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Archive for December, 2018

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I never do this.  This blog has not been about people who read it, and that was a mistake.

I have always thought that this website is about me making notes and that the whole thing was for my benefit.  That was wrong.  People read it.  I want them to read it.  It is actually about sharing.

It is also about becoming a better writer and that is certainly related.  I realize that it is often cryptic and that it is hard for the reader to follow.  I would like to think that I can improve on that.

I love customer satisfaction.  If I had to name a pet peeve (I suppose there are others), it would be small businesses who say ‘It is my business and I’ll do what I want.’  Maybe that too is a little like sharing, but it is also true that any business works off of customers and reputation.  A bigger business or one with professionalism and more at stake would be more likely to at least get through the transaction.  And they would be a whole lot more likely to have heard it before, want to listen, and to want to improve.

I have never been inclined to narrate my way through or to explain a lot of things here.  The whole thing was more or less my calendar as I could look back and be reminded of the things I was working on, if you, the reader will.  Occasionally I would refer someone to it because I thought it contained something factual, useful, or helpful; people who know me know this is here.  I do not even know who reads it or finds it as I have turned-off all website statistics.  I believe Youtube and others may use cookies but otherwise there are no cookies.

All that is no reason not to write for the reader, and write better.  As some have said for many other and different reasons, the time is now.

As for Steve Gillette, it is a happy song for me.  The song came through loud and clear on an old cassette and I had to look on the internet to find who the singer is.  I probably still have the album, but I didn’t remember.

What’s more, it proves that the cassette player in the big black Mercedes still works great.  What an amazing song!

I guess the song is pretty sad, but there’s nothing wrong with memories.  I believe if you try your best to do the right thing and if you make an effort not to hurt people, memories are just fine.

And there is nothing wrong with wondering.


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December 25th, 2018 at 4:10 pm

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Meng Wanzhou.

The warrant had been there since Aug. 22.  It is really just timing or, put another way, a lot of balls in the air.

Fraud.  According to an American Greed episode (!) it is the hardest crime to prove.  Proving intent to commit fraud is very difficult.

Recently, there was the documentary on Stanford Bank from the perspective of Toronto Dominion bank.  Apparently, other banks were wary and Toronto Dominion was not.  It is pretty darn complex and a lot of people in China will not understand it.  You cannot operate an illegal business without an illegal bank.

That is what I am working on.

Also, the pattern shows the crime and intent.


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December 7th, 2018 at 1:50 pm

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That is surely what we all need, a paleofuture blog.

It has not been a good year for the T. Rowe Price Communications and Technology fund, formerly the Media and Telecommunications fund.  Normally it is up about 20% a year.

As far as I can tell, not a whole lot has changed in terms of the growth.  Computers, smartphones, they are virtually one in the same and they are still getting better.  A lot of people have them; some still don’t, particularly in developing markets.

I had never heard of Huawei.  I know a little about ZTE because I have a ZTE phone.

Did you receive the presidential text?  Just imagine such a world.

It is a lot more than just a computer.  It is about communication, real people in everyday life, and every possible ramification within that.

So you are going to steal our technology and use it against us?

There is no question about it.  It is the new cold war.


I do not like Trump.  Perhaps Russia really isn’t a threat and China is.  But this has been going on a long time.  I like that his hard-headedness and forceful negotiations are showing up here.

Unindicted co-conspirator?  That is worth a read.

Michael Cohen.  Maybe that is the difference between a 2nd-level white collar criminal and an everyday blue collar one who spends their life in and out of jail.  For decades Cohen led the high life as Trumps fixer and having your boss and (former) protector elected president doesn’t hurt.

Then the fall came hard.  You can see it in his face and in his actions.  He only wants to preserve his family and do his best to avoid prison.  That life is over and he fully realizes it.

For a while he tried to continue with the old ways but it was over.  He was caught.

And there is no way he is a rogue lawyer.  It is one more giant stain on Trump, and it is one of many.  Could it bring him down or can he ride it out is the only real storyline.


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December 7th, 2018 at 9:23 am

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Kathy Carpenter and Nancy Pfister

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Of all the stories that actually happened on American Greed and similar programs this one sticks out.

Nancy Pfister did not leave the greatest of legacies.  She went to college for a little while and never held a job.  Well into her fifties she was very attractive.  She was very well-versed in the ‘I am entitled to more’ syndrome.

All she really had was a $4 million house, mostly given the 36 acres, a $90K allowance, and a reputation.

The chances of success for her tenants and the man who murdered her were slim.  There was no lease or background check and they were paying $4K a month in rent, utilities, and expenses plus stress to satisfy Pfister and/or repair hassles and it was impossible.  And, they did not really have the money, at least not liquid.  Their brand new home spa business in tiny Aspen was a fiction if not a delusional fantasy.

But still, Nancy Pfister did not deserve to die, not like that or in any other way.

The hero of the story is Kathy Carpenter.

She is the former bank loan officer demoted because of problems including drinking.  Still, she was sharp enough and likeable enough to stay on as a teller.  How many people wouldn’t want such a job in Aspen?  Apparently the job also came with a subsidized apartment in town.

‘You’ve got something going for you but you are fat.’ Pfister said, or something like that, when they first met.  She used the bank and they saw each other.  Probably or hopefully she apologized and it was accompanied by something like I’m sorry but people who know me know I always say what is on my mind.

While Pfister never really did or accomplish anything, the story goes that she offered Carpenter a job as her personal assistant.  Carpenter turned it down by saying “You can’t afford me.”


Put very simply, the poor woman said headboard–there is blood on the headboard–and had to go through the loss of her friend.  The police harassed her and destroyed her endlessly.  [I think she lost her job and home, and she moved in with her mother.] The police, led by the wise old (that is sarcasm) Lisa Miller, destroyed her.  All she did was find and try to help her now dead friend.

The police were gross.  Luckily, the murder weapon and thus the murderer fell into their hands.  Then he made things even easier by confessing.

Still they did not believe it and they harassed the brave Ms. Carpenter.  It reminds me of the little woman who broke the Eric Conn enterprise.  Her name is Jennifer Griffith.

I was going to write that apparently she and her (later) accomplice in doing the right thing Sarah Carver did not get anything out of it.  That still may be true.  But the whistleblower suit was instrumental in exposing and bringing down the ring.


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December 6th, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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American Greed Monday

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Monday is American Greed day on CNBC.  It borders on obsession to watch the videos.  There are so many.

It helps to turn on the computer and let it go for a few hours.

I already had the video when I downloaded Season 12.  It helps to follow it if it is live TV.

There are a lot of similarities in the stories.  Many are about health care–oxycontin, hospice, addiction treatment, and medicare and medicaid fraud.  A lot are about financial fraud, like Madoff and Allen Stanford, both selling and buying it.  Some of the criminals are in their twenties or even teens and they have never accomplished or experienced anything else.  And some are older and they have done it in varying degrees for their whole lives.  Almost always there are outward signs of ostentation.

Usually the main characters are con artists–people who gain the trust of others and then abuse it.  They do not change.  They do not understand, or rather, they likely view it as the way of the world and it is worth it.  “Fun while it lasted,” may be the mantra.  That is the title of Bruce McNall’s memoir.

There has not been an American Greed episode on McNall.  But he was a crook from the get-go.  The coins and antiquities were swiped.

But the best thing about the show and stories like those it tells are the real people involved.  Sometimes they are stupid, sometimes they are not, and always they are real.  They give great interviews and they say wise things.  The whisleblowers especially are great.

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December 4th, 2018 at 8:51 am

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