Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tigers Release Gary Sheffield

News over the sports wire today is that the Detroit Tigers have released DH Gary Sheffield.

My heart leaped with joy at this news, as Sheffield has been dead weight to this team over the last two years, and has done nothing to justify all the money he was paid. He has been a fragile, aging, ineffective, complainer for most of his stay here, and I'm glad to see that the Tigers will be giving his roster spot (and batting order spot) to someone who deserves it. Perhaps Marcus Thames will get the at-bats he deserves now, or someone like Jeff Larish, who is a left-handed bat with some pop the Tigers desperately need in their lineup.

Good luck to you Gary, I hope you find another team to hook up with, but I'm not sorry to see you go.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Barack Motors

A new automaking entity was created over the weekend: Barack Motors. Here is their logo.

The "On-Star" program is also being renamed to "O-Star", and the "turn-by-turn directions" feature will only give left turns in any route requested. Steering control programs will be automatically upgraded so that drivers will not have to think about which way to turn the wheel, it will only turn left. New features to be added will be an automatic tendency to drive off of cliffs, and revisions to the computerized information that mechanics use to diagnose problems with the car. It will now report back for every problem "Don't worry, Barack will fix it".

Seriously folks - where does the hubris of this man end? He now expects us to believe he knows how to fix the auto industry? From my perspective all he seems to know anything about is NCAA Brackets (now known as "Barack-ets").

The reality of it is, he has just signed the death warrant for the state of Michigan. We were on life support and he has just pulled the plug. Tens of thousands of auto workers in this state just lost their jobs. They may have still gone to work today, but they have no future. I wonder how happy they are with their union now - their union that was in the tank for Obama from the get-go? They've really got a lot of job security now, don't they? And all those laid-off autoworkers are streaming back to those factories that can't make enough cars to meet demand, aren't they?

Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing firsthand the destruction of the United States of America. And we have done it to ourselves by electing a fool as President.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour

Lots of posters hanging up all around the office building this week promoting "Earth Hour" - a time to turn off your electrical stuff to save the planet. There was also a march scheduled from Spartan Stadium to Beaumont Tower at Michigan State University, where you would be given a free compact fluorescent light bulb.

Not one to sit idly by while this kind of foolishness happens, I created my own "Earth Hour" celebration. I turned on all three of the computers in my office, all the desk lamps, and the radio (to Rush Limbaugh, of course). I then got in my car and drove to Sam's Club to purchase paper products that had been bleached to pristine whiteness.

Unexpectedly adding to my festivities was the Michigan High School Basketball playoffs at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, and the new construction zone on US127. Both of these events caused large amounts of traffic in East Lansing, thus causing lots of sitting and idling while waiting for the ill-timed lights to allow us all through. And since the 127 construction includes bridge work, all the streets that pass under it are construction zones too, and reduced to 1 lane each way. So lots of gas was burned waiting for lights and looking for alternate routes around all the traffic.

It was the perfect way to celebrate Earth Hour!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

George Kell

Sad news this morning, word that George Kell, Hall of Fame third baseman and longtime radio and TV announcer for the Detroit Tigers, has died.

I never saw George Kell play, except in an old-timers game on TV, (I think as part of an All-Star game) where he was playing second base (of all places). He must have been in his 70's at the time, but he went to his right on a grounder, dove, snagged the ball, came up throwing, and threw out the batter at first. I wish there was video of that play!

For me, George Kell was one of the voices of baseball that I grew up with, as he teamed with Larry Osterman, and later Al Kaline, to call Tigers games on TV until 1996. Ernie Harwell on the radio and George Kell on the TV calling Tigers games were things you could count on every summer. The current announcers do a fine job, but I think even they would admit to being spoiled for all those years listening to the likes of Kell, Harwell, Kaline, and Carey. They don't make 'em like those guys any more.

So Mr. Kell, thank you for all those warm summer nights describing baseball both good and bad, to kids like me who had no idea until much later how good we had it then.

Rest in Peace, sir.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The National Financial Mess

I haven't blogged recently - not for a lack of topics, but for the absolute abundance of topics. It's hard to know where to start - trying to drink from a firehose and all that. And since I am one of the few people left in Michigan still working (and I would like to keep it that way!) I haven't had time. But today I have a few minutes so...

I note with interest the calls for the resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He is, according to those doing the calling, completely over his head and out of his element, and is making a fool of himself and the Administration with his bumbling.

This may or may not be true, but I have to ask the followup question: "And replace him with whom?"

Ladies and Gentlemen, the fiscal and financial system of this country has been under the control of politicians, professional economists, and bankers for over a century now (some would say longer than that, but it makes no difference to my argument). What has been the effect of these "experts" having that control?

The easiest way to grasp what has happened is to relate it to some fixed point of reference - that is, something that is a known quantity that has a specific value or worth that isn't affected by the whims of markets or economies. I believe a great thing to use as a fixed point when talking about economics is gold. An ounce of gold is an ounce of gold, whether it's a thousand years ago or today. So let's talk about what these "experts" have done by using an ounce of pure 24-carat gold as our measuring stick.

In 1907, the famous Saint Gaudens gold "Double Eagle" coin was first minted, with a face value of twenty US dollars (USD). It contained nearly one ounce of fine gold. So for arguments sake we can say that around the turn of the last century, one ounce of gold was worth approximately twenty dollars. This is not collector value, just the value of the gold content if the coin were melted down. This was a circulating coin in those days - you could actually buy stuff with it.

For this month so far (as of Mar. 23, 2009) gold has traded anywhere from 880 to 960 US dollars per ounce, for an average of USD920 per ounce. So that is the number we'll use for this example. Plugging those numbers into the formula for percent increase: ((new -old)/old)*100 gives us ((920-20)/20)*100, which comes out to 4500%. That is, it takes 4500% more US dollars to buy that one ounce of gold than it did 100 years ago.

That, my friends, is how weak our currency is today, after 100 years of central management by all of these "experts". 100 years of currency inflation. 100 years of booms and busts and depressions and recessions. 100 years of ever increasing public debt, welfare, and bailouts. That is what you have gotten from all these "experts".

So you want Tim Geithner out? Fine - throw the bum out. But all you'll get is another one of the same clowns who has been destroying the value of the currency (and oh by the way your purchasing power and your retirement income) for the last century. Is that what you really want?

Think about it. And remember the oft-quoted definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".

Oh, by the way, the spot price of gold as I publish this is just over USD950. So it's even worse now than my example!