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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]
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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
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It is my belief… that the truth is generally preferable to lies.
   ―  J.K. Rowling
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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?

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When a man starts out to build a world,
He starts first with himself.
  ―  Langston Hughes
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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

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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.
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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

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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]
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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

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The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.
  —  Robert M. Pirsig
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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?

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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]
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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

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