murderingmouth Wed, 07 Jan 2009 02:26:34 +0000 en Delta: We Do Mergers Right Wed, 07 Jan 2009 02:00:19 +0000 Дмитрий It’s nothing like the crap I went through my first couple years with US Airways, when they were going through their excruciating merger with America West. That was pure hell for anyone in the greater Charlotte or Philadelphia areas.

But since then I’ve switched over to being a Delta kinda guy. Actually, Northwest - they have had the cheapest fares for the last few trips I’ve booked. Interestingly, within days of the merger being consummated, they were showing one another’s flights on their search engines, and several of my previous Northwest bookings have since been rescheduled to Delta or Delta-Northwest combo itineraries. Usually this would piss me off, but they’ve been giving me enough warning that I can usually ensure I still have good seats, and being a preferred member on Delta means that Northwest’s systems knows I’m preferred and usually sticks with my existing seating preference.

Now if only they would give me a rewards card.

Back to Werk Mon, 05 Jan 2009 19:15:24 +0000 Дмитрий Back from an amazingly wonderful holiday in Pittsburgh and Charleston. I’ll post some pictures and commentary and miscellaneous thoughts later this week. Until then, I leave you with this lovely photo from Mt Washington.

Happy Holidays Sat, 27 Dec 2008 03:34:39 +0000 Дмитрий In all that excitement, I never posted anything and the holidays came and are almost gone.

David and I are off to Pittsburgh for the New Year. In case I don’t post again this year have a happy one.

Free Money Thu, 18 Dec 2008 17:58:52 +0000 Дмитрий Interest? What interest?

Forget saving - be an American and borrow! borrow! borrow!

The Fed is comparing their experiment with quantitative easing to the (subjectively unsuccessful) actions of Japan for the past 20 years. But Japan had a positive trade balance and a positive savings rate when it began its zero-interest-rate journey. It managed to maintain social stability and a viable currency in a zero-return, zero-growth environment for the past two decades because its easy lending was qualified with a people who didn’t have much appetite for debt and who chose to save their money anyway. It’s also a people that still produce lots of valuable hard and soft goods for export and that a wide variety of societies can use regardless of their stage of development (machine tools, furniture, etc).

America is trying this with none of these safeguards in place. What’s the likely effect of free borrowing on a currency backed by a society addicted to debt, with no savings (negative savings after netting out borrowing) and an economy that exports mostly intellectual property geared toward petroleum-dependent industrial economies that has been importing almost all its durable goods for over a decade?

Two scenarios: hyperinflation or massive, persistent reductions in living standards. Either one will force us, one way or another, into what is in my opinion a better future: more savings, less debt, more domestically produced goods and a ’shop local’ perspective, combined with a less energy-intensive growth outlook, where we save more than we consume and consume more of what we produce ourselves.

But the harder the Fed tries to reinflate the economy to somehow resemble the failed bubble model of the Dubya years, the harder the and more abrupt the transition will be.

I’m reminded of just how silly the bubble economy and our energy-intensive lifestyles are as I walk though Hills Plaza and see them meticulously tending to the flower pots, pulling dead leaves and replanting weak plants every chilly winter morning. It feels like the latter days of Silvanesti, and it makes the flowers seem ugly.

Mmmm… Monongahela Wed, 17 Dec 2008 20:35:56 +0000 Дмитрий Houses sure are cheap in Charleroi, Pennsylvania…


Wow. Wed, 17 Dec 2008 18:35:03 +0000 Дмитрий I’m surprised this is not bigger news. One in five American households (20%!) fell behind on utility bills last year and one in 20 (5%!) had their service cut. Who knows how bad this year will be. This points out a much larger weakness in the American budget than I think most economists or government bailout-enthusiasts think…

… It’s going to be a long, cold winter for poor families, I fear…

Perfect… Wed, 17 Dec 2008 15:41:40 +0000 Дмитрий

It took me exactly 8 minutes and 46 seconds to walk from the gates of Embarcadero Station to Folsom & Spear (where I work) this morning…

The Most Conservative Member of Congress… Mon, 01 Dec 2008 13:55:45 +0000 Дмитрий …Combines with one of the most liberal (former) members of congress to create some of my favorite politicians. Hmmm…

A Day Without a Gay Mon, 01 Dec 2008 06:45:19 +0000 Дмитрий I actually find this whole campaign quite touching and amusing - and I support it. Things like Prop 8 would not have been an issue in the first place if psycho bigots realized just how many of their coworkers, family members and associates were wicked sodomites.

If you are able to, regardless of your gender or the gender you prefer to fuck, call in gay. Don’t put your job on the line for it, unless that’s what you want to do. I admit I won’t be doing it, and not just because that’s the day before my Xmas vacation plans start, but because I’m privileged to work at a company with a CEO who has a gay brother and who is a deputized minister who recently officiated the wedding of our lead web developer to his long-time boyfriend. I feel a certain duty to support this employer to a significant degree and not just coz they pay my bills.

If you don’t participate in this particular piece of mild silliness, but you like your job and your coworkers and they like you, I encourage you to consider the idea of ending the practice of “straightening up” for your employer when you go to the office every day. Sex doesn’t have to be a part of the workplace, and there is surely no reason to make your personal life a part of your job, but if you’re ever asked about your personal life by a kind boss or associate, answer honestly. Work closets are the easiest ones to bust open, because there is absolutely no reason for a good manager to care less about your personal life than that of a coworker just because of the genitals of the individuals in it. If shooting the shit is part of your work culture, you might find that this sort of openness actually enhances your networking and team cohesiveness.

This is all of course my opinion, and quite a skewed one, I’m sure, considering I’ve worked in the above-mentioned environment for most of my professional life. I support this concept because I like the idea of honesty in the workplace, not because I think employers should be punished for the sins of religious bigots; and I admit that the employers most likely to tolerate or support this effort are the least of our worries. Do here as you would in all situations of social protest, and carry a large dose of self-serving logic along with you.

Keep in mind that employers in 30 states can fire you for calling yourself ‘gay’.

Big Business Socialism - Individual Capitalism Tue, 25 Nov 2008 20:23:45 +0000 Дмитрий Exactly what makes a business ‘too big to fail’? The Treasury has tapped more than two trillion dollars in new public debt over the past few months to save failing businesses, businesses that will still have to take drastic measures to stay open, such as cutting thousands of jobs and fire-selling assets.

One has to wonder: is this an investment in our industrial and financial stock, or a fleecing? Executive pay has never been higher, while individual wealth has hardly been lower for decades. We are definitely wasting our national wealth.

This is not a short-term blip on the economic screen. Every pundit and most administration and government officials acknowledge this now. It’s just the start of a long readjustment to more sustainable levels of debt and the remonetization of global commerce and asset prices.

In such an environment, reinflating debt leverage is not going to result in any long- (or even medium-) term retrenchment or recovery - this wealth will be destroyed or simply expatriated into sealed Swiss vaults for the filthy rich that are still heading these companies.

I say let them go bust. Let the economy shrink by half. Let the dollar crash. We will have to inflate our way out of this once it does anyway. Let the time that’s left before we become Zimbabwe be used to shovel money into schools, technical training, health care, and intellectual property documentation, preservation and protection. I’m not opposed to ballooning the public debt for the sake of trains, schools and a new green grid. But the current use of the Federal credit card is the equivalent of foregoing a trip to the doctor in favor of buying a new cathode-ray tube analog TV at twice the MSRP. What a waste this country’s enormous potential is becoming. We need to reeducate ourselves as a society with new, useful skills in the “other third” of the economy that is not dependent on ever higher levels of consumer spending and debt.

I actually started out as a fan of the idea of buying distressed mortgage-backed assets from banks (the original purpose of the bailout, and something which really was never actually done) because it would stabilize the market and eventually we could re-sell them a few decades from now when they were worth something again. But the administration is now using that cash like confetti at a wedding, tossing it about with no real plan or rationale or long-term idea of how to get it back. It’s mostly just landing in firm’s bank accounts and allowing them to throw out fat bonuses and continue to burn money and delay the inevitable crash (whilst turning it into a super-crash for the Treasury).

I’m not necessarily in favor of mortgage rescues for the ‘little guy’ or handouts for the newly destitute. I’m not against it, either. But I think the best stimulus we can give this economy is a solid investment in the productivity of the next generation: education, green infrastructure, and geopolitical retrenchment. It’s sad when I find myself agreeing with my odious home congresswoman, but these unending bailouts are a bad deal for America, and for the world economy.