Intravenous Caffeine

Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

Hey, Wall Street, We’re Fed Up With Your Bull!

The Wall Street Bull drops a load on America as the NYPD line up to protect the bankers and brokers from peaceful protesters.

Errrr, not exactly trickle down is it?

Well, I’m more or less recovered from InterventionCon over the weekend. Thanks to Onezumi Hartstein and James Harknell for their work in creating this fun convention. Shoutouts to Ari Pramagioulis of Success Communications Group, Murder Nurse, Moxie Cat and all the other great people of Cosplay Burlesque. Congratulations Mookie, creator of Dominic Deegan on your impending doom, err, I mean marriage. Fellow artists Elaine Corvidae of Rivensol, Jennie Breeden of the Devils Panties, the gang at Interrobang Studios, my next table neighbors from Singed Cat and other studios. Good luck to First Law of Mad Science and Ninjas versus Vampires. Hi Andi from a table whose weblink I can’t find. And thanks to all the people who attended and especially those of you who bought something from me!

Now, back to business. I thought I might do something about the incredibly tacky game show beauty pageant known as the second Republican Debate last week with Wolf Blitzer seemingly oblivious to his role as successor to Bert Parks (There they are–the next US Presidents!) Bob Barker or Monty Hall. Was that a debate? Then I thought, oooooooo the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a much more IMPORTANT thing to celebrate. Darn, we finally will let patriotic Americans fight for their country without prying into their private lives! But then something that seemed to be slipping through the cracks came to my attention. SOMEONE FINALLY decided to protest against WALL STREET.

Due to getting ready for three conventions on three successive weekends, plus the disaster of the basement deluge (not to mention the death of my printer), the knowledge of the existence of OCCUPY WALL STREET seems to have slipped past me. As well as most of the mainstream news! As anyone with any common sense has realized, Wall Street went through a recovery after the banking bailout, but Main Street never did. That’s because Wall Street has usurped the reins of power in the United States and the common people no longer have a voice. President Obama promised to be a force for change, but his moneyed advisors led him by the nose to ignore the plight of the people. The Republican Party fights tooth and nail to protect each and every dollar of them, their true constituency, calling tax hikes on the luckiest of us “class warfare” when the REAL class warfare has been waged on the American middle-class since the days of plaster saint Ronald Reagan. The Democrats are little better, since our endless campaign season requires them to be funded by the money boys. Too long have the media paid attention to the faux populism of the Tea Party which is more intent on punishing their neighbors for a crust of bread than taking it from the bankers who have repossessed the bakery!

I am not anti-capitalist. Bankers and brokers–like the bacteria that live in the body and are necessary to digestion–they are a good thing when regulated. They provide the grease that the wheels of commerce need to turn. But when unregulated they turn into a cancer that sucks the life from the body, from the hearts and minds and hands of the American people. And that’s where we are today, and we’re dragging the rest of the world down with us. It’s about time to stop, to re-regulate commerce, to prosecute the miscreants for the crimes they have committed, to return power to the “little people” like you and me. Whether or not you agree with me, I urge you all to watch what is happening on the streets of New York.

But you might have to really look for it–it ain’t making front page. The money boys don’t want it there.

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Moratorium on Foreclosures? Heavens, No, It Might Ruin the Recovery

Little Nell is carted off from her house to allow it to be foreclosed upon.

The housing market recovery depends on foreclosure mills?

How’s this grab ya? Despite the foreclosure scandal with banks and other financial institutions not having the necessary paperwork to foreclose on properties in arrears, having fraudulent paperwork, the discovery of “robo-signer”, the guy who processed thousands of foreclosures a month by the simple expedient of never reading any of the paperwork…despite Americans being thrown out of their homes, and a growing number of banks calling a halt to their own foreclosures, we can’t declare a nationwide moratorium on mortgage foreclosures because “it might hurt the housing recovery.” WTF? Our recovery depends on being able to throw people out into the cold? How seriously FU’d is that?

There was a time, in living memory even, when banks wanted you to pay your mortgage. If you were having trouble, they’d usually be more than willing to restructure your loan, because they made more from successful loan repayment than from foreclosing. But somewhere along the line, all that changed. Now, banks make MUCH more from foreclosing–since they’d made side bets on the fact that you would NOT be able to repay your loan–and the Snidely Whiplash’s and Mr. Potters of the world have been having a field day.

Now the housing market is driven by the necessity of foreclosure to ensure that properties keep changing hands in some insane version of musical chairs. Recovery is not defined as stopping this game. No–recovery is continuance of the status quo, with everyone running around and around to a lunatic rendition of “Pop goes the mortgage!” One person in the administration (who shall remain nameless for demonstrating THAT HE’S AN IDIOT) has opined that we should not stop foreclosures just because there are so many fraudulent ones, because there are others that are perfectly legitimate. This idiot never pauses to consider that with so much fraud, lost paperwork, improper filings, we have no idea which foreclosures are legitimate and which ones aren’t! Better that 10 people lose their homes unjustly than one scofflaw get away with a few months of squatting.

It’s time we stopped defining the recovery in terms of the money boys and instead, in terms of you and me. After all, a rising tide floats all boats, not just the big yachts.

In other news, today is my true birthday. I get a day off for it every year, but only in one in 7 does the holiday actually land on the date. I’ll accept the tribute anyway, despite that people think the day off has something to do with Mr. Columbus. Your good wishes are accepted and I extend birthday greetings to all the other October 12ers out there who were lucky enough to be born on MY birthday :)

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The New Financial Reform Bill Has the Banks Crying All the Way to the …. Bank

Chris Dodd displays his financial reform package to Batman and Robin, who likens it to Holy Underwear!

Hole-y Reform!

The disaster bubbling up to the surface down in the Gulf is assuming proportions that make the plagues of Egypt look like a teen party that got a little out of control. “Don’t worry. Accidents Happen!” says the new bright star of the Tea Party Brigade, Rand Paul, “it’s un-American to blame BP for being negligent.” After all, there were THREE companies that were negligent down there and one of them was that shining example of patriotic profit-taking, Halliburton! You can’t blame BP for an Act of GOD! Well, I have a question. If these god-fearing jackasses think the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Delta is an Act of God, then WTF do they think God is trying to SAY???

But I digress. My real topic is that other corporate disaster, the Financial Reform Bill. Yup, Chris Dodd has finally achieved his valedictory legislation, a financial reform that is in every way the counterpart of the Health Care and Credit Card Reforms. Like underwear that is so full of holes, the skidmarks get on your pants anyway. Yes, there are some nice new picket fences with signs that say, “Don’t Go Here Or We’ll Slap You,” in place, but by and large, “too big to fail,” has become enshrined by law as the WAY THINGS ARE in the United Corporations of America.

Limiting the size of banks? Perish the thought–just like the US itself is too big to fail, our banks are too big to close. Breaking up some of the companies that were responsible for a worldwide economic collapse? You gotta break some eggs to make an omelet! Caps on credit card interest? We covered THAT back with credit card reform! And what a success THAT has been. And the piece de resistance? The wall between trading and commercial banking that would prevent banks from using our money to buy chips in their own casino? Hahaha you must be joking.

OK there’s a new consumer agency that Elizabeth Warren, darling of the Daily Show, has been pushing. And there’s some new regulation and oversight. But mostly Wall Street is left with the task of policing Wall Street and us chickens know what it means when the fox is guarding the hen house. The Street will still hire its own credit raters, you know, the ones who gave those risky investments AAA ratings? And derivatives will still be sold to hedge risk, thereby allowing risk to be swallowed up in bookkeeping. So in every way, the things that led to the economic collapse of 2009 has been left in place. Anyone want to take bets on another collapse by 2016? How about 2012?

If this is Chris Dodd’s valedictory achievement in the Senate, I’d say his retirement is a very good thing for the American people. But–couldn’t you have left a little quicker, Chris?

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Goldman Sachs–shorting America

Lloyd Blankfein as Matt Taibbi's great vampire squid and his version of MAD--mutually assured derivatives--just as bad as mutually assured destruction.

The Great Vampire Squid testifies in front of Congress. Mutually Assured Destruc ... Derivatives?

Oh, how I wish I’d come up with Matt Taibbi’s description of Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” A prescient lad, he said that even before the revelations this past week about “The Big Short”. Seems these very shrewd operators basically: 1) made a bunch of loans to people they knew had a very good chance of defaulting; 2) bundled them into a security that they noodged Moody’s and Standard and Poors to rate AAA; 3) sold them to unsuspecting investors as a solid investment; and 4) shorted them so that when the price fell, they’d clean up. In fact, the only way they could have lost money would have been for the loans to be repaid. Thus they not only screwed the poor schmucks who couldn’t repay loans (remember the sliding rates that went up after a few years? Let’s stack the deck while we’re at it.) But they screwed their clients.

And when the bottom fell out, they screwed everybody. Lloyd Blankfein–who has an eerie resemblance to Erich von Stroheim, the “Man You Love To Hate”–claims he was doing God’s work, but for the life of me, Blankfein’s God has little to do with any modern God I know–more like Cthulhu (and we’re back to great vampire squids). Senator Dodd from Arkham has heard the call of Cthulhu and has busily crafted a financial reform bill that keeps the monsters and their derivatives intact–it seems mostly concerned with restoring the power of the regulators to wank instead of work and watch internet porn. Not break up the banks that bet AGAINST AMERICANS.

Most recently, Blankfein has had the gall to tell us that if we break up the banks, we will weaken America. Like the worst economic crisis since Black Friday didn’t do that already. Maybe he meant it in relative terms. After all, they broke the economy of the entire world–maybe America would have come out ahead on the deal.

If we’d shorted it.

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Or maybe it’s just the hot air cloud over Rush’s studio…

Too big to nail?

Too big to nail?

Well, our natural world seems to be having its fun with us as a huge ash cloud erupts from Mount Eyjafjallajokull (Eye-ya-falafel-cul?) and cuts off Europe from air travel for several days. This is not the first time such a huge cloud has occurred: there was the famous Mt. St. Helens eruption back in 1980. The centuries have been dotted with darknesses “enveloping the whole of Europe” as the description of one 5th century eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that, curiously enough, signaled the start of the Dark Ages (although the Dark Ages could have been presaged by an eruption of Mount Etna in 417, on whose dating, I, in an earlier incarnation as an historian, wrote a paper on in 1990 (Olympiodorus’ Eruption of Mount Etna: a possible dating of 417. EOS: Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 71:329-334)). Rush Limbaugh has been having fun with it, calling attention to Obama’s statement on the passing of the health care bill that the world hasn’t ended yet. I certainly hope the Almighty has better aim than to punish Europe for OUR supposed transgression, so I shall assume that Rush-boy is being ironic, should he be capable of such complexity of thought.

But with such a global disaster, it might be better to look for a more global transgression, and I think we have our candidate at Goldman Sachs. Their financial manipulations–along with other august companies–managed to pull off a global economic disaster, yet their CEO Lloyd Blankfein had the effrontery to make a positively BLASPHEMOUS statement that he was “doing God’s work” while bankrupting the entire world. Now if I know one thing about Our Lord God Jehovah, you can kill millions of people and He won’t bat an eyelash, but say one thing wrong about Him and all Armageddon is gonna bust loose. On top of all, Goldman Sachs has the sheer CHUTZPAH to announce 5 billion dollars in bonuses to be paid to its executives–you know, the ones who bet short on the world disaster they themselves engineered–and you say, enough is enough.

The teabaggers have it all wrong–the cause of our ills is not the government–tho it’s not helping by spending 20 times the amount that could eliminate world hunger on a military that has gotten itself bogged down in the middle of a desert for 8 years. It’s these bankers who think God’s work consists of lining their pockets with our money. They’re no better than the guy who is going to the track and convinces you to bet on a certain longshot that he says he has a tip that it can’t loose. Then, when he goes to the track, bets all YOUR money on the favorite and after the race, picks up one of the losing tickets off the floor to give you with the lame explanation that he’s never gonna listen to THAT TIPSTER again. It’s beyond time that they should be sued for fraud. It’s about time that they should be INDICTED for it!

In the meantime, Europe is enjoying a slower pace and beautiful sunsets. Maybe Mt. St. Palin in Alaska will explode in a few years and we’ll be the lucky ones :D


I went to a small con this weekend in Alexandria called T-MODE and had a great time. The advantage of a small con is its size–you can meet everyone and do everything. Naturally, you have a bigger selection of activities at a big con, but you always wind up missing some things you would have enjoyed. The organizers of T-MODE called it “fun-sized” and that it was. I got to hear a lovely singer Emi Meyer (also on MySpace–beautiful woman, beautiful voice, beautiful music) and hip hop artist Shing02 and DJ Icewater. I had a TAIKO DRUM LESSON from Doug Manring (Power Kix Drum Team and Real School of Rock) as well as meeting the new voice of Haruhi Suzumiya and a great singer herself Cristina Vee. Also there were our friends from the webcomic Geeks Next Door, who gave sessions ON webcomics, and Interrobang Studios, whose artist Sarah Martinez, gave a great session on surviving Artist’s Alley. I didn’t get to meet the vocal artist Mega Ran (aka Random) or voice actor Todd Haberkorn, or Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has invaded the US–I did have to run home and feed the kitten occasionally LOL. Oh and I nearly forgot, I got interviewed for Vidgle and I hope to have up a link next week to my podcast with them :) Congratulations to the organizers–I had a great time. My personal photos will be up on my Flicker account later this week.

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