Friday, March 26, 2010

TJX vs. Jethro

TJX, the operator of TXMAXX and Marshalls stores, was the victim of a massive cyberattack that compromised its computer systems and resulted in the thefts of millions of credit card numbers. Amazingly, the law enforcement agencies nailed a couple suspects, Alberto Gonzalez, and Jeremy Jethro.

What does this say about TJX's computer security? I can understand that a system might not be perfect and might not keep EVERYBODY out, but is it too much to ask to have a system good enough to keep out everybody named JETHRO? Unfortunately, Mr. Jethro's entanglement with this affair will pretty much put an end to his dreams of becoming a double-naught secret spy. Maybe if he started fresh as Jethrine?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Superbus - Move Over

I hate posting about serious stuff on the week. The picture on the right is from a Jalopnik post. A group of Dutch students have designed a "Superbus" that can carry 23 passengers in comfort at 130 MPH.

That ain't nothing boys & girls. Check out the Nuclear-powered bus below from the 1976 movie The Big Bus.

No, they didn't take it seriously. Here's a clip of the "one lousy foot" scene from the movie. The Big Bus came and left the theaters with nary a whimper. Watching this clip, it's hard not to notice similarities in tone with Airplane! which came along 4 years later in 1980.

Is an atomic-powered bus the best way to travel? Not if you have a Supertrain.

Of all the futuristic transportation alternatives in 1976, the atomic-powered RV of Ark-II takes the cake. Actually, I don't know if this one was atomic-powered. I never made it far enough to find out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dolph Lundgren Rules! (Rule #1 - Don't Sing)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SNL Commercial Parody

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ultimate Rube Goldberg Machine?

Thanks to Steve A. for the link.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Fed Has Some 'Splainin' To Do
Graph Shows US Financial System Resting on Mortgage-backed Securities

Check out this graph. Look at the far left hand side of the graph. This is the pre-financialmeltdown status of Federal Reserve Assets. Virtually all of it, the green part, consists of t-bills, that is, traditional governmental borrowings, roughly a trillion dollars worth. Then in the fall of 2008 came the meltdown and TARP, and the fed had to loan massive amounts of money to financial institutions to keep the system afloat, total amount over a billion dollars. As President Obama has stated, the financial institutions have gradually paid back most of these loans over the past year or so.

Now here's the part that nobody in the government has been really forthcoming about. Look at the red part of the graph, growing as you go to the right. This part has grown almost in lockstep with the shrinkage of the loans to financial firms. What is the red part? Mortgage-backed securities. The fed is holding over a trillion dollars worth. Supposedly, the program to buy these securities will end at at the end of this month, but because some of this category includes "agency debt" which is nothing but promises to buy more mortgage backed securities what we really have is a situation where the anchor of the US financial system is half-full of whatever junky mortgage securities investors couldn't unload anywhere else.

Let's follow that to another level, to the microeconomic level. Joe Schmo has a mortgage he can't hope to pay. He's upside down 30% on the property. The policy that would be most likely to help Joe stay in his house would be to write the loan down to the value of the property. That would mean that the Fed would take a 30% hit on its balance sheet, and indirectly, the national debt goes up an equal amount. What we have here is a conflict of interest. The government professes an interest in keeping Joe in his home, but the only realistic way to do that is to write down the book value of the loan. In this case, the book values of these loans collectively are the only things that are keeping our currency from going down the toilet.

It doesn't seem to me that the situation here is sustainable. What's going to have to happen sooner or later is the true nature of these assets will be revealed, and this will result in the devaluation of US currency. It may sound heretical, but if it could be kept in control, perhaps a rise in the inflation rate wouldn't be such a bad thing. It would encourage domestic production, and it would allow us (collectively) to pay off old debt with cheaper dollars.

For the whole report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, check out this link.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Youtube Video of the Day
Hitler Finds Out about Robbie Hummel's Injury

My alma mater, Purdue University, usually fields a good basketball team, but rarely a great one. In a good year, they get to the NCAA Tournament and lose the first round. This year though, going into last week, they were #3 in the country. That is, they were until their star player, Robbie Hummel, went down with a season-ending ACL knee injury. This is Hitler's commentary on the event. Who knew Hitler was a Boilermaker>

Ex Presidents Unite

The SNL actors who have portrayed US Presidents have united for a video at Funny or Die in support of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Everyone that could be there showed up for this

Chevy Chase - Gerald Ford
Dan Ackryod - Jimmy Carter (who looks a lot like Archie Bunker)
Jim Carrey - Ronald Reagan (subbing for Phil Hartman, who's dead)
Dana Carvey - George (41) Bush
Daryl Hammond - Bill Clinton
Will Farrell - George (43) Bush
Fred Arminsen - Barrack Obama
Mia Rudolph - Michelle Obama

Jim Carrey as Ronald Reagan steals the show with his intro line, "I came back to help Mister 'Reach across the aisle' grow a pair." No truer words were spoken.

Funny stuff.

Funny stuff