Mr. Sensitive

June 30, 2010


Filed under: Imperial Army,Operation Mortal Coil — lbej @ 15:07

In recognition of my efforts in Operation Mortal Coil, the Empress has created me maréchal général des camps et armées. I outrank congratulations so none are necessary.  I keep thinking that it’s past time to replace Turenne at the top of the page here but when he looks at me like that I just can’t do it.  Perhaps now that I have equaled him in rank I won’t be so easily cowed.  He’s also dead sexy, so there’s that.

Corporations Aren’t People

Filed under: Stuff I Just Wanted To Say — lbej @ 11:30

I don’t like politics so I avoid it here.  It’s like watching a movie in that you know that what is said is based on the part being played, not the beliefs of the actor.  If you’re comfortable with that, you’re comfortable with politics.  As with a movie, most of the people watching don’t wish to have it shoved down their throats what the actors really think.  It kind of ruins it if you find out.  It’s like watching Mel Gibson in a movie now that you know he’s poisonously deranged–not as enjoyable.  Of course, we all understand on an intellectual level that no politician can have gotten to a level of national prominence without being responsive to changing political sentiment, what they used to call having no moral principles.  The big difference between a theatrical production and a political one is that there is no fourth wall.  And the big problem therein is that it seems to me that lots of folks vote like there is.  I like comedies, and when the play hinges on tanks and taxes, the jokes tend to fall flat.  I don’t like political diatribes, either, honest.  You’re just loudly exhorting people to take action they clearly already decided not to take, such as vote, or vote based on anything relevant to the task of governing.  Next time something bad happens, one or more politicians will exploit it effectively and they’ll get votes.  That’s how it works.  It’s pretty depressing, which is yet another reason I don’t like politics.


The point of this commentary, though, is to talk about corporations, the multinational, multigenerational ones that dominate the modern world for good or for ill.  I’m resistant to broad-based bashing of large corporations, because they aren’t all the same (some are worse) and they have been a defining feature of a civilization with the highest living standard in human history.  If corporations dominate the world (they do), and the world is a decent place to live in (it is in the West), I should, in the interest of fairness, bear that in mind when criticizing them as a group.  What a multi-billion dollar corporation is is not my concern here.  What I want to forcefully state is what corporations are not, which is people.

I am not a lawyer of any kind, much less an expert in constitutional law.  However, I do have a copy of the U.S. Constitution on my wall, and I can read it (despite f sometimes being pronounced like s), and all you have to do to figure out that it doesn’t apply to corporations is read the first sentence.  It applies to people.  Something happened in the history of English and American law so that corporations being treated like people for certain legal purposes (such as entering into contracts) somehow obtained the constitutional civil rights of people.  I say no to this.  Corporations are simply not people.

I don’t care if the legal precedent established by prior court rulings treats corporations as people.  Precedent means something that came before, not something that was, or is, correct.  Throughout the history of our civilization, legal precedents (slavery, mass disenfranchisement, suspension of habeus corpus, and so on) have been as famously incorrect as they have been correct.  Citing precedent is a self-serving argument that is only ever made by those who prefer the status quo, specifically or in principle.  Take the following observations about a corporation, all self-evident:

  • It does not eat
  • It does not sleep
  • It does not breathe
  • It has no sexual identity (thus the need to refer to it as it and not he or she)
  • It can be in more than one place at one time
  • It does not die

People, human beings, cannot be described by any of those statements, all of which are characteristics of corporate entities.  So no more of this application of rights that we, the people, assert in our Constitution for ourselves, to these deathless inhuman things, however useful they may be as a form of organization.  Some of the news programs I watch (okay, all of them), go back and forth now on the question of whether BP plc (British for corporation) should be sorry for causing so much carnage in the Gulf of Mexico.  Of course it should not feel sorry, because it is a corporation, not a person, and it doesn’t have feelings.  This is not a semantic issue, it is vital to our civilization because of the dominance of corporations.  It goes to a headline issue such as who is responsible for the mistakes made by BP (owners and managers–sorry, U.K. pensioners, maybe you should’ve studied your proxy materials a bit more rather than just cashing the dividend checks, I mean cheques).  Or to the question so central to the agenda of the Roberts Supreme Court, does the Bill of Rights grant individual freedoms to a corporation?  (It does not.)  There are probably ways that ending the treatment of corporations as people would be to the benefit of their owners; I don’t really care.  Let’s just start with the first sentence of the Constitution and see how it plays out from there.

Withdrawal War – Hello Darkness

Filed under: Withdrawal War — lbej @ 06:18

Another 4:30 wake-up this morning, courtesy of ongoing systemic recalibration.  There’s only so much sweat I can accumulate in bed before it feels enough like a bad shower that I give up trying to sleep so I can take a good one.  I’ve been trying to figure out what was the damn problem with the upstairs air conditioning that I was so uncomfortable all night.  Diagnostics say the a/c is working but it’s not working for me.  I had this exchange with the Empress last night:

  • Me:  Why is it so hot every night?  It should be cooler at night.
  • Katie:  It is cooler.
  • Me:  Tell that to me.
  • Katie:  (Confused, under the impression that’s what she was doing already.)  You were like a sweating oven in your sleep last night again, so I checked the thermometer up here and it was 68.
  • Me:  I think the air’s not circulating in the bedroom like it should.  If it’s the right temperature in the hall (where the thermostat is) then there’s something wrong with the air flow in here.
  • Katie:  Lexapro.
  • Me:  Huh?
  • Katie:  It’s the Lexapro, coming off it like you have been.  Real bad night sweats, insomnia.  Those are things it does.
  • Me:  Night sweats and insomnia.  Along with the headaches and the dizziness and the fatigue and the complete lack of emotional stability.
  • Katie:  Yep.
  • Me:  Son of a bitch.

A friend of ours who’s a nurse told Katie sometimes patients just “turn evil for a little while” when they quit Lexapro, so it could be worse.  This feels just as serious as all my other hyperbolic wars now, and I hope to be able to derive the same perverse satisfaction from its prosecution as I have in the past.  It’s amazing to me that it can be the case, but the actual physical withdrawal I’m experiencing now is much worse than what I went through in the weeks after I got sober, and I did most of that in the hospital and all of it under medical supervision.  Of course the overall process of recovering from late-stage alcoholism was far longer, more intensive, and much, much more perilous.  I had to learn how to live without a death wish.  You would think that wouldn’t be so hard because who wants to drive themselves relentlessly to ruin and death (in that order, unfortunately)?  It’s one of those things–and I hate those things–where if you don’t get it, you won’t get it, and good for you.  The point is that I certainly don’t think Lexapro is worse than alcohol.  That would be ridiculous.  But this withdrawal is blowing my mind right now.  Just days after the alcohol was out of my bloodstream I felt better physically; I know that doesn’t happen for all alcoholics, especially those that stay soused 24/7 up until they quit, but that wasn’t me.  This junk, though.  The professional and patient community consensus appears to be that this will pass after a few weeks, in which case I should be about halfway through.  In retrospect, I was put on the Lexapro to help stabilize my mental state while I got sober, and I did, so even though I can’t be sure it worked (at least not at the level of a direct cause), I suppose I can be sure that it didn’t not work.  Here I am, straight as an arrow for 16 months, so I would have to rate the mission a success.  I would say to anyone whose doctor recommends that you go on Lexapro: make sure she can also explain how you will be able to go off Lexapro when the time comes.  If she says you’ll be on the lowest dose so don’t worry, worry.  I was on the lowest dose.  Anything more and I’d have been tapering for months and going bonkers anyway.  Still, my experience leads me to criticize, but not to condemn.  If you press your doctor for an exit strategy before you need one it may just work out.

June 29, 2010

FSX Component Changes – Q3 Announcement

Filed under: FSX — lbej @ 15:41

I’ve made my final decisions for inclusion in the Family Stock Index in Q3, but I want to provide a little background first.  I have already explained what I’m looking for in a company name or stock ticker when I pick components for the Family Stock Index.  I want to take this opportunity to list some of the trading characteristics I look for in the stock itself.

  • Average daily trading volume in excess of 100 thousand shares.  I shy away from stocks that are very thinly traded because they are volatile on the days they do move and boring on the days they don’t.  I removed BRTHY for that reason and JDOG suffers the same fate now.
  • Market capitalization greater than $100 million but less than $10 billion.  These stocks tend to trade as reliably as the headline names, but they have less analyst and financial media exposure.  As a result I find myself less annoyed by them than I am by more popular stocks.
  • Stock price greater than $1.  Stocks trading below $5 are known as penny stocks and are subject to different brokerage requirements and market dynamics.  Stocks trading below $1 are like halfpenny stocks and they can be delisted from the NYSE if they traded there to begin with.  I actually like having a stock below $5 in the index; I get extra drama with the way those things trade.  Stocks below $1 are another matter altogether, and I prefer to avoid them.

Now onto the changes:

  • Icarus will now be represented by Empresas ICA, the second-largest construction company in Mexico.  The company is known by the name ICA and trades on the NYSE under that ticker symbol.  ICA has 161 million shares outstanding and market capitalization of approximately $1.5 billion.   It trades near the high end of its $11.00-$5.75 52-week range.  I’d love to have kept JDOG, but it’s a three- to five-cent stock, and I was frankly being unrealistic keeping it in the FSX as long as I did.
  • The Nicoles have thus far shared a common market destiny, represented by the offensive (to me) ticker NICE.  My replacement for NICE—or rather, replacements—have been chosen so as to recognize the unity of the past while sundering Nicoletic destinies for the future.  Thus I will be using NiSource and Rockwell Collins, with the ticker symbols NI and COL.  As for which Nicole gets which part of NICOL, I broke it down by industry.  NiSource is all about gas distribution, and I have known Justin’s Nicole to be about that as well, so NI will go to her.  Mario’s Nicole gets COL because her surname sounds like a Roman general and Rockwell Collins is a defense contractor.  The market stats are as follows:  NI has 277 million shares outstanding and a market cap of $4.1 billion, trading near the middle of a 52-week range of $16.80-$11.41; and COL has 157 million shares outstanding and a market cap of $8.5 billion, trading in the upper half of a 52-week range of $68-$38.
  • ZERO was the last component I had figured on swapping out, but now that it comes to it, I don’t want to.  ZERO stays in, because it had a miserable 2nd quarter and I’m not the kind of guy to kick somebody when he’s down.  Or a stock, anyway.  I’ll kick a dude.
  • Instead of Zero, I’m switching it up on Katie.  I was going to stick with KT Corp for her, but its market capitalization in excess of $10 billion and its location on the unstable Korean peninsula ultimately led me to make a change.  Instead I will be going with Cathay General Bancorp, parent of western U.S. commercial bank Cathay Bank.  Cathay traditionally caters to the Chinese-American community in California and is thus an interesting play on both demographic trends and the financial services business more broadly.  The ticker symbol is CATY, which if pronounced cat-ee, is what I call the Empress much of the time.  Once we were at Fuddruckers (R.I.P.) and Katie had given her name as, not surprisingly, Katie, but when they announced our order was ready they said cat-ee.  Because Katie is such an unusual name, I suppose.  So I thought that was excellent, and it seemed to be both irritating and amusing to Katie, much as I am both irritating and amusing to her.  I stuck with cat-ee and there’s nothing anyone could do about it because that’s what I’m like.  CATY has 78.5 million shares outstanding and a market cap just north of $800 million.  It’s trading right smack in the middle of its 52-week range, $15 to just under $7.

So that’s it.  KT, NICE, and JDOG are out, and CATY, NI, COL, and ICA are in.  Changes will take effect July 1st.

June 28, 2010

Marcus’ Problems – Solved

I figured it out today, what will make Marcus feel better: he needs a shiny thing to look at.  I’ve been polishing our silver over the last two weeks, and if I work very hard at the polishing it makes the silver very pretty and shiny.  I like having it around me, being pretty and shiny and nice.  I think I’m going to have Katie hide silver things around the house so that I can find them.  Like maybe in the linen closet in the bathroom.   Then I might just reach in to get a towel, only–egads!–out pops a beautiful shiny treasure just for me.  A fork, perhaps, or a cup, or if I’m having a really bad week, an etched serving tray.  There’s a pretty little silver bell on the table in front of me now, and I can tell you that it’s just lovely.  So Marcus needs a shiny thing, or more than one if he plans on being in several different rooms during the day.  If he doesn’t have any silver, a nice Joe Quesada wraparound chromium-cover comic should do the trick.  X-O Manowar #0 or Bloodshot #0, for example, or even Double Edge Omega.  Or perhaps a copy of the most beautiful thing ever created by human hands:

I have one but no one is allowed to touch it or see it, ever, including me.  So to sum up: you’re welcome, Marcus, for me just now fixing your life.

A Spiderness

Filed under: Stuff I Just Wanted To Say — lbej @ 21:21

Me:  What’s that stuff up in the corner there? [pointing at some shmutz on the ceiling behind the television]

Katie:  It looks like a spiderness.

And so it does.

Just Give Me The Armor And No One Gets Hurt

Filed under: Withdrawal War — lbej @ 14:28

I went to hell last year, which turns out to be the wing of the psych ward where you have to stay if you’re admitted when there are no beds in the good wing.  Funny story: do you know the one good thing hell imports from the outside world?  Coca-Cola.  It’s the truth.  They don’t have enough for everyone, because it’s, you know, hell, so you have to fight for the Coke if you want it.  You really want it, too, trust me.  Things you can get in prison you can’t get where I was.  If you don’t believe me, go there yourself and see at all the people chewing on plastic nicotine dispensers (we called them puffers) because they can’t get cigarettes.  My family sent me to hell because they had to, because it was the only way to stop me.  It was sort of like when Buffy stabbed Angel and sent him to hell at the end of Season Two.  It was a lot like that, actually.  When you watch that episode you’re sad for Angel because he really doesn’t know in that moment what he did to deserve it.  What he did, of course, is torture and murder a lot of people, but he doesn’t remember that, and his bewilderment is very real.  But it sucks even more for Buffy because she remembers everything, good and bad, and she has to ignore all the good to do what she has to do to save the world.  Man, BuffyFirefly is the best show.  The people need to face facts.  So to recap: I went Angelus for a while; my family attacked me; they couldn’t save me but they did manage to damn me; and Nathan Fillion will always be Johnny from Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place no matter how many projects Joss Whedon casts him in.

Hell is not so much for the hustle and bustle.  There’s a lot of time to think, and I found that it was really hard to perform my customary intellectual flanking maneuvers on account of the limited room I’d left myself, which was in turn on account of the elephant.  I couldn’t ignore it.  If the people who love me the most decided that the best thing to do for me was send me to hell, and they were right, it meant one thing: failure.  I had failed so catastrophically that I found myself physically trapped in the psych ward until a doctor saw fit to release me, and yet that state of affairs was appreciably better for me and everyone else than had I been in my own house.  That’s a big yikes.  Figuring out that much started the long and boring recovery process, which continues on the margin to this day.  Boring is good, of course.  Boring is a much better look for me, I think, than ruddy.

When I was in hell all I had was Coke and failure, and I had to share the Coke.  There was a lot of failure, and I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do with it all.  Coincidentally, an interesting thing happened to me after my body purged itself of the alcohol, something that happened while I was still in the hospital:  I got strong again.  Not mentally, because mentally I was all over the place for months.  Physically.  Think Theoden in Two Towers after Saruman’s hold is lifted: color coming back, lameness healed, eyes refocusing, the whole thing.  I realized I wasn’t old at all, and all these chronic ailments I had for years were caused by poison.  Once the poison was gone, so were the ailments.  It was awesome.

I had to do something with all the energy, and I wasn’t allowed to do much of anything except think.  So I thought real hard.  I had failure, and I had strength, and I had time.  So I took the failure and pounded it into armor, strong and light like you can’t believe.  Fail armor.  What could anyone do to me?  Look what I did to myself—you can’t top that.  I’ve been worse than anything you can call me.  No asshole in a suit and tie can hurt me—my own family damned me to hell and I came back and thanked them.  After I was back home, crazy stuff happened, like it happens to everyone.  Stuff with my job, my kids, my wife, my mother.  I don’t want to go into it because bad stuff happens to everybody.  The bananas thing was how well the armor worked.  I felt impervious.  Not invincible, but so much better than before that it’s disorienting.  I don’t feel numb in the fail armor, I want to stress that.  Numbness was the strategy that landed me in hell in the first place and is a no-go.  I feel everything, it’s just hard for the normal slings and arrows to do any damage.

Then the damnedest thing happened last week: I quit Lexapro, and that tricksy bastard absconded with my armor.  I’m struggling because nothing was penetrating and now everything is.  I cried watching “The Proposal” on Sunday.  Hard.  I know my fail armor is safe the same way Sauron knew the Ring hadn’t been destroyed when he awoke in the Third Age.  I’m hoping I’m going to stumble on it straightening up around the house.  I hope Katie didn’t accidently sell it in last Saturday’s yard sale like she sold my patio stones.  I just want to put the word out: if you see my armor, please send it home.  It looks awesome, I know, but it’ll burn if you put it on.  It burns me, too, but it’s supposed to.

If my fail armor is wherever the remote, all the pens and pencils, and the duct tape have gone, Reagan is going to be in so much trouble.

June 27, 2010

Pet Nasty War – And Your Little Dog Too

Filed under: Pet Nasty War,Pets — lbej @ 18:19

The peeing of dogs in the office will be halted as well.  I will impose a blockade.

Pet Nasty War – Unto The Breach

Filed under: Pet Nasty War — lbej @ 18:04

I have it in my power to retake the office.  By this weekend’s exvasion time and space enough have been secured, and the children will be on vacation for two days more.  Where delay might have been prudence it would now be cowardice.  And so I come to it at last, the great battle of our time.  Too long have I delayed while those monsters brazenly befouled that place which should have been for me a redoubt of knowledge, a place of solace, a showcase for my domestic achievements.  And what is it instead?  What has it become while I have stood by and watched, debasing myself by changing cat litter and gathering cat poop like apples in an orchard?  Shame given shape; an execrable pit blasted out of the heart of the Empire.  No more, my friends.  Let me now stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.  I will have war at last, arduous but unambiguous and ending only with victory or defeat.   Let the cats know I move against them, let the bird-murderers do whatever evil against me they might devise.

June 26, 2010

I Hate You Lexapro

Filed under: Music,Withdrawal War — lbej @ 13:04

Is there anything sad about “Poker Face?”  No?  Then why am I crying?

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