Bill Cutshall’s Weblog

December 25, 2008

More Random Ignorance

Filed under: Whimsy — billcutshall @ 3:45 pm

After opening all the toys Santa brought my little girls for Christmas I have to conclude that fully half the population of China must be employed as twist-tiers.  Every single part of every toy and accessory was twist-tied.  To make matters worse, right next to the twist-tiers in the Chinese toy factory are a legion of twist-tie-tapers taping down the ends of all the twist ties used to keep Barbie’s shoes welded to the cardboard next to her feet.

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December 23, 2008

Random Ignorance

Filed under: Whimsy — billcutshall @ 6:00 am

I wonder how many CEOs invested their giant bonuses with Bernie Madoff.

What Comes After Zero?

Filed under: Economics — billcutshall @ 5:33 am
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With the Federal Reserve’s interest rate near zero some may wonder what tools are still available to bolster our economy and return it to health.  For those interested in monetary policy (and that’s a pretty small percentage of the population even in these times) Robert E. Lucas Jr. has written one of the best quick summaries of what is happening to our economy, what is being done to change it, and why it should work that I have read lately.

My poor summary of the explanation is that people are currently uncertain, risk averse, and looking for high-quality investments as stable as cash.  The Fed’s response is to buy up high-risk investments with cash thereby reducing the quantity of out-of-favor risky instruments and increasing the availability of in-demand stable government-backed instruments like cash and T-Bills.  The theory is basic economics, really.  When something is in demand (safety is in demand) increase the supply.  When demand for a good falls (risk is out of fashion) reduce the supply.  By swapping quality securities (cash and T-Bills) for questionable securities (CMOs and other popular modern villains) the Fed will keep the money market moving and prices stable.

My explanation is a poor substitute for the actual article though.  Read Robert E. Lucas Jr.’s article in The Wall Street Journal for a much more complete understanding.

December 22, 2008

You’re DOING IT WRONG! – Health Insurance

Health insurance has been a big topic of discussion lately and more and more we get to hear the opinions and experiences of individual Americans expressed in the mass media.  For the most part I understand people’s frustrations over in-network/out-of-network services, high co-pay amounts, paperwork nightmares, and outright fraud and deception executed by insurance companies in their payment policies.  What gets not only my goat but also an undue amount of airtime, however, is frustration over exclusion of “pre-existing conditions”.  Here’s the thing:

If you wait until you are sick before you get health insurance, you’re DOING IT WRONG! (more…)

December 17, 2008

Still Teflon(TM) Coated

Considering the proximity to the Rod Blagoyevich situation both in number of days and political distance from Chicago it seems like a bad idea for Barak Obama to engage in any sort of arrangement that might seem like a quid-pro-quo.  Joe Biden’s choice for his Director of Communications seems problematic and risky in the current environment.  Obama is still new in office and despite the Blagoyevich arrest his Teflon(TM) coating still seems to be intact. (more…)

December 16, 2008

Wisdom and Trivia – High-fructose Corn Syrup is Bad for You, Fatty

Filed under: Wisdom and Trivia — billcutshall @ 1:22 pm
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I hate telling people “I have no idea” especially concerning current issues.  When I run across something that makes an impact on my life that I know nothing about I am compelled to research it until I have a feeble grasp of the issues at hand.  In order to put my compulsion to use I am going to start writing “Wisdom and Trivia” so that others can bore people at parties as effectively as I am able to.

I will start with “what is so bad about high-fructose corn syrup?”

Eating food sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup will make you fat.  So will eating foods sweetened with sugar. (more…)

December 14, 2008

Dialing Up Damage

Just a random thought but by my estimate nearly 90% of all unwanted phone calls (collections and solicitations) now originate from call centers in India and thus the script is delivered with a thick Indian accent.  I wonder if America as a whole is being negatively influenced to the sound of an Indian English speaker.  Is there possibly a new crazy class-action lawsuit in the making?  Could Indian-Americans (as opposed to American Indians) sue companies that have outsourced their collections, solicitation, and customer support communications for irreparably damaging their lives and future prospects?

Well, I mean of course they “could” but is it a strong enough case to have a snowball’s chance of interesting a decent lawyer?

December 12, 2008

Good is Good, Bad is Bad

Filed under: Economics,Politics — billcutshall @ 6:43 pm
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Good is good and bad is bad.

Or is it?

During his presidential campaign Barak Obama hit hard on the fact that he would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.  He campaigned on the idea that everyone should pay their fair share and wealthy Americans weren’t doing that.  Now he seems to be retreating from that position stating that in these hard economic times a tax increase on the wealthy would have a negative effect on the economy. (more…)

December 9, 2008

Rod Blagojevich is an Ass

Filed under: Politics — billcutshall @ 11:50 am

Right on the heels of my rant regarding the mediocritization of our society, the Chicago political machine provides me with a great example of the effects of our tolerance for bad decisions.

In case you haven’t been following the national news, we are in the middle of some financial hard times the results of which are apparently being experienced by the Republic Windows and Doors company of Chicago.  Recently Bank of America reviewed the line of credit they have extended to Republic and decided to freeze it.  Basically this is similar to when a credit card company freezes the account of a person who misses their minimum monthly payment even though they are below the limit of their credit line.  Republic, as a consequence, did not have enough liquid funds to meet their liabilities, particularly those to their 240 employees, and had to close down giving their workers 72 hours notice which is 57 days shy of their obligation. (more…)

December 5, 2008

Rampant Mediocrity

Filed under: Things I am too Lazy to Categorize — billcutshall @ 11:57 am

I get the feeling that we, as a nation, as a society are lowering our standards of what we find acceptable to such a degree that we are in danger of losing our ability to take pride in ourselves and what we stand for.  We haven’t lost our ability to complain, far from it.  We have, however, lost the resolve to act based on our complaints.  We have become generally accepting of everything no matter the level of quality, innovation, or common sense.  In a time when every newscast is dominated by the financial industry’s collapse we should be especially reflective of the types of decisions we, both as individuals and as a nation, should be willing to support. (more…)

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