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Monday, April 23, 2007


Idol Thoughts

There is joy in Mudville. Sanjaya was finally voted off the Idol. Now we can proceed in peace to the ultimate showdown between Melinda and Jordin.


Also, the Apprentice finale was anticlimactic, since it was fairly obvious that Stefanie was the least incompetent of the four remaining finalists. However, regardless of the fact that the ratings probably don't justify another season, The Donald has to be questioning if this is really the way to hire a six figure employee. I don't think a good choice was really available to him, once Heidi bit the dust.


I'm not blogging about the world tonight, which is generally a mess as I write this. So this post is likely to be short. What can you say about Iraq until we see if this troop surge is going to make any difference? What can you say about Democrats in Congress who are so foolish, they almost make Republicans look human? What is there to say about Governor Corzine, who, along with the rest of his ilk, prescribes seat belts for the rest of us (which only makes sense), but apparently believes that law does not apply to him? How about the student loan scandal, where colleges grossly overcharge, then collude with lenders to profit from student loans. Etc., etc., etc.

Thank goodness for baseball season. I can always watch my excellent Mets with the most exciting player in baseball (Jose Reyes) and even the Stinkees with their awful pitching staff, and one man wrecking crew - A-Rod. Of course, after he breaks every April batting record, A-Rod could go oh - for - May.

So, I'll close with two great lines I read/heard recently. The first is the story about how Jackie Robinson received threats that he would be shot if he took the field in Cincinnati. So Manager Shotton called a team meeting and told the players there would be security in the stands, hopefully preventing the threatened assassination. So outfielder Gene Hermanski suggested that all of the Dodgers wear #42 that day. "That way, the killer would not know which player to shoot at." Even Jackie had to laugh at that one.

The other was by Rich Little the other night at the White House Correspondents Dinner televised by C-Span. Using the voice of Johnny Carson, he told the story of a ticked off fellow, entering a large reception and shouting that "All lawyers are assholes! All of them! Assholes!" Whereupon one of of the guests put up his hand and said that he resented that comment. "Oh are you a lawyer?" asked the irate fellow. "No Sir," responded the guest. "I'm an asshole."


On Wednesday, I sold 200 shares of BMET at 43.15 from the taxable account. 100 were purchased on 1/9/06 at 36.36, the other 100 for 37.10 on 5/1/06. And yes, that was a blunder, not waiting a couple more weeks for the second hundred to go long term. Especially since this stock is being bought out at 44. Discount brokers charge more for handling tendered shares than they charge for selling them, though. So that's why I closed out the position. Should have checked the purchase dates first.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Musings on V-Tech and Privacy

Hard to imagine sadder news than what happened yesterday at Virginia Tech or to fathom what the families of the victims are going through. While early reports are nearly always inaccurate, and one should resist jumping to conclusions or second guessing, it still causes concern that in this day and age, when an emergency begins to make itself known, those in charge of our institutions don't instinctively do what's necessary to contain the problem and establish control. Instead, they worry about acting precipitously. And when a student is obviously troubled, as many seemed to know the student who perpetrated the crimes was, they "recommend counseling" or take some other non-confrontational approach instead of doing what administrators would have done automatically in a previous generation - contact the student's parents, and have the threat (to other students) removed. Instead, we worry about the troubled student's "right to privacy."

Now in the last few years, we have had a flurry of privacy laws enacted, most of which are for the greater good, since they safeguard our financial and credit information, and prevent identity theft. However, the main effect of these laws has been to spawn an avalanche of useless and wasteful privacy notices that we all throw away without reading. But that's another story.

The courts have invalidated some anachronistic laws, which probably needed repealing, based on some constitutional right to privacy. Other laws, which never should have been passed have been preserved based on the same right. This was a big issue during the Bork hearings. Personally, I agree with Judge Bork that I cannot find any right to privacy in the Constitution. (Maybe that's because my copy did not include a "penumbra").

Colleges and universities used to take seriously their responsibility to serve a function in loco parentis but no more. Parents are not even entitled to receive their kids grades, and can not count on the schools to warn them of their kids anti-social or depressed behavior that might indicate serious trouble on the way. Forget about binge drinking. I don't want to be a prude, but 18-22 year old's are not yet responsible adults, in most cases, and parents need to be told when something is wrong. That duty should trump any penumbra protected privacy right.


Naturally, before we even knew any facts concerning yesterday's shootings, there were rumblings concerning "America's gun culture" and the need for gun control. I have never owned a gun and would never want to, but I did find the Second Amendment in the constitution, even without a penumbra. So, I think those pushing this agenda have literally jumped the gun.

HOWEVER, I think it is a serious question as to whether the Second Amendment protection applies to non-citizens, including those here on green cards, work visa's and student visa's. I am troubled that the V-Tech gunmen, whose family was here on green cards, was able to obtain guns so easily.


Heard in the barber shop today: "My grandfather was asked after his 65th wedding anniversary to what he attributed the long and happy relationship. He responded, 'we decided early on that I would make all the major decisions and she would get her way on all the others. Luckily, no major decisions have come up.'"


On 4/11 , I sold 300 CNRD at 7.50 from the taxable account. One nice thing about trading stocks is that it is an anonymous transaction, so I will not embarrass the nice people when I thank them for selling me those shares - 200 on 10/4/04 for 1.95 and 100 on 11/4/04 for 1.85. As for the person who paid me 7.50, thanks, but you're probably satisfied too since the shares have traded as high as 9.90 yesterday! On4/16 I bought 200 shares of PBCTD in a secondary offering my full service broker got for me for the taxable account. The offering price was 20.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Amazing Easter Weekend

The Masters surprised again, with a rare failure by Tiger to close the deal and an almost unplayable golf course for the first three days. Since we couldn't feel the wind and cold, it was still eye candy for TV bound golf fans despite the cringing over all the missed three footers.

Then there was hockey's amazing last regular season weekend, particularly Islanders-Devils, with the latter's last second goal seemingly denying the Isles the final playoff spot, only to have their rookie goaltender win it for them in the shootout. I was pretty well exhausted by the end of that game.

The action continued Monday with the Mets rallying in the eighth to beat the slow starting Phillies in the home opener. Of course, those heroics were nothing compared to Jack Bauer's on 24 later that evening.

So it was quite enjoyable and I am heading to Florida this Thursday to see Mom and Dad, so there will be no new blog posts before next week.


Watching Don Imus suffer for his racially charged comments concerning the Rutgers women's B-Ball team leaves me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I hate to witness the forces of political correctness in high dudgeon over every insensitive bad joke. As Don's rival Howard Stern would say, people are a little too sensitive these days. On the other hand, I enjoyed hearing Imus and his crony Bill Maher commiserating this morning. To be honest, guys like them bring this on themselves with their attitude that they know what's best for the rest of us and so easily pass judgment even on those in authority. When the elitists get taken down a peg, it's fun, as Imus himself would be the first to say. Unfortunately, he has become one of them, with his sucking up to his liberal media guests and his mindless references to our VP as a war criminal (without stating his alleged crimes), etc.

No doubt Iraq has been difficult, but that doesn't make the venture right or wrong and Imus has been relentless in arousing the opinion of his many fans against the Administration. You don't go into Iraq lightly, and you have no assurance of success. By the same token, you shouldn't just throw in the towel at the first sign that things are not going as planned. Imus and the Left don't get that. Most of them have approached the whole situation from the starting point that they hate the President and want to see him fail, even if the consequences for the country are negative. That is NOT loyal opposition, it is simply opposition. There are signs that the Bush troop surge is making a difference in Baghdad, to my own surprise. Do you think the Dems want to see that? They don't. That is not supporting the troops, no matter what they say.

So if Imus' beloved fellow elitists are burning him over his Michael Richards type humor, so be it. I don't recall hearing him support Richards when he got in hot water.


It's also amusing to hear Dems clucking over the Guiliani candidacy, wondering why the Christian Right is considering his nomination when his social positions are not in synch with the Falwells of the world. But Rudy has a good chance for the nod. Simply put, the media have always overstated the influence of the Christian Right in GOP politics. It is an important faction, but the GOP, like the Dems, has a big tent. Even evangelicals will consider the candidates in light of all of the important issues, not just abortion and other social issues. Republicans are no more Bible toting, armed and dangerous, abortion clinic bombing, red-neck xenophobes than Dems are a bunch of atheist, fetus killing, homosexual, communist pacifists.
But those are the stereotypes.

What worries Dems are Rudy's poll numbers against Hillary, and their concern stems from the fact that if he gets the nomination, he might win an election Dems believe is their birthright. It's amazing to me that when I talk to people from the South and West, they have such a positive image of Rudy, much more so than we do in NY.


On Monday, I sold 700 shares of SFE from the taxable account at 3.20, originally purchased on 10/14/02 for 0.97.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Iranian Hijinx

The Iranians, having accomplished their mission of taking their nation's focus off their foundering economy, released their Brit captives. Good news, but let's hope the civilized Anglo-Americans don't embark on a grateful round of appeasement. We should remember that Iran precipitated the incident, and all they did was return the people they had taken. This is not exactly Nobel Peace Prize nomination stuff. We should maintain the sanctions and keep the pressure on the Mullahs.

Along those lines, if you missed the op ed in Tuesday's WSJ by Dr. Tawfik Hamid called "The Trouble With Islam," you should renew acquaintance with your local library and read it. Dr. Hamid is a former terrorist who was once a member of Zawahiri's Jemaah Islamiya and now lives in the West as a Muslim reformer. The article is too long to post in full but here are a couple of excerpts:

"It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam...and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts Muslims to exterminate Jews before "the end of days." The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong...

"Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals - who unceasingly claim to support human rights - have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Sharia's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western 'progressives' pave the way for Islamist barbarity?...

"Western appeasement of their Muslim communities has exacerbated the problem. During the four month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine's formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession...

"When Westerners make politically correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.

"Tolerance does not mean tolerance of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism."

If some of these points seem familiar, you can verify by perusing the redwavemusings archives.

The suicide of Boston's lead singer, Brad Delp, was a body blow for the group's legions of fans, which include this baby boomer. Though the group's music features the pyrotechnics of its lead guitars, Delp's vocals were a constant and welcome factor in the mix. Now it's true that there aren't many males who sing in the particular part of the register where Delp was comfortable. You won't often hear Boston in a Karaoke bar (well, maybe "Amanda"). But there are a lot of us who've worn out copies of their records (thank goodness for CD's) and who were thinking about catching up with the band on its planned tour, which now is not likely to occur.

That just says that if your favorite performers are coming to town, whoever they may be, you don't ask how much it costs, you just go. Until it's too late, you never know which tour will be the last. If there was some way to revive Louis Prima and drag him back on the Las Vegas stage with Keely Smith, I'm on a plane tomorrow.


In a WSJ review of American humor, S.J. Perelman's Westward Ha made the top 5. It's an account of his trip to the Far East . "The whole business began with an unfavorable astrological conjunction, Virgo being in the house of Alcohol." Sounds like my kind of travel book.


On 4/2, I bought 2400 CDIC at 0.86, one of my notorious average downs, for the taxable account. Then on 4/4, I bought 50 shares of SF for the IRA at 44.16.

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