Quite Possibly the Most Offensive Christmas Song Ever

Don’t play it if you don’t have a sense of humor. Don’t play it if you don’t want to hear “bad words.” You probably shouldn’t play it at work.


In Closing: the choice to fail; the majority of Americans want common sense; tweeting pope; and you thought American banks were bad; on the economy; explaining Iceland; let me save you some reading; NDAA sucks and the new version is no better; “And when a story has enough obvious holes in it that small children roll their eyes, its literal truth is going to be a tough sell”; all the econo-talk you can stand in one place; on Grover Norquist; avoiding the cliff; and the smartest thing I ever read about small business taxes is “My company and my competitors never made a decision based on taxes.  They made decisions incorporating what the tax structure is because we can’t change it.”

Bikini Bloodbath Shorties

Where the heck does Hollywood keep coming up with absurd titles for horror movies? Anyways, on to the shorties.

It wouldn’t be Shorties without the Economy:  Yeah, turns out it is a recession if you stop playing games with inflation. Gee, really? Maybe that’s why the stock market is picking up their money and going home. Maybe if somebody were, oh, I don’t know, creating jobs.

Is it a coincidence that I’ve been invited to 2 protests that they won’t even tell me where it is until I RSVP?: Maybe, Maybe not.

Up, Up, and Away: in my beautiful 1940s aircraft.

People with Idiotic Ideas Aren’t News: You tell em, Senator.

From the Top: The Secretary of Education says that No Child Left Behind is a **** piece of **** and urges states to opt out of the money associated with implementing it. Gee, maybe “better” isn’t a standard.

Bloody Socialists: Turns out they have a few good ideas about the practice of medicine.

Speaking of medicine: The Duhpartment of Research is at it again.

International No Diet Day

International No Diet Day is May 6. I know some of my readers practice “No Diet Day” every day, and I mean them no offense by this post. I recognize that there is a small minority of people — mostly people with a decades long history of dieting and failing and/or people recovering from eating disorders — for whom dieting is a detrimental if not downright pathological activity.

I first learned of the existence of this day from this defacement of their Wikipedia entry. As a result, I took a look at their website. It makes my brain hurt. From it’s whimsical use of Comic Sans in a serious document to it’s chronic misuse of scientific information, I just can’t imagine taking International No Diet Day seriously.

One of the goals of the occasion is to “Recognize how dieting perpetuates violence against women”. Excuse me? There are people who assault women over the issue of dieting? Failing to “recognize” that, here! I’m sorry for the narrow-minded viewpoint that “violence” implies “physically hurting someone,” but Merriam-Webster’s got my back on this one. Am I seriously missing news stories about women being beaten up for eating a donut? For not eating a donut?? To add insult to imagined injury, I can’t find any information on their site that would support or clarify this goal. If they want to argue that there are people who make fun of dieters and people who make fun of fat people, I can agree with that. Calling it “violence” undermines their movement.

Let’s move on to their “facts” and figures about dieting. Between “90 and 99%” of diets don’t work forever? Pretty big range there! Sure would have been nice to link to a study or two, preferably ones that use those numbers. There’s reasons for diet failure, of course, and most of them can be controlled. Then “virtually all” dieters gain it back? That’s a big shock to me, my family, my friends, and many people on the internet.

Yes, it’s true that the “diet industry” and diet scams earn a lot of money from people who desperately want to get thin, but can’t get the hang of eating healthy foods in reasonable quantities and engaging in physical activity. Want to have a “Boycott Diet Industry Vultures Day”? A “Say No To Crappy Diet Food Day,” or “No Diet Shakes for Me Day”? Perhaps just simply a “Don’t Waste Money On Stuff That Doesn’t Work Day”? I’m there.

In the end, the “facts” and figures section has a lot of statistics and mentions studies, but provides no data or links or actual scientific papers to back them up. 5% of college aged women are anorexic or bulimic? Seriously? Based on what information? Almost a third of women in their 20s and early 30s have bone mass problems? Really? Tell me, did the makers of Boniva do that study? Where did the data on 9 and 10 year olds dieting come from, a child modeling agency? How hard is it to find citations online? There’s these miracle things called “search engines” now. An English teacher would have a “Field Day” with “International No Diet Day.”

There is one more “goal” that needs mentioning, one apparently too controversial for the frontpage of their site or the Wikipedia entry: “To educate the public about the dangers of weight-loss surgery, diet drugs, and size-biased medical treatment.” By “size-biased medical treatment,” they mean the idea that your doctor thinks you will be healthier in the long run if you lose some weight and keep it off. Here’s the facts: study after study shows that obese people are at higher risk for a variety of cancers (oh look, I used a search engine to find a gaggle of studies!); obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease; obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis in the joints of the lower body; obesity is a risk factor for diabetes (at least one doctor I know insists that if you are overweight, you will eventually become diabetic. Sobering stuff). If it is “size-biased medical treatment” to point these things out, I hope all doctors are so biased.

In Closing: TV ownership in America on the decline, both due to poverty and internet delivery of video; FDA getting ability to do something about food safety; flashmob robbery; waaah; small business hiring disappointing; we’ve all gone crazy; Orwell would be proud indeed; propaganda; “Dude, I need, like, about 250 sliders, man”; thank you, anti-vax morons; and an interesting view of 2012.

Tucker and Shorties vs Evil

Inspirational Story of the Day: Teen disappointed that he didn’t make the soccer team, so he loses 60 pounds and deadlifts 308 pounds. There are lots of things you can do if you want to badly enough.

Um, Yeah: I can see where meeting a co-worker in such a place might be bothersome. Just say “but it’s the Wall Street Journal! I thought it was business news!” if you get caught reading that at work.

Hi-Ho Silver! Away!: Now might be a good time to sell?

That’s a Good Point: Charity and God may go well together, but not always.

What Would Your Doctor Do?: Say no to nudie-scanners.

Let’s just put all this economic news in one spot: First, we’ve got payroll numbers, which are “rising” but at too slow a pace. Campaign for America’s Future reminds us that “it’s the economy, stupid” and “Americans want government to play a larger role in economic recovery.” Because big business doesn’t give a damn; after all there’s an entire rest of the world to exploit. Tiger Beatdown has a nice item on the ongoing class war that nobody [wealthy] wants to talk about. Meanwhile, more and more families are feeding their families with help from food stamps. Inflation is going to make things even worse for those of us who aren’t millionaires. Tim Iacono points out that the savings rate is even worse that we think. Teen joblessness may reach record levels this summer — which means expect idle teens to find ways to get into trouble. People are defaulting on their student loans. But hey, at least small businesses are borrowing money; maybe they’ll actually hire people.

How interesting: So with gas prices what they are and our nation importing oil, American oil companies are exporting more oil than they sell here! And best of all they are sucking down American tax dollars at the same time!

Even Shutting It is Controversial: Yucca Mountain. I guess some good padlocks aren’t sufficient, eh?

Fortune is Right: What good is a consumer protection agency that can’t protect? If Congress waters down consumer protections, or Elizabeth Warren doesn’t get to head the CFPB, you will know that our lawmakers have sold our souls to the banksters that ripped us off.

Susan’s Got a Point: It is called “special education” for a reason.

Eric Holder’s Vow is Worthless: Back in 2009 he vowed to stop raids on medical marijuana facilities (yeah, I’m no HuffPo fan, but the only better link was NYT). But I guess whatever forces really control the War On Drugs Used By Poor And/Or Brown People told him how stuff is: his office has warned states that they will prosecute anyone they think they can prosecute for medical marijuana. Never mind what the people think. Their opinion only counts on election day, after all.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Marie Osmond celebrated her wedding to her third husband… who just happened to have been her first husband. She even got to recycle her original wedding gown. Thanks, NutriSystem!

A story

The President keeps talking about making the hard budget decisions that families make around their kitchen tables. Let’s turn that table.

Once upon a time — ok, long about 2001 — there was a family that was finally coming up for air. Once they paid off their bills each month, there was actually money left over. Of course, they were still making the minimum payment on all their credit cards, and they still had mortgages and car payments and all the little expenses of suburbia. And like most Americans, they didn’t have nearly enough money saved for retirement. Nevertheless, this little budget surplus was a big deal!

They thought for several months about what to do with this extra money: Pay down the credit cards? Put it in the retirement account? Buy a boat? In the end, they decided to cut back on their hours at work so they could use the extra time to pursue a dream: an online business selling homemade wicker baskets. (A real basket case!)

Years passed.

The economy went sour. It turned out that not only did they really not have enough patience to spend all their free time making wicker baskets, but few people wanted one for the price. After all, cheap, Asian made wicker baskets are available lots of places. They had a couple babies. A raise they were expecting didn’t pan out. They ended up underwater on their house — thankfully not New Orleans style. One of the cars needed a new transmission, and it wasn’t under warranty. The water heater at the house had to be replaced.

And not surprisingly, their debts went up. Finally, those debts got to the point where they got alarmed and decided something had to be done.

So they got a free consultation with a financial adviser down at the bank. “Free” was a price they could afford!

The adviser confirmed that their situation was completely unsustainable, because at some point they would reach the limit on their credit cards. Visa and Master Card were unlikely to extend them more credit at this point, and there was no equity in the house for a loan. However, bankruptcy was simply not an option. So, the adviser asked, what have you thought about doing to get back on track again?

“Well,” answered the woman of the house, “We’re thinking of getting out of the house and renting a cheap apartment. And we might get rid of the cars. Cable TV has gotta go, and even though the kids love Sesame Street, we’re going to have to stop giving to PBS.”

“Let them get commercial sponsors like everyone else!” the man of the house interrupted.

“Actually we’re going to have to stop all donations, even giving clothing to Goodwill. After all you never know when something’s going to be handy. No more discretionary shopping, of course” the woman of the house continued.

“Oh, and one more thing,” the man of the house announced, ” she’s gonna stop taking birth control pills. That’s another $20 copay every month!”

“Um, ok,” said the adviser, and he looked down at the notes he had been scribbling while they talked. “Let’s think this through. I don’t know if you’ve priced apartments lately, but I think you’ll find you won’t save very much. Particularly once you figure in the mortgage interest tax deduction. Plus a foreclosure will show up on your credit report and could make trouble for you at work.”

“Nobody said foreclosure! Just send the bank the **** keys!” the man shouted.

“That’s called deed in lieu of foreclosure. It’s pretty close to the same thing. Now, about the cars. Why do you want to get rid of them?”

“Well, there’s the payments of course. And gas is so expensive. And then there’s repairs and oil changes and things like that,” the woman answered.

“I see,” said the adviser. “If you sell them, how will you get to work every day?”

There was a silence. The man and the woman looked at one another for a moment, and stammered something about walking and the bus.

“Let’s move on,” the adviser suggested. “I think you’re on to something cutting cable, but that’s still not much money. So, uh, what other shows do the kids like?”

“Oh, our oldest loves Pokemon!”

“Bugs you to buy cards for him all the time, doesn’t he?”

“Oh yes!”

“Do you really want Sesame Street to have commercials?”

“Well, when you put it that way, I guess not.”

“Ok then. No donations doesn’t hurt anything, but it’s not helping you either. And remember, you can take a tax deduction on stuff you give away, so you might reconsider that one too.” The advisor took one more look at his notes before going on, “Have you discussed the birth control together, before today?”

“She’s my wife and I can make decisions for us!” The man announced.

“Well, that’s between the two of you, but have you considered how expensive it would be for her to get pregnant again? You could have thousands of dollars in expenses! It seems to me that $20 a month is a bargain.”

That’s right, dear,” the woman said, glaring at her husband.

The adviser sighed, then said “Look, these are all very interesting ideas, but even if you add them all up that’s just a teeny bit of your budget. And we haven’t even talked about the fact that you don’t have nearly enough in your retirement accounts, and you have absolutely nothing put aside for your kids’ education.”

“What are we going to do?” the woman asked. Now she was starting to panic.

“You’re going to have to get some more income. Is there any chance of getting more hours at work?”

Sheepishly, the man admitted “My supervisor offered me more hours just a couple months ago. But I turned him down. After all, if I take those hours I won’t have time for our wicker basket business. I’m investing in the future! Someday those wicker baskets will mean I don’t need that job anymore.”

“That’s interesting. How long have you been in the wicker basket business?”

“Nine years.”

“Really? How much money did it bring in last year?”

The man started to stammer about the recession, but the woman cut in, saying “Net profit of $99.12.”

“Seriously? Oh come on, you’ve got to be kidding me. Nine years building a business and all you’ve got to show for it is a profit of $99.12? You know that at your hourly wage, you can earn that in a day?”

The man looked at his hands in his lap. The woman glared at him.

Finally the adviser spoke: “If you are serious about digging yourself out of this financial hole, you need more work. I’ll help you out, but not until you get those hours back. If you’ll excuse me, I have other clients waiting.”

In Closing: one more time, if your job requires you to do something that goes against your conscience, quit!; WI and more WI; middle class incomes going down; talk about the wrong guy to hassle; and about time somebody did the right thing.

But the Recovery is Still On, Right?

The Dow and S&P were both up today. The economy is [allegedly] growing. Everything is on track and will be wonderful in the future, right?

Yeah sure.

The experts — at least the ones that don’t have their heads stuck in the sand — know that a real recovery means people will have to spend more money. In an environment where the Bureau of Labor Statistics quietly admits that real unemployment is 16.7%, and some groups have unemployment rates as high as 28%, that seems unlikely to happen.

Almost 11% of houses sit empty, mostly in urban areas. Eventually these homes will either be renovated or bulldozed. Experts predict a boom in apartments, without bothering to mention that’s because it will be a long time before a typical American has a downpayment. Just a reminder: the housing crash means that not only can workers not afford to move to Where The Jobs Are, workers can’t afford to start small businesses either.

Union membership is down. This does mean that wages are going down because nobody is there to fight for a living wage. It means that stable jobs are gone, because there’s nobody to demand them. It’s also a symptom of the fact that we can’t seem to make much of anything more durable than a latte in this country.

So wages are down, unemployment is high, houses are money pits rather than assets. But hey, they’re having a party on Wall Street. Maybe there’s leftover cake.

In closing: no; LOOKOUT (or just be sane); and how does that fix the radiation?; more on Jack LaLanne; an idea whose time has come; childhood obesity; solve the puzzle, win a prize; it must be nice; on health care; yes, Albania; that too; puzzling; and in case you wondered.

Revisiting the BAMTOR Principle

Banks Always Make Their Own Rules, and this has been a banner week for demonstrating it!

You’ve heard of course about the lady who arrived at her second home to discover new locks and all her stuff missing, including her late husband’s ashes, right?

What about Deutsche Bank agreeing to pay a bunch of fines for helping wealthy Americans dodge their taxes?

Arizona and Nevada are both suing Bank of America over loan adjustments, and the Nevada AG has evidence that B of A has engaged in massive deceptive trade practices.

In California, Wells Fargo has been forced to admit that “pick a payment” was a bad idea and strongarmed into modifying a whopping 15,000 homeowners (sounds much more impressive if you say $2 billion in mortgages, doesn’t it?).

Meanwhile, the federal agencies that should be regulating the banks and protecting the citizens are protecting the banks from the citizens. The Federal Reserve has actually blocked new foreclosure regulations.

Even MarketWatch suggests that the banks have pulled on over on all of us.

We don’t just need rules for Big Banks, we need them to be forced to follow the law. Put a few bankers in jail, and I imagine the rest will be more likely to resist criminal activity.

In Closing: less American Pie; when Pat Robertson says to decriminalize pot, you know the War on Drugs is a failure; duh; security threat; Schneier; look, there’s never going to be a “get out of the security line free” card, so stop wishing for one!; gee, whoda thought?; good idea, wish somebody thought of it during the Clinton Administration; and idiot motorists drove through wet cement, getting stuck and delaying a project that would have been open in time for Christmas until probably Easter. Hope they’re real proud of themselves.


Or: Ha ha! Women Like Cupcakes!

The Christian Science Monitor is not the only news source that went with the headline “Obama targets women voters in Seattle trip with talk of jobs, cupcakes.” The title goes back to this paragraph:

The White House gathered a group of female business owners for the Seattle meeting to try and help Obama argue that his policies have benefited women. They included the owner of a metal products manufacturing firm, and the owner of a specialty cupcake bakery.

Goodness knows we couldn’t have gone on to say something about the non-stereotypical woman running a metal shop! Nope, we had to talk about cupcakes. Apparently Secret Service guys like them too. If I liked reinforcing stereotypes, I’d point out the similarity between cupcakes and donuts. After all, aren’t Secret Service guys a lot like cops? And cops love donuts, amiright?? Ha ha!

What a shame that small talk about pastries derailed the actual important point of the article:

[A new report available from the White House Domestic Council] notes that women are now over 50 percent of US college graduates, and close to a majority of the US work force. At his Seattle town hall, Obama made the argument that as women go, so goes the nation, jobwise.

“How well women do … will help determine how well our families are doing as a whole,” said Obama.

What a shame that this message — and the larger message that many of us need decent jobs in workplaces that do not hamper our ability to be part of our families — had to be buried under a pile of designer cupcakes.

In Closing: On the Yalie frat boyz (am I correct that we would already be talking about their expulsion if they were chanting “Lynch Them!” instead of high-spirited talk of rape? Please say I am);  right, putting parents in jail will really make them better parents; try stomping your foot when you want a large corporation to do things your way; I NEVER NOTICED; I didn’t even notice The Great Nevada Shake Out; roar; water on the moon (everything you learned in grade school is suspect); “legal” pot in California might save more on law enforcement than it generates in revenues (like that’s a bad thing); yes, insurers will have to spend at least 80% of premiums on health care instead of profits; 2017??; our local paper may have to actually deal with the concept of “Fair Use“; the accidental girls school; an excellent question; noooooooo!; end of the CD?; wanna buy a live crab?; and a comic:
Matt Bors

Following Up

Earlier this week, I said the FDIC was preparing for a too-big-to-fail institution to fail, and I speculated that Bank of America was the most likely candidate. Looks like bond investors figured the same thing.

Just yesterday I was on about an article suggesting that instead of blaming the banks for committing fraud, we instead blame the victim for not paying his mortgage. I wasn’t the only person who took offense at that ill-considered piece of garbage.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard much stink about property rights cases like Kelo vs. New London, where property was taken simply because somebody thought there was a market for something nicer. It turns out there are “environmental costs” to those developments, many of which are no longer viable since the real estate bubble burst.

And here’s one from way way back there. Somebody needed a study to show that small businesses create jobs? Next thing you know we’ll be studying whether or not things fall when you drop them.

In closing: Fox and Cablevision play chicken; etiquette schools; “honey, which can did you use?”; and “You’re much stronger than you think you are,” said Superman.

Make Me Mad

This morning I read a little item called “It’s time to stop blaming the lenders.” The essence can be told in less than one paragraph:

It’s okay that people made the mistake of borrowing more than they could afford. But is it really the lenders’ fault? Really? Maybe the banks didn’t deserve to be bailed out for their own poor judgment, but do the rest of us really deserve to bailed out for our own?

So let me make sure I’ve got this right. It’s our fault?

It’s Harry Homeowner’s fault that when he went to talk to Mary Mortgage-Broker, he actually believed her when she told him he could afford up to a $300,000 mortgage? It’s his fault that she lied to him, or pressured him into a pick-a-payment or adjustable rate mortgage he didn’t completely understand?

It’s Nicolle Bradbury‘s fault that she lost her job and — like so many other people — hasn’t been able to find another job that would allow her to continue making a modest $474 monthly payment?

It’s Joe Average’s fault that “everybody ought to own a house” propaganda combined with shoddy underwriting to create a housing bubble, even when the people who should have known it was a bubble said everything was fine?

It’s my fault that mortgage company executives were making insider trades?

It’s Darrell‘s fault that the mortgage company lost his paperwork not once, but five times?

It’s your fault that banks sold one another worthless securities based on your neighbors’ mortgages, and now sometimes can’t even figure out who owns what?

It’s our fault that banks hired scores of people with dubious qualifications to sign legal documents equivalent to swearing in a court of law, attesting that they knew things they couldn’t possibly know about our mortgages?

Is it also Nancy Jacobini‘s fault that her home didn’t look “lived in” enough for the goons hired by her mortgage company to change the locks? Is it her fault that he couldn’t be bothered to look in a window or knock on the door?

It’s Patrick Jeffs‘s fault that a mortgage company tried to take his home when he didn’t even have a mortgage with them?

This is nothing more than a pathetic attempt at victim blaming. It’s right up there with “she wore a short skirt so she deserved to be raped” and “he was walking at night; he should have known better.” The author should be ashamed of himself, but he honestly believes that it’s as simple as “no pay, no stay.”

In Closing: they want to build a steam powered computer; obesity is a threat to national security; venture capitalists are spending less money on new companies, which bodes ill for future job creation; average teen sends 3,339 text messages per month; girls can so do math; bad boys, bad boys, whacha gonna do?; health insurance reform isn’t over yet; overworked; and let me make sure I understand, the kids throw a wild party that got out of hand, and so you arrest the parents, leaving the kids to throw another party? Egads.

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