You might have heard the brouhaha about CNN’s Howard Kurtz and his handling of the Jason Collins story, the supposed first major sports figure who came out publicly as gay. This is the seven minute segment where Kurtz sets up how he botched the story and gets grilled by two other journalists.
Why is this a turning point? Because in a day when any of us who blog, are on social media or are otherwise connected online we can comment and bring forth a shitstorm of opinion. By doing what Kurtz did this is the only way he could potentially save his career, maintain credibility at CNN itself, defuse the irony that he runs a show where he analyzes the American news media called “Reliable Sources,” and to do the right thing. Give it a watch:
While many of you are outraged over anything that might control guns in the United States—and anger over criminal behaviors like the Boston bombing, armed robberies and physical crimes—hardly anyone is getting mad over the global financial industries who are rigging the game against ALL OF US.
I know most people don’t read the newspaper, watch TV news or read more than a headline or couple of paragraphs in an article. Maybe that’s why there is no outrage. Or perhaps it’s just a bit too complex for Joe SixPack to grasp. My gut tells me that people not paying attention is why the global financial industry is getting away with rigging the financial game while the masses get all pissed off about Obama, gun control, the Boston bombing or other things that distract us from paying attention to the real crimes.
Just over one year ago the Libor scandal broke. Turns out traders were in direct communication with bankers before the rates were set, thus allowing them an advantage in predicting that day’s fixing. According to this article at Wikipedia (my emphasis), “Libor underpins approximately $350 trillion in derivatives. One trader’s messages indicated that for each basis point (0.01%) that Libor was moved, those involved could net “about a couple of million dollars”.”
Now comes this article by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and still there is no outrage: “Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There’s no price the big banks can’t fix.”
Taibbi points out how huge scandal #2 is as he describes the manipulation of interest-rate swaps (again, my emphasis), “Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.” Now the banks are manipulating THAT market too. (Sigh…)
We all know the ‘players’ in the stock market have enormous advantages. In Las Vegas I don’t mind 1-2 percentage points going to the ‘house’, but when my 401K, home value and business revenue drops like a rock because the big banks, hedge funds and brokerage houses are rigging the game, you bet I’m pissed.
If you do nothing else, read Taibbi’s article and think about it. If you start to feel anger welling up inside of you, go and read a few of Taibbi’s blog posts and other articles here. He’s one of the few consistent voices who call out the financial industry’s hucksterism. Taibbi wonders out loud why, for example, NO banker has had so much as a token fine or any jail time after the biggest fraud perpetrated on the global financial system in history that caused the 2008 crash.
What if reducing our dependence on foreign oil wasn’t just about renewable and alternative energy sources—wind, solar, battery-powered electric vehicles—but also meant harvesting our own fossil fuel sources here at home?
N.D. oil is more plentiful than previously thought in this morning’s Minneapolis StarTribune also pointed out that, “The government has sharply increased its estimate, and some think it is still too conservative.” Though the U.S. Geological Survey estimates 7.5 billion barrels, “Continental Resources, the largest acreage-holder in the North Dakota oil patch, estimated in December that the basin contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 4 billion barrels of liquid natural gas.”
Wow. That’s a lot of energy. There is no question that there is a huge oil boom in that region of the country and my family is benefiting from it, even though my own personal focus is on being ‘green’ and finding ways to optimize my own energy use.
As a young man my maternal grandfather and his pals acquired mineral rights to areas around Tioga, ND, right in the heart of the Bakken Formation. These rights were split between my mom and her brother and, after mom passed in 1994, they went to my dad and ultimately will be split between my three sisters and me. While the royalties are laughingly diluted by the time they’ve made their way to us (now worth a couple of decent meals at a restaurant each month) the amounts are rising little-by-little and it will be interesting to see if they become even remotely meaningful to our incomes at some point.
My biggest concern, however, is that the government, automakers, oil producers and others will take their eye off the ball when it comes to developing alternative energy sources. Why? That StarTribune article said it best when discussing the new 7.5 billion barrel estimates and whether or not companies could safely ‘invest’ in the region: “The new estimates should give potential investors confidence that the oil boom could have decades to run. At the current rate of production — 22.5 million barrels in January — it would take 27 years to remove 7.5 billion barrels from the ground.“
27 years. Seems like a long time, right? The point is that even this new, substantial source of energy will run out.
In this old Motorola commercial they mention that, “…today there are only a few thousand cellular phones…”. Watch it and then quit whining about *any* limitations you think you have with today’s smartphone!
Today I drive a 2009 Toyota Prius (see my 2008 post here) and now I’m torn about what to buy next. Another Prius that gets 50MPG? A plugin hybrid Prius that gets 99MPGe? A Chevy Volt that, like my neighbor who has driven over 12,000 miles and still has 25% of his first tank of gasoline, uses electricity for most driving?
We know climate change is happening and that total oil production by the big producers has fallen 25% since 2004 while global energy demand is expected to double by 2050 (see 2013 World Energy Issue Monitor (PDF)), so the obvious choice is to buy the most efficient vehicle I can afford (and fit in to).
But it’s not so simple. Since CAFE standards are focusing car manufacturers on ensuring the average mileage of their fleets increase fairly dramatically to 2025, if prices fall and mileage rises isn’t the net impact of a larger vehicle justifiable?
I thought so until this past week when I was behind a woman driving a Lincoln Navigator at the gas pumps. She asked me what kind of mileage I got in the winter and what it cost to fill my tank. “42-44 mpg and a full tank is about $38,” I replied. “How about you?“
“Um…I asked because my husband and I measured it over the last few months and it’s supposed to get 14 in the city and 20 on the highway but we were getting about 8mpg driving around town and 12mpg when we drove up to Duluth to see my mother.” She went on, “…and it costs about $115 to fill the tank.”
Well, that’s what happens in the winter when we run our heaters, electric seats and it’s harder to efficiently burn fuel. What she and I DIDN’T talk about was an ugly truth I discovered later: That $115 would fill her 33.5 gallon tank and take her about 396 highway miles. My Prius (at the 44mpg highway amount) would go 462 miles for filling my 11 gallon fuel tank for only $38! A savings of $77 and for not using 22 gallons of gasoline.
I know, I know…it’s a helluva lot better to drive a Lincoln behemoth vs. a tiny little Prius. But what a waste of fuel—not to mention the extra carbon I’d be spewing in to the atmosphere—when I’m just hauling my own ass around. Do I really need something like that Lincoln Navigator? Nope. Regardless whether gas prices fall to $2/gallon since it’s just an inefficient waste of energy.
So now the questions: regular or plugin Prius or Chevy Volt?
In the CTD Podcast Archive I just cleaned up and posted you’ll find 47 podcast ‘shows’ that I recorded from May of 2005 until March of 2007. Yes, I still podcast but do it now over at Minnov8.com and, as of this writing, we’ve done 212 shows since June of 2008.
One of the reasons for this archive is that I’m a family historian and I love storytelling. The more I’ve learned about my ancestry in the late 1700s to early 1900s, the greater my desire is to have heard any of them tell me stories about what was on their mind. Though my podcasts vary greatly and aren’t always stories, one can still get a good sense of what was on my mind while I was recording them.
Hope you enjoy these and let me know if you think I should start podcasting again!
Don’t know how I missed this in January but my aunt Marlys just sent a bunch of us an email with a link to it inside. It’s an NBC Rock Center segment called iDoctor and it’s about the healthcare revolution being enabled because most of us are carrying around incredibly powerful computers called a “smartphone,” a device that can send data directly to our doctors.
If you’re interested, here are some links you’ll like to view:
My dad died less than a month ago (here is our tribute site to dad) and my sisters and I have been going through the house and his belongings. Besides removing anything of value and cleaning the place out, we have a relative staying there who also has uncovered some cool stuff like this old newspaper in a crawl space which I saw and went through yesterday. Dated Friday, April 2, 1982, it was the last of the Minneapolis Star evening editions which was then merged in to the morning paper to make today’s Minneapolis StarTribune.
Paging through this yellowed rag brought back a lot of memories of the role this newspaper played in our lives and yet it was another reminder of how the old makes way for the new. People, and information delivery methods, all outlive our usefulness as direct economic contributors. The history of mass media shows how the first “high circulation” newspaper was the London Times in the early 1800s, so the major daily newspaper is but a blip in the timeline of humanity.
Thankfully, as evidenced by how wonderful it was for my dad to be around for twenty five years after he retired at 62 years of age, dad’s influence and ‘usefulness’ to everyone around him continued on.
But back to newspapers. A lot has been written about the demise of ‘traditional’ media like TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. Most of us are aware that things are downtrending, some magazines have gone to digital only, and clearly newspapers are struggling.