his Mustang exiting South 75 onto Paddock Rd. There was a young lady in the car with him and I remember mentioning to the person with me, "I wonder if that's General Nikki X".

Axinar of course is many things, and one of them is an "art critic" of sorts, so, as the closest I ever came to General Nikki X was two car lengths on south 75 on a Saturday afternoon, of course I do not speak of her as a person, but rather as a web artist, and, yes, generally speaking, quite frequently I do question the "grace and dignity" of her RSS feed.

In fact, one need do no more than turn to the Blogger profile of General Nikki X and find her "occupation" listed as "Black Militant Hardcore Guerilla Soldier".

Yes, such a phrase SCREAMS "grace and dignity", don't you think?

Now, I do not mean to defend Joy Rolland in this, nor would I support the "feud" theory.

I think Nikki X was trying to make the point in her comment on my blog that her grace and dignity is not questioned by the law as it is in the case of Joy Rolland.

Absolutely correct. Nikki X's chosen form of expression is the occasional over-the-top blog entry. Joy Rolland's is attempted homicide.

Nikki X continues, "This is not just cyberspace entertainment and blogger chatroom folly. THIS IS REAL LIFE. THIS IS MY LIFE."

Yes, I have to admit, so far as I have been able to make out, and it is certainly the case that I'm not privy to all the details, Nikki X is certain not the appropriate target for Joy Rolland's frustration.

However, as is generally the case with most ongoing court action, it is generally the advice of counsel to not speak of such matters publicly AT ALL. If I remember correctly, Joy's baby daddy also nearly took a dirt nap at Joy's hands and, so far as I know, he has no blog.

Once the blog is up, it's subject to Axinarian analysis as a work of art, my friends.

Now, the real subject matter for my talents as a drama critic is the details of Joy's September 24, 2008 courtroom outburst, but it sounds as though General Nikki X has been enjoined by counsel from recounting those events.

Bummer. I suppose we'll just have to figure it was PRETTY BAD to get her locked up for SIX MONTHS.

I do find myself wondering what's going on with Joy. It used to be that the reports back from the courtroom were such things as, "Oh, she's all fire and brimstone on cable, but quiet as a church mouse in front of the judge." Now she's lost it in front of the judge.

I do wonder if Joy will ever get the help she needs. One thing is certain - if the energy she directs towards human destruction could ever be channeled into something constructive, she could accomplish a great deal. Without appropriate assistance I do believe the path of destruction she will leave in her wake will make Hurricane Ike look like a gentle breeze.

Yes, It Still Disturbs Me: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Theme By The Ohio State University Marching Band

Star Trek Theme - Ohio State University Marching Band


Verizon Wireless Discontinuing SMS Delivery Confirmation September 30, 2008

Well, it's official, gang.

I just saw a "Tweet" from the official Verizon Wireless account that they are discontinuing SMS confirmation messages effective September 30, 2008.

Oh, now that's a bummer.

We just switched TO Verizon Wireless about a month ago and I thought it was really neat that you got a confirmation when you sent a text message to someone within the Verizon network.

I guess now - or so the story goes - they've acquired so many subscribers that the confirmation messages are jamming up the network.

Either that or - it would be my guess - they are going to wait until the users start demanding their confirmations back and they start charging - you guessed it - a bare minimum of something like $2.99/mo. to bring the confirmations back.

Although - question - do any of the other wireless carriers have this SMS confirmation feature?

And, hey ... why don't Verizon Tweets have links to longer press releases??


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joy Rolland Gets Six Months For Court Outburst

It took me a while to find this, but apparently Joy Rolland lost it in court yesterday and got slapped with six contempt charges that will throw her in the hoosgow for six months.

Apparently she was in court on charges of stalking Nicole Davis, BKA "Nikki X".

Contributing to Joy Rolland's charges were segments of one of her infamous cable TV shows where apparently she threatened Nikki X.

According to the Enquirer story, Joy Rolland made a couple of inappropriate comments, got hit with at least two contempt charges and then "erupted, spewing vitriol".

Oh, come now, you can't just leave it at THAT.

Does anyone have a good play-by-play of that part of the action?

The story then goes on to make references to Joy Rolland being subdued and handcuffed, but, much to my shock, dismay and horror, it doesn't say anything about her getting TASED.

Absolutely impressive that they were able to take her down without the use of tasers or firearms.

I just hope someone can get Joy the help she obviously needs before she does end up causing herself or someone else some damage that can't be repaired ...

(September 27, 2008 Update)
The person who runs TheConsciousLife on YouTube is trying to get in touch with Joy if anyone wants to pass this information on.

Reference Materials:
Sample of Joy Rolland's cable show
Nikki X's report of Joy Rolland's courtroom outburst


Endorsement From Barack's Sister

Let me tell you ... you gotta give him some kind of record for the most ethnicities represented by half-brothers and sisters in the history of Presidential politics ...


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

T-Mobile G1 (Google Android) Demonstrated

Now here's a nice demo of the upcoming T-Mobile G1, which runs the Google Android mobile OS.

Looks like they are making a NICE stab at mixing the Blackberry and iPhone qualities - a touch screen interface where you can do many of the things you can do with a iPhone, BUT it also has a full slide-out keyboard.

The phone is expected out October 22.

Yes, I will be at SOME T-Mobile retail location shortly after that to torture the thing and see if I can get some sort of substantive answer to the question when T-Mobile will be rolling out their 3G network to the Cincinnati area.


Radio Announcer Keeps Talking Through Studio Fire

Yes ... I think I've seen it all now ...


Blackberry Storm 9530 (Blackberry "Thunder"?) Coming Soon From Verizon Wireless

Yes, it looks like the Blackberry Storm 9530 is now official as I got an email from Verizon Wireless directing me to their - I presume - official Verizon Wireless Blackberry Storm 9530 site and gave me the opportunity to give them my email address and sign up for even MORE pseudo-spam about this little item.

Now, apparently this is what became of the "Blackberry Thunder" project. It's, yes, what many people have been waiting for - part Blackberry, part iPhone.

From the Blackberry we have the familiar Call, Menu, Back, and Hang-Up buttons.

From the iPhone we have - yes - a ginormous touch screen.

Yes, I am going to be descending upon Verizon Wireless retail locations as soon as they release this thing to see if Blackberry has come up with a touch screen that I can actually USE.

Some great mysteries remain though - will the Blackberry have an iPhone-type browser that you can zoom in and out with two fingers?

Even more mysterious is some copy from this "official" site that that that the Blackberry Storm will have "global capabilities". Perhaps this will be similar to the 8830 with the SIM card so you can switch over to GSM when you're traveling in Europe and whatnot.

Yes, gang, this could be a REALLY big deal.

I'm presuming it has a user-replaceable battery and, well, a camera better than what's on either the Curve or the iPhone?

I guess we will just have to anxiously await the pseudo-spam announcing its arrival at the actual stores so that the ever-ready Verizon Wireless retail reps can accost me the moment I open the door to the store ...

First Live Pics of the BlackBerry Thunder! - Crackberry
Blackberry Storm 9530 Shipping Box - Crackberry
BrewNinja demonstrates Blackberry Thunder prototype - Engadget

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Uncle Jay Explains: The Financial Meltdown


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jill Haney - The Hyper-Neurotypical?

For those of you who have long ago given up on the print edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer, you've missed out on a fascinating new column the last few months in the Sunday paper by a young lady named Jill Haney, a "certified image consultant".


Now let's think about this for a moment.

We're talking about someone hypothetically SO neurotypical that not only does she excel herself at "social graces" - particularly in workplace settings - but people PAY HER to convey her wisdom on such matters to others.

The first article that really caught my attention was about what attire was appropriate for the office gym. Now think about the irony of this situation. You're in a place that, oh, maybe is supposed to be selling stocks or insurance or something of the sort and they provide a facility intended for building up and showing off rippling muscles and then someone might get OFFENDED if someone exposes too much skin?

Then there was an article about people getting irritated by co-workers clipping nails.

Actually not "irritated".

"Grossed out".

Presumably nauseated.

By someone clipping nails.

Neurotypicals crack me up.

Now come on - if you're going to tackle office behavior that is both psychologically irritating and damaging to productivity, you ought to do some columns on back-stabbing, rumor-mongering, clique-forming, tire-slashing, butt kissing, inappropriate intrigue, and the ever-popular business practices in dire need of whistle blowing.

No ... if you can't handle seeing a little skin, don't build a gym in the office.

And, depending on who it is, I'd LIKE to hear some nail clipping. If the person in question, say, is a sales rep with a meeting in an hour for a $100 million deal, I want to hear nail clipping, shoe shining, and pretty much an entire salon working in that cubicle. It ought to sound like a CONSTRUCTION SITE until that rep is so polished that he or she out-shines the SUN.

Now, let's see what Jill Haney has to gripe about tomorrow ... :)

Previous words of wisdom from Jill Haney:
Undershirts essential for crisp, fresh look - Cincinnati Enquirer July 13, 2008
On 'casual Friday,' leave the T-shirts, Crocs in the closet - Style & Influence March 1, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Yaesu VX-8R: Ham Radio Is Not Dead Yet

So I'm looking through my latest QST that I saved from the jaws of one of Mrs. Axinar's cleaning endeavors and on the inside back cover what did I discover to my surprise but a full page ad for the first new Yaesu HT I've seen in years - the VX-8R.

Now of late I've found myself wondering if Amateur Radio is just about dead. There is a little activity on 2m that I can pick up from Camp Axinar from time to time - enough that I got a couple of new batteries and a new antenna for my last remaining transmitter - my old Yaesu VX-7R.

However, the buildings are so dense here that I can't pick up much of anything on the HF bands with a portable radio. I can hear a few shortwave broadcasters from time to time, but even that is dicey.

Of course so much of what we used to do on the ham radio bands we do now with other technologies. Cell phone calls were $0.50/minute back in 1985 so we had something called the "autopatch" where we could make phone calls from the local repeaters.

In 1993 the commercial Internet had not really started and "online services" charged $6/hr and up, so there were elaborate RF networks using a technology called "packet" where, in a day or so, you could get a message forwarded from Cincinnati through SE Indiana, and then via HF to Phoenix, then New England, then Ireland, then Israel, then Russia (much like the Internet now, sometimes packet email took STRANGE routing paths).

Of course now broadband is reasonably affordable as well as cell phones - up to and including "push-to-talk" systems that work very much like Amateur Radio HT's, so what's left on the ham bands are stuff that still doesn't have commercial equivalents ... easy-to-set-up places to "rag chew" as well as a really awesome emergency communication capability.

Anyone who has ever been in a significant emergency (locally, the Blue Ash tornado of April, 1999 comes to mind) knows that, in such situations the cell phone networks are overwhelmed almost IMMEDIATELY. When I got blown up in 1999, the old Ameritech analog network worked for a grand total of perhaps 15 minutes before being hopelessly overloaded ...

(9/17 Update)

That's where I stopped when the cable went out Sunday afternoon.

Needless to say this ought to be a lesson to everyone - GET YOUR AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE.

Get at least a 2m HT, have your batteries charged at all times and be familiar with what repeaters you can hit and how to pass traffic.

You NEVER know when something terrible is going to hit your area and the only means of communication might be ham radio.

Although - it's somewhat surprising - despite this event being MUCH more widespread than the Blue Ash Tornado of 1999, Verizon never overloaded.

On the other hand, maybe it was BECAUSE it was so widespread. I also imagine Cincinnati Bell POTS landline phones worked in many areas even where there wasn't any power. Back at the Blue Ash Tornado of 1999 there were thousands and thousands of people hitting the analog networks of Ameritech and Airtouch HARD in a relatively concentrated area. This time the cell phone traffic was more spread out - plus more people could communicate through text messages and other digital means that are easier for the networks to regulate.

Okay ... now back to the Yaesu VX-8R ... neatest thing I saw about it is that it has an internal bar antenna for better AM reception but ... oh that's right ... even WLW didn't cover the storm live ...

Yaesu Rep explains VX-8R at 2008 Dayton Hamvention
Universal Radio taking Yaesu VX-8R pre-orders


"Good Luck. We're All Counting On You."

Here we are well into Day 4 of the most widespread power outage in recorded memory in the Cincinnati area and Duke Energy it looks like Duke Energy is going to miss its goal of having 85% of customers up and running by the end of today.

The outage map is still lit up like a Christmas tree, but there are only a few big, concentrated pockets of 2500+ customers out in the same area.

As the cable line to Camp Axinar was only restored last night, I have not seen what the outage map looked like on Sunday night or Monday at the height of the power crisis.

What seems to be the most deplorable behavior of the hour is that Duke Energy crews and office workers are being threatened with bodily harm apparently by certain residents of Clermont County.

Clermont County Sheriff A.J. "Tim" Rodenberg is moving deputies into place to protect the Duke Energy crews.

In northeast Hamilton county things are returning to normal as more and more stores and intersections have power restored.

One phrase making the rounds to describe this event is "Survivor Cincinnati" because more power was out even than the Blizzard of 1978 and superlatively more power was out than any single tornado event in anyone's memory.

It was quite amazing to see how many other systems are hopelessly dependent upon the power grid.

With such a large part of the area affected, gas pumps failed and then water distribution pumps failed. Many areas were on boil water advisories and water pressure in many systems got decidedly low.

Let me tell you - I'm thinking people need to REALLY start thinking about keeping 3 - 4 days of C-rations on hand for everyone in the house, a staggering amount of bottled waters and all the generators and XPower devices they can handle.

Despite Mrs. Axinar constantly accusing me of being paranoid, there can be REAL disruptions to basic services that can go on for DAYS and even WEEKS and people need to prepare for that ...

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For Those Of You Who Missed Tina Fey As Sarah Palin

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yes, Hurricane Ike Hit Ohio

For those of you from outside the area who are wondering what's going on, remnants of Hurricane Ike hit this area as well as large parts of Ohio and surrounding states.

Apparently some freaky weather pattern forced hurricane force gusts to the surface causing the most extensive power outages in recorded history.

We also have gas shortages and numerous other problems.

Loss of life has been minimal in this area thank goodness.

I'll let you know more as soon as I have access to a computing device larger than a pack of cigarettes.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Sarah Palin Invokes Lincoln

Wasn't it in 2010 where they said, "Whenever a politician invokes Lincoln they're about to get us into trouble ..."?


Charlie Gibson Catches Sarah Palin With Her Britches Down

And to think there is a very real chance this woman is less than a year away from the Oval Office ...

What's a little more frightening is that this woman is running an entire state RIGHT NOW.

Lord, bless and keep this woman ... far, far away from Washington ...


McCain Can't Send An Email

Of course, on the other hand some of the most successful business people I've ever heard of couldn't tell you the difference between a computer and a toaster ...

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Your Opinion Needed On Leap Seconds

Are you a network engineer?

Or perhaps a broadcast engineer for a radio or television station?

Is keeping track of accurate time a vital element of your responsibilities?

If so, the U.S. Naval Observatory is conducting a survey asking if you think they should continue with the "leap second" program.

For those of you not geeky enough to keep up with such matters, ever since we have had hyper-accurate, atomic-based time pieces we have had one nasty problem in the fact that, due to the tidal drag of the moon, the length of the day is slowly getting longer.

In order to keep UT1 (the time that the Earth itself keeps) in line with UTC (the time that the atomic clocks keep), a "leap second" is inserted every few years.

Some think they ought to just let UTC drift away from UT1 so less work will be required at maintaining various computer systems. I'm guessing they're thinking maybe every few centuries we should just add a "leap hour" much as we switch back and forth between "Standard" and "Daylight Savings" time.

Of course there are some issues with doing it that way - ocean-going navigators without GPS not only require 1-second accuracy but 0.1! second accuracy, so there are "double ticks" in the WWV time signal to give 0.1 second accuracy. The other problem of course is that if we wait until we need to add an entire hour, in December and January the sun will be setting at 4 in the afternoon in Cincinnati.

My vote - we keep the leap seconds.

Verizon Wireless Ranks Highest On Network Coverage In Most Regions

Looks like Verizon has placed top or tied for the top rating for network coverage in many areas of the country according to a recent J.D. Power and Associates Survey.

Now, I'm guessing Cincinnati is actually is in the "North Central" region.

The article on J.D. Power's web site doesn't really say where the regions are.

For the North Central region, U.S. Cellular and Alltel rank highest. Alltel is in the process of being acquired by Verizon, but neither carrier is active in the Cincinnati region.

Neither AT&T nor T-Mobile, the two large GSM carriers, ranked highest in any reason.

Now this is no major surprise in this area.

About two years ago people started telling me, "Ax, you won't believe it - I switched to Verizon and I don't lose calls at I-275 & Reed Hartman or Montgomery & Kemper any more!"

Sure enough, having recently switched to Verizon Wireless myself recently there are no significant dead areas in any of the places I regularly go - with the notable exception of the Eastgate Lanes just outside of Milford, and I could have sworn I had a signal in there on AT&T (anyone out there still on AT&T who can verify this for me?)

The only thing that worries me a bit on Verizon is that they do seem to have a pretty locked-down data network. To use any J2ME goodies at all (Opera Mini, etc.) you pretty much have to have a Blackberry.

However, their sound quality is TREMENDOUS. When Mrs. Axinar calls me from the saloon now on her new Samsung Flipshot I can hear her over the noise almost perfectly. She cut out REALLY badly on her old phone on T-Mobile.

Yes, Verizon does have one magnificent network - let's just hope they open it up at some point.


CBS News On The Fannie / Freddie Takeover

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

CNBC Reporting Fed Takeover Of Fannie And Freddie - All Shareholders Likely Wiped Out

CNBC is reporting that top executives and board members were meeting in Washington today with regulators and that an announcement is expected tommorrow detailing the restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

ALL shareholders - common and preferred - are expected to be WIPED OUT or diluted beyond recognition.

I'm thinking I remember reading somewhere that stuff like this was what precipitated the Great Depression.

I'm also beginning to wonder if my favorite Conspiracy Nut friend might have been right.

Had the Fed not gone on that rate-cutting spree after 9/11 the conditions that led up to this may have never happened ...

Fannie Diving After Hours - CNBC Video

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Agriprocessors Caught Torturing Cattle Again

Despite assurances that they had changed their ways, the HUGE kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, Agriprocessors, has been caught torturing cattle again.

Now according to long-standing interpretations of the Torah, in order for an animal to be slaughtered in a kosher manner you can't stun it first - you're supposed to open up the neck in one motion with a perfectly sharpened blade. This is supposed to be the most humane slaughter method possible.

However, I don't think the Torah mentions ANYTHING about the huge wheel they invert these animals with, nor the "second cut" showed in this video and described in a recent Failed Messiah posting.

Temple Grandin, well-known autistic animal handling expert, has concluded the only possible way to keep these people from abusing these animals is to install monitoring cameras that can be audited over the Internet.

The more I read about this outfit the more disturbed I find myself.

I think it may very well be time that the Orthodox Jewish community considers the possibility that with the availability of mondern, powered tools, there may very well be other methods for slaughtering livestock than the techniques that so often lead to such cruelty inflicted upon these animals.

BTW ... can anyone direct me to a video of a kosher slaughterhouse where they actually do things PROPERLY??

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin For The Internet Perv Vote?

Actually, this cartoon (from Atheist Revolution) got me to thinking something that actually crossed my mind on Friday when McCain first announced his pick.

You think they picked this one to pick up the Internet Perv vote???


Sarah Palin's Daughter's Baby Daddy

Now Obama has been saying, "Hands of the families!", but fortunately the tabloid sites have been buring the midnight oil and have come up with staggering amounts of dirt on Sarah Palin's daughter's Baby Daddy.

Now of course all this got started with a really cool rumor over the weekend that Sarah Palin's youngest child was actually her granddaughter via her 17-year-old daughter Bristol. In order to dispell THAT rumor Sarah Palin released the news that Bristol is pregnant NOW.

Now isn't THAT fantastic news for an arch-conservative that your 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant.

The baby daddy is a 17-year-old hockey player named Levi Johnston. And Levi Johnston has a sister who had a MySpace page that was recently taken private, but not before most of the pictures from it were cross-posted here.

Just keep scrolling down - there's a picture of Bristol holding Trig and everything.

Yes, my friends - just remember - you better be careful what you post on MySpace, Facebook, etc.

You never know when your friend's mother might be nominated for Vice President.

Oh, that's RIGHT, she was already GOVERNOR OF ALASKA - you't think SOMEONE might have been paying attention ...

Palin Daughter Baby Daddy -- "Don't Want Kids" - TMZ


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