Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold

Watching the slow-motion train wreck of an economic system collapse unfold
click pic to reminisce

Been A Long Cold Lonely Winter  

Posted by howard in nyc in , , , ,


Glad it is springtime, and that baseball is back.  I've been away from the blog due to some personal setbacks and a difficult illness (nothing life-threatening, but sucks nonetheless.)  Plus, the disconnect between how I see the world, the way our nation is going, and the fictions that most people embrace, as offered by our media and our alleged leaders has worn me down.  I am tired of hearing/writing my own opinions and ideas, and don't feel much like bothering.

Reality will eventually reassert itself.  Part of me wants it to hurry, part of me fears that day.

But things are bad.  War, racism, economic manipulation and oppression, poisoned air, food, water and medications.  I still watch and read, particularly events in the Ukraine, but I have less and less to say.

So, sports.  On to Baseball season, and Giants Tickets.  In the post below.  

Giants Tix April 2015  

Posted by howard in nyc in , ,


This winning World Series thing is kinda nice.  Sure, it is the journey of a six month season that is the great pleasure beginning each spring, but these shorter October journeys are pretty good too.

Same story as prior years.  I will put the tickets up one month at a time, since my travel plans are usually last minute, and I like to use the seats when I am visiting Cali. so around the last week of each month I will post available dates for the following month.

Tickets can be transferred electronically, instantly and securely, via the giants' web site. you can pay me with Paypal, (even though i hate those fuckers i don't have an alternative set up) or if we have done business before, just send me a check.

The Giants really jacked up the prices this season.  I don't blame them, the increases have been quite modest over the years.  You win, you get to charge more.  They use differential pricing, so I will list the literal face value for each date. Face value is typically $70 or $91 for weekend and day games,  other games $56 or $35.  I'll cite the face value, but the price is always negotiable, up as well as down.

Shoot me an email anytime, or comment on the blog.

Here are the April dates.  I'll try to keep the site updated.

Mon 4/13 1:35 PM Rockies Sold Stubhub
Tue 4/14 7:15 PM Rockies Sold Stubhub
Wed 4/15 7:15 PM Rockies Sold Stubhub
Thu 4/16 7:15 PM D-Backs Sold Stubhub
Fri 4/17 7:15 PM D-Backs Sold Stubhub
Sat 4/18 6:05 PM D-Backs
Sold Stubhub
Sun 4/19 1:05 PM D-Backs
Sold Stubhub
Tue 4/21 7:15 PM Dodgers Sold Stubhub
Wed 4/22 7:15 PM Dodgers Sold Stubhub
Thu 4/23 12:45 PM Dodgers Sold Stubhub

Fri 5/1 7:15 PM Angels $56
Sat 5/1 1:05 PM Angels

Sold Stubhub 
Sun 5/3 1:05 PM Angels                        Sold Stubhub
 Mon 5/4 7:15 PM Padres Sold Stubhub
Tue 5/5 7:15 PM Padres Sold Stubhub
Wed 5/6 12:45 PM Padres Sold SanCarlos Kid
Thu 5/7 7:15 PM Marlins Sold Todd
Fri 5/8 7:15 PM Marlins Sold Stubhub
Sat 5/9 6:05 PM Marlins Sold Stubhub
Sun 5/10 1:05 PM Marlins Sold Todd
Tue 5/19 7:15 PM Dodgers Sold Stubhub
Wed 5/20 7:15 PM Dodgers Sold Stubhub
Thu 5/21 12:45 PM Dodgers Sold Stubhub
Thu 5/28 7:15 PM Braves $56
Fri 5/29 7:15 PM Braves $56
Sat 5/30 7:05 PM Braves Sold Marv
Sun5/31 1:05 PM Braves $70


Posted by howard in nyc


Well, three cases now.  The New York Times had assured us as recently as Tuesday that experts state the chances of ebola reaching the US were extremely small.  (That statement has been removed from the NYT website.)

I am anticipating tons of misinformation, for the most part unintentional, on both the overly 'no big deal' and the 'time to freak the fuck out' ends of the spectrum.  I have no idea which end is the correct choice at this time.

The dynamics of such an infectious pandemic are beyond my experience and understanding.  For the AIDS, I had a front row seat and I know that one, but that was a very different ballgame (much more difficult to transmit, incubation period of years.)  But I'm learning as fast as I can.

I have no idea if the approach of isolation, symptomatic and supportive treatment, and allowing the spread to burn itself out is worthy of confidence or of panic.  I am not clear on the ease or difficulty of transmissibility (considering some workers in full hazmat gear have been infected.) I do not understand the dynamics of spread in a large, dense city like Dallas or DC as opposed to the villages and modest urban areas of West Africa.  I have no idea if the CDC is doing a fantastic job, or are a bunch of bumbling happytalk fools dooming us to a mass death episode (or if their efforts are largely irrelevant.)

The fact that while China and Cuba sent hundreds of doctors to West Africa to work to stop this pandemic, while our government sent thousands of soldiers doesn't fill me with hope.  Seems representative of our general mindset.

Regardless of the actual threat level, I anticipate a rapid swing from too-calm complacency to full-on freak out, complete with militarized trampling of laws and freedoms in the interest of public health.  (Again, I have no idea if such a freak-out is right or wrong, warranted or not.)  Already in Dallas the finger-pointing wrt discharging the patient from the hospital, and authorities not allowing a cleanup crew to properly dispose of contaminated materials are signs of freak out.

I bet we in the developed world will have our own behavioral answers to the irrational violence directed against aid workers and hospitals in Senegal and Liberia seen in the past weeks.  Same level of irrationality, different flavor of expression is my guess.

That we as a society, and our governing authorities, are going to act stupid is a pretty easy and safe guess.  Now the tough guess--how bad is this gonna get?  With minimal information, knowledge about such things nor experience, I'll wild-ass it that it will be scary but not too bad, a few hundred deaths before burning out.  And the resultant panic will have significant economic and other societal bad effects, but will be blamed for much much more should this pandemic coincide with the next phase of financial panic and collapse.

October 2014 Final Jeopardy! Challenge  

Posted by howard in nyc


It's back.  Popular demand (one guy on the sportsfrog asked for it.)

Tiebreaker #1:

A river is named for this man born in Scotland in 1764, the first European known to have crossed Canada

Answer:  Who is Alexander Mackenzie? 

Tiebreaker #2

Meaning "not working properly", it may date back to a character in the comic strip "The Katzenjammer Kids"

Answer:  What is 'on the fritz'?

Friday 10/24
Clue:  Although she has appeared in only 2 Broadway musicals, she got Tony nominations for both, for 1962 & 1964

Answer:  Who is Barbra Streisand    ?

Monday 10/27
Category:  Rock and Roll
Clue:  A restaurant chain took its name from a British band's fourth chart-topper, this 1967 song.

Answer:  What is Ruby Tuesday    ?

Tuesday 10/28
Category:  The Bible
Clue:  The first conversation recounted in The Bible is in Genesis 3, between these two; it leads to trouble

Answer:  Who are Eve and the serpent    ?  Satan is also acceptable.

Wednesday 10/29
Category:   American-born authors
Clue:   In 1915 his reasons for naturalization included "having lived and worked in England for the best part of forty years"

Answer:  Who was Henry James    ?

Thursday 10/30
Category:   Monarchs of England
Clue:   The fifth king & the eighth king of this name share the distinction of both having been proclaimed king but never crowned

Answer:  What is Edward  ?

Friday 10/31
Category:  Inventions
Clue:  This machine was invented in 1929; the govt. began buying them to help prevent any more in a series of Army Air Corps fatalities

Answer:  What is the flight simulator    ?


Wednesday 10/1
Category:  U.S. CITY FIRSTS
Clue: Among its firsts are underwater auto tunnel to a foreign country & corporation to net more than $1 billion in a single year

Answer:  Where is Detroit    ?

Thursday 10/2
Category:  2014 Newsmakers
Clue: Both making news in June, these 2 Davids with similar last names are LeBron's new coach & Eric Cantor's conqueror

Answer:  Who are David Blatt and David Brat   ?

Friday 10/3
Category:  TV in the 2000s
Clue:  A key scene of this sitcom's 2014 finale after 9 seasons was actually filmed in season 2

Answer:  What is How I Met Your Mother    ?

Monday 10/6
Category:  Music
Clue:  John Williams said his music for this event, not a film, tried to capture "the spirit of cooperation, of heroic achievement"

Answer:  What were the Games of the XXIII Olympiad, in Los Angeles, California? (I usually get the right answer for things in history which I was there)

What was the Olympics? is sufficient.

Tuesday 10/7
Category:   Fauxbituaries
Clue:   He received a real obituary in The Albuquerque Journal in 2013 noting his "long battle with lung cancer"

Answer:  Who was Walter White    ?  Breaking Bad character.  Guess he got what he deserved.

Wednesday 10/8
Category:  Novel Title Characters
Clue:  "His madness being stronger than any other faculty",  he "resolved to have himself dubbed a knight by the first person he met"

Answer:  Who is Don Quixote    ?

Thursday 10/9
Category:   Historical Figures
Clue:   A 2012 poll by Britain's National Army Museum voted this man, born in 1732, as the nation's greatest military enemy

Answer:  Who was George Washington    ?

Friday 10/10
Category:   Countries of the world
Clue:  It became a colony of the U.S. in 1898, a commonwealth in 1935 & an independent country in 1946

Answer:  Where are The Philippines    ?

Monday 10/13
Category:  Sports Figures
Clue:  He was featured on the September 22, 1947 cover of TIME, with the caption "He and the boss took a chance"

Answer:  Who was Jack Roosevelt Robinson    ?

Tuesday 10/14
Category:  Business
Clue: Today this company markets more than 100 times the number of products found in a slogan it used in 1896

Answer:  What is Heinz    ?  ("57 Varieties")

Wednesday 10/15
Category:  Wordplay
Clue:  Subtract a letter from the name of a keystroke found in computer commands & you get this violent reaction to social change

Answer:  What is 'backlash'    ?

Thursday 10/16
Category:  Literature
Clue:   This title 1864 adventure is embarked upon by a descent into Iceland's Mount Sneffels

Answer:  What is "Journey to the Center of the Earth"    ?

Friday 10/17
Category:   Coats of Arms
Clue:   This country's coat of arms features a palm tree & a 19th century American sailing ship
Answer:  Where is Liberia    ?

Monday 10/20
Category:  Literature
Clue:  A chapter heading in this 19th century work calls the title character "One-eyed, Lame" another calls him "deaf"

Answer:  What is The Hunchback of Notre Dame    ?

Tuesday 10/21
Category:  18th Century
Clue:  Losses in this event included 12 chests of souchong

Answer:  What was the Boston Tea Party    ?

Wednesday 10/22
Category:  Eponymous Geography

Clue:  Named around 1616, it's the world's fifth-largest island & the largest named after a person

Answer:  Where is Baffin Island    ?  Really, where the fuck is it?

Thursday 10/23
Category: French Food History
Clue:  A popular product was born when Jean Naigeon of this city substituted the juice of unripe grapes for vinegar

Answer:  Where is Dijon    ?

Transparent Bullshit  

Posted by howard in nyc in ,


Obama renews overt military attacks in Iraq, extending them to Syria, to counter the newest threat to our security, ISIL.  Bullshit.

This will be used to relaunch regime change in Damascus.  US bombs will fall on Assad's forces, and the US will now, finally, overtly try to destroy his rule.  I think this is Obama's idea of being clever--under the cover of the latest escalation against Terrorism, fool us all by actually waging war on Damascus.  What Russia does in response (if anything) will be quite interesting.  How this blows back, on Israel or otherwise, will also be interesting.

The  ceasefire in Ukraine has lasted longer than I expected, but it was never widespread or comprehensive.  While most of the fighting did stop, and the lack of killing over the past week is welcome, battles continued and shelling of civilian residential districts in Donesk killed dozens.  The ceasefire, to a significant degree, is bullshit.

During this respite, the Kiev forces are concentrating, reorganizing and rearming.  I expect they will launch significant attacks very soon, trying to secure some military victories before winter comes.  This is a guess--there are so many factors in play.  I also assume such a possibility is in the forefront of planning by the Novorussia military.  As well as in the plans of Putin and Russia, in their defense against the continued advances of NATO/EU/USA in Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

Amid all the propaganda and lies, attempting to discern the internal politics of Kiev and of Russia is particularly challenging.  The role of wealthy oligarchs in both capitals is particularly opaque.  While the Kiev regime was installed by the US and the EU, the degree to which the Western powers are pulling the strings day to day may have significantly decreased, given the military failure and the US 'pivot' to Syria.  Or not, and the next round of military violence visited upon the Donbass in the East may be specifically directed by Washington.

When the fighting renews, I anticipate Russia will respond in kind, as they did this spring and summer.  The latest round of mindless sanctions against Russia will again damage European economies much more than the target, both directly and with the inevitable Russian retaliatory sanctions.

There are big forces in the American power structure that promote these moves toward more and more war.  The fact that the economy is dead and not getting better cries out for major war to distract us from the harsh reality.  The dogma of so many of those in power (including in Jerusalem) that any chaos in the Arab world is a positive factor drives many of these policy 'failures'.  The factions in the Arab world allied with Washington (Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular) who have interests not aligned with American security much less with peace.

Yeah, attempting to discern the internal politics of Washington, New York, London and Jerusalem ain't exactly simple either.  Not all bullshit is transparent.

World War III Ain't Gonna Start Itself  

Posted by howard in nyc in , ,


The madness of the West's (USA, EU, NATO, Germany) attempt to tiptoe into Ukrainia is turning out not so much as the Obama State Department (and affiliated secret services) planned.  Such big brains and wise knowledgeable souls, too.  Shame they didn't foresee that Putin and the actual 'folks' who live in Eastern Ukraine didn't just say 'OK' when a democratically elected government was brutally overthrown, admittedly with intense involvement of the US, led by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria 'fuck the EU' Nuland, and all the atrocities of the subsequent civil war, fueled and funded by US dollars, weaponry and policies.

This historic episode, unfolding since the start of this year, has been fantastic and surreal.  I am especially struck by three aspects--the increased level of raw lies and misinformation being relentlessly spewed by our government; secondly the astounding success of the Eastern Ukrainian people in winning this civil war (it ain't over yet, but the fat lady is warming up); finally, Putin's actions which have seriously reduced the risk of WW3, while at the same time securing the best interests of his nation using minimal military force and maximal diplomatic efforts.

I have not written much on this topic, but it is far more important than other current events.  ISIS in Syria/Iraq, Israel-Hamas, Ferguson, Mo are all repetition of well-established behaviors.  The clash of Russia and The West, this round at least, is novel, and has not been this hot and dangerous for decades.  One reason I have not written much is that the narrative of the USG and the media is so 180˚ from reality, and that false narrative is so widely accepted.  I can climb that steep hill in my own mind easily (a lifetime of practice) and in face to face discussions with friends, but not so much on a humble, little-read blog.

I tried to write a summary of events of the past eight months, but I just don't have the heart.  Instead, an extremely brief synopsis.

The US/NATO/EU actively overthrew the democratically elected, Russian leaning leader and government of the Ukraine in February. The US supported and financed, to the tune of ~$5 billion the junta that overthrew a democratically elected, Russian-leaning government.  This government was corrupt, but not particularly compared to prior Russian-leaning or West-leaning governments.  The rebellion followed the unacceptable rejection of a free-trade agreement with the EU.  (Funny, people don't generally turn out on the streets to demand regime change over trade agreements--not exactly the emotional hot button that fuels revolution.)  Without overt US prodding and support, there is no regime change--this is not a matter of opinion.

Nuland video:

They installed a hand-picked junta, which immediately passed laws restricting ethnic/cultural Russian Ukraine citizens in the eastern part of the country from basic rights of citizenship.  Not long afterward, people in two eastern provinces voted to secede, and Kiev launched a civil war to prevent their secession.

In response to the US coup d'etat in Kiev, Putin snatched the Crimean Peninsula, an essential piece of territory if you have a big navy.  It was far less of a snatch than portrayed by the US, as Russia had a long-term lease on naval bases there, the population is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking and otherwise ethnically/culturally, the new government in Kiev quickly passed laws outlawing the speaking of the Russian language and other stupid discriminatory laws, and the people of the Crimea overwhelmingly voted to secede, and to join the Russian Federation.

Obama and the West did not like this.  The leveled economic sanctions against Russia, and sent money and arms to Kiev to push the civil war.

The US loves elections, except when they don't.  Twice this spring in Ukrainia, the USG declared elections they did not like as invalid.  The second time, in Crimea, they couldn't do shit about it.  So they declared sanctions, the next best thing to doing nothing (but running their mouth.)

The civil war quickly became an exercise in ethnic cleansing, by the Kiev junta, with full matériel support and probable operational support of the USA, NATO and the EU.  But instead of a quick victory (as promised by Kiev,) the war bogged down.

The Kiev junta (and their west backers) have screamed and screeched repeatedly blatant large lies that Russia was 1) invading; 2) massing troops on the border getting ready to invade; 3) was directly responsible for the civil war (conveniently ignoring the direct responsibility of the USA for the civil war and the whole mess; 4) frequent outrageous specific lies regarding destroyed invading Russian armored columns, but providing zero evidence, just replacing the lie of the day with a new lie.

Then, someone shot down a civilian airplane, murdering 300 people.  Russia was immediately blamed, Putin anointed the next Hitler, and more sanctions leveled.

Funny thing, since that airliner was destroyed nearly two months ago.  There has been no large scale Russian invasion--only support on the same covert level as that of the West.  The actual culprit in the airline murder is likely the Kiev government.  Yet, no info from the black boxes, from satellite surveillance, from examination of the wreckage has been produced.  You can be sure were there proof of Russian or rebel blame, it would be all over the tv.  But, crickets.

Another funny thing.  The rag-tag rebels have been winning the civil war.  Despite weekly pronouncements (ie lies) that the rebels are being crushed, on the verge of defeat by the junta forces, the rebels are kicking ass and establishing their freedom from Kiev.  And while Putin is certainly providing some level of materiel support, just as is NATO and the USA, this is a rebel thing.  Putin's overt actions are sending food, water and generators into the war zone.  And advocating peace and negotiation.

I could go on and on.  I am distressed because the Kiev junta has murderously bombed the urban centers of the rebel territory relentlessly for weeks now.  As their defeat materializes, they increase the bombing.  Murdering their own citizens, with the full support of the US/NATO.  As they scream 'it's all Putin's fault--the Russians are coming'.

The lies and propaganda are distressing enough.  The mass bombing and murder of civilians, women and children, which dwarfs that happening simultaneously in Gaza, to the silence of the western media saddens me deeply.  Particularly because Obama and the west could stop the madness at any time.

But, there are fish to be fried.  The motives of the US were 1) NATO expansion, including military presence in Ukrainia, on Russia's doorstep, in violation of prior US promises across several administrations; 2) economic rape of the Ukrainian natural resources and assets, primarily fossil fuel, pipelines for fossil fuels, and vast agricultural lands; 3) retribution against Putin for his involvement in Syria, for Edward Snowden, and for his repeated making Obama look like the fool he is.

 As usual, oil/gas/pipelines underlie the whole murderous mess.  Mass civilian bombings, war fever, slav killing slav while the west prompts their proxies to kill some more.  And, ignominious defeat looms, with likely dismemberment of Ukrainia.

That is if we are lucky.  World wars start amid such instability and active stupidity/propaganda/casual mass murder/bullshit rhetoric from political leaders.  False accusations of invasion and shooting down airliners (passenger ships/the USS Maine) are lifted straight from our history books.

If only the USA would mind it's own fucking business, there would be a hell of a lot less killing and war.  But, not much profit nor political power in that.

August-September Tickets  

Posted by howard in nyc in


Last six weeks of the season, they have a shot.  They aren't playing like contenders, but they are showing signs of life.

I thought I would be using the end of August tickets, but stupid work.  So, up for grabs.

Tickets can be transferred electronically, instantly and securely, via the giants' web site. you can pay me with Paypal, (even though i hate those fuckers i don't have an alternative set up) or if we have done business before, just send me a check.

The giants use differential pricing, so I will list the literal face value for each date. Face value varies between $37 and $87. Price is always negotiable, up as well as down.

Here are the open dates for the end of the season.  shoot me an email anytime, or comment here on the blog.

Mon 8/25 SOLD stubhub
Rockies 7:15

Tue 8/26  SOLD
Rockies 7:15 

Wed 8/27 SOLD Todd
Rockies 7:15

Thurs 8/28 SOLD
Rockies  12:45

Fri 8/29
Brewers 7:15pm

Sat 8/30 SOLD Marv
Brewers 1:05pm

Sun 8/31 SOLD Dayna
Brewers 1:05pm 

Tue  9/9
 DBacks 7:15

Wed  9/10
 DBacks 7:15

 Thu  9/11SOLD eddie
 DBacks 12:45

Fri  9/12 SOLD Todd
Dodgers 7:15

Sat  9/13 SOLD Steve M.
 Dodgers 6:05

Sun  9/14 SOLD Dayna
 Dodgers 1:05

Thu  9/25
Padres 7:15

Fri  9/26
Pads 7:15

Sat  9/27 SOLD Todd
Pads 1:05

Sun  9/28 SOLD eddie