Hearts Exploding

April 2nd, 2008

Yesterday I watched a coworker sprinkle salt on his slice of bacon pizza.

Cheese=salt.

Bacon=double plus salt.

I quailed.

Crack Financial Reporting

April 1st, 2008

I visited the Motley Fool website yesterday, as I occasionally do. This isn't a recommendation, by the way, a friend is a longtime member of theirs so I check up on them occasionally, but in general they just seem like a way to advertise investment strategies that, if they worked, ought to mean those who are selling them shouldn't have to work any more.

In any case, I happened to notice that one of the dramatic movers on their front page was SQM, a company we recently invested some $20,000 in. To my shock, the dramatic movement was a 90% drop in the price, from $230-something to $23-something per share.

Oh, shit! My first thought was that there had been some scandal, with the corporate directors embezzling millions and jetting off to Bimini.

My second thought was, wait a minute, wasn't there a 10-to-1 stock split in the offing?

Full story »

Republican Competence

March 27th, 2008

As usual, the party that doesn't believe in government, doesn't do it well:

With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces.

Since then, the company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by The New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials. Much of the ammunition comes from the aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have spent millions of dollars to have destroyed.

In purchasing munitions, the contractor has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.

Moreover, tens of millions of the rifle and machine-gun cartridges were manufactured in China, making their procurement a possible violation of American law. The company’s president, Efraim E. Diveroli, was also secretly recorded in a conversation that suggested corruption in his company’s purchase of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania, according to audio files of the conversation.

...

But problems with the ammunition were evident last fall in places like Nawa, Afghanistan, an outpost near the Pakistani border, where an Afghan lieutenant colonel surveyed the rifle cartridges on his police station’s dirty floor. Soon after arriving there, the cardboard boxes had split open and their contents spilled out, revealing ammunition manufactured in China in 1966.

City by the Bay

March 27th, 2008

So I'm walking up California St. this morning, talking on the cell phone, and I have to say to my wife: "Hold on a second, the cable car is going by and I can't hear you."

How cool is that?

This is why we are cynical, part 1

March 25th, 2008

Advertising vs. Reality

While a few of those items look reasonably similar to the promises made on the packaging, most fail to come close. And some things, like the Heringssalat (halfway down the page, right above the Currywurst), look like something else entirely. Something incredibly unpleasant.

Not that I'd be shoving people out of the way to dive into the finest looking bowl of herring salad in the world.

When faced with a reality that doesn't live up to expectations, how can anyone avoid falling into cynicism and despair?

I'm not sure what "mischpilze" is, but I agree with the word underneath that.