WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

Born loser

Commenting on the Amaranth implosion, one British money manager prefers the, um, safe road:

"You know it is extremely difficult to produce solid numbers without taking stupid risks," Olssen said. "It shows you how dangerous it is to be too return-hungry."
Who wants solid returns, anyway?


Critical Mass pictures

Here they are. Enjoy.

I'll be in Vegas this weekend with Zeke. See you on Monday.

Deep thoughts

A little motivational thought to go along with last Sunday's motivational poster:
It's always brightest just before the night.

Critical Mass

It's the last Friday of the month. That means it's time for Critical Mass.

If you're an angry, militant bicyclist like me, there's no place you'd rather be. See you at Justin Herman Plaza at 6PM.

Air Ameriscam

Bronx Charity to Repay the City $625,000 Given to Radio Network as a Loan
The state attorney general’s office is continuing to look into the misuse of the funds, and the case has been transferred from its charities bureau to the criminal prosecutions bureau, two people close to the investigation said yesterday.

City investigators found that the charity, based in Co-op City and formerly known as the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, lent $875,000 to Air America Radio. At the city’s request, the network put the money into an escrow account while the investigation continued.

...

Until last year, Gloria Wise and an affiliated charity, Pathways for Youth, relied on the city for nearly 80 percent of their budgets. The city no longer has contracts with Gloria Wise.


That's right: Air America took money from a children's charity to pay rich, yammering jackasses like Al Franken and Randi Rhodes!

And they say San Francisco has freaks

A northern Kentucky man wearing only a thong and carrying a knife allegedly videotaped himself attempting a burglary, then left the tape behind, police said. That evidence ultimately led to his arrest, Fort Mitchell Police Chief Steve Hensley said.

At least in San Francisco, we don't leave the evidence.

Judge gets $10 million in numbered Swiss bank account

Enron's Fastow Gets 6-Year Sentence:
Andrew Fastow, the mastermind behind financial schemes that doomed Enron Corp., was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison -- four years less than he had agreed to in a plea bargain -- by a judge who felt he deserved leniency.

The smirk

I listened to about five minutes of Air America this morning. The host (Stephanie Miller, maybe?) was talking about how poised and righteous Clinton was in his indignation on Fox News. The left really seems to think Clinton's meltdown was neither a meltdown nor a bad move for Democrats.

Debra Saunders, a rare moderately conservative columnist at the SF Chronicle, disagrees:
Left-leaning blogs are lauding Clinton's tantrum. Thinkprogress.org reported that Clinton taught Wallace "a lesson."

If so, it was a lesson on "How Not To.'' Bubba looked silly dismissing Wallace, his "nice little conservative hit job on me" and the Fox News network as conservative tools. Sorry, Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch donated $500,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative last week and hosted a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton this summer.

I don't get it. If Bill Clinton is so smart, why has he made his failure to get Osama bin Laden the big story of the week twice in the last month?

Free Cory Maye

This is one of those cases that unites good people across the political spectrum. Cory Maye was sentenced to death for shooting an intruder in his home late at night, fearing for the life of his daughter sleeping in the next room. It turns out the intruder was a police officer with a warrant, though apparently intended for Maye's next-door neighbor.

The left is rightly outraged because Maye is a poor, black man in the South, and the details of the "justice" he got are appalling. Conservatives, who believe in the right to self-defense, can see themselves in his shoes, though they are much less likely to be the targets of erroneous warrants, and they would receive a more competent defense and more sympathetic prosecution and jury. Libertarians are horrified by the loss of Constitutional rights and the sanctity of our homes in the futile "War on Drugs."

Radley Balko has a great article in Reason. Read the whole thing.

HT: Ang's Weird Ideas.

Folsom Street Fair

Another beautiful day in San Francisco. I went down to the Folsom Street Fair. E-mail me if you want to see the pics (not for the easily offended).

Motivational poster courtesy of the motivational poster generator.

Clinton goes postal

Don't miss Clinton on Fox News going absolutely ape-shit about the right-wing conspiracy behind questions about why he never did anything to catch Osama bin Laden.

There's no comedy like a little well-earned police brutality

Hate to say it, but she was asking for it.

Plastic Pelosi

I saw Nancy Pelosi last night on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. Her face is so frozen with plastic surgery that it's painful to watch her try to talk. And the smile -- scary!!!

Anyway, she's promising to be bipartisan and let Republicans chair committees if she becomes speaker. Not bloody likely.

She should play poker with that plaster mask covering her expressions all the time.

I thought they also ran companies and vacationed in exotic places

Billionaires only occupy Forbes 400 list

Couldn't happen to a nicer company

Looks like no one's reading the New York Times anymore. At least no one that advertisers would pay to reach:
The New York Times Co. on Thursday forecast sharply lower third-quarter earnings because of a "challenging" print advertising market, sending shares down nearly 5 percent in after-hours trading.

The publisher of The New York Times newspaper and the Boston Globe forecast earnings of 8 cents to 10 cents per share, compared with 16 cents in the same quarter last year.

"The print advertising market has been very challenging during July and August and remains so in September," Chief Executive Janet Robinson said in a statement.

Not that this is anything new though. The New York Times has been stinking up the joint for a long time.

He speaks from experience

Time Warner chief queries internet prices:
Media companies looking to acquire internet sensations Facebook or YouTube would need to take a "big leap of faith" to pull the trigger on a deal at the valuations of close to $1bn being discussed, said Dick Parsons, chairman and chief executive officer of Time Warner.
This from the head of Time Warner, which gave away half of the company for a worthless POS known as AOL. One billion dollars is nothing compared to what Time Warner flushed down the toilet. The only bright side there was that annoying U.N. cheerleader Ted Turner lost half his wealth in the deal.

Angelides: desperate and clueless

The California Democrats are running heavy TV ads, hoping to avoid a blowout Schwarzenegger victory in November.

The message? Reforming the corrupt University of California? Doing something about any of California's economic issues? Health care? Gerrymandering reform?

Nope. Schwarzenegger supported George W. Bush. Over and over and over. Schwarzenegger supported George W. Bush.

It's bad enough that the national Democrats don't have any platform except hating George W. Bush. But what does hating George W. Bush have to do with running the state of California?

Jeremy Siegel podcast

This guy's pretty good.

Siegel on the Fed and Amaranth.

Not that any of this invalidates my view that the dollar is going down the toilet.

Truth in advertising

From the rubble of this week's blowup at Amaranth Advisors, we search for lessons from the one-time whizkids who blew half the value of their portfolio in no time flat. Chief among them? What's in a name:
The amaranths (also called pigweeds) comprise the genus Amaranthus, a widely distributed genus of short-lived herbs...

Let the Jew hunt begin!

Reporter to Senator Allen: "Are you now, or have you ever been, or was your grandfather with the very Jewy name, a Jew?"

HT: Alarming News.

Avast, ye scurvy rats!

Don't forget to Talk Like a Pirate today!

Fund on pork

OpinionJournal's John Fund:
If Republicans lose big in November, one reason will be their tardy response to public outrage over profligate spending....

The federal government is now an astounding 185 times as big in real terms as it was a century ago. A general sense that Republicans have forgotten why they were sent to Washington is a big reason why only 43% of Republicans approve of Congress in this month's Fox News poll. If Republicans can't better explain how they plan to get a grip on spending, many voters will conclude they both deserve and need a time-out from power.

Life imitates Zeke

Muslims so mad they could explode.
- Old Zeke, September 15.

West Bank churches attacked after Pope remarks.
- Reuters, September 16.

Our superiors, the enlightened Europeans

Americans are prudes and religious nuts. Compared to Europeans, anyway.
Denmark's animal bordellos reportedly draw Norwegian clients, but both countries have loopholes that make such establishments legal.

Neither Denmark nor Norway has a prohibition on sex with animals, as long as the animals do not suffer.

HT: Ace of Spades.

Muslims so mad they could explode

From Reuters (mostly):
In a speech in Germany on Tuesday, the Pope appeared to endorse a Christian view, contested by most Muslims, that the early Muslims spread their religion by violence...

Pakistan's National Assembly, parliament's lower house, unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Pope's comments.

"This statement has hurt sentiments of the Muslims," the resolution said. "This house demands the Pope retract his remarks or we will blow the shit out of the Vatican."

Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance

Hmmm...
No city is more tolerant of avant-garde art than Berlin. But scores of audience members there fled Wednesday's premiere of a plotless play in which Princess Diana beds down with two men who have Down syndrome, and a dwarf portrays the queen.

Excellence in advertising, #134

On a local TV spot from Beaver Toyota in New Mexico: "Come check out the new Tacoma, the truck that loves work and hates gas."

Fantastic...I guess you can just piss in the tank now.

At least they had humor enough to put "beaver" in their name.

Nature Conservancy, you are Put On Notice!

I have been a big supporter of The Nature Conservancy for a long time. It was my favorite charity because it used donations to purchase and preserve property in voluntary, open-market transactions. Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman would approve. Contrast this to groups like the Sierra Club, which use their funds to lobby politicians and promote coercive public policy changes.

No more. I was deeply disappointed to read this:
In November, [California] voters will be asked to decide on Proposition 90, the so-called "Protect Our Homes Act" -- a property-rights initiative that would amend the state Constitution to limit the use of eminent domain.

The initiative would make it impossible for cities or counties to seize land in order to eventually transfer the property to a different private owner, such as a shopping mall developer....

On the other side is a coalition of opponents, including cities and counties, environmental groups and the banks that underwrite redevelopment bonds. Collectively they have given at least $1.5 million to fight Prop. 90, according to the most recent campaign filings.

The biggest chunk -- $755,000 -- came from municipalities, primarily through the League of California Cities. Environmental groups, led by the Nature Conservancy, have given more than $300,000.

It's bad enough that the Nature Conservancy is wasting funds that should be going to purchase and preserve sensitive land. It's worse that they are trying to preserve Kelo-style eminent domain abuse for big developers.

Not another dime. Nature Conservancy, you are Put On Notice!

All the news that's fit to make up

NY Times: Not only did we write a sleazy hit piece on Wal-Mart, portraying standard PR practices as sinister, but the things we wrote were blatant lies:
The Times article said that the groups and their employees had consistently failed to disclose the donations, and it said in the first paragraph that the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research was one of them. But a Manhattan Institute author had told The Times that he had indeed disclosed contributions from the Walton Foundation in an article he wrote, a fact that should have been included in the Times article.
...
The article also reported that Tim Kane of the Heritage Foundation and Karl Zinsmeister, formerly of the American Enterprise Institute, were among those who wrote articles favorable to Wal-Mart after their foundations received a donation.

Both those groups were called for comment for the Times article. Mr. Kane, who was not called, subsequently said that he did not know about the Walton Family Foundation contribution and that he had criticized (emphasis added) Wal-Mart’s call for a higher federal minimum wage in an article he wrote.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories

I never felt the need to address such silliness as 9/11 conspiracy theories until someone I know and respect fell for them. This person is intelligent and educated, but fell for the lies in the blatantly dishonest propaganda film "Loose Change."

A good half-hour podcast antidote to this BS is here.

Like poker? Keep it legal.

Those sleazy politicians in D.C., who couldn't be bothered to secure the borders or address the death tax, have found time to try to take away your online poker.

The Poker Players Alliance has set up a toll-free phone line that will connect you to your Senators' offices tomorrow only, Tuesday, September 12:
From 9:00 AM Eastern Time, until 5:30 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday, September 12th, we are asking all PPA members and anyoneinterested in defending poker to call this toll free number, 800-289-1136 and be patched through to one of your two U.S. Senators in Washington D.C. When you call the 800 number you will hear a recording from fellow PPA member Greg "Fossilman" Raymer and then you will be prompted to enter your five digit zip code so you can be directed, free of charge, to yourSenator's office.
Make the call.

Power to the Peaceful 2006


It was a great event. The weather was chilly, but the turnout was huge and the vibes were good. Michael Franti & Spearhead were great as usual.

Speakers included Rabbi Michael Lerner, Wavy Gravy, a recorded Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

I'm not sure which tribe these Africans are from:


I think this might be the Venice Beach regular who roller-blades with his guitar:


It wouldn't be a San Francisco event without Crazy Chinese Businessman (though he's recently adopted a more casual look):


World can't wait:


9/11 conspiracy wackos:



Video clips:
Rabbi Michael Lerner proposes a new corporate social responsibility requirement. He later explained his homeland security proposal: to donate 5% of GDP to Third World countries so that they won't want to kill us any more.

Michael Franti & Spearhead: Yell Fire! (poor sound quality).

Michael Franti & Spearhead: Time to Go Home.

A crowd pan to show how huge the festival was.

At the Spearhead tent, I bought the new album. It is outstanding.

To timidly stay where billions have stayed before...

Fat jackass William Shatner afraid of free space flight.

Bad sign for the Arizona State MBA program

I just played a little poker online with someone called "MBAProf" at PartyPoker. The guy was the single worst poker player I have ever seen. If you've played low stakes online, you know that's quite a statement. This guy was giving his money away. He managed to lose about $40 in about 15 minutes at 10c-25c blinds. A sample play: re-raising pre-flop with AQ offsuit against AA and 77, then calling all-in after an unhelpful flop. That one cost about $24.

I gave away the punchline in the headline. The guy said he taught at ASU. If the professors there are that stupid, what must the students be like?

Paris Hilton CD

It gets a good review.

Not a positive review. A good review.

Schadenfreude

If you're a sick bastard like me, you'll enjoy this video.

The security illusion unmasked

After billions of taxpayer dollars--as well as the dollars of travelers and airlines--have been thrown at "upgrades" to aviation security, the silliness and ineptitude of the effort is again painfully revealed:

A bizarre incident aboard an Air Canada Jazz flight last week has raised questions about just how terror-proof those new bullet-proof (and apparently pilot-proof) cockpit doors are. With 30 minutes left in the flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg, the captain left the cockpit to use the washroom in the rear of the CRJ-100. When he got back, the door lock had apparently malfunctioned and he was unable to get back to his post. Now, the first officer was up front and fully capable of landing the plane but the captain apparently insisted on being in his seat. In front of 50 passengers, he and the cabin crew popped the hinges on the door.


At least they kept me from bringing my water bottle back from Vegas.

Steve Irwin

Man, that's weird. You know how hard it is to be killed by a sting ray?

It's a one in a million shot. Kind of like the guy who goes into the emergency room saying he slipped in the shower and ended up with a shampoo bottle up his ass.

Yeah, it's like that in more ways than one:
"He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.
Next time you go diving with sting rays, keep your willie to yourself.

Your U.N. at work

... in Darfur:
In the face of ongoing genocide in Darfur, the international community's failure to accept the "responsibility to protect" (that's United Nations language, officially adopted) innocent civilian lives has taken its last, abject form. The National Islamic Front (NIF) regime in Khartoum, made up of the very men who have for more than three years orchestrated the systematic destruction of Darfur's African tribal populations, has been told directly and unambiguously that there will be no U.N. peacemaking force without its consent.

Why are we still funding this corrupt, incompetent, and totally useless organization?

Bush's tax policy: more progressive than Clinton's

Remember all the whining about "tax cuts for the rich?" It turns out they were really tax cuts for the poor. Today's OpinionJournal:
First, the new data show that the bottom 50% of Americans in income--U.S. households with an income below the median of $44,389--paid a smaller share of total income taxes in 2004 (3.3%) than in Bill Clinton's last year in office (3.9%). That 3.3% is the lowest share of total income taxes paid by the bottom half of earners in at least 30 years, and probably ever. The majority of American families with an income below $40,000 pay no income tax at all today, and many of them also get a welfare subsidy from the Earned Income Tax Credit that effectively offsets much of what they pay in payroll taxes.

By contrast, Americans with an income in the top 1% paid 36.9% of all federal income taxes in 2004, down slightly from 37.4% at what was the height of the dot-com boom in 2000. But the top 5% and 10% of earners saw an increase in their tax share over that same period, with the top 5%'s share rising to 57.1% in 2004 from 56.5% in 2000. If this isn't the definition of a highly "progressive," a k a redistributionist, tax code, we don't know what is.

Especially instructive is what has happened to tax shares since the tax rate on capital gains and dividends was cut to 15% in 2003. These investment tax cuts have corresponded with a huge spike in tax payments by the affluent. Between 2002 and 2004, the income tax share of the top 0.1% of earners rose to 17.4% from 15.4%. A reasonable conclusion is that much of this increase reflects tax payments on capital gains and dividends--which have soared by an astounding 79% and 35%, respectively, since the rate cuts.

I've often said that Bush is not a conservative. But even I did not realize the extent to which he is a raging, redistributing, pinko.

First Amendment null and void as of Tuesday

The D.C. Examiner:
Something almost without precedent in America will happen Thursday. That’s the day when McCain-Feingold — aka the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — will officially silence broadcast advertising that contains criticism of members of Congress seeking re-election in November. Before 2006, American election campaigns traditionally began in earnest after Labor Day. Unless McCain-Feingold is repealed, Labor Day will henceforth mark the point in the campaign when congressional incumbents can sit back and cruise, free of those pesky negative TV and radio spots. It is the most effective incumbent protection act possible, short of abolishing the elections themselves.

Power to the Peaceful

If you ain't in Frisco, get there.

Next weekend is the Power to the Peaceful Festival, put on by Ben Harper-esque musician Michael Franti. Last year's festival featured assorted kooks like Woody Harrelson and tree-dweller Julia "Butterfly" Hill.

Tales from the Great White North

Contrary to popular belief, Canada is not a frozen wasteland.

I'm enjoying a vacation in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia (a misnomer; it has neither high tea nor cocaine), on Vancouver Island. The weather is great and the people are friendly.

If you ever visit Victoria, have dinner at Brasserie L'Ecole. Despite it's name, it doesn't serve snails and the waiters aren't rude. Great food.

Those who wish to learn more about our northern neighbor are encouraged to see the educational films "Strange Brew," "Canadian Bacon," and "South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut."
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