A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Obama at ND

I probably should have posted on this topic, but in a display of moral ambivalence, didn't. Kim did, and even though I probably have from none to few readers who don't go to Kim's site, I thought, at least, I could copy it.

As of today, more than 190,000 people have signed a petition in protest of President Obama's selection to be the commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at Notre Dame on May 17th. Obama carried the majority of Catholics in the presidential election, so why do so many of them oppose this honor?

Christianity Today has an insightful conversation with Francis Beckwith, visiting fellow at Notre Dame, on this contentious issue. Here's an excerpt:

Since the President will speak at several commencement ceremonies during his term, why did his invitation to speak at Notre Dame create such a stir?

There's nothing wrong with inviting speakers to campus who disagree with the university. I don't think that's the issue here. Here, you have a combination of a commencement address and an honorary doctorate. The honorary doctorate is more troubling than the commencement address because to give him an honorary doctorate in law is to say that he's accomplished something in the field of law that the University of Notre Dame wants to honor. In the past three weeks, we've seen a number of different events, one of which was the change in policy on embryonic stem cell research. The problem is, the areas in which he's been involved with legislation on the issue of abortion have been contrary to Catholic teaching.

Colleges regularly invite people whom they may disagree with to speak on campus. For instance, Wheaton College invited Condoleezza Rice to speak at commencement even though she is pro-choice.

I can see a situation where you have an elected official who may be pro-choice, but it's not the focus or center of their legislative history. For instance, Houston Baptist invited Rudolph Giuliani, but he just gave a speech. He even acknowledged in his speech, "Look, my views on abortion are not held by a vast majority of you in the audience." But I think that Houston Baptist would not have given him an honorary doctorate in law. One of the things Obama is working on right now is perhaps overturning the conscience clause that the Bush administration had instituted, which has a direct bearing on Catholic hospitals. Here, you have a case where somebody claims to extol the virtue of choice but wants to remove choice from the conscience of citizens when it comes to performing or referring people for abortions.


Pope John Paul II issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae in 1990 stressing the importance of the Catholic character of Catholic institutions of higher learning. How has Ex Corde Ecclesiae influenced this current debate?

I think the statement has given them a template to look at the relationship between Catholic theology and the university. If places like Notre Dame took it seriously, an invitation to be the commencement speaker and receive an honorary doctorate would not have gone out. For instance, I would welcome Barack Obama to speak at Baylor. But in this case, the honorary doctorate doesn't go to the office of the President. It goes to Barack Obama, even after he ceases to be president. In a way, that gives an imprimatur on him and his views that I don't think Notre Dame should give him. I think if he were just the commencement speaker and not receiving the honorary doctorate, it would tone down the criticism. How can Notre Dame give him an honorary doctorate for excellence in something that our own theology teaches he isn't excellent in?

The real debate is whether theological claims can count as knowledge. I think that's what the Pope is saying: if we think theology is true and knowable, that means it's no different than what we learn in literature or sociology or philosophy. If that's the case, the university is where we should integrate these areas of knowledge. Theology shouldn't be an after thought. It shouldn't be relegated to campus ministry. It's like in the evangelical world, tagging on a Bible verse. You'll have a book on Christianity and science and it'll be regular science and a section of Bible verses. You think, "This isn't integration, this is weird."

This reminds me of Madeline L'Engle's exploration of faith and art in Walking on Water. Art, if it fails to tell the truth, can never be great art, no matter how clever and skillful the artist. Barack Obama may be a great man in many ways, but until he recognizes the truth about the value of human life he will continue to create policies that are at best, weak and at worst, massively destructive.

I think the graduating class of '09 could be really inspired by whatever Obama has to say on May 17th, and I wouldn't want to deprive them of the oppurtunity to hear that. We don't have to agree with everything a person believes to learn from them. But for a Catholic University to bestow an honorary doctorate on someone who clearly has a very poor understanding of the most fundamental rights of Americans is either hollow flattery or major ignorance and, either way, completely inappropriate for an institution of such stature.

Posted by Kimberly Cangelosi

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Lauren's blog has links to her tweets(?). Cool, but I think passing Facebook is a prerequisite. I'm not there yet.


I think that's what I'm in.

Janett is not feeling well and is getting depressed about not feeling well and about not being able to regain weight or strength. She's also getting tired of my "buck up, little camper" approach.

I closed my CNI position for a small gain Monday, and thought I'd go short later in the day when the rslly petered out, but it didn't so I didn't. I didn't go long though, because the rally seemed more like a short covering rally than a things are getting better rally. The volume wasn't high enough to indicate a lot of people were buying. Some of the bearish commentators admitted to getting beat up pretty badly this week. I'll think about buying cheap puts Monday morning,

Tuesday, I tried out cold calling to contact new businesses in the Elgin area, not very satisfying. I don't know Elgin all that well and spent time driving aroung looking for addresses. Wednesday I started looking into a GPS device. There's a Garmin 205 model that Best Buy sells for around $150*. That sounds Ok to me. I'm now waiting for Janett to muster the energy for a trip to Best Buy, an outing she'd normally enjoy. Maybe later today.

I visited Kim's blog site. She writes really well and adds photos and, occasionally, other art. Some creature had eaten her tulips. I kind of feel the same way.

* If the review I looked at was current.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

AIG Article

Kim and I think the best explanation of the financial crisis was provided by NPR a couple months ago. Tim Knight found a real good evaluation of the AIG situation in the recent Rolling Stone. Geithner must feel like Bobby Kennedy the day after Jack got shot. Everybody was in on it but him, and he can't trust anyone. (The everybody being all the Goldman Sachs guys who share the old Bullmoose phiosophy, "What's good for Goldman Sachs is good for the USA!" - and if it isn't it's still good for Goldman Sachs).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Also in the news, Check your bananas.

World's deadliest spider found in Tulsa store
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Print 1 hr 56 mins agoTULSA, Okla. –

One of the most deadly spiders in the world has been found in the produce section of a Tulsa grocery store. An employee of Whole Foods Market found the Brazilian Wandering Spider Sunday in bananas from Honduras and managed to catch it in a container.

The spider was given to University of Tulsa Animal Facilities director Terry Childs who said this type of spider kills more people than any other.

Childs said a bite will kill a person in about 25 minutes and while there is an antidote he doesn't know of any in the Tulsa area.

Spiders often are found in imported produce, and a manager at Whole Foods says the store regularly checks its goods and that's how the spider was found.


Information from: KOTV-TV, http://www.newson6.com

Probably, I'm just in a bad mood (see DRI)

but Yahoo news featured a link to a blogger article about anti-semitism so I went there and found it was the author's view that criticism of Israel's murderous violence against women, children, and the elderly (which groups suffered half the fatalities in Israel's recent "War on Terror") were in fact manifestations of anti-semitism. I tried to post a helpful comment, but ran into some kind of impediment.

Here's what appears on my screen when I visit the Meryl Yourish site:

29 Tom Says:
March 19th, 2009 at 9:02 pm
The Israelis did the right thing in humiliating Hamas and killing many.Screw the world and don,t give in to the killers.And I don,t even like the Israelis.

30 Norm Deguere Says:
March 19th, 2009 at 9:12 pm
Fact 1: Anti-Israel = Anti-Semetism.
Fact 2: Most Arab governments are NOT secular or democratic.
Fact 3: Israel is clearly the homeland of the Jews. What more do the Muslims want? They have 1/3 of the world and begrudge one Jewish state? One sliver of the world. I mean, the third most important site in Islam stands on the MOST important site to Jews.

Clearly, Israel is in the right. This isn’t rocket science.

31 Andy Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
March 19th, 2009 at 9:21 pm
I thought the natives of the middle east were semites and that the Ashkenazi Jews who largely populate Israel were descended from the Khazars. a Turkic-Mongol tribe whose chief converted his people to Judaism in the 7th century to avoid entagling alliances with the Byzantine or Russian empires. (and to whom Yaweh presumably promised nothing.) Strange that this group after settling in Poland and Russia would become the principal adherents of Zionism and return to a homeland that was never theirs in the first place.
So really it would seem the Israelis are the anti-semites. I hope the facts won’t complicate the discussion too badly.

32 Steve Says:
March 19th, 2009 at 9:42 pm
Radical Islam is the 21st century equivalent of National Socialism. To paraphrase Golda Meir, when the Palestinians desire their own homeland as much as they want to destroy Israel, then there will be peace.

33 Steve Says:
March 19th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

That’s as dumb as saying

Fact: Anti-Bush = Anti-American

34 Magyarorszager Says:
March 19th, 2009 at 10:06 pm
You know, there is some real critisism over Israel, but the majority is fake, Leftist/Fascist style Propaganda. I don’t think Israel should be destroyed. Israel’s Army never does wrong to others, but there are isolated incidents where there is problems. What I am sick of is BBC or ABC7 posting anti-Israeli (caugh) Anti- Semetic (caugh) biased coverage. It shames me that people from otherwise civilized nations like “Norvay”, “Spain” or “Sveden” are going to the streets. And some claim that Israel’s existance can not play the Holocaust Card. Well, you know what I have to say is that it’s NEARLY all shit the critics are throwing. As long as there are Holocaust Survivors, and their very far decendants are around, Israel will be guaranteed to stay.

But, just as an extra, I personally think Finland, Denmark and major parts of South Korea/India (other than the muslims there)are the only Non-Jewish nations to succesfully put Anti-Semetism in Critical Conditions, like that skiier… ( Trust me, I feel very bad since she passed away, but this is different.)

There might be an Anti-Zionist Elephant there in Saudi Arabia or Iran, but even it, and all the extreme Leftists out there in God’s Universe are not enough to even Mame the Pro-Zionist/Israeli Turtle out there. The Jews (I am Catholic) may be small in number, but they have the power of 15 million Hydrogen Bombs.

35 David Holbert Says:
March 19th, 2009 at 10:08 pm
I simply cannot fathom most people’s inability to tell the difference between the arsonist and the fireman (after all, they are both at the fire and smell like smoke). Israel is a tiny part of the world trying to fend off anilation. The Arabs are clearly bent on the distruction of Israel and the conquering of Europe. Wake up!

36 Andy Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
March 19th, 2009 at 10:22 pm

My recent comment on anti-semitism has been “awaiting moderatiom” for over 50 minutes, and four comments (32, 33, 34, and 35) have shown up on the board since I entered mine. Is there some problem with the tone or content? In the interest of preserving the unquestioned integrity of your site, please post my comment. Or post this one by way of acknowleging to your readers, that thoughtful posts are not always welcomed by Meryl Yourish.

My comments are numbered 31 and 36, and, I thought elevated the tone of the discussion.

What am I doing wrong?

Monday, March 16, 2009

I don't think I'm crazy but maybe I am.

It's that DRI (Darden Restaurants)thing again. This trade has troubled me even more than my GYMB put last winter. Then, I had a May contract at $35 and when it expired the stock was trading $10 higher than that. After my expiration date it dropped back to $35, then 6 mo later to $25, then a couple weeks ago from $25 to $15 in a couple of days. That was a blowout for me, and like with Darden I never placed a stop loss order. I suppose it was a show of defiance. But I'm a year more experienced now and, one would hope smarter, so why am I stuck in another death grip with a stock that refuses to fall. Darden went as low as $24.11 on the 6th then rebounded to over $30 today. Well, my put expires this Friday and earnings are due to be reported Wednesday and the stock has to fall below $24 for me to break even. Even a bad earnings report on Wednesday might not drop the stock $6 in two days. So did I graciously acknowledge defeat and accept the couple hundred dollar loss with poise and equanimity? Of course not - I bought a $30 put also closing on Friday. If the stock drops to 27.00 by Friday I'll clear enough to cover the loss on the other contract and call it a moral victory. Meanwhile the Canadian railway call has done pretty well, and Caterpillar was up then back down. Maybe I'll close them in the morning and focus all my emotional energy on negative vibes for Darden. If Darden is up a buck and a half tomorrow you probably wont hear from me for a couple of days.

On a happier note Kim and Ross celebrated their first anniversary this week. Hooray for them. They dropped by Saturday and we talked and laughed a lot. Ooops, I'm on my new laptop and don't have a picture to post. I'll do that tomorrow.

I couldn't wait so I went to Kim's blog and swiped a photo:

Love to all.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


In my effort to comment occasionally on current topics in the news, I've run up against the sand dune that is Pakistan. Sand dune because it's shaped by wind and tides, because it's hard to gain footing or traction, because there seems to be a top, but no pinnacle; a nuclear power with vast numbers of urban poor, vast numbers of rural poor, military elite, corrupt governments, wealthy industrialists, scheming entrepeneurs, ungovernable tribal regions, border hostilities with India, Islamic fundamentalists, and the WOG's.

WOGs are "westernized oriental gentlemen", a phenomena common in the aftermath of British colonial rule. I'm particularly referring to the legal community. The fellows in with black suits with brief cases currently in the news for demonstrating against President Zadari, who won election in 2008. Their principle complaint is Zadari's failure to reinstate a supreme court chief justice fired by the former military dictator, Musharraf. The problem for Zadari, widower of assasinated Benazir Bhutto, is that the supreme court justice had been clear in saying he wouldn't approve of Musharraf's deal that allowed Bhutto to bring her husband back to Pakistan after he was exiled, having served prison time on corruption convictions.

Zadari's problems also involve the former prime minister, Sharif, who was deposed by Musharraf and leads an opposition party. Sharif was a good Prime Minister, and is the son of a leading industrialist, posessing considerable personal wealth. Zadari's problem is that when Sharif led his party into an alliance with Zadari he stated two conditions, that there would be no deal struck with Musharraf, and that the Supreme Court justice would be reinstated. Zadari, inheriting Bhutto's party, was going to win the election after Bhutto's assasination, so why did he agree to that second condition? Presumably, because he knew that once elected he would ignore it, and use the powers of the office to isolate and marginalize Sharif. He's tried.

While Sharif is not an Islamist, he is a nationalist, and has gotten along with the generals in the past. Zadari is a corrupt opportunist who married well, and enjoys the support of the US because he's tolerant of American incursions into the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. He's replaced his wife's senior advisors with his own people in the party hierarchy. As I've said before, if you want to appraise the state of American diplomacy, look at the people we're supporting abroad. Usually, they're of the Zadari ilk.

The generals will play a role in settling the current unrest, and may not support Zadari too strenuously, since his ties to America will impose on the army the role of fighting with the Islamic fundamentalists, a job they don't really want and, based on recent developments in the Swat valley, may not be competent to do.

PS One other complicating factor in the Pakistani formulation is a simmering antagonism between natives and the more enterprising emigres who fled India in the late 40's. Shamir's father was one of those emigres.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Market forces are bigger than personalities, but personalities are interesting.
I remember a young man named Phil Purcell from Notre Dame. He was a nice fellow, thoughtful and intelligent. He was successful in his career. After ND he attended the U of C and the London School of Economics. After a stint with the consulting firm, McKinsey and Co, he joined Sears at the Chicago headquarters as director of planning and acquisitions. He managed Sear's acquisition of Dean Witter, and started up the Discover credit card. He managed the spin-off of Dean Witter from Sears and as CEO of Dean Witter led that brokerage to growth and profitability and eventually the acquisition of the investment banking firm of Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley enjoyed growth and profitability under his leadership. He emphasized the traditional businesses of consumer brokerage and investment banking and was not an advocate of the more highly leveraged investments coming into vogue on Wall Street.

He also declined to participate in the Big Apple culture, commuting to his home in Winfield, Ill. at week-ends. The New Yorkers labelled him as an egotistical outsider and when he dismissed executives who protested his conservative leadership the New Yorkers started a very public public campaign to have him ousted, which eventually succeeded.

Siding with the Group of Eight former partners at Morgan Stanley advocating Purcell's dismissal was Vikram Pandit, one of the Wall Street crowd who had been annoyed with Purcell's emphasis on a traditional banking and investment philosophy, and Purcell's failure to have Morgan Stanley acquire (or be acquired by) one of the high flying banks to increase available capital for bigger deal making.

The big bonus investment bankers ultimately were successful in forcing Purcell out at Morgan Stanley, but in retrospect, judging by results at the other investment companies and those high flying banks, I wonder if Purcell wasn't correct in his approach and vindicated by subsequent events. His buy out at Morgan Stanley was 60 million dollars, so I guess we don't have to worry about Purcell, and he's probably been happier to survey the carnage on Wall Street from his home in Winfield than he would have been dealing with the self promoting investment bankers on Wall Street.

Vikram Pandit, the Big Apple's favorite, ended up at Citigroup, from where he sparked yesterday's rally with a letter to employees saying he couldn't understand why the banks share prices were so low since the company had booked profits for the first two months of 2009. Well, Vikram, I suppose your timely announcement precedes the requisite write down of bad assets at quarter end, and might have been a ploy in your efforts to persuade Washington to amend the mark to market requirements, but if you really don't know why Citi's shares are in the tank, just stick around.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Well the rally's here.

I brought some more "insurance" in the form of a April call on Caterpillar.

My DRI position may end up as a total loss. Even if the earnings report is bad on the 15th, if there's a rally going on, analysts will say performance was bad, but "better than expected" and the company is "well positioned for the recovery"; neither of which happen to be true, but may reflect the mood of the market.

On a happier note, Janett had a q-p-w-c for lunch with fries and a vanilla shake, and cleaned her plate. Good enough news in itself, but then she wasn't hungry at dinner time, and I was left to my own devices and heated up some kielbasa in a can of butter beans. I, likewise, cleaned my plate. Yumm, butter beans.

Tax season is slowing down, so I'm cranking up my marketing psyche, referring to a list of new business licences issued for the last nine months in Cook and the collar counties to comprise a prospect list. Thanks, Tribune. What will we do when there are no more newspapers?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Circles within circles

Sunday morning. Mom and I are watching an old movie (1943) named The More the Merrier wirh Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn, and Joel McCrea. It's a funny movie, directed by George Stevens. I ought to go the the movie data base and check out Jean Arthur. I think I've enjoyed her performances in other movies.

Meanwhile, I was reading this news story. What the heck is going on?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Please excuse my recent fit of pique,

It was late. I was tired and angry about being on the long side of a trade and that Darden wasn't falling. I didn't do the things I said I would do. I entered the orders, but cancelled them when the market was opening higher the next morning. Darden closed below $25 today, and is trading below short, medium, and long term moving averages, all three of which are now declining. CNI is above 30, having enjoyed a good day yesterday and a not so good day today. I think a quarterly earnings report from Darden is due out on the 15th. Put volume was very heavy at $25 early this week which I think means a lot of other folks share my anticipation of a decline in the share price. Of course for every buyer there has to be a seller.

I haven't previously mentioned the 50 year reunion being organized for my grammar school class. John S. and Tom C. are the planners. Tom gave me the names of four people to call to elicit interest, and the memories the names brought to mind, though some, of course, were embarassing make me think I'd really enjoy seeing the four of them and as many others as might show up.

Janett and I had a good day today including running some errands, walking around a bit and lunching out. Uh Oh, Mark just called looking for a missing cake pan. I've got to check the cupboards. Hmmm I guess I've never written that word before.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I need to be more positive.

I need to consider my venture to the bullish side as though I was simply taking out insurance to protect me in the event a rally had occurred. I need to love my negative side. I need to close out that Canadian Railway insurance policy and buy a put on Visa.

I need to celebrate as the credit card company gets its just deserts and revel at the rewards as Darden crashes. Sure a rally is still possible, but am I the kind of guy who's happy being long a railroad stock? Not since I was ten and buying the B&O at the Monopoly board.

I'm a bear, and I know it's crappy out there and getting crappier.

Janett is doing a little better the last couple of days. Not making any promises, but if its 50 on Friday and not raining I'm going to try to go for a walk with her.

Tomorrow, besides completing a clients 1120, I plan on a visit at Steffy and Mark's for dome playtime with the boys.

Now, I have to go out and move my car to the other sise of the street.

PS I also have to find my speakers and plug them in so I can listen to my playlist.
Also, I want to listen to more of our Christmas present from John. There hasn't been enough music in my life the last couple months.

A quote

The most violent revolutions in an individuals beliefs leave most of his old order standing......... New truth is always a go-between, a smoother-over of transitions. It marries old opinion to new fact so as ever to show a minimum of jolt, a maximum of continuity.

~ William James (1906)

Hmmm, maybe the rally monkey was trying to marry old opinion to new facts. The Canadian Railway stock I bought a call on as a bullish play has lost just over 2% as compared to 5 or 6% on the S&P and DJIA, but yesterday dropped below its previous low. I should close out that position, but probably won't. The good news is that DRI is down 8% over the same 5 days.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

March 1, still

I was going to go to Willow Creek with Louie, but didn't wake up in time. I guess I was tired. I'll read a little of What Paul Meant, instead. Someone named Dave Ramsey was epeaking there today, a nationally syndicated financial writer who shares Bill Hybel's respect for living debt free, and so counselled the flock. He also suggested the market was at it's bottom, and said he was increasing the allocation into equities in his personal monthly budget. Though the market was down on Friday (including the Canadian National Railway, but not my nemesis, Darden), I'll wait for Monday to see if this rally is really going to happen.

Just now, I'm awaiting a visit from Steffie, Mark, and the boys. She's going to augment my housekeeping efforts by taking the vaccuum out for a spin around the place. I hope she'll resist the temptation to take the dishes I've washed from the cupboard and rewash them.

March 1st

The Stanger boys. (courtesy of Steffy)

Owen remains his own man,

but Malachy is in a relationship.

In re my tech guru comments, he's likeable and bright, but "Golden Age of Capitalism"? Maybe 1945 to 1965, but even that I doubt.