Sunday Story – The Barista’s Tale

Image source

Simon Giordano dropped his gaze from the girl because her large boyfriend had noticed and was glaring at him like a pit bull.  He kept his attention firmly on the coffee machine.

They were an odd couple.  The girl was a petite, Vietnamese beauty of exquisite features.  The boyfriend was a hulking, tattooed Lebo who would no doubt have a muscle car with a noisy sound system parked around here somewhere.  He had the look of a thug from a tribal crime family.

Simon chided himself for thinking the word, ‘Lebo’.  Lebanese Australian, he reminded himself as he kept his eyes cautiously on the frother.  He wouldn’t dare glance over there until they were gone but his mind he kept replaying the electrifying moment she’d given him the look.  Their eyes had locked for a second too long, alerting the silverback. 

Read More

Friday Finance – the everything bubble?

This is the Michael Burry who correctly called the 2008 housing crash as portrayed in The Big Short.

Pretty scary huh? You’d better sell everything, hold cash and wait for the big one.

Although, here are two things to remember:

– Michael Burry runs a hedge fund. He’s famous enough to shift the market through tweets, like Elon Musk does. I’m sure he’d never take advantage of that but if he did, his fund would profit nicely.

– I’m not counting but I think Michael Burry has called about a dozen of the last two bear markets.

Don’t relax yet. Here’s a prediction of gloom from another source:

Read More

The reason we lost our liberties and voting power

At the Pub, Brisbane 1982
*Karen voice*: “Excuse me everyone, can you show me your digital vaccine passes, please?” I pity the fool. Image: At the Pub, Brisbane 1982 (© Rennie Ellis) via source

The commonest furphy in liberal democracies is that power comes from voting franchise and individual liberties.

That is, people are strong because they can vote and because they possess rights that are protected by courts and constitutions.

This is backwards.

People have rights and the franchise because they have power.

Read More

Sunday Story – The Outdoors Type

Taiwan's Most Breathtaking Mountain Landscapes

“Laura, I know you’ve been seeing your ex.”  Josh Barros looked at his girlfriend nervously, waiting for a response to the phrase he’d rehearsed with his communication specialist.

“What the fuck, Josh?  You bring me all the way to Taipei to start an argument about some crazy bullshit?”  Laura was smiling contemptuously with her ten-thousand-watt TV grin.  “I haven’t even seen him since we divorced.”

“No, I mean, the other one.  The, um . . . football player.”  Josh wished his voice wasn’t so whiny.  Even when he was shrieking at his employees, demanding to know whether they were lazy or incompetent, he always sounded like that.  No matter how diligently he lifted weights or how much he spent on tailors, everyone saw right through his tens of billions of dollars to his geek origin story.

Read More

Friday Finance: oops, she did it again

Senior Economics Writer at the Sydney Morning Herald, Jessica Irvine (remember her?), ponders borrowing to invest in shares.

In case that site demands you log in with Gulag, here’s a summary: she considers borrowing against the equity in her recently-purchased home to invest in shares, rings around for advice using her MSM connections and is once again cautioned against this path.

The People’s Blog view is the same as it was last time: if you’re reading a newspaper (or this site) for financial information, avoid anything risky or complex like borrowing to invest.

Jessica is clearly not an example of someone with adequate expertise.

In the article, she skips too lightly over the risks.

Read More

The price of freedom

The title is a cliche yet we think about it too little. What is this ‘price’?

Those who turned it into a cliche are the Neocons who insist that the price of freedom is to obliterate yet more of the warrior class in what they call the Greater Middle East. Bomb wedding parties there before we have to bomb wedding parties here.

Bloated military budgets are also sometimes conflated as a price of freedom.

Presumably, in the absence of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. there would no longer be any freedom in the West. Instead we’d be confined to our homes and clad in niqabs by mad theocrats.

And yet, like most cliches, there’s some truth in it. Freedom comes at a hefty price. ‘Freedom’ here includes both legal rights and freedom from restrictive social mores.


Read More

Sunday Story – Mousebot

Getting rid of Chen was harder than Tan anticipated.

As soon as Chen sauntered into the lab, Tan knew he must be eliminated.  He was a kindred spirit – ambitious, ruthless, with a laser focus on obtaining the directorship of the Shanghai Robotics Research Centre and from there a high rank in the Party.  This was the exact path Tan had plotted for himself and there would only be room for one.

As soon as Chen arrived from Canada, Tan embraced him like his oldest and fondest friend, waxing lyrical about his counterpart’s magnificent achievements, enthusing about how honored he was to work alongside him.  Chen, of course, mouthed matching sentiments.

Each saw the other’s soul.

Read More

Sunday Story – Homeward Bound

Coober Pedy landscape
Photo: edella/Shutterstock

Ben’s fibro shack broiled.  It was bleakly orange in the streetlights.  His neighbours escaped the desert heat by constructing their houses underground but Ben couldn’t afford it.  The new episode of Lost flickered unwatched on the TV.

“C’mon man, I’ve been stuck in Coober Pedy for three fucking years!” Jon whined.  He had only two tones; plaintive and contemptuous.  Tonight it was the former.  “Why’re you being such a dick?  I just need money for the bus.  Hundred and twenty-seven bucks.  Give me one job then I’m fucking out of here.”

“Not my problem,” said Ben.  He hated Jon like a bush fly.  “Don’t need more dealer.  Got them but got no ice.  I need supplier.”

“What happened to your old one?”

“Got bashed.  In the hospital, teef all fucked up.” 

“By who?”

Read More

Friday Finance: what to do if you win the lottery

Many imagine that a big win in the lottery would mean an end to all their problems.

History suggests otherwise.

A Duck Duck Go search is littered with cautionary tales of winners who either lost it all at astonishing speed or ended up worse off than before they got lucky.

Consider the Michigan man who won $30K and spent $20K of it on a gold chain, which he wore around town. Shortly after, thieves relieved him of his burdensome bling.

Or read about another Michigan winner, this time of $2M:

Read More