Mr. Sensitive

June 29, 2012

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:10

So that’s it for Q2.  It was a rough quarter—if you were long—and would have been much worse without today’s latest Euro-relief rally.  It appears there was another EU summit, and the Germans representative nations in attendance agreed to use pre-existing bailout funds to directly re-capitalize insolvent banks, TARP-style.  The consensus among market pundits seems to be that this is too little, too late, but the markets themselves clearly don’t agree.  I don’t think a bank bailout will solve all Europe’s problems, but I also don’t think those problems are as acute as they’re often portrayed.  Europeans simply aren’t in as much of a hurry to do anything as we Americans are to do everything.  The Germans will eventually conquer Europe; it’s been one step back, two steps forward for Brandenburg-Prussia-Germany from at least the time of the Great Elector, and we Americans just don’t have the patience or the perspective to see the Germans working.  We’re wasting time and energy studying elections in Athens and mortgage defaults in Madrid.  The rest of Europe is irrelevant—we only have to be mindful of Berlin.  As long as the German government stays even-keel, Europe will be fine.  Athens can burn to the ground, Spain can sink into the Atlantic; after all, the Spanish haven’t had an impact on the course of Western civilization since the 16th Century, and the Greeks are working on several millennia of irrelevance.  The French fight amongst themselves when things go sour; same for the Italians.  The British have the Pound and the English Channel.  Germany is all that matters.  If they handle their business—and Merkel is doing a much better job than she gets credit for—the process of European integration will proceed as it ought.  If not, well, you know.

The Family Stock Index lifted off multi-month lows with a 400-point rally beginning in the final hour of trading on Thursday.  Even so, we lost 7% in the second quarter with only 7 of our 25 components gaining ground over those three months.  The FSX settled out at 12,497 ahead of the quarterly rebalancing and four-stock swap.  We’re two-thirds of the way through the three-weddings-in-three-months gauntlet, and so far, so good.  I heard uniformly positive reviews of last weekend’s Mario-Nicole tie-up; it sounds like it was a beautifully raucous event that I should definitely been nowhere near.

Advancers

  • Icarus (FLOW) +8.7%%.  This is a fitting sendoff for FLOW…except the stock has been a real stinker, down 22% for the quarter and 11% for 2012, even with this week’s rally.  So in fact it’s a discombobulated sendoff; that, in turn, is really fitting.
  • Brinkley (BCO) +7.8%.  Sisters at the beach means all Dora, all the time.  It’s good to be the king…of the family room.
  • Jodi Ann (JOY) +4.6%.  School’s finally done for the summer, or so Marcus reports.  Jodi Ann seems like she knows how to enjoy her time off; if she can teach Marcus to relax, even halfway, JOY should have no trouble erasing a 23% Q2 loss by Labor Day.
  • Katie (CATY) +3.8%.  Daughters at the beach means all Dora, all the time.  She pretends she doesn’t love it, but you won’t catch me sitting on the couch in the family room for the 60th viewing of ‘The Big Piñata.’
  • Justin (SCI) +3.1%.  After another fresh 52-week high and an index-leading second quarter, I’m starting to wonder if it matters what stock I put Justin in.  You can’t fight science writing.

Decliners

  • Jenny (JNY) -2.4%.  Middle school looms like a great black ship unfurling sails of futility and pain.  Or maybe she got a sunburn.
  • Lucas (LEI) -3.9%.  Like Jenny, it’s either the middle school pain-ship thing, or the sunburn thing.
  • Zondro (ZQK) -4.5%.  Zondro, I want you to look at Wilson.  When it gets hot outside, he lounges down by the pond under the oak tree, or in the shade under the deck, or under the canopy of foliage that overhangs the entire right side of the fence—and he’s happy as a clam.  I can’t make him come inside.  In contrast, you come up to the deck every twenty minutes and pace around in the blazing sun, in case I decide to let you in…which I never do, because you’re an outside dog and you need to come to terms with it.  Pacing around on the deck in 90 degree heat is stupid, and I don’t reward stupidity.  ***UPDATE*** I did bring both dogs in when the temperature topped 100 degrees this afternoon; Zondro was relieved, Wilson was horrified.
  • Ruby (RJET) -5.1%.  This is a classic example of buying the rumor and selling the news.  With her weight-loss goals achieved and her baby’s wedding a success, the market justifiably wonders what’s next.  What about hang-gliding?  That would definitely keep the market guessing.
  • LULU -7.8%.  Tough quarter for the Fat One.  A two-year run of new nosebleed highs seemingly came to an end after she topped $81 the first week of May (LULU traded at a split-adjusted $19 in the inaugural FSX).  Down more than 25% since, she’s still expensive at 44 times earnings.  At +28% for 2012, it’s certainly not panic time yet, but my experience with these momentum plays is that the first crack in the dam is never the last.  And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving cat.
Name Ticker 6/29/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $23.18 +1.67
Charlotte ICE $135.98 +2.80
Dustin DST $54.31 +1.14
Icarus FLOW $3.12 +0.25
Jenny JNY $9.56 -0.24
Jodi Ann JOY $56.73 +2.50
Justin SCI $12.37 +0.37
Katie CATY $16.51 +0.61
Lee MSTR $129.86 +0.72
Lisa LNCE $25.23 +0.65
Lucas LEI $1.48 -0.06
Lulu LULU $59.63 -5.06
Marcus MCS $13.76 +0.23
Mario T.E. MGEE $47.30 +0.68
Mario T.Y. SUP $16.37 +0.06
Marisa MOLX $23.94 -0.29
Namilita NL $12.47 +0.54
Nicole E. NI $24.75 +0.44
Nicole M. COL $49.35 +1.06
Reagan REGN $114.22 -1.68
Ruby RJET $5.55 -0.30
Wilson WILC $4.41 -0.13
Winston ED $62.19 +0.69
Zero ZIP $11.73 +0.39
Zondro ZQK $2.33 -0.11
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June 28, 2012

Whoa

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 11:25

John Roberts just blew my mind.

June 27, 2012

FSX Third Quarter Changes

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 13:44

It’s that time again, FSXers; the last trading day of the quarter is this Friday, and change is in the air.  I was forced by the predations of private equity investing to make a move intra-quarter, swapping Justin out of WOLF and into SCI.  Justin also got married this quarter, very much apropos of the M&A madness swirling around his stock.  The WOLF/SCI swap prompted me to rethink other stocks in the Justiverse, and the spate of marriaging in general gave me occasion to reconsider others.  Then I had to review everything and everyone, because that’s how my brain works.  The results follow.

Up first are the locks, the stocks that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  There are nine locks: Brinkley (BCO), Katie (CATY), Lucas (LEI), Lulu (LULU), Marcus (MCS), Marisa (MOLX), Reagan (REGN), and Wilson (WILC).

Next are the stocks that are recent additions; I prefer to give a new addition time to grow on (or against) me, so these were all safe for Q3: Jenny (JNY), Jodi Ann (JOY), Justin (SCI), Lisa (LNCE), Mario the Elder (MGEE), Ruby (RJET), Winston (ED), Zero (ZIP), Zondro (ZQK).  Some of these will eventually move into the locks, and I’m already especially fond of JNY, JOY and LNCE.

The third group is safe for now, but definitely up for review for 2013.  Just four of these: Charlotte (ICE), Dustin (DST), Lee (MSTR), Namilita (NL).

That leaves the changes.

Change #1: Icarus.  I put Icarus in FLOW because it was WOLF in reverse—like Justin looking in a mirror.  That’s not the only reason FLOW worked for Icky, but it’s the reason I needed to look for the other reasons why it worked.  Plus it’s got a beta pushing 2; I prefer the FSX pets to be tamer than a 2.  So FLOW is out; in its place I’m trying an experiment.  I’m replacing FLOW with ICS, a closed-end fund that trades on the NYSE.  Closed-end funds are like mutual funds in that they are investment pools that offer share ownership to the public, but are unlike mutual funds in that they don’t redeem or issue shares on demand.  Closed-end funds issue a fixed number of shares which are then bought and sold on the open market, and thus can and do sell at a premium or discount to net asset value (mutual funds sell at NAV plus/minus load).  Much like ETFs and REITs, closed-end funds trade like equities…but they aren’t equities.  ICS is the ticker for the Invesco Insured California Municipal Securities fund, a bond fund with nearly 20 years of trading history; at a recent $15.25, it’s near the top of the 52-week range of $15.49 – $12.46.  ICS will allow me to add some bond market exposure to the FSX and to dabble in closed-end funds, all without disrupting my data-gathering and reporting procedures.  Also it’s like Justin (SCI) looking in a mirror.

Change #2: Nicole E.  This isn’t a change I needed to make, and NI has served the FSX well over the last two years.  But I’m making the change anyhow, because it’s less of a change than a restoration.  A few years ago I had Nicole in NICE (NICE Systems, a software and recording equipment provider), and I dropped it.  I don’t think I could have said why, but now I realize that she needed to get her E before NICE would fit right.  NICE has a market cap of $2.3 billion at the recent price of $36.50, and is nearer to its 2012 high just above $40 than the $27.17 low.

Change #3:  Nicole M.  This is a domino change, really; NI and COL came in together, so if NI falls, COL goes down with it.  I could ask Reagan for a recommendation; she loved the wedding last weekend and Nicole is moving up her list of favorite people in a hurry.  Alas, she’s in Hilton Head and I don’t call people except at great need, my daughters included.  If I had a good idea I could ignore the allure of synchronicity and simplicity.  But I don’t have a good idea, so I’m going with COLM, the ticker for Columbia Sportswear.  At $52, COLM has a $1.7 billion market cap and sits in the middle of its 52-week range of $66 – $41.  If it’s not ideal, it’s at least convenient; I know better than to look a gift COLM in the mouth.

Change #4:  Mario the Younger.  I can’t give Nicole a new ticker and leave Mario in musty old SUP; the first year of marriage is hard enough as it is.  I’m going with WMAR—broadcasting all Mario, all the time.  Katie tells me I have to say each letter; it’s W-M-A-R, not W-MAR.  WMAR isn’t actually a radio station; it’s the ticker for West Marine, a California company that makes boats and stuff for boats.  At $11, WMAR sports a $250 million cap and is closer to its 52-week high of $13.49 than the $6.97 low.

So that’s it.  ICS, NICE, COLM and WMAR will replace FLOW, NI, COL and SUP after the close on 6/29.  Thank you and have a nice day.

Can I Turn A Spider?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:15

I aim to find out.

A spider has set himself up in my office, building a web in the corner behind the door.  When I noticed him while cleaning this morning, my first thoughts were violent–this is an intolerable affront, it demands a swift and sweeping reprisal, and so on and so forth.  But there’s too much that doesn’t fit.  When the spiders were undertaking reconnaissance in force back in April and May, they were using hairy, black rearers; that wave of incursions stopped abruptly when I bleached up the front porch.  The chap in my office is a small, nondescript web-builder; he’s no kind of threat.  What’s even more peculiar is the location he’s chosen.  House spiders often (try to) build webs in the ceiling corners, as these are closer to flying insect prey and farther from disruptive human and animal traffic.  The chap in my office built in the floor corner.  It’s obvious I am meant to see him, but not to perceive his presence as a threat or a warning.  I can’t understand why the Dominion sent him here.

So maybe the Dominion didn’t send him at all.

Perhaps the political fissures opened by the 2010 Basement War haven’t been sealed so effectively as I’d believed.  Perhaps this spider in my office is an independent operator of some sort, the existence of which would, in itself, belie a dangerous lack of administrative cohesion in the Yard.  In any event, I mean to let him alone for now.  Maybe he can even catch the fruit fly that keeps landing on my monitor and activating the infernal touchscreen.

 

June 21, 2012

FSX Early Guest Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 20:26

I (Katie) am helping with this week’s Thursday FSX update since I’m on vacation today to get ready for tomorrow’s travels, and neither of us will be home tomorrow afternoon.

Lee:

Overall: no market reactions to narrow victory for pro-bailout party in Greek elections; markets flat through Wednesday; big selloff Thursday in reaction to underwhelming Fed policy extension, Dow down 250; new 2012 lows for crude oil.

Katie:

Overall, the market was boring. Not that it’s always boring. I would never think that. Or say that. I did enjoy the comparison of the CNBC ticker and the Bloomberg ticker Lee showed me this morning. I definitely prefer the look of CNBC’s, though I understand Lee’s anti-CNBC stance.

Lee:

FSX down 280 Thursday after being unch through first three days; decliners over advancers 17-to-8.

Katie:

Don’t you just love the abbreviation unch? It makes me smile.

Now on to the people (by Katie).

Advancers

  • Zero (ZIP) +11.2%. Zero’s so excited about coming here and going to the comic book convention for two key reasons, I think. One, he’s going to try the Quick Draw contest at the convention. Come on, Zero! It would be fun. (Unless you don’t want to do that on a year when I’m not there.) And two, I think he’ll enjoy staying here at our house and sleeping in a bed that doesn’t also have my children in it.
  • Justin (SCI) +2.8%.  New 52-week high. I guess Justin’s up because his Klout score is so much higher than mine. What’s up with that?
  • Ruby (RJET) +1.1%. Mom’s been looking forward to Mario’s wedding for so long. And she’s gotten super-skinny. And it’s finally here! And she’s finally there!
  • Reagan (REGN) +0.7%. Reagan’s started texting on her iPod. A lot. Let me know if you’d like her to text you. Because right now she only texts me and I don’t think I’m quite responsive enough for her. Also, she was excited about the trip to Philadelphia.

Decliners

  • Mario the Elder (MGEE) -2.4%. Dad was the lucky (or unlucky) one who just drove to Philadelphia with three kids. It may not have been fun.
  • Charlotte (ICE) -2.6%. What, Charlotte? This isn’t right. I know you’re happy to be travelling here. Maybe I bought you the wrong kind of hummus? Or maybe you’re sad the kids won’t be here, too. That sounds right.
  • Winston (ED) -2.9%. Time for Winston’s dog-moon!  He was hoping for something higher-end than a kennel.
  • Lisa (LNCE) -3.2%. Maybe Lisa’s jealous that dad took all the kids? I’m sure they can ride back with you if you’d like, Lisa!
  • Brinky (BCO) -4.4%. This better be wrong because I don’t want to see any indication that the flight tomorrow isn’t going to be super-easy. He’s up. He’s up and happy about travelling with me. But he will miss his daddy.
  • Nicole E. (NI) -5.0%. Are you sad to be missing the comic book convention, Nicole?
  • Mario the Younger (SUP) -5.1%. I think Mario’s just down today because he’s been working so hard – at work and on wedding preparation. He’ll go back up now that the time is here. And once I’ve arrived.
  • Katie (CATY) -5.8%. Our travelling will be fine. I swear it. It’s a short flight.
  • Marcus (MCS) -6.6%. I’m sorry, Marcus. Brinky did kind of eat one of the Nerf swords. But I swear it’s still usable. Don’t worry about it.
Name Ticker 6/21/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $21.34 -0.98
Charlotte ICE $131.32 -3.48
Dustin DST $53.05 +0.47
Icarus FLOW $2.76 -0.19
Jenny JNY $9.63 -0.11
Jodi Ann JOY $54.82 -0.92
Justin SCI $11.84 +0.32
Katie CATY $15.54 -0.95
Lee MSTR $124.60 +0.27
Lisa LNCE $24.73 -0.81
Lucas LEI $1.50 -0.11
Lulu LULU $63.20 +1.09
Marcus MCS $13.21 -0.94
Mario T.E. MGEE $46.10 -1.11
Mario T.Y. SUP $16.27 -0.87
Marisa MOLX $23.86 -0.86
Namilita NL $11.87 -0.55
Nicole E. NI $24.07 -1.27
Nicole L. COL $48.26 -0.81
Reagan REGN $114.66 +0.81
Ruby RJET $5.63 +0.06
Wilson WILC $4.51 -0.05
Winston ED $61.28 -1.82
Zero ZIP $11.25 +1.13
Zondro ZQK $2.50 +0.01

 

June 15, 2012

FSX Friday Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 17:26

The European Debt Crisis.  Humbug.  I don’t believe in it.  Call it the European Debt Problem and I’m with you.  But crisis?  No.  If you were calling it a crisis two years ago, and we’re in the same spot two years later, no better and no worse, you can’t credibly call it a crisis now.  In a crisis you have a short window of time in which to take action, and—this is critical—doing nothing will as decisive as doing something.  The Cuban Missile Crisis was a real crisis.  The leaders of the two superpowers had a few days to bluff and counter-bluff and nuclear war was at stake.  If the USSR tries to break the US blockade and deliver missiles to Cuba, the result is World War III; if they turn back, the war remains cold.  That’s a crisis: it’s happening, and it’s happening right now.  July 1914 was a crisis period, and three options were realistic: Austria backs down; Russia backs down; the Great War begins.  Of course you know which one happened.  More recently, there was a true financial crisis over the two days between the Lehman bankruptcy before the market open on Sep. 15, 2008 and the Treasury’s bailout of AIG after the close on Sep. 16.  The government allowed Lehman to fail and the credit markets froze, bringing the global economy to the brink; if the much-bigger AIG went under, we’d be back to the barter system by the end of the month.  That was a crisis.  I don’t know if the Greece/Spain/Italy mess will reach a point of crisis; I just know it hasn’t yet, two years of proclamations notwithstanding.

The Family Stock Index lagged the broader market by nearly 200 bps this week, dragged down by long-time leaders (REGN) and laggards (ZQK) alike.  The wedding of Mario the Younger and Nicole L. is just over a week away now, and the associated travel frenzy begins early next week.  On the heels of last week’s 500-point rally and considering how many balls we have in the collective air, a 0.5% loss and 12,446 closing level isn’t that bad.  You may remember how the FSX was carved for a 750-point loss in the week before the Justin-Nicole nuptials—the difference is clear, and I’m it.  Imagine if I were preparing to board one of those winged, steel suppositories to fly to Philadelphia; where would the FSX be today?  11,000?  11?

Also this week Reagan made me a Father’s Day/birthday Family Photo Album, albeit with no photos.

As you will see, it also doubles as a dire prophecy.

Advancers

  • Charlotte (ICE) +5.4%.  Since I promised to watch Inception with Charlotte her stock has soared 14%.  Jeez, Sis, if it was that important to you, you should have just said so.
  • Katie (CATY) +2.9%.  Something is coming; everyone can see it.

Lucky for Katie she’s quick on her feet; it’s all I can do to stop her from jogging everywhere and embarrassing the rest of us with her lightning speed.  Obviously she will simply sprint clear of danger.

  • Lee (MSTR) +0.9%.  I am pretty fast in a pinch, so I should be safe.  Assuming I don’t have to stop and fix my lipstick.

  • Mario the Elder (MGEE) +1.7%.  Can Mario T.E. get through one more week without giving away any of the wedding-related surprises?  The market says yes; his children say no.
  • Winston (ED) +1.4%.  Winston would rather be sent to a kennel than go to a wedding.  I feel you, Ed.

Decliners

  • Nicole L. (COL -2.5%).  Maybe Nicole has some pre-wedding jitters; it would be more worrisome, I think, if she didn’t.  It’s kind of a big deal.  I guess Mario’s just staying busy and keeping concern-free; he was unch on the week.  They should both definitely have pre-Brinky jitters, not that it will save them.
  • Brinky (BCO) -3.4%.  Brinky is sneaky-fast, but he also falls a lot.  His chances of getting away from whatever’s coming at us from the left aren’t terrific.

Someone will have to sacrifice him- or herself to buy Brinky the time he needs to make his getaway.

  • Jenny (JNY) -1.5%.  Maybe Jenny will volunteer; the market thinks Katie and I will be long-gone.

  • Zondro (ZQK) -9.1%.  Zondro’s not in the Family Photo Album.  There are two possible reasons: (1) he’s a dog, and a dog can’t technically be in a family of people, Justin; or (2) the monster already ate him.  The market is leaning toward reason #2.
  • Reagan (REGN) -12.2%.  If Reagan has to take the time to inexplicably misspell and then correct her own name, she’s a goner.

Name Ticker 6/15/2012 Change
Brinkley BCO $22.32 -0.78
Charlotte ICE $134.80 +6.91
Dustin DST $52.58 +0.24
Icarus FLOW $2.95 +0.05
Jenny JNY $9.74 -0.15
Jodi Ann JOY $55.74 -2.38
Justin SCI $11.52 +0.15
Katie CATY $16.49 +0.70
Lee MSTR $124.33 +2.17
Lisa LNCE $25.54 -0.26
Lucas LEI $1.61 +0.03
Lulu LULU $62.11 -2.66
Marcus MCS $14.15 +0.02
Mario T.E. MGEE $47.21 +0.77
Mario T.Y. SUP $17.14 unch
Marisa MOLX $24.72 +0.44
Namilita NL $12.42 -0.30
Nicole E. NI $25.34 +0.09
Nicole L. COL $49.07 -1.24
Reagan REGN $113.85 -15.77
Ruby RJET $5.57 +0.03
Wilson WILC $4.56 -0.01
Winston ED $63.10 +0.86
Zero ZIP $10.12 +0.02
Zondro ZQK $2.49 -0.25

 

June 14, 2012

Geography Jenny

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 12:18

We’ve been watching Euro 2012 this past week and Jenny is into it–not the watching, but the supporting.  She remembers who in the family picked which teams out of each group when we made picks two weeks ago–I don’t even remember which teams I picked.  This morning she was arguing with me about country size: Jenny was sure the U.S. is the biggest country (by area) in the world, and was surprised when I told her Russia is the biggest, and by a wide margin.  Surprised, but accepting.  What she didn’t accept is that Canada is bigger than the U.S. (it is); I told her the U.S. has a lot more people–like eight times as many–but less land.  Jenny said no.  So I asked her if she knows the most populous country in Europe (other than Russia, spanning as it does both Europe and Asia).

Jenny:  Is it one I would know?

Me:  Yes.

Jenny:  Um, is it one that’s in the tournament we’re watching?

Me:  Yes.

Jenny:  Which group are they in?

Me:  Um, what?

Jenny:  Which group?  A, B, C or D?

Me:  [needing to think about it] Group B.

Jenny:  Group of death; okay.  Is it Netherlands?

Me:  No, Netherlands is tiny.

Jenny:  Then Portugal.

Me:  Bigger; still small.

Jenny:  Denmark.

Me:  Smallest in the group, I think.

Jenny:  Oh, I’m missing the big one, right?  It’s Germany.

Me:  Yes.  Germany’s twice as big as the other three put together.

Jenny:  Okay.  Can I call Katelyn?

So I have two takeaways: first, I can’t believe she wouldn’t know Germany’s much bigger than the other three in Group B; and second, I can’t believe she knows which teams are in Group B.

 

Anti-Obama

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:26

I’ve turned against President Obama.  I’ve been coming to this point for at least two years, but it’s been in the last two weeks that I feel myself giving up on the man.  It happened when he slow-jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon.  There’s nothing wrong with him doing that, taken in isolation; I just can’t ignore the context anymore.  It’s the kind of thing you do when you’re a relative unknown, the 2012 version of then-governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton playing his sax on Arsenio.  It’s not the kind of thing you do when you’ve already been President for more than three years and don’t have a whole lot to show for it.  At this point, you have a résumé; if nothing else, you should have established a chief-executive identity that isn’t exactly the same as your campaign identity.  Obama hasn’t done that.  He knows what we want to hear—he always has—but I don’t believe he knows how to do what we need to have done.  Bill Clinton was a great politician, but he was also a very, very good chief executive.  Obama is only one of those things—you don’t need me to tell you which one.

And don’t talk to me about the Congressional Republicans.  Yes, they are terrible.  Boehner is clueless; Ryan is evil.  But Clinton faced a Republican Congress for most of his time in office; Reagan’s Congress was Democratic.  Yet both men managed to define and advance policies they considered important.  And remember, too, that Obama had a Democratic Congress for his first two years, albeit with the filibuster-happy Republicans in opposition in the Senate.  What’s his signature initiative?  An individual health-care insurance mandate that will—and should be—ruled unconstitutional.

So that means I’m voting for Romney.  Ha ha, no.  Romney is a Republican, and a corporatist Republican at that; I wouldn’t vote Republican for local water commissioner, let alone for President.  The last Republican Administration was corrupt and callously incompetent at all levels; on top of that, its leadership was stubborn and arrogant on the scale of Woodrow Wilson, refusing to consider reality in making the decisions that would shape it.  That’s how you decide to invade Iraq despite (1) no real justification and (2) no real plan beyond removing Saddam.  All the Bushies did in Iraq was prove all their critics right at a cost of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.  Then they blew up the budget with a trillion-dollar Medicare drug program and unprecedented tax cuts for the wealthy in a post-trickle-down global economy.  Then they neutered regulators and packed government agencies with incompetent cronies, allowing 1,000 people to die in New Orleans and too-big-to-fail banks to crash the economy.  Republicans in this state just wrote discrimination into the North Carolina constitution.  The Republican Party of 2012 is the Republican Party of 1929, plus the racism and social recidivism of the 1929 Democratic Party.  I won’t be voting for them.

I’ll vote for Obama; in fact, I’ll vote straight-ticket Democrat, because the Republicans are loathsome and the two-party system we have means a vote for a party other than Democrat is a Republican vote.  But dammit, Obama, can you give me one tangible reason why I should vote for you rather than against them?  Change is not a tangible reason; hope is not a tangible reason.  Change into what?  Hope for what?  Tell me what I can expect you to do, President Obama.  And it better be something other than slow-jamming the news.  Brian Williams is better than you, anyway.

June 12, 2012

Book War II – Second Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 08:36

Week 1 was a failure.  The first read-through of Chapter 1 was successful enough, but edits upon re-edits upon de-edits reduced the whole business to a slap-fight in a mud-hole before the end of the first day.  The worst part is that I didn’t even finish Chapter 1; the markup of my second draft has as many red lines and margin-NOs as the first draft markup.  I’m clearly going about this all the wrong way.  I’m waging a war of attrition; that worked for Book War I, when the sole objective was to finish the job.  The sheer size of the task was the threat; if I could prevent that from overwhelming me, I could win.   So I kept my head down, went chapter by chapter and week-to-week, and that was that.   Now I want to perfect what I finished before; victories don’t matter if they’re not comprehensive, and the details I must encompass are the greatest threat.  I have to take account of the details, manage them and integrate them, while preventing them from distracting and disorienting me.  I’ve done this three times before and I still don’t know how to do it, at least not reliably or systematically.

I’m not demoralized by last week’s results; I didn’t have a tactical plan, I knew as much, I said as much, and I was willing to go in without one anyhow.  I thought I could get my bearings and improvise the needed tactics–like I said, this isn’t my first time–but I wasn’t certain of it.  Thus failure is disappointing, but hardly devastating.  I have to keep things moving, make this a war of maneuver again.  So I’m adopting a new tactical framework:

  • First, I’m separating read-through/mark-up operations from edit/re-write operations, conceptually and physically.  I’ve set up a reading area in the master bedroom upstairs; when I read, I’ll have the printed copy of each chapter, my notepad, and my pens and pencils, but not the computer.  No computer means no temptation to mix read-through and re-write.  Each operation should be cleaner as a result.  I tried this yesterday and the early results are encouraging.
  • Second, I’m moving edit/re-write to the weekends.  Read-through during the week; re-write of all the week’s read-throughs on the weekend.  Furthermore, I will make the mark-up changes as mechanically as possible, relying on the quality of the read-through/mark-up to carry through.  My process will be as follows: read through a chapter, marking up the draft and making provisional rewrites in the margins; then, separately, make the changes to the Word document specified in the mark-up.  Last week I attempted a second, overlapping read-through while I was making the mark-up changes, and that was a disaster.  No more of that.
  • In addition, I’m bypassing Chapter 1.  I did the mark-up, but then I compromised it with a second mark-up overlapping the first.  I pulled enough from the read-through to move on, and that’s what I’m doing.  This will allow me to wrest back the initiative.

Yesterday went well enough; I’m moving to Chapter 3 today.

 

 

June 11, 2012

A Whole New World

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:45

That’s clearly nuclear birdseed Prince Ali is pouring into that basin there, but you get the sense that whatever this is that’s happening, it isn’t really about him.  Lois will keep raising the stakes, and Clark is going to have to explain himself, once and for all.  So he does.

Clark doesn’t want a pretty ditz, ladies; he wants the brains, the brawn, and the booty.  But like so many superpeople, he’s going to have to settle.

Or not.

 

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