Buy or foreclose — that is the question

Implicit in buying up the bad loans from banks is that the borrowers skate. It’s impossible to think that the entity buying the loans will then foreclose, they’ll just do workouts. If anything at all. It’s possible the loans will just sit in a dormant portfolio locked away in a Washington hole somewhere.

What about the borrowers? This entire “subprime loan crisis” has ignored the fact that many people took out loans who surely knew they could not afford them. Come on, can we believe that masses of people were totally duped by unscrupulous lended goaded on by an unscrupulous congressional policy? Certainly, some fall into that category. But do we treat that entire population as a victim and ignore their own responsibility?

Personal responsibility has to surface again in this country, somewhere, sometime, somehow. If we continue on the path we’re on, it’s the “handout path to to societal armageddon.” Yeah, I just made up that phrase. It’s NOT the “economy stupid.” It’s the wrecking of all of our traditional (and previously highly successful) values in American society that the victimology/entitlement approach of government is causing.

And letting subprime borrowers, as an entire class, skate is another example.

The stimulus that isn’t

The Wall Street Journal calls it the “40-year Wish List”. Michelle calls it the “Generational Theft Act”. Others have started calling it the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Debt Act. Whatever name one gives it, the least likely is stimulus. The WSJ calculates that no more than 12 cents on the dollar in the trillion-dollar whale goes to actual economic stimulus, and that the rest go to Democratic wish lists for electoral advantage:

via Hot Air » Blog Archive » The Democratic Porkfest Bill of 2009.

Pay attention folks. While the pork is not in the form of classic “earmarks” it’s still pork. It’s one thing that the so-called “stimulus” bill is laden with pork, it’s quite another that it’s being marketed so dishonestly. Let’s look at it.

First, you can hear congressmen defending the bill because “it contains no earmarks.”  While that may be true in a technical and literal sense, it begs the true question thereby misleading the public — and that’s dishonest. We expect better from our citizen representatives who go to Washington temporarily out of a sense of duty and public service (I wish!).

Second, if the WSJ estimate is even remotely correct that only 12 cents on the dollar goes to stimulus, and much of what you hear about the plan is for projects that go far into the future, then the bill can’t be said to be about stimulus at all! Its major premise as a short-term stimulus to the economy fails.

Lastly, President Obama is himself conflicted about what to do and why.  About a week ago he states that only government can get us out of recession. Now, in the last day, he speaks Reaganesquely of the importance of private enterprise and how only business, large and small, can pull us out.

What? Has the President had an epiphany? Or is there some sort of “gaming” going on here.

There are promises that we will have a website where we can track every dollar and know exactly where it’s spent. Why can’t we know about the proposal in advance and be able to let our representatives know our thoughts and feelings? No, this is not a democracy where all the citizens get to decide issues, but we should be able to give (and the representatives listen to) our opinions. In this representative republic, that’s how it works … in theory.

<rant mode off>

Testing ElephantDrive for online backups

(update 2/21/09) Canceled my ElephantDrive account. See my comment below for a brief explanation. Nice folks, some good concepts, but not fully ready for primetime. Have gone with MyOtherDrive (testing blog here) and will be canceling Mozy by month-end.

(update 2/11/09 — see my comment about repeat uploads — posted as a comment to the blog entry — and not getting support feedback had a support email later in the day … dialogue begun)

(update 2/4/09) ElephantDrive finished the initial upload. Still no clue why it took so long, but it is trucking along very unobtrusively now. Not near the impact on the computer as Mozy had while it is checking for modifications or doing actual updates. Things I find now to be remarkable:

  1. Minimal impact on the computer. Works nicely in the background.
  2. Easy to drag and drop a file from computer to “My Trunk” online — use if there is a file that is not part of the normal backups, but you want it online.
  3. Easy to share a file – just highlight in My Trunk view and click SHARE button.
    1. However – there is no public share. Sharee (is that a word) has to have an ED account. My guess is the free account will do.
  4. Still not convinced the STOP button really works, or works all the time.
  5. The error reports are still quite cryptic except for the “file locked” which are ok.
  6. Love the “Your files” view and think I’ll like the online file explorer but have not tinkered with it much.

Now testing ElephantDrive — here is their blurb:

Unlimited online storage for your photos, music, video, documents, and all other valuable files you have! Pre-made categories and our simple wizard make sure that all your important data gets automatically backed up!

Learn more about plans for Home users

Plans start at $4.95/month  Learn More

via Online Backup, Online File Storage – Simple, secure, & affordable online backup & storage.

At the moment I’m running a backup under their 1gig free account but will probably do the $4.95 plan and test it thoroughly for a month, along with Mozy. Why am I considering changing? Because Mozy is slower and slower, and tends to really hog the machine. If you have a backup that starts and you need the computer, it takes over the machine during all of the prep work. Once the actual data transfer begins the throttle function works and you can resume your work. But that can be 1/2 hour or better (anecdotal — have not timed).

Initial info and impressions

  • Quick installation. Registration took 1 minute or less, no credit-card required.
  • Program installation after download took maybe 3 minutes.
  • Initial scan of the desk to detect files falling within the default categories took maybe 10-15 minutes (Mozy took an hour or more). This is on a drive where Mozy has been backing up 39GB of files. ElephantDrive (ED hereinafter) identified 46GB.
  • On a 6gig broadband connection it appears 1GB of files will take about 4 hours.
  • Has a nice report screen showing the backup in progress, file by file, with upload speeds. Mozy’s status screen is more cryptic.
  • Can access your “trunk” (i.e. your cluster of online data) with either the desktop client or via the web. The file explorer populates much faster than Mozy, but will need to see how that is once a full backup is completed.
  • Includes a file-sharing function.
  • Has an option to automatically throttle upload usage during set hours.
  • The impact on the computer, even when set to the fastest upload usage, is far less than with Mozy.
  • QUESTIONS & CONS
    • Open file backup available only in the Pro versions
    • Not sure about the scheduling — how often will this run and how controllable is it?
      • Double-click the BACKUPS button and configure for individual categories of files
    • Reports window cannot be resized, thus the columns cannot be adjusted so as to see essential info such as the complete path and filename.
    • Problem report is nonsensical: many lines of “It has been removed from the queue.” No explanation of WHAT has been removed or why.
    • Upload appears to stall if the computer goes into either screen saver mode or even just turning the screen off. Left at 6:45AM with about 965mb done, came back at 1:15PM to find only 1015mb done. It was left running all night and similarly appeared to have just stalled. Total now of 20 hrs 37 minutes and only 1015mb done on a 1gig upload connection.
      • It’s now Jan 31 and the initial upload is still not finished.  Here is my Total Progress screen:
        Progress screen
        Progress screen

        which to me doesn’t make a lot of sense. The elapsed time is clearly wrong and the time remaining is as well. The number of files may be about right. Is it 62% done of the initial load? Or of all the files, old and new, to be uploaded? I do note that the total files varies, apparently taking into account both files never uploaded and changed files (or pieces) to be refreshed.

      • (2/1/09) The progress of the initial load continues to be a mystery to me, witness this progress screen:
        Uploading progress
        Uploading progress

        where the transfer indicated now exceeds the size of the entire drive which I assume includes changed files + the remaining initial load. Look at the total number of files to be transferred and how it has lept. This change is in 24 hours.

    • The initial upload finally finished. This started on 1/19 and here is the result as of early 2/1/09: Initial load The first three categories had finished some days ago, but Video and Movie Clips on down just finished inthe last 24 hours or so.
    • There is no “pause” button. It is unclear what will happen with the “Stop Backup” button but here goes: file encrypting and transferring is continuing, presumably clearing out the queue. Button came back out as un-selected and transfers continue. Clicked the stop button again. “checking for modifications,” encrypting and transferring still occurring. No messages in either the transfers or problems report. It’s the STOP button — DOUBLE-click it and it pauses the uploading and click again to restart — program does not unload. (updated 1/21)
    • It can’t handle a file being deleted from the disc while it’s being uploaded. Program just stalls — can’t figure out what to do. Further: it may not have stalled. Just closed and re-opened the Reports window and another file is now being transferred.
    • There needs to be a way to adjust the speed of the backup with a simple slider without going through the routine of testing the speed of the link (Advanced|Network Settings).
    • The progress bar is confusing. It doesn’t show overall progress, just that during the current session, I think. See notes above on progress.
    • Throttle doesn’t really work. I’ve been clicking along at around 700Kb/ps, ran the Network Settings and set to next to lowest, still running same speed while using the computer.
      • Clicked stop button: continues upload of current file – that’s probably good.
      • Having trouble finishing that file — ed_progress4it was within bytes of finishing and now apparently has started over trying to finish that “re-sending” process. And why is it re-sending? That file has not been touched.
  • (update 2/2/09) The system as now (as of wee hours of 2/2) finished the initial upload of all of my categories. See ed_progress_currentthe screen shot here. I now observe a real thrashing of the drive while modifications are scanned for. It’ll be interesting during the day when I can watch what’s going on and see how the ongoing updates are handled.
    • Question: is the fact that this is a laptop that gets hibernated with some frequency possibly part of the explanation for the long initial upload? It doesn’t stay down long, but every day it’s hibernated enroute work, and again enroute back home. Otherwise it runs all the time and connected to the internet always.

Other systems I’m looking at

My Other Drive — which I’ve not yet installed or tried. It gets a lot of good reviews and also includes file-sharing so it’s worth looking at. Also apparently has a photo album capability — is it a Flickr replacement?

personal emergency beacon — SPOT, PLB

Very interesting device. Uses a commercial satellite system to read your GPS position, then relay it to family or friends with either just an “I’m OK check-in” to a request for help to a 911 alert.

A caveat and disclaimer. I know nothing about this device or its service yet. Check this Amazon 1-star rating from an emergency rescue person.

SPOT KEEPS FISHERMEN OF ALL KINDS CONNECTED, SAFE, AND ADVENTUROUS

Whether you’re casting for cutthroat on the Snake River, fighting a swordfish on the Mediterranean, or outwaiting pike on the distant Maine ice, you’re never out of communications range with Spot. There are many ways to stay connected with ease. Send a message to loved ones that you’re OK with just a push of a button while you’re waiting for the next bite. Save your location to record the best areas for your next angling adventure. You can send your exact location and a request for help to friends and family or even send a 911 message to get emergency help right away. And because Spot uses satellite technology, your signal is strong worldwide.

via FISHERMEN.

Then see this page on personal emergency beacons that use the Air Force operated 406Mhz service. Lots of info on items such as the McMurdo FasfFind Max G PLB 406 EPIRB with GPS:

FASTFIND MAX-G PLB 85-890-001A
The Fastfind Max G Personal Location Beacon is the very latest products from McMurdo designed to provide individuals with the highest chance of being found quickly in an emergency. The Fastfind Max-G is a revolutionary hand-held PLB (Personal Location Beacon) that features a built-in GPS receiver (Global Positioning System) combined with a 406 MHz transmitter and 121.5 MHz homing signal. In the event of an emergency, an alert signal is transmitted to COSPAS-SARSAT satellites and forwarded to a rescue coordination center within typically 3 minutes. The built-in GPS receiver will provide latitude and longitude coordinates to give a position to within typically 98 feet anywhere in the world. The Fastfind Max-G comes complete with lanyard and designer splashproof carry case to enable users to keep the PLB safely attached at all times.

VIA Landfall Navigation

A great day fishing …

… even if a day fishing is bad, it’s better than a good day in the office.  But if the day fishing is great … WhooHoo!

Robert and I met his friend Bruce at Sweetie’s donut shop in Sattler with anticipation of a day attacking trout on the Guadalupe River. Bruce is a most affable fella, as is Robert, and they were a lot of help to me in this fly-fishing adventure.

You see, I had not touched a fly rod in 35+ years. Trout had been stocked in the Guadalupe just last week so we knew fish were there … but would we catch any? We got all rigged up at one of the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited sites and began to fish. Well, sort of (on my part). I initially was really whipping that rod back and forth throwing all the shoulder into it I could muster. Had that fly not been inert it would have been wanting off of that line! With some good coaching by Bruce I began to get the hang of this and through the day came to feel pretty comfortable with it all.

Bruce caught the first fish, a really (really!) nice one:

fish_09-01-14_2533_edited-1

and not too much later I managed to catch a nice fish, although not near the monster Bruce had. This is my first fish of the day: fish_09-01-14_2552_edited-11 and I hooked a total of 4 and landed 3.

Here’s the second one: 3rd fish

Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with those results. My casts improved during the day (according to Robert and Bruce) and I found the sporting of fly fishing to be outstanding. At the risk of a pun, I have to say I’m “hooked.”

The river was beautiful even with the stark winter grey of the landscape fish_09-01-14_2557as you can see from this shot looking downstream at our last hole.

Bruce has a really nice website (troutpad.com) all about fly-fishing that bears a lot of study and perusal and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about the gear and fishing techniques.

Robert has offered to loan me a fly rod with which to practice, and I need a lot of that. I have to get away from the bass-casting mode where all the weight is in the lure and let the fly line do its work. Once I began to use the forearm and wrist, and to be patient on the back-cast and let the line load the rod, my casts got much better. I plan to take him up on that and spend some time down on Backbone Creek and get the technique smooted out some.

fish_09-01-14_2548 Here’s a close-up of another of Bruce’s fish. These are fat and beautiful fish, and all were released.

And here is a shot of my third fish which I just photoed and quickly released. fish_09-01-14_2553We tried 4 different spots during the day and caught fish at each of them. GRTU has parking spots leased with access to the river which makes it really nice to be able to get to this wonderful outdoor treat. Texas, unfortunately, has very little public land. Something on the order of 97% of all Texas land is privately owned. Most of the western states have huge amounts of public lands with access for fishing, hunting, hiking and other outdoor sports. I fear that the day is coming that few people will have experience to serenity of wading in the cool (well, cold!) clear waters of a cypress-lined river. There is nothing quite like it and I can’t wait until spring when the trees again look like trees and, hopefully, there is a bit more water in the river.

Why jobs are disappearing

I really don’t intend this blog to be so much about government malfeasance but this article really caught my attention. We hear news reports of huge job losses, but from where and why? Here is a piece of an interesting article that makes a lot of sense.

It’s not just “the economy” or the recession or sagging consumer spending that are costing jobs. The secret reason is that all the good little boys and girls running all those small businesses and small companies that provide most of the jobs are mad at only getting lumps of coal while failures, liars, criminals, stupid and slothful deadbeats get gifts. So they are giving themselves gifts and handing out their own lumps of coal. They are closing their least profitable shops, eliminating their least profitable services, even firing their least profitable customers. They’re cutting size, cutting hours, cutting back, thus eliminating some of their biggest expense – payroll – and keeping that money for themselves. They are deliberately shrinking their businesses.

via The Kidnapping of Santa Claus.

Trout — look out

Today is the day. My friend Robert and his friend Bruce (soon to be our very best friend) are headed for some of the 4,000 trout stocked just last Friday on the Guadalupe River. I’ve not fly-fished in about 35 years or more so it should be quite interesting!

Bruce is our “very best” friend because he knows where they are. Witness:

A trout from last weekend

The death of journalistic integrity

Journalistic integrity requires, in my opinion, the clear distinction and labeling between news, analysis and opinion. It used to be that way. It used to be discussed as important.

It is no more and that’s a crime. Many others have made this same pronouncement so this expression of that problem is far from new but I feel like saying it and discussing it.

Why is this failure of making this distinction important? Because information sources are where people learn about the world and in particular, our national, state and local politics. And they deserve to know fact from opinion. This has become far more important with the increasing separation of the people from their government, business and leaders, i.e. the people have no knowledge of what is being done to or for them other than through the ever-expanding sources of information.

That information includes raw news, news and analysis, and opinion. The consumer of that news has less time than in days before in order to intake and process that information. There is benefit to the time problem with the advent of the electronic sources — online news and blogs — but the problem remains that the reader must be able to distinguish fact from opinion.

Increasingly, I fear, the consumer of information is unable (or perhaps unwilling) to discern the distinction. It’s far too easy to just read or hear something and assume its veracity unless the inquiring mind is engaged in questioning and analyzing the information as it comes in. How often has something touted information as “fact” and state a source on the internet … and know nothing of the veracity or reputation of the source? Or that they heard it on the TV news?

Almost no person now doubts the liberal bias of the mainstream media. I don’t wish to debate here whether that’s good or bad, but here is the importance of understanding your source:  apparently most people get most of their news from the TV national news — ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX. This has been recently confirmed directly to me during jury selection where easily 90% of potential jurors stated such. There were a few getting it from the internet, either news sources or blogs; and a very few read newspapers. Not one out of about 50 people mentioned a news magazine.

Thus it is easy to understand how massive numbers of people can be, and are, misled by a liberally-biased media that does not clearly label fact from opinion. It is dishonest to allow that to occur.

It is time for the information-consuming public to demand honesty in journalism.

Part of the “why” is to simplify

I’ve had a blog on a Content Management System site for a long while, at www.capnj.dajudge.us. It’s based on Drupal which is a fine system, but I’m maintaining too many sites and finding the posting there to be a bit complex … the price of power.

So suddenly (for a host of reasons) I’m into simplifying my life and maybe this is a way and place to start. It’s easy to post from my BlackBerry, including photo uploads and easy to blog off of photos in Flickr. Speaking now of WordPress, it has a mobile site that work’s pretty well.  then from Flickr, even while mobile, hopefully the blogging ability is there from a photo. That ability for cross-pollination is good. And the lack of maintenance is also good.

That was originally written while testing Blogger. Unfortunately, WP does not permit posting via email but overall I like it better so we give up that.