Monday, October 13, 2008

Morally Questionable Advice of the Day

Love was the prime mover of their struggle

From "Ten Things To Avoid A Market Meltdown", an article on the AOL Money and Finance page

Investing Tip No. 6
Buy shares that sell products to addicts. Liquor and cigarettes do well in almost all economies. Many of the customers these companies have can't stop consuming even if the economy is bad. First on that list would be tobacco giant Altria (MO). The firm also has a 6.6% yield and tremendous earnings and cash flow. Brown-Foreman makes hard booze and wine. Diageo (DEO) is probably the most diversified booze company in the world.

Yes, by all means take advantage of the most serious economic downturn in nearly a hundred years by exploiting addicts. In addition to the tidy profit you may make now, you can have the added challenge in a few years of figuring out how to account for the increased demands on our health care "system" as these addicts you have helped to exploit look forward to various cancers, diseases, and rehab. Or just follow handy investing tip #4, which encourages investing in pharmaceutical companies, because they "will keep selling drugs to sick people." See? It all works out! More addicts=more sick people=better investing! Whether you go for McCain's health care plan or Obama's, one thing is clear--we'll have increasing numbers of sick people to test the plans out on!

Investing Tip No. 7
The world is still full of warmongers. Shares in defense companies will be okay. Whether it is the US in Iraq, Russia in Georgia, or rebels trying to overthrow the Nigerian government, weapons sell. Northrop Grumman (NOC) is the leader among this group which also includes General Dynamics (GD), and Lockheed Martin (LMT). War will always be with us and certain American companies mean to profit from that.

Yes, folks, war will always be with us, so why not get in on the action and make a little cake while we're at it! The world is full of warmongers, and if you can't beat 'em. join 'em! American companies mean to profit from war, so don't be a love-beaded sap, get in on that! Turn bullets into bling!

Maybe we should think about this a minute. Actually, maybe we should think about this a lot.

Where is our moral compass pointing?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Wild Life, Part XCII: The Deadly Mantis

It's not love that left you standing

A few years ago, my son became a father at the ripe old age of six. He'd gotten a packet of praying mantis eggs at the Magic Wings butterfly conservatory and a couple hundred of the little buggers hatched, sending him running around in circles yelling "Dad! I'm a Dad! Daddy! I'm a Daddy!" It took some convincing that all of his "children" couldn't live with us permanently, but eventually he was persuaded to let them go, scattering them in the six or seven gardens we keep in the yard in the hopes that they wouldn't devour each other.

This summer and last we've been fortunate enough to find that the tribe of mantises that Cormac founded are still going strong, keeping our gardens free from nuisance bugs. My daughter found this healthy specimen outside the garden at the end of our driveway:

I think that that is a grasshopper or locust that the mantis is draining of it's sweet life nectar, but I didn't want to get too close in case it turned it's clacking, razor sharp mandibles on my own tender gut meat.

I have to admit, I'm nervous at the way my son whispers to these critters. He's been spending a lot more time with them since I limited his XBox time, and sometimes at night I think I can hear the ticking of a thousand stick-like feet at my bedroom window...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy of the Day: The Ting Tings

Yeah, riding high on love's true bluish light

I love when I find music that I can share with my children, because there is nothing quite so infectious as a child's positive response to new music--I played the new CD We Started Nothing from The Ting Tings on the way to get an allergy shot, and the kids were instantly hooked. This makes me extremely happy.

I'd love to be able to play the new CD from Buckcherry, Black Butterfly, for them, but it has a parental advisory, probably because it has the word %&^$#, also the word *&$#@! and the word %&$#@**, which they manage to use as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and somehow, a preposition. They also talk about using (&*^, putting a $%@# in a *&^#@#, and &&*&^$ sideways in a tree house. There are also some tender love songs.

I feel hypocritical denying my children the trashy, %$@#*&ing glory of Buckcherry, first because I've listened to it daily (One of my favorite bands, I sprang for the deluxe edition because it has two extra songs)since getting it, and also because I think I was about my daughter's age when I began listening to, um, "Rated R" music like AC/DC, Kiss and Van Halen, bands that today seem pretty tame on the overall-offense-to-society scale. Within a few years though, my taste--although quite broad--would expand to include the Dead Kennedys and Slayer, bands I definitely don't want my kids to listen to at this point--which of course just makes me feel even more hypocritical, because I think listening to the DK's at an early age helped shape, in a very positive way, my political world view--Jello Biafra's social conscience, although shrill at times, definitely got me thinking about social conditions in a way I might not have, and years later I'm greatly thankful for that experience. I feel hypocritical also because I really can't make any argument about Slayer being socially redeeming in any way--but I love, love their music, the visceral punch of it. My ringtone is "Rain in Blood". I have 27,209 songs on my iPod, and I'd let my kids listen to maybe 1200 of them. What a jerk.

Putting all this internal angst aside, I love the Ting Tings, and I love that my kids love the Ting Tings. Exuberant is the first word that comes to mind when I try to describe their music; We Started Nothing is the sound of a band (two insanely talented people, really--Katie White, who plays guitar, the bass drum, and sings, and Jules Di Martino, who plays drums,electronics, and sings). Katie, as the lead voice of the band, has an energetic delivery that is sassy and sharp. She has a wonderful voice; airy and sweet in "Traffic Light", punchy and forceful in "That's Not My Name" (my current vote for song of the year). From the opening tune "Great DJ", the Ting Tings (who took their name from a Chinese coworker of Katie's, how cool is that? And it is a Mandarin term for "band stand") the Ting Tings establish themselves as pure pop, pure fun. There isn't a bad song on the album, which alone is a rarity these days, but each song on the disc might actually be great. Like, stunningly great, so hook-y and smart. There are traces of some earlier woman fronted bands like Blondie and the B-52's here (and also not as widely known bands like Bow Wow Wow, Dee Lite and the Sundays, I think), but the overall effect is something fresh and new. I recommend it highly if you need a new happy music CD (and who doesn't) and/or something you can listen to with kids in the car.

Although, my kids were a little stunned when I played "Shut Up and Let Me Go", because of the song's liberal use of the "S-word" in the chorus--they think "Shut-Up" is the S-word, God love them.

I love my kids. I love the Ting Tings. You will, too.