We’ve had the discussion recently in our Peoplenomics reports about factors that may influence that slippery stuff called “luck.” Today the Mega Millions jackpot is up over half a billion dollars. ($540 million) and because of that you can expect lines all over the place to try and bag this one.
Not sure if it’s worth it, but I’ll probably go buy a couple of picks – cash option, please. if I put up a site message Monday that says “Won!” You know what that will mean: More than two million after tax dollars. More likely, you’ll still have something to read Monday…likely to the tune of 175-million to 1.
Still, I’m not above admitting it: Numbers this big do lead to Lotto Madness.
In a really just country, the odds of being audited ought to equal the lotto odds…and I don’t care which way it gets adjusted, frankly. but seems one of them should be.
Nevertheless, we can think of at least 540-million reasons to be a little late for work this morning…picking up tickets.
Renting Your Life, Continued
Of course the reason so many people are lining up for MegaMillions tickets is life just keeps becoming more affordable. I sometimes wonder how cavemen survived…but then I remember they had the good sense not to bother with government or banks. Just one bit club…instead of several.
But since we have many nowadays, things like the Personal Income and Expenditure report just out are always cheering:
Personal income increased $28.2 billion, or 0.2 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $18.9 billion, or 0.2 percent, in February, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $86.0 billion, or 0.8 percent. In January, personal income increased $26.5 billion, or 0.2 percent, DPI increased $5.0 billion, or less than 0.1 percent, and PCE increased $40.9 billion, or 0.4 percent, based on revised estimates.
Real disposable income decreased 0.1 percent in February, compared with a decrease of 0.2 percent in January. Real PCE increased 0.5 percent, compared with an increase of 0.2 percent.
Blah, blah, blah, until we get to the gem and the joke of it:
“Personal saving — DPI less personal outlays — was $438.7 billion in February, compared with $509.5 billion in January.
The personal saving rate — personal saving as a percentage of disposable income — was 3.7 percent in February, compared with
4.3 percent in January. ”
OK, why is this a joke? “Just lemme ‘splain you, Lucy.”
We go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and notice what? Number of people working in America is 154,871 Civilian Labor Force, current.
Take $438.7 (billion) and divide by 0.15487 (billion) workers and the answer is what? $2,832.69 for the personal savings rate.
ROFLMAO….where’s my crack pipe? Yet here we go on another day where the [alleged] financial press will blindly parrot this shit and pretend it’s all good. Come guys…we have a good sense of humor and all, but I don’t know of anyone outside of The Hamptons who had this kind of dough left over this month.
Oh, don’t try to weasel by counting alleged house equity, either, since the Case Shiller/S&P data this week says homes are still stuck on 2003 levels.
If you find the other $2,829.23 that I sure wasn’t able to save last month, please send it along. Either than or tell us more about where these mythical savings want, or I will be forced to do the unthinkable: Hunt around for a group rehab rate for ya’ll.
Marches and Mideast Tensions
A massive series of marches, which could bring more than a million participants, particularly if you count police and military units keeping a lid on things, as demonstrations are building up in Israel about now. Time Magazine reports the West Bank is being sealed off and this could be a very tense weekend, indeed.
Hillary Clinton is on Saudi sands today talking about how to deal with Syria and presumably also Iran.
Iran, meantime, is reported helping Syria sell oil to China.
But how much of this is a real concern and how much is situational awareness manipulation (words like bullshit aren’t proper at this house) seems like an honest and open question since the authoritative CIA oil resources by country list shows Syria doesn’t have much oil to export compared with elsewhere: They’re #33 on the list. A calm observer from the sidelines might be thinking: “Is this more whip ‘em up talk?” Doggone the numbers and facts, anyway…
M.E. War-Gaming School
Courtesy of a knowledgeable and experienced war-game (the real life kind), I’ve got to admit my thinking on timing of an Israeli strike on Iran may have been a little simplistic. In order to correct that, here’s a simple short course in war gaming the tensions between the countries:
For several reasons, I would not expect the Israeli pilots to go ‘burners’ enroute to Iran. – afterburners suck down fuel very fast – burners alert ‘overhead technologies’ used in missile warning systems (e.g. Russian or Chinese systems) – no need to do so…
Wikipedia (as well as the rest of the web) has some good mission summary info on past Israeli military operations. They one thing to note is that that Israel never follows the same battle plan twice, which makes defensive planning against them almost impossible.
During Operation Orchard, Israel used its vaunted Air Force (IAF) to take out Syria’s nuclear reactor. The pilots (fighter and electronic warfare types) for the attack were personally selected by the commander of the IAF. They trained for weeks. A short time before the airstrike, Israel inserted ‘Shaldag’ commandos to gather reconnaissance and conduct ‘air traffic combat controller activities.’ Using unspecified technology, the Shaldag unit and the IAF took out the entire Syrian radar network. The Syrian nuke facility was literally ‘toasted.’
During Operation Mole Cricket 19, aka ‘the Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot,’ in the early 80s, the IAF destroyed a dangerous battery of surface to air missiles (SAMs) using pioneering tactics. They flew in a formation of unmanned drones to activate the SAM radars. When the Syrian SAMs subsequently fired on the drones, which they thought were attacking piloted aircraft, the IAF attacked the SAM batteries. The Israelis expected retaliation, and used their drones, placed near Syrian airfields, to report on Syrian aircraft taking off from those fields. Israeli EW aircraft then jammed the Syrian aircraft connectivity to their ground controllers, also jamming their aircraft radar and missile warning systems, while AWACS aircraft pointed the Israeli fighters to the Syrian aircraft locations. With no radar or ground controllers, the Syrians were flying blind. The IAF used supersonic air-to-air missiles to attack the Syrians, often ‘head on,’ hence the “Turkey Shoot” sobriquet for the operation.
The IAF is adept at ‘terrain following’ low level flight operations. Flying alongside mountains/high terrain blocks early warning line of sight radar detection. Those radar in the flight path are destroyed by commandos or jammed by EW resources. Plus, going ‘low and slow’ keeps the infra-red signature of the jets to a minimum, further aiding in avoiding ground, air and space detection. Radio silence is the last important piece of tactical surprise for a successful Iranian strike.
Deception and surprise are key to any such operation’s success — make the Iranians think the Israelis are not coming, or if they are, they are attacking from another position. Commando pre-strike activity is a big part of the surprise factor. Commandos can also direct strikes with pinpoint accuracy should the Iranians have the time to deploy GPS jammers to deceive IAF navigation and precision guided munitions.
Think Sun-Tzu wearing a Star of David! From the ancient Chinese Master:
“All War is based on deception.”
“Invincibility lies in defense; the possibility of victory in the attack.”
“Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”
From Israeli leaders:
“If an expert says it can’t be done, get another expert.” ~ David Ben-Gurion
“We don’t point a pistol at our own forehead. That is not the way to conduct negotiations.” ~ Benjamin Netanyahu
“We want peace, but not at any price.” ~ Ehud Barak
The good news? Panama Canal expansion is coming along (with lots of Chinese pushing). But a number of readers have suggested keeping a close eye on what’s going on down that way:
George, Don’t know if you are interested in this, but…. I had a long talk with a law person in Panama city yesterday. She confirmed there was something going on. The way she phrased it was that the police were given more power. Now many people are torn; they don’t like what Martinelli has been doing but they don’t trust the police. She says she feels very uncomfortable being around any of them. (For what it is worth, a few months ago the police were equipped with new Glocks and the Martintelli security team is Israeli!) Also, Aeroperlas, which was Panama’s larger national airline went bankrupt and closed down a month ago – while filling every seat on every flight. The remaining carrier, Air Panama, can’t handle the load. There is unrest. (And I will still move there in a few months – not Panama city. I’m already a legal resident.)
You bet, we will be keeping an eye on things…
The Trouble with Biz Jets
In this kind of economy, the market has been fate for them and in case you haven’t noticed, there’s been some speculation about the future of Hawker-Beechcraft as a result.
So Much for Solar?
Something of a trend to watch is going on in the UK in a press release that caught my eye this morning. You may know that in the UK, people have been installing lots of solar in order to generate more than they use in their homes in order to lock in a fairly feed-in rate paid by utilities. What is interesting is the Brits are knocking back the price paid to solar investors by almost 50% in some cases.
The (typically British) logic appears to be that since solar costs are coming down, the return on investing heavily in solar should too.
These people are (IMHO) nuts! If they were more honest, they’d allow offset at whatever the local prevailing charge is for power, not some hose-up, cockamamie scheme cobbled up by accountants. (We’ve noticed how well European accounting has worked in Iceland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and so forth.)
This is about as clear an example of why the U.S. had the good sense to kick out the royals a couple of hundred years back. England still has a long-term energy problem and just because some in the industry want to lock in momentarily low rates, doesn’t make it good public policy in the long haul.
But maybe that’s the kind of thinking that led Britain from ruling to world down to its present conditions and our occasional references to the Unemployed Kingdom. Geniuses…just frigging geniuses. Don’t bother pointing out the North Sea fields are in decline and that’s been visible for more than a year.
Not that our energy politics are much better, just saying feed-in tariffs oughta float because governments globally don’t seem particularly honest about currency values and making a 25-year lock in smacks of hoodwink in any event.
More after this: