Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bailouts costing more than NASA's lifetime budget, New Deal, Marshall Plan, other wars, COMBINED

The Internet just keeps amazing me. I'm actually finding posts about books that haven't even been written yet. Here's one I ran across on The Big Picture, about a new book called Bailout Nation by Barry Ritholtz:

"In doing the research for the "Bailout Nation" book, I needed a way to put the dollar amounts into proper historical perspective.

If we add in the Citi bailout, the total cost now exceeds $4.6165 trillion dollars! So far.

People have a hard time conceptualizing very large numbers, so let’s give this some context. The current Credit Crisis bailout is now the largest outlay In American history.

Crunching the inflation adjusted numbers, we find the bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion!

"If they are too big to fail, make them smaller."
-former Nixon Treasury Secretary George Shultz, said about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

I like this website in general, explore it for yourself:


Monday, November 24, 2008


I've always loved random acts of non sequitur creativity. Here's a good one: someone left a perfectly good piano and bench, ready to play, beside a walking path in the woods. I would so love to be hiking with my sweetie, come across this, and sit down to play "Love Is Where You Find It"... or "Ohhh, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found youuuu..."

"Discovered by a woman who was walking a trail, the Baldwin Acrosonic piano, model number 987, is intact -- and, apparently, in tune.

The piano was at the end of a dirt road, near a walking path to a footbridge in the middle of conservation land near the Cape."

Homeland Security has not yet issued any statement. Read the whole story, including the obligatory bad musical puns. What would you like me to play? I'm taking requests.
CNN.com: Mystery Piano found in woods

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How cheap is your life?

Pretty cheap, as it turns out. This is from an article in TechRepublic.com about the amazing sophistication and depth of computer crime. This part of the article talks about how they're getting so efficient that the price of the product is way down - the Wal-Mart of crime.

Given this level of sophistication, do we have any sense of the value of our information? I do, and it isn't hopeful. In fact, it doesn't make me wonder that there is a growing trend to market infrastructure to harvest this information. While it is precious to you and I, this report from FraudArena tells me how little my personal information is worth. I'll give you a high-level look, but check the site.
  • $1.50 credit card number, cvv2
  • $5-$50 stolen medical ID card
  • $6-$18 basic identity information
  • $6 British passport number and bank details
  • $7 hijacked PayPal account with credentials
  • $14-16 fulls" are a complete set of data identifiers, i.e. name, address social security number, bank account, and mothers maiden name
  • $30 Passwords and codes to access consumer credit reports
  • $30-$300 immigration papers with a social security card

Your personal identification is not terribly valuable (except to YOU) and can now be harvested by criminals with an infrastructure as sophisticated as the company you work for — and, in some cases, more sophisticated. This should be at least a wake up call for anyone with a laissez-faire attitude about their personal security.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Halcyon Way blew me away!

I saw metal band Halcyon Way do a Halloween show (thanx to Reverend Su) in 2007, and was very impressed. Their sound is described on CD Baby as "combining the heaviness of bands like Slayer, the technical prowess of Dream Theater, and with vocal melodies reminding you of Ronnie James Dio's best work", and I think that's pretty accurate. Besides being very competent musicians, they put on a good stage show and were even in costume. Beyond that they were funny - my favorite thing in a live performance, which is part of why I love The Tubes. But the mix was muddy, and though I could see guitarist Jon Bodan's fingers moving I could barely hear him. (Too bad, as the trained eye can clearly see how disciplined and educated his playing is, whether you hear him or not)

Sometime in 2008 I saw them again, opening for Circle II Circle, at the same venue. Again the performance was good, had even improved, but the mix was still muddy. When Circle II Circle came on, they put their own guy on the mixer and it cleaned right up.

Last night I attended their CD Release Party (Nightmare Records) at 3 Bears in Marietta, a much better venue, and the sound was much better. This performance was stunning! I saw what appeared to be an arena-level act, complete with wardrobe and synchronized video, crammed into a local-level stage. I got myself a seat directly on-axis with Jon's amp, near the sound booth, where the sound is always best. And I enjoyed the best show I've seen in ages. The sound was deep and ballsy (they tune to drop-C#) but full spectrum and amazingly good, making the other local acts on the bill sound like a wagonload of pots & pans on a rough road by comparison. I suspect they reinforce their sound with some studio tracks, but because they play so tightly it's not obvious, it's just very very rich.

I highly recommend this band and their new album, "A Manifesto For Domination" which you can preorder now on Amazon.com. Or, apparently cheaper at CD Baby. Or you can go buy a CD, shirt, and other merch at an actual Halcyon Way show which I'm sure you'll enjoy. You can find some sound samples on their MySpace page and probably on the CD sites soon.

Oh, and in the process of interviewing Jon Bodan on my radio show (hear it here), I got to know that he's very into science fiction books, and enjoys all things steampunk. And that, for some reason, he wants to hire midgets, which we learned you can do at HireAMidget.com. Who knew?