- ► 2011 (24)
04/04 - 04/11
- Anarchist Pig Investment Advice for April 10th, 20...
- Review- "The Buddha" on PBS
- The Future & Buddhist Vegan Militias
- Last Regular Season Game at the Igloo
- A Tiger's Tale
- Civic Arena Memories
- Book Review- The World That Never Was: A True Stor...
- Gary Hart, Former U.S. Senator, Commenting on Ange...
- "The Buddha" Premiere on PBS, Wednesday April 7th
- Anarchists vs. Tea Partiers
- ▼ 04/04 - 04/11 (10)
- ► 2009 (52)
10 April 2010
So, knowing that some of my readers trend a bit more towards the radical side, my first investment tip should be right up their alley. In my portfolio, I bought the following bond and have been enjoying a nice return on it of late-
Venezuela, 10.75 % 9-19-2013
CUSIP ID # 922646BJ2 (this is the identification for this bond.)
Simply put, this is a bond issued by the government of Hugo Chavez that you can buy on the open market through any brokerage account. As of yesterday, Friday April 9th, this bond was trading at around $ 982.50. Since the bond yield of 10.75 % is based on the face value of the bond, $ 1,000.00, you actually receive a yield of 10.94 % if you buy at this price. The bond pays semi-annually, and the coupon payment you receive is $ 53.75 twice per year for simply owning the bond. I hold this bond in an IRA making the deal even sweeter because the fascist bastards at the IRS can't get their mitts on it until I retire.
The downside is that this bond is considered near junk status by the investment community and is rated B2 by Moodys and BB- by S&P. Even though the coupon payment is fixed at 10.75 %, the underlying price of the bond could fall causing a loss in the original investment. You need to have some courage to make an investment like this, but I am confident that rising oil prices will benefit Venezuela and reduce the likelihood of a default on their debt.
This week, Citigroup reports earnings and I will comment next week on the call option strategy that I put into place this week under the assumption that their earnings will improve. If they don't, I will be drinking heavily and will probably not post anything at all.
Dislcaimer- Anarchist Pig Investment Advice is just that- advice. I am not an investment advisor, broker or investment professional and if you use this advice, you are using it at your own risk. If you take my advice, you need to do the research to see if it supports your investment goals. IN other words, if it doesn't work out, don't fucking call me.
Writing, producing and editing a program like this can't be easy. Condensing all of The Buddha's teachings, impact on civilization and examination of Buddhism today into two hours is a daunting task. If you're not a Buddhist, imagine trying to do the same thing with Jesus and Christianity- what to leave in, what to leave out while working against a defined time limit for the show. Unfortunately in the sake of brevity, a lot of stuff is going to be over simplified, rushed or omitted. Still, you would try to concentrate on the main points, provide a sense of reference for that time in history and offer some insights on how these beliefs impact people today. Whether because of poor editing, writing or directing "The Buddha" largely accomplished these goals but lost me at many points along the way.
I have a friend that is not a Buddhist, he's a good Christian and will be so for life. Still, he thought the show sounded interesting so he tuned in to watch it and we talked briefly about it a couple of days later. He was completely confused. While he learned something during the show, namely a little bit about The Four Noble Truths, Buddhist views on existence etc., he was mightily confounded by the constant cut aways to a yoga master doing contortions of extreme effort, Indians washing themselves in the Ganges and other vignettes of Indian life. I was confused by this too and I consider myself moderately well read and practiced on the subject. If the point was to show a setting for the story, and what life might have been like in India in ancient times, it succeeded but the point was labored to the extent that my friend thought such yoga practices, as well as ascetic sacrifice, were required of Buddhists.
Overall the film seemed to jump around a bit and was difficult, at times, to follow. Then again, I could have just been tired and my mind was wandering. Another omission from the show which I think would be an especially important point for non-Buddhists would be in explaining the different schools of belief instead of the giving the impression that the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere speak for all Buddhists.
One program that covers the subject of the life and teachings of The Buddha which I highly recommend is The Story of India which also aired on PBS in 2009. Michael Wood is an excellent guide and narrator for the BBC documentary which was beautifully filmed and very well written. Episode 2 "The Power of Ideas" includes a long segment on The Buddha, his teachings and his times and you can watch a brief clip of it here.
I really enjoyed this article. Salam sees the convergence of technology, energy costs and an emerging view on education as fundamentally transforming our society into one that (except for the technology) would probably be rather familiar to our ancestors. One can already see this transformation taking place in places like Detroit where thousands of abandoned homes, which once housed the massive labor force required for the car industry, are being torn down and redeveloped into other uses including urban farms.
"The cultural battle lines of our time, with red America pitted against blue, will be scrambled as Buddhist vegan militia members and evangelical anarchist squatters trade tips on how to build self-sufficient vertical farms from scrap-heap materials. To avoid the tax man, dozens if not hundreds of strongly encrypted digital currencies and barter schemes will crop up, leaving an underresourced IRS to play whack-a-mole with savvy libertarian "hacktivists."
Salam also makes the point that the federal debt implosion that I fear is coming might actually be a mixed blessing which weans our society off the government teat and returns us to a more individualistic society which relies on the support of neighbors rather than taxpayers-
"Look at the projections of fiscal doom emanating from the federal government, and consider the possibility that things could prove both worse and better. Worse because the jobless recovery we all expect could be severe enough to starve the New Deal social programs on which we base our life plans. Better because the millennial generation could prove to be more resilient and creative than its predecessors, abandoning old, familiar and broken institutions in favor of new, strange and flourishing ones."
Indeed, Salam notes that society could undergo a quiet, fundamental revolution as citizens decide they will not participate in a blood sucking system that consumes the majority of their effort and will instead turn to solutions that would have made Proudhon turn misty-eyed-
"Faced with the burden of financing the decades-long retirement of aging boomers, many of the young embrace a new underground economy, a largely untaxed archipelago of communes, co-ops, and kibbutzim that passively resist the power of the granny state while building their own little utopias."
Regardless of one's view of the world, we can all see that our society is headed for a transformational brick wall whether we like it or not. The old systems of massive government, the social safety net and bloated bureaucracy are simply not sustainable and people are finally waking up to the fact that they trade off in terms of taxes paid is simply not worth it. The nanny state will crumble not from political pressure, but from being starved of the revenues that allow its existence.
Hopefully, the transformation to a society such as the one described by Salam will be relatively peaceful. Unfortunately, history shows that such massive upheavals in the order of things usually result in terrible violence. Buddhist Vegan Militias- it's time to stock up on tofu and .223 ammo.
09 April 2010
The wife and I arrived early and just soaked in the place. They had a great pre-game ceremony which featured 50 former Penguins including too many to mention here. Well, okay, it's my friggin blog and I'm going to mention my favorite as a kid, Pierre Larouche. The game itself was a near blow-out for the Penguins as the Islanders seemed content to just want to get back on the bus and get to the airport. Fans were in a festive mood, the old barn was rocking and it was a fitting send off for the old girl. Numerous post game activities kept us in our seats until well past 11 pm after which we strolled out into the chilly night. I have to admit a wave of nostalgia hit me on the way out and I felt compelled to fist bump one of the turnstiles on the way out the door.
The First Noble Truth- Suffering
Before the media broke the story of Tiger's rampant infidelities, he seemed from the outside to have it all-beautiful wife and children, incredible athletic ability, more money than he could ever need, private jet, luxury homes etc. And yet, it seems, the poor guy was completely miserable and leading a strange secret existence that included numerous mistresses, secret meetings and rather elaborate planning to move his girlfriends around the country to be available at his bidding.
The Second Noble Truth- The Cause of Suffering (Craving)
We have all seen this in our lives. Whether it is ourselves, friends or family members, we seem not to be content with what we have. Although self improvement is admirable in terms of bettering ourselves, and the opportunities it brings those that depend upon us, the craving for bigger homes, better cars, more money, better restaurants etc. is incredibly destructive. I know a number of people that bought very nice homes which would be considered palaces in the 3rd world who immediately began complaining that they weren't what they really wanted and renewed their search for the next, better, perfect home. So it went for Tiger too, I guess. At some point of living the mega luxurious lifestyle, I suppose even billionaires can suffer from craving. Got a 8 passenger jet ? Great. Now I want a 12 passenger jet. Got a 12 passenger jet ? Now I want a 20 passenger jet...and so on.
The Third Noble Truth- There is cessation from Suffering.
Ah, the good news. Even though Tiger smacked his balls into the rough, there is a way out of this endless cycle of greed, desire and craving. This merciless wheel of rebirth can be broken, suffering ended and enlightenment attained.
The Fourth Noble Truth- The Eightfold Path to the end of Suffering
They are- Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration. Through diligent perseverance and adherence to this path, the end of suffering can be attained. I will breakdown the eightfold path in future posts and try to explain how I have tried, with varying success, to work them into my life.
Look, I'm not a psychologist and I'm not judging Tiger to be a bad person because of his actions. I had the discussion with many of my friends of "well, what would you do if you were incredibly famous, rich, good-looking and had lots of women throwing themselves at you ?" More often than not, we all had to admit that the temptation would have been just a bit much to deal with. Still, being aware of the Noble Truths helps to put life into better perspective.
We are indoctrinated at a young age as we are bombarded by media advertising promising us that happiness is just over the next horizon and can be obtained by buns of steel, a new car, whitened teeth, the golf club that will change your game etc. The same media built Tiger Woods into demi-god proportions creating shoes that no mere mortal could ever fill. Maybe the best thing to come out of this is that it provides a teachable moment for all of us. I find myself telling my kids a couple of times a week "things can't make you happy" as they tell me they want an i-phone, the new Playstation, this, that and the other thing. Things are impermanent, transient and like my dad always said "never love something that can't love you back." Good advice indeed.
08 April 2010
The arena was born a few years before me back in 1961. It was an engineering marvel for the time built by local companies using local materials- U.S. Steel providing stainless steel for the roof and Westinghouse the motors that would open the roof for special occasions. Originally, the arena was conceived and built for the purpose of being home field for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. How they thought a 16,000 seat arena could be filled by an opera in a shot and beer town like Pittsburgh is beyond me, but the Penguins eventually became the primary tenant of the building.
My earliest memory of going to the arena was when I was 4 or 5 to see the circus. I remember this was probably when I developed a lifelong fear of clowns as my older brother casually mentioned out of parental earshot that the clowns were going to take me back to clownville, or wherever the hell they lived, after the show. I went to the arena many other times over the years to see hockey games, indoor soccer games, concerts and monster trucks. Despite the fact that the majority of Penguins fans only know a championship team, I recall many, many nights of sitting through shitty hockey games with a couple of thousand other souls who received free tickets. A couple of other highlights I will remember will be playing indoor soccer there as a youth, skating with my son on the ice during one of the Penguins free skates and seeing my kid emerge from the visitor's tunnel onto the ice during a skills competition. Pretty cool.
What will I miss about the arena ? What I call the Igloo funk, a strange smell of stale beer, old popcorn and forty plus years of human b.o. that has impregnated the structure. I swear that on cold nights when they open the doors the Igloo funk rushes out like a warm embrace welcoming you back home- part pretzel smell, part wet fart, part zamboni exhaust fumes. What won't I miss ? Escalators that were built with a maximum safe load of 2 or 3 people instead of a couple of hundred trying to jam themselves into the tunnels, seats that were built with such close clearances that you are tempted to rest your beer on the fan's head in front of you and the strange lumps of unknown substances that have fossilized under the seats.
Favorite memory of the arena ? Probably the greatest hockey fight of all time only it didn't occur on the ice, it occurred on the sidewalk after the game. My brother and I were leaving one freezing night when an obviously drunk fan, wearing a suit, tie and wire rimmed glasses pounded on the hood of a car waiting at the light. He screamed at the car because they had the gall to honk at someone (that being him) crossing against the light. He looked like an attorney, at least that's what I hope he was based on what happened next. All of a sudden a petite young lady who couldn't have been more than 100 pounds dripping wet jumped out of the driver's seat walked straight towards him and punched him in the face. "Wham !" Attorney boy made sort of a yelp as his glasses flew off and his face was flushed. My brother and I looked at each other, completely stunned. "Wham, Wham, Wham" Like a diminutive version of Tie Domi she was all over him knocking him to his knees. I remember my brother yelling some advice like "pull his coat over his head" but she was content to just whack him a few more times, jump back in the car and sped off.
Ah memories. By this time next year the Igloo will be gone, replaced by the uber corporate and chic Consol Pepsi Coke Fritos Gatorade Accenture Mellon PNC CCM Verizon Arena. It's going to take another 40 years to lose that new arena smell.
07 April 2010
Book Review- The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Agents by Alex Butterworth
Sounds like a good read. I'm going to pick up a copy. The book is available on pre-order for June 15th, through Amazon.
An interesting observation from the review-
"The main story, however, is of the penetration of these groups of often naive utopians by the sinister functionaries of the secret state whose job it was to protect the status quo: the policemen and spymasters who lurked in the shadows seeding uncertainty and dissent, cultivating tensions, beguiling with deceits, and luring credulous and impressionable idealists into committing crimes they may never have otherwise conceived."
History has indeed shown that idealists and revolutionaries are often long on ideas and short on proper counter-intelligence techniques !
06 April 2010
05 April 2010
Premiering April 7, 2010 at 8 p.m. EST (check local listings)
"This documentary for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life."
I don't personally know any tea party members but from what I've read they seem like reasonable people who are completely fed up with the enormity and expense of the U.S. government. That being said, it's hard to take a group seriously that supports an airhead like Sarah Palin, the Barbie doll darling of the Republican party, or receives so much positive coverage from blithering idiots like Sean Hannity. Still, the fact that the Democrats are playing the straw-man of racism, militia violence and every other tired argument they drag out when threatened seems to indicate that they are making some impact on national politics.
The real winner in any tea party-anarchist clash would be, of course, the same government that both groups fundamentally oppose. The tea partiers will be portrayed by the left as crazy, radical racists who want to return the U.S. to the good old days of 1850. The anarchists will be portrayed by the right as subversive terrorists bent on destroying mom, apple pie and what remains of Chevrolet. Sitting in the middle will be the same smug ruling class that benefits no matter which group cracks more heads on April 15th.
Hey knuckleheads, wake up. Your enemy isn't the group across the street, it's the one residing in Washington D.C.