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This sort of horsecrap feel-good garbage ought to***** you off.

Especially in this case because if you believe it that act of stupidity may kill you.

There's a disturbing truth that is emerging from the science of obesity. After years of study, it's becoming apparent that it's nearly impossible to permanently lose weight.

....

We all think we know someone in that rare group. They become the legends — the friend of a friend, the brother-in-law, the neighbour — the ones who really did it.

But if we check back after five or 10 years, there's a good chance they will have put the weight back on.

Well yeah, if they don't change what they eat.

That's because obesity is mostly about what goes down your pie hole -- not how much goes down your pie hole.

In March of 2011 I got tired of being a fat bastard.  I massed 210 lbs at that time and was uncomfortable in a 34" pair of jeans; 36s were ok.  I wore an XL T-shirt or sweatshirt and filled them "amply."  I was headed for 38s and then 40s on the jeans -- I'm sure of it.  Oh sure, maybe not for another 5 or 10 years, but that's where I was headed and I knew it.  I couldn't see my dick in the shower in the morning unless I sucked in my gut.

About nine months later I massed 150lbs -- a net 60 pound loss.  I have been between 145 and 155 since with very few excursions to either extreme.  Before writing this I stepped on the scale and it read 151.  I do not count calories.  I do run and bicycle, and did so while losing the weight, but I'm not obsessive about it.  There are weeks I don't run at all, or run about a single 5k in distance.  Then there are weeks I run pretty close to a 5k a day, or bike through an equivalent amount of time (and caloric consumption.)

When I began fewer than 10 flights of stairs would kick my ass.  Today that would be no problem at all.  A 5k run was literally impossible; I could not run for more than about a quarter of a mile at a time without having to slow down and feeling like I'd been hit by the truck.  

My personal best today on a 5k is a 7:06 pace across the race and my "normal" pace while "having fun" is right around 8 minutes/mile.  And I'm not a kid any more either -- I've got half a century on my sack of meat thus far.

I've posted this picture before.  It's real.

If you think I'm funnin' you on my ability to maintain that over this period of time here's a "selfie" from a few minutes ago:

 by tickerguy

I have on a pair of 30" waist shorts and that's a size medium T-shirt -- the same size I've worn since late 2011.  It is now June of 2014.

Oh, by the way, this isn't the first time I tried to lose the weight.  I had previously failed several times, despite really working at it from a physical activity perspective.

What changed this time around?

I changed what -- not how much -- went in the pie hole.

Specifically, I got rid of most carbohydrates and grains, including all fast carbohydrates such as sugars and breads.

Today I keep it under 100g/day, am usually under 50g, and have frequent days during which I consume zero carbohydrate.

My body and metabolism reacted to that; after a relatively modest period of time I wasn't hungry very often, and thus I ate less, with the largest component of my caloric content shifting to saturated fat. I didn't have to try to eat less, I simply wanted less.  Today I wake up and am often not hungry at all and may not have anything to eat until the middle of the morning or even later.

Then I'll make up some eggs cooked in butter with bacon or eat a steak, pork chop, chicken, ham and the like with utterly no attempt to reduce saturated fat intake at all.  What I did eliminate in the "fats" department were vegetable and hydrogenated fats, with the exception of olive oil that I do use for cooking purposes and as a salad dressing.

Look folks, you can believe what you want.  But the fact of the matter is that in my experience fast carbs are an addictive drug.  

Like most addictive drugs they make you feel good but do bad things to your body.

Like most addictive drugs there are people who "push" them, but since these addictive drugs are legal there are a lot of people manufacturing and pushing them.

Let me give you an example. I used to like chocolate bars.  I'd eat half a Snickers bar and if there was another half in a short while I'd want to eat that too.  Then there better not be any more of them in the house or they'd be gone as well.  The same with a bag of Doritos.  Sure, a "serving" is a handful of chips.  How many of you will eat those, then a while later consume the rest of the bag?  

Doesn't that sound like addictive behavior?  It sure does -- and I assert that's because it is.

Once you become fat through this addictive process you have a further problem -- not only are you habituated to these substances but in addition your insulin response mechanism is likely damaged.  If that goes far enough we call it diabetes and if not controlled it will eventually cause you to get your extremities amputated, will make you go blind, and will eventually kill you.

Once you get diabetes you go to the doctor and they start prescribing medication.  But if you keep eating carbohydrates -- that is, you keep using the drug that caused the damage in the first place -- drugs will become less and less effective because you are still doing incremental damage.

In many cases if you stop that crap your body can repair some of the damage over time.  Not all of it, to be sure, and maybe not enough of it.  But this much is certain -- if you keep doing damage the cumulative effect will continue to add up.

Our biology taunts us, by making short-term weight loss fairly easy. But the weight creeps back, usually after about a year, and it keeps coming back until the original weight is regained or worse.

That's like saying that the meth-head who has his teeth start to rot out, and who stops using it, ought to be surprised if his teeth keep rotting out if he goes back to smoking his crank-pipe!

Well, duh.

You can keep reading articles like this and nodding as you maw down on the Doritos and donuts or you can cut that crap out and do what I did.

Ultimately the problem is that it's hard to break the addiction, just like it is with all addictions.  When you begin you crave these sorts of foods and if you succumb then you will fail.  You'll then argue that it doesn't work when in fact you didn't maintain the path for long enough for the cravings to abate -- you cheated, in short, and after a period of time you'll declare failure and back to being fat you will go.

That's ok -- it's a choice, and one you're entitled to make.  It's your ass -- literally, the size of your ass.

But do remember this -- today we have a medical system that is siphoning off 20% of our economy, roughly, and is running costs at 5x what they should be.  It's a scam end-to-end, and will continue to be a scam because we refuse to put a stop to it by enforcing anti-trust law in this area just like we do and should everywhere else.  There are a million excuses, just like there are a million excuses for the baked goods section in your grocery and the box of donuts on your kitchen table.

When -- not if -- that system comes unwound you will either have resolved this problem or you will have not.  If you have you'll be fine because you won't have a diabetes problem and you won't need constant medical attention.

If not you will die.

Your choice, your consequence.

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A bit of the piece I wrote before got my mind going..... I hadn't actually sat down to think about this much (other than when Bill Still was running for the Libertarian ticket), and I bet you haven't either.

But we should.

I'm going to take just our Federal budget and break it down into the following general categories for Fiscal 2013, a year for which we have the Federal Treasury Statement:

Social Security: $870 billion

Medicare and Medicaid (All): $1,113 billion

Children and Families (TANF, Energy, Children and Family Services, Adoption, etc): $50 billion

HUD (Rent, projects, operating funds, etc) + "Community Planning": $45 billion

SNAP/WIC/Etc (Food Stamps & "Free" School Lunches): $109 billion

Veterans Affairs: $143 billion, of which about $52 billion is medically-related.  The rest is (mostly) pensions and readjustment benefits.

Ok, now let's add all this up, with one exception -- Military Pensions.

I get $2,239 billion, or $2.2 trillion dollars, out of a total as spent of $4.058 trillion -- roughly 54%.

Note that the deficit was $680 billion, or one third of that spending.

So let's just take our $2,239 billion and see what we could do with it, assuming we didn't have these programs at all. In other words, let's make a few assumptions:

  • Families in the lowest quintile of income (under $27,794) pay an effective tax rate of zero.  That is, their income (all sources, including benefit checks from the government) is all theirs to spend.

  • Families in the second quintile of income ($49,788) pay few taxes, with an effective rate under 20%. That is, if we remove the taxes the gross amount they'd have to "make" would rise by about $10,000 (what they pay in taxes.)

  • There are an average of 3.12 persons per family.  Since the US population is approximately 330 million, there are approximately 100 million family units ranging from a single person to five (where the bell curve flattens to near-zero) persons.  As these are quintiles this happens to divide out nicely; there are approximately 20 million families in each quintile.

Ok, so we're going to do this instead of the programs we have now:

  • We're going to enforce the Sherman and Clayton Acts vigorously against all in the medical field.  This will result in the cost of medical care plummeting by approximately 80%.  Doubt me?  Go price procedures and drugs in Japan, India and other nations where you can get first world, cash care.  Or, for that matter, price a procedure at The Surgery Center of Oklahoma.

  • We're going to delete all of these programs and benefits outlined above.

  • For the 20 million family units in the second quintile, we're going to give each a tax credit amounting to the 1/5th of the ratable difference between their family income and the $49,788 threshold.  There is an approximately $22,000 range in this quintile so the average household will receive $2,000. That will cost $40 billion a year.
     
  • For the 40 million family units in the first and second quintile we're going to give each a further refundable tax credit amounting to 100% of the funds necessary to reach the 1st quintile threshold (average for the first quintile is $14,000 @ 20 million people) plus, for those under $40,000, another $5,000.  This will cost (20 million * 14,000) + (35 million * 5,000) or $455 billion more a year.

Note that these two direct refundable tax credit disbursements result in nobody having a family income of less than approximately $32,000 after tax.  We spent $495 billion doing it.

Bluntly: If we do this there are no more poor citizens in America unless you care to argue that a $32,000 household income is "poor."  If you do then I'll preempt your statement by telling you that you're stupid and ought to go find a high building and jump, you ****er.

End of discussion.

We started with $2,239 billion that we whacked out of the budget and have spent $495 billion of that eliminating, on a permanent basis, poverty in America.

We have left $1,744 billion each and every year.  We will not run a deficit ($680 billion) any more, and in fact will run a $400 billion surplus on purpose to start paying down the debt.  We now have $764 billion left each and every year.

That $764 billion is roughly 40% of the remaining federal budget.  We therefore will cut all taxes, income FICA, Medicare, everything -- by 30% so as to bring receipts in line with actual spending.

The result of this is:

  • A balanced Federal Budget right now and, over the space of a few decades, a zeroed Federal debt.
     
  • I did not touch the military budget, nor any of the other departments.
     
  • Those who are in the lowest quintile of American life suddenly and permanently have a reasonably middle-class lifestyle.  There is no longer any argument over whether someone will starve irrespective of their economic circumstance, other than by choice.  There are no more poor citizens in America.
     
  • I have permanently stopped all fiscally-driven inflation, and thus destruction of purchasing power, since there are no longer deficits being run.  In fact we now see purchasing power increases over time of about 2.3% annually.

  • Those who are in the second quintile will see their after tax income effectively rise to their pre-tax income.

  • And everyone, from poor on up, will see a 30% reduction in all federal taxes and fees.

Note that I left a hell of a lot of Socialism in the Federal Government due to handing out money to the lowest two quintiles.  However, I got rid of all of the government waste and corruption at once in social programs by doing it this way, and as a result what has happened is that the people in the lower economic strata got all the money instead of a quarter of it with the various scam artists in and around the government stealing the rest.

I also broke the Medical Monopolies -- everyone can now afford to pay cash for their medical care.

And, I did it while cutting taxes across-the-board by 30% while not only balancing the budget immediately, not in 10 or 20 years in some phantasm of lies and fraud, but also while putting $400 billion a year toward retiring the debt.

We're not short on money in this country, nor on taxation.

We're short on integrity and people who argue otherwise are liars.

Argue with my math; if I missed something or made an error, show me where.

PS: Before the criticism commences, let me point out that I'm well-aware of adverse selection and the arguments that can be raised in support of it, including the fact that were we to do this we might end up with a lot of people in that first quintile by choice!  After all, $32,000 as a guaranteed household income is pretty good for doing nothing!

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2014-05-09 09:12 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 339 references
 

As we head toward the weekend here's something to contemplate.

You've recently seen my essay on all of us having an hourglass full of sand with the top mostly-painted over, so we can't see how much sand is in there until it is about to run out.  That is, it is almost-always true that one doesn't learn about their impending death until, well, it's impending.  When was the last time you heard a doctor tell someone "you have 20 years left."  No, they always tell you "you have six months", don't they?

Time is a funny thing.  It's the one commodity you can't buy more of no matter how rich you are.  Money does enable the compression of everyday tasks at varying rates, but that doesn't actually get you more time -- it just removes your expenditure of it on certain everyday tasks, should you so choose.  For instance you can fly commercial and spend six hours door-to-door to go from A -> B, or for a (lot) more money you can hop in your LearJet and make the same trip, again door-to-door, in four hours or less.  Much of that two hour difference is purely wasted with government-mandated bull**** such as the TSA.

Huge percentages of the population, however, fail at various tasks or barely eek by not because they're stupid, not because they're not capable, but because they refuse to master and accept responsibility for time management.

Indeed I would argue that a plurality if not the majority of failures at various tasks, whether it be work or school related, are in fact failures of time management.

That night out drinking, or the 20 minutes (or hour!) you spend on Facebook or Youtube can have a profound impact on success, and it frequently is a ripple effect too.  You stay out late on a Friday and sleep all day Saturday as a result instead of studying for a final.  Then on Sunday you cram in a panic, realizing that at 7:00 AM Monday you need to have your ass in the chair ready to go.  The result is that you get 4 hours of sleep before the test and score a screaming "F" because you were both half-asleep and unprepared.

You didn't fail because you were stupid, you failed because you decided to blow off steam on Friday night and get puke-drunk, then needed all day Saturday in bed to be able to move.  Had you instead spent Friday studying, slept a normal schedule that evening, studied for a few hours Saturday and Sunday and went to bed at 8:00 Sunday evening you would have gotten a "B" or "C" on the final instead of an "F" -- and passed.

Note that absolutely nothing changed in terms of your absorption of the original material, or your time in class.  All that changed was your decision to allocate time first to the task that had to be done and rather than wait until the last minute, dedicating the time toward studying a couple of days in advance so you had a cushion if something went wrong.  The difference in outcome is enormous.

It gets worse if you rely on something other than your brainpower (e.g. a computer, etc.)  If you wait until the last minute to begin what happens if your computer crashes while you're writing that term paper?  You don't turn it in -- and get an "F."  

You are owed exactly zero forbearance from the professor in that case, since while the computer failure was not foreseeable your decision to wait was, and had you not jacked off for the previous two weeks you could have used someone else's computer or had yours repaired in plenty of time to complete the assignment.

Over the space of your life managing time efficiently and not can literally be and frequently is the difference between success and failure.  A "death spiral" of missed deadlines that lead you to being evicted or having your power and water turned off and hundreds of dollars (which you don't have!) for reconnect fees and penalties imposed can quite-easily come from a simple night out on the town or a few hours blown playing "Farmville"!

Kids and young adults, I know you won't listen to your parents on this and neither will the adults, young or otherwise, who are guilty of the same thing -- but if you're reading this piece you know I'm right. You've probably made this mistake and hopefully it didn't have catastrophic consequences.  You probably blew it off too, especially if you managed to talk your way out of the box you created or just "took the F" but it didn't kill your scholarship or otherwise imperil your lifestyle in some other serious way.

Trust me -- this is something you cannot afford to allow in your life, especially in a world where competition for resources is stiff and the forward economic picture cloudy at best.

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There's an interesting article in The Atlantic that contains a graph you should pay attention to:

This is the number of hours you must work at minimum wage to pay for a credit hour at Michigan State University.

In 1979 it was about 10.  Now it's about 60.

Note that a "full load" is generally considered over 12 credit hours per semester; let's take the minimum (you usually need 120 hours to graduate, so this would be a "five year" plan); this means you would need to work 120 hours (or about 10 hours a week) to pay for school while in school.  That can be done along with the academic load.  It also can be done during the summer. Note too that tuition is nowhere near the entire cost; the usual "all in" price is about double tuition expense, so you would need to work 20 hours a week to cover it.  Again, that's doable -- two 8 hour shifts on the weekend and an hour four nights a week, and you're good.

Today, at six times that cost, it cannot.

The conclusion, however, is backward:

Is it any surprise that so many students today are suckered into taking out non-dischargeable loans, in growing chunks, to pay for their bachelor's degrees?

Wrong answer.

The reason the price went up 600% is the availability of those loans.

That is, it was the financialization of education that made this possible, because it is through financialization that entities sit down and figure out exactly how much they can extract from others in a transaction, causing the price to rise right to that limit.  At the same time they lobby vigorously for "ever-easier-appearing" (but more-onerous in fact) terms that increasingly transfer the fruits of the result of whatever has been financialized from the buyer to the seller through that increased price!

The result of this paradigm and the unholy alliance between banks, Wall Street, Washington DC and the colleges themselves is that the marginal utility of college degrees for many, perhaps even the majority of students, is now negative.

Remember that the school, the lender, Wall Street and Washington DC do not care about individual outcomes.  They could give a damn about whether college is a good deal for you.

That is what happens when anything becomes financialized; the only metric that matters is the aggregate outcome for the financial chef; that is, his goal is to strip all but one penny of the benefit on average from the participants and keep it. 

The closer he gets to that goal the more money he makes.  He does not care about your outcome, only that in aggregate the pool of "buyers" keep just enough that the next group will come in the door.

In other words so long as they can point to a few rocket scientists that make $100,000 a year right out of school that you can only make $30,000 and leave school with $150,000 in non-dischargeable debt,  thereby virtually guaranteeing financial hardship if not outright bankruptcy, does not matter to them at all!

The colleges are not only aware of this they are willing participants in that they have their own finance offices that will help you arrange for your own fiscal destruction and, if they (or you) can talk your parents into it, theirs as well.

This must be stopped -- but until the financialization of education is reversed it won't be.  Until that day comes the best you can do is to take a long, hard look at the numbers and figure out how to get the education you want without taking any debt at all.  If that cannot be done given your specific set of circumstances then in most cases what you're proposing to do is objectively a bad deal.

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2014-02-24 23:26 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 1513 references
 

In March of 2007 I began writing The Market Ticker.  Some of you have heard the saga of how and why, but it bears repeating here in 2014, now 7 years later.

I was blessed in the 1990s with being in the right place at the right time.  Oh sure, it didn't start that way; there was a lot of hard work dragging myself out of a sewer that I was headed into at high velocity, beginning with a speculative trip to Chicago undertaken with what was literally my last $100 and an offer to crash on a guy's couch I had never met in person; I only knew him as someone who ran software I had written for the TRS-80 operating an online bulletin board. That Sunday upon arrival I found an ad in the Chicago Tribune for a job in Schaumberg "programming the pins off the Z-80" at a little store-front business called NSI. Russ Berube, the guy who owned the joint, gave this at-the-time young man clawing himself away from a vortex of personal and financial disaster a programming position that he sorely needed -- and the income to rent an apartment.  I still remember the workbenches and old-time PDP-11 running TSX-Plus, the cross-compiler and the EPROM burner; indeed, I spent so much time there that I could probably still walk from the little room where I worked to the can -- or to the PROM machine -- while sleeping.  I remember well Mary, Denise, Don and several others.  At night I slaved over my TRS-80 with a cobbled-together set of add-ons, some standard, some not-so-much, writing my own code for myself.

That was the opportunity that got me on my feet.  It began my ventures as an entrepreneur, led to selling PCs along with doing network and computer integration for various firms in partnership with the guy who lent me his couch that first night.  D&D Software morphed over time into both of us programming in his basement while I rented a room from him and his wife as it was closer than my first apartment (and cheaper), an expansion of the business to a small back warehouse in Mundelein where we built partitions out of wood and covered them with a remnant of carpet, a further expansion to a location in Wheeling and then, when the winds of change blew drying up business we amicably closed the firm and split up the assets as he was offered a technology position with an association and I was offered a network operations job at a project development office of a Fortune 50 company in Bannockburn.  That ultimately led to me being hired by a spun-off subsidiary of another firm (VideOcart) that itself went public in Chicago proper.

When VideOcart got in trouble and it was apparent the firm was going to fail I prepared to start MCSNet -- in the bedroom closet of my apartment.  That little place was the second level of an old brownstone rented out by a professional landlord who owned a few of them across the city, complete with out-of-true floors but somehow "safe enough" to pass a code inspection.  It began with six modems, a 56kbps leased circuit and a hand-built PC running Unix, sporting a $20 box fan blowing extra air over the open case and collection of modems to keep them from melting down.  That was the genesis of MCSNet; I built it with my bare hands and I retained majority ownership of the company throughout the firm's life.

MCSNet moved to 1300 W Belmont and expanded to fill two "micro office spaces" in a shared office building, where the photo that I've posted before was taken, and when we ran out of room there I moved the company to 180 N Stetson, otherwise known as 2 Prudential Plaza, leasing 8300' of the 26th floor.  The company ultimately employed a couple of dozen people, served over 10,000 users in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, turned several million in gross receipts a year and was acquired in 1998 by Winstar Communications -- all with not one nickel of debt being taken on, ever, and not one item on lease other than the building space and office copy machine.

Why do I bring all of this history up?

Because there were many times during those years that I wondered if any of what I working toward was worth it, and there were plenty of times that it was a royal bitch too.  It wasn't just the 4AM pages to go fix something, which as the boss was my job above everyone else -- that's not a big deal.  No, it was the bare-knuckle aspect of business and the utter necessity of being willing to go to the mat when threatened, whether that came from competitive forces or other, less-orthodox events. That's a key part of being a successful enterpreneur that most people don't talk about; you either have the willingness to do that and are good at it, including remaining within the bright line tests but giving no quarter, or not. What's not required is that you like it; indeed, if you do enjoy it there's probably something wrong with you.

Then, just over 18 months after the sale closed I watched the Nasdaq come apart from the Sandestin Hilton in the Florida Panhandle.

I had much emotion over that event.  My kid was a toddler and we were house-hunting, having decided that Chicago was not where I was going to raise her.  I had been out of the market for roughly a year at the time because I saw it coming, but of course didn't know exactly when it would happen.  I was angry.  I remember telling Juanita and Jerry, the two Realtors that were showing us houses, that this was just the start of what was going to prove to be a monstrous crash, warning them that if they had investments in the market to pay very close attention.

That crash came from massive, outrageous fraud.  It was founded in hubris, not so much in the people offering the stock in worthless companies and pipe dreams -- after all, if you're an entrepreneur you either believe in yourself and are both willing to and are good at being a bare-knuckled bastard when you need to be or you may as well quit before you start.

No, it was Wall Street, the bankers, and the puerile change in our society that had already begun to engulf us all.  The media had lost its desire to look into stories and instead had become a lapdog for anyone with an ad budget.  The Internet had become a monster, both enabling things nobody had ever thought of before which was good but at the same time either amplifying or at least exposing some really ugly realities about our human condition, which was bad.

The sharp drop in Asia in early 2007 woke me up from what had been a nice dream.  I had spent the previous six years fishing, diving and raising my kid, and for four years had been a reasonably-active but long-only investor.

I looked into what was going on and saw the same old crap that had polluted the landscape in 1999 and 2000.  It wasn't all that hard to figure out; after all I did have Realtors knocking on my door at 6:30 AM Saturdays claiming to have a couple in their car wanting to buy my house -- sight unseen, and no, it was not listed for sale.

I decided to try to make a difference.

So I began to write, and ultimately set up the forum as well as a place for people to congregate, trade ideas, and hopefully get something of value -- and perhaps, just perhaps, coalesce into something worthwhile that might put a stop to this sort of garbage in the future.

That appears to have been a foolish dream.

It wasn't my first foolish dream; I've been a fool many times before -- and I'm sure it won't be the last time either.

You see, nobody wants to do anything about the real issues facing our nation and that we have as a people -- at least not in a productive way.  It's far more important and easier to take cheap shots, to play "gotcha" and to parade around bull**** than it is to face the facts about what our society has become, and when we play those games all we're doing is adding to the puerile and derelict nature of what our society has devolved into.

We're more-interested in whether Alec Baldwin said a bad thing on a NY Street than whether colleges are ripping off young adults.  We're more interested in going after people predicated on half-truths and outright lies than the bald-faced rip-offs and outrages that are served upon us daily by those who claim to be acting in our "best interest" -- and our own culpability for same, in that virtually every one of these people holds office and power only because we consent with votes cast at either the polls or the store.  It doesn't matter that the media intentionally placed their logo in a strategic fashion when George Zimmerman got out of a cop car to hide the back of his head so you couldn't see the gash that Trayvon Martin put there, and that was just one of the first half-truths and outright distortions presented in that case; we buy the products advertised on those "news" shows and watch those networks to this day.

Harry Reid struts around the Senate pontificating on evil Republicans even though his office and he personally knows that Medicare and Medicaid will bankrupt the country -- but he'll be dead first, so he doesn't give a damn nor will he put a stop to it.  Boehner and McConnell, for their part, are happy to make all sorts of noises about deficit spending, but then when the time comes to actually stop it they fold for the same reason -- they don't give a damn either as they expect they'll leave office before it all goes to Hell and it's very profitable for them and their friends to continue the charade.  Both sides of the aisle knew damn well that Obama was lying about virtually every respect of Obamacare and yet Pelosi literally said that Congress had to pass the law to know what was in it, which is a rank admission that she knew she was screwing the entire country.  You don't care either because she's still in office.  CEOs come on CNBC and other media channels to tout their "greatness" just as Mozillo did -- or for that matter Dick Fuld of Lehman who promised he was going to "burn the shorts."  When his own pants caught on fire instead who called him on that?  

Nobody.

What does it say about us when we're more-interested in whether Miley Cyrus is twerking with a foam finger than the rip-offs on Wall Street promulgated with HFT, blatant falsehoods spewed forth in Congressional testimony by Fed officials and outright lies by the head of the NSA?  What does it say about us when a Congressperson documents that they and the President lied about your health care, intentionally destroying your insurance coverage and relationship with your physician -- and yet they still sit in their offices drawing paychecks funded with your money, voluntarily handed over, more than four years later?

What does it say about us when we're too damn busy dredging up old bull**** to demand that the foundation of this nation actually mean something?  What does it mean when the most-important aspect of our lives is prattering about who's porking who (or who did pork who) instead of why we as a society tolerate grift on a wholesale basis to the point that 40% of our population gets a check that they literally steal from everyone -- including themselves and their children?

Maybe we all deserve what's happening and what's coming.  Maybe we deserve the sort of thing that's happening in the Ukraine.  After all, we watch those TV shows.  We patronize the advertisers.  We spend money making the paparazzi photo worth something; they wouldn't bother with the long lens pointed at the high-rise window or assaulting people in the street if nobody bought the magazine with the pictures.  There's a whole section of magazines and newspapers in virtually every grocery store in the country filled with this crap at the checkout line and you're the reason it's there and is produced because you buy it. 

Why is it considered acceptable when you have a garf with someone to blast them by text message instead of picking up the phone -- or talking to them in person?  Where has our sense of reason gone and why don't you simply walk away if you conclude that you don't like someone?  What does it say about your life when you find it so compelling to see how much crap you can load on someone else?  Why is destruction so much more interesting to people these days than construction?  Which moves the needle forward on balance for everyone, and which simply blows **** up for fun?  How is that any different than chortling over the latest photo taken by the paparazzi?

You can't even drive to the store any more without running into someone who's hyper-aggressive about getting somewhere now and will ride your ass even though you're driving not only safely but somewhat faster than the speed limit.  Nope -- they gotta go 70+ in a 55, on a bridge with one lane in each direction -- and no way to pass.  When you won't accede to playing Speed Racer for a whole 30 second advantage in travel time they sit 2' from your bumper with their high beams on.  Oh do I long for the days when I drove an AMC Pacer with rusted floorboards that was worth about $200 and could claim I saw a squirrel run across the road!

Why do we put up with exploding products?  Manufacturers buy intentionally-cheapened components in modern electronics that are virtually guaranteed to fail not long after the warranty runs out.  I've lost count of the number of LCD monitors and TVs I've resurrected that were felled by $5 worth of this crap made in China -- intentionally selected, I'm sure, for "lowest price."  I can fix them for $5 in parts and 30 minutes with a soldering iron but how many people know that -- or know how to fix them? More to the point how many billions of dollars are wasted every year by consumers buying replacements for things that broke because they were designed to fail and how many tons of toxic waste are sitting in landfills that don't have to be there? How much of our so-called "GDP" is in fact spending driven by these intentional acts that rob us all? Why do we tolerate a "smartphone" or music player with a non user-replaceable battery that has a design life of 12-18 months when cycled from empty to full daily -- and better, why do we buy them for our kids and set that example for them?  I have a Pioneer stereo receiver sitting next to me as I write this that I use for my computer speakers; it's two decades old and works perfectly.  Can you say the same will be the case 20 years hence if you buy one today?

What does it say about us as a people when we build up and promote so-called "crypto-currencies" predicated on nothing more than the expenditure of electricity while intentionally ignoring the fact that they are designed to be self-extinguishing, exponentially-more-difficult to "mine" over time and the cost of verification of transactions increases with both volume and use? That's like trying to apply future value to a burning candle and yet many claim there is alleged "value" in these things -- or even worse, that they're "money."  Where did the hallucinogenic drugs come from that are powering these fantasies?

What does it say about us when we build so-called "professions" up that lie to our youth as a matter of course -- and get paid for it?  Why do we not only tolerate this but vote for the tax levies that fund these people instead of throwing them all out into the street on their ear?  What purpose does "zero tolerance" actually have as applied to suspending children from school and giving them a permanent disciplinary record for biting into a Pop Tart in the wrong way, or pointing their finger? By the same token what does it say about us when a group of teens get a young girl drunk and then after she passes out remove her clothes, draw slurs on her thighs and assault her, and when we find out about it we make excuses for and protect the "kids" who did it even when it drives her to commit suicide?  A singular, sad incident?  Nope; Steubenville Ohio anyone, and I'm sure there are more.  If you think this sort of crap is new, think again; it goes back at least decades.  I have my own personal list of people I believe will burn in Hell that used to work in so-called "education" with culpability for similar, if in some cases less-severe, cover-ups and white-washes.  You know who you are and if you're still breathing and read this piece I place my trust in God to judge you appropriately, for that decision is not mine to make.

Why do we have Fire Stations with "Safe Place" stickers on them where a woman can drop off a newborn baby without signing anything or identifying herself, and that child is forever gone from the perspective of its father, utterly without recourse?  At the same time if she chooses to keep said kid she can hammer the same man for 18 or more years of child support, file false allegations of abuse to keep him from ever seeing the child for so much as 10 seconds and never be punished for the harm done to that kid or the false allegations.  At the very same firehouse, however, five firefighters can ignore a man having a heart attack across the street despite being asked for help and after he dies as a consequence one of the involved parties is allowed to retire with her pension intact.  In what sort of world do we live where life has become someone's plaything to be exploited for profit, both in birth and death say much less all the time in between?  Want more examples?  Go to your nearest hospital; you'll find hundreds of them each and every day from the ER waiting room to the patients in the beds.

Why would anyone bother to try to write opinion pieces or even news stories when they present a concise position in a paragraph and the second sentence is intentionally ignored so as to take a cheap shot at the author's point of view and claim they support something that is 180 degrees opposite from their actual and expressed position?  Is that poor reading comprehension or intentional misconduct?  Does it matter?

Maybe I have the wrong perspective here.  Perhaps I should have looked at what I do as being part of the entertainment industry.  Then it would all be par for the course; paparazzi are part of the deal, you smile for the camera and you pump out whatever crap you think people want to consume, damn the truth to Hell and back again.  You expect to be the subject of tabloids and similar bullcrap.  Oh, and to play my part well I'd have to speak in words of less than six letters, composing sentences of less than five words.

Just to make sure people can read them, of course.

But that's not why I set up The Market Ticker and Tickerforum.  That's not why I spent a couple of thousand hours writing the software that runs this place (currently at version 41.4 as I pen this), say much less writing the articles herein.

It is, however, quite-clear that's what the expectation is of many who are consuming what's on this site -- complete with being a recipient of all the crap that has and does come with it.

There is more but I decline to dignify it with public commentary.

For all of the above reasons, enumerated and not, I decline to continue under the current arrangement. I'm seven years into this and enough is enough.

I'd rather go running with actual friends and then perhaps partake of a drink at the local pub where I can have a face-to-face conversation with real people.  Or, maybe I'll go fishing.

Therefore what was is no longer.  The Market Ticker will continue to publish articles at my whim if events catch my eye, much as Musings used to before The Ticker existed.  I suspect there will be plenty that I want to comment on in the coming months and years.  However, all comments will be moderated and will appear whenever I get around to looking at and approving them, starting here and now.  The rest of what was Tickerforum has been closed.

Bonne chance mes amis.

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