Close

Take a look at this:

Bonds

That's Bonds' 715th on Sunday. See the two guys in white T-shirts in the center of the frame, one with the black ballcap turned backwards and the one with the red cap? My wife's brother and brother-in-law. Man, that was close to quite a payoff.

(photo via MSNBC)

Better Safe than Sorry

That's what they say, anyway. Personally, I've never even come close to living that way.

I think if I had to identify the one thing that's predominantly responsible for the success of Western Civilization in general and America in particular--by which I mean leading the world to virtually everything I consider important--it's a certain sort of willingness to take risks when there are potentially big payoffs at stake. Without a willingness to undertake risk, nothing much ever happens.

So that's what I thought of when I heard about that fiasco in Washington on Friday and later read Kyle's take on it. It's no surprise. Did you really think that any of those people--a single one of them--are the sort who would or could ever make the world a better place because they were willing to take a big risk for a big payoff? Any Da Vincis in there? Magellans? Einsteins? Henry Fords or Rockefellers? Were there even any take-charge civilians there? Any Flight 93 genetic material? Nope. Not a single one. That's not where you find such people, and the events of Friday showed that fact very clearly, which of course raises the question: what sort of people do you find there? You find thousands upon thousands of people who play it safe every moment of their miserable lives--sitting around waiting for an authority to tell them what to do.

It's why they're there, you see. That's the place where risk-averse, do-nothing parasites go. It's the sort of place and the sort of people that's increasingly representative of what much of American culture is coming to represent. Pathetic. Disgusting. And you voters, evidently stupid to the very core, keep putting them there.

Update: Looks like Texas has undertaken to begin manufacturing just the sort of take-no-risks people I'm talking about. Via Beck.

Caring

In the same vein as my last entry, I'm just sitting here outside the New Leaf Community Market off Hwy 9 in Felton, CA up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Lot's of spiritual people up here and that's what I aspire to, above all. Yep. Just sitting here under an umbrella outside sipping my organic coffee, which also happens to be fair-trade certified (of course).

I gotta say, too: these new Sony TX-series notebooks (all 3 lbs. of them) with the built-in wide-area data network are quite sumthin'. This thing now goes with me everywhere, and in general, if I can get a cell signal I can get on line with connection speeds far in excess of dial-up.

I'm just generally feeling the love, the peace, the wisdom. Yes; Wisdom. The ancient kind. Like this, the bulletin board outside the store that I snapped with the Treo a moment ago and emailed to myself in order to get it into the notebook, here, wirelessly--and then published out to the blog wirelessly.

Wisdom

Check out all the opportunities one has up here in the peaceful, enlightened society to gain real wisdom--not to mention serious opportunities to get laid.

Ok, gig's up. I just can't take it anymore. Fun while it lasted, and so sorry to reel in all yooz who don't read regularly. Check out the rest of the blog (other than the last two entries) to see what I really think.

One note: while I'm kinda making fun of the values of a lot of the people who live up here, those are their values and it seems to work up here just fine. No complaints. Very charming, in fact.

Uh, note 2: I've been going for over an hour, data going the whole time with the screen turned up to just one notch under full blast brightness, and the battery is at 87% with 4 hrs and 53 minutes estimated time remaining. This thing rocks!

Democracy Now!

I got this link to an article about John Travolta's "little place" the other day--the one with the B-707 parked out front. It's a little laborious to get through. It violates my "no horizontal scrolling" rule and the person who put it up needs to be beat about the head & shoulders for that one.

That said, surely the couple must be gobsmacked by what they have pulled off? Do they ever look around...at possibly the world's most elegant private airport...the two planes parked in their front yard and just...giggle?

"Oh yea," they laugh in unison. "Every single day."

Well. "Chortle" might be a better description, don't you think?

I'd just like to know where Travolta and Preston get off. Who do they think they are, taking for themselves such a very large slice of our social pie? Huh? 6,700 square feet of residence, 9 acre estate, and a tarmac large enough for a 707 and a Gulfstream II.

It boggles the mind, such useless and excessive consumption. Disgusting. The thousands of gallons of fuel--for a single trip. The pollution. Yuk!

They need two jets? How many people are living in poverty around the world, going hungry because John and Kelly need two multi-million-dollar jets? And how many people are traveling in that 707 at any one time--four or five?--when it could be efficiently hauling a couple of hundred people who probably have travel needs far in excess of the Travolta's. Besides...they have two jets. People are in buses, taking days to make a trip that John and Kelly make in hours. What gives them the right? And not only that, what about security? I don't think the TSA is checking them out out each time they fly so that we can be safe and protected. What about that? How can we trust John Travolta with a fuel-laden jet that weighs several tons and can go 500 mph? Can you imagine what could happen?

I had thought, gladly, that the awful displays of old-money wealth were a thing of the past. At least that other gaudy display, Vanderbilt's old place, is now a museum for us, the people. We can only hope for as much with Travolta, eventually.

Power to the people! Some glorious day, we'll be able to take back what's ours from those who have stolen it from us, democratic society. Democracy demands it!

I’ll Tell You Why

Neal asks:

Why delete James Shott's comment?

I'll tell you why.

This is my blog. I make no claim to objectivity. It exists entirely -- without equivocation or apology -- for my own selfish pleasure. When I deem that controversy, arguments, even personal insults in comments serve my ultimate interest, such comments remain (99%, so far; at least). If not: delete button.

I always (at least I know of no time when I haven't) give commenters one free shot at me. I shoot back, and unless the repartee is a tone-down, getting down to the argument, I dump it. Unless the conversatation is intersting, I don't want a 50+ comment flame war that wastes a lot of my time.

Shott's follow-on comment was 80% insult, some of it of a clearly dishonest and manipulative nature. It was long. To answer it was simply: not worth my time. So I deleted it. No apology whatsoever. My blog. My rules.

I'll tell you what. If you were to look at the record of comments, there's lots of insults, even in the 2nd and 3rd round and beyond. That's because the person was at least making some argument worthy of being addressed. Shott is a Republican conservative puppet; a regurgitator. He has no arguments worth more than a few minutes of time, and I already did that.

If he (or anyone else) doesn't like it, I invite them to read elsewhere.

May Report Card

Profits of $21,369; a 24.2% return on cash.

I reported on April here. Click on the Market Trading category for the whole series, in reverse chronological order (start at the bottom, work your way up).

Well, any concerns expressed in April as to the low volatility numbers (resulting in lower credit premiums) have been cured. If you follow the markets at all, you may be aware that last week offered a moderate correction on all indices. It was due. Unfortunately, I didn't listen to my prudent and conservative side and got myself into trouble. It's not manifest in this month, which for options-expiration purposes, closes out on the third Friday. But for June I've been scrambling rather significantly. More on that later.

I realized that my method of reporting results was flawed. To date, I've been reporting results based on the expiration month of the option, regardless of when it was opened or closed. This really gives a skewed view of returns month-by-month, when in reality, my account has pretty much been increasing continually. Since I'll now be mixing options months, then return on risk, as I've done in the past, will no longer calculate correctly. I'll just use a return on cash (in trading credit spreads exclusively, your entire account is always in cash (youre opening is a net sale; a credit); you're not holding any net long positions)

So, if I count the close of the month as options expiration day, the third Friday of each month, here's my returns since January:

  • Jan $4,539 profit; 20.5% return on cash
  • Feb $9,533 profit; 35.7% return on cash
  • Mar $3,737 "profit"; 5.2% return on cash
  • Apr $20,630 profit; 30.5% return on cash
  • May $21,369 profit; 24.2% return on cash

Those are monthly figures, folks... I am on the verge of doubling my account since mid February. Needless to say, I'm very pleased -- moreso because I spend so little time at this. It does require some knowledge, of course. Far more than that, it requires substantial nerve, which I believe is what my business background uniquely prepared me for. Just today (due to last week's tumble), I was staring at potential losses of $40,000. While those potential losses are still ever present, I managed, through a series of trades, to greatly increase my chances of getting out with no loss -- either through worthless expiration or more attractive rollouts to July positions. The cool part is that the cost of mitigating my risk was minus $3,000. That's right, I made $3k turning serious mistakes into lesser mistakes. It almost violates the laws of nature. And that's not all. Tomorrow morning I will get filled on a trade that will complete, for now, my scrambling. That trade will generate another $10,000. So, $13,000 for screwing up? Why? It's the reward for being willing to shoulder huge risk in order to turn it around.

Alright, here are the May trades, up through last Friday, the 19th, when May's options expired.

May_chart

June could be tough. Gains are only about $3,000 so far, and should be up to $13,000 by tomorrow morning. Whether I keep them or not will remain to be seen. This market is new territory for me. I started doing this last December, and if you'll look at the charts since, there has been but one predominant direction for the market (up). Of course, my bet (mistaken) was that it would continue, or if not, just churn and consolidate for a while. Now the bears are in control and we'll have to see how that works out. If 1255 on the SPX breaks through, then there's no telling how strong the correction will be.

Of course, this is all short term. Long term, anyone is foolish not to be a bull.

But this is what's great about the non-directional trading I do. I can be wrong all the time and still make 20-30% per month. If I'm way, way wrong, as I am now, I can still make money, but it's a lot harder, takes a lot of attention and time, and, frankly, takes some big titanium ones, if you know what I mean.

I might not be reporting like this much longer, though I'll be sure to at least summarize how June finished out. My original plan was threefold: to hold myself to account, to create a journal of sorts to document my experience, and to pass along some good will, should it all work out. I believe I've accomplished all three in spades. I'm now fully confident in my trading ability and it's really not my intention to make of this a bragging session.

Tell me again…

...why voting is so important?

Now, don't get me wrong. Voting is "stupid" (I've other words, too) per se, but within the raw, closed-logic of the thing, Kim's right on.

Update: as I was saying.

“Illegal”

Someone in email, referencing a VDH article about the immigration issue:

Seems the most intelligent man on earth doesn't have a problem with the term "illegal."

I should care? Hansen is educated and smart. He's right about the terrorist threat--but that's because Hansen is a war historian. Read any of his history books, like Carnage & Culture? I have. You can borrow it. Here, he's out of his element and his league, in spite of his book Mexifornia. Hansen understands culture and geopolitics. He understands might and the power of the state and how the big events in history come to pass. I don't know if he understands the sovereignty of individual rights as they ought to be understood.

Look, I'm right, even if I'm the only goddamned person in the world saying it. I don't give a damn who says otherwise, or how many there are.

There's one word that blasts the concept of legality out of the water, completely and totally: slavery. Think about it.

I got this, yesterday:

The word "illegal" is the key word here!!!

No, it's not. That's a cop out, and I think you know it. And uttering it makes just about anyone who does an abject hypocrite. You ever break the speed limit? Ever ride the Harley without a helmet on a back road where the risk is minimal, and if not, is it out of respect for a stupid nanny-state law, or just fear of paying a fine?

How many other laws do you bend or break?

What's your view on tax laws? Are they perfectly just, because they are laws, or is taxation tantamount to theft and you comply because you don't want the IRS trashing your life like Guido might torch your store in "the neighborhoods" if you don't pay for his "protection?"

Are you telling me that you don't know the difference between right and wrong, only between legal and illegal?

So, tell me this. Why persist with the legal/illegal BULLSHIT? I'll tell you why: because you can't make an argument for why it's right to keep an honest guy from crossing the border to make an honest living, that's why. If any of you were capable of making an argument about why the honest workers are wrong to come here, you'd do it in a heartbeat. But you can't, so you hide behind loaded slurs like "illegal."

That About Sums it Up

I just received something in email that about made my blood boil. That's been dealt with severely.

Let me tell you conservatives and Republicans something: You disgust me with your incessant and evil harping about "illegal" immigration. You have lost completely and totally the spirit of what America was all about. Completely and totally. Nothing is left. You think it was about a constitution and laws. It was about leaving oppression and misery behind, risking it all -- including your very life -- and seeking new opportunity in a new land where you could trade in peace and hopefully earn for yourself and your loved ones a better life. It was about Declaring your Independence from those who would prevent you by force from exercising what you believed was your God-given (not government given; not democratically given) right to the honest and peaceful pursuit of your own life, liberty, and happiness.

And you've lost it all. Now, it's no more important or sacred that some effing government-issued ID Card that amounts to essentially nothing less than a license to live where you wish to live, work where you wish to work, and for whom, and raise your children where you wish to raise your children.

Though in a different context, Neal summed up wonderfully how I think about you, now:

I can only conclude that you beleive that human beings are rightfully dominated by others through force. You do it through the auspices of the "common good", as you and your ilk define it, and you relish in the enforcement of your beliefs via the government you control. As such a lover of power, I liken you to all the facists, communists and other tyrants who have come before you.

You do not know or understand peace. Peace does not require force. Force is only necessary to protect that which is yours from would-be gangs and thugs. Peace is not the product of war: peace is the result of voluntary beneficial interaction between two or more parties. Such interaction can never be the result of domination. Peace can only be the product of freedom.

Freedom.  Do you even understand what that means?

No Neal, they don't. And what's more: the way they are behaving makes it difficult for me to imagine that they ever did. Frankly, with this single issue alone, I no longer harbor the slightest illusion about the Republicans being any less fundamentally evil and dangerous than the overtly commie Democrats.

Well, it's futile, but I can't help but throw up Binswanger, again:

An end to immigration quotas is demanded by the principle of individual rights. Every individual has rights as an individual, not as a member of this or that nation. One has rights not by virtue of being an American, but by virtue of being human.

One doesn't have to be a resident of any particular country to have a moral entitlement to be secure from governmental coercion against one's life, liberty, and property. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, government is instituted "to secure these rights"--to protect them against their violation by force or fraud.

A foreigner has rights just as much as an American. To be a foreigner is not to be a criminal. Yet our government treats as criminals those foreigners not lucky enough to win the green-card lottery.

Seeking employment in this country is not a criminal act. It coerces no one and violates no one's rights (there is no "right" to be exempt from competition in the labor market, or in any other market).

It is not a criminal act to buy or rent a home here in which to reside. Paying for housing is not a coercive act--whether the buyer is an American or a foreigner. No one's rights are violated when a Mexican, or Canadian, or Senegalese rents an apartment from an American owner and moves into the housing he is paying for. And what about the rights of those American citizens who want to sell or rent their property to the highest bidders? Or the American businesses that want to hire the lowest cost workers? It is morally indefensible for our government to violate their right to do so, just because the person is a foreigner.

Immigration quotas forcibly exclude foreigners who want not to seize but to purchase housing here, who want not to rob Americans but to engage in productive work, raising our standard of living. To forcibly exclude those who seek peacefully to trade value for value with us is a violation of the rights of both parties to such a trade: the rights of the American seller or employer and the rights of the foreign buyer or employee.

Thus, immigration quotas treat both Americans and foreigners as if they were criminals, as if the peaceful exchange of values to mutual benefit were an act of destruction."

Naturally, this post goes in the Shame and Disgust file.

The Very Exceedingly Complicated Nature of Society

Man... I keep linking Radley Balko.  So often, there's just no damned way around it.

From the guy I link to probably second only to Balko myself. Here's what I said recently, and Billy agreed. And I've got seven of Balko's posts at the ready for yet another roundup when I get a chance here.

The post Billy is linking to is one I'd read just minutes before, but it was not one I'd intended to blog. Then I saw this:

Look: everything is wrapped-up -- necessarily implicit -- in the first clause of that first sentence [...so long Congress continues to spend...], and that first clause, itself, requires analysis to uncover the fact that this ability to "spend" stands on the power to steal. Not one of you reading these words is authorized to go to your neighbors and take from them what is theirs in order for you to transform it into something that you think is good for them.  There is no such moral right.  And you know it.  You would not have any of them do that to you.  There is no way that any such right comes to existence by numbers of you gathering to say it does. You cannot delegate to "representatives" a right that is not yours, and this includes the authority to take anyone's goods without their explicit individual consent. That is the very essence of theft, and there is no sleight-of-logic able to make this fact go away, whether you like it or not. And if you don't like it, then you have a problem with facts, and you still have no right to chain me to your psychosis.

Billy: you just don't understand The Very Exceedingly Complicated Nature of Society.™

In other news, all this above went along quite well with this Sobran article.

At the time I considered myself a conservative, with libertarian leanings. Much as I respected Robert, I believed in limited government under the U.S. Constitution — but none at all? That was taking a good idea too far, I thought.

Notice the illogic of my reaction. I was thinking of a philosophy as a matter of personal taste, as if you could draw an arbitrary line and stop there. "Would you prefer a little bit of government, a moderate amount, or a lot of it?"

After a while (years, actually) it sank in that Robert wasn’t just telling me what quantity of government he’d prefer. He was saying that the whole idea of it was wrong in principle — no matter whether it was democratic, Communist, monarchist, Christian, or something else. He would agree that some are worse than others, but he insisted that all were wrong. Any government is a monopoly of organized force, inherently unjustifiable; and once accepted, it’s bound to get out of control sooner or later.

Calling the Kettle Black

I enjoyed reading Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code. You might have noticed the Da Vinci quote at the top of this blog and that book was where I first read of it. Also, the background is a cropped portion of a Da Vinci sketch that I manipulated in one of those 'photoshop' things.

I saw the film last evening in a packed theater that must have been 90 degrees. Ugh. Could have done without that. The film was OK, I suppose. It hit the main points of the story, but almost in a mechanical and rushed way. It naturally wasn't nearly as entertaining as the novel. As an aside, his Angels & Demons (written and published prior to TDVC) was a far better, more action-packed novel, in my view.

What a kerfuffle we've got here, eh? Up. In. Arms. To say the least. Wow. Y'know, I found the excitement concerning the novel to be quite charming and entertaining. Here you had people recommending it and talking about it in hushed tones to others as if it were a legitimate, scholarly refutation of core beliefs. I suppose that where intelligence, reason, logic and the scientific method won't suffice, you've always got fiction.

Occam's Razor comes to mind, once again. You know; that's the principle, roughly stated, that says when you hear the beating of hooves, think horses, not zebras.

...when multiple competing theories have equal predictive powers, the principle recommends selecting those that introduce the fewest assumptions and postulate the fewest hypothetical entities.

Well, this is not a rigorous treatment of the thing, by any means, but it strikes me as rather hilarious that we have an unprovable, untestable supernatural explanation surrounding western civilization's chief myth, employing hundreds of inter-connecting and self-reliant assumptions, countered by an admittedly fictional though natural explanation for this mythology and some cannot understand the allure. The allure is simple. Dan Brown's explanation is better. It makes more sense. It's more "plausible," but certainly only in a relative sense. It's probably just as whacked as the Bible's version, but as long as we're believing in fairy tales, what difference does it make which version?

Here are some quotes that cracked me up, from here and here.

...the head of one group went further, calling the movie "a real, real danger" to the faith of Catholics and other Christians. ("Danger?" -ed)

...many Catholics and Christians don't know church history to the detail that Dan Brown gets into" in his "Da Vinci Code" novel and its film adaptation. (So the "danger[ous]" Dan Brown knows church history, does he? -ed)

Baehr told the Washington, D.C., news conference that fiction can have a powerful impact on people... (How ironic! -ed)

films can have a particularly strong effect because darkened theaters eliminate most distractions, giving moviegoers a "monopoly of the mind" that can be more persuasive than books or other visual media. (...or massive cathedrals of stone and marble adorned with exotic hardwoods and tapestries, whose occupant authorities wear flowing robes? -ed)

he and his organization are also urging the public to boycott the film because it is "a fantasy passing as reality" (...and he should know. -ed)

...the big-screen adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel distorts history... (...which, you know, we'd like to keep our running monopoly on. -ed)

It deliberately presents fiction as fact. (We are against deliberately presenting fiction as fact. -ed)

...the film muddles fact and fiction... (...completely corrupting the fiction. -ed)

...upsetting people who have been Catholics all their lives who now don't know what is true and what is lies. (What, still? -ed)

Greek authorities banned the film for viewers under 17, saying it touched on "religious and historical questions of major importance that a minor is not able to evaluate." (I guess the Greek Orthodox Church doesn't 'touch' on "religious and historical questions of major importance." -ed)

[Monsignor Jean-Michel di Falco] Leandri said he would not call for a boycott because the movie "really isn't worth worrying about -- it's so far-fetched that no one will believe it." (Obviously an authority on the "far-fetched." -ed)

So, there you have it.

(Article links: Carlos)

Staying on the Bus

So's you can go the back of the bus...

That's what's all the rage, now. It's great to be the victim of racism. The racists...they're everywhere. Don't miss out. Be a victim today.

Cultural Racism:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.

Well, it's been blogged all over the place, so I'm not sure who'd I'd give credit to. Call a nude white person nude: your a racist. Claim your individuality: racist. Plan your future: racist. Call proper English proper: racist. Mention a good writer or composer who happens to be white, while not also mentioning one who happens to be black, brown, red, or yellow: racist.

My god.  What it must take to bend a human mind around to the point where it 'works' like this.

Indeed.

Update: Samizdata has a good take with good links to other good takes.


A Convenient Lie

During a visit to the cinema last evening, I was "treated" to the trailer for the upcoming Al Gore film: An Inconvenient Truth. Knock yourselves out. If you're unable to detect the difference between real science, and an agenda that cherry picks out-of-context material for use in post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies, then what the hell? -- you're a moron, a scientific ignoramus, and there's really no point in you being anything different. Just be you, and keep entertaining the rest of us.

Just Googling around, I'm amazed at all the "most important film" hoopla from people who don't know a goddamned thing about "greenhouse" gasses, their effects, their possible causes, their possible benefits, the scale of the data, the scope of the data, the reliability of the data prior to the whole issue...and on and on.

For the 1% of you capable of getting through something that actually deals with the science scientifically, albeit completely inaccessible to sycophants like Micki Krimmel, then you could start with places like junkscience.com.

Chaos and Mass Civil Unrest Narrowly Averted

Well I just got home and undertook to walk the two terrorists (Rotor and Nannuk) cleverly disguised as cute little rat terriers. Here's some recent pics of Rotor while on stud duty. He's the brown-faced one. I digress.

So we went out on the normal course around the block and I could see down the RR tracks that there was some commotion involving the police. There were at least a couple of cars and a cop on a bike. Must have been something serious.

By the time I got around to the other side of the block and walked by, there were six cops on scene. Four police cars, one with a blown-out tire from ramming the curb. They were all glad handing, high fiving and generally spreading the glory. What lay there on the street, hands cuffed behind his back, was not some gang of thugs intent on wreaking havoc on the peaceful, but a lone, brown-skinned man of Latin descent. He weighed all of 130 lbs., and he was choked up trying to talk to them. I saw no weapons or anything else that might represent a threat to me or anyone else.

Frankly, I don't know whether the guy actually harmed anyone, or what he did to deserve such treatment, but after my earlier entry today, I wasn't in the mood to see something like this.

Regarding that earlier entry, I just had to wonder a time or two today if it wasn't a case of "affirmative action" taking place, if you catch my drift.

Just Another Day Here in the “Land of the Free”

Make sure you watch the video associated with the story Billy Beck links to.

You know, it has been a good 10 years now that I have been toying with the idea to someday create a massive online public ostracism database for placing swine such as Natalie Preston of the Baltimore Police Department. Perhaps one of these days I'll post something about it.


Dear John

Well, taking just the non-gibberish portions of your comments...

"Well, you know, when I read of millions of people being 'consigned to dung heaps' - children too, I guess - I think that in such circumstances I'd prefer to be numbered among the dead myself."

You have been. You are. You will. Humanity has been consigned to the dung heap, by nature, for all of history, John, and you are condemned to join them. Don't you get it? Hell, even large swaths of human myth understand that fact, as well as the convenience it offers for conjuring up unprovable, mystical ways out for the lazy and ignorant.

For tens of thousands of years, man lived a few short years in miserable conditions and general discomfort. And now he doesn't. Not because of myths, but because of what the few accomplished--because those heroic ones were able to control our very environment, the very nature of our existence. And there's no reason it should end there. In times past, the 99% of the population who are functional morons and imbeciles just shut up and did as they were told while the few, uncrippled by stupidity, went and built a civilization for the rest of humanity--which the rest now figuratively take a crap on, daily, and billions of insolent f’ers thank "God" for what was the providence and product of man's mind.

And that could be just fine, but thanks to ideas like democracy, it's the dumb and the infirm that have the real influence, now, because it f’ing multiplies and self-perpetuates the dumb and infirm. Sure, I don’t suppose they really know any better, but they should. They could, and the justice involved in the thing means they ultimately die, and take everyone else with them. It could have been different.

Imagine a civilization where men worship their true benefactors: the inventors, the scientists, the true artists, the industrialists, the financiers. Instead, they worship a mystical, non-existent God, sports stars and popular actors—actors, for f’s sake. Imagine holding the products of man’s mind and those who created them in true and pure reverence. Imagine that, John.

Do you understand any of that, John? It’s others doing the heavy lifting, with life-saving and life-enhancing things like: paychecks, places to live, food, clothing, modern medicine, transportation; all that mundane, non-literary and terribly unprofound stuff--the stuff that’s really keeping humanity out of the dung heap, for the moment.

Alright, done. You can get back to the comics, now.

Preview of May Report Card

Well, what a day. If you've been following along, you'll see I've been keeping things in the black. Tomorrow is expiration day for May options on the SPX, so as usual, the Wednesday and Thursday of expiration week are lively and focused. Today was no exception.

Here's what I just posted to my trading discussion list.

Subj: I Wimped Out

Alright, when I saw that 1272 break and go all the way down to 1267, I decided to pull the trigger. One of my cardinal rules is that once I decide to roll, I roll, no matter what. I could see the picture improving in the background as I was "livin' it up," but no matter.

All in all, here's how it went:

1270/1280 put: debit of $6.4, so the 20 contracts cost $12,800.

I then looked to roll out to a June put, but then realized I was out of balance to the downside for June, so my only alternative given maintenance constraints was to go the topside, which I really hate to do because it violates my rules; but I had no choice--I tend to keep my account pretty loaded without much on the sidelines. So:

1300/1310 call: credit of $2.80. So 30 contracts got $8,400.

Now I'm 15 contracts heavy to the topside with additional maintenance because of the credit, so NOW I can go get 15 more contracts to the downside. So:

1245/1255 put: credit of $2.20 (cool: It was showing $1.1 and I asked for $2) and I got 20 contracts instead of 15, so I got $4,400.

Therefore....[drum roll]...net change for the day: $0.

I really hate that 1300/1310 call and my plan now is to roll out of it as soon as I get some decent time decay. But, at any rate, except for my May 1245/1255 put (only 10 contracts), I can relax for a while.

I was up about $9,000 for the month before this, so that's gone, plus another $4,000. But it's not gone, gone; just moved into June's booked profits. Unless I have to roll June positions, the only thing that happened today was that it's taking another month to keep what I made.

We'll have the formal Report Card up next week.

Europe or Bust

Well, just booked flights on Air France from San Francisco to Paris Chales DeGalle, leaving Monday July 3. We'll make a three week trip of it, returning the 24th. Can you imagine what kind of time and effort it takes to plan a three week touring vacation, particularly if the wife is allowed any input?

So can I, which is why the extent of our firm reservations is airline tickets and a reservation at the Hertz counter (670 bucks for three weeks--not bad at all).

The soft, sort of we'll see how it goes-plans include staying a few days in Paris, heading down south through Orleans and on to Toulouse. Then maybe down as far as Valencia, Spain where we'll intercept the Med. Then We'll just run the course through Barcelona and all the way up to Marseilles where we enter my old stomping grounds, including Cassis, Bandol, my former residence of Toulon, and of course St. Tropez, "St. Raf," Cannes and Nice. Then it's on to Monte Carlo and over into Italy and on down to Rome--and maybe Napoli if it's looking like we'll have time.

Then it'll be northwest marking our way back to Paris, which might include stops in Venice, which I love, Milan, Geneva, Dijon...who knows?

The point is, we don't have to be any particular place at any particular time, nor do we have to leave any particular place at any particular time. I've traveled places all over the world with nothing but an airplane ticket and a carry-on bag. I've flow into Bangkok at 1 a.m. after an 18 hour flight from San Francisco via Hong Kong, and had to find a place to sleep. This trip is unlikely to ever be that intense (we've always got the car), but it's the way to really travel, for me. So here's the rough triangular outline of the trip.

It should be fun to photo-blog it too. I just got one of those Sony TX-series notebooks with the built-in GSM data capability (in addition to WiFi). If I can get a cell connection, I can get 200 kbps, which is pretty dam good.

Me: School Teacher

That's right. All next week, an hour per day. My wife's 5th grade class. For years she's been telling me about the Junior Achievement program to bring business and economics to the classroom. There's a different curriculum for each grade level and upon a cursory review of the 5th grade material, it's pretty good. Of course, I'll be adding an insight or two of my own <grin>.

We'll see how it goes and I shall report.

You Can’t Fight City Hall

Jeff Michael brings up something I always find bizarre and ends up referencing a couple of my past posts in the process.

The tax protester movement amuses me to no end, especially the sort that claims that the tax law in reality does not require the payment of some sorts of taxes, or withholding, or what have you and that the IRS is just not following its own rules.

It's the most bizarrely circular sort of thing, don't you think? Here we have a government that could lock you up for more than 100 years if you violated enough tax laws, and regularly does lock up people for non-compliance with the tax code, which, morally, is the equivalent of being locked in jail for running away from a mugger.

Given that reality, does anyone really believe that the IRS really cares what the finer points of the tax code might be? If someone could actually get a judge to go their way, how long do you think the code would remain "ambiguous?"

Look, don't pay any of these hucksters any money, because that's all it is. They want you to think there's some magic silver bullet that gets you out of paying taxes short of operating in the "underground economy" or risking going to jail. There isn't. If you want to take those risks, it's fine with me, but at least know what you're getting yourself into. If you have loved ones for whom you're responsible, you'd better think really hard.

It's no game, and what you do now can set your course for many years to come. If you and your wife & kids were in a hostage situation confronted with evil gunmen who just might take pleasure in harming you and your family, what you are morally entitled to do and what you ought to do, given myriad possibilities and consequences, is not something to take lightly.

Well, the IRS is a pack of evil gunmen who just might take pleasure in harming you and your family. And, you are hostage.

I've been through six years of IRS audit--recently--three years personal and three corporate. Lasted 9 months. No adjustments. Why? Because I understand very clearly who I'm dealing with. You don't mess around with low-self-esteem thieves with guns, jails, and torture chambers unless you know you can win.

I hold no illusions--either in who I'm dealing with or what they're capable of doing to me, my wife, my family, my employees and my company.