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Journal: Figures on 2008 crash

Journal by blue trane

From https://class.coursera.org/money-002/forum/search?q=10.6+trillion#15-state-query=10.6+trillion:

Quoting from http://www.milkeninstitute.org... [milkeninstitute.org]:

The total value of housing units in the United
States amounts to $19.3 trillion, with $10.6 trillion
in mortgage debt and the remaining $8.7 trillion
representing equity in those units as of June 2008.

Of the approximately 80 million houses in the
United States, 27 million are paid off, while the
remaining 53 million have mortgages. Of those
households with mortgages, 5 million (or 9 percent)
were behind in their payments and roughly 3
percent were in foreclosure as of mid-2008.

So, say 10% of $10.6 trillion was at risk of default, or $1 trillion.

The notional amount of CDS
increased from less than $1 trillion in 2001 to slightly
more than $62 trillion in 2007, before declining to
$47 trillion on October 31, 2008.

So the derivative market inflated the real value of the mortgages by about a factor of 6, and then magnified the size of the possible default problem by a factor of 15.

---

More figures: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2013/1/10/21236/5547

---

User Journal

Journal: Peaches, beloved cockatiel.

Journal by blue trane

November 9, 2014

Thoughts on the death of Peaches

I would like to run a bird rescue on a marijuana farm, powered with solar or other alternative energy sources.

I would take in abandoned or injured birds, care for them, tend to marijuana plants, and maybe experiment with robotics or solar energy or bots in a barn.

Why shouldn't the government create money to help me? Would I be contributing to the General Welfare?

I would give pot away. I don't want to sell anything.

Why is my dream so threatening that I must be marginalized, impoverished, scorned, targeted, teased, trolled, bullied, scammed, ripped off? Do you people just shrug and say "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"?

---

Peach produced some chirps I'd never heard from her in the last few days. High, arcing, short chirps, as she attacked a bowl of seeds for what she knew must be one of the last times.

Three weeks ago, she produced bloody droppings. The emergency room vet seconded an internal tumor diagnosis by the regular vet. What can you do for an avian tumor? Nanotechnology, one day? Target all and only tumor cells, dissolve them or something?

She seemed to recover, no longer having bloody droppings. She ate well for a couple weeks, and chirped a lot, and asked to be carried around. I spent a lot of time with her perched on my shoulder.

Then she turned less active, and spent a lot of time sitting with her eyes closed, leaning against a wall or cage bar.

In her final hours she was having obvious difficulty breathing, and had stopped preening herself.

Peach has a very special and strong spirit. I believe we shall meet in other lives, and I tried ot get her to remember me so we might recognize each other again.

---

I knew Peach for 16 years. She saw us go through a lot. We have lots of memories, some of which I've written about in diaries.

User Journal

Journal: Can Capitalism and Democracy Co-Exist? 1

Journal by PopeRatzo

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/can-capitalism-democracy-co-exist.html

I'm going to say that no, finance-driven capitalism like we see in the US and UK cannot exist is inherently anti-democratic. Industrial driven capitalism has a better chance.

User Journal

Journal: Not a Racist Country? Really? 23

Journal by PopeRatzo

A black man is gunned down by police for handling a toy gun in a Walmart. A gun that Walmart was selling.

http://www.vox.com/2014/9/24/6839953/video-john-crawford-walmart-police-beavercreek-ohio-toy-gun

But this white guy can carry a real, loaded rifle (and body armor) in front of a school, refuses to show ID to police and nothing happens.

http://politix.topix.com/story/14304-was-this-man-wrong-to-demonstrate-open-carry-in-front-of-a-high-school

Open Carry laws are clearly meant just for white people. Laws that only apply to one race are the definition of racist.

User Journal

Journal: More Than Enough - Comcast declares war on Tor 31

Journal by PopeRatzo

If you haven't dumped Comcast yet, you better hurry:

http://www.deepdotweb.com/2014/09/13/comcast-declares-war-tor/

Reports have surfaced (Via /r/darknetmarkets and another one submitted to us) that Comcast agents have contacted customers using Tor and instructed them to stop using the browser or risk termination of service. A Comcast agent named Jeremy allegedly called Tor an âoeillegal service.â The Comcast agent told its customer that such activity is against usage policies.
The Comcast agent then repeatedly asked the customer to tell him what sites he was accessing on the Tor browser. The customer refused to answer.
The next day the customer called Comcast and spoke to another agent named Kelly who reiterated that Comcast does not want its customers using Tor. The Comcast agent then allegedly told the customer:

"Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that arenâ(TM)t so-to-speak legal. We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules. Do you have any other questions? Thank you for contacting Comcast, have a great day."

User Journal

Journal: Three baby mice

Journal by blue trane

August 13, 2014

In the bathroom at Millersylvania State Park, I found two baby mice. One was cowering against a wall, shivering, moving very slowly. Another was in the hallway, likewise shivering and not moving much or at all.

I thought of putting them outside, in the forest. I assumed their mother had been killed by a trap or something. (I had seen a squirrel earlier, running with what seemed to be a dead mouse in its mouth.)

I tried to pick up one mouse by the tail, but it kept squeaking and running away. I left it alone.

I went for a hike on the trails.

When I got back, I had resolved to get a box and move the mice outside. I went back to the bathroom to check on them.

I found a streak of fresh blood where one had been, it's flattened, mangled body a few inches away, jammed under a closed door. I found two others behind another door, also flattened and bloody.

I had seen only two, there must have been another behind a door somewhere.

I'm guessing someone, some kid, stomped on them.

I whistled Flee as a bird as I walked away from the bathroom.

I thought of Robin Williams recent suicide. A Fresh Air interview with him was replayed, a bit with the punchline: "Life is not for everybody."

But those mice weren't given a chance. They could have been saved. They didn't have to die violently, by murder, for no purpose other than that they perhaps annoyed someone.

User Journal

Journal: Lewis River dreams

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-14

Two dream scenes:

1) IMF associated with old growth trees, as if reserves were symbolized by the giant, 1000-year-old living trunks.

Is this how they think of reserves? I don't. Money reserves are artificial, human-invented, not natural like the trees.

2) My right hand being eaten by a fish, caught in the big fish's mouth, entirely inside the ring of the teeth. I awoke feeling pain in my right hand, trapped under a thigh.

Dream as a somatic warning.

User Journal

Journal: Island Camp dreams

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-15
Island Camp, WA

Two dream memories:

1) I was female. I was in a multi-story department store. My right arm would shiver periodically, and an amphibian-like creature, writhing, green, long-legged (like a frog), would come twitching out from my sleeve at a fast speed; it would shoot towards the floor, tumbling, then bound off somewhere. The offshoots springing from my (right) arm were different sizes, though all of the same general form (amphibian-like) and color (green on top, whitish belly).

I have a vivid memory of looking down at one as it emerged, at a greater speed than gravity would have given it had it just been falling from my shoulder's height; it felt as if it had squirted out from an aperture, a slit, somewhere on my upper arm, which I could not see because I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt (blouse?). The creature was falling beyond my sleeve upside-down, its whitish lizard-like belly at an angle slanted upwards, towards my head; its head cocked, its neck turned so it was making eye contact with me as it descended backwards towards the floor.

I was moving between floors in the department store, taking the stairs. I was trying to hide these amphibian births from the store security. I felt that if someone saw me squirting out these frog-like creatures, something bad would happen. It was embarrassing, if nothing else.

I had no control over the births.

---

Dream interpretation:

Day residue: I saw a frog a few days ago. And some tadpoles a day or so after that, a couple days ago. I still think of the salamanders I saw in a pond in the Willipa Hills, a few weeks ago.

I was feeling a lot of insect bites, or what I took to be insect bites, during the night before the dream. After waking up I scratched my upper right arm, wondering if there was an insect there giving birth?

I thought of the dream I had a few nights ago, in which my right hand was being bitten by a large fish. When I woke from that dream my hand was trapped under a thigh, being painfully squeezed. Was this latest dream some kind of somatic warning, as well?

Another interpretation:

The live births were memes, pushed out from my right arm as it wrote them down on paper. The memes (ideas, thoughts, written words) were dangerous to the employees of the business-oriented environment I was in, so I tried to hide. What I was outputting was out of place in the sterile, cut-and-dried world of the department store. My production was disruptive, disturbing, weird, uncontrolled.

2) Second dream memory:

I was consorting with a rich person, a businessman. He showed me a card with some ideas on it, asked my opinion. I wrote in my reactions on the card. He seemed interested. He was busy, and left. When he said goodbye I felt a sense of loss, as if I should have pressed him for further meetings about my ideas; why didn't he hire me, pay me a salary, give me some money for my contributions (which definitely interested him) so I could have a decent standard of living instead of living way below the poverty line.

Later I saw something produced by the rich man's company. It was the same card he had showed me, and my ideas and scribbles were on it. He had photocopied the card with my contributions and was distributing it. I wasn't credited. He appeared to be making money from the card. I wasn't.

Interpretation: A businessman takes my ideas and profits from them, without crediting of paying me. I'm not pushy, so I don't ask when I have the chance to be part of the business.

User Journal

Journal: Recorder

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-15

Island Camp, WA

I've been playing the recorder a lot. A group occupying the shelter at this campsite left this morning, so I have the camp to myself. Yesterday they left in one car during the day, so I practiced then too. But it's better when I'm not worried about them returning.

I practice "Paper Doll", "When The Saints Go Marching In", "It Don't Mean A Thing", "Someday", "Basin Street Blues", "All of Me", "Don't Fence Me In", "Do, A Deer" (in different keys), "Blue Skies" (just started today), "Summertime", and a Boogie Woogie bassline.

I'm trying to get a prettier, less breathy sound, especially in the high notes. I think I hit a high B today. High G I can get fairly consistently now, high A is more iffy.

It's nice, playing with the birds, squirrels, deer. Sometimes I start playing and birds start chirping.

I'm learning how to use breath control to make notes and phrases swing.

---

I recorded three or four songs on my phone. But I can't transfer them to the computer. I was able to before; it was fairly straightforward: email the 3gp sound file to myself, then download it and convert it into mp3 format using Audacity. However, on a different computer (Windows 8), I am no longer able to play the 3gp audio files: they are silent, or don't transfer at all, or don't show any waveform when imported into Audacity. The 3gp files play on my phone, but that's it.

User Journal

Journal: Lewis River

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-12

Lewis River

Bathed in the upper Lewis River today. The water was cold, but the air temperature was in the 90s. I thoroughly washed my feet and splashed water over all the rest of my body.

Yesterday I hiked a trail through old growth forest from the Upper Falls (on the Lewis River) to the Middle Falls, and back. Again the temperature was close to 90 degrees, so I took my shirt off. I crossed at least six or seven groups, a lot of them women.

One group had five or six women and one little boy. The boy had his shirt off, like me. When I crossed them the second time (on the way back), one girl looked like she wanted to take her shirt off, too.

It is exhilarating, finding an isolated place in the forest where I can walk naked, playing the recorder...

I spent the first night of this trip on the east end of the Swift Reservoir. I started the night in a tent, but I was right next to the water, and it was so humid the inside of the tent smelled moldy and the sides were wet. So I pulled my pads and sleeping bag out and slept on a tarp outside. The tarp was covered with dew drops by morning. Luckily the morning brought sunshine and hot weather so I dried everything out.

Second night, on the Upper Lewis River, I tried the tent again. But it smelled of plastic and was making me feel tense all over. After sunset I pulled out the pads and sleeping bag again, to sleep on a tarp next to the tent. This time it wasn't humid.

Third night: I slept in the tent. The plastic smell seemed less after airing it out all day. It kept the bugs off me. In the morning I noticed some congested sinuses which I didn't have when I slept with no tent outside...

User Journal

Journal: Some figures on the housing bubble 1

Journal by blue trane

http://www.milkeninstitute.org/pdf/riseandfallexcerpt.pdf provides some numbers:

The total value of housing units in the United
States amounts to $19.3 trillion, with $10.6 trillion
in mortgage debt and the remaining $8.7 trillion
representing equity in those units as of June 2008.

Of the approximately 80 million houses in the
United States, 27 million are paid off, while the
remaining 53 million have mortgages. Of those
households with mortgages, 5 million (or 9 percent)
were behind in their payments and roughly 3
percent were in foreclosure as of mid-2008.

So, say 10% of $10.6 trillion was at risk of default, or $1 trillion.

The notional amount of CDS
increased from less than $1 trillion in 2001 to slightly
more than $62 trillion in 2007, before declining to
$47 trillion on October 31, 2008.

So the derivative market inflated the real value of the mortgages by about a factor of 6, and then magnified the size of the possible default problem by a factor of 15.

I'm reminded of a sentence from John Lanchester's book, I.O.U. (another journal of mine on the book):

"Even once it's explained, however, it still seems wholly contrary to common sense that the market for products that derive from real things should be unimaginably vaster than the market for the things themselves."

Note that the total value of derivatives, according to the May 2014 BIS Statistical Release, was $710 trillion. So the $62 trillion 2007 figure has been increased by a factor of 10, again.

---

The Fed bought up trillions of the MBS assets, thereby letting off the hook the CDS holders who had insured them, I think. Pension funds held a lot of CDSes, so a SIGTARP report stated that it was prompted to action to save retirement accounts. Yet when Detroit experienced a dramatic increase in its liabilities due to an interest-rate swap with UBS, the Fed and the national government did not step in to help. Why not?

Fed Chairman Bernanke stated somewhere that helping state and local governments were too political for the Fed to get involved in. So it is the realm of fiscal policy. Why couldn't he say outright that the government can run a deficit to help out state and local governments? It worked for the Fed helping banks; why shouldn't it work for the government helping states and cities?

User Journal

Journal: The Trolls 81

Journal by Tom

Wow, it's been 15 years but I've finally got my own personal troll! :-)

I must apologize to everyone I've ever called a troll now that I've seen a real one. Yeah, there are trollish comments, but this... it's a different league. If you ever wondered who these brain-damaged morons were who set up geocities homepages with blinking purple text on blue background with red dots in Comic Sans - that kind of different league.

Now it does make me wonder about trolls in general. Has there been a study on this? I really wonder if psychologists have tackled this because quite honestly, you cannot be mentally stable and post in this and this content at the same time. So I do wonder if trolls on the Internet (the real trolls, not the people occasionally posting something stupid) do have a mental problem. It definitely looks like it. Probably insecurity issues, definitely an exaggerated need for attention, might be related to borderline syndrome or schizoprenia.

And, of course, the Internet provides:

As someone who has had to deal with family members suffering from mental illness, let me tell you that it's not funny. So despite the fact that they are, in fact, obnoxious, aggravating assholes, these sad little fucks also need help and their miserable little existence is not something you'd want to trade for yours, no matter how much you think your life sucks. Trust me, with a mental illness on top, it'll suck more.

Obviously, we can't offer therapy to people who usually comment anonymously and will often go to great lengths to avoid being tracked down. What we can do, however, is get a better understanding for how they act this way (they can't help it, mental illness is stronger than your conscious mind) and that the best thing we can do for them is to not continue the feedback loop. "Don't feed the trolls" - old wisdom there.

The last link in that list contains a few more ideas.

Now that I'm at the end, I kind of regret the smiley face at the top. But I'm leaving it in because this journal entry is a bit of a journey, even if it is short. Thanks to some Internet resources, a bit of research and connecting the dots, I've come a short way, changing my mind a little on this particular sub-sub-sub-part of life.

-----

A short additional statement on how to treat trolling. From what I've gathered from the resources above, a few comments (both here and in the various spammed threads) and my own life experience:

First, don't feed the trolls. Most of them seek attention, so if you stop giving it to them, they become frustrated and go away. Notice that they seek attention, not validation. A rebuke or an angry rant or even a shootout of personal insults satisfies them as much as anything else. Much like the old PR saying "there is no negative publicity", it is all about the attention itself, not about its content.

Second, stand your ground. Do not leave the site or stop commenting just because you're being trolled. It takes a bit to do that, yes. Trolls consider it a "victory" if they shut you up, either by simple flooding or by frustrating you enough to disappear. In their twisted minds, it gives them validation and somehow proves that they were right.

Third, if you see someone else being trolled, give them support. Doesn't take much - a single sentence is more than enough. Someone under attack by a real troll is being flooded. The troll will commonly post under multiple aliases or otherwise attempt to appear as more than one person. Psychological experiments such as Solomon Asch's show how we humans as social animals experience conformance pressure. So give that other person support by showing him that the flood he's getting is no the only opinion around. It doesn't matter if he consciously knows it's just one troll, the pressure is subconscious.

-----

I'd like to have comments disabled on this journal entry, for obvious reasons, but you can't publish a journal entry with comments disabled, so... 1000:1 bet that he's stalking the journal as well and will add his drivel below?

Also, if the formatting looks atrocious, turn off beta and revert to classic. Seriously.

User Journal

Journal: Privacy and Secrecy 9

Journal by ShieldW0lf

These two concepts are presented as being synonymous in popular discussion. A "You can't have one without the other." kind of thing.

This concerns me greatly.

I could write at great length about the threat secrecy poses to human culture, and have before, but that's not what I'm going to do right now.

I've had conversations in the past where I claimed people never had privacy in the first place, that between the government and the schools and the banks and credit card companies and whatnot, their movements and activities have been monitored since the day they were born.

But this was never precisely right. Because privacy doesn't require secrecy. That is what I want to talk about.

First, a couple of illustrations:

When you go to the bathroom, it's not a secret what you're going in there for. We know you're going in there to release waste. You know that we know. But we would generally agree that this gives you privacy.

When you live with roommates, and you take your special someone to your room and hang a tie on the door, we know what you're in there for. You know that we know. But you still feel a sense of privacy, and you still do what you went in there to do.

So. What makes these situations private, when they're not even vaguely secret?

The lack of a requirement to interact.

It's a matter of social decorum. Good manners.

At the end of the day, I don't really care that you know I took a dump. What I care about is that I don't have to carry on a conversation about it. I don't even want to have the "conversation of the eyes". I want to forget, for a moment, that you exist.

I don't think I'm exceptional in this regard.

So, clearly, you can have privacy without secrecy.

Let's examine something a little more pervasive.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years, you're probably familiar with the "Reality TV" concept.

These people are living in a fishbowl. They have no secrets, and they know it.

But you can clearly see that, despite this, they will seek out a space where they are physically alone so they can have some privacy. And you can clearly see them relax, because their need for privacy has been fulfilled.

Why? There are likely more people observing them that ever before... how can they possibly feel like they have privacy?

The answer is, they don't need to react to you. They don't need to respond to things you say. That automatic reflex we have to decipher what your eyes are saying never kicks in. That is what they really crave.

So. One more illustration. Not even anecdotal. Could not tell you when or where I heard this, but here goes:

The story is, there is an Asian culture where everyone is packed in so tightly, and their building construction affords them no secrecy because their walls are so thin that a man walking past your house can see and hear right through your rice paper walls.

Nevertheless, these people successfully find the privacy they need. Because they do not react to things that are none of their business. They know their place.

There is a lesson here for us.

We are grappling with a real problem in our civilization. We have forged tools with the power to extend our senses further than our great grandparents could have ever dreamed. But we have not yet demonstrated the maturity to handle it.

The result of this is that there is a small class of people who have access to vast amounts of information about everyone, and a large class of people who have very little access and what access they have has been carefully chosen to control their opinions.

The small class of people and the large class of people are both fighting to preserve this state of affairs. The large class are defending the "right to secrecy" because they feel they are fighting to protect their privacy from their ill mannered fellows. The small class are defending the right to secrecy because they have an unfair advantage over their fellows and they wish to preserve that state of affairs.

Simultaneously, you have people who are fighting for "transparency", because they recognize the unfair advantage that is held by a group that seeks to control them, and they wish that unfair advantage erased.

In this way, we are turned against ourselves by those who would rule us.

I've argued this point exhaustively in online forums under my standard pseudonym, and have been jeered at, and invited to publish my real name, address and banking information.

This is what we're up against. I've got skeletons in my closet, same as everyone. I'm flawed, but I'm confident I'm no more flawed than any of you. If the veils of secrecy came crashing down for one and all, I'm confident that it would be impossible for anyone to attack my character and reputation without being seen for a gross hypocrite.

But, to go first is to allow hypocrites to destroy you, and to fail in your attempt to address the problem.

It's a difficult problem. I'm not sure how to get from where we are to where I believe we need to be. I see it as a real possibility that we will destroy our own potential to grow beyond the limitations of our fragile flesh rather than develop the maturity to cope with this situation.

However, I think that creating a sense of the distinction between privacy and secrecy is an essential step towards having a dialog that will lead us there.

Thank you for reading.

"Ada is PL/I trying to be Smalltalk. -- Codoso diBlini

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