A Numbers Game….

As I sit reviewing 2014 I am looking at all sorts of numbers from my investments to my handicap. One can’t help but look at the figures as everyone wants to pare down and decipher what the hell this all means. It is actually quite telling how our moods and our outlook can be determined by a twist of a decimal point or integer.

So many of these are guesstimates. It is amazing how fortunes rise and fall on a survey. The unemployment rate is just that. The Bureau of Census surveys 60,000 households and asks them who is working and who is not. From this is garnered a rate and is deemed up or down and ditto your IRA.

At earnings season all the gurus try to project what the earnings or losses will be at XYZ corp. When they are announced they may hit or miss by one or two cents and the quants pick up key words in their algorithms and either reward or trash a stock accordingly. Then they have a conference call to explain everything and the stock continues to bounce around on projections. All of these are just numbers but who cares? Everyone looks knowing and C’est la vie.

You can play with numbers to make things look good or bad. A major league baseball player can manipulate his ERA or batting average to merit a multi year contract. His agent deftly surveys the market to show his man is not really that bad but actually better than most. What other industry can you be so handsomely rewarded for batting .270 or having a losing record and ERA just under 4.0?

By the way I don’t know about you but the analysis of everything cosmic in every sport takes a lot of fun out of doing something stupid like just watching the game. We regurgitate the On Base Percentage or Slugging Average of a guy just playing a sport. The golfer has a .043 chance of making a 40 foot putt. I know that stupid! But the best is always this kicker has not missed a field goal in his last 43 tries. The kiss of death!

The number of children born to unwed mothers in the US is 40% of the birth rate or around 1.6 million. They will then tell you it is 72% among black women which is horrific. It is the single most critical problem in solving poverty among African Americans. They will not tell you it is 30% among white women as if to say that is not really a bad number. Hello?

The number or Americans killed in Afghanistan from 2001 -2012 was 6,488. There were 11,766 women killed by their current or ex male partner in the US in the same period of time. Approximately 150,000 of the rest of our citizenry were murdered during this era. 93% of the blacks were murdered by other blacks. 83% of the whites were murdered by other whites. Males make up 90% of murderers and are equally divided by 50% black and 50% white. I am sorry. I am sure you already knew that.

I am not trying to make one side look better or worse. The point is I can fudge the numbers or at least make them look good by the way I present them to you. One of the easiest ways to present things is as percentages. While helpful I also find the mode a tad misleading.

For instance I can tell you that 7% of our population over twelve years of age abuse drugs. 6% abuse alcohol. That doesn’t sound all that bad until you realize that is 24 million and 17 million of our fellow soldiers respectively. A total of 41 million denizens have a serious problem and you and I are going to be paying for it for a long time in everything from lost productivity, healthcare and long term rehab if they don’t kill themselves first.

There are currently 11.3 million undocumenteds in the US today. That is roughly 3% of our populace. 80% are Hispanic which is a bunch. But 20 % or some 2 million aren’t of brown color. I don’t know about you but that is not just a drop in the bucket to me.

In my last shot at percentages think about the 1%. As Kathy and I travel the world we are fascinated at everywhere from San Diego to Vancouver and Aukland to Paris that there is such an incredible amount of high end real estate. Your first question is “Who are these people?” The 1% of the world population is 70 million. The 1% of the US is 3.3 million. We have 545 billionaires in the States.That’s a lot of money floating around in the pockets of a lot of people. Better buy Tiffany and Sotheby’s stock.

Point being is it is important to look at percentages. They and numbers are a very opportune way to decipher a lot of data. But when we reduce everything to decimal points and axes on a graph we really lose the humanity of things. We want to categorize and put things in neat piles. Worse yet we can’t look past the numbers. Sorry but even though your department is making money and has done so for years you are not meeting projections. Progress you know. Been nice knowing you and good luck in future endeavors. Nice and antiseptic. By the numbers.

I am a white, married, male, Catholic, retired and who knows what percentage. I am no longer looking for my 15 minutes of fame but I really do hope I am more than a statistic. I hope I contribute more than a decimal here or there. I hope I am a human being to be respected and in turn be able to respect you. It’s just me. Numero Uno. Happy New Year to all and and thanks for listening.

As Always
Ted The Great.


Workplace: 67% of American workers are planning on leaving their job this year. 46% of us will fail in our first 18 months of a new job. Square pegs, round holes. 10,000 Japanese drop dead yearly at their desks from overwork after 14-18 hour days.

Lifestyle: The average person spends 5 years of their life standing in line. Americans waste $165 billion annually by tossing away unwanted snacks and meals. The math works out to approximately $529 per person each year. On any given day there over 2 million impaired drivers on the road. There are more cell phones than toothbrushes in the world.

There are more women than men in the US population of 325 million. In the 85+ category they outnumber men 2 to 1. Guys, there will be some hot times in the rest home tonight. We were 76 million in 1900, 200 million in 1968, 300 in 2006 and will be 439 million in 2050. 81% of us live in cities and the population is moving west and south.

Peace On Earth….

Peace on Earth…

I was going to write a cozy fireside piece about mistletoe and visions of sugar plums. Sorry but the facts of the day don’t lend themselves to that. I read of kids being mowed down by some maniacs in Pakistan. 138 of them. Their blazered uniforms reminded me of the ones my grandsons had on when we visited them in London a few months ago.

What about Australia? Just plain working folks were having coffee in downtown Sidney. Kind of like me having a Venti Starbucks this morning in Denver. Down Under has a tranquil and innocent feel. Just people enjoying life for what it is. No longer.

Then the tragedy in New York. Two cops with no axe to grind had their brains blown out by some crazed maniac. They were eating their lunch and probably talking about football or what they were going to do for Christmas. There were no choke holds. There were no hands up. But they still went down because of the uniform they wore. What have we come to?

I got to thinking about this whole anger and revenge thing. Sure I am Irish and can get pissed with the best of them. But could I hold a cold muzzle on someone’s temple and squeeze the trigger? What about a Bushmaster with an extended clip on full automatic spraying death and destruction everywhere? I hope not. Is this all random and aberration or evidence of a world that is going terribly wrong?

Come on TTG we are not that way. Really. How many shake their fists at the TV and abhor everything from presidents to protesters? The One Percent to nee’r do wells in our ghettoes. A love gone wrong or an uncaring boss. We seem to be able to conjure up a contrary thought on just about anything and those are the seeds that feed our unrest. We look for kindred spirits to agree and then lather ourselves with self satisfaction. An exaggeration? Think on.

Listen to our conversations and our demeanor. I can flip off a guy that cut me off in traffic and carry the visceral reaction for blocks. I can be livid at someone who just won’t see my line of thinking. I can reward someone’s supposed cruel or uncaring behavior with cold stares and an attitude that can persist for months. I continually ask my self why?

We love to have people agree with us. It shows our brilliance and insight. We then go on to reinforce that with channels and dailies that prey on our smugness. It must be so. I heard on the radio or saw it in the paper. We become pros at reading the editorials and not quite having the time for the op eds.

Now if you take the contrary you are an asshole through and through. You just don’t get it. How can you possibly feel that way? Don’t you all agree? And then we bathe in the hosannas that are proclaimed in the locker room at the club or the local red neck bar. Peace is tranquility and a sense of ease as long as you are on my side of the argument.

A simplistic way is to take everything as a personal affront. You diss me. You don’t show me no respect. You laughing at me? What are you looking at homie? I’ll show you. I’ll pack heat and brandish it because it’s all about pride and status.

Now that’s in the hood. But are we that so far removed? Power and money can exact a lot of revenge. You say one word I don’t like and you are fired. I can ostracize you with a single phone call that will soon spread the word. It can be the country club or a VFW hall.

I don’t know how to make this all better. How can we sit down and just listen? Why is your belief in this or that so fragile that you can’t look at an alternative view? Why do we need the comfort of the clan to dictate what is right or wrong. It’s gong to take some real powerful forces to change this dynamic. I don’t know that we have them.

I went to my granddaughters winter concert last week. Now we should of course call it a Christmas concert but wait. They go to a charter school that is more than diverse. I would guess the makeup is at least 35% of color. The lineup of songs was Christian, Jewish, Hispanic and African American.

The kids were great. They reeled off everything from Yiddish to Noels. There was no pecking order or self consciousness. They got it. We are all in this together but more importantly it feels good. I wish we could freeze that collegiality in time but I have a feeling they will fall to this prejudice or that. That’s life and I am not that stupid.

I can dream for both of us. Don’t worry you don’t have to raise a finger. I will continue live on blissfully in my naiveté. I think we can be a better country and even a better world. I am going to keep looking. Peace on Earth? There was a guy who lived two thousand years ago. You don’t have to believe he was God. Just think about what he had to say. Treat the other guy or girl just like you would like to be. Is that so far off the wall? Sounds like a plan to me.

As always
Ted The Great.

Sorry there are none. I gotta wrap presents.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Cleaning Up….

Cleaning Up….

It’s close to year end and I am doing the required semi annual cleaning of my office here at World Headquarters. Confusion reigns and somehow I think that works for me. Something about a creative mind or at least that is my current excuse. Kathy leaves my cave alone. Not out of respect for my privacy but in fear of getting bitten by something even up here on the fifth floor.

I am a chronic note writer. I have tons of notebooks loaded with this idea or that. Waxing philosophically or just daydreaming. After I die and someone looks at all this crap they are going to realize what a whack job I am. There is of course my tome of “50 Great Ideas I haven’t Done Squat About”. A man has to have priorities. But it’s great to look back and see where I have changed and what stays constant.

In the corner there is a stack of bygone Wall Street Journals.I thumbed through several. I like this paper because there is a lot to it. I get the right bent and assimilate accordingly. Same as I would for the NY Times or my local Denver Post. Yet the variety of topics and analyses from the markets to latest trends is done rather bluntly and without much pretext that borders on zany. I like zany.

There was a blurb on single pilot commercial planes. Seems the aerospace industry has been at this for a while. From an engineering point of view it is close. Whatever cost savings they may realize might be off set by the cost of Prozac and booze in the back of the bus. Seriously, they want driverless cars, naval ships and now planes. What are we going to do in our spare time?

In the world of high finance Jaime Dimon has been cured of his throat cancer. He recovered quickly enough to personally lobby several congresspeople to do away with bans on derivatives. There was a fund manager from Black Rock in London who was banned from trading in the UK ever again after being caught turnstile jumping for an extended period of time on his daily trek from a trendy suburb to downtown London. They would have put Bernie Madoff in front of a firing squad. Lastly we are still dealing in the courts with the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy. I should have been a lawyer.

In Mansions there was the announcement of the listing of an educational entrepreneur’s Southampton estate for $140 million. It seems he runs a thing called Avenues, The World School. It is headquartered in Chelsea and charges $40,000 a year for primary tuition.I wonder if there is a teacher’s union?

On the same note schools are now hiring gourmet chefs for school lunches. It’s not what you learn but how you eat. I can remember a bologna sandwich on white bread wrapped in waxed paper that you downed in about 90 seconds so you could race out for the playground.

An article about Sony tugged at my heart strings. It seems they have been hacked by North Korea. Execs were caught redhanded trashing Angelina Jolie and Obama. The latter in a highly racist tone. No harm, no foul apparently. But in the height of hubris they took the press to task for printing private conversations saying the tabloids were breaking the law or at least the law of the jungle. And yes the saga of Bill Cosby goes on. Whatever side you are on it shows the seamy side of what we thought was innocence.

News becomes strikingly obvious. The recent rains in LaLa Land are mainly washing into the Pacific. Why? Because they paved over the Los Angeles River to prevent flooding. You wonder why this state is screwed up? This morning there was a picture of a coal train derailed and overturned spilling the contents into a river outside of Lexington, Kentucky. But then again the Keystone pipeline is a threat to the environment. You thought I was stupid until I craftily started connecting all these dots.

There is corruption in Haiti and various nations from Africa to the Continent. And right here at home we have the strangest of bedfellows in the persons of Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren. Representing the Atilla the Hun Right and Socialism at its best they have the microphone but I wonder if any one is listening. A recent articles suggests that at least a few are getting the message.

Well my fingers are dirty from all the newsprint I have transferred. I have to put out the trash and shape up my act before I succumb to any more revery. It’s good to look at day and week old newspapers. One of them goes back to November 22,2014. Right before the huge drop in oil prices. It shows the lack of predictability in our world. It betrays our schizophrenia as a human race.

I am putting things in piles not order. I will still pick from this or that. I will try not to take myself too seriously. Most of all I will go beyond the headlines and wander down dark alleys. It’s more fun that way. Cleaning up? Never.

As always
Ted The Great


The recent impasse on the budget brought by Senor Cruz actually helped Obama get some long held up appointments through. Seems the Surgeon General wasn’t passing muster because as the top doc he wasn’t properly equipped to handle Ebola and was for gun control. Aaargh.

Johnny Manziel crashed and burned in his debut. Andrew Luck of the Colts trash talks in a different way. He congratulates defenders on their great moves and hits. I read it in the paper.

A 35 year old something just got $355 million invested in his company providing small office suites for startups. That valued his fledgling company at $5 billion. Where did I go wrong?

You can rent a chalet on the slopes in Courcheval France for $60,000 per night. $500,000 is what one tenant is paying for a six-bedroom suite that occupies the entire 39th floor of Manhattan’s posh Pierre Hotel.The renter is not only renting the suite for the entire month of December, but also the separate one-bedroom Getty Suite next door for $150,000 a month. That’s overflow for guests.

Finally there was the sale of a Miami Beach condo for $55 million. Weren’t these places see throughs five years ago? “All the News That Fits the Print”

Broken Windows…

The “Broken Window” theory of criminology espouses that we pay particular attention to even the most minor of infractions. In so doing we project an atmosphere of order and lawfulness ergo preventing larger crimes from happening. Many have said that what happened in Ferguson and Staten Island are emblematic of that. I don’t have any quarrel with the theory no matter how tragic the outcome.

Davita is a medical technology firm here in Denver. For years they  have specialized in dialysis treatment which has been a comfort to millions. Like any red blooded profit driven company they wanted to ensure their flow of patients. (No play on words). So they opened dialysis centers and then at artificially low prices sold those clinics to renal specialist docs. Then after the appropriate wait time bought them back at a substantial profit to the aforementioned sawbones on the condition they refer all future patients to the facility. Caught red handed as it were Davita paid $389 million in fines. Clink.

Not used to being in the headlines the oncologist industry came to the fore a few weeks ago under the watchful eye of 60 Minutes. The gist was that a new cancer drug that cost twice as much as an older competitor was adjudged by Sloan Kettering to be no more effective. After such unwanted publicity Sanofi lowered the price of the new drug by 50%. Fair enough.

The plot thickens as the price decrease was not necessarily passed on to the patient or in this case Medicare. You see the oncologist as in MD sold the life saving drug directly to his patients. Under the guise of being more convenient for his clients the practice now became more profitable by providing both care and the medicine in one stop shopping. Most did not lower the price. Medicare has to pay the going rate no matter what because Congress said they couldn’t negotiate. Which drug do you think gets prescribed? Clink.

Enter Supreme Food Service. This erstwhile friend of the armed forces had a contract to provide food and water to our troops in the Middle East. In the warlord tradition of the Middle East, Supreme buried a whole series of overcharges to the point where they were selling water at ten to twelve times the going rate. They settled with the Defense Department for somewhere in the neighborhood of $450 million. Clink.

Over the past few months the auto industry has issued recalls for more than 50 million cars. Since we sold about 13 million vehicles in 2013 that is close to a four year inventory of new cars. They ranged from auto ignition switches to air bags to bad brakes. All life threatening without any exaggeration. Takata the maker of the airbags is resisting a further recall. See the malaise is international. Clink.

Last but not least are our friends from the securities industry. Their malfeasance has ranged from selling mortgage backed securities in which they knew full well there were flaws to rigging LIBOR. In the first instance they will tell you pressure from Washington (as in the devil) made them do it. Barney and Bill wanted every American to have a home whether or not they could afford it. They had no other choice. They did pay many billions of dollars in fines but that was without admitting any guilt. Clink.

The bigger piece was the LIBOR rate fixing. This is the governing factor in interest rates for over $5 trillion a DAY worldwide. Now the boys on various trading desks got together everyday and fixed this to their own advantage. It wasn’t one firm but a bunch of dealer and dealer banks that openly colluded. Damn regulators. We can police ourselves.Billions to settle. Clink.Clink.Clink.

When you get into all of these you realize that it was not just one rogue trader or VP although we can always find one fall guy to take one for the team. It is many times a staff or department or an entire organization that commits the felony. People of all sorts big and small knew what was going on and either looked the other way or were complicit in the caper.

These were the big guys. Everyday all over America there are thousands of instances of theft, corruption, payoffs and dirty tricks. I am not trying to play moralist because indeed it is a fact of life. Yes it has gone on for centuries. There are good guys and bad guys. I just wonder if the scales are tipping so far we glibly accept the status quo as necessary to do business or that great panacea,”These are really victimless crimes” ?

A nation or body politic is defined by its mores. It is who we are. But it must be consistent. If we are gong to nail a guy for stealing cigars or selling “indie” cigarettes the same rule of law has to be meted throughout. Is there a big difference between beating a guy senseless in the ghetto or putting a competitor our of business through illegal pressure? I dunno. But sure as hell if we are going to get indignant and demand we fix broken windows in one section of the world we better be ready to do it in all.

As always
Ted The Great


Medicare Part D or the prescription benefit section prohibits Medicare from securing drugs at cut rate prices. Essentially they have to pay the going rate without any negotiation. The VA on the other can bargain and pays about 50% less. This was all engineered by Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin(Cajun of the Capitol) who after passage quit Congress the following week to become the head of lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry.

The massive fines paid by banks, docs etc are a tax deductible time. So a $100 million fine actually becomes $65 million after tax. It is one case where they love the high corporate tax rate.

The In the U.S. unreported income is estimated to be $2 trillion resulting in a “tax gap” of $450–$500billion. This is the result of being paid cash or under the table for goods and services.

Illegal income is derived from drugs, prostitution, embezzlement, etc. Imagine a typical weekend in New York City. Experts estimate that at least one percent of the population – 80,000 plus – spends $200 on illicit drugs. That alone would amount to $16 million dollars a week or $832 million a year. That is just drugs and that’s just New York.

Without Prejudice…..

I decided to start off with a legal phrase just to get myself in the right mood. When it comes to attacking problems of course various forms of the legal profession jump to the fore. I have been pondering prejudice as well as hate, discrimination and other lowly virtues. I have been trying to do so from an intellectual point of view which of course taxes me greatly.

We as homo sapiens try to make sense of our world. As thinkers we don’t just worry about food and shelter but the incredible diversity in race, ethnicity, social groups, individual preferences and their interplay. It is normal and actually quite healthy to put people, places and things into categories.

These can be positive or negative. We tend to stereotype to keep things simple. That leads to prejudgements which can be real right or real wrong. We have “in” groups which we belong to and “out” groups who are our antitheses. Depending on your state of mind there is fluidity in the groups or an iron rod in the back once the decision has been made.

Sexism is the viewing of a gender and ascribing qualities to each side. Men are from Mars. Women from Venus. Great. We all act differently but does the role become antagonistic? Certainly when one senses fear, anxiety, jealousy or ignorance. This usually morphs into anger and a marvelous little emotion we call hate. That hate becomes so engrained that it leads to blinding rage and any absence of rational thought. Verbal or physical violence is called up at a moment’s notice.

Just look around you. The battle between good old boys and feminists is on display every day. Women think they should run things and that the world would be a better place. Men are petrified that they might be right and so give every inch grudgingly. Patience wears thin on both sides. Arguments turn petty and childish but each feels a growing sense of urgency. This can’t turn out well.

Is racism so far off? Whites think blacks are criminals at best and animals at worst. Blacks don’t understand why they scare the shit out of people. You are the greatest on the football field or basketball court but don’t move in next to me or date my daughter. Hispanics are lazy, no good illiterates. And gringos just want me to come and pick vegetables but the friendship stops there. These sons of bitches are trying to take over our country.
Go back where you came from. Oh yeah? Where did you or your forefathers come from?

Let’s finish off with a good helping of Jews, Atheists and Muslims. Can’t you just feel the juices flowing? In a crazy way it is just the best exhibit for us to say we are the better. My belief system, lot in life and athletic team are so much superior to yours. Face up to reality and recognize your place in life as long as it is second or less to mine.

Since at least the Middle Ages there has been this pecking order that is defined by land and servitude. Instead of one Holy Roman Emperors we have consistently created more and more fiefdoms. I am lord and master or mistress over my slice of the pie. I have power. I have wealth. I have knowledge. I am better than you. You are a nice person but subservient. I am not opting for socialism but as the gaps get wider and views more entrenched the chance of ever getting together become more remote.

Competition and intense rivalry have become part of our mores. Go back to putting things in buckets. The more complex the more general I have to be. I don’t have time or the desire to get to know individuals. I will just spend time with my own kind. I know them. Ant that of course begs the first step to solve this problem. I have to sit down and understand how other groups do things. I have to lay down my own beliefs for a moment and listen to yours. I have to for even the briefest of moments think that you might have some salient points.

Now as I get to know you I just may not fear you or be envious of you. God forbid I might actually get to like you. Despite what people might think we are all the same. Take us apart on the medical examiners table when we are done and everyone’s plumbing and gray matter is the same. The Human Genome Project has determined that nowhere in our gene pool is there one for race. And yet it is so built into our society.

In my wanderings I have discovered a thing called Contact Hypothesis. It says that we can cure or at least alleviate prejudice by approaching enemies on an equal basis and have the same goals. There was a show awhile back that took people and put them in very uncomfortable situations. One chapter had a homophobe right smack in the middle of some gays. He had to live with them for thirty days to win the prize.

I am sure you can figure this one out. He went in with a closed mind and came out with a whole new set of friends but more importantly a new perspective. He gained knowledge, got over his anxieties and low and behold had a different point of view. Brilliant my dear Watson. Brilliant.

I can’t even begin to understand what it means to grow up black. My wife or daughters could try to explain to me about glass ceilings or a lesser status at the club. I am not sure I get it. What if I was a nice simple fun loving family man Muslim? Can I really learn to love Tom Brady?
There are two concepts at work. Compassion and empathy. There is a simple reaching out and saying I would like to walk a mile in your shoes. Let me listen to you and maybe you could do the same in return. If you saw the picture of the motorcycle cop and black kid in Seattle I hope you get the idea. The young man was beyond upset. The cop reached out and said,”Can I have a hug?”
Some wag called it a photo op. I call it a start. How about you?

As always

Ted The Great

Eugenics is the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population. Hitler took this to the extreme and decided civilization belonged in a test tube. Some believe that interracial marriages bring down the quality of the species. Homo Sapiens is the species. There are no subspecies.

After pornography the most queries on the net relate to ancestry research. Just think if you go back in time we are all descendants of one another. It is also understood that as we intermarry in the next 1000 years the differences between us may be indistinguishable.

Race is actually a creation of modern day society. It did not exist in Roman times or the Dark Ages and quite probably not until the 17th century. Like race there is no known gene for skin color. It is widely accepted that color is due to climate not race. If England was equatorial then the Brits might be black instead of milky white. Go figure.

In colonial days the British were considered to be superior and Africans, Irish, Chines and Italians were inferior. The later were referred to as “Guineaus” which was actually an epithet reserved for blacks. Anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 of the original colonists came to the Americas as indentured servants.