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2009 April 09 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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Wildfires In Texas and Oklahoma

FireHurricane force winds and drought conditions are feeding close to a dozen wildfires in North Texas and South Oklahoma, according to CNN.

The fires are concentrated in a band between Interstates 20 [Dallas-Fort Worth] and 40 [Oklahoma City], but the high winds are keeping aircraft grounded. There is also reignition occurring in fires that were assumed to be out. Interstate 35 [the North-South connector] is closed in several places because of the fires.

[Note: I lived in this area when I was a sophomore in high school and know the places mentioned, but it would be helpful if CNN provided a bloody map, like the BBC and other professional news organizations always do.]

April 9, 2009   4 Comments

Get A Rope!

The CBC reports on the Chinese-Canadian mathematician who created the concept at the heart of the world economic meltdown, David Xiang Li, Wall Street “quant” behind “the Gaussian copula function applied to default correlations” that convinced all of the financial types that the derivatives were low risk.

Interesting article, which touches on the fact that Li’s work wasn’t understood and was abused to produce the necessary models that told the gamblers what they wanted to hear: mega-profits with micro-risk. Obviously the banksters would love to find someone else to blame for their stupidity and greed.

The basic problem of attempting to use mathematics to model market behavior is that there is no way to accurately quantify emotion. The widespread use of computerized trading almost guarantees a cascading effect if the market makes a big move in any direction. The market can swing wildly if someone has a “hunch” and acts on it, or if someone decides to game the system because people are tense.

April 9, 2009   2 Comments

The Infection Spreads

The NWF Daily News reports on a County Commissioner involved:

In the two years since he rejoined the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for his second job, County Commissioner Don Amunds has received two raises and three months of adjusted leave – and before that, $4,000 in allowances.

He never questioned it.

Commissioner James Campbell called Amunds “one of the most honest people you’ll ever meet,” dismissed any conflict and said a second job is essential. Commissioners make about $67,000 per year under the county’s budget, up 1.2 percent from 2008.

“He’d starve to death on just a commissioner’s salary,” Campbell said. “I’m glad he’s got a job now.”

Mr. Campbell, bless his Republican heart, is an idiot if he isn’t being sarcastic in his statements. First off, before being arrested in Las Vegas Charlie Morris was the most honest person in the county, everyone who was a Republican said so.

As for “starve to death” – a full-time minimum wage [$7.21/hour] job in Florida yields just under $15K. The median income for a male in Okaloosa County is just under $31K. If you can’t live well in this county, and most of the United States, on $67K plus benefits, you are in need of some serious financial counseling.

No wonder Charlie got away with it so long, the county commission don’t know how to live on $67K, so they think huge bonuses are normal. There are only about 180,000 people in the county, so salaries paid to public officials is a significant cost.

[Added Note: The median income for males in the US is just over $45K.]

April 9, 2009   Comments Off on The Infection Spreads

Wedding Bell Blues

I have nothing against marriage, it just never worked out, which isn’t surprising given the rather risky employment I had for a couple of decades. It really isn’t apt to work out when you can’t talk to your spouse about how you spend your time and make your money. Both the military and law enforcement have extremely high rates of divorce, so, while I lost some money on engagement rings, I didn’t spend any on divorce lawyers.

News Writer, among many others, covers the Vermont law and provides a little background on the “institution”. I would note that for many years after settlement the Massachusetts Bay Colony banned ministers from performing marriages. Their particular brand of Puritan had no use for “priests” by any name.

I was personally more interested in the Iowa decision. As I said in comments to Steve Bates’s post, this was a conservative opinion that covered the Iowa constitution, but it is just as applicable to the US Constitution.

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April 9, 2009   12 Comments