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Gas Just Keeps Going Up
Feb 16th, 2009 by Mike

When oil prices are going down (around $34 a barrel Friday) how come gas prices keep going up ($.35 since Jan 1)? Turns out that the $34 per barrel is for West Texas crude and they’re not making much gas from it. Instead, we’re getting gas from inferior oil imported from Canada, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and others. That oil is much more expensive, about $7 more per barrel not counting transportation cast, than West Texas crude. Why are we using foreign oil instead of West Texas crude? We don’t have pipelines in place to transport the oil out of the Southwest.

Is there any money in the massive bailout bill to build pipelines?

Bailout
Feb 10th, 2009 by Mike

Looks like the market today didn’t believe the hype about the bailout stimulating the economy. Or was it something else?

Begging The Question
Jan 16th, 2009 by Mike

One thing that irks me is talking heads completely butchering the English language. Many times they take a term that means one thing then use it incorrectly to mean another. For example, the word momentarily means for a moment. How many times a day do you hear an announcer say, “We’ll be back momentarily?” The announcer means in a moment but is actually saying for a moment.

One phrase that talking heads misuse that really annoys me is begs the question to mean asks the question. In fact, begging the question is a logical fallacy wherein the arguer tries to prove a point by relying on a premise 1 something assumed or taken for granted that proves the point. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the topic.

In logic, begging the question has traditionally described a type of logical fallacy … in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises...

In contemporary usage, “begging the question” often refers to an argument where the premises are as questionable as the conclusion.

In popular usage, “begging the question” is often used to mean that a statement invites another obvious question. This usage is stated to be incorrect in The Oxford Guide to English Usage, 1st edition; “raises the question” is suggested as a more appropriate alternative. Improper usage of the term may to some observers make the user appear uneducated; this is presumably the opposite effect the user intends by using the term. [Emphasis mine]

Are you surprised the talking heads get stuff like this wrong?

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.  something assumed or taken for granted
Changed Gravitars
Dec 5th, 2008 by Mike

If you hadn’t noticed, I changed the gravatar 1the little picture that appears next to your comments, aka Globally Recognized Avatars scheme. Many of you have commented on how your gravitar looked, sick, scary, ugly, so I changed the scheme to monsters. 

If you don’t like that scheme, you can always upload your own gravitar at http://en.gravatar.com/. The account is free and you can upload any small picture you like, associate it with your email address, and it will appear next to your comments at any tech-savvy, gravitar enabled site like Major Mike’s Musings.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. the little picture that appears next to your comments, aka Globally Recognized Avatars
Economic Forecasting
Nov 30th, 2008 by Mike

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

Yesterday, Black Friday, consumers spent 3% 1UPDATE: latest figures estimate that the increase may be more like 7% more than last year. All we heard on the news was how horrible for retailers the day would be. That folks were only going to browse. I think Mr. Galbraith is correct. The crowds even trampled a Wal-Mart employee to death in their rush to buy stuff, for crying out loud.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. UPDATE: latest figures estimate that the increase may be more like 7%
Alas
Nov 29th, 2008 by Mike

 

Spam

Spam

Alas, The North Lake Marine Corps League will not be serving Spam burgers today at the flea market.

Experts
Oct 22nd, 2008 by Mike

“An expert must be bold if he hopes to alchemize his homespun theory into conventional wisdom. His best chance of doing so is to engage the public’s emotions, for emotion is the enemy of rational argument.”, [Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics]

So how do you suppose this quote applies to the election?

Theory of Rational Expectation
Oct 8th, 2008 by Mike

OK, so Congress passed the bailout (and about $150 billion of pork) and the stock market continues to tank. Could it be that fear, not tight credit, is fueling the market? Did it help that both presidential candidates said that this is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? Do the cries of the media help the situation?

The Theory of Rational Expectation in economics says that the economy will follow the expectations of the population. Are we expecting the economy to tank?

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending – New York Times
Sep 29th, 2008 by Mike

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending – New York Times.

You may want to hop over and read the linked article by Steven A. Holmes published September 30, 1999. In it Steven Holmes reports that Fannie Mae’s previous year portfolio contained 44% of its loans from low to moderate-income borrowers (subprime loans).

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits…. In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

I guess we did know about this financial meltdown years ago. Hmmm.

Spirituality
Sep 20th, 2008 by Mike

I haven’t blogged in a while. Don’t have any thoughts organized so here’s a quote from Through Gates of Splendor which I recently read;

“It is not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God’s and the call is God’s and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package–our bravery and our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses.” — Elisabeth Elliot

Recent Thoughts
Sep 5th, 2008 by Mike

I’ve been trying to decide what to make of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech a week ago Thursday before the Democratic National Convention.

First let me say that I thought the speech was dynamite. Obama is a first class orator and he was superb in his delivery. And even though he was criticized by some for lack of detail in his plans, I thought he had plenty of detail for an acceptance speech.

Like others, my first view of Obama was during his keynote address to the DNC in 2004. His message of “were all Americans” was inspiring. I thought, “This guy is destined for great things in politics.” I admired his bent to statesmanship instead of the same old party politics that punctuates most political activities. Good idea. Let’s cooperate and accomplish the stuff that America needs. Let’s all do it together.

Four years later and some of the idealism and statesmanship have been traded for the politics of getting elected. I understand the need for this, yet I long for the old Obama. And I don’t hold this against him. I hope, that if he is elected, he can return to his place as one who calls for us to rise above ourselves for the good of America.

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