Thursday, February 26, 2009

Little Green Footballs

I used to regularly read Little Green Footballs. Rarely would I read anything earth-shattering and I don't believe Charles Johnson to be the brightest bulb in the blogosphere (brilliant programmer though) but it was always enjoyable to read. His large following made for interesting commentary but has long since become "so busy, no one goes there anymore". I have seen intelligent comments and outright stupid ones (I guess some were intentionally stupid others just stupid).

I do not read LGF all that much anymore. You see, Charles has drifted from War on Terror commentary to battling creationism and intelligent design. Now, there are many good arguments to make against the two ideas, I have never felt very strongly one way or the other on this debate and one could say I straddle the fence. I believe the general notion of evolution to be very convincing and don't understand why some people insist evolution is not in God's toolbox.

Now that I think about it, LGF was never all that much cutting edge as far as commentary goes. I will keep it in my blogroll and I will pop in from time to time, but I don't expect much from it anymore. Perhaps I'll keep my eyes on it for his technical notes.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Federalism Again

One thing quite a few people say is that everyone who earns money should pay federal taxes on that money. The reason is so that everyone comes to a better understanding that federal largess is not magically appearing manna.

Along those lines I have often pondered and argued that if you can not vote for a given candidate you SHOULD NOT be allowed to contribute wealth to their campaign. Certainly, if you want to speak on their behalf that is one thing, spend your own money on that no one can stop you with government sanctioned activity or force. Still, if you don't live in a district or area a representative represents, why the .... should you be allowed to finance their candidates?

Groups and organizations would only be allowed to contribute in direct proportion to the number of members they have in district.

This is, as far as I can see a fairly ideologically neutral policy. Some districts the conservative/GOP candidate would suffer in others the Dem/Left candidate would. In some districts the anti-gun candidate would suffer in some districts they would thrive, it all depends on the nature of the district. Why should we expect Haight-Ashbury to have representatives in government that advocate for wide open carry conceal than we would expect some small town in Idaho to be forced to subsidize The Vagina Monologues?

WHAT Was the Bubble?

A lot of people have pointed at real estate & housing as the current bubble that we see bursting.

While I have intimated at the REAL bubble that is currently causing us headaches Mark Steyn points is out explicitly:
Washington is engaged in the doomed project of attempting to re-inflate a credit bubble. Can't be done. But, in attempting it, they're massively expanding government spending and further distorting the rules of the market in the same ways that worked out so well for American home owners. And, as Iain noted below, the one group of people economic illiterates like Barney Frank don't seem to mind screwing over are the lenders - the investor class.

So why would you invest right now? From the point of view of investors in mortgage-backed securities, the "Hope for Homeowners" plan boils down to a government-mandated unilateral rewrite of the terms of your investment. It's different in degree from, say, investing in a copper mine in Africa and then finding that this week's president-for-life is going to nationalize without compensation. But it's not so different in principle. And, if you're an investor, what you have to ponder is whether the "Hope for Homeowners, Change for Mortgage Lenders" approach might soon spread to other areas of economic activity. Right now, that seems a safe assumption.
Source: The Corner — South and souther (Mark Steyn)

This by far is the best sum up of our current economic problem.

I find it interesting, money to fuel credit is supposedly in short supply and what is being done? The Federal Government is pursuing policies to keep rates low. Thank God inflation and energy prices are low at the moment. If we had either one we would be in a serious world of economic hurt.

Wow, that last paragraph is very frightening. The government coming and rewriting agreements, that is like Nikki Santorro (from the movie Casino played by Joe Pessci) strong-arming his banker because the investment plan they agreed to did not work out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kick Me!

Does anyone know what: Taxidea taxus is? No, it is not the Wisconsin taxpayer walking around with a kick me sign, but it certainly fits!

Another Phone Interview

Today, the interview went well, but I am an optimist, so discount something from that. It was with an HR-Droid from Livonia MI on behalf of a smaller (and local) partnering firm. She asked a large number of detailed tech questions, I did well on them but one. When asked about the three pillars of OOP I immediately noted there were 3 and could only name two (forgot inheritance). However, my Java CBTs came in very handy and I was able to answer the questions to her satisfaction (HR-Droid though she is) on sockets, threads, and the like.

Plus I started to go crazy with my LinkedIn network and drilled some of them for names I can address additional packets to. I submitted my official applications but will also mail in separate applications to those names.

I have seen people refuse to work their networks and connections, what a shame. They told me they want to earn the position. I say BS on that, for the simple reason that a clever used car salesman who knows nothing but can sell themselves will beat out sincere talent in an interview. Know your stuff and be honest, but find and seize the angle that no one else can!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three Little Birds

At the moment I still have XM in the truck. Last weekend on the way back from someplace I tuned in The Joint and heard:

Dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, (this is my message to you-ou-ou:)

Singin: dont worry bout a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry (dont worry) bout a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, this is my message to you-ou-ou:

Singin: dont worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh!
Every little thing gonna be all right. dont worry!
Singin: dont worry about a thing - I wont worry!
cause every little thing gonna be all right.

Singin: dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right - I wont worry!
Singin: dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry about a thing, oh no!
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Thanks be to God for that, it brought tears to my eyes, thank God for the song & sunglasses.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thanks, An Update, and Musings

First for those of you leaving comments in my last posting thanks.

Secondly, some of you may think my prior post and the preceding posts are at odds with each other.

They are not. The economy is full of short term winners and short term losers. Today's winner can be knocked down to being a loser and yesterday's loser can find themselves on top. That is why I never criticize those who keep fighting and struggling to make a buck even though they may have millions of them. When looking at death & ruin, always keep in mind "objects are closer than they appear". However, if we don't restore sanity to the fundamental store of value in our nation no one's credit is going to be worth much.

I have come to a couple of conclusions and made some observations. One, my industry is not doing as badly as others, there is a fair amount of hiring going on and going on locally. The positions do not appear to be junk ones either, they look to be good solid positions I can jockey into good long term situations.

I keep in mind the reviews my employer gave, the feedback my clients would give, and the fact a number of them invited me back on multiple occasions (one had specifically asked another consulting firm to go out and get me -- that is work out a deal with my employer to bring me in). My understanding is I earned about half of what my former employer billed me out at. This is not to gripe about my former employer, I had benefits, vacation, and at least up until this last stint a bench to sit on between assignments. This gives me a good idea that I can expect more from a permanent hire, maybe not what my bill rate was, but certainly more than what I received.

Despite all of that I still feel kinda PO'ed about the deal. Walking out is one thing, being kicked off is another. I feel PO'ed my former organization could not me any more placements up here in my area -- despite the fact a number of other consulting firms seem to be quite busy up here. I feel PO'ed they hired a high profile felon last week. My former organization worked in this part of the state and in another part (I had a gig up in that part) and in those two part's my former outfit's name was not too great. A number of fights with clients can do wonders for an outfit's reputation.

Just to let you all know I have six active job files (indicating serious interest on my part) of which three have led to contact from the hiring outfit. Of course, I have put out a lot more applications than that, and I have even received a couple of FOs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Got Whacked Yesterday

Not a huge surprise. Still, it is a time full of FUD even more so than the time leading up to this.

As you know I am a conservative and have never relished counseling or talking to those recently laid off or such, it is not easy to tell a person to buck up and be positive. I like to think I am more positive than others in this position.

The last time my company went through this it was after the post-Y2K bubble and that was a bubble in my industry where there was a lot of investment going in computers leading up to the trouble. Fortunately, the bubble this time occurs in another industry and I am noticing more direct hiring activity in my business. So I am not too worried, I figure we have a two-three months before we are in deep doo-doo.

I survived a previous lay off, but this time no. I was working up until last October and came off of assignment and figured since my company stuck with me despite some long bench stints things would be the same. Problem is, the last time I missed lay off by a week or two and our bench grew to be quite large, too large.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hair of the Accountant

You and your buddies went out on Friday night. You hit the rack at about 3:30 am on Saturday. You wake up at 11:00 am your head is pounding and your gut topsy-turvy. What do you do? You stumble to the refrigerator pull out a cold one, crack it open and pound it down and proceed with another cold one. You manage to hold them down and you start to feel better so you carry on. That technique for dealing with hangovers is popularly known as "hair of the dog that bit you". I am quite sure all sorts of health professionals and alcohol abuse counselors have nothing good to say about that.

However, we as a nation are engaging in a similar coping strategy. Yeap, with the credit crisis and the housing bubble.

We are being told there is precious little credit to go around anymore. However, we are also being told there is not enough spending going on consumers are starting to hoard cash instead and pay off debt instead of buying the latest TVs, clothes, etc.

So what is the national response? To cheapen credit and encourage people to resume spending. All that is going to do is to make credit harder to come by. In order to encourage the increase in credit we need to make it more expensive, at the same time this will reduce the demand for credit. Guess what? Making credit more pricey will cause people to save more.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think we should all turn into a nation of misers, but our current problems are related to extravagance not miserliness.

Should the government stepped in back in 2001 & 2002 to boost tech spending? No.

So, let us roll over moan about last night, swear to never over-extend our credit again and the let time cure the hangover.