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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Florida; State of the Union; Legal ages

Sorry for the extended break between posts, and tonight will be a short one in view of the late hour. My Florida trip was a rather busy one, not really in your travelogue area. The West Coast of Florida (i.e. the Gulf Coast) is pretty nice, still relatively uncongested, unlike the overgrown East Coast. Driving across the state is still somewhat of a pain in the butt. Route 80 is two narrow lanes, one each way, with no median and trucks flying by your door at 50 miles per and up. Not much shoulder either before the swamp. They don't call it alligator alley for nothing.


I did watch the State of the Union and though it was the usual hodgepodge of proposals mostly going nowhere, I thought it was one of George W's better efforts. He provided a much better rationale for our Iraq policy than his opponents have for reversing it. He failed though, to explain his new strategy very cogently or why it might be effective. Believe me, 20,000 new troops won't make a bit of difference. The question is how can we better deploy those troops and the ones already there. The Bush health proposal is interesting and I will want to study it further. I have some doubts that the country is ready to give up on the paradigm of employer provided coverage, whether it makes sense or not.

The weakest part of the speech was unquestionably his apparent move to the left on the environment. In fact, Bush has been trumpeting ethanol all along, and that is a policy that benefits only the farm states and the big food processors (like my investment in ADM). My own view is that what is happening in China and India spells doom for the internal combustion engine as we know it today. You don't have to be a mathematician of any consequence to figure out what it means to put billions of Chinese and Indians on the road. At that point, we go over the tipping point and oil, even with additives like ethanol, can not meet the world's energy demand. In fact, the inputs to ethanol production are barely exceeded by its energy output (something like 1.3-1 versus 10-1 for gasoline) so the more ethanol we use, the less efficient is our power supply (and the more expensive our food).

Clearly we need to be working on making other energy sources practical. I am not a scientist and can't tell where the solution lies, but I am pretty sure it is out there and necessity will drive us to find the practical solutions to keep our cars, planes and plants running. I am also pretty sure that the sources of our future fuel supply (say in twenty years) will not include two current sources - oil and ethanol.


There are many things we have backwards and that should be re-thought. One of them is that the legal driving age in this country is 16 and the legal drinking age is 21. You might think that is logical, but I believe they should be reversed. Most cars driven by teenagers are unguided missiles. Frankly, this is true whether the young drivers are sober or not. Personally, I would make the legal driving age 21, possibly allowing exceptions for daytime driving to work and school. However, I also believe that it is important for teenagers to learn to drink. In France (not that I often hold that country up as an example for anything) children routinely drink wine. What's the problem with letting kids have a drink, since under my proposal, they will not be given wheels to operate? This way, by the time they are allowed to drive, the drinking novelty would be over, and hopefully, they would understand that the two activities should not be performed simultaneously. So I would set the legal drinking age at 16, or at least no more than 18, where it used to be in some enlightened states.


On 1/16, I sold 100 shares of LZ at 50.52 out of the IRA, which had been purchased on 8/18/03 for 33.73. Also on 1/16, I sold 300 shares of HAUP out of the taxable account (ouch) at 8.00 (originally purchased on 8/6/01 at 1.66). On 1/23 I bought 100 shares of GWR for the taxable account at 26.44. Then on 1/26 I sold 100 shares of ABC out of the taxable account at 52.98 (originally purchased on 7/28/03 for 32.15). Finally on 1/29, I bought 2500 shares or WLVT at 0.81 for the taxable account in what might be another ill-advised average-down.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Florida Bound

Item - Carter Center Advisers Resign - 14 board members resigned over Carter's new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, restoring my faith in human nature and my own sanity.


Very exciting playoff games this week. The hardest game to watch was San Diego winning the physical battle on the field, but mentally losing the game to New England. A seemingless endless series of dumb mistakes, idiotic penalties and absurd play calling by the Chargers served as a reminder of why Bill B. gets to the big game so often and Marty Shottenheimer never does. How LT doesn't get the ball when the Chargers can go ahead late in the fourth quarter is beyond me.

The two games next week are just about uncallable. But I would have to give the slightest edge to Indy and New Orleans. Very slight.


Watching Meet the Press this morning, and hearing Senator Lieberman make so much sense on Iraq and Senator Dodd prescribing a strategy for defeat was certainly interesting. Not that the new Bush strategy is any great revelation, but we are not getting anywhere if we follow the Democrats' "non-Plan." And by the way, on behalf of my fellow registered Republicans, we would love to trade Nebraska Senator Hagel for Senator Lieberman straight up. We'll even throw in a Senator to be named later.


I am off to St. Petersburg tomorrow for the rest of the week and then to the Florida East Coast for the weekend. So redwavemusings readers can look forward to a new mini-travelogue next week. I am bringing lots to read and my desert island cd's, necessary for winter air travel when extended delays can come with little warning. Luckily, my next quarterly NAIC Meeting is in NY so that's one less major trip this year.


On 1/10, I bought 1900 shares of WLVT (formerly WLV) for the taxable account at 1.08. More averaging down in this stock, that had to give up its Big Board status because of shrinking market cap and move to the dreaded pink sheets. There was a time when pink sheet status was an automatic disqualification from my buy list, but then came CNRD and I (luckily) discarded that rule.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Wild Card Musings - 2007

I don't watch as much sports as I used to, but I have to admit that last weekend I pretty much O D'd on football. It was wild card weekend, and I picked the Colts, Cowboys, Jets (with the spread) and Eagles.

The Colts much maligned defense is clearly misunderstood. The stats said they were horrible against the run, making the Chiefs a problem for them because of their great running game. But I had seen the Colts stuff the run against good opponents this year, and you can't start 9-0 if you don't occasionally stop the other team. On a day when the Colts vaunted offense sputtered, their defense easily dominated the game. I look for the Colts to surprise the pundits again this week in Baltimore, a team that visits the end zone only infrequently.

The Dallas game in Seattle was a classic ending right out of the movie North Dallas Forty. Even after blowing the hold, I thought Romo would get the first down, but he did hesitate, and he didn't leap when he could have and roll into the end zone. For those betting on Dallas, they covered anyway, so there was more justice for the bettors than for the Cowboys. Seattle can't possily handle the Bears on the road this week.

That justice evaded Jets bettors, who saw almost three full quarters of solid effort spoiled by a silly backward pass play. At that point, the Jets, down 7, were pounding the Pats on the ground. Then they ignored the most basic rule in football: Run until they show they can stop you. If the Jets keep that drive going, they cover with the eight and a half points even if the Pats come back and win the game on their next drive. Instead, it all fell apart after that turnover. I don't like the Pats at all against the Chargers this week.

The Eagles were on their way to a cover with a 7 point lead and the self destructing Giants facing a first and 30 after more of their undisciplined penalties. Somehow the Giants got the game tied, and though the Eagles won routinely on their next drive, that didn't do Eagle bettors any good, giving 7. That's why it's dumb to bet on football, since the object of the game for the teams is not aligned with the bettors' interests. It's not like horse racing where the win is all that matters. The Eagles are playing great and are a threat to win on the road in New Orleans, a game that I rate as unbetable since you don't have any idea how the Saints will play.

There were also two interesting college games with the same theme. To me, it's too hard to really know college matchups, since there are so many good teams. But you can know conferences and in college football, the conference that dominates is the SEC (like the ACC in college basketball). No matter what the Notre Dame players said going into their game with LSU, you had to know there was no way they could win that game, or even be competitive. ND is always grossly overrated, since they have legions of fans but play a weak schedule. LSU could have been the best team in the country by season's end.

The match up was similar between Florida and Ohio State. OSU had a really good team, but playing almost all of their games in the Big Ten, there was no way their schedule was anything like Florida's SEC schedule plus Miami and Florida State. Sure enough, the game was no contest.


This is something like my 45th blog post, and some of them have been OK. Then you read a column like Peggy Noonan's in last weekend's WSJ and you realize you're just another blogger hack. Some of her thoughts on Gerry Ford's funeral:

"Praising these things reminds the old of what it is we should be aiming for each day, and instructs the young on the elements of a life well lived.
"We do it to make the picture broader for a moment, and free ouselves of cynicism. And we do it finally to enact what so many feel and rarely say, not only because it's corny but because if you mean it, it's beyond words...

"...Jimmy Carter's remarks were wonderful. He and Gerald Ford spent 1976 beating each other's brains in. It was a sharp and personal campaign. And here he was speaking of 'the intense personal friendship that bound us together,' as Rosalyn Carter wept in her pew...
"Good for all of them. Such affection and dignity isn't only about them, it continues the long and very human line of old political enemies who came to see each other's humanity, and then see beyond that. 'Jefferson still survives.'"

And on Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker:

"...and the House has erupted in cheers...And now the first woman to lead the House of Representatives is being handed the gavel by John Boehner, the leader of the opposition. He kisses her. She holds it high...

"And so again we remind ourselves who we are. We 'show an affirming flame.' We are a great republic and a great democracy. We are a great nation and a great people. We peacefully - gracefully - pass power from one group to another. And we start this new time on the right foot, with a cheer."


On 1/3, I bought 100 shares of NEM for the IRA at 45.37 and sold 300 shares of HAUP out of the taxable account for 7.30 (purchased in August of 2001 at 1.66). Then on 1/8, I bought 50 shares of UIC for the taxable account at 49.65.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


A New Year - New Musings

It's 2007, and we have a new WSJ format. It's narrower, but fortunately, still mostly familiar, though it may take a period of adjustment. On the whole, I found it acceptable, and certainly easier to handle on the train, which should make me considerably less undesireable as a seat neighbor. So I will not be switching to the Times, of that you can be 100% sure.


The world has survived the elimination of Saddam, and the violence in Iraq continues unabated but also no worse. Once his government fell, I always assumed that Saddam became a red herring, his capture, trial and execution being mainly window dressing. Of course, it's a good thing for the world that he has paid for his crimes, though those opposing capital punishment quite understandably take the position that lifelong incarceration in Iraq is punishment enough for anything. What we have now, of course is continuing Sunni-Shiite conflict, with the Kurds being mainly fortunate, non-involved bystanders. In power, Saddam successfully avoided this conflict in the only way possible for the minority Sunni's - by repressing and torturing everyone else. Since the majority is now in command, those tactics should not be necessary, except that the Sunni's refuse to accept their minority fate, and the Shiites hate them anyway. So this continues to be a situation without easy solution, and the imminent surge in our troop strength doesn't really get at the problem, I'm afraid. For a possible way out, consult my earlier post concerning Steve Forbes' suggestions, also championed by Hillary Clinton, of all people.

With respect to Saddam, my guess is, as General Patton would have said, he has been consigned to the Nether Regions.


President Ford was buried today, and if they exist, surely he has arrived at the Pearly Gates by now. No one would confuse him with being the most brilliant of Presidents, though his press is certainly better now than it was when he was in charge. Even his decision to pardon Richard Nixon, then much derided, is now seen as being his best moment by the media, blessed with the perspective of history. The "Whip Inflation Now" campaign also made him seem a bit light at the time, an image played up on Saturday Night Live by the overrated Chevy Chase, and of course by the liberal media. Funny how the media hates active Republicans but reveres them in death (Goldwater, Reagan, Ford).

My lasting memory of Ford was of his first TV speech as President, right after Nixon left town. It was like a breath of fresh air came over the country, to hear a man who would do his best (however limited), honestly and without rancor.

The other thing many forget was how close he actually came to being re-elected, despite Jimmy Carter's 30 point lead coming out of the conventions. That was an incredible achievement - one would have thought that the party of a resigned President would have had no chance at all.

Tonight's top ten list of esoterica: Favorite singers (Female)

1. Sarah Vaughn - The Divine One
2. Billy Holiday - Legendary Stylist and Musica Genius
3. Ella Fitzgerald - First Lady of Song
4. Aretha Franklin - First Lady of Soul
5. Julie Andrews - The original Eliza Doolittle; Mary Poppins and Maria in the movies
6. Janis Joplin - Blues Charisma
7. Diana Ross - Forget Dreamgirls - She was the Diva of Motown
8. Natalie Cole - Inherited Dad's talent
9. Patsy Cline - Queen of Country
10.Judy Garland - Talent and charisma

Honorable Mention: Edie Gorme, Helen Merrill, Martha Reeves, Linda Ronstadt, Keely Smith, Dione Warwick, Dinah Washington, Mary Wells

Dishonorable Mention: Ethel Merman, Barbra Streisand

Last night's Boise State OT win over Oklahoma had to be the most entertaining college football game I have ever seen. There may have been better played games, but never one that was more fun to watch.

On 12/26, I bought 100 shares of ADM for the taxable account at 31.25. On 12/28, I closed out the year selling 400 more shares of CNRD out of the taxable account for 6.20 (originally paid 1.95 in October of 2004).

Time for the periodic disclaimer: Investment transactions and comments appear in the blog merely for the electronic record and the interest of whatever casual readers should stumble upon them. Neither redwavemusings nor its author are brokers, broker-dealers, or investment advisors. Securities and trades mentioned here may not be suitable for anyone else (or even for me).

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