Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Liberal" vs "Conservative"

Who's to blame?... for
child-labor laws?
the Pure Food & Drug Act?
the 40-hr, 5-day work-week?
women's suffrage?
the Civil Rights Movement?
Pinko, commie, muckraking liberals and progressives! - that's who... including socialist, God-hating labor unions!!!

And "conservative" claims to fame & contributions to culture?
The Palmer raids,
warrant-less surveillance of U.S. citizens.
I note in passing that our current Marijuana Prohibition is fueling the drug-wars in Mexico.

7.5 years after W kicked the Taliban's butt!

Pakistani Taliban vows White House assault
updated 1:03 p.m. MT, Tues., March. 31, 2009
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - The commander of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a Pakistani police academy and said the group was planning a terrorist attack on the White House that would "amaze" the world.

Recall - W sent troops to Afghanistan in Oct 2001 to drive the Taliban from power, destroy al Qaeda, and get bin Laden & Mullah Omar.

So why - seven-and-a-half years after W's awesome "Dead or Alive" military initiative - why are the Taliban still threatening terrorist attacks against the White House? If W/Rummy/Cheney had succeeded, wouldn't these guys be... dead?
... and for at least 6 of these 7.5 years we were in partnership with Pakistani President Musharraf - W's best bud in Pakistan!

Me? I'm hoping Obama is taking this threat more seriously than W took the warning, "al Qaeda determined to strike U.S." back in summer 2001!

Never forget: the current foreign-policy mess in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is W's doing!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Still another theatrical post - with any luck, the last! [update]

Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan: The Latest Converts to Aestheticism
[The Entr'Acte, April, 1881]

I've no idea the website from which I stole this image! - I've looked for it again, without success.
When I feel a bit wealthier, I'll order microfilm reel from The Library of Congress that includes the relevant edition of The Entr'Acte.

In Sullivan & Gilbert, Sullivan & Gilbert sing a duet from Patience, "When I Go Out of Door". - Patience satirizes the Aesthetic Movement.

update: okay - now i know why i can't find the website from which i stole the image! it's not from a website, but from a book!
Gilbert & Sullivan and Their Victorian World.

More off topic... theater, again

I auditioned for Albuquerque Little Theater's upcoming production of The Full Monty on Saturday.
I didn't get a call-back.

Time was, this would have devastated me.
Since then, I've come to accept the harsh truth: acting as a hobby entails rejection about 75% of the time!... and I've had a pretty good run for the past 2 years!!! - I'm "due" for rejection.

I've another audition this Thursday, for Landmark Musicals' production of 70, Girls, 70.

Off topic - Albuquerque Theater Examiner

Here's a link to Albuquerque Theater Examiner Chad Patterson: http://www.examiner.com/x-6542-Albuquerque-Theater-Examiner.

Recent posts includes blurb on Sullivan and Gilbert at Albuquerque's Adobe Theater.

Note: Chad Patterson is not exactly a disinterested observer - he plays His Royal Highness, Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh in the show.

Recall what W hoped would be his BIG 2nd term legacy?

... Privatizing Social Security!

Here's a glimpse of just what this might have looked like:
Pension insurer shifted to stocks
Concern increases as losses mount; Failing plans could overwhelm agency
By Michael Kranish
Globe Staff / March 30, 2009
WASHINGTON - Just months before the start of last year's stock market collapse, the federal agency that insures the retirement funds of 44 million Americans departed from its conservative investment strategy and decided to put much of its $64 billion insurance fund into stocks.
The agency refused to say how much of the new investment strategy has been implemented or how the fund has fared during the downturn. The agency would only say that its fund was down 6.5 percent - and all of its stock-related investments were down 23 percent - as of last Sept. 30, the end of its fiscal year. But that was before most of the recent stock market decline and just before the investment switch was scheduled to begin in earnest.

No statistics on the fund's subsequent performance were released.

[emphasis added]
W: the gift that keeps on giving.

My bet? Congressional Republicans STILL believe privatizing Social Security is a great idea!

"I used to be a statistician..."

It's sort of like being an accountant... without the personality.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Quaestiones sunt fallaces et inefficaces."

"Torture is deceptive and ineffectual."
Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots
Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials Say
Loyal readers will recognize the lead quotation ("Quaestiones sunt fallaces et inefficaces.") as reflecting the views of that pinko leftie liberal, Inquisitor General Nicholas Eymerich:
He was the first inquisitor to get around the Church's prohibition against torturing a subject twice by interpreting directive very liberally, permitting a separate instance of torture for a separate charge of heresy.
[Wikipedia entry, Nicholas Eymerich]
True for the Spanish Inquisition, true still today:
"Torture is deceptive and ineffectual."
Stop the madness!

Story I didn't read beyond the headline

Diners can 'have a ball' at testicle festival

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hmm... I'm not watching - why is stuff still happening?

... I thought my active attention was needed to keep the universe going! Seems not:
Jobless rolls swell again as recession persists
Remember: this is W's Recession!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Theatrical crisis resolved! (Thank goodness!!)

"Gilbert" returned tonight!... and the final rehearsal went well.

The show opens Friday.
Looking for a "cultural experience" in Albuquerque? - Come see Sullivan and Gilbert at the Adobe Theater!
27 Mar - 19 Apr.

In the interest of regular posting...

I've not even opened the paper!

Mom is in the hospital - the third time this month.
Two minor strokes. Today: blood clots in her legs. She's 91.

Also: the "Gilbert" to my "Sullivan" in Sullivan and Gilbert suffered what we all hope was simply a serious panic attack during tonight's rehearsal. (The alternative being a cardiac event!) Rehearsal went on - one of the directors read Gilbert's lines.
The show opens this Friday at Albuquerque's Adobe Theater.
We learn tomorrow if he'll continue. Paramedics called. Last I heard he was in hospital.

A line from the show:
A great comedy, all around us. And we are the principals.
No - I'd say, rather: a great soap opera all around us! - and, yes, we ARE the principals!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Idle thoughts & curiosity...

I was just wondering how many of the Wizards of Wall Street ended up in business/finance because they couldn't handle calculus or organic chemistry?

My memories of college are that few transferred FROM Business TO Physics or BioChem... but many took the reverse path.

Just wondering...

"Dog Bites Man"

GOP predicts doomsday if Obama budget passed
This is news?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Iraqi Freedom day!

"It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
[SecDef Rumsfeld, 7 Feb 2003]
How 'bout six years?... and counting!

"Freedom fries", anyone?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An anniversary looms!

The Iraq War, also known as the Second Gulf War, the Occupation of Iraq, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, is an ongoing military campaign which began on March 20, 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a multinational force now led by and composed almost entirely of troops from the United States and United Kingdom.
[Wikipedia entry, Iraq War; emphasis added]
Cost to date?

(Remember when this sounded like a lot of money?)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I thought they were retention bonuses!

From Comcast.net Finance:
AIG CEO asks employees to repay some bonus money
[AIG CEO Edward] Liddy said some employees had already given back their entire bonuses, and some had left the company after receiving their bonuses.
[emphasis added]
These were advertised as retention bonuses, weren't they?
So if you get the bonus, you still get to leave the company???

Again: did the folks who negotiated these contracts on behalf of AIG - you know, the contracts that include "retention" bonuses that don't in fact retain folks - ... did THESE folks get bonuses?
Are they still employed by AIG???

Just asking.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blatant self-referencing! [or, AIG (redux)]

A previous post noted a clear disconnect between Wall Street & Main Street:
Wall v. Main: a disconnect
I made a number of brilliant observations in that post, and encourage you to re-read it.

Meanwhile - one more thought:
In what other industry can you simply rest on your laurels... forever?
Even tenured faculty can be fired for gross misconduct or negligence!

I suspect that for most of us, our "bonus" is that we get to keep our jobs!
Yeah - there might be the occasional "Employee of the Month" citation - but that's about it.

Me? I received my company's highest award for technical achievement - about 10 years ago.
I got some stock. That was it.
It didn't even count much on my annual performance review! - and it counted for NOTHING in future years.
"Yeah, but what have you done for us LATELY?" is the performance-review mantra with which I'm familiar...
... and I suspect most folks - certainly everyone that I know - is equally well acquainted with, "Yeah, but what have done for us LATELY?"

The notion that there are irreplaceable geniuses among us is simply WRONG... and, in the business world, TERMINALLY STUPID!

Then again, the "Masters of the Universe" are different from you and me... they have LOTS more $$$, and keep getting a paycheck even when they run their companies into the ground!

AIG bonuses: just a coupla questions

I just read the NYT's front-page article on AIG bonuses.
It provokes a response.

The second paragraph notes that:
The company paid the bonuses, including more than $1 million each to 73 people, to almost all of the employees in the financial products unit responsible for creating the exotic derivatives that caused A.I.G.’s near collapse and started the government rescue to avoid a global financial crisis.
I've got a coupla questions...

The first question isn't about bonuses.
It's much simpler:
What does it take for an AIG executive to be fired?
Forget about bonuses!
Why are folks in the financial products unit - the one that "caused AIG's near collapse" - still employed???

Among the many rationales I can accept for including bonuses as part of a pay package, one would be something like...
"My job is to take risks. If the risks pay off, I deserve to be rewarded!"
... but I'd assume there was a downside as well - most "risks" are "risky" because, well - you might lose!
The imagined rationale would be a lot more plausible if it included a follow-up statement:
"If the risks I take turn out to be really stupid, I lose my job!"
So far I've seen no evidence that ANYONE in the financial sector of our economy EVER loses his job for poor performance!

My second question is related to the following information from the NYT article:
Mr. Geithner reiterated the Treasury position that lawyers inside and out of government had agreed that “it would be legally difficult to prevent these contractually mandated payments.”
My question?

Did the folks who wrote these brilliant contracts on behalf of AIG - you know, the contracts that reward an employee handsomely whether he succeeds or not -... did THESE folks get bonuses?
Are they, too, still employed by AIG???

Just asking.

the dollar dropped today...

how do i know?

eBay! - a "buy it now" item listed at 499.99 GBP is currently at $704.34.
Yesterday it was in the mid-$690s.

Yes - even eBay is a source of financial information!

Monday, March 16, 2009

still on break...

... and missing the daily horrors very little!

it's been several days since i've watched news of any kind.
i DO continue to read NYT national & biz news, and op-ed page... but find myself little compelled to write any brilliant ripostes.

given the season, perhaps i ought take my current behavior as my rather belated observance of Lent: i've given up blogging! (well... at least for several days)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bon Mots from The New Yorker

Republican jibes that the budget was "socialist" should be treated with the respect they deserve, which is to say none...
[The New Yorker, Talk of the Town, March 16, 2009]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taking a break!

As previously advertised, I've been otherwise engaged... the blog suffers.

For loyal readers: visit some other less-trafficked blogs -
Outta the Cornfield
Captain's Log
Station Charon
... and each of them links to yet other "off the beaten path" blogs you might enjoy!

Suggestion: if you see something you like in one of these less-trafficked blogs, spread the word!
"Mike's Blog Round Up" over at Crooks and Liars will direct folks to worth-a-read blogs... IF he hears about 'em! Mike's email?:
Have fun!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How long till she's on welfare?

Report: Bristol Palin, boyfriend break up
USA Today
11 Mar 2009
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's teen daughter Bristol, whose pregnancy out of wedlock caused a minor brouhaha during the 2008 presidential election campaign, has broken up with the baby's father...

And again I ask: Does Alaska mandate "abstinence only" sex-ed?

Yes, I'm psychic! (or, I'm not alone)

Last week I wrote:
Given the underpinnings of the current mess - with so many financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" - perhaps it's time to revisit anti-trust laws with an eye more towards practices "deemed to hurt" consumers. Among these I would today count practices that encourage entities to become "too big to fail".
[Re-visiting anti-trust legislation: "too big to fail"]
Others are exploring this territory:
NOMI PRINS: Well, I personally believe they shouldn't be allowed to get too big to fail. That would be one way of helping to prevent this situation.
[Nomi Prins, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, she's author of "Other People's Money" and a senior fellow at the think-tank Demos. Bernanke Calls for Overhaul of Financial Regulations, The Online News Hour, 10 March 2009]
Remember: you read it here first!

It must be Spring!

The ice-cream truck has started making its rounds of the neighborhood!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Let's assume they weren't idiots!

In reply to post An eloquent description of W's presidency, Woody comments:
Well, except for the 'incompetent' part, I'd agree.

To have screwed the pooch as totally and completely and thoroughly as the Busheviks did couldn't have happened by accident.
This is quite plausible. Republicans believe government is the problem - it is ALWAYS in their best interests to govern accordingly: make it painfully clear that government (aka "Republican governance") is incompetent.

Given the "Busheviks" disdain for real capitalism and infatuation with Big Biz, Woody's observation that...
... Their job was to render inocuous any and all means by which the people could petition for relief from the predations of capitalism, and they have succeeded past their wildest dreams...
seems quite reasonable.

By "real capitalism" I mean a system wherein the market - absent monopolies - truly operates; where competition - not "no bid" contracts - prevails.
[FYI: my personal opinion? - "real capitalism" has never existed - not even when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations!]

As commenter PM notes:
Monopoly is the name of the game in Mercantilism, not Capitalism.
W: the gift that keeps on giving!

One more thing...

A few posts back, in response to Gov. Jindal's Republican reply to President Obama's address before joint session of Congress, I challenged Gov. Jindal to explain just how "tax cuts" were stimulative:
When there's no demand, how does cutting taxes create jobs?
I also presented some arguments against Gov. Jindal's (and the Republicans') position.

Here's one more thing - an additional argument against tax cuts as an economic panacea:
"Personal consumption expenditures" (consumer spending) accounts for 70% of GDP.
Admitting that tax cuts for lower income brackets are likely to be spent immediately - helping drive "personal consumption expenditures" - still: just how do tax cuts for upper brackets, on capital gains, and for businesses provide economic stimulus? - How do they contribute directly to "personal consumption expenditures"???

Have a nice day!

Truth in advertising

At least the Republicans are truthful about their "legislative agenda":
From Americablog. -
GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry, a key player in helping craft the Republican message, has offered an unusually blunt description of the Republican strategy right now.

McHenry’s description is buried in this new article from National Journal (sub. only):
“We will lose on legislation. But we will win the message war every day, and every week, until November 2010,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., an outspoken conservative who has participated on the GOP message teams. “Our goal is to bring down approval numbers for [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and for House Democrats. That will take repetition. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
[emphasis added]
We knew good governance was never the goal. Now we know the goal is just pure politics... and destructive politics, at that!

Again: is someone at DNC (and maybe DSCC & DCCC) writing this stuff down?

An eloquent description of W's presidency

From a review of Reinhold Niebuhr's The Irony of American History in The New York Review of Books:
A fog of know-nothing ideology, anti-intellectualism, cronyism, incompetence, and cynicism has, for eight years, enveloped the executive branch of the United States government.
I wish I could write like that!

Water is falling from the sky!

I think it's called "rain".
I've read about it, in books.

If memory serves, this is Albuquerque's first precipitation since December!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just in case you wondered...

White House budget director says economy is 'weak'

Why does this pronouncement not inspire my confidence in our leaders?

Public service announcement

In light of today's headline:
Recession on track to be longest in postwar period
... you may find the following link helpful:
This has been a public service announcement.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I'm glad the fundamentals are strong...

... otherwise we could be in real trouble!
Jobless rate bolts to 8.1 pct., 651,000 jobs lost
When do we start using the "D" word?

From an old colleague: Wow! - this is BAD!

When do you suppose the rioting will start?

I'm not alone (redux)

Captain's Log weighs in on W's DoJ with some startling historical parallels.

Truth commissions vs prosecutions

The more we learn, the more criminal W's enablers are revealed to be.

One Fly weighs in on this more eloquently than I.

They're criminals. Prosecute 'em!


Yes - this a post about choreography!

As stated previously, I'm currently in rehearsal for a show.
(Sullivan and Gilbert, at the Adobe Theater; opening 27 March.)

I've one song in the show - a duet.
Tonight, my partner & I "learned" the choreography for the song.

In most shows that include the expectation of dancing, a "dance audition" is required. Several years ago I broke down and took "modern dance for adults"... for about a year. No - I didn't hope to become a dancer; I just wanted to get through the dance audition with some semblance of competence.
(Most audition forms ask if you've taken dance classes - I can now truthfully answer, "Yes."
Some forms then ask, "Do you move well?" - to which I am compelled to answer, "No!")

During dance auditions for a show last fall, midway through "learning" the dance, I shouted out to the choreographer:
"I've a very limited memory for dance moves.
You've now exhausted it!"
I was cast in a non-dancing role.

... and now, some five hours after dancing through the choreography for the duet, I'm sore!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm not alone

A few posts back, in response to the recently released Yoo/Bybee DoJ memos, I wrote:
There is a name for a government that asserts unbridled executive power to arrest, detain, and spy on its citizens:
Police State!
I'm not alone!

Scott Horton in Harper's writes:
George W. Bush’s Disposable Constitution
We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship.
I'll not claim psychic powers - Mr. Horton's article was published on the same day I posted my observation.

Grassroots politics: too soon?

Is it too soon to start organizing a grassroots "Draft Rush" movement?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Obama takes aim at costly defense contracts
By Ross Colvin Ross Colvin – Wed Mar 4, 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the U.S. government was paying too much for things it did not need and ordered a crackdown on spending "plagued by massive cost overruns and outright fraud."

It's a start...
But... I hope he moves beyond simple cost control & contract review, and starts questioning the Pentagon's budget overall.
What are we buying for $600Bn/year? Is it what we need?

Again - a focus on abuse & putting controls in place is better than nothing - but much more needs doing!

Life & Politics

I've had several occasions to mention my former colleague - a fellow statistician and USMC reservist who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Other than our chosen profession, we have very little in common.
We still manage to correspond semi-regularly, to conduct civil political discussions, and overall to enjoy each other's rare company.

As previous posts have suggested, I'm active in local theater.
Currently I share the limelight with a couple of folks I've known for some time through theater.
In our last show together - which rehearsed during the political campaign & election - I inquired of one of these theatrical colleagues, "Did you vote?"
"Yes", he replied. "Though I don't know why - every one of my candidates lost."
[Every one of my candidates won!]

I've recently discovered that another theatrical colleague married her Sunday School teacher. She was available for "running lines" last Sunday only in the afternoon - she spent the morning, from 9 till noon, in church. [Yes - I sing in a church choir... but I'm the single non-commicant in the choir... and, I suspect, the only non-believer.]

Neither politically nor religiously do I have the least in common with these two.
Yet, somehow, we manage to get along just fine.

Politics and Life are NOT co-extensive... at least for me and most of the people I know.
This is a good thing!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Full disclosure

The house I live in is paid for - no mortgage.
Between my wife & me, our credit card debt is ~$0.
Recurring expenses: the usual - groceries, property taxes, extravagant meals at Albuquerque's upscale Frontier Restaurant.
Both my wife & I have good health insurance, for which we pay (tho' she's now on Medicare).
I've no vested interest in any recovery plan - except as it impacts the economy overall.

Light posting next few days...

Tax time, rehearsals, and other business will be occupying my time for the next few days.

I'll try to post at least once/day, so's to make it worth my loyal reader's time to visit occasionally... but expect no lengthy brilliant treatises.

W's DoJ: one more thing

There is a name for a government that asserts unbridled executive power to arrest, detain, and spy on its citizens:
Police State!

W's DoJ [update, 11:15 p.m.]

There's simply too much to be said regarding the recently released memos from W's DoJ.

I'll fall back on my standard:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
[Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons; emphasis added]
In addition, I'll refer folks to Article II of the U.S. Constitution - it's very short. If you can find anything there supporting the Yoo/Bybee arguments regarding "Commander-in-Chief Powers", please let me know!

Oh, heck: Article II, section 2 is short enough to post the whole thing here!
Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.
I'll note in passing that the President is the "commander in chief" of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.
He is not the omnipotent COMMANDER IN CHIEF of the Nation, its police, its courts, or its citizens.

[update: Do any "strict constructionists" see their way clear towards affirming that Article II grants unlimited power to the Executive? How 'bout "original intent" folks?
Me - I'm more an "original intent"-er... and what I see in "commander in chief" is the INTENT to establish civilian control of the military and a clear, unambiguous chain of command!

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Is 'what we know now' is that we got caught?"

CIA destroyed nearly 100 interrogation videotapes
By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press
2 Mar 2009
WASHINGTON – The CIA destroyed nearly 100 videotapes of interrogations and other U.S. treatment of terror suspects, far more than previously acknowledged, the Obama administration said Monday as it began disclosing details of post-Sept. 11 Bush-era actions.

Recall - at some point the CIA was ordered by a Federal court to NOT destroy interrogation tapes.
A quick read of the cited article did not reveal whether CIA destroyed tapes before or after the court order was issued.

For some reason, this revelation recalls a reported exchange at an Enron managers' meeting:
Lay tried to reassure the managers.

"Well, we don't think we did anything wrong, but knowing what we do now, we would never do it again," Lay said, according to Robert J. Hermann, then Enron's general tax counsel.

Hermann had everything invested in Enron: his professional pride, his network of golfing buddies and his retirement savings, worth more than $ 10 million before Enron stock began to tumble.

Hermann raised his hand and said: "Ken, there is a big disconnect. How can you say we didn't do anything wrong, but would never do it again? Is 'what we know now' is that we got caught?"

[Document Title: Enron is Metatheatre by David M. Boje; emphasis added]
Note: the citation, "METATHEATRE theory by David M. Boje, Ph.D.", looks like an interesting website - I hit it just to grab the quoted exchange.

Albuquerque in the news... (not good)

Cold cases reopened after bodies found in desert
2 Mar 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In the desert outside Albuquerque, hikers have sometimes stumbled upon human remains partially buried under the hardy scrub and hard-baked dirt.

But few people could have imagined the crime scene now emerging: The bones of at least 13 people have been uncovered on the site of an abandoned housing development.

The grisly discovery last month caused authorities to reopen dozens of cold cases involving missing prostitutes, some of whom vanished as much as 20 years ago.

This isn't how I'd like to see Albuquerque portrayed in national news!

Checking on my past forecasts...

Note: not many professional forecasters actually bother to assess how well they've performed in the past. (This was the topic of a William Raspberry column many years ago. Q: "Do you do forecasts?" A: "Oh, yes - we're experts in the field!" Q: "Could I see how well you've performed?" A: "We don't track our performance.")

Me? I figure you don't get better if you don't judge yourself.

Here goes.

Back in October 2008 I asked, "Where's the bottom???" Here was my answer at the time:
A very quick, back-of-the-envelope computation suggests that since the '70s, the largest percentage decline in DJIA has been just under 50% from previous peak.

Using this as a guideline, the bottom would seem to be around 6000.
We're at 8500 today.

The 50% bottom is the WORST since 1970.

The range seems to be 25% to 50%. (Again, these are very hasty, eye-balled figures!!!)
If you bet on 40%, that'd represent about 7000.
30%? About 8000.
Wall Street tumbles anew as financials slide
2 Mar 2009
NEW YORK – Investors' despair about financial companies and the recession has brought the Dow Jones industrial average to another unwanted milestone: its first drop below 7,000 in more than 11 years.
If you believe we're in a meltdown like we've seldom seen, that 50%, 6000 number is looking not too bad.

A quick observation about that headline: Wall Street tumbles anew as financials slide.
One of the things I find particularly disconcerting about daily analysis of the market is that there is always a specific cause cited for market movement. Today it's "despair about financial companies". As a statistician, I've been trained - and probably to some extent came to the job with a pre-disposition - to ignore the specific detail... to look instead at the larger collection of data available: trees don't matter, only the forest is of interest.

I note that my "back of the envelope" calculation was based on a very crude, almost brain-dead, reading of Dow Jones performance over the past several decades. No deep analysis. No consideration of "fundamentals" - just a quick look at how the numbers have behaved in the past: What do deep recessions look like?

What I've yet to get even close to right is timing - WHEN will we hit the bottom?
[boastful note: in my last job, I predicted this recession starting sometime in 2008/9... the prediction was made in Q4 2006.]

Have a nice day.