It’s New England

2-0 Championship round, 6-4 Playoffs.

I am picking New England for the following reasons:

1) The winning streak. New England is mentally tougher than any other team I’ve seen.

2) The QBs. Advantage Brady.

3) Carolina’s game plan is solid, but has little margin for error.

4) Experience. The Patriots were champions two years ago. The Panthers were 1-15.

5) The wild card. Wild-card teams that make it to the Super Bowl seldom win.

And finally, the link between the Super Bowl and the performance of the stock market is unlikely to be a complete coincidence. Since I agree with the Elliott Wave theorists who argue that the stock market is primarily a measure of social mood, it is entirely possible for a superstition developed over 40 years to impact the mood of the relatively small number of individuals – all of whom are watching the Super Bowl – to affect the stock market. I wished I’d paid attention to the potential significance of Tampa’s win last year; because I do not see the markets rising to new heights, I expect to see an AFC win, ergo the Patriots.

Sure, it may sound absurd, but the fact that you can’t see the possibility links does not mean they’re not there.

Decisions, decisions

So the relative price of gold is at 1.065 times its 200-DMA, down from 1.161 only two weeks ago. It’s been a great run since the last buy point below 1.01: 25 percent for gold and 43 percent for silver in the last six months. The question is, are the Elliott Wave people correct in calculating a drop to sub-300 levels, or not. I’ve done nothing but lose by experimenting with their recommendations, which now expect an immediate short-term uptick followed by a continuing decline.

Now if they are right and there’s a move back up to the 1.15 level (around $432), I may make the tactical sale I missed two weeks ago when I wasn’t paying close attention. Lesson: always punch in the numbers every night! I discovered that my sell point had been hit two days late; not pleased with myself. If it doesn’t come, I’ll wait for the next buy point, which right now looks like $375, and look to ride that wave.

I wouldn’t short stocks now, the Fed being so desperate and irresponsible right now with M3 declining that I wouldn’t put anything past them, but I sure wouldn’t be hanging onto them either. The run since March has been great – another miss for me – but all things must come to an end. Take your money off the table and wait for the next opportunity to ride the wave.

Episcopal Republicans

From the Washington Times: “If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee to 500 Episcopalians meeting for the annual diocesan council at the Hyatt Regency in Reston. “For as a heretic, you are only guilty of a wrong opinion,” Bishop Lee said, quoting Presbyterian scholar James McCord. “As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time.” … However, there appeared to be pain on both sides of the theological divide yesterday afternoon as church conservatives and liberals hashed out resolutions ranging from blessing same-sex unions to condemning the pro-Robinson votes cast by diocesan representatives in Minneapolis. Final votes will be this morning. Many argued that church unity is more important than theological uniformity.

It sounds like homosexual Episcopalians and political-relativist Republicans are singing from the same choirbook. Why don’t they run off and form their own party… wait a minute, they’ve already got one. It’s called the Democratic Party.

Innocence of the Lamb

Henry Lamb writes on WND: The Patriot Act, the prescription drug program, the “guest worker” program, the so-called “free trade” programs and a half-trillion dollar deficit have left conservatives reeling, wondering why a Republican administration and Congress have produced results that look so much like what they would expect from a Democrat administration and Congress.Consequently, many, many Republicans have thrown up their hands and have decided to either join some doomed third-party movement or simply stay home. While this reaction may be understandable, it is not only self-defeating, it violates the first law of true believers: Never, never, never, never give up!

The point, Henry, is that we’re true conservative and libertarian believers, not true believers in George Delano or the Republican Party. A party is just a vehicle, and once it demonstrates a lack of commitment to its principles, it is dead. Politicians don’t think long term. The theory that governing like a Democrat will bring the party enough seats to override filibusters, at which point conservative small government will begin is a total mirage, a crack-pipe dream. Not a single mock-conservative leader has EVER promised this, it’s a fantasy scenario dreamed up by conservative political junkies who can’t face the reality that they’ve been betrayed… again.

Conservatives who truly believe that freedom is better than socialism, those who want freedom for their children rather than a world socialist government, will never, never, never, never give up. They will show up in November.

Not voting for a socialist in conservative’s clothing does not amount to giving up. Those with the courage to deal with reality and face the hard task of pushing the Sisyphean rock up the mountain again are the only ones showing a real dedication to the truth and to freedom. If Karl Rove and company are waking up to the fact that they’re cutting their own candidates throat, then let me tell them the only way that George Delano will be able to gain a modicum of my trust and get my vote:

1. Announce that he is ordering an audit of all Federal programs to conform with the Constitution. Those that don’t will be killed by executive order. Is this so outrageous for someone sworn to defend and uphold it?

2. Announce the immediate withdrawal of the United States from the UN and all other supranational organizations that in any way infringe on US national sovereignty, again by executive order.

3. Announce an in-depth, open-to-the-public investigation of the Constitutional legitimacy of the Federal income tax and the immediate suspension of all illegal and fraudulent activities of the IRS. There is no question, zero, that the IRS is a law-breaking fraud even if I’m wrong and the income tax passes legal and Constitutional muster with flying colors. He doesn’t even need an executive order for this one.

There is nothing preventing the president from doing these three things. If he does them, I’m willing to take the future on faith. But invading a few countries while ignoring the only one that attacked us and withdrawing from a protocol that the Europeans were never going to ratify hardly lends any credence to the notion that George Delano has a secret plan to save the Constitution by destroying it.

On a tangential note, mark that FDR invaded countries. LBJ invaded countries. George Bush I invaded countries. If you know anything about history, you don’t make a conservative argument for a president by pointing out that he successfully invaded other countries – Henry Lamb doesn’t argue this, of course, but it’s the only argument that many deluded conservatives who agree with Lamb are making.

UPDATE: Chuck Baldwin has a great column on George Delano and political-relativist conservatives, in which he charges conservatives with “willingly surrendering their independent thinking as well as their American heritage” and cites TR: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

Ha! I suspected as much

David Fleming writes: Wednesday was just as nuts. While we talked Smith unwrapped, plugged in and began practicing for a video-game showdown with Patriots Troy Brown that night. Smith usually plays another version of video football and so he was unfamiliar and clumsy at the controls of this game. After only a few moments, Smith and his video Panthers were trailing the Pats 14-0 and he was muttering to himself while frantically scanning the instructions for help before a knock at the door shook him out of his video coma.

I’m not surprised. Smith normally plays Maddens, I’ll bet, not GameDay. I only switched over during The Black Years, from 1996 to 1999 when Maddens hadn’t really gotten the hang of three-dimensional technology. But The Sports Guy’s description of the Super Bowl showdown made it pretty clear that the game was played on a Rookie level, or level two at most, and playing run, run, run the ball is indicative of a player who isn’t much of an expert.

Yes, this in-depth analysis of events of earth-shaking proportions can only be found here, gentle reader. You know, it occurs to me that since Maddens probably outsells Michael Jackson by 20 to 1 these days, maybe I should devote every other column to Maddens minutiae. “Going For it on 4th and Inches”, “Jam and the Eight-Yard Out”, and “First Down, Lifetime to Go”.

Trivia question: what song should one of the above titles bring to mind without looking anything up? And I’m not talking about Attenchun! either.

Mogambo on job re-training

The inimitable Mogambo Guru writes: So that brings me back to the original question, which is; what is this magical education and re-training that is supposed to alleviate our plight? Nobody ever says. Even Alan Greenspan is sure that jobs will be created in the future, but he can’t think of what they could be. Well, most of you came here today to hear what I have to say about the Bush plan to allow you to get a tax credit for health insurance. My initial response: Wow! It is the kind of irresponsible two-fisted giveaway that I laughingly suggested, in a previous MoGu, that they do. I never actually thought they would do it!

Under the old plan, which is the current plan, you get to deduct your health insurance premiums from income. As an aside, it looks like the premiums are 100% deductible this year, which means you don’t pay tax on the money you spent. You still pay the damn premiums, of course, it is just that you don’t pay income tax on it, too. Example; if you pay six grand year for health insurance, you do not pay tax on the money. Total out-of-pocket: $6,000. Last year, for you historians out there, you got to deduct only half the premiums from income, and you paid income tax on the rest. Total out-of-pocket last year; the $6,000 in premiums, and, at a 25% tax rate, another $750 in income taxes on the other $3,000, for a total of $6,750.

The new plan, the Bush plan, the tax credit plan, is better yet. The new example works like this: if you pay six grand a year for health insurance, you get back the money (currently estimated to be a maximum of $3,000) by claiming a tax credit! This tax credit section is at the end of the 1040 Income Tax Return, not the beginning! This is a big difference! So, the credit comes AFTER you have figured out how much tax you owe, and you deduct your premiums from that figure! Wow!

So, the example is now; total premiums are $6,000 per year. Total-out-of-pocket: $3,000, thanks to a $3,000 tax credit. Of course, this assumes that you have $3,000 of taxes due. If you don’t, then you are a piece of trash, and you don’t get the full deduction, and why should I care about you, you pathetic loser? And as the benefit gradually escalates through the coming years, because dispensing higher and higher government benefits is what the government sees at its duty nowadays, (“Working for America by bankrupting us all through the wonders of communism and re-distribution of income!”) it will surely go to a 100% credit, which is, at the bottom line, free health insurance! You pay the premiums, and when you file your taxes, you get it all back!

So perhaps this answers my original question: What are these jobs that we are supposed to re-train to do? Health care workers and income tax form filler-outers.

Alternatively, there’s always the option of moving to India. There are some ominous signs out there. I spoke with a former employee of mine two days ago, someone who used to make $45,000 a year + bonuses to create 3D game art. He wasn’t a star, but he was a solid, dependable guy with a very marketable skill. After we closed shop following the simultaneous failure of our two publishers – both software giants – he went from full-time employment to contract work paying $30/hour, then $19/hour, and now there’s not enough work to be had so he’s working night shift security. He’s not complaining, just doing what needs to be done, but I see his situation as anecdotal evidence that even highly trained professional computer jobs are not coming back, regardless of what the rosy-spectacled stock market watchers argue.

At least Stuttaford remains sane

Andrew Stuttaford preserves the conservative flame at NRO thusly: Catching up after a trip to yet another undisclosed location… More cash for the NEA? Good grief. Everytime you think that it’s impossible for George W Bush to spring another rat from his hat, he goes and does it again, but, to take some recent instances, what else can you expect from a president who signs laws he believes to be unconstitutional, proposes a vast guestworker program in the middle of difficult times for blue collar America, recruits Jules Verne as a science advisor, squanders a SOTU driveling on about steroids, and as for the budget… As one seems to be saying more and more these days: thanks for nothing, Mr. President.

There is, of course, the notion that the president is simply acting this way to save the economy through Keynesian spending injections. It won’t work, of course, but it would explain his apparent desperation to spend money on anything and everything. M3 has been dropping despite rock-bottom interest rates and the printing presses working in overdrive, which, as economic historians know, is a Very Bad Sign.

SFWA alert

From the SFWA Board of Directors: SFWA has received the following alert from the Romance Writers of America, which they have distributed to their membership. Note that while the warning from RWA only refers to “at least one agency”, members of SFWA have heard unconfirmed reports that some other agencies may also now be attempting to insert this same type of clause into their clients’ book contracts.The lesson is clear: no matter who your agent is, check your contracts before signing.

Following is the text of the RWA alert: “RWA has recently learned that at least one major literary agency has inserted in publisher/author contracts negotiated by the agency a clause which we feel could be detrimental to authors. This clause is a deviation from agency norms. It appoints the agency “as the author’s sole and exclusive agent with respect to the work for the life of the copyright (and all renewals and extensions thereof) and authorizes and directs the publisher to make all payments due or to become due to the author.”It additionally states that as sole and exclusive agent, the agent is “hereby irrevocably authorized and empowered by the author to act on the author’s behalf in all matters arising from and pertaining to this agreement . . .”

Traditionally, this clause has appointed agencies/agent as the sole and exclusive agent for the life of the agreement, not the life of the copyright. What does it mean to the author? It means that even if you leave that particular agent, and the rights to your book revert back to you from the publisher, you will still be obligated to pay that agent a commission for as long as the copyright lasts (copyright of a work generally lasts for the life of the author plus an additional seventy years). This includes foreign sales, movie sales, or resale of the book, even if the agency does nothing to cause that sale. It could mean you will be paying two agency commissions, which could amount to thirty percent or more. This also would apply to the author’s heirs. We have been informed that this clause is being inserted into some contracts without notification to the authors with whom the agency has established fiduciary relationships. This situation highlights just how important it is for authors to scrutinize their contracts, particularly the agency clauses.

I never recommend starting out with a literary agent. I’ve successfully negotiated better deals, much faster, than when I mistakenly used an agent simply because everyone else does. They don’t have anywhere near the influence with publishers that they claim they do, they pump up expectations before getting a signature, then immediately begin trying to reduce them. They may have been useful once; they are a detriment to the author who takes the time to learn what he is doing.

I was briefly represented by an agency that is tops in its genre. They’re good people, but they were unable to bring me a single offer of a book contract. Since then, working on my own, I’ve gotten three, plus unsolicited interest from other publishers. Depending on the performance of others for your success almost always leads to massive disappointment.

Thus spake the Original Cyberpunk

The OC poses Seven Questions: A Mid-term Report Card. A tidbit: Bush started down the right path when he began to publicly question whether it served American interests to continue to prop up the U.N. and whether the Islamic world was capable of supporting sane governments. Then he punked out; maybe the Saudis yanked his chain. In any event he made a good start and then slacked off mid-term, so I’d like to encourage him to find a way recover his earlier energy and complete the changes he began with such promise.

Go read it.

UPDATE: This was just too funny not to pass on. I was exchanging email with the Original Cyberpunk; the exchange went as follows:

VD: Let’s have lunch…. I’ll give you a ring.

OC: Thanks, but if you’re keeping the one to rule them all, forget it.

Skaggy and the Ho

From the Washington Times: President Bush’s budget next week will show the new prescription drug program costs $540 billion over 10 years, more than one-third higher than the $400 billion estimate Congress used in passing the bill in November. “That really is a shocker,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the budget watchdog Concord Coalition. “It’s a huge change. If a number like this had been floating around the Capitol last fall, it never would have passed.”

I’m shocked, shocked! Anyone want to take me up on a bet that after ten years of this program, the cost will be shown to have been 1.5 trillion? Let me see if I can put this in terms that the lowest common denominator – otherwise known as Teenage and Would-be Teenage America – can understand.

Democrats are like Christina Aguilera, aka Skaguilera. They’re sluts who do it because they like to. Republicans are like Britney Spears. They’re a little prettier, but they’re whores who do it in order to sell records/win elections. The Dirty Girl Theory of politics.