Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2018

When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.
   ―  Friedrich Nietzsche
[Some folks would like to return to a past when (they believe) America was greater than it is today.  The simple truth is, when it comes to the past, you can’t get there from here.
Despite our current President and political climate, America is still (IMHO) the best nation on earth.  We are NOT perfect.  Far from it.  Many other countries have better health care, better education systems, more safety from violence (specifically gun violence).  But is there any place you’d rather be?  Is there any other time in which you would rather live?
We have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.  American greatness stems from our beliefs: in the rule of law; that no one is above the law; and, that right makes might.  We have faith in the will of the informed majority and believe in the protection of the rights of the minority.
If our national course is erratic, it is because we understand (but sometimes only reluctantly accept) that the law breathes and changes.  As fundamental human rights are increasingly recognized, acknowledged, and codified, we change as a people, as a society and as a country.  And, yes, sometimes, change is painful.  When it is too painful, the rate of change is slowed (as it is now).  But, change is not halted.  It cannot be halted because change is an emergent property of existence and particularly of life.
America is STILL a great country!  To become a still greater nation we need only rededicate ourselves to a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  No, future greatness cannot be found in returning to the past, but we can get there (future continued greatness) from here…  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2017 The Single Most Effective Thing For Health
2016 A Trumpet Solo
2015 Potential Is A Heavy Burden
2014 Fear Not, Weep Not
2013 Half Way There
2012 Sacrificed Any Lately?
2011 The Value Of One’s Character
2010 Intervals
On Being Human
Non-predictive Emergence
Events
Bodily Functions
Standing Thoughts
Sent Home Is Better Than Fixed

Read Full Post »

It is my belief… that the truth is generally preferable to lies.
   ―  J.K. Rowling
.
On This Day In:
2017 Near By
2016 Maybe Someday
2015 How’s The Cow?
2014 Mind Made Up
2013 On Purpose
2012 The Dream
2011 What Could Be More Comfortable?

Read Full Post »

When a man starts out to build a world,
He starts first with himself.
  ―  Langston Hughes
.
On This Day In:
2017 Order The Rope, #DumbDonald
2016 Chains Of Habit
2015 That You Shall Remain
Did You See That?
2014 True, Vibrant And Open
2013 Remembering, Yet Again
2012 Something Of Value
2011 Sleep All Day

Read Full Post »

Margin Call  (2011)  —  movie review
Today’s movie review is for a movie I originally saw parts of on YouTube and have been wanting to watch ever since.  It finally came down to $5 at Vudu, so I now have the rights to stream it anytime I want to.  This is not the same as “owning” a copy, but that’s a subject for another blog post.
This movie is an attempt to portray dramatically “something” like what “probably” happened at a number of banks, investment companies and other financial trading companies during the financial meltdown of 2008.  As such, the title (“term”) Margin Call is a bit of a misnomer.
A “margin call” can happen when something (anything) is purchased with “leverage”, ie. a loan, you only put up a portion of the perceived value of the item, AND promise that if the value of the item decreases by some amount agreed as part of the leveraged purchase, you will add more money.
For example:  You “buy” something with 10% of its value, so you have 90% leverage.  If the price goes up 10%, you make 100% of your money on the 10% of the value.  If, however, the price drops more than the agreed amount – which is always less than the amount you “invested”, you will get a call from the broker who arranged the leverage (loan of the the difference) and you will be asked for more money.  This is the “margin call”.  If you cannot bring more money to the table to answer the call, you lose your entire initial investment.
The above situation is NOT what is happening in the movie.  What is “described” in the movie appears to be temporary financial exposure caused by holding investments of undetermined value during a period of market volatility.  At least that is what I think they were describing.  Basically, they hold mortgage back securities of questionable value, and, for some reason not fully explained, must hold the securities for 30 days to establish the value.  However, due to market volatility during the hold period, the value of the securities can decrease below the call value and the amount on call would be greater than the total capital of the entire company BECAUSE the company is a leader and position setter in this market.  In fact (in the movie), this has happened multiple times in the prior two weeks, but the market recovered before the end of the day closing so (fortunately) calls were never issued.  But the potential exposure remains.
Anyway, the problem is – there is trouble in River City and it’s right now.  Eric Dale (played by Stanley Tucci) is a Risk Analyst at some big money firm.  (We never find out if it’s a bank or investment firm or what.)  He is fired and instead of “just” leaving, he passes on a file describing the problem to his junior, Peter Sullivan (played by Zachary Quinto).  Because he was educated as a “Rocket Scientist”, Peter figures out the problem and kicks the information upstairs to his new boss – Will Emerson (played by Paul Bettany).  Blah, blah, blah — same to Sam Rogers (played by Kevin Spacey) to Jared Cohen (played by Simon Baker) and Sarah Robertson (played by Demi Moore), until it finally reaches the big Kahuna: John Tuld (played by Jeremy Irons).
The decision is made to clear the market and dump everything before the rest of the world discovers the questionable value of the securities.  The three rules for making money in investment: Be First, Be Smarter, or Cheat.  While the dumping is technically not “cheating”, it is lying to their customers.  But, hey, survival of the fittest…
Does the movie work?  Is it interesting?  Is it realistic?  And, is it any good?  So-so.  Yes.  Yes.  And, so-so.  If you don’t have financial background, you will only “get” that this movie is about screwing the other guy before the collapse.  I found it interesting, particularly in contrast with “The Big Short“, another movie dealing with the 2008 bubble burst and the two “Wall Street” movies.  As I really wasn’t sure what the problem with the securities was, it was hard for me to decide if it was realistic there.  Was it an accurate portrayal of “screw the other guy and get ours first” attitude – 100% realistic.  So, is it a good movie?  Well, I enjoyed it, so I guess that means yes.  Even if I question the ethics of the results…
Final recommendation: strong.  I doubt the average person will understand background “why” any more than I did.  I think the average person watching this will think: “This is how the little guys get screwed by Wall Street”.  I think they’d be justified in thinking this.
One more note: having personally been through several lay-offs (as a “survivor” and a victim), I found this portion of the movie to be VERY accurate as a depiction of corporate America.
.
On This Day In:
2017 Distant Goal
2016 More Lives
2015 Go Shopping More
2014 Say What?
2013 Accepting Beauty
2012 Transitional Choice To Ride The Wave
2011 Freedom Isn’t Always Perfect
Just That Simple

Read Full Post »

There are plenty of good five cent cigars in the country.  The trouble is they cost a quarter.
  —    Franklin Pierce Adams
[You’ll know when you’re getting old the first time you say, “I remember when I could buy a … for …”.    —    KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2017 Distant Goal
2016 More Lives
2015 Go Shopping More
2014 Say What?
2013 Accepting Beauty
2012 Transitional Choice To Ride The Wave
2011 Freedom Isn’t Always Perfect
Just That Simple

Read Full Post »

The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.
  —   Robert M. Pirsig
.
On This Day In:
2017 Waiting For My First Strike
2016 Mostly Just Masticating
2015 Don’t Mess With Mosa
How Long Is This Run?
2014 The Importance Of Being Forgetful
2013 Anyway
2012 Habit Forming
2011 And In The Other Hand(ful)
In Love With Words
Boundless Naïveté
Who Did You Say Signed Off On This Treason, Pat?

Read Full Post »

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.
  —  H. L. Mencken
[Mencken was a satirist and cultural / social commentator who passed away before the invention of the birth control pill and Roe v. Wade.  Do we want to go back?
I remember growing up and hearing the name used to describe Catholic women who practiced “the rhythm” method of birth control.  It was “mother”.  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2017 Neutral
Family Over Ego
2016 Hard Learners
2015 Goals
2014 Switch To Dogs…
2013 Times Change
2012 Ashes Not Dust
2011 A Handful From Saudi
None Of This Happened
Take Responsibility

Read Full Post »

Nothing But Net: Just Give Me The Ball And Get Out Of The Way” (1994©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for “Nothing But Net“, written by Bill Walton with Gene Wojciechowski.  It is a quasi-autobiographical book stringing together a long list of anecdotes and opinions about life, music (Walton is a major fan of The Grateful Dead band) and basketball.  By “quasi-” I mean, the authors leave out large blocks of personal information about Walton’s life.  As such, it’s “curious” to exclude, but I guess that’s why “personal” information is also called “private” information.  Some of the topics are hinted at, but no real information is provided.
Examples are:
1) he thanks his parents for how they raised him, but doesn’t say anything about “how” they raised him.
2) he mentions his four sons and his wife, but doesn’t say his “wife” is his “current” wife and not the mother of his children.  Actually, he says nothing about wife one, how they met or why they divorced.
3) he says he is constantly questioned about Patty Hearst and drug use, but doesn’t explain why he is asked about them. And, (to me, most significantly)
4) on a less personal note, he talks about basketball skills like footwork and angles, but doesn’t offer the slightest hints on any of his insights.  I guess he is saving that information for another book.
Having said all of the above, before I continue this review I need to offer a “full disclosure”: I grew up watching Bill Walton and UCLA.  I then missed most of his professional career while I was in the Army, attending college, and subsequently lost interest in professional sports.  At this point, I was only following the Forty Niners and / or only watching championship series (World Series, NBA Finals, Final Four, etc).  One of my most vivid teenage memories of sports was watching UCLA destroy Memphis State in the Final Four – where Walton scored on 21 of 22 shots from the field and had 44 points by himself.  Another was watching Walton face a four on one fast break where he blocked three shots (my recollection is by three different players, but I could be wrong about that), then got the rebound after the third block.  That game was against one of the Oregon teams (as I recall), but the opponent was kind of irrelevant.  The point was he stopped the fast break all by himself by blocking THREE shots!  Needless to say, I thought he was a “heroic” figure.  I can’t honestly say he was “my” hero, only that it was the kind of thing you see VERY rarely in your lifetime.  A bit like Secretariat winning the Belmont by 31 lengths (pulling away) or Bob Beamon crushing the world record in the long jump at the 1968 Olympics by over 21 inches.  Anyway, my wife and I were shopping in a charity shop we support (ARF Thrift Store – ARF = Animal Rescue Foundation) and I found this book for $.50.  So, I snapped it up and dove right in and began reading it that night.
In other words, I am biased about the author and was already predisposed to “like” this book if it was at all interesting or well written.  It is — mostly — both.
The tone is very conversational, which I like.  The topic is sports (basketball), which I like.  And, the analysis which is offered (other players from that era – up to 1993) is interesting.  It’s interesting because Walton identifies some of the players he feels are truly “great” and explains why.  It also lists some with potential greatness and lists some of the things they need(ed) to do to become great.  Finally, the book lists some players who Walton feels are good but not great and (mostly) covers why they are not “really” great – in his opinion.  As some of the players from all three groups have ultimately ended up in the Basketball Hall of Fame (HOF), we have a chance to look back and analyze Walton’s opinions for their accuracy / validity.  The three I found the most interesting were Michael Jordon – criticized for his early retirement after three consecutive championships (MJ went off to try professional baseball and then returned for three more NBA championships); Patrick Ewing, who is criticized for not having a mid-range shot / game.  Ewing developed a mid-range shot and is now in the HOF.  And, the third player I found interesting was Charles Barkley, who Walton more or less calls a cry-baby who always tries to shift the blame for losses onto other teammates.  Barkley is also in the HOF.
On the self-reflection side, Walton is also hard on himself.  He pretty much admits to being a pain in the ass as a teammate, which he attributes to wanting so badly to win EVERY time he went on the court.  He also spends a lot of time (repeatedly) saying how much he loves / loved the game of basketball and how it was his refuge for all of his teen and most of his early adult years.  As an aside, I’ve mostly known Walton as a loquacious basketball color-man / announcer, who tended to have an opinion about most everything and was happy to share it with everyone.  As it turns out, Walton suffered from “severe” stuttering until after he retired, which he feels he is now trying to make up for by over-talking.  He acknowledges his diarrhea of the mouth and handles it with a bit of self-deprecation, which I found surprisingly and refreshingly honest.  In the end, what really comes across is Walton’s joy in both playing the game and for living life to the fullest.
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  You won’t really learn much about basketball skills from this book, which is kind of what I was hoping for (a little).  You will get a snapshot of the sport of basketball – college circa 1970 to 1993 – and professional (NBA) from mid-1970’s to 1993, with an emphasis on players and personalities.  If you are a Walton fan (I still am), watched college or NBA basketball during this time frame, or you’re just interested in some NBA history, I think you’ll really enjoy reading this book.  I know I did.
If just reading the book isn’t enough for you, you can find loads of videos about Bill Walton on YouTube.  You can also find loads of his analysis and commentaries.
.
On This Day In:
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

Read Full Post »

Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.  If you’re alive, it isn’t.
    —    Richard Bach
.
On This Day In:
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

Read Full Post »

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) — movie review
Today’s review is for the Marvel Studio comic book adaptation of the Thor character story: Ragnarok.  The movie came out last year, but because I rarely go to the theater any more and because I’m too cheap to pay full price for a movie, this review is from my first viewing of the movie which is now on Netflix.  For those not familiar with Norse mythology, “Ragnarok” is supposed to be the end of the universe and the death of the Norse gods.
Thor’s (Thor, the god of thunder, is played by Chris Hemsworth) father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) dies and his death frees Thor’s older sister Hela, the goddess of death (played by Cate Blanchett) who seeks to claim the throne of Asgard (the place where the Norse gods live).  Thor and his adopted brother Loki, the god of mischief (played by Tom Hiddleston) are defeated in initial combat with Hela, but manage to escape with their lives.
Thor is captured on a foreign planet by a former Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) and meets and fights the Hulk / Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo).  Meanwhile, Hela goes to Asgard seeking the throne and her revenge.  Blah, blah, blah.  Most everyone dies fighting the goddess of death (makes sense), but a few escape, led by Heimdall (played by Idris Elba).
Blah, blah, blah.  Thor convinces Hulk and the Valkyrie to join him in fighting Hela.  They escape from where they are imprisoned and go back to Asgard to defeat Hela.  And then we all live happily ever after (kinda / sorta).
In my review of the first Thor movie, (this is the third in the series), I said it was a bit schizophrenic and needed to decide if they were going to have the movie in Asgard or on Earth.  This one is almost exclusively off-Earth – and it is much better for it.
This movie is fun AND funny.  It has the requisite fights and special effects.  The movie runs about two hours, but felt shorter to me.  That’s a good sign.  The movie seems to be an almost immediate lead in to the Avengers: Infinity War movie, and that’s okay.  It’s okay, because (like in Infinity War) almost everyone in Asgard dies and so, whatever happens to bring back everyone in Infinity War II, probably also brings back Asgard and all of the folks who get killed in this one.  I guess we’ll have to see, next year.
The movie tries to inject a bit of philosophy by repeatedly stating it is the people who make the place and not the place which makes the people.  It kind of works, but not really because the vast majority of the Asgardians are slain by Hela and the rest appear to face capture / doom at the closing credits.  Like I said, we’ll see…
Anyway, final recommendation: highly recommended!!  As stated earlier, this movie is both fun and funny, with action, lots of humor and great fights / battles / special effects.  I would say this ranks right up with Iron Man and the Black Panther as among the very best of the Marvel Studio’s comic book / movie adaptations.  It is rated PG-13, so it might be a little too intense for very young (pre-7 years) children.  As for 7 – 13, it’s probably not too intense, but it may get them too excited and have them running around acting crazy trying to imitate the movie.  Just sayin’…
.
On This Day In:
2017 For Some
2016 Fragile And Explosive, Provocation And Privacy
2015 Bound Up
2014 Economic Engines
2013 Weren’t You Supposed To Be Reading?
Absent Friends
Where I Stand
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

Read Full Post »

The only good thing to do with good advice is pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.
   –  Oscar Wilde
.
On This Day In:
2017 For Some
2016 Fragile And Explosive, Provocation And Privacy
2015 Bound Up
2014 Economic Engines
2013 Weren’t You Supposed To Be Reading?
Absent Friends
Where I Stand
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

Read Full Post »

But we all know in our hearts that mere repetition and decibel level is no way to truth.
Part of the controversy hinges on the difference between discovery and invention.  To me, science and math are ultimately about undiscovered continents: things that really do exist, although we might not yet know about them.  The example that I often use is trilobites in the Cambrian period, more than 500 million years ago.  Did trilobites know the value of pi?  I think not.  Did any living creature in the Cambrian know the value of pi?  No.  But did pi exist with the same value that we know of today?  Yes.
Truth is all around us.  We just have to look for it.  This task  —  is mankind’s most noble activity.  We give up on it at our peril.
  —  Errol Morris
From his editorial:  “Why Donald Trump can’t kill the truth
Which appeared in Time Magazine, dtd: 11 June 2018
[The title for this post is a quote from Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of the Snark“.  It also appears in the text of Morris’ opinion piece.  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2017 And So On
2016 Kept
2015 Envy * 2
2014 Destiny For The Talented
2013 I Do Not Fear It
2012 Until Found
2011 Reducing Goods To Data
The Fog Of Civilization Building

Read Full Post »

No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.
   ―  Friedrich Nietzsche
.
On This Day In:
2017 Woof! Woof!
2016 Cast Out
2015 Small Pieces
Happy Father’s Day!
2014 Uncertain Work
2013 Unpatriotic And Servile
2012 What Price Freedom?
2011 Particular Importance
Three From Bette…

Read Full Post »

Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry…
    ―    Thomas Jefferson
.
On This Day In:
2017 Visible Proof
2016 Poor Enough Means
2015 Still Standing
Follow Your Heart
2014 Just Reminded
2013 A Fine Balance
2012 One Measure
2011 Seeking The Common Ground
In Brightest Day…

Read Full Post »

A single fact will often spoil an interesting argument.
    —    William Feather
[Or a frequently told lie.    —    KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2017 Life’s Oddity
2016 Just Asking…
2015 Two Thoughts On Thinking
2014 From The Top, Please…
2013 You Are The Stars
2012 Just One??
2011 Anything But

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: