Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Don't Take The Brown Acid"

Sorry for the Woodstock reference - anyone who gets that is probably old enough to need a knee replacement - but I can't help thinking how, all these years after Woodstock, New Yorkers still can't handle being outdoors.

Anyway, that's the impression I'm getting from watching the Occupy Wall Street streaming video. The Fire Department seized OWS's generators this morning due to fire safety violations, so now they are hunkering down under tarps and wondering what they'll do when they get covered with snow tonight.

The Livestream comments are more interesting then the video. There has been a thread all day alleging that today's unseasonably early snow in the Northeast is really an attack on OWS by the Military Industrial Complex via its HAARP program. Maybe somebody got into the brown acid after all.

From other comments I learned that:

-- Brandon is barefoot because somebody stole his shoes
-- Another guy had his MacBook Pro broken when somebody stepped on it
-- Homeless guys are stealing stuff from the food tent
-- Abraham, OWS's "real big" security guy is keeping "the riffraff" [!!] away
-- Somebody thinks Kosher salt will de-ice the concrete in Zuccotti Park
-- Somebody is asking for baked potatoes as organic hand warmers
-- Somebody is quoting "Frm Secretary of State Brzezinski" [sic]
-- "Brian from the Comfort Section" is begging for tents and dry clothes

This has become my favorite reality show.


Anonymous said...

Couple Lost in Apple Orchard Calls 911 Speaking of city people having problems outside here is further evidence from Boston.
I guess the Mexican farm workers got a good laugh out of this one!

Anonymous said...

TSB: I can't make much sense out of the proposed military retirement changes but it seems to me they are ignoring the rapid rise in health costs. Also they have some screwy plan to put young soldiers in the stock market. Have you been following any of that? gwb

TSB said...

I am 100% in favor of changing the military retirement pay system (which is actually not a pension, although most troops seem to call it that) for a defined benefit plan.

Every civilian USG employee has a 401-K type of plan (the Thrift Savings Plan) to which you contribute what you want, the gov't matches it up to 10%, and you pick from a big menu of investment plans (mutual funds, etc.) to park it in until you retire.

The savings belong to you (you have an enforceable property right to it) so you keep it when you retire. Your heirs can inherit it. Congress can't take it away or cut it.

If the military went to that system, troops would have 401-K type choices, they would own the money, they would get it even if they had less than 20 years in (unlike retirement pay), and the military would have the flexibility to - for example - contribute at higher rates during deployments in war zones.

Apparently, nobody is explaining anything about this to the troops. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

US unfunded corporate pension amounts have gone from $3.3 trillion to $4.4 trillion in the past 12 months. I'm afraid Ben, the mad money printer isn't doing those young soldiers (or even the old ones) any favors. It will be interesting to see how the conversation changes when the dow leaves it's 12,000ish heights for the valley below. gwb

TSB said...

Pensions (both government and private ones) are a problem, since they are financial commitments for some other party to keep in the future. 401-K type savings plans are the employee's own currently existing money, to which employers may or may not contribute.

The employee owns his savings from the start, and owns the employer's contribution after a vesting period, usually 5 years. Income taxes are deferred until retirement, and the whole thing is invested in the employee's choice of financial instrument(s) until then - mutual funds, T-Bills, money markets, gold, whatever mix of risk or safe harbor you like.

These 401-K plans are one of the best things that ever came out of Congress.

Anonymous said...

Agreed! TSP also has this great guy who advises which part of the plan to be in. If you look at the Aug 14, 2011 "Peaceful Gains" message, the S fund was down 15% in 1 month. You have to watch that puppy like a global hawk! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: That VW Passat is cool! Is your preferred model now going to be made in USA? gwb

TSB said...

On the Passat, I don't know whether to go Passat or Golf, but whichever one it is will be the diesel (TDI) model.

On the S fund, I remember when it was going up even faster - 20-something percent - but you have to leave mutual funds alone and let them even out price swings. I'm buying more shares with each paycheck, so when prices drop, like a couple weeks ago, I'm getting them cheaper, and the total worth recovers faster. I'm in the L fund now, so it automatically moves into less volatile instruments the closer I get to my retirement date.

Anonymous said...

Fruit companies see future in mechanized harvest

By Rochelle Feil Adamowsky
World staff writer
TSB: They are finally getting started on your a small way and only when forced to do so.
A lot of the hillyer orchards will not survive. This years final figures will be interesting. Good Call! gwb

TSB said...

On mechanization, there is even a fantastic (Chinese-made, I think) chicken processor that slices and dices chickens 100 times faster than hand laborers can. When the chicken plants invest in that equipment, there will be a big drop in illegal labor in my neck of the woods.

Anonymous said...

TSB: Alex, the "Peaceful Gains" advisor guy quit according to my friend in government.
Did you ever get to see this? I sure hope he comes back with a website.

My friend is switched to G fund as of today. gwb

TSB said...

I hadn't seen that TSP newsletter before, but it looks like it's still active:

Anonymous said...

TSB: a snippet from his 10/27 announcement: I want to produce high quality investment newsletters. Right now, that is not possible. Because of this, I am (hopefully) temporarily discontinuing the newsletters. In the interim, I plan to work through the issues with my algorithm and to rethink other aspects of the newsletters. I do not have any guesstimates about when I will relaunch the newsletter. gwb

Anonymous said...

Hi TSB! I got an interesting email
from Rick Steigmeir of the Wenatchee newspaper. See it at

TSB said...

I believe the apple industry is so invested in cheap labor that it won't move to mechanical harvesting until it is forced to, maybe by labor unionization to raise costs (as happened with grape pickers), or by a government crackdown on illegal aliens.

Grape picking is largely mechanized today, but that happened only after illegal labor was removed from the market (the work of the United Farm Workers of America). Same with California tomatoes.

Cherries are the most labor-intensive crop to pick, but that's being mechanized very sucessfully. We could do the same with apples.

Countries that lack abundant peasant labor - like Australia and New Zealand - heavily mechanize their fruit harvest. U.S. apple harvesters could do the same, but that would mean re-designing orchards and investing in the machines. Currently, it's cheaper for them to pay Mexican illegals. More expensive for society overall due to the social costs of illegals, but cheaper for them.