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Showing posts from December, 2006

The War on Religion

When Attorney General Janet Reno, most certainly with the blessing, er...make that approval, of then President Bill Clinton, flame-broiled the Branch Davidians, I thought that something of significance had occurred. Both the old main-line religions and the fast-growing evangelicals were strangely mute - to their long-term disadvantage in my opinion. They didn't defend the Jews from the Nazis either.

Not that I had any particular sympathy or inclination in favor of that little cult, but simply that I believe that religious tolerance is a hallmark here, and if someone wants to follow Monty Python and worship The Holy Hand Grenade, well, that is their business.

But the November issue of Wired magazine lays it out. It profiles three leaders of a movement it labels The New Atheists. These three not only are disbelievers, it is their view that the time to respect, or even tolerate, religion is over. Wired calls it the Crusade Against Religion. I won't recount all this here, but some o…

Investment Ideas

Recently heard from my old friend Jim Garvin with some investment ideas. Jim told me to buy Southwest Airlines in about 1982. I of course totally ignored that, with a cost of a few houndred thou.

Jim says the smart money is still looking at Canadian oil sands and watching commodity plays, despite the volatility of those in the last 18 months.

If Jim says that - I'd look.

From a technical stock analysis viewpoint, the recent up move by GE looks powerful - breaking through multiyear resistance.

As always, do your own diligence.

video recording phones

About two years ago I had dinner with noted furniture industry analyst Joel Havard. He theorized that the widespread adoption of mobile phones with video camera features would lead to completely unforeseen outcomes.

The Michael Richards escapade, and the Sea-Tac airport Great Christmas Tree fiasco prove him prescient.

An immigration question

I count myself among the conservatives who are concerned about the horde of immigrants illegally entering the U.S.

But something has been puzzling me.

Countries as varied as South Korea and Ireland have moved from third, or near-third world status to growth and prosperity in little more than a generation.

Ireland did it with a bold tax plan, cutting corporate taxes to 10%, and offering additional incentives that made rates really closer to zero, thereby setting off a wave of investments from big Pharma and virtually every tech company, including Lionbridge, Dell and Microsoft.

South Korea took a very different tack, raising huge protectionist barriers that are only gradually being reduced, and assisting the growth of the chaebols; resulting in ten or so world scale monsters like Samsung, Lucky Goldstar (LG) and Hyundai.

India, which had long shunned business and open markets as the activities of a lower class, is now embracing growth and experiencing an economic boom.

China, with its mi…

Life and death - but mostly life - I

In 2003 (most recent data) 19,408 people lived too long.

In what seems to me to be the most under-reported story I can think of, the death rate is declining noticeably. In 2003, 2,448,288 people in the U.S. died. In 2002 2,443,387 died. So, 4,901 more folks left this life. "What about it", you might ask. Well there were 2,865,000 more Americans, and 19,409 should have died, using the 2002 death rate. Our average age is moving up at nothing short of an astonishing rate. (Although one could argue that it can't move up more than one year per year.....).

Why is this happening? Lots of reasons. Statin drugs are extending the lives of heart attack victims, or preventing heart attacks all together. The percentage of people driving drunk and killing themselves (sad) or killing others (tragic) is down. Seat belts, air bags, crumple zones better brakes and tires. Higher survival rates for premature babies (big statistical impact of living to a normal age length vs. dying less than a…

A sad day

I'm going to detour from my usual political/business/economy posts for a personal note: our longtime companion Schnauzer Sascha passed away last week.

She had been our little buddy for 14 years. It was a sad day.

Rest in Peace little friend.

OK - More Candidates

OK - since my post last week - two new announced Presidential Candidates - Govenor George Pataki of NY and Govenor TomVilazon of Iowa - Pataki as a Republican, Vilazon as a Democrat. I guess after Carter, we should conclude that anything is possible, but I put these two in the definite long shot category.

Unfortunately for him (and us), Vilazon's announcement speech was anything but inspiring. One point in his speech was how difficult it is for people to achieve the universal American dream of home ownership. Fact check gov: home ownership in the U.S. is an an all time high. And with home prices falling, mortgage rates reasonable, and a stupifying variety of low intro rate/interest only/LIBOR base rate/adjustable rate loans, just about anyone who has a job can own a home.

And George P.: at one point we thought you were a conservative. Now: who knows?

So, now I'm up to 7 & 9 candidates and counting....