Peeking Behind Some Headlines

As we assemble, once again, to watch the sun rise over the cuckoo’s nest (it’s clear in Washington DC this morning), we can’t help but be somewhat bored with the lack of substance to the day’s headlines.

Why, you’d think in a world full of terrorism, nuclear weapons, climate change, pandemics at every turn, not to mention Planet X, that something more than an unfortunately ‘routine’ bombing outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed 23, and there’s no winner yet in Mass Media’s current contest to see who can report the earliest date that the Obama administration knew their website wasn’t going to end happily.

Both stories, however, are worthy of some elucidation while we wait for markets to do more than noise trade pending data later this week.  We can start with the more pleasant of the two:

Fox snooze is leading the “early warning” pack at the moment, revealing HHS warned about the website issues in March, but please!

Are you and I the only humans left who understand the difference between “information” and data?  Data is just that – a fact or factoid – as opposed to information which has some actionable aspect to it.

Suppose for a moment that I could produce a document dates June 26, 1953 which warned that The Obamacare website is not going to work out of the box.  Fine.  So what?  Would there be any other way of seeing the present clusterf*ck revealed by the next earlier date?

Congress, in case you haven’t noticed, is sitting on its thumb (changing hands now and then) on most matters – and the odds of them doing anything other than buttering their own bread is (how to break this to you?) incredibly small.  Other than give you a reason to absorb 18-minutes per hour of commercial content, is there a point?  Ha ha ha!  Hardly .

Now this Iranian Embassy bombing deal?  That’s a different kettle of fish.  Let me ‘splain you, Lucy.

We know that the Israelis and Saudis were starting to work together in preparation for war with Iran, specifically to wipe out the Shi’ite’s chance of getting a nuclear weapon, while the Sunni/Saudis already have theirs and more on order from Pakistan.

A half-way reasonable guess is that the most militant Sunni groups (Wahabi/ al Queda sound familiar?) may have supplied the human material to pull off this morning’s suicide bombing, and thus, in the great chess game of camel countries, try to goad the Iranians into some kind of major attack or response which could be punishable by what?  Why, an attack on their nuke plants of course!

Hey! Since it’s Tuesday, let’s toss in the heavy water plant, too!

With our web-scanning software colleague Grady over at has put up this morning’s data and the hot word of this morning is “Israel” and the surrounding word mix has increased the “spicing” of the words “rapid” and “protocol” which seem to be a broad hint to be looking for more goads and tweaks (a “protocol”) designed to elicit a [“rapid”] repose at some knee-jerk level from the Iranians.

it’s always useful – when marketing a war – to have some marketing tools at hand.  So an expectation-setting this morning would be that we’re now into what might be considered the goad and tweak protocol looking for a marketable justification for what would otherwise be counter-sold as a vile first-strike.  Particularly vile if first-use of nukes is employed which then blows back on the Israelis and falls out on the Russian’s southern tier.

Key lesson:  Apparently, you don’t need to be a gringo to be an Infidel.  Although we’d suspected as much, that, of the morning’s headlines, may be as close to actionable, as we’ll get on the first cup of coffee.

So we’re back where we started yesterday, distinguishing our efforts here at thinking the unthinkable, while the mainstream media continues unthinking the thinkable.

More after this…

(which is also actionable, since the software is usually out before the first of December so you can start working on your taxes over the holidays which is really a nice add-on to a Yule log – a Yule owe, lol….)

Market Records and Obamacare Weighs

OK, it’s nine days early, but the turkey so far this week – playing the old game of “Close, but no cigar” – is the Dow which failed to hang on to a momentary spike over the 16,000 level yesterday.  And the gravy was the S&P which spikes briefly to 1,802.33 and failed to hold.

Looking at the headline this morning we are not totally surprised.

For one thing, the president “stuck his foot in it” by claiming that 100-MILLION Americans have enrolled in Obamacare.

If nothing else, this alone should scare the markets into retreat this morning because this guy’s handling of math might have some bearing on how he looks at the economy.  You think?

Another sector to watch in the coming week or three might be the prescription drug boyz since the epic fail of Obamacare signups “…May Shave 30% from US Drug Sales…” reports Gloomberg.  I’m pondering that as a possible short in my own account.

Oh, and another nightmare for the markets may be found in the “80 is the new 60 when it comes to retirement” story in the NY Post this morning.  Here’s why:  We are already in a collapsing jobs market, right? 

One of the traditional ways for young people to move up the corporate food chain has been for the “old flux” to retire.  So what follows is if the geezers don’t pack it in, the young pups becoming limited by the “gray ceiling” and guess what?  No family formation, big home sales fall and the Millenials who are New Minimalists anyway simply stack cash in safe places but not the market ‘cuz they’ve seen how that screw turns already.  That ought to scare the hell out of the street, but they are still wired direct into IRAs and pension funds, but there again, retirement plans are drying up among the working class…..

President Obama’s job approval rating is now down to a career low.  If his track record doesn’t start to improve, he’ll end up ‘stealing defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Now heap on top of that the report that US banks had to take extraordinary steps when the US default loomed a month and a half back and – in case you’ve forgotten – there was really nothing solved other than a ‘kick the can down the road’ and that road ends in January, so that would be the logical time for the markets to sober up about how F/U’ed the countries finances really are.

I made a note tomorrow morning to see if I could figure out where comet Ison is, since its passing could mark a kind of starters gun for things to really hit the fan.  Holiday cheer and joy may hold the markets up for a while longer, but this whole economy and our approach to it, needs a couple of months in rehab.  We have to wonder if that might not help some policymakers, too.

Actual Data

Enough opinionating!  How about some facts…like this on the Employment Cost Index just out:

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending September 2013, following a 0.5 percent increase in June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation costs) increased 0.3 percent in the September quarter, similar to the 0.4 percent increase for the previous period. Benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) increased 0.7 percent, compared to a 0.4 percent increase for the 3-month period ending in June. Civilian Workers

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1.9 percent for the 12-month period ending September 2013, unchanged from the 12-month period ending in September 2012. Wages and salaries increased 1.6 percent for the current 12-month period. In September 2012, the 12-month increase was 1.7 percent. Benefit costs increased 2.2 percent for the 12-month period ending September 2013, compared with the 2.4 percent increase for the 12-month period ending September 2012.

Private Industry Workers

Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 1.9 percent over the 12-month period ending September 2013, the same increase as in September 2012. Wages and salaries increased 1.8 percent for the year ending in September 2013, the same increase as the period one year ago. The increase in the cost of benefits was 2.0 percent for the 12-month period ending September 2013, compared with a 2.2 percent increase in the period ending in September 2012. Health benefit costs increased 2.7 percent. In September 2012, the increase was 2.3 percent. Among occupational groups, compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the 12-month period ending September 2013 ranged from 1.4 percent for service occupations to 2.1 percent for management, professional, and related occupations. Among industry supersectors, compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the current 12-month period ranged from 1.1 percent for leisure and hospitality to 2.2 percent for financial activities industry and other services except public administration industry.

State and Local Government Workers

Compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 1.7 percent for the 12-month period ending September 2013. In September 2012 the increase was 1.8 percent. Wages and salaries increased 0.9 percent for the 12-month period ending September 2013, compared with a 1.1 percent increase from a year earlier. Prior values for this series, which began in June 1982, ranged from 1.0 percent to 8.5 percent. Benefit costs increased 2.9 percent in September 2013. In September 2012, the increase was 3.2 percent.

So, let’s see here:  12 months private sector up 1.9 percent on top of 2.4 percent the previous 12-months.  In other words, if you had $500 a week rolling in back in September of 2011, then it would have been up to about $518.16 by now – on average.

On the other hand, the state and local government people, with the same $500 a week would have made $513.08 on average.

Is some of the bloom coming off government jobs?  Oh, not when you take into account benefits, time off, and job security…know what I mean?

Small X Flare

From the Solar Influence Data folks this morning:

A X1.0 flare occurred on November 19, at 1026 UT (peak time), in NOAA AR 1893, close the west limb. The flare was associated with a metric type II burst, and an EUV coronal wave. There are preliminary observations of a CME linked to that event, as observed by the COR2 coronagraph on STEREO A, but only one frame shows the event and the speed is still unavailable. The position of the source region makes this event unlikely to be geoeffective, but more coronagraphic data are necessary to confirm this point.

Assuming you know that the “limb” of the sun is it’s horizon (relative to Earth, something near the limbs tends to shoot outward, which would be at roughly right angles to earth, which is my it is unlikely to be geoeffective/earth impacting. 

We’ll have another short course in astrophysics Thursday…

The 150th for the  GA

NPR has a reading of the Gettysburg Address online – which is 150 years old.  The Address, not the posting, you ninny.

The Gettysburg Address didn’t have a zip code, we remind our kids.

Get ‘Em While They’re Hot

Feds are gong to look into those Tesla electric car fires.


“Report claims Brittany Murphy was poisoned.

Oh, and in the MSM, we find that Kim Kardashian and Kanye eat fast food.  Gosh, what an earth-shaking revelation that is, huh?  Boy, that’s life-changing material, fo sho…