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Sunday, June 29, 2008

 

Red Wave on the mend

Somehow, today's Meet the Press wasn't the same and we all know why. I think among Tim Russert's really great qualities was that he charmed viewers across the political spectrum and made every effort at old-fashioned objectivity despite his well known Democratic political roots. Though he took politics and his show very seriously, it always had a light enough touch to be entertaining and fun. A tough interviewer, he never seemed to ambush his guests as many do routinely these days. He will really be missed.

Tom Brocaw obviously is an old pro and soldiered on well as today's host, but at the same time, it was so obvious that he was wishing it were not necessary for him to be there.

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One good point made on one of this morning's news shows was that Mr. Obama seems to lack even the most fundamental economic theoretical knowledge. How do you propose large tax increases and restrict trade agreements when the country is teetering on recession? Maybe it's time for him to sign onto his beloved internet and review the Wilkepedia entry for Herbert Hoover.

But what do you expect from a man who thinks there are 58 states!

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At least one of the (most) loyal musings readers noted the absence of a Thursday post. Thought there is no regular schedule for Musings posts, we haven't missed a lot of Thursday's recently. Actually, I could have done one Thursday. The background is that I had surgery Tuesday - a robotic, radical prostatectomy to be precise, after a biopsy provided an unexpected and annoying result last April 30. Fortunately, all of the subsequent testing reviewed so far indicates that my asymptomatic condition, caught completely by serendipity, had not advanced beyond the unfortunate gland.

This is not your grandfather's (or more to the point, mine) prostate surgery. Basically, the doctor knocks you out, makes 4 small incisions in the abdomen through which instruments and a small camera are inserted. Operating the instruments robotically, the doctor cuts around the prostate until it becomes separated, opens a plastic bag at the end of one of the instruments, puts the prostate in the bag, and pulls it out through one of the incisions. (No, this is not an elephant joke). A biopsy is performed on the prostate bed, and the results come back before they close (so they can cut some more if the biopsy is positive - mine was not). Lest this sound simple, it takes quite a lot of experience before the doctor becomes much good at handling the instruments this way, but my doctor had done hundreds of these operations and won't do them any other way anymore. The procedure is advertised as a 2-4 hour operation, but mine was done in Olympic year record time of - one - and - a - half hours. I was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon, and am slated to be home from the office for another week. Then it's another week before I'm back on the golf course. The old fashioned way, you were out of commission much longer.

So, I really didn't feel like blogging Thursday though I had plenty to say. The biggest annoyance of the recuperation is that I am tethered to a catheter until midday tomorrow, when I hope the doctor will remove that. It's not painful - just sore and annoying. Actually, if I had undergone this procedure a few years ago, I would have suggested to my friends in Guantanamo that they merely hook up the terrorists to a catheter until they talked - less politically explosive but probably just as effective as waterboarding.

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On Monday, I bought 1000 shares of Sirius Satellite Radio at 2.00. It looks like the FCC may finally approve this deal. The logic of those opposed (that it would be somehow better to let SIRI and XM compete to the death of both of them) has always escaped me. Why are consumers better off with two satellite companies? Isn't it better to be able to access the entire spectrum of satellite radio off the same receiver? Imagine if the world of free radio was divvied up into two or more mutually exclusive sets of stations. Isn't it better to be able to access all stations with an AM/FM radio?

This was of course a zero buy since SIRI has no shareholder equity on its balance sheet. This also led me to realize that last week's value buy of Alleghany should have been for more than 6 shares since it was a value buy and the $2,000 -$4,000 limit applies only to zero buys. If I had bought, say, 30 shares, Monday might have been a pretty well-timed sale day given what went on in the market the rest of the week. It's nice to have a formula, but you still have to follow it properly.

Tuesday, (yes Tuesday) I bought 100 shares of Loews (L) a new name I like now that they have sold their cigarette business. The price was 48.70.

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