al qaeda financial attack?

this morning, like every morning, i logged into my online brokerage account. their server was down, and my portfolio and watchlists were unavailable. this was a little disconcerting because i already knew that it was a down day for the dow. i am still largely in cash, which has been a little demoralizing during the recent runup, and somewhat alarming in the last couple of weeks with the dollar dropping precipitously. it was still an uncomfortable feeling not being able to access my account.

so in the news tonight are al qaeda threats against online stock trading and banking sites. bill cara was talking about the possibility of a bear raid yesterday, and how the trigger for a market crash often comes out of nowhere.

this all falls under the category of remote possibilities. i won’t lose sleep over it. i am however, watching the dollar continue to fall in realtime. if i start doing the math, watching that chart, i AM going to start losing sleep, or at least buying gold in the morning. i wish i could say that i shorted the buck in the last downdraft, but i didn’t.

the internets is like one big rose parade

it seems like every year, or maybe every quarter, i start thinking about moving from the bay area. my thoughts about leaving here increase proportionally to the amount of chill i am feeling in my bones. right now it is awfully cold, and although i have sweats and sweatshirt on and the heater cranked, places like palacios texas are looking pretty damn good (at least on a web page). especially when you can find cute-looking houses there that are stupid cheap (for that price you couldn’t buy a mobile home next to a waste treatment plant in the bay area). further investigation will inform you that it was 81º there today, that it is the shrimp capital of texas, and there are more species of birds there than in any place in the state.

when i was young we used to watch the rose parade on TV every january first. (my mom was born and raised in pasadena, so we sort of *had* to). someone would always remark that every year large numbers of people in snowbound states, seeing the baton twirlers in short skirts prancing by the norton simon museum in the warm sun, made the decision to move to california. when it gets cold and dreary here, i start surfing sites like trulia and thinking of moving. the interwebs lets you see that its nice and warm and sunny someplace else, the same way that the rose parade telecast reminds people in buffalo new york that on january one, there is a much more pleasant place to be.

bad retail data

barry ritholtz reports that the actual sales numbers from black friday weekend are coming in, and they aren’t quite the ~+20% y.o.y. survey numbers that the NRF was pushing. from the wall street journal post:

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, but let’s go to the scoreboard and see what really happened.

Chain-store sales slipped 0.4% in the week ending Saturday from the prior week, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported Tuesday. Not too impressive given all the reports of jam-packed malls over the holiday weekend. However, when you compare last week’s performance with the same week a year earlier, chain-store sales increased 2.6%.

Redbook puts out a similar survey but got slightly different results. Chain-store sales rose 0.1% in the first four weeks of November from October, and 3.2% from November 2005, according to Redbook’s gauge.

sing joni

a caller on michael krasny’s show this morning suggested that if you get a song stuck in your head, try singing a couple of bars of a joni mitchell tune. he said it always works.

holiday sales up almost 20%

i was watching 60 minutes tonight and there was a news flash during one of the commercial breaks that sales were up 19% over last year during the black friday weekend. no explanation given that the numbers came from the national retail federation’s annual black friday weekend survey. read the press release, then read the methodology. a poll of 3,090 consumers, purporting to capture the spending habits of 140 million shoppers, and conducted by the world’s largest retail trade association.

“The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percent”. ummm, yeah, on the 3,090 consumers they polled. there were even some interesting insights into the gender differences in shoppers. “While women seemed to take a more casual approach to Black Friday shopping, men went out on the hunt and then went back home to bed.”

mixing and mastering

i just finished mixing and mastering a 4 song EP for the receptionist movement, and took the CD out for a ride in the car. liz is going to sell the CDs in europe when she goes on tour next week. i mixed and mastered at the same time, with a multiband compressor and adaptive limiter in the master channel’s effects chain. i thought about printing the songs first and then mastering in wave burner, a program that comes with logic pro, but it strangely does not have the adaptive limiter plugin available, and i prefer it to the plain old limiter that also comes with the suite.

if you feel like challenging your critical listening abilities at any point, give me a call and come over to play with the multiband compressor. it is not an easy tool to use, but the things you can do with it are amazing. being able to tweak everything in the signal path, from the individual tracks through to the final limiter, is really a thing of beauty. i remember the process of mastering the current user CD, running back and forth to my friend marc regan with new mixes, and the guesswork involved with predicting how final stage compression was going to make the songs sound.

there is nothing that compares to being able to hear the mastering tools inline with the mix console. it was a bit cumbersome at times, and the amount of variables can get a little overwhelming at times (i rebuilt the gain structure from scratch a few times on a couple of the songs).

i still think i can do a better job, luckily this is just the EP and i will get another shot at the mixes when we finish the whole CD. i might post one or two of the songs later.

prop 87

prop 87 got shot down. if a measure addressing the externalities of our petroleum addiction can’t pass in california, i have a feeling it’s going to be a while before the united states at large moves to do anything.

the cost of a gallon of gasoline is not reflected in its price. taxes should be much higher on oil products. i agree with greg mankiw’s pigou club manifesto. i guess it’s not that surprising that in a period of negative savings, americans want to put this one on the credit card too.

how can we get people to wrap their heads around this idea? climate change is going to get much worse, and the longer we wait, the more painful the consequences will be. nicholas stern’s study suggests a possible 20% reduction in global GDP.

this is something that is going to have to come from the grassroots level, because no politician in his or her right mind is going to suggest anything of the kind. but so long as people are shortsighted about what is at stake, they are apparently going to keep voting in favor of cheaper gas for the hummers.

let the hearings begin?

so now what? should democrats start holding hearings now that they can? should all of the blatant abuses of the current administration be brought into the disinfecting sunlight, or should the newly rebalanced legislative branch focus on forging a new direction?

i have been thinking about this question for a while now, and a post by robert reich a couple of weeks ago helped crystallize my thought. although i voted yes on measure H, (the city of berkeley petitioning the US house of representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings), i think of it more as a symbolic gesture.

there is a part of me that would like to see these people sweat, even if the sweating is motivated by cynical partisan politics. there is another larger part of me that agrees with reich. it is time to come up with solutions and a new direction. the bush administration, whether through incompetence or malicious intent, has greatly weakened this country. i say let these lame ducks bide their time and focus on repairing the damage they have done. the vote demonstrates this country has had enough of karl rove and geo bush and dick cheney and their lies and bullshit. although it wouldn’t take much effort to draw and quarter these guys, maybe it is best not to step onto their playing field of negativity.

just get us out of the mess they have made.