Friday, June 11, 2010

Blow it all off

(Via Wired)

Girlfriend bailed on you? Stuck with a house you hate? Life Sucks?

Buy a Lamborghini and hit the road.

ZOMG!!! IT's the end of everything we know!!!

Well, it is if you've been ensconced in the ivory tower of academia and haven't read the news for, oh, the last 3 years. But according to UNC System President Erskine Bowles, proposed cuts to the UNC budget "would destroy the economic and social future of the state. Among other things, they would force the system to eliminate about 1,700 jobs, about 1,000 of them filled and most of those faculty positions. It also would force the 16 universities in the system to slash 6,300 class sections, increasing class sizes and making it harder for students to get classes they need and graduate on time."

I note that we're taking the time-honored tactic of cutting things guaranteed to cause the public to react with outrage, rather than cutting administrative positions, travel, office supplies and things that can be cut without as much damage. That should surprise no one.

But it's more important to note that the state of NC is looking to close a budget hole estimated to be between $800 million and $1 billion in the proposed $19 billion budget. That amount is (roughly) in the 4-5% range. The UNC System is being asked to take a cut from their $7.4 billion budget that is (again roughly) in the 0.7- 2.4% range. That is not only a lot smaller cut, percentage-wise, but means that other things that the state does, such as roads and police protection, will face heavier cuts so the academics can keep their personal playgrounds intact.

Being a graduate of one of the UNC System schools, I understand the value of an education and am appreciative of my opportunity to get one, funded in part by the taxpayers. One of the things I gained in that education was an appreciation of the concept that "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Good managers understand this, and they know that there are always trade offs in budgeting. If I want more of A, then I must accept less of B, C and D. They understand that when times are good, expansion is possible, but that when times are hard, contraction often becomes necessary for survival.

It would seem that Mr. Bowles may not be the best manager we could have hired.

Dictators agree

Control the flow of information and everything else becomes easy.

A new U.S. Senate bill would grant the president far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of or even shut down portions of the Internet.

The legislation announced Thursday says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines, or software firms that the government selects "shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" by the Department of Homeland Security.

The US may not be a dictatorship yet, but they're working hard on the enabling legislation.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Modern investing advice

Bond markets could get very nasty over the coming months, while stock investors could take a few months off and stop attempting to trade volatile swings in the markets, Anthony Fry, senior managing director at Evercore Partners, told CNBC Monday.

Now, for those of us who have been reading Whiskey and Gunpowder or The Daily Reckoning, this is hardly news. I just note it so that I can give you the article's money quote.

“You can have lower rates and deflation, higher rates and higher inflation or the nightmare scenario of higher rates and deflating asset prices,” he said.

“If the nightmare scenario plays out as I suspect it may then the debt situation gets worse. There is currently no exit strategy and the reaction to the crisis of policy makers remains a big worry.”

As a result, Fry is telling investors to play it safe and buy physical assets like land.

“I don’t want to scare anyone but I am considering investing in barbed wire and guns, things are not looking good and rates are heading higher,” he said.

Might want to see to food stores, water purification, medical supplies, farming supplies and equipment and so on, Sparky. If you think its going to get that bad, then you'd get ready for real, don'tcha think?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Something a little different this D-Day

(Via the Drudge Report)

It's no secret that the boys of Pointe du Hoc, like the rest of our WWII veterans, are leaving us at an ever-increasing rate. The physical reminders of the war, the trophies brought back by GIs, are also disappearing, but at a slower rate. We never think of the places as fading away as well--but they do.

In one place, for a small amount of time, a French company is trying to hold back the sands of time and save Pointe du Hoc.

Thank you, mes amis.

Time for a neurological workup, perhaps?

(Via the Drudge Report)

Or, a simpler explanation would be that the old wind bag has been catered to and told how wonderful she was for years, and she has finally showed her true colors because she thinks it's all true.

Edit, 6/7/2010 2027: Adios, you old windbag.