'Central banks’ seriously misguided attempts to defeat routine consumer price deflation is what fuels the destructive asset bubbles that eventually collapse.' (no replies)        
'..America's pension crisis is a big part of the $400 trillion pension time bomb threatening the global economy and it is deflationary and bond friendly.'

- Leo Kolivakis, America's Corporate Pension Disaster? August 4, 2017

'In order for the Maestro to be right, US inflation expectations have to pick up in a significant way. This won't happen and to understand why, read Gary Shilling's recent comment on three things central bankers don't get about wages.'

- Leo Kolivakis, Is the Maestro Wrong on Bonds? August 2, 2017

'Very recent data confirms slumping household saving ratios in both the US and UK. This was last seen in 2007, just before the bursting debt bubble blew the global economy and financial system to smithereens. The Fed and BoE should surely hang their heads in shame having presided over yet another impending disaster. Why will politicians and the people tolerate this incompetence? Indeed they won’t.'

- Albert (Shades of 2008: UK and US Savings Rate Plunges, Debt Comes Full Circle, August 3, 2017)

'It’s no mystery why central bankers are mystified: Collectively, they are economically illiterate fools engaged in Keynesian and Monetarist group think.


On deck is another round of destructive asset price deflation, brought about by Central banks who cannot see the obvious.'

- Mike “Mish” Shedlock, Central Banks Puzzled as Global Inflation Hits Lowest Level Since 2009: Solving the Puzzle, August 3, 2017

'..history and logic both show that concerns over consumer price deflation are seriously misplaced.

Worse yet, in their attempts to fight routine consumer price deflation, central bankers create very destructive asset bubbles that eventually collapse, setting off what they should fear – asset bubble deflations following a buildup of bank credit on inflated assets.'

- Mike “Mish” Shedlock, Historical Perspective on CPI Deflations: How Damaging are They? March 30, 2015

'BIS Deflation Study

The BIS did a historical study and found routine deflation was not any problem at all.

“Deflation may actually boost output. Lower prices increase real incomes and wealth. And they may also make export goods more competitive,” stated the study.

It’s asset bubble deflation that is damaging. When asset bubbles burst, debt deflation results.

Central banks’ seriously misguided attempts to defeat routine consumer price deflation is what fuels the destructive asset bubbles that eventually collapse.'

- Mike “Mish” Shedlock, How Twisted Minds Function, August 2, 2017


'..If you can’t see this next crisis coming, you’re not paying the right kind of attention .. Financial politicians..'

'..the Next 30 Years: “Everything is Deflationary”..'

'..a 30-year bear market..'

          '..If you can’t see this next crisis coming, you’re not paying the right kind of attention .. Financial politicians..' (no replies)        
'..If you can’t see this next crisis coming, you’re not paying the right kind of attention..'

'This Fed has already engineered the next crisis, just as Greenspan kept rates too low for too long, ignored his regulatory responsibility, and engineered the housing bubble and subprime crisis. If you can’t see this next crisis coming, you’re not paying the right kind of attention. The Trump Fed is going to have to deal with that crisis, but we still have many questions as to what a Trump Fed will actually look like or do.'

John Mauldin (Source, Jun 25, 2017)

'..Their empathy circuits get turned off.'

'Powerful people everywhere routinely make decisions that hurt others. We see it in central bankers, politicians, corporate CEOs, religious groups, universities – any large organization. The old saying is right: Power really does corrupt. And corruption is a barrier to sustainable economic growth. This is more than a political problem; it has a serious economic impact.

Recent psychological research suggests that powerful people behave remarkably like traumatic brain injury victims. Controlled experiments show that, given power over others, people often become impulsive and less sensitive to risk. Most important, test subjects often lose empathy, that is, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.


Powerful people also lose a capacity called “mirroring.” When we observe other people doing something, our brains react as if we were doing the same thing. It’s why, when you watch a sporting event, you may unconsciously mimic a golf swing or the referee’s hand signals. Some portion of your brain thinks you are really there. But when researchers prime test subjects with powerful feelings, their mirroring capacity decreases.

You can see why this is a problem. The Protected-class members of the Federal Open Market Committee must feel quite powerful when they gather in that fancy room to make policy decisions. It’s no wonder they forget how their decisions will affect regular working-class people: Their empathy circuits get turned off.'

- Patrick Watson, The Wedge Goes Deeper, June 30, 2017

'..I now feel that it's highly likely we will face a major financial crisis, if not later this year, then by the end of 2018 at the latest..'

'Re-entering the news flow was a jolt, and not in a good way. Looking with fresh eyes at the economic numbers and central bankers’ statements convinced me that we will soon be in deep trouble. I now feel that it's highly likely we will face a major financial crisis, if not later this year, then by the end of 2018 at the latest. Just a few months ago, I thought we could avoid a crisis and muddle through. Now I think we’re past that point. The key decision-makers have (1) done nothing, (2) done the wrong thing, or (3) done the right thing too late.

Having realized this, I’m adjusting my research efforts. I believe a major crisis is coming. The questions now are, how severe will it be, and how will we get through it? With the election of President Trump and a Republican Congress, your naïve analyst was hopeful that we would get significant tax reform, in addition to reform of a healthcare system that is simply devastating to so many people and small businesses. I thought maybe we’d see this administration cutting through some bureaucratic red tape quickly. With such reforms in mind I was hopeful we could avoid a recession even if a crisis developed in China or Europe.


One news item I didn’t miss on St. Thomas – and rather wish I had – was Janet Yellen’s reassurance regarding the likelihood of another financial crisis. Here is the full quote.

Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? You know probably that would be going too far, but I do think we’re much safer, and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be. [emphasis added]

I disagree with almost every word in those two sentences, but my belief is less important than Chair Yellen’s. If she really believes this, then she is oblivious to major instabilities that still riddle the financial system. That’s not good.


Financial politicians (which is what central bankers really are) have a long history of saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Far worse, they simply fail to tell the truth. Former Eurogroup leader Jean-Claude Juncker admitted as much: “When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” he said in the throes of Europe’s 2011 debt crisis.'

- John Mauldin, Prepare for Turbulence, July 9, 2017

'..Market distortions – including valuations, deeply embedded complacency, and Trillions of perceived safe securities – have become only further detached from reality. And the longer all this unstable finance flows freely into the real economy, the deeper the structural maladjustment.'

'This week marks the five-year anniversary of Draghi’s “whatever it takes.” I remember the summer of 2012 as if it were yesterday. From the Bubble analysis perspective, it was a Critical Juncture – for financial markets and risk perceptions, for policy and for the global economy. Italian 10-year yields hit 6.60% on July 24, 2012. On that same day, Spain saw yields surge to 7.62%. Italian banks were in freefall, while European bank stocks (STOXX600) were rapidly approaching 2009 lows. Having risen above 55 in 2011, Deutsche Bank traded at 23.23 on July 25, 2012.

It was my view at the time that the “European” crisis posed a clear and immediate threat to the global financial system. A crisis of confidence in Italian debt (and Spanish and “periphery” debt) risked a crisis of confidence in European banks – and a loss of confidence in European finance risked dismantling the euro monetary regime.

Derivatives markets were in the crosshairs back in 2012. A crisis of confidence in European debt and the euro would surely have tested the derivatives marketplace to the limits. Moreover, with the big European banks having evolved into dominant players in derivatives trading (taking share from U.S. counterparts after the mortgage crisis), counter-party issues were at the brink of becoming a serious global market problem. It’s as well worth mentioning that European banks were major providers of finance for emerging markets.

From the global government finance Bubble perspective, Draghi’s “whatever it takes” was a seminal development. The Bernanke Fed employed QE measures during the 2008 financial crisis to accommodate deleveraging and stabilize dislocated markets. Mario Draghi leapfrogged (helicopter) Bernanke, turning to open-ended QE and other extreme measures to preserve euro monetary integration. No longer would QE be viewed as a temporary crisis management tool. And just completely disregard traditional monetary axiom that central banks should operate as lender of last resort in the event of temporary illiquidity – but must avoid propping up the insolvent. “Whatever it takes” advocates covert bailouts for whomever and whatever a small group of central bankers chooses – illiquid, insolvent, irredeemable or otherwise. Now five years after the first utterance of “whatever it takes,” the Draghi ECB is still pumping out enormous amounts of “money” on a monthly basis (buying sovereigns and corporates) with rates near zero.


Thinking back five years, U.S. markets at the time were incredibly complacent. The risk of crisis in Europe was downplayed: Policymakers had it all under control. Sometime later, the Financial Times - in a fascinating behind-the-scenes exposé - confirmed the gravity of the situation and how frazzled European leaders were at the brink of losing control. Yet central bankers, once again, saved the day – further solidifying their superhero status.

I’m convinced five years of “whatever it takes” took the global government finance Bubble deeper into perilous uncharted territory. Certainly, markets are more complacent than ever, believing central bankers are fully committed to prolonging indefinitely the securities bull market. Meanwhile, leverage, speculative excess and trend-following flows have had an additional five years to accumulate. Market distortions – including valuations, deeply embedded complacency, and Trillions of perceived safe securities – have become only further detached from reality. And the longer all this unstable finance flows freely into the real economy, the deeper the structural maladjustment.'

- Doug Noland, Five Years of Whatever It Takes, July 29, 2017

'..This whole episode is likely to end so badly that future children will learn about it in school and shake their heads in wonder at the rank stupidity of it all, just like many of us did when we learned about the Dutch Tulip mania.'

'While I've written about numerous valuation measures over time, the most reliable ones share a common feature: they focus on identifying "sufficient statistics" for the very, very long-term stream of cash flows that stocks can be expected to deliver into the hands of investors over time. On that front, revenues are typically more robust "sufficient statistics" than current or year-ahead earnings. See Exhaustion Gaps and the Fear of Missing Out for a table showing the relative reliability of a variety of measures. In April 2007, I estimated that an appropriate valuation for the S&P 500 stood about 850, roughly -40% lower than prevailing levels. By the October peak, the prospective market loss to normal valuation had increased to about -46%. As it happened, the subsequent collapse of the housing bubble took the S&P 500 about -55% lower. In late-October 2008, as the market plunge crossed below historically reliable valuation norms, I observed that the S&P 500 had become undervalued on our measures.

Again attempting to “stimulate” the economy from the recession that followed, the Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates to zero in recent years, provoking yet another episode of yield-seeking speculation, where yield-starved investors created demand for virtually every class of securities, in the hope of achieving returns in excess of zero. Meanwhile, Wall Street, suffering from what J.K. Galbraith once called the “extreme brevity of the financial memory,” convinced itself yet again that the whole episode was built on something more solid than quotes on a screen and blotches of ink on paper..


..greater real economic activity was never the likely outcome of all this quantitative easing (indeed, one can show that the path of the economy since the crisis has not been materially different than what one could have projected using wholly non-monetary variables). Rather, Ben Bernanke, in his self-appointed role as Mad Hatter, was convinced that offensively hypervalued financial markets - that encourage the speculative misallocation of capital, imply dismal expected future returns, and create temporary paper profits that ultimately collapse - somehow represent a greater and more desirable form of “wealth” compared with reasonably-valued financial markets that offer attractive expected returns and help to soundly allocate capital. Believing that wealth is embodied by the price of a security rather than its future stream of cash flows, QE has created a world of hypervaluation, zero prospective future returns, and massive downside risks across nearly every conventional asset class.

And so, the Fed created such an enormous pool of zero interest bank reserves that investors would feel pressure to chase stocks, junk debt, anything to get rid of these yield-free hot potatoes. That didn’t stimulate more real, productive investment; it just created more investors who were frustrated with zero returns, because someone had to hold that base money, and in aggregate, all of them had to hold over $4 trillion of the stuff at every moment in time.

When you look objectively at what the Fed actually did, should be obvious how its actions encouraged this bubble. Every time someone would get rid of zero-interest base money by buying a riskier security, the seller would get the base money, and the cycle would continue until every asset was priced to deliver future returns near zero. We’re now at the point where junk yields are among the lowest in history, stock market valuations are so extreme that we estimate zero or negative S&P 500 average annual nominal total returns over the coming 10-12 year horizon, and our estimate of 12-year prospective total returns on a conventional mix of 60% stocks, 30% Treasury bonds, and 10% Treasury bills has never been lower (about 1% annually here). This whole episode is likely to end so badly that future children will learn about it in school and shake their heads in wonder at the rank stupidity of it all, just like many of us did when we learned about the Dutch Tulip mania.

Examine all risk exposures, consider your investment horizon and risk-tolerance carefully, commit to the flexibility toward greater market exposure at points where a material retreat in valuations is joined by early improvement in market action (even if the news happens to be very negative at that point), fasten your protective gear, and expect a little bit of whiplash. Remember that the “catalysts” often become evident after prices move, not before. The completion of this market cycle may or may not be immediate, but with the median stock at easily the most extreme price/revenue ratio in history, and a run-of-the-mill outcome now being market loss on the order of -60%, the contrast between recent stability and likely future volatility could hardly be more striking.'

- John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Hot Potatoes and Dutch Tulips, July 31, 2017


(2017) - '..a deeply systemic debt crisis akin to the aftermath of 1929 .. the stage has now been set..'

(Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..debt is our biggest security threat..'

'..the Next 30 Years: “Everything is Deflationary”..'

          (Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..debt is our biggest security threat..' (no replies)        
'Now that he is president, Trump likes to tout the fact he’s listening to America’s generals. Perhaps he needs to talk to General Mike Millen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Perhaps then he would see that the greatest threat America faces isn’t from China, Russia, or North Korea – it is from the national debt. Until Trump reverses course on military spending, and gets tough on entitlements, his "America First" budget will only make the US worse off.'

- Tho Bishop (Source, March 20, 2017)

'..a crippling national debt..'

'Under a Republican budget resolution, the national debt will explode by a third from an already staggering $19 billion to $29 trillion over the next ten years. Although counterintuitive, Democratic presidents, at least those after World War II, have reduced deficits as a portion of the value of the national economy (GDP) while Republican presidents have increased them — thus accumulating less public debt as a percentage of GDP. Yet neither political party has paid enough attention to this burgeoning national security problem.

National security problem? Yes. General Mike Mullen, while he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top military man, was enlightened enough about long-term health of American power to realize that it takes continuing infusions of money to acquire the weapons and equipment, personnel, training, maintenance and benefits to create a credible military to adequately defend the country. In addition, all other indices of national power — political, diplomatic and cultural — require money too.

To generate those resources, a strong economy is needed. The number one problem dragging down economic growth rates through the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies was a crippling national debt..'

- Ivan Eland, National debt is our biggest security threat: Column, January 11, 2017


'..World Debt Hits $152 Trillion.'

'Our nation and the world are paying a very heavy price for a failed experiment in Inflationism..' - Doug Noland

'..Global policies since the 2008 crisis have spurred the expansion of speculative finance to multiples of pre-crisis levels..'

'Germany Plans to Cut 2017 Debt Sales .. Balanced-Budget..'

'..monetary knowledge .. of currency reform under difficult conditions you have to go to Carl Menger.'

(Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..The Theory of Money and Credit .. an invaluable guide for ending the business cycles of our own time.'

(Banking Reform - English/Dutch) '..a truly stable financial and monetary system for the twenty-first century..'

          Liquid Assets: Digging deep for water quality        

Each day people from Lima to Cincinnati get their drinking water from an underground river known as the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer. It encompasses about 136 square miles and contains 1.5 trillion gallons of water

In fact, 1.6 million people rely on water from the Great Miami Aquifer, including companies like Procter and Gamble and the region's growing number of breweries.

Richard Dube is Vice President of Brewing and Quality for Christian Moerlein and he knows a thing or two about needing water.

          How Plastic We've Become        

Our bodies carry residues of kitchen plastics

Food for Thought

In the 1967 film classic The Graduate, a businessman corners Benjamin Braddock at a cocktail party and gives him a bit of career advice. "Just one word…plastics."

Although Benjamin didn't heed that recommendation, plenty of other young graduates did. Today, the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Residues of plastics have become ubiquitous in the environment—and in our bodies.

A federal government study now reports that bisphenol A (BPA)—the building block of one of the most widely used plastics—laces the bodies of the vast majority of U.S. residents young and old.

Manufacturers link BPA molecules into long chains, called polymers, to make polycarbonate plastics. All of those clear, brittle plastics used in baby bottles, food ware, and small kitchen appliances (like food-processor bowls) are made from polycarbonates. BPA-based resins also line the interiors of most food, beer, and soft-drink cans. With use and heating, polycarbonates can break down, leaching BPA into the materials they contact. Such as foods.

And that could be bad if what happens in laboratory animals also happens in people, because studies in rodents show that BPA can trigger a host of harmful changes, from reproductive havoc to impaired blood-sugar control and obesity (SN: 9/29/07, p. 202).

For the new study, scientists analyzed urine from some 2,500 people who had been recruited between 2003 and 2004 for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Roughly 92 percent of the individuals hosted measurable amounts of BPA, according to a report in the January Environmental Health Perspectives. It's the first study to measure the pollutant in a representative cross-section of the U.S. population.

Typically, only small traces of BPA turned up, concentrations of a few parts per billion in urine, note chemist Antonia M. Calafat and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, with hormone-mimicking agents like BPA, even tiny exposures can have notable impacts.

Overall, concentrations measured by Calafat's team were substantially higher than those that have triggered disease, birth defects, and more in exposed animals, notes Frederick S. vom Saal, a University of Missouri-Columbia biologist who has been probing the toxicology of BPA for more than 15 years.

The BPA industry describes things differently. Although Calafat's team reported urine concentrations of BPA, in fact they assayed a breakdown product—the compound by which BPA is excreted, notes Steven G. Hentges of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. As such, he argues, "this does not mean that BPA itself is present in the body or in urine."

On the other hand, few people have direct exposure to the breakdown product.

Hentges' group estimates that the daily BPA intake needed to create urine concentrations reported by the CDC scientists should be in the neighborhood of 50 nanograms per kilogram of bodyweight—or one millionth of an amount at which "no adverse effects" were measured in multi-generation animal studies. In other words, Hentges says, this suggests "a very large margin of safety."

No way, counters vom Saal. If one applies the ratio of BPA intake to excreted values in hosts of published animal studies, concentrations just reported by CDC suggest that the daily intake of most Americans is actually closer to 100 micrograms (µg) per kilogram bodyweight, he says—or some 1,000-fold higher than the industry figure.

Clearly, there are big differences of opinion and interpretation. And a lot may rest on who's right.

Globally, chemical manufacturers produce an estimated 2.8 million tons of BPA each year. The material goes into a broad range of products, many used in and around the home. BPA also serves as the basis of dental sealants, which are resins applied to the teeth of children to protect their pearly whites from cavities (SN: 4/6/96, p. 214). The industry, therefore, has a strong economic interest in seeing that the market for BPA-based products doesn't become eroded by public concerns over the chemical.

And that could happen. About 2 years after a Japanese research team showed that BPA leached out of baby bottles and plastic food ware (see What's Coming Out of Baby's Bottle?), manufacturers of those consumer products voluntarily found BPA substitutes for use in food cans. Some 2 years after that, a different group of Japanese scientists measured concentrations of BPA residues in the urine of college students. About half of the samples came from before the switch, the rest from after the period when BPA was removed from food cans.

By comparing urine values from the two time periods, the researchers showed that BPA residues were much lower—down by at least 50 percent—after Japanese manufacturers had eliminated BPA from the lining of food cans.

Concludes vom Saal, in light of the new CDC data and a growing body of animal data implicating even low-dose BPA exposures with the potential to cause harm, "the most logical thing" for the United States to do would be to follow in Japan's footsteps and "get this stuff [BPA] out of our food."

Kids appear most exposed

Overall, men tend to have statistically lower concentrations of BPA than women, the NHANES data indicate. But the big difference, Calafat says, traces to age. "Children had higher concentrations than adolescents, and they in turn had higher levels than adults," she told Science News Online.

This decreasing body burden with older age "is something we have seen with some other nonpersistent chemicals," Calafat notes—such as phthalates, another class of plasticizers.

The spread between the average BPA concentration that her team measured in children 6 to 11 years old (4.5 µg/liter) and adults (2.5 µg/L) doesn't look like much, but proved reliably different.

The open question is why adults tended to excrete only 55 percent as much BPA. It could mean children have higher exposures, she posits, or perhaps that they break it down less efficiently. "We really need to do more research to be able to answer that question."

Among other differences that emerged in the NHANES analysis: urine residues of BPA decreased with increasing household income and varied somewhat with ethnicity (with Mexican-Americans having the lowest average values, blacks the highest, and white's values in between).

There was also a time-of-day difference, with urine values for any given group tending to be highest in the evening, lowest in the afternoon, and midway between those in the morning. Since BPA's half-life in the body is only about 6 hours, that temporal variation in the chemical's excretion would be consistent with food as a major source of exposure, the CDC scientists note.

In the current NHANES paper, BPA samples were collected only once from each recruit. However, in a paper due to come out in the February Environmental Health Perspectives, Calafat and colleagues from several other institutions looked at how BPA excretion varied over a 2-year span among 82 individuals—men and women—seen at a fertility clinic in Boston.

In contrast to the NHANES data, the upcoming report shows that men tended to have somewhat higher BPA concentrations than women. Then again both groups had only about one-quarter the concentration typical of Americans.

The big difference in the Boston group emerged among the 10 women who ultimately became pregnant. Their BPA excretion increased 33 percent during pregnancy. Owing to the small number of participants in this subset of the study population, the pregnancy-associated change was not statistically significant. However, the researchers report, these are the first data to look for changes during pregnancy and ultimately determining whether some feature of pregnancy—such as a change in diet or metabolism of BPA—really alters body concentrations of the pollutant could be important. It could point to whether the fetus faces an unexpectedly high exposure to the pollutant.

If it does, the fetus could face a double whammy: Not only would exposures be higher during this period of organ and neural development, but rates of detoxification also would be diminished, vom Saal says.

Indeed, in a separate study, one due to be published soon in Reproductive Toxicology, his team administered BPA by ingestion or by injection to 3-day-old mice. Either way, the BPA exposure resulted in comparable BPA concentrations in blood.

What's more, that study found, per unit of BPA delivered, blood values in the newborns were "markedly higher" than other studies have reported for adult rodents exposed to the chemical. And that makes sense, vom Saal says, because the enzyme needed to break BPA down and lead to its excretion is only a tenth as active in babies as in adults. That's true in the mouse, he says, in the rat—and, according to some preliminary data, in humans.

Vom Saal contends that since studies have shown BPA exhibits potent hormonelike activity in human cells at the parts-per-trillion level, and since the new CDC study finds that most people are continually exposed to concentrations well above the parts-per-trillion ballpark, it's time to reevaluate whether it makes sense to use BPA-based products in and around foods.

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.

          6.4 trillion calories removed from the marketplace!        
The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) and OASIS all have a common goal: to end childhood obesity. OASIS President Marcia Kerz discusses the ...
          The Best Part-Time Job in America        

The fix is in. Did you know, Congress only works 33 percent of the year?

The base salary for all rank-and-file members of Congress is $174,000, more than triple the median household income of the United States. In exchange for that generous salary, members of Congress work one out of three days.

The House of Representatives was in session for only 18 hours a week in 2013. Members worked only 130 days in 2015. In case you needed more evidence that Congress doesn’t earn its salary, consider this: House and Senate members only worked eight days in April.

Eight work days in a month, with an annual salary of $174,000. Can you imagine? Must be nice!

Meanwhile, in the real world, the average American worker puts in more hours than a medieval peasant. Full-time U.S. employees use only 54 percent of their paid vacation days, sacrificing the rest for fear of falling behind or being replaced. The idea of a congressman skipping that much vacation is laughable, at best.

I was raised to believe that how people spend their time is a direct reflection of their priorities. The United States holds more than $19 trillion in debt, not including unfunded liabilities. Our health care, immigration, and justice systems are in desperate need of reform. Public schools are underperforming, while families and small businesses are being taxed out of financial security.

Where is our elected leadership? Clearly, they have other priorities.

Members of Congress spend most of their time in their districts, schmoozing with donors, speaking at private events, and securing their next elections. The average House member spent $53,170 of taxpayer money on travel in 2013.

These aren’t legislators, these are professional campaigners.

The American people aren’t being heard by government because the game is rigged. Washington isn’t broken. It’s “fixed.”

          FreedomWorks’ Bill of the Month for August 2017: Lessening Regulatory Costs and Establishing a Federal Regulatory Budget Act, H.R.2623        

FreedomWorks is happy to announce that our Bill of the Month for August 2017 is H.R. 2623, the Lessening Regulatory Costs and Establishing a Federal Regulatory Budget Act, sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

The federal government has played a significant role in the deterioration of our economy by applying burdensome and unnecessary regulations on the American people for decades. Rep. Meadows’ legislation is very simple and would hold our federal government to a new standard in which any new regulatory cost would be balanced by the elimination of an existing regulatory cost. It would also require federal agencies to repeal two regulations for any new regulation proposed.

According to a recent study from 1980 to 2012 the economic growth rate has cumulatively decreased each year by 0.8 percent caused by burdensome regulations. These regulations stifle innovation by forcing businesses to invest in regulatory compliance when they could be investing in products and the American people. The study shows that a loss of $4 trillion, one-fourth of the economy in 2012 is the result of GDP loss associated with regulatory accumulation over the years.

It is crucial that the American people have the freedom of choice within the marketplace and that economic growth is no longer held back by unelected officials creating new regulations in Washington, D.C. This bill would hold agencies accountable by requiring them to submit annual regulatory plans to the OMB. These reports would include new regulation proposals and require the calculation of the economic effects the regulations would have on jobs in the industry.

It is time for the federal government to strengthen congressional and executive oversight of bureaucrats and make way for a pro-growth agenda. This bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law. Don’t forget to ask your representative to support this legislation today.

          Capitol Hill Update: July 24, 2017        


The House and Senate are in session this week.

There are five (5) legislative days remaining for the House before the August recess and 53 legislative days remaining in the year. The Senate will supposedly work through the first two weeks of the August recess.


The FY 2018 budget resolution, dubbed "Building a Better America," was marked up and approved by the Budget Committee on Thursday in a party-line vote. The budget would reduce the budget deficit by $6.5 trillion over the ten-year budget window and eventually come into balance in FY 2027, creating a $9 billion surplus.

Perhaps one of the most important components of the budget is that it begins the reconciliation process for fundamental tax reform. There are also reconciliation instructions for 11 House committees to find roughly $200 billion savings or reforms in mandatory spending.

The FY 2018 budget resolution isn't on the calendar for the week. It's unclear if House Republican leaders will bring it to the floor.

Additionally, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, H.R. 2997, introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) could come to the floor for a vote this week. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and reforms the United States' out of date air traffic control (ATC) system. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in support of the 21st AIRR Act.

On Monday, the House will consider 17 bills on the suspension calendar. Most of the bills on the suspension calendar related to veterans or active military issues. There are three bills on the suspension calendar that relate to small businesses and investment. The House will also consider the Intelligence Authorization Act, H.R. 3180, sponsored by Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on suspension.

There are three bills on the suspension calendar for Tuesday, including the Medicare Part B Improvement Act, H.R. 3178, sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and a yet-to-be-numbered resolution that will impose sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

The House will also consider H.J.Res. 111, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, to cancel the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) giveaway to trial lawyers. The rule put restrictions on the use of arbitration to settle disputes over consumer products. This would lead to more class-action lawsuits, benefiting trial lawyers and hurting consumers. FreedomWorks has signed a coalition letter in support of H.J.Res. 111 and will likely include the vote on our 2017 Congressional Scorecard.

For the balance of the week, the House will consider at least four more bills on the suspension calendar. The Make America Secure Appropriations Act, H.R. 3219, will also come to the floor. This is the consolidated appropriations bill, or "minibus," for the Department of Defense, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Energy and Water. Like virtually every other bill to come to the floor this year under "regular order," the Make America Secure Appropriations Act is subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments from the floor.

On Thursday at 10:00 am, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled "The Need for the Balanced Budget Amendment." The witness list for the hearing has not yet been announced. Twelve constitutional amendments have been introduced in the House that would require a balanced budget. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is the sponsor of two of them, H.J.Res. 1 and H.J.Res. 2. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the primary sponsor of H.J.Res. 15, is among the House conservatives who have introduced a balanced budget amendment.

The committee and subcommittee schedule for the week can be found here.


Presumably, the Senate will vote this week on the motion to proceed to the House-passed version of H.R. 1628. It's still unclear on what happens next. A vote to proceed to the House-passed version has always been the first step. The next step will be for an amendment to the bill that will substitute the language of either the Better Care Reconciliation Act or language similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, now called the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. FreedomWorks' key vote on the motion to proceed applies only if the base text that will be substituted is similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill.

At least a few Senate Republicans have backed away from their votes for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, which was passed in December 2015 with the support of all but two Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins. Moderate Republicans who refuse to vote for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill have demanded $200 billion in Medicaid funding offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get them to support the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Some parts of the Better Care Reconciliation Act are in limbo, however, as the Senate parliamentarian has apparently ruled that provisions limiting funding for Planned Parenthood and tax credits for plans that cover abortion will require 60 votes. Other provisions that may require 60 votes include the State Innovation Waivers. Many of these provisions can be altered to make them withstand a Byrd rule challenge, as was done in 2015.

The Senate still has several nominees to consider and, on the legislative front, the FDA Reauthorization Act, S. 934; the National Defense Reauthorization Act; and the debt ceiling are among the items awaiting action.

Separately, Senate Democrats are rolling out their "better deal" economic agenda today, which is a rehashing and repackaging of virtually every leftist policy proposal in recent years. The agenda is Democrats' attempt to find a message after a string of special election losses around the country.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.

          The disconnect between the movie reviewer and the one review is for        
I just watched "The Tree of Life." I think I was supposed to really like it. That's what the movie reviewers say. I wanted to like it. It had artists shots of nature and lots of classical music and Brad Pitt, and I'm a Brad Pitt fan, who is, strangely, an underrated actor because of his looks and ability to date the world's most beautiful women.
But I have a confession. I didn't get "The Tree of Life." In fact, I think I hated it.
I was supposed to like it because movie reviewers told me I should. If you go by Rotten Tomatoes, 85 percent of the critics liked it. It was on the Top 10 lists of many critics I trust, including my favorite, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. He even makes fun of people like me, apparently, who want silly things like some semblance of a story or dialogue that isn't whispered like I'm engaged in some sort of creepy pillow talk with the actors.
"Artistic ambition is a bitch," Travers writes in his three-and-a-half-stars review of the movie. "Mainstream audiences yawn you off."
OK, so reviewers liked a movie and I didn't. It happens. But then I watched "The Future" yesterday. This movie wasn't as highly praised as "The Tree of Life." I don't think it made many top-10 lists. Yet more than 70 percent liked it. Many top critics liked it too. And that movie SUCKED. It was bizzare for all the wrong reasons, and by the end, I hated the characters so much, I was rooting for zombies to attack them, and that reminded me of the second season of "The Walking Dead," and then I became angry and folded laundry. Folding laundry when you're angry is never a good idea. You get a little too pissed off when you can't find a matching sock.
And it hit me that movie reviewers never seem to review movies for their readers. They seem to review them for other reviewers.
I believe I can say this because I am a movie snob. I'm not, as Travers seems to think, "the mainstream audience." In fact, I think I probably watch movies in the same way reviewers watch them. I look for depth of story, originality, real characters, great dialogue and writing and artistic, inventive direction. I try to watch all the movies on reviewers' top-10 lists. I usually like them.
I hate the Twilight movies without even watching them and any Michael Bay movie. My soul weeps when Transformers makes trillions of dollars. I, like most critics, believe a lot of mainstream movies suck.
I watch well-reviewed movies almost exclusively and prefer deep, thought-provoking ones the most.
I've had this conversation with my wife many times:
"Hey, do you want to watch this movie with me?"
"Is it one of your weird movies?"
So why am I writing this screed because I didn't like a couple of experimental films? Isn't that a bit much? No. It's actually a symptom of a much larger problem.
I rely on movie reviewers to tell me what's good. I have three small kids. I have lots of other things to do. I run. I work. Sometimes I play with the kids and the dog. I can't just "go to a movie" most of the time. So when I see something like "The Future," I've not only seen a bad movie, I've lost two, precious, jewel-encrusted hours of free time.
I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has a busy life. I'm pretty sure, in fact, others get angry too when they see a lousy movie.
Now I don't always need reviewers to pick my movies for me. I knew I'd love "The Descendants." Alexander Payne? Sold. I'll watch anything by Pixar. The new Batman movie? I'm there. I'll see "The Artist" because it won Best Picture, and if I hate it, I can blame the Academy, which is cool by me.
And in fairness to reviewers, my trust in them is well put. I put "Take Shelter" in my Netflix cue because it got great ratings, and I loved it. I saw "Phoebe in Wonderland" and wound up buying it as an all-time favorite. I discovered Payne this way. I doubt I would have heard of any of those movies otherwise.
Lately, though, my trust seems misplaced. I was on the fence about "Tree of Life." I'm not a Terrence Malick fan after the disaster that was "The Thin Red Line." But so many critics raved about it. Travers, for instance. So, OK. I rented it.
Movie reviewers, in other words, are getting it wrong perhaps more than they should, at least this year and last. And I think I know why.
It's their job to sit through movies all week, every week. They don't get to avoid the Twilight films like I do. They have to see them. They have to see Transformers. They have to watch all those horrible romances and torture-porn flicks and reboots and remakes and mindless children's crap like "Happy Feet Two."
Last year, sequels made up one-fifth of the nationwide releases, according to Box Office Mojo. That doesn't include reboots, remakes or swill like "Jack and Jill." Not all sequels are bad. But even Pixar made "Cars II," and that was Pixar's only bad movie ever. When Pixar can't deliver, you know you're having a bad year.
Eddie Murphy once joked about sex and how a woman controls our minds with it. She will make us wait forever, he said, until she finally gives in, and you think it's the best ever.
If you're starving, Murphy said, in a paraphrase here, and someone gives you a Saltine, you're going to think it's a Ritz.
If I were a movie critic, in other words, I'd like "The Tree of Life" too. In fact, I'd LOVE it. A movie with its own artistic vision? One that doesn't have vampires that look like GQ cover models who just gave a pint too much of blood? One that has some semblance of originality? Something different from most of the crap being shoveled my way? And it isn't a sequel, and it's ambitious? Sold. Three-and-a-half stars.
I'd probably even somehow like "The Future." The movie was awful, but at least it was an attempt to be original.
I probably wouldn't even care that those movies were difficult to watch, weren't enjoyable or actually kind of sucked too. They were different, didn't feature aliens blowing something up and had some decent acting. They were original. They were ambitious, even if those ambitions fell short. Sold.
So why don't I follow the same theory? I don't have to sit through movies all day. I don't have the time for it either. I get to watch what I consider the good stuff. When a movie sucks, then, it stands out even more. Critics are far too used to sitting through swill, and it's clouding their vision for the rest of us.
I kind wanted to be a movie critic, but lately I've reconsidered that job. Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe just won a Pulitzer for his movie reviews. In one of his essays that won, he reviewed "The Tree of Life." He wrote that the vision was lovely but not easy to understand. He sort of liked it for its originality but also seemed to wonder if it really was a good movie.
Morris earned that damned prize.

          Lessons from Norway        
For the last two weeks, the wife and I took a vacation to beautiful Norway to see the fjords and the North Cape, effectively the northernmost point in Europe. It was a visit though to the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger that inspired this post.

The discovery of oil in the waters off Norway in 1969 completely changed the Norwegian economy, changing the way of life from a difficult agriculture and fishing society to a more comfortable oil-based economy. The museum had a surprisingly good introductory movie "Oil Kid" describes the challenging relationship of a man with his father who drew a comfortable life as an oil worker. Oil may have made Norway complacent as it lags behind its Scandinavian neighbors in non-oil based technological innovation.

The Norwegian government declared that the oil belonged to the people and created a fund that now totals nearly a trillion US dollars, over $150,000 per Norwegian citizen. Nevertheless as the price of oil remains low, Norway risks challenges as a country reliant on its production.

Norway now aims to be energy-neutral in the near future with extensive hydropower and wind mills. Norway has the highest percentage of electric cars of any country. The tiny town of Eidfjord, population about 1000, has a Tesla charging station. Odd to see this from a major oil exporter.

As computer scientists we have "struck oil," also leading a revolutionary change to our economy with its winners and losers. In fifty years will we look back and regret what we have wrought? 

          Highly Desirable France.com Domain Name Provides a Significant Opportunity to Capitalize on the $10.8 Trillion Travel Market        

France.com Domain Name Now Available Exclusively With Igloo.com

(PRWeb December 16, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/12/prweb12374730.htm

          Scientist - Product Science - Centrillion - Palo Alto, CA        
The R&D group at Centrillion is a multidisciplinary team of biologists, engineers, chemists, and computational biologists developing new genomics technologies,...
From Centrillion - Wed, 07 Jun 2017 02:24:59 GMT - View all Palo Alto, CA jobs
          Putting a New Twist on the ECB Extend and Pretend Game        
Once the ECB floods the banking system with a couple trillion euros of liquidity it should throw a twist into the game. It should start charging banks to keep money on deposit with them.
          Amazon is the New Tech Crash        
SUBHEAD: There is only a handful of big tech winners - Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google Facebook & Netflix.

By David Stockman on 1 August 2017 for the Daily Reckoning -

Image above: Sign on an unidentified Amazon building. From original article.

It won’t be long now. During the last 31 months the stock market mania has rapidly narrowed to just a handful of shooting stars.

At the forefront has been Amazon.com, Inc., which saw its stock price double from $285 per share in January 2015 to $575 by October of that year. It then doubled again to about $1,000 in the 21 months since.

By contrast, much of the stock market has remained in flat-earth land.

For instance, those sections of the stock market that are tethered to the floundering real world economy have posted flat-lining earnings, or even sharp declines, as in the case of oil and gas.

Needless to say, the drastic market narrowing of the last 30 months has been accompanied by soaring price/earnings (PE) multiples among the handful of big winners. In the case of the so-called FAANGs + M (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft), the group’s weighted average PE multiple has increased by some 50%.

The degree to which the casino’s speculative mania has been concentrated in the FAANGs + M can also be seen by contrasting them with the other 494 stocks in the S&P 500.

The market cap of the index as a whole rose from $17.7 trillion in January 2015 to some $21.2 trillion at present, meaning that the FAANGs + M account for about 40% of the entire gain.

Stated differently, the market cap of the other 494 stocks rose from $16.0 trillion to $18.1 trillion during that 30-month period.

That is, 13% versus the 82% gain of the six super-momentum stocks.

Moreover, if this concentrated $1.4 trillion gain in a handful of stocks sounds familiar that’s because this rodeo has been held before.

The Four Horseman of Tech (Microsoft, Dell, Cisco and Intel) at the turn of the century saw their market cap soar from $850 billion to $1.65 trillion or by 94% during the manic months before the dotcom peak.

At the March 2000 peak, Microsoft’s PE multiple was 60X, Intel’s was 50X and Cisco’s hit 200X.

Those nosebleed valuations were really not much different than Facebook today at 40X, Amazon at 190X and Netflix at 217X.

The truth is, even great companies do not escape drastic over-valuation during the blow-off stage of bubble peaks.

Accordingly, two years later the Four Horseman as a group had shed $1.25 trillion or 75% of their valuation.

More importantly, this spectacular collapse was not due to a meltdown of their sales and profits. Like the FAANGs +M today, the Four Horseman were quasi-mature, big cap companies that never really stopped growing.

Now I’m targeting the very highest-flyer of the present bubble cycle, Amazon.

Just as the NASDAQ 100 doubled between October 1998 and October 1999, and then doubled again by March 2000, AMZN is in the midst of a similar speculative blow-off.

Not to be forgotten, however, is that one year after the March 2000 peak the NASDAQ 100 was down by 70%, and it ultimately bottomed 82% lower in September 2002. I expect no less of a spectacular collapse in the case of this cycle’s equivalent shooting star.

In fact, even as its stock price has tripled during the last 30 months, AMZN has experienced two sharp drawdowns of 28% and 12%, respectively. Both times it plunged to its 200-day moving average in a matter of a few weeks.

A similar drawdown to its 200-day moving average today would result in a double-digit sell-off.

But when — not if — the broad market plunges into a long overdue correction the ultimate drop will exceed that by many orders of magnitude.

Amazon’s stock has now erupted to $1,000per share, meaning that its market cap is lodged in the financial thermosphere (highest earth atmosphere layer). Its implied PE multiple of 190X can only be described as blatantly absurd.

After all, Amazon is 24 years-old, not a start-up. It hasn’t invented anything explosively new like the iPhone or personal computer.

Instead, 91% of its sales involve sourcing, moving, storing and delivering goods. That’s a sector of the economy that has grown by just 2.2% annually in nominal dollars for the last decade, and for which there is no macroeconomic basis for an acceleration.

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Yes, AMZN is taking share by leaps and bounds. But that’s inherently a one-time gain that can’t be capitalized in perpetuity at 190X.

And it’s a source of “growth” that is generating its own pushback as the stronger elements of the brick and mortar world belatedly pile on the e-commerce bandwagon.

Wal-Mart’s e-commerce sales, for example, have exploded after its purchase of Jet.com last year — with sales rising by 63% in the most recent quarter.

Moreover, Wal-Mart has finally figured out the free shipments game and has upped its e-commerce offering from 10 million to 50 million items just in the past year. Wal-Mart is also tapping for e-commerce fulfillment duty in its vast logistics system — including its 147 distribution centers, a fleet of 6,200 trucks and a global sourcing system which is second to none.

In this context, even AMZN’s year-over-year sales growth of 22.6% in Q1 2017 doesn’t remotely validate the company’s bubblicious valuation — especially not when AMZN’s already razor thin profit margins are weakening, not expanding.

Based on these basic realities, Jeff Bezos will never make up with volume what he is losing in margin on each and every shipment.

The Amazon business model is fatally flawed. It’s only a matter of the precise catalyst that will trigger the realization in the casino that this is another case of the proverbial naked emperor.

Needless to say, I do not think AMZN is a freakish outlier. It’s actually the lens through which the entire stock market should be viewed because the whole enchilada is now in the grips of a pure mania. Stated differently, the stock market is no longer a discounting mechanism nor even a weighing machine. It’s become a pure gambling hall.

So Bezos’ e-commerce business strategy is that of a madman — one made mad by the fantastically false price signals emanating from a casino that has become utterly unhinged owing to 30 years of Bubble Finance policies at the Fed and its fellow central banks around the planet. Indeed, the chart below leaves nothing to the imagination.

Since 2012, Amazon stock price has bounded upward in nearly exact lock-step with the massive balance sheet expansion of the world’s three major central banks.

Image above: Comparison of stock values of G3 Central Banks and Amazon Corp. From original article.

At the end of the day, the egregiously overvalued Amazon is the prime bubble stock of the current cycle. What the Fed has actually unleashed is not the healthy process of creative destruction that Amazon’s fanboys imagine.

Instead, it embodies a rogue business model and reckless sales growth machine that is just one more example of destructive financial engineering, and still another proof that monetary central planning fuels economic decay, not prosperity. Amazon’s stock is also the ultimate case of an utterly unsustainable bubble.

When the selling starts and the vast horde of momentum traders who have inflated it relentlessly in recent months make a bee line for the exits, the March 2000 dotcom crash will seem like a walk in the park. .

          Energy consumption by states        
SUBHEAD: Texas consumes the most energy, Vermont the least. Per capita New York the least. Hawaii close.

By Mickey Francis on 2 August 2017 for EIA.gov -

Image above: Mountain of damaged oil drums near Exxon refinery. From (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_MOUNTAIN_OF_DAMAGED_OIL_DRUMS_NEAR_THE_EXXON_REFINERY_-_NARA_-_546000.jpg).

EIA’s State Energy Data System (SEDS) recently released 2015 data estimates for all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The estimates include data on both total energy consumption and energy consumption per capita, which is calculated by dividing total consumption by population.

In 2015, Texas consumed a total of 13 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or about 13% of total U.S. energy consumption. Texas has consumed the most energy in every year since 1960, the earliest year for which EIA has data. California ranked second in energy use, with a total consumption of 8 quadrillion Btu, about 8% of U.S. total energy use.

Louisiana, Florida, and Illinois round out the top five energy-consuming states, which together account for more than one-third of total U.S. total energy use. Total energy consumption by the top 10 states exceeded the combined energy use of the other 41 states (including the District of Columbia).

Vermont was the lowest energy-consuming state in 2015 at about 132 trillion Btu; it was the only state with a lower consumption level than the District of Columbia’s 179 trillion Btu. Historically, Vermont has used less energy than any other state since 1961. Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, and New Hampshire round out the top five lowest energy-consuming states, which together accounted for only 1% of total U.S. energy use in 2015.

Overall, total U.S. energy consumption in 2015 was about 97 quadrillion Btu, a decrease of about 1% from 2014. In percentage terms, the states with the largest year-over-year percentage changes in energy use ranged from Minnesota, with a 7.6% decrease from 2014, to Florida, with a 3.7% increase from 2014.

Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia had less energy consumption in 2015 than in 2014, led by states in the Midwest.

The seven largest percentage decreases in energy use all occurred among Midwestern states: energy consumption in Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri decreased by a total of 704 trillion Btu from 2014 to 2015, accounting for nearly half of the total decline among states that had lower energy use in 2015 than in 2014.

Image above: Total BTU consumption by state. From original article.

In terms of total energy consumption per capita, Louisiana ranked the highest of any state, totaling 912 million Btu (MMBtu) per person in 2015. These rankings reflect the total consumption across all sectors in the state: residential, commercial, transportation, industrial, and electric power. Wyoming ranked second with 893 MMBtu, followed by Alaska (840 MMBtu), North Dakota (802 MMBtu), and Iowa (479 MMBtu).

High per capita energy consumption in these states is largely attributable to industrial sector energy consumption, which accounts for more than 50% of all consumption in those five states.

High production in the energy-intensive fossil fuel industry contributes to the high industrial sector consumption: Louisiana, Alaska, and North Dakota are all among the top ten states in crude oil production, while Wyoming is a leading producer of coal and natural gas. Iowa’s agriculture and manufacturing industries contribute to its relatively high consumption of energy in the sector.

Image above: Total BTU consumption per capita by state. From original article.

In 2015, New York had the lowest total energy consumption per capita at 189 MMBtu, followed by Rhode Island, California, Hawaii, and Florida. Again, relatively low per capita consumption reflects the relatively low industrial sector energy consumption in those states. Overall, the 2015 U.S. national average total energy consumption per capita was 303 MMBtu in 2015, about 2% lower than in 2014 and 1.6% lower than in 2000.

EIA’s State Energy Data System contains a complete set of state-level estimates of energy production, consumption, prices, and expenditures through 2015.


          "Are These Folks Serious?"        
From the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama says the time for talk on an economic recovery package is over and "the time for action is now." "

Speaking at the Energy Department, Obama made a fresh plea for the stimulus plan that the Senate is debating. He cited the latest bad economic news of jobless claims as another reason for quick action.

He said: "The time for talk is over, the time for action is now."

He also launched a shot at critics while talking about energy, questioning, "are these folks serious?"

Now, I read the other day that critics of this plan ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to take advantage of state of the art fuel efficiency. This is what they call pork. You know the truth. It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match. And so when you hear these attacks deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself -- are these folks serious? Is it any wonder that we haven't had a real energy policy in this country?

For the last few years, I've talked about these issues with Americans from one end of this country to another. And Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence, but I am. And so are you. And so are the American people.

During his speech Obama also issued a strong critique of the GOP's economic policies, even though he didn't utter the party's name. He told the audience that:

In the last few days, we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read but you'd be very familiar with because you've been hearing them for the last 10 years, maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems; that government doesn't have a role to play; that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough; that we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They've taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars, and they've brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now is the time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.

          Why the Senate Must Pass the Stimulus Bill        
First, check out USAToday's interactive map of how President Obama's stimulus bill will help your state.

Then, watch TPM's interview with an expert who explodes the repug lies about the bill containing too much spending.

There is so much fog and uncertainty -- much of it intentionally injected into the debate -- about the different moving parts of the Stimulus Bill. But some of the broad outlines are arresting and straightforward.

We're hearing all this talk about the staggering size of the bill. And it is a staggering amount of money. But according to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the amount of demand that the financial crisis is pulling out the economy is likely to be between $1.1 and $1.2 trillion this year (and that is not a controversial estimate). The Stimulus Bill (which, remember, is $800+ billion over two years) would try to compensate for that drop off with about $400 billion of spending and tax cuts. How efficiently the money is spent, how quickly and so forth -- all very good questions. But judged in these terms you start to see how the real question is whether any bill of that size is enough.
David Kurtz and Baker discuss the issue in today's episode of TPMtv.

And finally, read Bob Herbert on the danger of not putting enough money into infrastructure projects immediately.

We have infrastructure spending in the Democrats' proposed stimulus package that, while admirable, is far too meager to have much of an impact on the nation's overall infrastructure requirements or the demand for the creation of jobs.


The big danger is that some variation of the currently proposed stimulus package will pass, another enormous bailout for the bankers will be authorized, and then the trillion-dollar-plus budget deficits will make their appearance, looming like unholy monsters over everything else, and Washington will suddenly lose its nerve.

The mantra (I can hear it now) will be that we can't afford to spend any more money on the infrastructure, or on a big health care initiative, or any of the nation's other crying needs. Suddenly fiscal discipline will be the order of the day and the people who are suffering now will suffer more, and the nation's long-term prospects will be further damaged as its long-term needs continue to be neglected.

We no longer seem to learn much from history. Time and again an economic boom has followed a period of sustained infrastructure investment. Think of the building of the Erie Canal, which connected the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Think of the rural electrification program, the interstate highway system, the creation of the Internet.

We're suffering now from both a failure of will and of imagination. I remember the financier Felix Rohatyn telling me, "A modern economy needs a modern platform, and that's the infrastructure."

History tells us the same thing.

And if you're still not persuaded, consider this: Mitch McConnell would give his left nut to kill the stimulus. What more reason do you need to support it?

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.

          Progressive Progress in the Economic Stimulus        
As the Senate girds for battle over the repug-sabotaged economic stimulus, Talking Points Memo brings us a reminder of the progressive priorities that made it into the House bill and deserve saving in the Senate.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus just released a memo that offers a worthy counterpoint to our discussions today about the Republicans' baldly misleading message on the stimulus.

The Progressives have rounded up elements of their proposed $1 trillion stimulus that ended up making it into the Democratic leaders' final bill, in part or in whole. It's a list that's worth remembering while tax cuts seemingly dominate the airwaves.

The highlights of the memo are after the jump:

• Unemployment benefits (UI) extension. Cost = at least $12.7 billion

• Anti-hunger provisions

* SNAP - 20% temporary increase in maximum food stamp level above the FY2009 level for two years. Cost = approximately $24 billion and increase in funds for state food stamp administrative costs Cost= $250 million;

* WIC - increase funding to make up for shortfall not covered in the current Continuing Resolution. Cost = $450 million and increases for management information system and related infrastructure improvements. Cost = $50 million;

* School meals - provide a 15% increase in funding for breakfast and school lunch programs. Cost = $1 billion;

• Medicaid payments to states (FMAP). Cost = at least $15 billion

• LIHEAP assistance to provide low-income Americans relief from higher energy costs. Cost = at least $5 billion

• Job creation via down payment on rebuilding America's infrastructure and schools, starting with massive investment in commercialization of green technologies and related job training that promote environmental protection and energy independence. Cost = at least $100 billion

** In general:

• No funds for Iraq or Afghanistan wars and no funds for defense procurement.

• Prevailing wage to be paid for jobs created and upholding of Davis-Bacon Act

These are, of course, just a downpayment on the long list of repairs to the New Deal and Great Society needed after three decades of repug destruction.

But if these provisions remain in the final bill and President Obama signs it by Darwin Day, then I'd say we're well on our way to recovery.

          Book Signing Schedule        
Just because there isn't a better alternative, I'm going to update any book signings I schedule using this post. As soon as I confirm a new signing, I'll update this post (and put stuff on Twitter and Facebook too), so check back here regularly if you don't want to miss out on signings. As of right now (look at the date on this post to see what "right now" means), here are the signings I have lined up: 

Thursday, October 11 @ 7:30 pm - Indiana University 
I'll be guest speaking on the campus of Indiana University on the topics of my profession (whatever the hell that may be), sports media, how to make it in America, and what it's like to have an 11-inch penis. I hope you'll join me. 

PS - When I figure out more details, I'll update it here. Still in talks with my contact at IU about where this will take place but we've nailed down the date and time at least. 

Saturday, October 20 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm - Books by the Banks 
Duke Energy Convention Center 
525 Elm Street 
Cincinnati, OH 

Saturday, November 3 from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm - Buckeye Book Fair 
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center - Fisher Auditorium 
1680 Madison Avenue 
Wooster, OH 44691 

When the paperback comes out in the next few months (I have no idea when they're planning on releasing it - this is just a guess), I'll try to hit up a bunch of different colleges and cities across the Midwest, as well as a few cities that I just kinda feel like visiting. Stay tuned.  

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye, 

Mark Titus 
Club Trillion Founder
          â€œDon’t Put Me In, Coach” Is Now Available        

I’m sure most of you reading this are aware, but my book “Don’t Put Me In, Coach” was released on Tuesday.

book cover

Remember: Don’t judge a book by its cover, unless you think the cover is awesome.

This, of course, is my way of saying that if you haven’t already bought it, you’re dead to me and I hope you can sleep at night knowing that because of your selfishness I won’t be able to afford the shark jet-ski/submarine thing that I should’ve had years ago. If you haven’t bought it yet, the good news is that you can absolve your sin by going here, picking your favorite bookseller, and telling them that you want to help make my dream come true. If you’re on the fence about pulling the trigger and spending the equivalent of a movie ticket and a large popcorn on a book that will thoroughly entertain you during at least 5 poops and you’ll have for the rest of your life, I encourage you to go here and read an excerpt from the book to help make your decision. Also, keep in mind that 100% of the proceeds from the book sales will go to children in need, and by that I mean that 100% of the proceeds will go to my inner child in need of that badass shark watercraft. So yeah, don’t be a dick – buy the book.

One last thing: Many of you have asked me whether or not I’ll be doing book signings around the country. The answer to that is yes, but as of right now I don’t really have anything set in stone other than a signing on March 17th at 3 pm at the Barnes & Noble on Ohio State’s campus. Once I figure out when and where I’ll be holding other signings, I’ll relay the information via Twitter and Facebook, as well as continue to update a schedule on this blog, so keep on the lookout if getting your book signed by me and/or getting a picture with me giving you the hoverhand is something you’re interested in.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Goodbye…For Now        

I’m guessing that most of you reading this are already well aware, but I thought I’d write a blog post to inform those members of the Trillion Man March who don’t know that I’ve accepted a job writing full-time for Bill Simmons’s relatively new site, Grantland, which explains why I haven’t blogged on here in awhile and why I probably won’t blog on here any time soon. I was thinking about making this next sentence something sentimental about how we had a good run and it was a lot of fun and I appreciate all the fan support, but I’m a man with two healthy, fully-grown testicles so I’m not going to write any sappy crap like that, especially since we can still continue our relationship over at Grantland. Anyway, because I make exactly no money from writing this blog, it has been obvious for awhile now that moving onto bigger and better things was always and inevitability. Still, I’m anxiously awaiting the onslaught of emails, tweets, etc. calling me a sellout, mostly because I completely deserve every one of them. The truth is that I am a sellout. But you know what? Thanks to a terrible ticketing system that screws deserving students out of season tickets, there’s a good chance I’ll be the only Ohio State basketball sellout this year. And that’s something to be proud of.

Many of you have been asking me for details about my book Don’t Put Me In, Coach, so I figured before I let you go I should tell you what I know. First and foremost, I’ve been told that the book is going to be released March 6th (and might actually be released a week or two earlier than that), but you can actually already preorder it here. There isn’t a single reason in the world why you shouldn’t do exactly that right now, so go make it happen. I’ll wait.

Back? Ok, good. Since you just bought the book, I feel obligated to mention that, as far as the content is concerned, it’s basically just a chronological rundown of my basketball career at Ohio State, starting with a little background story of how I ended up at OSU and ending with my final game my senior year. It’s technically probably considered a memoir, but “memoir” sounds like such a classy word and seeing as how I make dick jokes throughout the book, I wouldn’t exactly describe it as classy. Still, 90% of the content is basically just ridiculous stories about my teammates, coaches, fans and myself from my four years at Ohio State, so memoir is probably the best way to classify it.

Speaking of dick jokes, many of you have asked me how vulgar the book is going to be, presumably because you are kindergarten teachers and you want to know if the book is appropriate enough to recommend to your students. Short answer: Yes. Long answer: I wrote this book solely with 18-34 year old males in mind, so if you don’t fit in that demographic you might find it crude in some places, but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as vulgar. It’s obviously written with the same juvenile tone I’ve used for years on this blog (please note that “juvenile” isn’t capitalized – I don’t want you to think I wrote things like “girl you working with some ass, yeah, you bad, yeah” throughout the book), so if you’re a fan of what I’ve written on Club Trillion, you shouldn’t have any problems with the book. There are a some four letter words sprinkled throughout the book, but I can say with absolute certainty that I have never been the type of guy to use curse words just for the sake of using curse words, because that shit just isn’t cool. So yes, there are some words you probably shouldn’t teach your 5-year-old kids (like “poopdick”, for example), but I promise you that unless you’re the type of person whose face melts off or something when you hear/see bad words, you’re not going to be overwhelmed with the language in the book.

If you have any other questions about the book or just want to keep in touch with me for whatever reason, the best way to do so would be to either follow me (@clubtrillion) on Twitter or email me at clubtrillion@gmail.com. It’s pretty much a certainty that I won’t respond to anything you send me, but just know that it’s not because I don’t love you – it’s because I’m either too lazy or I couldn’t think of anything clever or witty to say back to you, so I instead decided to act like I didn’t see your email/tweet instead of acknowledging that you’re more creative than me (ok, fine – it’s always the latter).

Well, I guess that just about does it. Don’t forget that when you get a tingle in your naughty places in the future because you miss me so much, you’ll be able to find me over at Grantland. Also, if nothing else, you can always re-watch Mr. Rainmaker a thousand more times. There’s a pretty obvious Easter egg in there that I’m completely shocked nobody has found yet, so if you’re bored you should try to find it. There might even be a special prize for whoever finds it first (read: there absolutely is not a special prize).

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          What Do I Call My Mailbag? The Cage? I Forget        

Friday is finally here and with that Nut Up or Shut Up Week is in its final leg.  I gotta be honest and say that I’m relieved that it’s finally over and I really didn’t think I had it in me (funny story: at least 8 different women said the exact same thing to me during my four years of college).  But alas, here we are.  To celebrate, let’s take a look at some emails sent in from the Trillion Man March.  Like I say every time we do this sort of thing – all of these are real emails sent in by real members of the Trillion Man March, except for the ones that aren’t.  Now, in the words of the chick from Cake Farts, let’s get this done.

Since there are no large bodies of water near tOSU, where did the boosters hold their Yacht sex parties?


I wish I knew.  I never got invited to them :(

So, who do you hate more: the NCAA or The Villain?


The only logical way to answer this is to first make a list of pros and cons, so here it goes.



  • Provides an opportunity for thousands of people to get a free education while playing a sport they love at a highly competitive level
  • March Madness
  • Headquarters located in Indianapolis, Indiana, one of the finest cities in America


  • Has a budget that exceeds $5.5 billion and exists solely because of 18-23 year old athletes, but won’t let the 18-23 year old athletes see hardly any of that money in the form of cash
  • Makes players sit out a full season after transferring, while the coaches making millions of dollars off the athletes who do the exact same thing face no punishment whatsoever (in fact, the coaches typically get raises since it can be assumed that they’re leaving for a higher-paying and better job)
  • Has no interest in even remotely exploring serious reform, despite the increasing uproar from the media and general public about how archaic and unfair their rules are
  • Supports communist principles

Evan “The Villain” Turner


  • Provided me with seemingly unlimited entertainment for three years in the form of killing fools on the basketball court
  • Provided me with seemingly unlimited entertainment for three years in the form of losing his mind over something petty on a daily basis
  • Wore a CLUB TRIL shirt during pregame warm-ups on my senior night at OSU
  • Indirectly contributed to the success of this blog
  • Once called my blog “amazing”
  • Passed the ball to me one time in practice


  • Would frequently reach into his pants and furiously scratch his butthole during film sessions and team meetings and consequently make everyone in the room uncomfortable
  • Tried to fight me no less than 3 times during our tenure as teammates
  • Gave my fiancée a bear hug that he held for five seconds when he first met her, which in turn caused her to tell me later in the night that it was weird and creeped her out
  • Never called me by my name when we were teammates but instead referred to me as “walk-on”, “bum”, “couch potato”, or “mooch.”
  • Borrowed $5 for a haircut from Keller and never paid him back
  • Apparently gets $5 haircuts

I really think this might be too close to call.  Evan probably is more of an annoyance to me personally than the NCAA is, but the NCAA is more detrimental to society as a whole so I think I’ll go the unselfish route and say I hate them more.  Plus, somewhere under Evan’s rough exterior is a momma’s boy who doesn’t want any trouble and just wants to cuddle with his teddy bear.  Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that underneath the NCAA’s rough exterior there is nothing but a gigantic pit of molten lava that they throw puppies into after they mouthrape them.

What is the over/under on the number of times Deshaun Thomas will get the "the only type of shot he doesn't like is when he is at the Doctor's office" comment from TV announcers this year?  2500 ?

There has to be some sort of drinking game created with Deshaun Thomas.  Something like.... every time he passes, you must chug a 40 oz of Olde English and punch a leprechaun.


I love this idea.  I know I’ve said this many times before, but I really don’t think I can say it enough – Deshaun Thomas is my favorite Ohio State athlete of all-time (primarily because he doesn’t pass and has no problem acknowledging that he doesn’t pass) and he hasn’t even started his sophomore season yet.  He might not be a popular guy among Buckeye fans, but I absolutely love the guy and actually yelled “Everybody shut the hell up, Deshaun’s checking into the game!” on a few occasions last year while watching OSU basketball games with friends (who obviously don’t appreciate him as much as I do).  The guy is like the Manny Ramirez of college basketball - you don’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but you do know that when he’s in the game he’s going to have some sort of effect (good or bad) and is going to at least provide some form of entertainment (in that regard, he’s like the exact opposite of me).

Anyway, how about this for a Deshaun Thomas drinking game – match Deshaun shot for shot.  Every time he takes a shot, you do too.  I even came up with a name for it: “suicide by alcohol poisoning.”

What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done in front of a member of the opposite sex?


I once dated a girl from Indiana who went to a college other than Ohio State and hadn’t grown up as an OSU fan.  Because of this, she didn’t have any OSU clothes, so when she visited me in Columbus one time I told her I’d take her shopping and get her some Ohio State clothes.  That way she could be decked out when she came to our games once the basketball season rolled around.  Anyway, we went to Buckeye Corner or something and she picked out a bunch of stuff she wanted, but she felt bad because she thought she was making me spend too much money.  I  told her not to worry about it and just get what she wanted because I was still on a basketball scholarship and was basically being given free money from Ohio State.

Just to be polite, she asked if I was sure that she could get everything and I promised her it was cool.  But I couldn’t just say, “Seriously it’s cool” and leave it at that.  No, I had to somehow make myself seem more awesome than I really am.  So instead of just saying “yeah it’s cool” or whatever, I decided to jump at the opportunity to flaunt my money a little bit.  Since most college kids are dirt poor, I figured her privates would get moist over my scholarship money, so I decided to explain to her how rich I was.  I said something like, “Yeah it’s really not a big deal.  I get paid so much money by Ohio State that I really don’t think I could spend it all even if I wanted to.”  And just like that, I knew I had her hooked…

…until my debit card got declined because I apparently only had $17 left in my bank account. 

Because she didn’t bring any money with her since I told her I was going to buy her stuff, she couldn’t get anything she had picked out and had to go put everything back.  A couple of weeks later, she dumped me. Whoops.

Help settle an argument that has been raging since the onset of puberty amongst 2 of my friends and myself.  Friend A is convinced that given an opportunity he could score one point on any NBA player in a game of one on one.  Not win mind you, but simply put the ball in the hoop. One time. Versus a highly motivated pro, putting forth his best effort in a game to 11 by ones and twos. Friend B and myself think friend A is an idiot and have told him so many times.  Friend A (5'9, 165lb), friend B and myself have been playing ball all our lives and while none of us are awful we could not play varsity basketball at a moderately large high school.  Those are the facts.  We are in our 30s now and need an answer. Or possibly you could shut him out for us and end this 20 year debate.  Either way Judge Titus your help/ruling would be much appreciated.


I’m going to make this response short because there really isn’t even an argument here and I’m kind of annoyed that this is wasting my time.  Here’s your answer: your friend is out of his mind if he thinks he could score on an NBA player in a game to 11.  He’d have to be completely delusional to think otherwise, especially if he’s 5’9” 165 pounds. In fact, I don’t think I could even score on an NBA player (cue the “that’s why you were a benchwarmer scrub” jokes).  If he had infinite chances to score on the NBA guy, then yeah, I’m sure at some point he’d be able to throw up some garbage and get lucky.  But in a single game to 11 against an NBA player playing as hard as he possibly can?  He’ll be lucky to even get a shot off.

I could give a detailed and realistic explanation of what would happen if he played any NBA player, but I think it would take far less effort for me to just play him one-on-one and shut him out myself than it would to explain how everything would go down.  And make no mistake about it – based on what you’ve told me about the guy, I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident about anything in the world as I am in thinking that even I could shut him out.

So there is a hypothetical fight between 2 identical twins. They both are equal in all physical attributes (size, strength, speed) and they both train for one week with a fighting master. However one gets a pool stick and the other gets a hunting knife. Who wins in a cage match to the death?


The bell rings to start the match.

Guy with pool stick swings at guy with knife.  Guy with knife ducks, forcing guy with pool stick to miss.  As guy with knife stands back up, he violently thrusts his knife into the torso of guy with pool stick.  Guy with pool stick stumbles backwards as he reaches for the knife that is protruding from his torso.  After he falls to the ground, he pulls the knife out.  He immediately realizes that this was a bad idea because blood furiously pours out.  With blood rapidly flowing out of his body, his only option is to take his pool stick and jam it into the wound to stop the bleeding.  He chooses this option.  After he plugs the wound, he stands up to continue the fight.  As he stands up, he reaches for the knife in the same spot that he had dropped it when he removed it from his torso. 

But it’s not there.

As guy with pool stick turns his head to continue his search for the knife, guy with knife sneaks up from behind him and slits his throat, instantly killing him. 

Game over. Guy with knife wins.

I was in a corporate video twirling the baton while wearing my Fundamentals Montage shirt. Don’t you think that’s awesome?


Yes. Yes I do.

Speaking of that shirt…

Even whilst living in the depths of the globe here in Australia I have managed to procure myself a (somewhat striking) 'Fundamentals Montage' tee. I would argue that the tee contains the single most obscure reference of any other t-shirt in existence. So my question is - has there ever been anything less prominent than a 3 second screengrab from a basketball-based Youtube video that has justified it's existence on a t-shirt available for public consumption?


Let me first say that this is one of the finest backhanded compliments I’ve ever received, even though it shouldn’t count for anything because it’s from an Aussie.  And I truly mean that. 

Secondly, to answer your question, I’m not sure there possibly could be one.  I mean, Mr. Rainmaker wasn’t exactly a viral video and really only reached cult-like status at best, so right off the bat there’s a very limited market for the shirt right there.  Then, like you said, the Fundamentals Montage only makes up a small part of the video, so really we’re only talking about a few seconds of a mildly popular video.  I really don’t see how there could be a shirt with a more obscure reference that is lost on virtually everyone but the wearer than the Fundamentals Montage shirt.  I’m guessing this is why Homage discontinued it.

Since we’re apparently on the topic of Club Trillion shirts, here are two more relevant emails…

A few months ago my house was robbed. I still live with my parents so there was actually some stuff of value to take. They mostly took electronics like tvs and computers, but after about a week I realized they took something else. They took my Club Tril shirt. No one else had any clothes taken and all my other clothes were still there except for that shirt. I know I didn't lose it somewhere else because I'm a badass and had recently had my mom wash it. What kind of monster would do this? This also makes me question the types of people you draw to your blog.


Can whoever took Zane’s shirt please get it back to him?  This is why we can’t have nice things.  I’m sure he’ll let you keep the electronics, but please don’t make him suffer anymore by making him live in this world without his CLUB TRIL shirt.

Now that we got that out of the way, I gotta say that I can’t help but feel a little flattered about this.  I mean, it sucks for you and your family and everything, but a part of me is honored that someone places such a high value on one of my shirts.

Also, I think I might have an idea of who did this.  A couple of months ago someone showed me this mug shot that was taken in Naperville, Illinois.  I’m pretty sure it’s the first and only time someone was wearing a CLUB TRIL shirt in an official police mug shot, which is pretty awesome.  Anyway, my theory is that this kid had to change out of his shirt and put on an orange jumpsuit after he was arrested and when he was released the cops “accidentally” lost his shirt.  But he knew the truth – one of the cops liked the shirt and wanted to keep it for himself.  So when this kid got released, he went from town to town on a rampage looking for the cop that took his shirt.  After two months of breaking into the all sorts of houses, he finally broke into yours, saw your shirt laying there, and just assumed that your dad was the cop that took his shirt.  And to really get back at him, he took a bunch of electronics too.

Yeah, that’s gotta be what happened.  That’s your guy for sure.

What is more effective when attempting to court a female, throwing up the shark or wearing the club tril shirt? This of course is assuming that it is impossible to do them both at the same time.

As you can see from the picture provided, doing them in unison has such an enormous power over the female nether regions, that it would even turn a guy like Justin Timberlake into a jealous doucher. (In case you can't see me because I am drowning amongst a litany of marginally attractive college coeds, I am the one throwing up the shark, rocking a club tril shirt, while also wearing a daytona 500 hat)



First of all, I’m pretty sure the bitches swoon over the CLUB TRIL shirt more than the shark fin.  From what I can tell, the shark fin is more of a thing for the fellas.  But I’ve been wrong before, so what do I know?

Secondly, I’m saying that there’s about a 98% chance that you were photobombing this picture and weren’t in the preliminary stages of a orgy like you are trying to make it seem.  But I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and say that this particular instance is included in that 2%, and all these girls huddled around you for this picture, immediately ripped their clothes off right after it was taken, and then all jumped on board the Sam Tram for an express trip to Pound Town.

I recently turned 29 years old and in about a month I'm going to (hopefully) celebrate my second wedding anniversary.  Most of my friends are in a similar place that I am, either in the trying to have a kid or two phase or already have 1-3 kids.  I love kids but I have a small problem with them.  See I love college football and I love the Buckeyes.  So on Saturday afternoons in the fall I want to drag myself out of bed just in time for College Gameday then watch games all day long until I can hear Herbie telling Mussburger to shut his Michigan loving trapper.  For some reason all parents (and when I say parents I mean wives) want to do is throw their kid's birthday party on Saturday afternoon.  Like people don't have anything else to do.  I mean come on your kid is 2 years old, do they really care what day of the week their party is on?  No but some of us adults would like a say in the matter.  If 75% of all Buckeye games are on at 12:00 on a Saturday and 75% of all birthday parties are scheduled at 1:00 someone didn't do their planning.  Throw the kid a party on Tuesday night.  Heck I will even leave work early just to be there on time. 

This is why with my wife I have proposed a dry season.  No babies shall be born within the period of September 1st and early December as to not cause any confusion with birthday party planning.  So as soon as the Rose Bowl ends until the end of March Madness we go into protection mode.  I am very happy to say I made it through my very 1st dry season and my wife and I recently found out we are in line to have our first child with a due date of March 31, 2012. 

The dry season can be implemented for any season.  I don't know where you plan on living once you get married but if you are planning to stay in Ohio I propose we get this trend started as soon as possible.


You’re doing the Lord’s work, James.

I have a older gentlemen neighbor who apparently has an odd sense of dressing in the warm summer months. He often feels that it is so hot out that he can't wear a shirt, but cool enough to still be wearing jeans. Do you have any experience with this phenomena? Please help rationalize his logic.


He has prosthetic legs and gets embarrassed when people find out. He fought in Vietnam for your freedom and at one point during the war, he stepped on a landmine and it completely mutilated both of his legs. He should’ve died and the doctors said he was never supposed to walk again, even with prosthetics. But the doctors never accounted for his resolve. He wasn’t going to just give up. Not after all those years of fighting.

So he worked his ass off for years just so maybe he could one day walk again. Day in and day out he did hours of strenuous physical therapy, unsure of whether or not it would ever really pay off. Like anything else, there were good days and bad days, but through it all he kept pushing. He kept thinking about his goal – one day walking down his driveway and getting his paper without any help. It wasn’t a very glamorous goal, sure. But he was a high school dropout from the south side of Chicago who had served five years fighting a war with no end in sight in the unimaginable hell that was the Vietnam jungles. Nothing about his life was glamorous.

Every now and then, he’d think back on that fateful day and ask God why He would let such a terrible thing happen to him. Why God didn’t just let him die right then and there. Why God made him suffer through all this pain. It was impossible not to think that way. After all those years of wondering whether he’d ever walk again, he felt like he had every right to feel sorry for himself every once in a while. Can’t say I fault the guy.

Eventually all the physical therapy took its toll on him. He couldn’t take it anymore. He was ready to tell the doctors that he had finally given up. That he had accepted that he was going to be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. That that landmine had finally gotten the better of him. But he thought he’d do one last therapy session before he threw in the towel. For old time’s sake. He owed himself that much.

The physical therapist walked into his room like she had all those days before, always optimistic that that particular day was going to be the one that they’d have their breakthrough. She’d never been right, of course, but he appreciated her optimism nonetheless. It was something that he himself couldn’t even muster these days.

She strapped him into the harness and set up the guide bars like she had done every other day for the past few years. She would never admit it to him, but while she was optimistic for some sign of progress on the outside, on the inside she was just as jaded as he was. She knew that nothing significant was going to happen that day. But she was wrong.

She gave him the same routine commands she always had and he mumbled under his breath while she talked just like he always had. When she finished instructing him, he rolled his eyes and said, “Here goes nothing” as he attempted to take a step. He expected the same results as before, but this time something happened. This time the prosthetic moved. It was the breakthrough they had been waiting for all these years. He couldn’t believe it.

That moment breathed new life into him. He was back. No more feeling sorry for himself. He was going to walk again. No excuses. Over the course of the next couple of months, he made steady progress. Nothing too crazy, but it was progress dammit. Nobody could take that sense of accomplishment away from him.

Not any more than a year after that initial breakthrough, his physical therapy was complete. He could walk again. Not very well, mind you, but it was a start. He had the rest of his life to figure out his new legs. For the time being, he was going to celebrate his victory by simply walking out of the hospital on his own power. That was all he ever wanted.

These days he keeps to himself for the most part. He’s a simple man with a simple life but he’ll tell you he wouldn’t change a thing about it. He’ll tell you that he’s lived more life than most people. He’ll tell you that he’s proud to have fought in the war and served his country. He’ll tell you that he’s got all he ever wanted out of life. But he’ll also tell you that the prosthetics embarrass him. He can’t help but feel guilty that he didn’t give enough. So many of his brothers perished and all he gave were his two legs. The more he thought back on everything, the more surviving became a burden.

But he’s learning to cope with it. He’s finally finding peace with himself and what happened on that day that forever changed his life. But he still doesn’t like revealing his prosthetics to people just because there is too much baggage that comes with people knowing. He doesn’t want to have to tell the stories and relive the horrors. Most importantly, he doesn’t want to deal with the judgment. He knows he’ll be looked at as either a freak or as a hero. He thinks both labels are unfair. He’s just an old man trying to live out whatever years he has left to the best of his abilities.

So he always wears jeans to cover his fake legs and his very real memories. He’s not sure how much time he has left on this Earth and when he’s going to be reunited with his fallen brothers, but what he is sure of is that he’s going to spend most of that time with his family and loved ones. And any free time in between he’s going to spend tending to his garden and wondering why the dipshit kid next door always gives him weird looks when he walks around with his shirt off.

Either that or he’s just a crazy old man who really loves his jeans.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          The Miami Mess        

When I first heard about the Yahoo! Sports report that a Miami booster provided cash, cars, jewelry, use of mansions and a yacht, prostitutes, bounties for taking out the opposition, and an abortion for Miami football players, I had three immediate thoughts: 1) Holy balls, Miami knows how to party, 2) This wouldn’t even be that big of a deal if the NCAA weren’t an unprecedented and corrupt cockblock that gets away with a  multibillion dollar scam year after year, and 3) Having said that, the rules are the rules and – if the allegations are true – I’m not sure there has ever been such a flagrant breaking of NCAA rules in the history of both the NCAA and their explicit rules against soliciting prostitution and boosters paying for abortions.

Let’s start with what’s really important – the partying.  Now, thanks to depictions of Miami in all sorts of TV shows and movies (and at least one music video), I’ve always thought that I had a relatively good idea of just how much the city likes to party.  I mean, anyone who has seen Will Smith rocking a wifebeater while hollering at hoochies, Tony Montana burying his face in a heaping mound of blow, Ace Ventura talking out of his butthole, Horatio Caine smoothly putting on his sunglasses after pausing midsentence, and Dexter Morgan saran wrapping criminals to a table and driving a knife through their chest before dismembering their bodies, putting the remains in a bunch of garbage bags, and dumping the bags in the Atlantic Ocean should fully understand that the city of Miami is all about having a good time.  But even with all of these depictions of Miami being a zoo fully packed with party animals, I was still pretty surprised when the Yahoo! report came out and revealed that the average Miami football player apparently breaks the BYU Honor Code 14 times before they even eat breakfast.

What made the report so surprising to me is that even though the fact that this all took place in Miami shouldn’t make it all that shocking, we’re still talking about 18-22 year old kids here.  Sure it seems like “18-22 year old kids” and “partying” are synonymous, but if you really think back on your days in college, I’m guessing “partying” just meant drinking a bunch of cheap beer, listening to music that was turned up way too loudly only because whoever was hosting the party wanted to show off their sound system, crossing your fingers that the girls you were hitting on were too drunk to notice how ugly you were, and drawing penises on the foreheads of your friends who passed out before you did.  Every now and then maybe there were people passing around a joint or two, but for the most part that is what a typical college party entails. 

Nowhere in that description did I mention yachts, mansions, cash, jewelry, or – most importantly – prostitutes, which is why the Miami allegations are shockingly awesome to me.  According to US census data taken in 2010, less than 1% of American citizens have ever partied on a yacht or with prostitutes, so for a bunch of Miami football players to allegedly have done both before they were even old enough to legally rent a car  is truly a remarkable thing and is something I won’t hesitate to admit makes me jealous (hell, I’m sure a lot of them went to these parties before they were even old enough to legally drink).  Then again, I guess all of this shouldn’t have been much of a surprise considering the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about Miami emphasized how wild the Hurricanes were back in the 80s and 90s, and the 7th Floor Crew song in 2004 (very NSFW language) revealed that dorm room gangbangs are apparently as much of a current Miami football tradition as pissing and moaning about a pass interference call from almost a decade ago.

Anyway, now that we got the important and fun part out of the way, let’s discuss what is rapidly becoming the bane of my existence – the NCAA’s steadfast refusal to let athletes profit from their own abilities even though those same athletes’ abilities are the reason the NCAA and the schools the athletes represent rake in billions every year.  As a guy who had to wear the NCAA handcuffs for four straight years (although, let’s be honest, since I was a walk-on my handcuffs weren’t that tight) and couldn’t even accept a free sandwich if I was offered one, I think it’s nothing short of ridiculous that the NCAA continues to cockblock their athletes. 

As far as I’m concerned, the Miami football players getting cash, jewelry, cars, access to yachts, etc. shouldn’t even be an issue, just like the Ohio State football scandal should have never been an issue, because there’s no logical argument as to why the athletes shouldn’t be entitled to all those things (the OSU scandal especially shouldn’t have been a big deal since I’m of the opinion that the players technically earned the things they sold).  Now, the prostitutes and the bounties that were allegedly paid to Miami players to take out opposing players are obviously a big deal, but I’m focusing on the free cash and gifts right now.  As shady and corrupt as college sports may seem, at the end of the day the superstar athletes that generate millions for their schools have every right to accept all the cash and gifts they want because they aren’t anywhere close to being as fully compensated as they deserve to be.  That’s right, I said it – it’s criminally unfair that college athletes (read: football and men’s basketball players) aren’t paid.

The prevalent argument against paying players is that the players are already getting paid in the form of a free education and a monthly stipend, but I have two issues with this argument. First, from experience I can tell you that the stipend is basically just enough money to survive on and typically isn’t a large enough sum of money to result in very much discretionary income for the players, so really it isn’t even worth mentioning (as I’m sure you all remember me infamously discussing in a certain earlier blog post). In all honesty, when you think about all the hours the players put into their respective sports, the stipend is probably just a little bit higher than minimum wage. Obviously there are many people in America who are living off of minimum wage (or in this economy, no income at all), but these people also aren’t bringing in millions upon millions of dollars for their schools and conferences like the star athletes are, so it’s not exactly fair to just say “if other people can make it work, college athletes should be able to also.”

Secondly, while you and I might place a high value on a college education, many superstar athletes are in college solely because they want to prepare for the pros, so a free education doesn’t really mean much to them. I mean, if you really think about it, the fundamental purpose of college is to gather all the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce in your desired field. Keeping that in mind, for a lot of these guys the sport they play is essentially their major and taking classes and graduating is really just their form of an extracurricular activity.  Much like how you wanted to be an accountant so you went to college and majored in accounting, these guys want to be NFL linebackers so they go to college to major in breaking spines and ripping the heads off of timid receivers coming across the middle.

This notion is obviously a stereotype and doesn’t apply to everyone who is a shoo-in to make it to the NBA or NFL, but for the most part the All-American college athletes really only care about their education to a certain extent.  At the end of the day, their primary focus is making it to the big leagues, so while a free education would mean a great deal to people like you and me, for the superstar athletes who are likely going to leave college early anyway, a scholarship is the equivalent of being a paraplegic and being given a brand new motorcycle.

People who are against paying college athletes and have a hard-on for protecting the concept of amateurism also often cite the fact that NCAA athletes know what they’re getting into because they sign all sorts of forms that explain how the system works, so they have no right to complain about anything.  But having gone through this form-signing process four times, I can assure you that it’s not nearly as simple as signing a contract with, say, a cable or gas company might be.

When I was at OSU, we would have compliance meetings at the start of every academic year where we would be given a stack of papers to sign.  I specifically remember a handful of times when our compliance person would explain what the form we were about to sign meant and I would consequently think, “This is BS. I don’t want to sign this.”  On one occasion, I actually said this out loud to the compliance person and his response was, “Well, then you’ll be ineligible.”  So really, my hands were tied because my choices were to either sign the forms or essentially quit the team and miss out on the plethora of poon that comes with being an Ohio State athlete.  Negotiating was not an option so I had no choice but to sign the forms as they were.

Now, I wasn’t really all that worked up and was mostly just trying to be a pain in the ass with the compliance people to screw with them a little bit because I knew that giving Ohio State and the NCAA the right to use my image and whatnot wasn’t really that big of a deal since, well, frankly I knew that they would never actually use my image to promote anything.  But at the same time I couldn’t help but think how pissed I’d be if I were someone who was a big time Ohio State athlete like, say, Terrelle Pryor.  Pryor was essentially forced to sign the same forms I had to, only when he was signing them, he was signing away thousands if not millions of dollars in potential earnings. 

So for someone like him, the choices are either to not play or to let the school and NCAA profit boatloads of money off him while he gets essentially nothing in return.  In other words, for all intents and purposes, all college athletes are pretty much forced to sign these papers, especially since the fact that the NBA and NFL both require draft entrants to be a certain age leaves these guys with no viable alternative to playing in the NCAA (football in particular since high school kids can at least play professional basketball overseas instead of going to college while foreign football leagues versus big time college football is as laughable of a comparison as Qdoba versus Chipotle).  So the “they have no right to complain because they know what they’re getting into” argument holds no water from my perspective.

I guess we could argue about whether or not college athletes should be paid until we’re blue in the face, but in the end it won’t really mean much because the NCAA isn’t going to change their ways anytime soon. The fact of the matter is that the only real way to get the rules changed seems to be for the players to essentially just go on strike and cause a lockout. But this will never happen because the players simply aren’t around long enough to make it happen.

It can be assumed that the upperclassmen and the superstar freshmen and sophomores are the ones who are missing out on the most money (simply from the fact that they’re the ones who put butts in the seats at the games and would likely be the ones getting endorsements and whatnot), but by the time they realize that they’re getting screwed and they actually get upset enough to take action to stop the exploitation, they are already gone to the pros or have graduated and moved on to more important things in their lives. After those guys leave, the carousel continues to spin as a new crop of college athletes comes in and goes through the same cycle of sitting on the bench for a couple of years, finally playing toward the tail end of their careers, and not realizing that they’re getting exploited until it’s too late and they’ve got other things to worry about (and most importantly no longer have any motivation to see that college athletes are justly compensated).

Because the athletes can never get enough traction to seriously challenge the NCAA, nothing gets changed and the exploitation continues. The NCAA knows that they will always have this advantage over the players, which is why I’m fairly certain they all sit in their offices and just cackle, rub their hands together with malevolent glee, and twirl their mustaches all day. I can’t decide if I think everyone involved with such a corrupt organization should be thrown in prison for eternity or if they should be congratulated and given some sort of award for successfully pulling off a multibillion dollar scam on unsuspecting kids year after year (the real irony here is that the NCAA – an organization that profits from screwing people out of money – is most likely going to punish the Miami kids for hanging out with a guy who screwed people out of money).

But I digress.  The bottom line is that, if the allegations are true (it’s more fun to just assume they are, isn’t it?), the Miami players knew exactly what they were doing and knew that what they were doing was a blatant violation of NCAA rules, so it’s impossible to feel all that bad for them (especially if the stuff about the hookers and bounties is true – that really is indefensible).  Sure the rules are archaic and unjust, but ultimately they’re the rules and until they change, it’s probably best to just abide by them and not choose to break them in the most ridiculous and flagrant ways imaginable.  In the meantime, until the rules change, all us fans can really do is just sit back and hope that someday we can all look back on this era of college sports like we now look back on Prohibition (and will most likely look back on the illegality of marijuana and the concept of age of consent) and wonder, “What the hell were the people in charge thinking?”

The world is a better place when yacht parties featuring hookers are plentiful and that is a fact.  The sooner the NCAA realizes this, the better off we’ll all be.

It’s inevitable that at least one of you will think my hatred for the NCAA stems from the fact that I was forced to donate all the money from my shirt sales to charity when I was playing at Ohio State, so I thought I’d address that real quick.  First of all, let me say that the money went to a remarkable charity and was no doubt put to great use and I couldn’t be happier to have been somewhat responsible for that (I know it’s cliché to say that and you probably don’t believe me, but screw it – it’s the God honest truth).  At the same time, though, of course the selfish side of me would have loved to have had that $50,000 to spend on whatever I wanted.  You’re lying to yourself if you think for one second that some part of you wouldn’t feel the same way.  Who in their right mind wouldn’t want $50,ooo just handed to them while they were in college?

But the reason I wasn’t all that upset that I couldn’t get that money and the reason I’m not necessarily pissed at the NCAA for that is because I knew that I wasn’t being exploited since I was a walk-on benchwarmer.  It’s not like Ohio State or the NCAA was making tons of money off of me, so I really didn’t have that big of a problem with me not being able to make money off of me either (I still thought it was dumb, but I wouldn’t say I was ever “pissed” about it). 

No, my hatred for the NCAA comes from the fact that they use their athletes to gain a profit (which is completely understandable and fine) but won’t allow the athletes to use themselves to gain a profit (which is complete horseshit).  It sucks that I couldn’t make money from selling my shirts, sure, but the idea that Jared Sullinger won’t be paid a single dime for singlehandedly selling a bunch of tickets and jerseys this upcoming season is pretty disgusting to me.  I know this kind of thing goes on with corporations all over the world, but since I played college basketball and was around the NCAA’s exploitation on a daily basis, this particular instance is the one that I really get fired up over.  Pair my anger with the breaking story about Miami and the fact that I really don’t have anything better to do with my time and it explains my motivation behind this blog post.

This is your last reminder that I’m writing a mailbag post on Friday, so don’t be a doucher and send me an email.

Also, we’ve got a few more additions to my list of things that make people lame if they aren’t good but complete badass if they are good.  Here are a few more of my favorites that the Trillion Man March sent in:

Drinking Beer

From Laine:

“Shotgunning a beer – if you've never done it before or if you're bad at it, it can squirt all over you (that's what she said) and make you soggy and smell like beer all night. If you're a pro, you take it down in one gulp and game over (again, that's what she said.)”

From Evan:

How is drinking in college not the gold standard for novices sucking and experts being amazing? Everyone wants to be like Frank the Tank and hammer that beer bong all night at the party. Depending on the size of your wood, you may or may not want to go streaking through the quad, but that's only a problem for those who can survive a night long of heavy chugging first anyway. But the kid who just got to the party, shotgunned 2 cold ones, and is already passed out puking in the bathroom? He's the biggest loser douche at the party and is going to wake up to shame and a lot of Sharpie dicks drawn all over his body.

A related subject, beer pong. The guy at the party who always lets his partner shoot first because he never misses and will hit any cup is pretty awesome and can definitely keep that hot streak going all night right into some hot mama's bed. But the guy who can't hit a cup and then is running around the house naked showing off his tiny schlong because his team got shut out? Not so cool to be him.”

Criminals (specifically thieves)

From Trevor:

“In real life, its fairly common to hear about people who try to rob a convenience store and end up getting held at gunpoint by the guy at the counter while the cops come. This is lame, even I could do better than that. On the other hand, real (ok, mostly fictional) hard core criminals are incredibly badass. Kaiser Soze? His nickname is the devil, pretty hardcore. Then there are all the other bankrobbing movies, The Oceans (11 through 13) Inside Job, etc. Then in real life you used to have Jesse James and all the wild west types. There just aren't cool robberies anymore really, its almost a pity.”

I also thought about this one when I heard about the Miami football story and Nevin Shapiro’s Ponzi scheme and couldn’t help but think, “Even though that guy screwed a bunch of people out of a ton of money and should no doubt be locked up for a very long time, a small part of me is kind of impressed.”  I feel the same way about guys like Pablo Escobar, D.B. Cooper, Al Capone, etc.


Also from Trevor:

“Now on the other side of the spectrum, we have cops. There's the stereotypical cop, drinking coffee and eating donuts, kinda pathetic. Then you have supercops, like in the movies. I assume that the CIA and FBI are pretty intense in real life too, but I don't really know what they actually do.”

Proud to Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          An Essay From A Guest        

I gotta be honest with you and admit upfront that something unexpected came up today so I won’t be able to write as long of a blog post as I would have liked to.  Obviously, “something came up” can be interpreted as either writer’s block, me going back to my lazy ways, me getting an opportunity to play free golf and taking it, etc.  Regardless of what I tell you the real reason is, I know that you will all most likely think the truth is one of those aforementioned excuses, so I might as well not even try to explain myself and just move on (also, I’m not saying the real reason isn’t one of the aforementioned excuses).

Having said that, Nut Up or Shut Up Week is still rolling on.  Since I promised you five blog posts in five days and since I never go back on my promises (except for the times that I do), I’ve got no choice but to deliver a blog post today come hell or high water.

(By the way, hell and high water seem like two drastically different things. Don’t get me wrong – floods can be devastating, but the phrase “high water” doesn’t necessarily mean a flood.  All “high water” really means is that a couple of roads are closed throughout the town and that bag of Doritos you left in your basement might be a little soggy now cause some water is leaking in.  It sucks, sure, but really it only marginally sucks when compared to eternal damnation, so maybe the phrase should be changed to “come hell or apocalypse”, “come hell or the plague”, “come hell or famine”, or any of the other countless alternatives that are better than “come hell or high water.”)

Anyway, because I guaranteed a blog post today and because I can’t really carve a huge block of time out of my day today like I typically do when I write these things, I’m going to turn today’s post over to a guest blogger. And by “guest blogger”, I mean that I’m going to copy and paste an essay that was written by Kosta Koufos using my computer when he and I were teammates at Ohio State and that I’ve had saved on my computer for all these years.

Kosta, you might remember, was at Ohio State for one year before he went to the NBA and bounced around a few teams until landing with the Denver Nuggets (who he now plays for).  During his one year at OSU (my sophomore year), he was asked to write an essay that compared Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” to the original version by Nine Inch Nails for one of his classes, and for whatever reason he used my computer to do so.  After he finished writing the essay, I obviously saved it and planned on using it in my book somehow, but in the end there wasn’t any real purpose for it or natural place to put it so I left it out of the book (plus it’s not terrible enough to be really all that funny or entertaining).

Since I’ve saved it for so long and have never done anything with it (and since I never got to make fun of Kosta on the blog because he left for the NBA before I started my blog), I figured I’d finally publish it.  So if you have ever found yourself wondering what a McDonald’s All-American has to say about the two most popular versions of “Hurt”, today is your lucky day.  I should mention that I opened the document, hit CTRL + A to copy every last word he wrote, and then opened this blog post and hit CTRL + V to paste it all, so please don’t accuse me of cutting stuff out or changing words around or anything like that.  Also, I swear that every bit of this was really written by Kosta when he was a freshman at OSU.  I had nothing to do with it other than copying it onto this blog (you’ll soon see that I couldn’t have written it because it’s not bad enough – had I written it as Kosta, I admittedly would have gone over the top and tried to make him look really stupid).  Anyway, here it is:


Kosta Koufos


Music Comparison

After Listening to the song Hurt from both artists Johnny Cash, and the group Nine Inch Nails, it caught my attention in an awkward way. Both songs had the same lyrics, but sung in a different type of tone. I felt that the songs had more differences than similarities which made it very easy for me to make many judgments about the music pieces. The music had a common message and was very moving in a negative way. After listening and thinking about both music pieces, I came to realization that even though the song had the same lyrics, there was a distinct difference between the two.

The first artist I listened too was Johnny Cash. As the song first starts out, you hear a guitar that seems to have a mellow dramatic sound. Then after the guitar plays, Johnny Cashes voice comes in with a very quite but strong passionate voice. As I listened to this song, it became very evident to me that it was about pain and sorrow in life. The main reason why I said the song was about pain and sorrow in life, was the fact that there were many statements used that used the word “death” in it. If I were to summarize this song I would say that it was about having everything in life, and all of a sudden you have nothing, but still you have to stay strong.

When the song leaded to the chorus the beat became faster, and Johnny Cash’s voice still maintained his mellow voice throughout the whole song. As I listened to this, I kept thinking of wars and destruction, and the death that came with a price from the wars. I also had a religious image with Jesus being persecuted, and the life struggled he faced to get his message around about God. From listening to Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt I concluded that Nine Inch Nail’s version was much different.

Even though both songs were very slow and very dramatic, the beginning of both songs was different. Johnny Cash’s version had more of an up tempo beat, while NIN version was extremely depressing. The first ten seconds of the song, all you heard was wind. As I was listening to this I had goose bumps, because it was a very chilling and eerie noise. The NIN version had the same attributes as the other version, for instance there was a guitar played, it had a very slow rhythm and depressing tone, and had a strong transition chorus.

The main difference between the two songs is that with NIN, the singer was over powered by the background. It was very hard to depict what the singer was saying, which made the song more depressing than Johnny Cash’s version. If I had to choose between the two songs, I would have to lean more towards Johnny Cash. The reason for this is that his voice was more demanding and very easy to understand. With NIN, I had to listen to the song several times.

Don’t forget I’m planning on doing a mailbag post on Friday and the length of the post depends exclusively on how many emails I get.  While I’d really appreciate it if nobody sent me an email for the mailbag so that I wouldn’t have to write anything, I think it would be better for everyone involved if the exact opposite of this happened, so get to it.

Also, after asking for some more examples of activities/hobbies/things that make people look like douches if they aren’t very good at them but conversely make them look like grade A badasses if they are good at them, the Trillion Man March stepped to the plate.  Here are a handful of my favorite additions to the list that you all sent in:

Astronauts (From Shelby)

“A kid at space camp is ripe for a beating.  But an astronaut - well - he's on the moon.  (Or at least he was before Obama defunded NASA.)”

Farmers (Also from Shelby)

“My aunt has a veggie garden in the back of her house.  She likes to grow zucchinis.  Her tomatoes are actually pretty good; but when she starts going off about how her veggie garden is doing - well....

On the other hand, we all depend on real farmers.” 

Facial Hair (From Chris)

“If you aren't very manly and can't grow a real beard then keep your facial hair clean shaven and stop looking like such a dirt ball, unless of course you are a dirt ball and that's just how you roll. People trying to grow a beard who clearly cannot just look like a 9th grade guy trying to impress the new slut in school because he got pubes on his face before anyone else. On the contrary, having an impressive beard can be one of the most badass additions to a man's look.”

Wrapping a Chipotle Burrito (From Griffith)

“I had a very poorly wrapped burrito today at Chiptole.  All my chicken, rice, and corn proceeded to fall out almost immediately after I picked up the burrito.  On the contrary, when I receive a well-wrapped burrito, it's the greatest thing of all time.  That's where my connection to your post comes in, when someone wraps the burrito (not trying to be racist but it's usually somebody white) and it's done poorly, the whole Chipotle experience is almost ruined.  On the other hand, when someone (again not trying to be racist but it's usually one of the Mexican employees) wraps the burrito really well, that's what makes Chipotle so awesome and I have the utmost respect for that employee.  The 2.7 second super-wrap.  Few things rival it.”

Personally, I think a sloppy Chipotle burrito still beats the hell out of most anything else so it’s not exactly terrible to me and probably doesn’t qualify for my list, but I included Griffith’s submission on here because I wanted to reward thinking outside the box (plus, obviously not everyone is exactly like me and some of you might have your day ruined when you get a poorly wrapped burrito, so it might qualify for your list).

Also, I loved Griffith’s disclaimer that he’s not trying to be racist, as though anybody in their right mind would think he’s racist for suggesting that Mexicans are better at wrapping burritos than whites.  Remember, Griffith – 1) it’s impossible to be racist against whites (regardless of your own race), and 2) it’s not racist if it’s a compliment.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Another Misguided Concept        

Admit it – you don’t think I can pull it off, do you?  Well, it’s Day 2 of what I’m now referring to as Nut Up or Shut Up Week at Club Trillion and here I am.  In case you were wondering, I am actually writing all of these blogs posts the same day that I publish them, so don’t think that I wrote a bunch of these and stockpiled them just so I could just sit back and make it seem like I’m working diligently (I really am working diligently, dammit!).  Also, even though it may seem like this week is all about me giving back to the Trillion Man March or something, the truth is that I’m much more selfish than that.  The sole purpose of this week is to get me to stop being so lazy and to give myself the kick in the pants that I kinda need right now, which is ironic since had I not issued this challenge to myself in the first place there’s a solid chance I wouldn’t have even put pants on at all this entire week (another irony: this last sentence discussed both pants and irony and sometimes I iron my pants before I put them on!!!).

Anyway, for Day 2 I’ve decided to write about something I’ve been giving some thought to for a little while and was just reminded of this past weekend when I went back to Indiana and stayed in my hometown for a few days.  Now, I’ve mentioned Brownsburg a time or two on this blog before, but in case you missed it or don’t remember what the town is like, just imagine your stereotypical suburban town and that’s pretty much it.  There’s really nothing all that special about the place (save the Little League World Series appearances in 1999 and 2001 and the fact that Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, Drew Storen of the Washington Nationals, and Lance Lynn of the St. Louis Cardinals all graduated from BHS within a few years of each other), but there is at least one thing about Brownsburg that I’ve yet to see duplicated anywhere else, and that one thing is the unprecedented amount of adolescent loitering. Yes, loitering (loitering…and smoking the reefer).

Forgive me for sounding like a grumpy old geezer, but every time I go back to my hometown, there always seems to be a ridiculous amount of 12-15 year old dudes just hanging out everywhere throughout the town.  They never have any sort of agenda and seem like they’re just really bored and want to get out of their houses cause their moms are strung out on drugs and their dads are alcoholics who beat them or something.  No matter the day of the week or the time of day, it always seems like there are kids hanging out at the grocery stores, the bowling alley, the Wal-Mart, the movie theater, both of the McDonald’s (don’t want to brag or anything but yeah, Brownsburg’s got two), and even the liquor stores.  It’s like a gay pedophile’s paradise seeing as how the entire town is crawling with 12-15 year old boys.

Now, using my own adolescence as a template, I originally thought that these kids were at the grocery stores to MILF hunt, were at the bowling alley to hit on girls their own age, were at the Wal-Mart to commit petty theft, were at the movie theater to sneak into some terrible (probably Tyler Perry) movie and get a handy in the back row, were at the Mickey D’s to get free food from their friends who work there, and were at the liquor stores to try to get someone who is 21 to score some booze for them.  But I’ve observed these kids enough to know that they aren’t doing any of that (um, I swear I observed them for research purposes for this blog post and not some other reason). 

Instead, they’re just hanging out by the entrances of all these places and are talking amongst themselves, presumably about how big of a bitch their English teacher is or how badly they want to see that Kelly chick’s boobs.  More often than not, they never actually go into the establishment that they’re hanging out by and instead just get in everyone’s way since they’re sitting right by the entrance, which is why these kids annoy me so much.  Also, without fail there is always at least one kid in the group who has a skateboard with him.  And that’s what got me thinking.

Because of the kid in the group with a skateboard, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a bit of a disdain for all kids who skateboard, primarily because I’m a stereotyping ass.  Having said that, though, I don’t have a blanket hatred for all skateboarders, as I actually think pro skateboarders are pretty badass and enjoy watching them do their thing during the X Games every summer.  I’m a big fan of Tony Hawk, Rob Dyrdek, and Jason Ellis in particular, and anyone who knows anything about me knows that just thinking about Rune Glifberg doing a Christ Air on Tony Hawk Pro Skater makes my nipples rock hard.  I really do enjoy skateboarding, but thanks to these kids who loiter with their skateboards at popular places in my hometown and annoy me to no end, I only like pro skateboarding and kinda think that all non-pro skateboarders are crusty tampons.

After giving it some thought, I realized that skateboarding isn’t the only thing that I feel this way about.  There seem to be a handful of skills/activities that I think to myself, “That guy’s a douche” if I see someone doing the activity recreationally or as just a hobby or something, but also think, “That guy’s a total badass” when I see an expert doing the exact same thing.  Obviously this is somewhat hypocritical thinking since it’s impossible for someone to become an expert at something without being a novice first, so it’s stupid to rag on young skateboarders because Tony Hawk was once a novice too. 

With that in mind, this is more of an observation of my own flawed thought process than anything else.  So if you do any of the activities that I’m going to mention in a little bit as a hobby, please don’t take this the wrong way and think that I think you’re an idiot for what you choose to do with your free time.  I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life.  I’m instead just basically pointing out how messed up my logic is (although, my guess is that a lot of you feel the same way about a few of these things so really it’s more of me pointing out how messed up everyone’s logic is).

Now that we got that disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look at my list of the nine things other than skateboarding for which I think novices are losers but experts are badasses.  Before we do, though, I should address the fact that you might be thinking that this criteria applies to all activities.  You might be saying to yourself, “But of course you think novices suck and experts are awesome.  That’s because novices are novices and experts are experts.  That’s how everything works.”  My response to this is well, not necessarily.  Here’s a chart that provides some examples and shows the difference between a few separate activities.

novice vs expert chart

If you play pick-up basketball but aren’t that good, nobody is going to look down on you or judge you or anything (I mean that they won’t judge you for the decision to play basketball – if they make fun of you, it’s because you are atrocious and can’t even hit the rim and not because of what you choose to do as a hobby).  Meanwhile, video games are something that are almost better to not be that good at.  It’s cool to play video games with your friends every now and then, but when you become an expert at a particular game, people think you’re a complete loser who never leaves your house (this explains the genesis of Nut Up or Shut Up Week).  And poor Magic: The Gathering players – no matter how good or bad you might be, the mere fact that you’re playing it at all kinda makes you a loser.

So now that you see the difference, keep in mind that we’re concerned with just that fourth case on the chart.  I’ll provide my list, but part of the reason I wrote about this is because I want some input from the Trillion Man March.  I know that there are some things I didn’t think of, which is why I’m hoping some of you will email me with examples you come up with.  Anyway, here’s my list:

Martial Arts

I guess MMA guys could also kinda be grouped in with this, but here I really mean guys who do karate or judo or taekwondo or whatever else they teach at your local dojo.  Just think for a second how you’d react if you found out your friend goes to karate class every Thursday night versus how you’d react if you found out your friend was a black belt in karate.  I don’t know about you, but I’m equal parts jealous and terrified of anyone who has a black belt in any of the martial arts, which might explain why I make fun of people who take martial arts classes and aren’t yet black belts.  Maybe I’m just getting in my licks while I feel like I still can since once they get black belts they’d be able to mutilate me without even breaking a sweat (yes, I’m aware that even non-black belts could still have their way with me).


I know some people probably think ventriloquists fall into that Magic: The Gathering group in that no matter how good or bad they are, they’re still kind of weird for doing it at all.  But there’s something about good ventriloquism that I appreciate.  I really shouldn’t have to defend myself, but I offer this example as one bit of evidence why I am sometimes jealous of and thoroughly entertained by ventriloquists.


It’s been brought to my attention that some people don’t know what Parkour is, so if you’re included in this group, watch this video and get up to speed.  I might be alone in this, but the first time I watched that, my jaw would have dropped all the way to the ground had my fully erect penis not stopped it first.  Some of the stuff on there completely blows my mind and makes me wonder exactly how someone practices that stuff….

…which brings me to the homeless man I saw in downtown Los Angeles a couple of months ago who was apparently trying to run up walls.  Now, there’s a good chance this guy was just high on LSD, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was actually just trying to practice some Parkour, because he also jumped over a few benches and twirled himself around a street sign.  Up until that point, I had always assumed that all Parkour was sweet, but then I saw this homeless man faceplant after he tried to jump over a bike rack and I realized that for as cool as the Parkour experts are, the Parkour novices are exactly that uncool.

Freestyle Rapping

There’s this guy and then there’s Tom Green and Xzibit.  I think those two videos prove my point for me.

(If you didn’t click the links, I should mention that the video that I linked to as the good example probably isn’t the one that you thought was going to be the good one.)


Obviously there’s nothing wrong with being able to make a good meal for yourself, so don’t think I’m picking on you if you regularly cook.  I’m more concerned with the guys like Randy Marsh from the “Crème Fraiche” episode of South Park.  You know, guys who own all sorts of utensils (and probably don’t know what most of them do), obsess over cooking shows, are always on the hunt for good recipes, and think they’re gourmet chefs just because they can make a casserole.

Actual gourmet chefs, on the other hand, are doing the Lord’s work.  I fully respect people who can make elaborate and delicious meals, to the point that the rare times I eat at a nice restaurant, I typically don’t enjoy the meal as much as I should because I’m too busy envying the chef and hating myself for not knowing how to make anything more than a ham sandwich.


This is pretty self-explanatory. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your cheesy uncle who thought he was awesome when he would pretend to pull his thumb off or find a quarter behind your ear whenever he saw you at family reunions was actually a complete loser. Conversely, this is kind of badass.

Doing Drugs

This one is a little different than all the others in that I personally never get jealous of someone because they do drugs (just say no, kids).  But I still thought I should include it because there are enough examples of people who I think are pure badass primarily because of the boatloads of drugs they did or still do.  Plus, I think the juxtaposition of a looking down on the stereotypical meth head high school dropout and idolizing the stereotypical rock star who shoots up in his trailer before and/or after playing to a packed house is interesting.

Sure there are exceptions and not everyone who does a ton of drugs is awesome (Lindsay Lohan), but guys like Hunter S. Thompson, Charlie Sheen (I know he’s become a cliché at this point and has kind of run his course, but less than six months ago the guy was on fire), and handfuls of pro wrestlers leave me no choice but to tip my hat to them simply because their ability to consume enough drugs to take down even the huskiest of Michigan cheerleaders is pretty impressive to me in some strange way.


The kids who spray paint random lines on alleyways and the sides of trains are undoubtedly complete twats, but after watching Exit Through the Gift Shop, I can’t help but think that guys like Banksy and Shepard Fairey rule (if Exit Through the Gift Shop was a hoax, that only makes me respect Banksy that much more since he was able to dupe so many people).


Anybody who has spent any time on a college campus has seen the guy who knows two or three chords and sits in a grassy area on campus (usually with his shirt off), strums his guitar, and throws lyrics to a popular song over top of some guitar playing that in no way matches the actual song.  This is the novice I’m talking about, not people like me who tried to teach themselves how to play guitar (but failed miserably) in the privacy of their own homes (of course I’m not talking about me – I have to find a way to save face, after all).  And really, you don’t even have to be an expert at guitar for me to think you’re awesome.  So long as you can actually play the thing and aren’t just trying to give the impression that you know how to play, you’re cool in my book.  It’s the dude with his shirt peeled who is desperate for attention and bought a guitar just because he thought chicks would like him more that needs a swift kick to the taint.

I think I might make my blog post for Friday a mailbag post, but that depends mostly on whether or not I get any good emails between now and then, so if you have anything to ask or tell me, send it to me in the form of an email and I’ll respond to it for all the world to see.  I know Simmons is in the midst of his “Summer of Mailbag” over at Grantland, so after you’re done complaining about how I’m copying him and after you’re done sulking over the fact that he didn’t include your email in his mailbag column from last week, send your rejected email my way and I’ll take care of you.

And don’t forget to do your homework tonight and send me any ideas you came up with for what I discussed with this post.  If I get some good ones, I’ll post them at the end of the blog entries throughout the week and give you a shoutout, which will in turn surely result in at least 2 or 3 Facebook friend requests you wouldn’t have otherwise received.

As always, if your ideas suck please keep them to yourselves.


Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Catching Up With Some Old Friends        

I’m going to do it.  This week, I’m going to try to achieve what I’ve always assumed was impossible.  No, I’m not going to watch an entire WNBA game or try to rapidly drink a gallon of milk.  And no, I’m not going to become a vegan or try to teach Deshaun Thomas (who – by the way – might already be my favorite Ohio State athlete ever) how to pass a basketball.  And I’m certainly not going to try to memorize all of the lyrics to “Informer” or try to physically lift Evan “The Villain” Turner’s girlfriend off the ground without the help of a forklift or some sort of advanced machinery.  No, what I’m going to attempt is much more difficult than any of these things.  That’s because I’m going to try to write five blog posts in five days.  I’ll say it again in case you didn’t catch that and for whatever reason have some weird personal philosophy that prevents you from rereading things: I’m going to try to write five blog posts in five days.  Yes, I know I’m crazy for attempting to multiply my output by almost infinity and yes I’m fully aware of how dangerous this could ultimately be, which is why I took all the necessary precautions and have paramedics standing by should the unthinkable happen.

For this first blog post, I figured I’d write about my journey to Indiana this past weekend because there literally isn’t a single thing that any one of you can do to stop me.  I initially went back to Indiana to play in the Travis Smith Memorial Golf Classic in Terre Haute but ultimately ended up staying at my parents’ house in my hometown for a few days after the event just because my mom kept making me free meals.  I’ve discussed my mom’s limited cooking abilities on this blog before, so intuition would tell you that staying for a free meal cooked by her would be like getting domed up by a great white shark – while the “what” seems pretty awesome, perhaps a little more attention should be paid to the “who.” 

But despite her culinary shortcomings, the fact of the matter is that she’s really not that bad of a cook and she can certainly cook much better than I can.  And most importantly, her meals are free, which is a huge deal because there’s no denying that the best things in life are free, even if they also happen to be slightly burnt and could probably use a little more seasoning.  Anyway, after constantly stuffing my face for a few days and putting on at least five pounds, I had no choice but to flee my parents’ house and come back home to Ohio lest I develop type 2 diabetes and what would have surely been a nice set of man tits.

By the way, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that while I know this is fairly obvious and pretty much goes without saying, it’s impossible to adequately describe how glorious that first poop you take after a long weekend of gorging at your parents’ house is.  Every time I question why I visit my parents and subject myself to the self-loathing that comes with quadrupling my daily caloric intake, that post-visiting the parents poop is always there to remind me and is what ultimately makes me return time and time again.

But back to the golf outing.  Most of you probably don’t know this, but Greg Oden’s best friend since childhood, Travis Smith, died in a car accident in January of 2007, when we were in the midst of our freshman season at OSU.  Ever since then, a golf outing has been held in Travis’ hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana to honor Travis and benefit the local Boys & Girls Club.  This year, Greg financed his own personal team and asked me to be on it, most likely because I told him that I was a scratch golfer (to be fair, I thought “scratch golfer” meant that you typically get so frustrated during a round of golf that you stop keeping score and just scratch out the remainder of the scorecard). 

Since he hosts the event and can therefore do whatever he damn well pleases, Greg made sure that Team Oden had one more player than all the other teams, which was significant because we were playing a best ball scramble so our team had one more opportunity to hit a good shot than the other teams did.  I was obviously the anchor of the team but other Team Oden members included Mike Conley, Josh McRoberts, a former AAU teammate of all of ours named Reece who played pro baseball for a few years and is now going to play basketball at UIndy, and my roommate from my freshman year at OSU who played high school basketball with Mike and Greg.  Had this been a Gus Macker, we would have no doubt mushroom stamped the competition, won the thing with ease, and most likely had a celebration party at a local strip club where we would’ve let the strippers drink Hennessy out of our trophy as we did lines of coke off their breasts.  Sadly, though, this was a golf outing and not a basketball tournament, and the golfing ability of the guys on our team ranged from “atrocious” to “somewhat decent.”

The best player on our team was definitely Mike, who goes golfing pretty much every day and typically shoots somewhere in the low to mid 80s, but I found out when I got to the course that Mike would have to leave after 9 holes because he had a flight to Arkansas to catch.  This meant that I was going to be our team’s best player for the back nine.  As you can imagine, this was less than good news for our team.  I’m not exactly a terrible golfer (typically shoot high 80s/low 90s) simply because I go so often (I would go every day if I could afford it.  In fact, my life plan looks like this: “Step 1 – Get rich. Step 2 – Golf.”), but as a general rule of thumb, it’s probably not a good thing if I’m the best on the team, regardless of what sport we’re talking about.  This particular instance was no exception.

Since we sucked so badly after Mike left (and honestly weren’t really doing that well even when Mike was with us), we decided to do something about it and fix our problems, which is to say we decided to honor one of the great historic traditions in golf and cheat like crazy so people wouldn’t mock us for being horrible golfers.  Throughout the last nine holes, each of us took multiple tee shots on each hole, we interpreted “club length relief” as “put the ball back on the fairway and cut a stroke off your score”, we treated any ball that was within 20 feet of the hole as a gimmie, and we even just blatantly wrote down a score that was in no way anywhere close to what we actually got a few times.

After most of the holes on the back nine, Josh and I contemplated what to write down on the scorecard, because we wanted to obviously get a good score but still wanted to make sure we didn’t go overboard and end up accidentally winning the thing since it would’ve been obvious that we cheated.  In the end, our final reported score was a 9-under 62, which we thought was pretty good and would’ve been enough for a top 5 finish that would’ve got the ladies all hot and bothered.  But as it turned out, even with our blatant disregarding of the rules, we still finished something like third to last and were probably made fun of by everyone. 

But not all was lost, though, because during the round Josh (who plays for the Indiana Pacers) confirmed what I had always thought was true when he essentially told me that Larry Bird (who is the Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations) is a total badass who drinks and smokes whenever he feels like it, says exactly what’s on his mind without a care in the world about who he might offend, and pretty much does whatever the f**k he wants because he’s Larry F’ing Bird. Learning this information and realizing that my idol is exactly as awesome as I hoped he would be is unquestionably a win for me, no matter where the final standings said our team finished for the day.

After the golf outing, we all decided to reject reality and have a pool party at Greg’s new house in Indy to celebrate our big win.  I showed up an hour after I was told the party was supposed to start because in my experience I’ve found that an hour is usually how long it takes for all the butt-naked hos to arrive and really get the party started.  You can call it fashionably late if you want to, but I prefer to call it “trying to time it up perfectly so I’m not stuck at a party that has a serious deficiency of butt-naked hos.”

Anyway, when I walked into Greg’s house, three things immediately stood out to me: 1) It was just Greg’s summer house that he plans on giving to his grandma because it’s not nice/big enough, and it was still nicer and bigger than any house I’ll ever own in my life, 2) A life-size sculpture of his penis was resting on the mantle above his fireplace, with the base of the shaft actually resting on the fireplace and the flaccid replica of his penis hanging down from the mantle so the tip of the penis was just a few inches from the fireplace, and 3) There wasn’t a single butt-naked ho in sight (I made up one of those three observations. I’ll let you figure out which one).  My first course of action was to bring this third observation up to Greg, as I said to him, “Greg, I’ve seen Entourage.  I know how you big shots party.  Where are the heaps of cocaine that are supposed to be randomly placed throughout the house?  Where are the people having casual sex in plain sight despite the fact that nobody at the party has any idea who they are?  Why are there not topless chicks walking around in the shallow end of your pool and kissing each other just because some horny dude at the party dared them to?  You call this a party?”  He responded by saying, “Shut up, asshole.  Do you want a beer or not?” and hitting me in the balls before he walked to the kitchen.  Touché.

Apparently this “party” was actually just a laid back get-together with less than 10 people, which was a serious buzzkill for me but probably was for the better considering that I’m scheduled to get married in less than a year.  Anyway, since the party kinda sucked by my standards, the only real reason I even bring it up is to discuss Greg’s house.  Now, the house wasn’t exactly a multimillion dollar estate with an Olympic sized pool and a guest house or anything wild like that, but it was still pretty sweet considering that it had a pool with a slide in the backyard, an upstairs and a basement,  nice new furniture throughout the house (including a brand new piano and a pool table), flat screen TVs everywhere, a sound system that could be controlled throughout the entire house, and a theater room with a huge projector screen and a couple rows of seats (and let’s not forget that this was just his summer house that he plans on giving away because it’s not cool enough).

As we were all sitting in the theater room, Reece asked Greg if he had any video game systems hooked up to the projector, to which Greg replied, “I have them all.”  Reece then decided he wanted to play Madden on Xbox 360 and I said I’d play against him, so Greg took a few minutes to get everything set up and then handed Reece and me some controllers.  But the controllers didn’t work because they were fresh out of the box and had never even been charged before, let alone used.  Reece and I quickly figured this out, so we walked to the closet where the video game systems were stored and we looked for the stuff we needed to charge the controllers. 

As we were looking, I noticed that all the game systems looked brand new and all the games and DVDs he had on a shelf right next to everything looked new too.  That’s when it hit me – Greg has so much f’ing money that he just thought to himself, “What does this room need? Hmm, maybe some video games”, went out and bought at least three video game systems and a bunch of games to go with, probably paid someone to hook everything up for him, and then just let them sit in this closet where he most likely had never touched any of them (as evidenced by the fact that there were still stickers on the controllers and they hadn’t been charged yet). 

When Greg walked back into the room, Reece and I had turned the TV back to Sportscenter or something.  Greg started to ask Reece why we weren’t playing Xbox, but I interrupted him because I just couldn’t help but address what was on my mind. I said, “Greg, do you ever just sit in this chair in your theater room of your summer house, push this button that makes your electric powered leather chair recline without you having to exert any effort whatsoever, watch TV on your gigantic projector screen, and think to yourself, ‘Holy shit I’m rich’?”  He stopped talking to Reece midsentence, turned his head toward me, looked me in the eye with a straight face for a few beats of silence like I was the world’s biggest dumbass, and emphatically said, “No” before he turned back and again asked Reece why we weren’t playing Xbox.  That told me everything I needed to know – this guy has more money than he can even comprehend.

Now, I know some of you are probably thinking “Congratulations, dude. You know somebody rich. Aren’t you f**king special?  Too bad you’re still a poor douche who won’t amount to anything with your own life.”  And to that I say, you’re probably right albeit kind of impolite.  The point of me telling you about Greg’s house wasn’t because I was somehow vicariously bragging through Greg or because I think I’m awesome for knowing a millionaire.  The point of that story is that Greg has more money than I could ever even spend and it kind of blows my mind to think about it and actually see it in person (since he went to the NBA, I’ve probably only seen Greg maybe 5 times a year and most of those times are at OSU’s gym or when we go out to a bar or something.  I’ve never actually been to any of his houses that he’s bought with his NBA riches until this past weekend). 

More importantly, the point of that story is that I’m now kind of beating myself up over the fact that I didn’t forge a stronger relationship with Greg when we were teammates and therefore missed out on a great opportunity to secure a spot in his entourage as one of his primary moochers. 

There’s no telling how many butt-naked hos I could’ve partied with by now.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          How I Feel About The Brickyard 400        

Being a native of Indiana and one of the few NASCAR fans who can form an articulate sentence and can say with absolute certainty that I have never kissed my cousin, the last week of July is typically a week that I spend doing a lot of explaining to people.  That’s because the last week of July is when the Brickyard 400 is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and is therefore the time of year that all sorts of people over here in Ohio ask me if I’m going back home for the race and then look at me like I just pulled my testicles out of my pants and rested them on their forehead when I tell them “absolutely not.” 

Part of their disbelief comes from the fact that it’s no secret that I think the Indy 500 is the single most sacred event (sporting event or otherwise) in the world and that I’ve actually ended relationships with my friends and girlfriends when they didn’t want to accompany me to the race because they claimed that it didn’t appeal to them.  I’ve made it well-known that the Indy 500 is a really big f’ing deal to me, so people assume that because I actually prefer NASCAR to the IndyCar series, I must really be pitching a tent towards the end of July because I get to watch my favorite drivers race on my favorite track just a few miles from my hometown.  After all, the Brickyard 400 is essentially just the Indy 500 for NASCAR, right? 

The answer is of course not, stupid.  Much like Disney’s Doug and a deep fried hand job, the Brickyard 400 is a perfect example of how it’s entirely possible to put two otherwise great things together and create something far worse than the individual parts.

Let me first say that my disdain for the Brickyard 400 doesn’t come from me being some sort of traditionalist who hates the fact that the 500 isn’t the only race run on the sacred IMS track anymore, which is how some people in Indy felt when the Brickyard first started in 1994.  I’m perfectly fine with the idea of there being another race at IMS.  Hell, I’d be fine with there being a race every weekend at IMS so long as they all featured quality racing and a crazy party.  But that’s where the Brickyard 400 falls short and is really why I have such an issue with it – the racing sucks and the party is even worse.  On the surface, it seems like the Brickyard 400 has all the necessary elements to make for an awesome experience, but it only takes one trip to the Indy 500 and one trip to the Brickyard 400 to notice the vast difference and get the overwhelming feeling that, like a dry college campus or a prude supermodel, there are serious problems that completely outweigh any and all positives.

First let’s tackle the racing.  Now, I don’t pretend to be a racing expert and even though I’ve been watching NASCAR for as long as I can remember, I admittedly have no idea what the hell the commentators are talking about most of the time because my knowledge of the terminology is pretty limited.  Truth be told, I probably know more about elephants than I do racing strategy or the anatomy of cars in general (here’s proof: elephants have up to six sets of teeth in their lifetime and once their sixth set falls out, they die from starvation because they can no longer eat.  Also, did you know that if you just went to your local zoo and picked out any elephant at random, removed all of its organs including its trunk, and laid them all end-to-end on the ground, you would certainly get arrested and would probably spend a significant amount of time in prison?).

But despite my shortcomings in car knowledge, I am able to tell if what I am watching is boring or not.  Of course, some would argue that all racing is boring because it’s nothing more than a bunch of left turns.  And yet others would argue that this is all a moot point anyway because when I go to the IMS, I typically sit in the infield and don’t watch any of the race at all because I’m too busy slamming back a case of Bud heavies while trying to get trashy chicks to show me their goods.  But I’ve been to enough of these races to know how to pay attention to both the race and the Tweety Bird tattoo on the breast of some chain smoking lady in a tube top, so really that’s an invalid argument.  Besides, I went to a bunch of races before I turned 10 and started drinking and trying to get girls to flash me, and even back then I could tell that the Brickyard 400 just wasn’t getting the job done.

The fatal flaw with the Brickyard 400 is that the track simply wasn’t built for NASCAR cars.  Again, I don’t know much about car engineering or the science behind racetracks and whatnot, but even a Michigan fan could figure out pretty quickly that IMS has relatively no banking.  This lack of banking means that most of the entertainment at IMS comes from watching cars fight physics and try to make a turn going 200+ mph without much help from the track itself, which might be boring to watch on TV but I assure you is pretty nuts to see in person for the first time (and really every time).  This fighting of physics is exactly what the founders of the IMS wanted, seeing as how they built the track in 1909 primarily as a way to test the limits of high performance cars (fun fact: the guy who was in charge of building the track thought that cars wouldn’t be able to go any faster than 120 mph around IMS, so the fact that the modern day cars run at almost double that speed during the Indy 500 is pretty remarkable).

Anyway, my point is that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built and exists for one reason – to see how fast cars can go around it.  It was a track built to test speed and the Indy 500 does just that, which is why that particular race is so entertaining.  The cars are literally going as fast as the physics will allow them and if the drivers make even a fraction of a mistake, it could cost them a win (JR Hildebrand on the final turn this year) or in some cases – God forbid – even their lives.

The Brickyard 400, on the other hand, doesn’t provide that balls to the wall speed that the 500 does because NASCAR cars are built entirely differently.  NASCAR races, relatively speaking, are often predicated more on physicality than speed (at Indy, NASCAR cars average about 50 mph less than the open wheel cars do), so when they race on a track like IMS that was built solely to test speed, they go relatively slowly through the turns and the race turns out to essentially just be a parade of what appear to be elaborately painted refrigerators.  Plus, throw in the fact that NASCAR guys like to bump each other and IMS is most certainly not a track for bumping, and it makes things even worse because all that bumping results in a lot of crashes and caution flags (when people say they like crashes, what they really mean is they like seeing fiery crashes where the car rolls a few times and looks completely decimated when it’s all said and done.  Most crashes, though, are entirely unexciting and just drag out the race and make it even more boring).  Throw all of these factors together and what you’ve got is a race that can’t even sniff the jock of the Indy 500.

Of course, this is just my theory that I’ve established solely through years of observation.  I don’t have stats to back me up and I certainly don’t have any real knowledge of racing whatsoever, so there’s a good chance my explanation is way off.  Either way, the fact of the matter is that the racing at the Brickyard 400 just isn’t that exciting.  Regardless of why, there’s no denying that it’s pretty boring when compared to the 500.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the real issue – the partying (or more accurately, the lack thereof).  There are really only four words needed to explain why the Indy 500 party scene makes the Brickyard 400 party scene look like a Sunday morning trip to church with your grandparents – general admission infield tickets.  I’ve written about this before, but the infield at the Indy 500 is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life (and yes, I’ve been to the Kentucky Derby), primarily because I’ve seen just about anything you can imagine short of rape and murder.  I’ve seen people having sex (I’ve even seen what appeared to be a 3-way), I’ve seen people doing hardcore drugs, and I’ve seen a woman try to piss in a busy men’s restroom by removing her jean shorts, propping her foot up to get a better angle, and pointing her vajeen toward the community urinal tub (admit it – you’re jealous).  It might be a typical Tuesday afternoon for Charlie Sheen, but for average people like you and me the infield at the 500 is mind-blowingly wild.

Why is the Indy 500 infield so rowdy, you ask? It’s simple – because it’s stupidly cheap and you can damn near bring anything into the track that you can carry.  This is really what separates it from the Kentucky Derby infield in my mind (not to mention the fact that horse racing can lick auto racing’s chode), since Derby infield tickets are more expensive and you can’t bring in outside food or drinks.  You can get a ticket for the Indy 500 infield for $30 and bring in a huge cooler full of food and beer (or if you’re like The Villain, stuff to make Cosmos).  Hell, for the 2010 race, I brought two kegs into the infield and tapped those bitches about 100 yards away from the track (it’s the only major sporting event I can think of that you can legally bring your own personal kegs to).  It’s essentially just a BYOB party with a $30 cover charge that 150,000 people are invited to and literally lasts all day, so there’s really no excuse for it not to be the most bitchingest party in America each and every year.

The Brickyard 400, though, doesn’t have these coveted general admission infield tickets.  I’ll say it again, this time using bold text to help emphasize what I’m saying: the Brickyard 400 does not have general admission infield tickets.  If that confuses the hell out of you and makes you think whoever is in charge of this decision should be immediately fired, you now have something in common with every 18-34 year old (white) male in the greater Indianapolis area. 

Now, it should be noted that you can buy a regular ticket with an actual seat assigned to it for the Brickyard 400 and walk into the infield and watch the race from there, but that completely defeats the purpose of the infield ticket.  Regular tickets aren’t as cheap as the infield tickets would be, so the poor white trash people that can afford to come party at the Indy 500 (and are typically the rowdiest people at the track) don’t show up for the 400.  As a result, the infield for the Brickyard basically just consists of legitimate race fans who have no interest in partying and just want to sit closer to the track to enhance their experience, college kids who think they’re cool because they’re drinking beer at a race at IMS and don’t know that the Brickyard is the JV race, and middle class people who don’t completely hate their lives like the poor people do and therefore don’t turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with their failures.  So yeah, the party kinda sucks.

Basically, here’s the ultimate problem: In my opinion, the only way to make the Brickyard 400 as awesome as it should be and to make it a must-attend event is to sell the infield tickets.  But they won’t start selling infield tickets any time soon because they don’t even come close to selling all the normal tickets, so they’re obviously going to focus more on trying to figure out a way to get more people to buy the relatively expensive seat-assigned tickets because those tickets bring in more money for them than the infield tickets do.  But they’re never going to sell out of the normal tickets until the quality of racing improves.  But the quality of racing won’t improve because the track simply isn’t a good fit for those cars.  So really, the way I see it, the only way to improve the overall event is to completely change the type of cars NASCAR uses.  Obviously this can’t happen, which is why the Brickyard 400 seems like it’s on track (pun absolutely intended) to be a perpetual letdown.

And let’s not kid ourselves.  Even though I said earlier that I wouldn’t mind there being a race at IMS every weekend, that doesn’t mean that all of the races there should be treated equally.  Regardless of the quality of racing or the party scene, the Indy 500 is in a class on its own just because of the history associated with it, and there’s legitimately no way in hell the Brickyard could ever come close to being as big of a deal to the people of Indianapolis (the Brickyard is like the NIT final four – just because it’s being held at a historic venue doesn’t make it a big deal).  That in and of itself is enough for some to think that it’s sacrilege to go to IMS for a race at any time other than Memorial Day weekend because the experience is borderline laughable and it makes the Indy 500 feel less special (another reason why the Indy 500 rules – Memorial Day is a built in recovery day for the day after the race). 

For as long as I can remember, I haven’t been included in that group, but with each passing year it seems like I’m getting closer and closer to feeling the exact same way.

It goes without saying that you should feel free to call me out on anything I screwed up.  As I said earlier, everything I just wrote is based on nothing more than my own personal experience, which typically means I’m embarrassingly wrong.  So if I was way off with my reasoning for why the Brickyard just isn’t what it seems like it could be, by all means send me an email and put me in my place.  If your email has enough vitriol in it, we might even become pen pals.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          My New Hero        

After taking a couple of months off from blogging, let me first say that it’s good to be back and that I promise I  thought about you every single second I was gone.  Some of you have speculated that I suddenly stopped blogging because I was overwhelmed with the masses of people calling for my head for something I didn’t think was that big of a deal, but the truth is that I actually was a little bit behind schedule with my book and had to stop blogging so I could get my ass in gear and finish the thing (which, I’m proud to say, I eventually did finish one day earlier than was expected of me). 

But even if finishing the book wasn’t the real reason why I stopped blogging, I don’t want to live in the past and revisit the outrage that I caused.  What’s done is done and talking about it now won’t change anything.  Besides, I’ve made it perfectly clear dozens of times: she told me she was 19 and even had an ID to prove it (it looked pretty real to me).  How could I have possibly known she was actually 15?  I never would have touched her had I known her real age and that’s the honest-to-God truth, so everyone just please move on.

Speaking of sex, am I the only one who hears someone say “I’ll try anything once” as they dive into the appetizer sampler platter or go to take a sip of a new beer, and immediately get grossed out over the thought of what “I’ll try anything once” insinuates about their sex lives?  I am? Ok, cool.  Good to know.

Even though this has nothing to do with anything I’ve previously written and this terrible transition is probably doing more to widen and less to bridge the gap between the two vastly different topics, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that Michael McCary is a new personal hero of mine and very well could be the biggest badass this world has ever seen.  Who is Michael McCary, you ask?  Well, the fellas probably just know him as the guy in Boyz II Men with the deep voice, but the females no doubt remember him as the guy who gave your vagina a boner every time he chimed in on a Boyz II Men song.  But even though he’s got an undeniably sexy voice that I’m not ashamed to admit once made my private parts tingle (although, to be fair, this happened at a dance when I was in 7th grade, so there’s a good chance my wiener moved more because I had two fistfuls of babe butt in my hands and less because Michael McCary was lubing my ears with his baritone), his voice isn’t what makes him a personal hero of mine.  No, it’s so much more than that.

The first and most obvious admirable trait about Michael McCary is that he was a member of the greatest boy band ever.  Now, some of you might point to the Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync or the New Kids as better boy bands, but that’s only because you’re either a woman (who was once a stupid and malleable little girl) or a racist white dude who can’t appreciate awesome black boy bands like Boyz II Men, Jagged Edge, and 112 (personally, LFO was always my favorite white boy band anyway).  The fact of the matter is that despite what the sales numbers say, Boyz II Men have more #1 songs than the New Kids, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync combined, which is evidence that they made far better music.  Plus, pretty much every music video they ever made is a complete and flawless representation of just how awesome the 90s were, and should therefore be displayed in some sort of museum somewhere.

But being in Boyz II Men on its own isn’t enough to be a hero of mine, or else all the guys in the group would be on the list.  What sets McCary apart is that not only was in Boyz II Men, but he was the benchwarmer of the group and has a long history of putting up trillions in their songs.  Allow me to explain.

Michael McCary was consistently the only guy in Boyz II Men to not have a solo singing part in their songs and would instead usually just pop in every now and then and either drop a quick line or provide some bass backup by echoing whatever one of the other dudes just said (like in “One Sweet Day”, “Motown Philly”, and “4 Seasons of Loneliness”).  Not only that, but there were also the rare occasions such as in “On Bended Knee” and “End of The Road” when he’d tell singing to suck it and just start talking towards the end of the songs, and would use his smooth deep voice to persuade the chick that was the inspiration for the song to essentially just shut up and take off her panties because all the time spent arguing was boning time going to waste. 

In those last two songs especially, I like to think that the other three guys in the group spent the entire song effectively getting their point across to whichever beautiful baby they were singing to (fun fact: one of the dudes was singing to Lisa Turtle in “On Bended Knee.” Fun fact #2: real life Lisa Turtle dated real life Zack Morris and was once engaged to Martin Lawrence), and McCary came in at the end to essentially be the icing on the cake and human victory cigar, not entirely unlike the walk-on benchwarmer at the end of games.  He’s unquestionably the least heralded and least appreciated guy in the group, but even though there have been tons of guys that have also fit this description in other bands, nobody did it as smoothly as Michael McCary. 

Put it this way: I like to think that guys like Chris Kirkpatrick and Howie Dorough represent the douchey walk-ons who lose their minds cheering on the bench after routine plays and run out onto the court when timeouts are called so they can chest bump the real players.  These are the kinds of guys who desperately want to fit in with the team and want to be more involved, so they bust their asses in practice and follow their teammates everywhere off the court in hopes that they’ll eventually be accepted.  And then there’s Michael McCary, who I like to think is more like me.  He’s perfectly fine with his limited action and doesn’t give a Michigan whether or not he fits in with the rest of the team or whether or not he’s fully appreciated because he knows he’s got game and he doesn’t feel obligated to prove it to anybody.  So he just kicks back and relaxes until he gets called upon to contribute, at which point he steps in and makes it rain with his soothing baritone voice that, much like my silky smooth J, could charm the pants off even the most prudish of women.

But if all that still isn’t enough for you to appreciate why he’s my new personal hero, consider this picture taken from the “End of The Road” video:


In case you can’t tell what’s going on here, Michael McCary is rocking a hi-top fade, sitting on a rock as waves splash around him, holding onto a cane for no apparent reason, and resting his foot on the rock so his legs spread and the ladies can get a decent look at his man meat.  If it weren’t for the fact that he’s 16 years older than me and some would argue doesn’t really look like me, I’d be fully convinced that he and I were twins who were separated at birth.  I trust you now understand why I look up to the guy so much.

Now that I’ve finished my book, the next step is to obviously figure out how I can give out as many free copies to the Trillion Man March as possible.  I still have to iron out some details with my publisher (apparently they have financial motive to sell as many books as possible at the highest possible price?!?), but my idea right now is to hold what I’m tentatively calling “Context Contests.”  The idea behind these contests is that I would post on the blog a single sentence taken directly from my book, give the TMM no context whatsoever, and then have you write a short story (no more than a few hundred words) either explaining how I arrived at that sentence or figure out a way to include the sentence in the story.  From there, I would give out free books to whoever provided the best/funniest/most ridiculous submissions.

If I do, in fact, get the ok to give out free books, I will obviously sign all the ones I give out.  But I’ll take it even one step further and also get some of my former teammates to sign on the page of the book in which I wrote a story about them.  Like I said, I still have to iron everything out with the publisher, but in the meantime stay tuned.  At the very least, I’ll definitely give out a few free books out of my own pocket and some CLUB TRIL shirts and  CLUB TRIL mesh shorts too.  I’ll keep you posted.

One last thing: A lot of you have asked, but as of right now I don’t know the exact date the book is going to be released.  I was told we’re going to most likely shoot for February or March, but it could be sooner than that. I’ll let you know when I find out for sure.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          My Rebuttal        

It’s ridiculous that I even have to write this and defend myself, but the sad reality is that there are way too many people who take sports just a tad too seriously and are calling for my head, so I feel like this is the only way to get everyone to put down their pitchforks and torches.  It would be comical if it weren’t so sickening and pathetic.

Here’s what happened:

I’ve been planning for months to write a blog entry about my experience at the Indy 500 because it’s my favorite sporting event in the world and is something I look forward to every year.  After I wrote something about my mom on the day after Mother’s Day, I figured I’d just wait until after the race to post my next blog entry.  But then I realized that if I waited until after the race, there would be a three and a half week gap between each of my posts, which would have lead to complaints from the people who regularly read the blog.  See, that’s what we do here – I try to see how long I can go without writing something and then the people who regularly read the blog playfully give me crap for being lazy.  It’s kind of the ongoing theme of this blog, really.  And it’s made for a great relationship for the past two and a half years.

So as a way to keep my regular readers from getting on me for not writing something in a long time, I figured I’d throw them a bone and write a quick blog post before the race.  I sat down at my computer and racked my brain trying to think of what to write about, before it hit me that I had gotten a handful of emails and tweets from people asking me about the Tressel/OSU football stuff.  Since I had nothing better to write about and was basically just writing a filler post anyway (I explicitly said it was a filler post in the first sentence), I figured “ah, what the hell” and decided I’d just give my take on that issue. 

This notion that I wrote it so I could get attention or more hits on my blog couldn’t be further from the truth.  I have no advertising on the blog, I barely take the thing seriously (which is why the design of the site sucks and I haven’t ever considered changing it), and I infrequently post new entries.  Before yesterday, it had been over a year since the last time I even checked to see what kind of traffic the blog had been getting.  Hell, I’ve been writing about the significance of pooping in front of your girlfriend/wife, Spaghetti O’s, and my mom for the past month and a half.  Why would I write about stuff that has exactly no mass appeal if I cared even the slightest bit about blog hits?  And since I have no advertising, how could I possibly benefit from getting more blog hits anyway, especially when the increased traffic I did get came from maniacal Ohio State fans who would be perfectly fine if I ceased to exist (it’s not like these people are going to buy t-shirts or my book or anything)?  Plus, if I really was trying to start a sh*tstorm, I would have said more than just “the football players always seemed to have nice cars when I went to OSU” and instead would have made up much more scandalous stuff like I saw Terrelle Pryor being handed an envelope full of cash or something.

Truth be told, I don’t want more blog hits and I don’t really care if my blog gets more attention. I’m perfectly fine with my audience of a few thousand who, like me, don’t take things too seriously and enjoy a cheap laugh or two.  We were all doing just fine before the masses of crazed OSU fans from message boards and forums all over the internet flocked here and called for my head.

Now that we got that settled, a few of you rational people might still be wondering what there was to gain by writing it anyway.  Well, my only intention was to give my thoughts to the people who had asked me about it.  Believe it or not, there are people who read this thing and aren’t from Ohio, and a few of them wanted to hear about what’s going on in Columbus from a guy who has been relatively close to it for the past few years.  So I basically just said that while it might seem like I would know a lot about the situation, the truth was that I was just a bystander to everything that went on in the football program and only knew what had been written about in the press.  But having said all of that, any OSU student in the past five years could tell you that a lot of the football players drive nice cars (since most of the people who asked me about the scandal weren’t ever OSU students, I figured that this would be something they would like to know).  You’d have to be blind to not notice it.  I didn’t exactly say anything that tens of thousands of  people on that campus haven’t already noticed themselves.  And besides, it’s not like the NCAA was going to throw the case out until they read my blog.  Nothing I wrote will have any impact whatsoever on the impending investigation, so from that standpoint it’s ridiculous that this is being made a much bigger deal than it really is.

My intent is all a moot point anyway. So many of you are calling me out for throwing my alma mater under the bus, while I see it the exact opposite way – I’m holding my alma mater accountable.  No, scratch that. I’m holding my alma mater’s football team accountable (it might be hard to believe, but OSU has plenty more to offer than just a football team – like this for example).  Instead of brushing things under the rug and trying to justify and defend everything that the football team is being accused of, I’m of the opinion that acknowledging flaws is not only the right thing to do, it’s the healthy thing to do as well.  I know how important the football team is to the school and I know that to many people around the country, the football team is really the only thing they think about when someone says “Ohio State.”  Because of this, I want the football program to be an honorable one (like we thought it was), so people around the country associate Ohio State with integrity and class instead of whatever it is they associate OSU with now.  Pretending that something isn’t going on when all the evidence points to the contrary is incredibly irresponsible and is how we got into this whole mess in the first place (Tressel didn’t speak up when something was amiss).  Call me crazy, but I’d much rather lose every single game with integrity than win a slew of national championships by cheating.

So all of you “real” Buckeye fans who want to disown me as a Buckeye for pointing out an obvious observation after I was prompted to do so, by all means go ahead.  I’m hopeful that for every one of you irrational people there are two other Buckeye fans who feel the same way I do and will welcome me with open arms to Buckeye Nation.  It doesn’t make you any more of a fan than us because you blindly support your team without acknowledging the fact that there is a lot of shady stuff going on (and let’s make that perfectly clear – there is shady stuff going on. Just how much shady stuff still remains to be seen).  We care just as much about the Buckeyes as you do, which is why we acknowledge flaws and want our football team (as well as every other team and all other aspects of the school) to be held accountable to fix those flaws.

In conclusion, I hope nobody took this the wrong way.  In no way was this meant to be an apology for what I wrote yesterday.  I stand by everything I said, because frankly, nothing I said should ever have been made a big deal in the first place.  Some of you got your panties in a bunch because I didn’t have the facts, but I think you misinterpreted what I said. I do have facts.  It’s a fact that I’ve seen football players driving what every other student on campus would consider to be nice cars.  It’s a fact that when I was on a basketball scholarship for two years (which I’m eternally grateful for, by the way, and if you think for one second that I’m not, you can suck my oversized balls), I could not afford to buy the cars that the football players had.  Those are the facts.  The facts I don’t have are how the football players got the cars.  I, like all Ohio State fans, hope that they got them by following NCAA rules.  Sadly, though, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it must mean that these guys are either getting serious discounts on their cars or they’re getting them for free.  Stop being so naïve.

One last point: The bit I wrote about how I would never let protecting the basketball team get in the way of a good story wasn’t meant to be taken seriously (neither is about 95% of what I write).  While I do want the basketball program to be held accountable and I do think they should be called out when they screw up, the fact of the matter is that while I played at OSU, I never once saw anything that seemed to be shady from any of the players or coaches.  The only reason I wrote that yesterday is because I’ve been taunting the basketball coaching staff for over a year now about how I could trash the program in my book if I wanted.  I would never do such a thing, but it’s fun to tease them about it and make them sweat over the possibility of me saying unflattering things about their program.  For the first time in five years, I have some sort of power in the basketball program, which is why I like playfully using it whenever I can.  It’s basically just my way of pranking the coaching staff, so it really shouldn’t be interpreted as anything other than that.

(I know I probably just pissed off a lot of you who had been defending me, since writing this makes me look like a bitter douche who is stooping to the irrational people’s level.  And for that I’m sorry.  I probably should have just let it blow over instead of looking like a whiny bitch, but after about the 1,000th time of being personally attacked and accused of stuff that is the exact opposite of the truth, I had to speak up.  I swear that this is the last time I’ll acknowledge this ordeal at all, but I had to get all of this off my chest before I moved on.  So now that I’m done, I swear I’m done for good.  I’ve got more important things to worry about now.  The Indy 500 is only five days away.)

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Less Than A Week Away        

I gotta be perfectly honest with you and admit up front that this blog post is basically just a filler one, primarily because it’s late May, which is another way of saying that the Indy 500 is right around the corner and I’m so excited for it that just about every body part I have is fully erect (including – but not limited to – my penis) and I can’t even think straight.  Every year at about this time, I mentally zone out and focus solely on the race and everything that comes with it.  What will I wear this year? What hairstyle am I going to go with? What is going to be my strategy to get a white trash chick to flash her boobs to my group of friends? When she inevitably does flash, will I even want to look? And when I inevitably do look, how will I explain to my fiancée that I was completely justified because getting a trashy chick to show her nips is an Indy 500 tradition as old as the race itself? Ah yes, it’s late May in the Midwest alright.  And I couldn’t be more excited about it.

(By the way, the best example of me zoning out in May came almost exactly one year ago, when I flew out to LA and met Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Simmons, and Adam Carolla.  While we were all at dinner, Simmons asked me what my favorite network comedy was for whatever reason and I froze and told him How I Met Your Mother because all my favorite comedies are on cable and it was the only one that I watch and could think of on the spot, which was an answer that prompted Carolla to playfully make fun of my terrible taste in TV for the rest of the night.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think How I Met Your Mother is an awful show necessarily, but it certainly isn’t even in my top five favorite network comedies, so for me to claim that it was #1 and then fail to even provide a #2 was a monumental brain fart for me and sent a message to everyone at the table that I never intended to be sent. There aren’t many moments in my life that I wish I could do over, but my answer at that dinner was certainly something I will always regret.

Also, while I have you, the second best example of me mentally checking out in May is the fact that I just inexcusably told an irrelevant story with the sole purpose of name dropping, which is something that will surely lead to many of you calling me out for being a doucher.  But I’m too distracted to care, so I’m just going to leave it. Besides, Zach Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were also at the same restaurant on that night, but you don’t see me dropping their names do you? Exactly.)

Since I’m focusing all my energy towards the race at this point and I’m therefore too lazy to think of anything to write about, I figured I’d just tackle an issue that I’ve gotten a few emails and tweets about.  A handful of you have been asking about my take on the whole Jim Tressel/OSU football saga, either because you value my opinion or, more likely, because you want to know if I have any inside information.  While I know this story seems to be yesterday’s news, it’s far from being settled so I figured I’d address it real quick.  As always, if you don’t like it, you can firmly press your tongue to my buttcrack.

First of all, I don’t have any “inside information”, mostly because I didn’t play football and therefore have no idea how their program is run.  I’ve never been to any of their practices, I never once hung out with any of the players, I went to completely different tattoo parlors and car dealerships when I was at OSU than they did, and the envelopes full of cash I received always came from a different booster than their cash came from (I had a class with Ross Homan one quarter, and we worked on group projects together and usually sat by each other, but I wouldn’t exactly say we “hung out” really).  Also, I’ve only ever talked to Jim Tressel twice in my life, with the first of these occasions being when he came to one of our practices during my sophomore year, and before he started the speech he had prepared for our team, he asked, “Where is #34? He can really shoot.” (I replied, “That’s nothing. You should see me punt a football. Most scouts had me as the 7th ranked punter in all of Brownsburg High during my senior year.”  He had no response to this, which leads me to believe that hearing about my punting prowess left him speechless.)  The second time I talked to him was during the spring football game a couple years later, when he shook hands with all the basketball players who were standing on the sideline for the game and said to me, “You must be the benchwarming blogger.”  So yeah, I don’t really have much perspective considering I didn’t really know any of the players and I’ve only talked to the head coach for a grand total of 30 seconds (strangely enough, in those 30 seconds he managed to pinpoint my entire identity on the basketball team – “the benchwarming blogger who can shoot well”).

Having said all of that, I frequently crossed paths with a bunch of the football guys for a variety of reasons (stayed in the same dorm as some of them during my freshman year, went to same place for our training table meals, had a bunch of mandatory athlete meetings with them, some of them hung out with my teammates, etc.). And in crossing paths with them so frequently, I can offer this analysis: While I don’t really know anything about the whole tattoo ordeal, I’m almost certain that there was something shady going on with the car dealer.  In fact, as the news of the free tattoos and sold merchandise or whatever came out, I kept telling my family how funny it was that they were getting busted for tattoos and gold pants when I was pretty sure they had been getting serious discounts on cars for years. Again, I have no “inside information” and really only know what the general public knows.  But it doesn’t exactly take top notch detective skills to figure this one out.  Anyone who spent any time on Ohio State’s campus while I was there could tell you that there were an unusually high volume of brand new Dodge Chargers driving around on campus, and just about all of them had tinted windows and rims on the outside with Ohio State football players behind the wheel on the inside. 

Now, I understand that there’s a chance these guys all paid the same price for their cars that normal citizens like you and I would pay, and I honestly hope that they did.  But my intuition has told me for years that something is off.  I’m not sure how much the monthly scholarship checks the football team got were for, but when I was on my basketball scholarship for my first two years at Ohio State, I was only given $1,100 a month.  That might sound like a lot of money at first thought, but you have to realize that these checks had to cover the monthly cost of rent, utilities, food, gas, entertainment, tattoos, trips to the strip club, bottles off the top shelf, weed, hookers, blow, and – on top of all of that – child support.  I wouldn’t necessarily say I struggled to pay all my monthly bills, but as you can imagine, I sure as hell never had enough of a cushion to afford a $400 monthly car payment either.

The fact of the matter is that I’m sure there are ways for football players to buy new cars and still obey NCAA rules.  From what I can remember, there are all sorts of other forms of financial aid other than just the scholarship checks that the players could be eligible for, so there’s a good chance they got more than the $1,100 a month that I got.  But even so, I seriously doubt that the extra aid was enough for them to take on a hefty car payment on top of all their other expenses.  Especially when you consider that most of these guys lived lavish lifestyles when compared to your average college student.  Sure they theoretically could have probably afforded a new car if they would have lived modestly in an average sized apartment with a few roommates, didn’t go out much, and didn’t spend a lot of money on things like phones, TVs, iPods, etc.  But does anyone seriously believe that these guys lived modestly?  If you were to play a word association game and were given the phrase “big time college athlete”, the word “modest” wouldn’t even be on the list of the first 100,000 words that come to mind.

In the end, I’m too lazy to formulate a legitimate argument as to why I think guys on the football team got discounted and/or free cars.  That would involve way too much research on how the system works, way too much investigating on what actually transpired in the last few years, and – most importantly – way too much effort on my part.  And I really don’t care that much. So please don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m not trying to say that I know certain things and I’m certainly not trying to play the role of insider informant. The truth is that I have no facts, and God knows that if I’m entirely wrong it would be far from the first time (hell, I hope I am wrong).  I’m just saying that I was always under the impression that the scholarships the football guys got were close to (if not exactly) the same as the basketball guys, yet in my four years of playing basketball at Ohio State, my 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was consistently one of nicest cars on the team because none of us could afford anything better. Meanwhile, it seemed like everyone on the football team had either a new Charger or a new Chrysler 300.  From this, I am deducing that either the football guys were paid a considerably larger stipend than we were (in all honesty, that could be the case – I really don’t know), were excellent at managing their money, came from financially well off families, or received discounted and/or free cars.   I really can’t see how any of them could’ve had the cars they did without at least one of those four things applying.

So to recap, I have no facts, I don’t know what I’m talking about, and in no way should I be taken seriously.  All I’m saying is that I won’t be surprised in the slightest if the NCAA digs up some serious dirt on the Ohio State football team (especially the stuff surrounding the discounted and/or free cars) because it’s something I’ve been scratching my head over for years.  So if you’re an OSU football fan, I’d suggest not getting your hopes up.  There’s a solid chance that this won’t end well.

As for the allegations that Will Buford was included in the same group of guys who got free/discounted tattoos and cars, and the news that Jon Diebler’s parents bought a car from the same guy who sold cars to all the football players, well, I honestly don’t know what to say.  As hard as it may be to believe, I never talk to any of those guys about any stuff like that, mostly because I’m of the opinion that ignorance is bliss (I’ve watched way too many mob movies where the guy who knows too much information gets bin Laden’d).  What I can tell you is that when I was teammates with him, Will only had a couple of tattoos and didn’t even own a car, so if anything did go down, it had to have happened after I left.  In fact, I had to give Will rides to and from practice all the time, so I’ll be pissed if I find out that all that time he not only had a car, but his car was much better than mine and he got it for free.  I know it might seem like I’m withholding information to protect the basketball program, but you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that I really don’t know anything about those guys (it will be easier to trust me on this when my book comes out next year and you realize that I’m of the opinion that protecting the basketball program should never get in the way of a good story).

So that’s my take on the whole issue.  I’m essentially in the same boat as all of you in that I don’t exactly have inside information or anything and I’m just anxiously waiting to see how everything unfolds.  I’ll be shocked if the NCAA doesn’t find anything when they look into this car scandal, but again I feel like I need to stress that I’m only basing this viewpoint off of information that every OSU student from 2006-2010 should have (after all, the football players weren’t exactly discreet with their cars).  In other words, to summarize this entire blog post, I don’t really know what happened and I don’t really have any idea what’s going to happen from here.  Glad I could help.

I apologize for this blog post to all the non-OSU people who I’m sure are sick of hearing about Tressel and/or just Ohio State in general.  But I’m not that sorry because I told you in the first sentence that this was just a filler post, so it’s your fault for reading the whole thing.  Nonetheless, to make it up to you, I plan on doing a retroactive running diary of my experience at the Indy 500 this upcoming weekend for my next blog post, which has the potential to be my favorite piece of writing ever.  Get excited.

By the way, I feel like I should use this last paragraph to try to convince you to go to the Indy 500 if you live within driving distance of the track.  It is not only my single favorite sporting event in the world, but it’s my single favorite anything in the world, and travel expenses aside, it’s actually pretty cheap (you can get an infield ticket for $20 and bring your own cooler full of food and drinks into the track).  So if you live in the Midwest and have never been to the race, do yourself a favor and make the trip.  If you do end up making it over to Indy, find me in the turn 3 infield and I’ll spot you a beer or two and try to get a trashy chick to show her goods so you can get the complete Indy 500 experience.  It’s the least I could do.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          My Mom Could Beat Up Your Mom        

The first time I ever played my mom in a 1-on-1 game of basketball was when I was 12-years-old. Ever since the day I started walking, she and I would shoot around in our driveway all the time, but I never had the courage to play her 1-on-1 because she was much taller than me (she’s 5’9”) and I was almost certain she would beat me, which I thought would’ve been the single most embarrassing thing to ever happen in my life. Once I hit a growth spurt and stood 6 feet tall as a 12-year-old, though, I had complete confidence that I could destroy her. After all, she was a woman, and the last time I checked, our driveway wasn’t in the kitchen, so I figured she’d be completely out of her element. Plus, I had seen her shoot a basketball for years and her jumpshot consisted of her pushing the ball with two hands from behind her head. Sure she could make them when we were just casually shooting around, but there was no way that that garbage was going in with defense on her. And so, with my terrible rationale giving me all sorts of false confidence, I decided to challenge her to a game of 1-on-1. This still ranks as one of the most regretful decisions of my life.

Perhaps the most important thing I failed to consider when I dared my mom to play me 1-0n-1 was that she was good as sh*t. Like really, really good. Not only that, but she was extremely physical and her style of play was perfectly suited for a driveway pick-up game. I tried driving to the basket on my first possession, but ultimately failed miserably because my mom slid over after I took my first dribble, stuck her chest out, and didn’t budge an inch as I bounced off of her and crumpled to the ground like those skeleton-looking turtles from Bowser’s castle in Super Mario World. At that moment I realized that I was in over my head, but there was no way that she was going to let me quit now, so I had to just suck it up and figure out a different way to beat her. I tried resorting to jumpshots, but when I jumped to shoot the ball on my second possession, she whipped her ass around to block me out and gave me the biggest charley horse I had ever gotten in my life. So to recap, my first two offensive possessions both resulted in zero points and loads of physical pain. This game wasn’t exactly off to a blazing start for me.

Meanwhile, when she was offense, she just backed me down into the post and either threw an elbow to my face as she went up for the layup or she shot a fade away jumper as she turned to the baseline. Remember when I said that I didn’t think she’d be able to make her ugly jumpshot against defense? Well, as it turned out, her ugly shot was actually unblockable because she shot it from so far behind her head (when she faded away it was even harder to guard). And she was lethal with it. Truth be told, her jumper was actually better against defense than it was when she was open. I had no way of guarding it and, making matters worse, I had no answer for it because she was shutting me down on defense. Back and forth this pattern of her physically abusing me on defense and raining jumpshots over my head on offense continued, and when it was all said and done, she had both literally and figuratively beat the snot out of me. I was so battered and bruised that if my dad would’ve come outside and started whipping me with his leather belt, it probably would’ve felt like a massage at that point. In that moment, as I laid on the ground licking my wounds, I remember thinking to myself “Just who in the hell is this lady I call ‘mom’?”

And yes, I was so cool when I was 12 that I casually used the word “hell.”

Over the course of the next few weeks, I researched my mom (which basically just consisted of asking my dad about her and how she was capable of making me look foolish on the basketball court) and discovered that there shouldn’t have been any shame in losing to her (but there still was, because how many guys lose to their mom in basketball?). That’s because I learned that she grew up two hours north of Indianapolis in a town called Rochester, and even though her small town basically consisted of a couple of stop lights and one kickass old-fashioned soda shop, she led her high school basketball team to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and back-to-back trips to the Final Four of the Indiana state tournament (this was back when all the schools played in one tournament, so she was playing schools much bigger than hers). If that’s not impressive enough, consider this: she was also a cheerleader for the boys’ basketball team (and played softball and ran track too) and would sometimes cheer for them in the afternoon and play in her games at night, or vice versa. In fact, in the state tournament one year, she played one of her games in the morning, took a bus to where the boys were playing and cheered that game in the afternoon, then took the bus back to where her second game was being played and went out and led her team to the regional championship that night. This will be the one and only time I use this word to describe a women’s basketball player, but on that particular day my mom was a complete badass (although, let’s be honest – she’s a badass every day).

Following an incredible high school career, my mom was named to the 1977 Indiana All-Star team and was awarded a basketball scholarship to Purdue, where she was twice named team MVP and graduated as both the career scoring leader and the best player in the program’s history. After learning all of this, everything suddenly made so much more sense to me. Throughout my childhood, I often wondered why all my friends’ moms made elaborate meals for dinner and constantly kept their houses clean while my mom would play catch or shoot around with me in the driveway. But now I knew why – my mom was the epitome of a tomboy and while she couldn’t make a casserole to save her life, she had the nastiest fade away I’ve ever seen. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The reason I bring all this up is not only because Mother’s Day was yesterday, but also because last weekend my mom joined the likes of Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, and John Wooden as she was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Part of my happiness comes from the fact that I’m so proud of her, but a majority of it is derived from the fact that I can now say I lost a game of 1-on-1 to a Hall of Famer instead of saying I lost to my mom. I know most of you would rather have the Navy SEALs break into your house and put a bullet through your eye (USA! USA! USA!) than have to watch women’s basketball, and the truth is that I’m right there with you. But my mom getting inducted into the Hall of Fame is so much more meaningful than just a nice award to commemorate her career as a women’s basketball player. To a lesser extent, it also kind of validates how she raised me. I’m a picky eater because my mom cared more about taking me to Little League practice and taking me to school on the basketball court than she cared about learning how to make food other than grilled meats with mashed potatoes. Conversely, she’s a big reason why I got into basketball and why I became relatively successful at it, which doesn’t sound like much until I think about how many opportunities and experiences the game of basketball has brought to my life. Simply put, I wouldn’t be who I am today if my mom wasn’t as good as she was at basketball, so my hope is that getting inducted into the Hall of Fame can help her understand that even though she doesn’t think she’s a “traditional” mom, I’m proud of her and I wouldn’t have wanted her to raise me any other way. She was a damn good basketball player and she’s a damn good mom. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

After our initial game ended with me physically and emotionally in tatters, I never again asked my mom to play me 1-on-1. We did end up playing a few rematches throughout the years, but that was only because she approached me and I reluctantly agreed (if memory serves, she only ever beat me one more time). Anyway, as I look back on how good my mom was at basketball and how mediocre I ended up being, I can’t help but think that I too would’ve been a Hall of Famer if not for the fact that I made the terrible decision of inheriting just as many genes from my dad as I inherited from my mom. Nonetheless, I’ve got my fingers crossed that someday I will also get immortalized and get my name in the Hall of Fame alongside my mom (which will probably only happen if I get filthy rich and donate a bunch of money to the place or if my NBA career survives the rocky start it’s currently off to and eventually pans out). After her ceremony was over last Saturday, I brought up the possibility of this happening. I jokingly said, “Mom, how cool would it be if I made the Hall of Fame too? I bet we’d be the first mother-son duo.”

She responded: “Well, they put writers in there, so if you get into sports writing, I think you definitely would have a good shot at making it.”

No, she’s not a typical mom. But that’s why I love her so much.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be Laura Titus’ Son,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          We’ll Put A Boot In Your Ass, It’s The American Way        

It’s no secret that I’m a patriotic person who gets so aroused at the thought of freedom that I may or may not have tried to look up the Statue of Liberty’s robe to see her labia of liberty when I visited New York City for the first time (more like Snatch-ue of Liberty, am I right?).  In fact, I’m so patriotic that “I love America” was one of only three things I included in the online dating profile I made a few years ago that lead to exactly 239 dates (if you must know, the other two things were “I am terrified of every kind of mustard” and “My penis is somewhere in between 4 and 17 inches long”).  I’m well aware that my patriotism could sometimes be interpreted as if I’m playing some sort of character and only pretend to care about America to be funny or something, but the truth is that I really do have a strong passion for my country.  While foreigners (and even a majority of Americans) scoff at how ridiculous it is that the cast of Jersey Shore are all millionaires, that singular fact epitomizes why I love the US of A so much (even though I also agree that it’s ridiculous that they’re rich) – it’s the only country in the world where literally anyone and everyone has a chance to make a name for themselves, even alcoholic douchers from New Jersey (like you, Barrale).  Simply put, this is the land of opportunity, where anyone can be anything they want to be.  Sure it helps to be born into a wealthy family or to be given freak athletic genes if you want to make it to the big leagues, but at the end of the day, every American is born with a blank slate and a world of opportunity ahead of them.  It’s on us to make the most of these chances.

(One more thing and I’m done with this part of my rant: I was watching coverage of the royal wedding last week – but only because [insert acceptable excuse here]!!! – and I saw something about how Kate Middleton’s mom was chastised by the British media a few years ago for chewing gum in the Queen’s presence.  Now, I respect British traditions and actually do find the history of the royal family to be fascinating stuff, but I think I speak for all Americans when I say that I’m thankful I live in a country where I can not only chew gum in front of the president, but I can also tell him to lick my chode without any real repercussions if my heart desires.  I know Kate Middleton’s mom didn’t actually break any laws and wasn’t arrested or anything, but still.  The fact that she got chastised in the media was bad enough.  By comparison, disrespecting and disagreeing with the president is actually some Americans’ favorite pastime, not to mention a great way to get your own show on Fox News. So yeah, just another reason why America rules.)

With all of that being said, because I’ve made it clear in the past how patriotic I am, I seem to be the guy that the Trillion Man March turns to whenever something happens that could warrant a USA chant.  No matter the time of year, I get all sorts of emails, tweets, Facebook messages/posts, etc. from the TMM whenever you all see a patriotic YouTube video, a news story that triggers national pride, or a badass picture of Teddy Roosevelt shooting bigfoot while smoking a cigar.  For many of you, I’m apparently your patriotic correspondent who you turn to when America is kicking ass and taking names.  So when the news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, I knew I’d get bombarded by the TMM, which was ultimately exactly what happened.  And so, because of this reaction, I feel obligated to address bin Laden’s death, since I’m sure it would be a huge letdown for some of you if I ignored it altogether and didn’t at least offer my thoughts.  It still baffles me why anyone would care about my opinion on anything that could even remotely be considered a serious topic, but nonetheless some of you apparently do, so here’s how I feel about it.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a librarian from my school came into the classroom I was in and whispered something to my 8th grade US history teacher that left him visibly shaken.  Once the librarian left the room, my teacher somberly relayed the news to us: someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center.  Being an ignorant 14-year-old, I had no idea what the World Trade Center was and therefore thought something along the lines of, “It’s sad and all, but plane crashes happen all the time.  Why did our librarian interrupt class to tell us about a random plane crash?”  This was the prevalent thought in our classroom, as pretty much nobody other than our teacher had the slightest clue what the World Trade Center was.  As it turned out, though, it didn’t really matter that I didn’t know what the WTC was, because even when I did ultimately learn that planes crashed into the tallest buildings in NYC, I still didn’t give much thought to it all due to the fact that I wasn’t mature enough comprehend the magnitude of death in general, let alone the deaths of thousands of people at once (regretfully, I remember being more concerned about whether or not we would play our football game the next day than anything else).  But now, almost ten years later, I can comprehend death, which is why the death of Osama bin Laden is such a big deal to me.  I can now comprehend the magnitude of all the deaths he caused, and in turn can comprehend the magnitude of his own death.

The fact of the matter is that because 9/11 happened when I was just 14-years-old, Osama bin Laden has been the most wanted man in the world for almost half of my life.  That is truly incredible for me to think about.  What’s even crazier to think about is that there are very few things I remember before 9/11, which means that it’s difficult for me to remember a world in which bin Laden wasn’t the most dangerous man on the planet and didn’t have his sights set on bringing total destruction to the country I live in.  So nevermind the fact that he was supposedly just a figurehead at this point and didn’t have all that much power with Al Qaeda.  Nevermind the fact that killing him doesn’t mean the war against terrorism is over.  And nevermind the fact that the terrorists will most likely try to retaliate.  At the end of the day, the most evil person to walk the face of the earth in my lifetime – a man singlehandedly responsible for thousands of innocent civilian lives and public enemy #1 for the American people – is dead. That in and of itself is a very big deal and is reason to celebrate.

There are a lot of self-righteous people who are trying to say it’s a disgrace that people would cheer the death of another human being, no matter how evil he may have been.  And there are also people who think bin Laden deserved a fair trial and killing him makes us just as inhumane as the terrorists are.  God bless these people. I think it’s awesome that there are people in this world who are compassionate and have such a strong moral fiber that they’re willing to treat Osama with the same respect as they would a loved one.  But I’m not one of these people.  The way I see it, bin Laden has repeatedly made it clear that he’s not actually a human but is instead a monster.  And the last time I checked, the protocol when dealing with monsters/zombies isn’t to slap some handcuffs on them, waste time and money on a trial that would obviously result in capital punishment, and then just shrug our shoulders and ho-hum as someone who has been terrorizing us for years dies.  No, the protocol is to put a bullet between his eyes, throw his ass on the express train to Hell, and rejoice that the world is rid of one less demon.

Let me lastly say that I’m not naïve in thinking that America is suddenly fixed now.  We are far from perfect and still have a bunch of problems that need to be addressed.  But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate a significantly historic victory.  The bottom line is that I would make absolutely no difference in the war on terror if instead of celebrating in the streets and partying at Mirror Lake, I decided to stay focused and try to figure out how to fix America.  The beauty of our country is that I can sit on my lazy ass and play FIFA all day while the big shots in Washington figure out how to fix our problems (for the record, I couldn’t care less about politics. Everyone I know who is interested in politics basically just bitches all day about how the other party is wrong. I’m not interested in bitching so I just stay out of it altogether).  Whether or not I riot in the streets in celebration has literally zero effect on the American mission to end terrorism. 

Sorry for the rant and sorry for being serious with all of this, but I honestly do view this as a historic time in America and felt compelled to quickly write about it, not only because it’s a significant time in our country’s history but also because some of the holier-than-thou people who are criticizing the majority of Americans for being excited kinda piss me off.  We aren’t necessarily excited that a human being died – we’re excited that no matter what else happens with this war on terror, the man who killed thousands of our innocent civilians and caused one of the most somber times in American history will never again hurt a single one of us.  Screw every other detail about the situation.  That alone is enough for me to be absolutely ecstatic.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

God bless our troops and God bless the United States of America.

Proud To Be A Buckeye But Even Prouder To Be An American,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Coping With A Realization        

Before I get started, let me first remind everyone that the Bloodhound Gang’s most popular CD was not only entitled “Hooray for Boobies”, but the actual disc was flesh-colored (for white people anyway) and came with instructions to stick your tongue through the hole of the disc to make it look like a boob. I think I speak for everyone who was 12-years-old when that CD came out (like I was) when I say that this was quite possibly the single funniest thing in the world at the time.  I actually think I may have called the Bloodhound Gang “geniuses”, which looking back might have been giving them maybe just a little too much credit, but still. The fact of the matter is that they made a CD that looked like a boob, and for 12-year-old guys, that’s all it really takes to earn the “genius” label.  I regret nothing.

(By the way, getting a group of guys together and dressing like the Bloodhound Gang from “The Bad Touch” video would make a phenomenal Halloween costume.  I suggest you get on that now.  You’re welcome for the idea.)

Since I’m kind of on the topic of being 12-years-old and since – let’s be honest – I have no idea what to write about with this blog post and I’m basically just spitballing at this point, I guess I could discuss how I had a revelation since you last heard from me and realized that I live pretty much the same lifestyle I did when I was 12 (and school was out for the summer).  I mean, I still don’t have a real job and can therefore do whatever I want all day every day, I still have the exact same diet as I did 11 years ago, I still watch the same TV shows, and I still get nervous when I talk to attractive 14-year-old girls (whoops – um, please disregard that last part).  In fact, the only real differences now are that I have bills to pay (but even so, I only pay them when I feel like it), I can actually get arrested for egging my neighbor’s house and taking a dump in their shrubs, and I don’t sneak down to my parents’ basement to watch scrambled Cinemax at 2 in the morning.  Oh, and I now have a crippling amount of debt thanks to student loans and overusing credit cards (and apparently not paying my bills on time).  Can’t forget about that one.

Anyway, the first time I should have known I was recently living a 12-year-old’s lifestyle was when I went shopping for groceries with my fiancée last week and she put gross things like lettuce, asparagus, and broccoli into the cart and I honestly loaded up on nothing but cereal, cookies, ice cream, and Spaghetti O’s.  Anyone who knows me on a personal level will tell you that I’m a notoriously picky eater, which is to say that I basically only eat meats and sweets (“Meats & Sweets” kinda sounds like it could be the name of a gay club, doesn’t it?), and I’ve been that way my entire life.  I’ve never really given much thought to the fact that I’m 23-years-old and I’m basically still eating from the kids’ menu, mostly because I think the food I eat is delicious and don’t see a reason to change.  I’ve just always poured myself a tub full of Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All Berries, wolfed it down, and not thought twice about it.

(I’ve got two things I need to get off my chest real quick: 1- As far as I’m concerned, Oops! All Berries is the best mistake in the history of mankind and will most likely remain at the top spot on that list until my first child is born, and 2- How have the Cap’n Crunch people not corrected the mistake by now? They’ve been making Oops! All Berries for almost 15 years. At this point, I think it’s clear that it’s no longer a mistake and they know exactly what they’re doing. Because of this, I think they need to change the name to “This Perceived Accident Was Actually Premeditated! All Berries”.  Just saying.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right – I’m a picky eater.  So, about five days ago I got a terrible stomach ache and thought it was nothing more than some strange coincidence because my last blog post was probably my favorite piece of writing I’ve ever done in my life and it focused almost exclusively on pooping (side note: I was happy to see The Relationship Poop Cycle was so well-received by the Trillion Man March. You guys are awesome).  I expected it to be just a routine stomach ache that would pass with a painful 30-45 minute poo, but it turned out to be much, much worse.  Starting on Saturday, for about four days straight, it felt like a swarm of bees flew up my rectum, stung the sh*t out of my bunghole, and then set off a bunch of firecrackers to top it all off.  In other words, it has not been a pleasant week for me. 

After a few days of battling the stomach ache, I realized that my original thought that this was somehow related to “The Relationship Poop Cycle” was dead wrong.  That’s because, after further review, I’m fairly confident that my stomach aches are directly related to the fact that my dinner pretty much every night consists of two cans of Spaghetti O’s, two PB&J sammiches, and one big ass bowl of ice cream for dessert.  I can’t say for sure, but I think my body has finally had enough and is trying to tell me to grow the F up and start eating foods that aren’t exclusively found at the tip of the food pyramid (I like my food pyramid like I like my foreplay – “just the tip”).

(Let’s do another one of my patented paragraphs in parentheses.  Alright, so after eating Spaghetti O’s for about a week straight, I have another irrelevant theory.  Here it is: I’m fully convinced that Campbell’s spent millions of dollars on years of research to figure out the size of the average American fork prong, and then made the smallest Spaghetti O just slightly bigger than that.  Think about it.  Once you eat most of your Spaghetti O’s and you’ve only got a few stragglers left, what do you do? You start looping those bitches on your fork until you can’t fit anymore on there, that’s what.  Well, when I was eating the Spaghetti O’s this week, I noticed that the smallest O’s barely fit on the fork and you can usually only get one or two stacked on each prong at a time, which was something I somehow missed all these years.  The way I see it, Campbell’s purposely made these Spaghetti O’s this small because they wanted to stimulate kids’ brains and make them really focus on looping the biggest O’s first, the medium-sized O’s second, and top the stack off with the smallest O’s.  This way you can’t just randomly loop the O’s but instead you have to have a strategy to attack them.  Well, Campbell’s, I’m a product of the ADHD generation and don’t have the attention span for your manipulative games now that I’m a grown-up.  So do me a favor and get rid of the small O’s, because my only other option is to use a spoon.  And in my household, using a spoon to eat Spaghetti O’s is the highest possible form of blasphemy.)

Last Friday, I was again reminded that I was living a 12-year-old’s lifestyle when I stayed in that night to watch Friday Night Smackdown! instead of going out, getting drunk, and making terrible decisions like pretty much everyone else my age does.  I haven’t watched pro wrestling in years, but ever since The Rock announced his comeback recently, I’ve started paying a little more attention to what’s going on (it was obvious Triple H wasn’t going to beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania and I don’t understand how anyone could’ve possibly thought he would.  Also, hearing about Edge’s injury damn near brought a tear to my eye.  He was a master on the mic and was one of my all-time favorites, which is why I paid tribute to his career by spearing my fiancée as she walked through our front door the other day).

Anyway, much like my prolonged stomach ache has made me reconsider my juvenile diet, there are three reasons why I think it’s time for me to grow up and stop following WWE again (the same three reasons I stopped watching in the first place).  The first of these is simple – the WWE is racist. Now, I know that the WWE has a long history of pumping up racial stereotypes when creating characters (the most notorious example of this being Tony Atlas’ alter ego, Saba Simba), but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  No, I’m more concerned with the fact that it’s always the Hispanic announcers who have someone bodyslammed through their table.  Sure the American announcers get their table destroyed every now and then, but it’s almost always after the Hispanic guys get theirs annihilated first.  In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, 94% of the time that only one announcing table is destroyed in a WWE match, it’s the Hispanics who are left to deal with the damage.  Just try and tell me that’s not racism.  You can’t.

The second reason I’m frustrated with the WWE is because they still have women’s matches.  That’s right – I’m all about racial equality, but gender equality can S my D and make me a sandwich.  I’ve got nothing against women per se, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve made love to more than 258 of them and even plan on living with one for the rest of my life.  My problem is more with women’s sports, especially the masculine sports like wrestling, football, and boxing.  On paper, women’s wrestling seems like a great idea.  Put smoking hot women in skimpy clothes and have them catfight? R U SRS? I’ve got a half chub just thinking about it.  This is just about every man’s initial reaction to women’s wrestling.  But when their matches actually start, it only takes somewhere between 10-20 seconds to figure out that there is literally zero chance that any of the girls will inadvertently lose their tops.  And that’s really the only reason for watching women’s matches in the first place.  Once it’s established that that’s not happening, all you’re left with is a bunch of unathletic chicks screwing up simple wrestling moves.  Sure their matches never last too long, but by the time you factor in their intros and the commercials before and/or after their match, that’s a 5-10 minute block that’s basically going to waste.  Coincidentally, because women’s matches are such a waste of time, that’s usually the part of the broadcast that I get up and make myself a sandwich.  And by that, I obviously mean that I have my fiancée make me a sandwich cause she’s a woman and that’s her job.

(Relax, ladies. I’m only half serious.)

Finally, the last and most important reason I’ve more or less given up on pro wrestling is because I just can’t stomach a WWE where guys like John Cena, The Miz, Wade Barrett, and Jack Swagger are marquee names.  This has nothing to do with these wrestlers being faces or heels (good guys or bad guys, for those of you who didn’t know), but rather because all four of these guys seems like world champion douchers.  The WWE I know and love featured Stone Cold Steve Austin flipping people off, drinking beer in the ring, and reminding everyone that Austin 3:16 says I just whopped your ass. The WWE I know and love featured The Rock dropping The People’s Elbow on fools, laying the smack down, and putting his boot straight up your candy ass.  The WWE I know and love never revolved around a bunch of douchey white guys with terrible personas who basically look like stereotypical frat boys with (more) steroids pumped into them.  Simply put, you’re never going to hear someone say, “The Miz is such a badass.”  And, the way I see it, that’s a serious problem.

So that pretty much sums up my last week and a half.  I still enjoy the fact that I can sleep in and play video games all day if I want to (who wouldn’t?), but it’s clear that it’s time for me to start making some changes to my 12-year-old lifestyle, starting with trying some vegetables and watching more thought-provoking shows on TV (you know, like Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives).  Much like Uncle Joey and the Toys R Us kids before him, I’ve always prided myself on celebrating youth and not wanting to grow up.  But this past week has been a wake-up call, and writing all of this down (in an admittedly disjointed and improvisational manner) has been pretty therapeutic for me.  I need to make some changes and I need to make them now.  The only problem, though, is that my mom just brought home a ton of groceries and my Super Mario Kart isn’t going to play itself.  So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Fruit by the Foot and a date with Bowser on Rainbow Road calling my name.  I’ll start growing up tomorrow.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          The Relationship Poop Cycle        

With the exception of benchwarming, FIFA, making it rain on the basketball court, the Rubik’s cube, belching the ABCs, singing “Sister Christian” at a karaoke bar, Facebook stalking, making fart noises with my armpit, eating ice cream, and destroying every aspect of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award in elementary school except those sumbitch pull-ups, there aren’t too many things in this world that I claim to be an expert at (my mom always stressed to me the importance of being modest). But now that I’ve been engaged to my fiancée and future first wife for almost a year, I’m starting to think that I just might be an expert on romantic relationships. Sure I’m only 23-years-old and sure most of my relationships have started on Facebook (and coincidentally, ended on Facebook), but that’s irrelevant because I’ve already discovered that all it takes to have a successful relationship is to have some sort of income, to not buy anything that costs more than $100 without first talking it over with your partner, and to not put your wiener where it doesn’t belong (or if you’re a lady, don’t let other guys put their wiener where it doesn’t belong). You can worry about “communication”, “being compatible”, and “maintaining that spark” later. Just so long as you make a little money, don’t spend too much of it, and don’t let other ladies ride your bologna pony, you’re set.

Ok, ok…you got me. I’m not really a relationship expert, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been dumped infinity more times than I’ve done the dumping. Instead of saying I’m a relationship expert, what I meant to say was that I’ve been in a handful of failed relationships and now that I’m in one that seems to have the legs to go the distance, I feel like I have enough experience to accurately measure just how serious a relationship is. And what I mean by that is that over the weekend I came up with a concept that I wanted to write about, so I first decided to write a couple paragraphs about how I’m a relationship expert just so it could maybe sort of serve as a transition into what I really want to discuss. After all, it would’ve been a little weird for me to talk about The Relationship Poop Cycle right off the bat. In fact, from what I’ve been told, that’s the first rule they teach you in journalism school – “Don’t talk about The Relationship Poop Cycle right off the bat.”

So, now that I’ve introduced it, what is this Relationship Poop Cycle anyway? I’m glad you asked. It’s something I came up with while – you guessed it – taking a dump this past weekend that will surely revolutionize how you view your relationships. Here’s the gist of it: I’m of the opinion that you can gauge how seriously you view a romantic relationship and how much you like/love your partner based solely on your behavior when you are in their presence and, to alter a phrase from the 69 Boyz, you feel a poop coming on. The way I see it, as time passes and the relationship gets stronger, you will go back and forth with how comfortable you are pooping in front of your partner, which is why I refer to it as a “cycle”. Instead of trying to explain it further, I think it would work best if I just went ahead and jumped right into what the different phases of the cycle are. And by the way, since I’ve yet to even slightly figure out the female thought process, the cycle was created with the fellas in mind (but it’s still worth reading if you’re a woman because you’ll definitely learn how seriously your man views your relationship).

PHASE ONE – Don’t want her to know that you ever poop

This is in the preliminary stages of the relationship, usually within the first couple dates. Chances are that you aren’t yet an actual couple and since she doesn’t know much about you, you’re hesitant to excuse yourself because you don’t want her first memorable experience with you to be associated with defecation. Even if you can already tell that there won’t be a second or third date and you’ll never see her again for the rest of your life, you still don’t want her to know that you have to poop because it will forever haunt you to think about her friends asking her how the date went and her responding with “he left the table for 15 minutes to take a dump” or “he had to poop the entire night but didn’t want to be rude” (nobody wants someone’s lasting memory of them to revolve around feces). If you’re in this phase and you have to drop a deuce, your only real option is to tell the chick you don’t feel well, end the night early by taking her home so you can go back to your place and relieve yourself, and either reschedule another date within the next few days or never talk to her again. Or if you’re superhuman and can somehow take a sh*t in less than 5 minutes, I guess you could just excuse yourself like you were going to go #1 and then play it off like nothing happened (but be warned: unless you’re absolutely sure that you have the bowels of a god, I would strongly advise against this, as there’s a solid chance this could end up doing much more harm than good).

PHASE TWO – Comfortable enough to excuse yourself

At this point you’ve been on a few dates and she’s had the chance to get to know a little bit about you, so if you excuse yourself for 10-15 minutes, it won’t be the end of the world. After all, you’re human and pooping is the great common denominator of every person who has ever lived. Sure it’s not the best situation, but she understands and it’s not like she’s going to associate you with poop if she already likes you enough to go on four or five dates with you.

PHASE THREE – Explicitly announce that you have to poop

This is my favorite phase of any relationship and is exactly what it sounds like. By now, you know each other pretty well and she’s most likely your official girlfriend, so you see no reason to hide the fact that you just ate a couple of Chipotle burritos and will now be busy for the next 15-90 minutes. This is the phase where you basically tell her how it is and if she’s disgusted and can’t handle it, you’ll find someone who can. An interesting note here is that Phase Three is also the first significant phase in The Relationship Poop Cycle, because it most likely marks the first instance in which your girlfriend is on the same level as your friends and family.

PHASE FOUR – Comfortable enough to poop at her place

Phase Four is one of the most underrated phases because it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you’re in a relationship and it happens. Everyone knows that once you step outside the confines of your own house, it’s a whole different ball game, but in a relationship the stakes are raised that much more because clogging her toilet or having a Dumb and Dumber moment could very easily be a deal breaker for her. It’s common knowledge that before taking a dump in someone’s house, a man must always make sure he knows that there’s a plunger on hand, he knows where the backup toilet paper is, and he is confident that the bathroom fan could effectively mask the sound of any potential disturbingly gross drawn out farts. But that’s just the bare minimum. For some guys it takes much more than that to get comfortable enough to poop at their girlfriend’s place, and can sometimes take months for them to get to that point. Others, like me, though, don’t need quite as much time, which makes this phase the most debatable in The Relationship Poop Cycle (it’s probably actually Phase Three for me, but I know a lot of guys that this would be Phase Five or Six for). Either way, there’s no denying that pooping at your girlfriend’s place is definitely a big step in the relationship.

PHASE FIVE – Poop with the door open

Again, this phase is pretty self-explanatory and usually occurs a few months into the relationship at the absolute earliest (and almost always occurs after the relationship has at least gotten to third base). You don’t necessarily want her to see you taking a dump, but at this point you don’t care if she does because keeping the door open maintains good airflow, and that’s essential considering how majestic of a load you are capable of unleashing into the toilet. This phase basically tells her that you have officially integrated her into your life and you are now going back to the pooping behavior that you utilized before you met her, which is a pretty big deal if you really think about it.

PHASE SIX – Poop in front of her

This is similar to Phase Five, but is slightly different in that she’s actually in the bathroom with you as you poop. This is one of the more disgusting phases on The Cycle and is so disgusting, in fact, that some people save this phase for marriage. The important thing to remember here is that Phase Six doesn’t necessarily mean that she has to be in the bathroom with you every time you take a dump, but rather it means that you don’t mind if she brushes her teeth or does her makeup at the sink while you drop bombs in the toilet, usually because you both are in a hurry and can’t afford to wait on each other. As gross as this phase is, the good news for the women is that it’s almost exclusively for guys who are taking their relationship very seriously, think it has some real long-term potential, and aren’t afraid to admit that they’re in love. That’s right, ladies – he can get you all the flowers, chocolates, and stuffed animals in the world, but it won’t mean a thing until he busts down the bathroom door while you’re putting on your eyeliner, drops his drawers to his ankles, spreads his cheeks, and lets last night’s dinner ooze out of him without thinking twice about it. Then and only then will you know for sure that he loves you.

PHASE SEVEN – Respect her too much to poop in front of her

For what it’s worth, this is the phase I’m currently at with my fiancée and is really the entire inspiration for The Relationship Poop Cycle in the first place. This phase is reserved for guys who are either newly married, engaged, or have already figured out that they’re going to marry their girlfriend but they don’t have the money to buy a ring yet. At some point in your relationship, it finally hits you that your spouse/fiancée/girlfriend is going to be your life partner and the mother of your unborn (or born) children, and upon realizing how precious and special she really is you also realize that it’s incredibly disrespectful to poop in her presence. I like to think of this phase as the most romantic, because it’s basically your way of showing your significant other that you care for her so much that you want to shield her from the horrors of the world, namely the heap of toxicity coming out of your butthole. This is accomplished by shutting the door, doing your business, and sometimes even giving a courtesy flush and some aerosol spray to help dissipate the odor when you’re done. It’s the little things that mean the most.

PHASE EIGHT – Just stop caring altogether

At this point in the relationship, you’ve been together so long that the honeymoon feeling has worn off and you really just don’t have the energy to care anymore about whether or not you should poop in front of your wife. Besides, by now pooping in front of her probably wouldn’t even crack the top 50 most disgusting things she’s seen you do, so it’s really not even that big of a deal for either of you. In fact, the relationship has most likely reached the point where you poop in front of her without even realizing what you’re doing. You carry on a conversation while you’re on the toilet and even while you’re wiping, all without taking a second to step back and process how gross the situation actually is. The epitome of this phase is the middle-aged couple who have been together for so long and are so inseparable that they basically are the same person at this point and do everything together, including pooping. And yes, I did write that last sentence solely because I wanted all of you people who are my age to think about your dad taking a dump with your mom standing five feet from him (if you weren’t before, you are now!). You’re welcome for that mental image.

PHASE NINE – Getting on and off the toilet becomes a challenge

With the exception of Phase Ten, this is the saddest of the entire Relationship Poop Cycle. With this phase, you are so old and your body is so weak that squatting down onto the toilet and trying to get back up has become a real chore for you. Because of this, you want to close the door while you poop so your wife can’t see you in your feeble condition. I can’t say for sure (and am only speaking based on how I’ll probably act when I’m older), but I imagine these elderly men love their wives so much that they don’t want them to see how much trouble they have when they take a dump, because their wives will inevitably want to help and the men will feel guilty for being a burden. And so, they slowly drop their wrinkled cheeks to the porcelain, defecate with all their might, and methodically stand back up without so much as letting out a single groan. And they do it all in the name of love.

PHASE TEN – Swallow your pride and admit you need help

This is the final phase in The Relationship Poop Cycle and is undoubtedly the most depressing one. Whereas the other phases reflect how much a man cares for a woman, this phase is really more of a testament to how much the wife cares for the husband. After a few months or even years of living in Phase Nine, you finally swallow your pride and admit to your wife that you just can’t poop on your own anymore. Your fragile body can’t handle squatting up and down, and in some cases you might even have trouble twisting around to give your crack the proper wipe it needs. This is sad for all parties involved, but in a way it should be celebrated because it shows just how much love exists between you and your wife. In all seriousness, with all joking aside, and (insert whatever your favorite phrase to convey sincerity is), if I could define love with a single picture, it would be one of a wife wiping the bunghole of her ailing husband. You can’t possibly name me a more selfless act in this world than that.

And that’s The Relationship Poop Cycle. Personally, I think this needs to replace the relationship status feature on Facebook, as telling the world that you are Phase Six with a chick gives people a better understanding of the magnitude of the relationship than if you were to just put “in a relationship” with a chick. Anyway, there you have it. Fellas, if you were unsure how you felt about a girl you’re dating, let The Relationship Poop Cycle be your guide. If you tell your friends that you don’t love her, but you poop with her in the bathroom with you, you’re lying to both them and yourself. And ladies, if you wanted to know how your man really feels about you, now you know. If he says he loves you, but he’s never pooped with the door open and you in the other room, he’s just saying he loves you to get in your pants (or to avoid pissing you off). But if that’s the case, don’t let it get you down. I’m sure someday you’ll find Prince Charming and will eventually get the Phase Ten relationship we all strive for. And when that time comes and you’re wiping in between your 90-year-old husband’s scaly pale asscheeks as you’re overwhelmed with the feeling of love in the air, your entire life will be validated and suddenly all your failed relationships will be a distant memory. Mark my words.

As I mentioned in the last blog post, Brooks Godwin of Wake Forest won the inaugural contest among college basketball walk-ons from all over the country that I had been referring to as The Belt. Originally, the belt was basically just going to feature a bald eagle and that’s it, but after talking with the company that will make it, I apparently have more creative freedom than I initially thought. Having said that, I proudly present to you the mock-up (created by Keller) of the most badass thing these eyes have ever seen…


If you plan on rubbing one out to this picture, I suggest first clicking on the belt to make the image larger.

Yes, the belt will be made of basketball leather, and yes, that’s Fundamentals Montage lightning in the background. Unfortunately, as of right now I can’t say for sure whether they can make this exact belt or not, but you can bet your balls I’m going to do everything I can to see that they get as close as possible to it. And with that, we can all officially start being jealous of Brooks Godwin now.

By the way, in case you cared here’s the final tally for what is now being referred to as the 2011 Club Trillion National Player of The Year award. It should be noted that Jarrett Sutton actually tied Brooks Godwin for total trillions, but Brooks dominated with the tiebreaker and thus claimed the belt. Anyway, props to Jarrett Sutton for making it a hell of a race (and props to Matthew Dorwart for making a late push).

The Belt (Final)

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Don’t Call It “Don’t Call It A Comeback”        

Listen here and listen good.

If you’re reading this, you’re obviously a diehard member of the Trillion Man March.  I know this because I informed the masses  months ago that I was done blogging yet here you are still visiting, either because you like reading the old posts or you have your fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe, I’ve written something new.  Well, I’ve got good news.  You can now uncross your fingers, douse them with lube, and start pleasuring yourself  (unless you’re reading this in a public place, in which case I’d recommend you just simply uncross your fingers and leave it at that) because not only is this blog post “something new”, but there’s plenty more where this came from.

As I’m sure you remember, the main reason I stopped writing the blog is because I was overwhelmed with trying to write both it and my book  (“Don’t Put Me In, Coach” will be available in March 2012 wherever books and cans of whoop-ass are sold), and therefore decided to put all my focus towards just the book.  But now that I’ve written half of the book and gotten into a groove (which is just another way of saying I’ve figured out the appropriate ratio of dick jokes per page), I think it’s high time to start blogging again.  And even though it’s all but guaranteed that many of you will claim that this is an April Fools prank, I assure you that it isn’t.  You’re just going to have to trust me, which shouldn’t be too hard considering that, if you don’t count my repeated behavior of lying and going back on my promises, I’ve never let you down.

So here’s the deal. I’m going to wait a week or so to tweet and post on Facebook about my “comeback” for two reasons, with the first being that I’m dumb and apparently don’t want anyone to read my blog.  The second (and real) reason, though, is that I want to give you diehard fans a chance to be the cool person in your group of friends by being the one who breaks the news to all of them (although if being the first one to know that I’m starting my blog again makes you the cool one in your circle of friends, it’s probably time for you to find some new friends who aren’t incredibly lame). I understand that by waiting to tweet and post on Facebook, it only enforces your thought that this is an April Fools prank, but I again assure you that it’s not. So go spread the word and meet me back here in about a week so we can party.  And before I forget, when you do come back for the party be sure to bring a bag of chips with you if the first letter of your last name starts with A-M, or a dessert item if your last name starts with N-Z. 

Don’t you worry – I’ll provide the booze.

For those who have asked – yes, we still plan on having the SharkWolf podcast.  As of right now, the only thing standing in our way is Keller somehow being even lazier than I am.  For whatever reason, every time I ask him to record one he says he doesn’t feel like it or he’s too busy screwing around on the internet.  If you want to give him a kick in the pants so we can make this podcast a reality, here’s his Facebook (I should warn you, though – he takes pride in his Facebook stalking abilities, so if you’re a female, you should probably think twice before you open that can of worms).

Lastly, I need to congratulate Brooks Godwin of Wake Forest for clinching The Belt last week, making him the inaugural winner of what’s sure to be college basketball’s coolest award.  Brooks actually tied with Jarrett Sutton of Missouri for total number of trillions on the season with eight, but crushed Jarrett with the tiebreaker.  I’ll post a final leaderboard on the next blog entry (when the season is officially over), but none of that really matters anyway because none of the other guys in the race can catch Brooks (I’ll also post a picture of The Belt once I get it).  So if you go to Wake Forest and see Brooks Godwin on campus, be sure to congratulate him.  And if you’re an attractive female who is ready and willing, by all means don’t be afraid to give him a ride to Pleasure Town.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark The Shark

          Trying To Think of A Blog Post Title Sucks        

With the exception of turning around, walking away, and pretending I don’t love you, writing a book is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  I devote pretty much every hour of the day to writing the thing and as of right now I’ve only made a small dent in the final product.  The main problem is that I’m a perfectionist who reads through everything I write a thousand times to make sure I don’t mispell anything or have any tyops, which means it sometimes takes me hours to write a single paragraph.  But another big problem I’ve run into is that I can’t really make jokes about current events since the Trillion Man March won’t understand the references/they won’t be nearly as effective when the book comes out in a year.  For example, I can make a joke on my blog about Rashard Mendenhall dry-humping an accused rapist on national television, but I can’t put it in my book because it will be a completely irrelevant story in a year.  And of course, the last problem I’m having is the inability to link to awesome YouTubes in my book, which is something that makes up about 50% of my blog and 100% of the interesting parts of my blog.  I was under the impression that the book would be just as easy to write as the blog, but that was before I realized that it’s a completely different process that’s much more challenging and unlike anything I’ve done before.  Anyway, the point is that writing a book is more tedious and  mentally draining than my first marriage.

This is why I’ve decided to put the blog on the backburner for awhile.  The way I see it, I can either stop doing my blog to focus on my book now, or I can ignore my book and realize six months from now that I’m screwed as a scramble to finish it (Before you ask, no, I’m not capable of writing both at the same time.  I’m a terrible at multitasking and I’m terrible at writing, so doing something that involves both doesn’t seem like a very good idea).  I know that the TMM isn’t thrilled with my decision, but I really do think it’s better than the alternative.  Besides, when my book comes out and you all buy at least ten copies (in the words of Latrell Spreewell, I’ve got a family to feed), this will be water under the bridge.  By then you’ll all be mad at me for talking about pubes too much or using the word “poopdick” too much in my book and you’ll completely forget about the time I didn’t write my blog for months.

In the meantime, if you really are desperate to swim with The Shark and can’t fathom a life without my off-base and ignorant thoughts (judging from the bombardment of “what the hell happened to you” emails, many of you apparently are for whatever reason), you do have some options.  First of all, you can follow me on Twitter, where I routinely make fun of Daequan Cook and then get disappointed that nobody finds him as hilariously awesome as I do.  Yeah, I know – “Twitter is gay and is only for people with self-confidence issues who can’t figure out that nobody cares they’re having a muffin for breakfast.”  I can’t say I fully disagree.  But if you actually checked Twitter out you’d realize that as long as you don’t follow professional athletes, celebrities, or 16-year-old girls, you’ll most likely never see a dumb tweet about what someone is having for breakfast.  #jussayin

The other option that you’ll have pretty soon (within the next month for sure) is the SharkWolf podcast that I’m starting with my BFF Andy Keller, who calls himself The Electric Wolf (yeah it’s a terrible nickname, but just go with it – you’ll hurt his feelings if you tell him how badly it sucks).  I can only imagine what’s going through some of your minds as you read that sentence so I figured I should just list what you’re thinking and address your thoughts right now.

  1. Didn’t you already have a podcast? And didn’t it kind of suck? 
    Yes I did and yes it did.  The biggest difference between my old podcast and the SharkWolf podcast is that I really just don’t give a s*** this time around.  With the old podcast, I tried too hard to be professional and not piss off the higher-ups at Ohio State, which ultimately made me kind of bland and uninteresting.  For the most part, the SharkWolf podcast will never have guests and will instead just be Keller and me discussing things like the strange hypothetical situations we always come up with (and probably tons of “would you rather…”).  Since I do this with him everyday anyway, it will be a lot more natural for me and won’t result in me trying way too hard to conduct an interesting interview with a guest and failing miserably.
  2. You’re turning into Simmons. 
    I see your point, but I promise you that I won’t end up being Simmons 2.0.  The truth is that I really don’t care about sports all that much, which is the primary reason why I want nothing to do with sportswriting.  My proof is that I dabbled in college basketball writing for ESPN a little bit, but I really wasn’t feeling it so I stopped.  I know it puts me in the minority, but sports are enjoyable for me only when I’m watching the actual games.  All the arguing and banter that goes on in between the games is exhausting and completely pointless to me.  It’s occasionally entertaining to watch other people do it (and argue about sports LOL), but I don’t really want to be a part of it.
  3. Yeah, but you’re still turning into Simmons. He took time off to write his book and now he podcasts more than he writes.
    I don’t know what to tell you.  It just makes sense to do it that way.  I’m not a good enough writer and there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to consistently write two different things.  Podcasting is a good way to let the Trillion Man March inside my brain without having to take huge chunks of time away from writing my book.  It makes sense and you know it.  As always, if you don’t like it, you can suck it.
  4. Podcasts suck.  I don’t have an hour and a half to take out of my life to listen to you talk.
    Like you, my pet peeve with podcasts is that they are always way too long.  This is why the SharkWolf podcast will aim for 30 minutes every time.  After all, you people have lives, and even if you don’t, your video games aren’t going to play themselves. We might go over 30 minutes every now and then, but that’s the goal. Just like I’ve told every girl I’ve ever dated: If you want longer, there are plenty of other options.

So there it is.  Follow my ass on Twitter, listen to my ass on the SharkWolf podcast, or be SOL.  Those are your options.  If you have your heart set on only reading the blog, well I guess this is goodbye.  For now.  I’ll be back eventually, but maybe it’s best that we go on a little break and rekindle our love somewhere down the road.  After all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of the high school/college chicks I’m Facebook friends with, it’s that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Your awesome YouTube is the video that everyone keeps asking me about.  Watch it first if you haven’t already and then meet me on the other side for my commentary.

The concept for a video like this is a good idea (I say this because I proposed a similar idea to some OSU higher-ups while I was there, but it got shot down because they’re all jealous douchers), but the execution was terrible.  I don’t mean that the three guys blew it, because they made it as entertaining and funny as they possibly could have.  I mean that the song choice was awful and having them just sit there and sing while reading the lyrics was another poor choice.

If I’m in charge of this thing, I get together five guys (three sitting down and two standing behind them) and have them sing “Tha Crossroads” by the Bone Thugs, but I don’t let them look at the lyrics.  Since they all know how the song goes, but nobody actually knows the words, I’d have them sing with hardass looks on their face while they basically just mumble the words.  I’d split the parts of the song up so that it mirrors the Bone Thug’s style of passing the baton and letting another guy take over the song every so often.  After the inevitably hilarious “bow bow bow bow bone bow bone bone” intro, the rest of the video would fall into place and would be equally awesome.  Just imagine Aaron Craft looking hard while mumbling about how tough ghetto life is, before letting Jon Diebler take over and struggle to tell us all about the homeys that he’s lost in the streets.  I say throw in Sullinger and Lighty, who are both great at playing along and would bring some over the top comedy, and then round it out with Will Buford, who would take the thing dead seriously and would make it that much funnier because he probably knows all the words. That’s an F’ing video. It would’ve taken 30 minutes longer to film this thing than it did to film the Miley Cyrus one, but it would have definitely been worth it because my idea would have been much, much better.  But alas, my suggestions always fall on deaf ears, which, interestingly enough,  is exactly what I have after listening to those guys sing.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Movember Contest (Part II)        

Since the book I’m writing is two or three months behind schedule, I decided I’d spend all my time this week working on that instead of writing another irrelevant theory about potentially being murdered by a drifter. As always, if you have a problem with this, you can suck it. Besides, the Movember contest (that officially ended two weeks ago) and The Belt contest obviously matter more to the Trillion Man March than anything I write. And if they don’t, well, they absolutely should.

After analyzing the comments for the last blog post, I noticed that there were over 350 “nominations” for the mustache contest from probably no more than 20 people. When I said that you could vote for more than one person, I apparently forgot to request that you not submit the same nomination 50 different times. Oh well. I sorted through all of them as best I could and decided on the six that I thought got the most votes, and threw in my bonus pick (Nicolas Cage) because doing so gives me a feeling of authority I can’t get anywhere else in my life. Anyway, listed below (in no particular order other than alphabetical) are the pictures of the seven finalists. The poll is in the top right corner of the blog. Make yourself useful and vote for someone. As a reminder, whoever gets the most votes wins a free pack of Barbasol for being so manly and a free shirt for being so awesome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to playing FIFA writing my book.
















A few quick points regarding the rules for The Belt:

  1. Ties will be settled by looking at the total minutes played in achieving the trillions. For example, a player putting up a 4 trillion and 3 trillion will beat out a player putting up a 2 trillion and 1 trillion. In other words, Nate Schwarze has one helluva tiebreaker in his back pocket by getting an 11 trillion earlier in the season. I’ll post a tiebreaker column with the leaderboard next time to make this easier to follow.
  2. I’m only considering the stats from ESPN box scores. In order for it to be considered a trillion, every statistic listed for the game other than minutes played must be zero. For a visual, here’s the game log for Wake Forest's Brooks Godwin (who is currently tied for the lead).

That’s all I got for now.

Things are getting much more interesting now that we have four people atop the leaderboard (one of which just recently submitted their name and is new to the contest).


Thanks to Alex in the Trillion Man March, I’ve recently learned that Wake Forest only has seven scholarship guys available right now, which means Brooks Godwin should have a lot more chances than the rest of the guys to put up trillions. I’ve said all along that I like one of the Purdue guys to ultimately win it, but I’ve recently suggested that Nate Schwarze of Rice is a serious darkhorse contender. So if you’re scoring at home, Godwin is probably the favorite, the Purdue guys are my pick(s), and Schwarze has a shot (especially considering that if he ties for the lead, his 11 trillion will probably propel him to victory). But, there’s obviously still a lot of basketball to not be played, so we’ll just have to wait and see. ___________________________________________________

Let me make it perfectly clear that I’m always impressed by basketball trick shot videos that feature kids who are considerably younger than me. When guys haven’t even hit puberty yet but can still make insane shots, I’m always going to give them some props. Especially when the video has one kid riding a unicycle and another kid repeatedly giving the “suck it” crotch chop. Anyway, keeping that in mind, your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Travis W. and his friends. There’s your shout-out, Travis. And here’s your video.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          Movember Contest        

Scary thought: I’m fully convinced that anybody can get away with murder one time. I’ve made this argument to my friends and family for years, but last night I lost a ton of sleep because I started thinking about it again (probably because I get too emotionally attached when I watch Dexter). Let me explain.

First of all, when I say that anybody can get away with one murder, I obviously don’t mean that you can just walk in on your ex-girlfriend and her new man and just stab him in the balls with no consequence. So please, put the knife down and keep reading before you do something you’ll forever regret. What I really mean is that anybody can get away with one random murder.

Think about it. When cops are investigating a murder, there are always three things they seriously consider– motive, evidence, and possible witnesses. Keeping this in mind, (we need to give our hypothetical murderer a name – “Evan” will do the trick) Evan could get away with murder, provided that he has absolutely no connection to the victim, he doesn’t leave a trail, and nobody sees him do it (or at least nobody gets a good look at him). This means that if Evan was to get bloodthirsty for some reason, all he’d have to do is break into a random house in the middle of nowhere (also known as the rural Midwest), unleash a meat cleaver on whoever he sees, and then take the weapon with him as he quickly flees the scene.

So long as the entire crime is random and unpredictable, and as long as he has no criminal record (so DNA testing can’t nail him), I’m convinced the cops would never figure out that Evan did it. This, more than anything else, is why I was so terrified of Christopher Lloyd in Dennis The Menace when I was little. Dude was a drifter who just jumped off a train in Dennis’ town. He could have easily slit Mr. Wilson’s throat and anally penetrated Dennis with his own slingshot, then jumped backed on the next train and disappeared into oblivion. There’s no way in hell the cops would’ve figured that one out.

Now, I know some of you might think that bringing this up makes me some dark, creepy guy. My response to this is twofold – A) this is what a dark, creepy guy looks like, and B) I’m not bringing it up because I plan on killing someone, but rather because I’m scared of someone doing it to me. It’s terrifying to know that some hobo could stalk me for a few days and gut out my insides while I’m sleeping without the cops having any idea of where to even start looking.

Even worse, “Evan” could stage the murder to look like a suicide and the cops wouldn’t investigate it at all. This is why I’m adamant about my concept of a non-suicide note. It’s basically a note that happy, mentally-healthy people write that says, “I assure you that I would never commit suicide, so if it looks like I did, please know that someone murdered me and tried to cover it up. Please investigate this and don’t just assume things.”

Obviously I’d ideally want the cops to find my note immediately. But I also wouldn’t mind if they didn’t, so long as my murder happened when my wife was pregnant and my unborn son found the note 20 years later. That way there would be a 100% chance he would feel obligated to avenge my death, which would be all sorts of badass because it’d more than likely mean he would somehow turn into a superhero. And when you think about it, having your child avenge your death and become a superhero is all a father could ever really ask for.

Now that I’ve got you all paranoid and creeped out, let’s ease things up a little bit by looking at pictures of guys with mustaches.

There’s no way you’re falling asleep tonight.


My original plan for this contest was to pick out a few of my favorites and have the Trillion Man March vote on a winner. But when you all started sending in your stache pics, it became obvious to me that I couldn’t just pick a handful. After all, I’m the same guy who used to like emo music, turtlenecks, and Rick Reilly (to be fair, though, there’s no denying that ESPN Rick Reilly is a completely different person than SI Rick Reilly was), which is another way of saying I’m clearly not that great at making decisions, so picking just a few staches out of the 29 that were sent in was always going to be an impossible task for me.

So here’s what we’re going to do. I’ve decided to post every picture that was emailed to me (except for a few that were pics of guys with full beards) and I’m going to leave it up to the Trillion Man March to decide which staches are the best. If you see a mustache you like, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog entry and it will serve as a nomination. After a week or so, I’ll tally up the nominations and post the five or six best again and we’ll have a final vote to decide the winner. Remember that anything can be taken into account when judging these mustaches – creativity, manliness, or the lack of both if your heart desires (I think a couple guys could end up winning just because the TMM will pity them).

Just so we’re clear, it’s okay to nominate more than one stache, but please don’t be a Singler and nominate 20 or something. Also, to make the identification process easier, I’ve decided to assign each picture a name of a great American hero (the name appears ABOVE the picture it corresponds with – I’ll say it again: the name appear ABOVE the picture it corresponds with). When you leave a comment with your nominations, list the names of the great American heroes that correspond to the pictures. So instead of writing, “I like both the guy who looks like a child molester and the guy with the fu manchu/soul patch combo,” write, “I like Rod Beck and Lee Greenwood.” Hopefully that makes sense.

By the way, don’t forget that the ultimate winner of the contest gets a CLUB TRIL or FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!! shirt, as well as a pack of Barbasol shaving cream. In other words, there’s a lot at stake, so please take this as seriously as I know you will. Like Derek Anderson said: “You think this is funny, but I take this s*** serious. Real serious.”

Now on to the staches…


















Mo   Bball














osu stache


Photo on 2010-11-30 at 10.42













Edit: I just realized that Ernest Hemingway took this picture in December of 2007. Clearly he didn't follow the rules, so I'm disqualifying him from the contest. However, his mustache is unfathomably manly, so I'll leave the picture on here.













God bless America. __________________________________________________

Now that college basketball is in full swing, the race for The Belt is getting much more heated. There’s a new name atop the leaderboard this time around (and a few names added to the list as well), but it’s too early to pick a favorite as there’s still a lot of basketball to be played (or in the case of these guys, not be played). Here are the current standings.

The Belt

I still say that one of the Purdue guys will end up winning it, but my dark horse pick is Nate Schwarze of Rice, mostly because he put up an 11 trillion in his last game. Yes, you read that right. Eleven. Trillion.

What a badass. ___________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube celebrates the holiday season and was sent in to me by Marc L. There’s your shout-out, Marc. And here’s your video.

Don’t forget to nominate your favorite mustaches.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part III)        

I’ve been going back and forth for the past few days about whether or not I should address Kyle Singler’s trick shot video that most people agree is nothing more than a blatant rip off of my critically acclaimed Mr. Rainmaker video.  Even as I sit down to write this I don’t know whether I should talk about it.  The truth is that I don’t think Singler has ever seen my video, so I can’t be too butthurt about anything he did.  But at the same time I’m pretty certain that people within the Duke basketball program have seen Mr. Rainmaker (I know some people who know some people who know some things), which means there’s a good chance whoever approached Singler with the idea for his video was inspired by my video.  Still, I think I should probably just take the high road for now.  I need some time to gather my thoughts and make sure I don’t have a Dan Gilbert moment and say something too emotional.  But that’s not to say that I’ll let this issue go away quietly.  Because quite simply, in the words of The Dude, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

While I think about the best way to handle this situation, I think we should all just focus on Part III of the Club Trillion College Basketball Preview.  Today we’re talking about the loss of hair, the loss of rules/morals, and the loss of one’s conscious when the game matters most.  As a reminder, I’m writing the FIFA and college basketball sections and my friend Keller is tackling the professional wrestling sections (to get up to speed on how the format works, check out Part I and Part II of the preview). 

This category takes a look at the guys who would have every right to get upset with the genes they were given, if not for the fact that those same genes helped make them high caliber athletes.  I would call this situation a catch-22, but I’m not sure I even fully understand what “catch-22” actually means.  Maybe me not being able to use the phrase because I don’t know what it means is itself a catch-22? Or maybe the first situation really is a catch-22, and the fact that I was hesitant to use the term even though I would have been using it correctly is also a catch-22?  Holy balls my head hurts trying to figure this out.  Maybe we should just move on.

FIFA: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Most of you probably don’t know about Rooney’s recent sex scandal because he’s an English soccer player, which is to say he’s irrelevant because he’s not American and he doesn’t play football, basketball, or baseball.  So allow me to fill you in.  Basically the gist of the story is that Rooney cheated on his wife (who he has been dating since they were 16) with a prostitute while she was pregnant with their first child.  Not that big of a deal, right?  I mean, common folk like you and I would never do something as dumb as this, but it’s almost expected of celebrities to go big or go home with their sex scandals.  And on a scale from 1 to Tiger, this seems likes it’s barely a Letterman.  Until you dig a little deeper, that is.

The issue here isn’t that that Rooney cheated on his pregnant wife (I’m sure my fiancee is thrilled with me writing that sentence).  The issue is that he had to pay a prostitute to do so.  Now, I know it’s common knowledge that every celebrity pays a prostitute for sex at least once in their lives.  But it’s a little different with Rooney because he publicly admitted to sexing up hookers on the reg before he even turned 18.  He’s clearly way ahead of the prostitute curve, which takes this from a one time scandal to a serious pattern of questionable behavior.  Again, the problem isn’t that he’s having sex with all sorts of women (that’s the norm for athletes/celebrities) – it’s that he’s paying these women to let him tickle their innards.  Someone of his fame and stature should be able to get his rocks off without paying for it, yet it seems like he has trouble getting some for free, which is why this scandal is a bigger deal than it should be.  Most believe that Rooney has to pay for sex because his premature balding makes him one of the uglier people in the world.   While I can’t say I disagree with this sentiment, at the end of the day I still think it shouldn’t take all that much for him to get laid.  After all, he’s still probably one of the more attractive people in England, since everyone knows the English don’t have time for hygiene cause they’re always too busy losing to America at everything. USA! USA! USA!

Pro Wrestling: The Rock

This was a tough one to award. For one, male pattern baldness is a side effect of steroid use, so about 99% of wrestlers are balding in some capacity (the 1% is clearly the Ultimate Warrior and Ted DiBiase). Asking me to choose the wrestler with the biggest receding hairline is like asking me to choose the stripper with the lowest self-esteem, or the most metrosexual blazer from Express in Danny Peters’ closet. There will be a lot of candidates. For two, many of the balding wrestlers choose to shave their heads completely to hide it (see: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg, and Gillberg).  And for three, nearly every wrestler who I was going to pick turned out to be like 40 years old from my earliest memory of him. I was going use this space to talk about how Dean Malenko was criminally underrated , but I don’t remember any of his matches before around 1997, when he was 37 years old. It’s not exactly premature balding at that point. Enter The Rock.

Rock Hair

Take a look at that picture. Ignore the earring, or the stupid outfit, or the awful length of the hair. Instead, focus on how far back the hairline recedes. This is The Rock in his mid twenties. His level of balding is embarrassing. When you are wearing a kindergarteners Thanksgiving project as a shirt and your hairline is still the most troubling part of your look, you know it’s bad.

Nonetheless, The Rock took his follicle shortcomings and made everything else about himself the focus, presumably to deflect from the fact that it looked like somebody photoshopped Borat’s mustache onto his shaved head. He started delivering great promos. He embarked on a singing career. He took informal polls on pancake enjoyment. He grew out some ridiculous sideburns. He hit Mick Foley in the face with a chair for the better part of an hour. Essentially, he stole the show every single week until you forgot about the fact that he had a giant fivehead. It’s impressive, really. If anybody could pull it off, it was The Rock.

College Basketball: Dallas Lauderdale (Ohio State)

Truth be told, the only reason I even came up with this category was to bring up Dallas’ new look.  After years of denial (and wearing a do-rag to “catch the hair that falls out”), Dallas finally went the Clyde Drexler route by giving up on the dream and shaving his head in the offseason.  I can’t say enough how much I like this decision (and the decision to grow a solid beard to go with).  Dallas looks leaner, quicker, and about 1,000 times more badass. Some would argue that he looks leaner and quicker because he lost weight and got in better shape, but I’m sticking with my theory – it’s all about the shaving of the head.

dallas before-after

Don’t let the smiles fool you - The guy on the left ended my basketball career and the guy on the right looks capable of ending my life.

In the four games I’ve watched this year (one of which was an exhibition game), Dallas looks like he’s markedly improved from last season, which is scary for the rest of the Big Ten considering he unofficially blocked 93.4% of shots attempted on him last year.  What’s even scarier for Big Ten teams, and really the rest of the country, is that Dallas isn’t even the best big guy on Ohio State this year (some would say that he wasn’t the best big guy on the team last year, and by “some” I mean Kyle Madsen).  But whatever the case, I think we can all agree that Dallas is the perfect example of how to handle premature balding.  Some people get dealt a 7-2 off suit and pray for a miracle to somehow turn it into a royal flush.  Dallas, on the other hand, got dealt a 7-2 off suit and decided that that s*** wouldn’t fly, so he pulled out his sawed-off shotgun, pumped lead into everyone at the table, and made off with all their money cause that’s just how he MF’ing rolls.

Even though this could absolutely apply to guys who put their wiener where it doesn’t belong, in this case we’re talking about the guys who blatantly break the rules and don’t play fair.  Not only do these guys cheat, but they do so in a seemingly unapologetic fashion, which is what bugs me the most (except for the WWE example, obviously).

FIFA: My Goalie on “Legendary” Difficulty

There are very few things in this world that I don’t strive to be the best at.  Wait, I wrote that wrong.  Let me try again – There are only a few things in this world that I strive to be the best at (that’s better).  Along with mustache growing, loving my country, and Facebook stalking, FIFA is one of these things.  I simply can’t stand it when I meet someone who is better than me.  Why, you might be asking, does it mean so much to me to be the best?  Because if rap music has taught me anything other than that “trifling” is actually a real word, it’s that two is not a winner and three nobody remembers.

Because I want to be the best at FIFA, I usually only play the computer on “legendary” difficulty because it’s the only level that gives me any sort of challenge whatsoever.  The only problem with this is that that challenge usually comes in the form of my goalie throwing the game.  A simple tweaking of the difficulty settings suddenly makes my otherwise stellar goalie unable to do fundamental things like “make an attempt to stop the ball” or “refrain from diving when there’s not even a shot because it would consequently create an open net for the opposition.”  I’m of the opinion that changing the difficulty settings shouldn’t make your team any worse, but instead should only make the computer better.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and I get stuck with Robert Green in goal every game I play on legendary (suck it, England! USA! USA! USA!), even though my goalie is rock solid when I play on any other difficulty level.  The only possible explanation for this is that my goalie hates me and is intentionally throwing the game.

Pro Wrestling: Diamond Dallas Page (Ready to Rumble)

If I hadn’t already given him an award, this would naturally be a slam dunk victory for Ric Flair, who when not called The Nature Boy was known as The Dirtiest Player In The Game. A quick aside on Flair’s nicknames: when I was in elementary school there was some doucher in our neighborhood named David who sucked at life but still managed to tagalong and ruin any gathering we had. We started calling him Nature Boy, only it was meant as an insult that quantified how much he blew, and not a reference to Flair. The lesson, as always, is that I was a dumbass as a kid.

Instead, this award is going to Diamond Dallas Page. Not the real DDP; he was too busy making people feel the bang in WCW to break any rules (though he would debut in the WWE to a gigantic pop when revealed as the Undertaker’s wife’s stalker, so he wasn’t always a good guy. Naturally, watching video of Page unmasking makes me think about the other time he hid under a mask, which made me think of La Parka, which made me think of La Parka punching a fan in the face, which made me think that that fan surely still thought wrestling was real to him, dammit. The slippery slope of wrestling YouTube videos). No, I’m talking about Diamond Dallas Page in the 2000 movie Ready to Rumble, starring David Arquette and Scott Caan.

In the movie, Page forms an alliance with WCW’s evil booker, Titus Sinclair (played by Joe Pantoliano looking sweet in a cowboy hat and fringed jacket. In that same year Pantoliano would star in Memento, a movie I’ve heard is pretty good and have been meaning to watch, but forget about by the next morning) to strip reigning champion Jimmy King of the heavyweight title. King is played by a Fat Oliver Platt, who is taken by surprise when DDP starts actually fighting him in the ring. Now, King is a slob who got winded during his pre-match rap of Run DMC’s “King of Rock”. DDP was a badass who partied with Bon Jovi and got Jay-Z to pay him for the right to use the diamond symbol. Page shouldn’t have needed any help taking King down. But he used it anyway, and that’s why he earns the title of biggest cheater.

First into the ring to interfere were “Page’s Goons” – Sid Vicious, Van Hammer, Juventud Guerrera, Prince Iaukea, and Bam Bam Bigelow, five men who had no significant interaction on WCW programming yet were grouped together in the movie. They help DDP beat King down, only to have “The King’s Men” (who sound like a LARPing crew but were really Jimmy King’s protectors) rush to the ring to aide him. Or so it seemed. Instead of helping King, the group of Curt Hennig, Konnan, and Perry Saturn instead joined in on the attack. It was 8 on 1 in Page’s favor. At one point, four of the wrestlers got on the top turnbuckles. Mike Tenay, a terrible WCW announcer who I can only remember because of his long-winded explanation of why Dean Malenko was a dick for removing Rey Mysterio’s mask and his propensity to overpronounce wrestling moves like he was Giada without the awesome boobs, informs the viewing audience that they are about to perform a Four Post Massacre. Tenay claims that nobody has ever survived that (a claim that’s probably true seeing as how it was never performed before the movie). After all four men land on King at once, Page pins King and steals the title. Since, to my knowledge, nobody has ever needed greater than an 8 on 1 assault to win a match, Diamond Dallas Page is the biggest cheater. 

College Basketball: Every Coach In The Country

This summer, both Jim Calhoun and Bruce Pearl got busted for breaking NCAA recruiting rules (Pearl just recently got suspended for 8 SEC games).  Pearl’s transgressions are considered much more serious not only because he lied to NCAA investigators but also because he was blacklisted from coaching awhile back for being a whistleblower, so the idea of him cheating and lying about it is pretty ironic really (wait, is it ironic? Do I know what ironic actually means? Could it also be a catch-22 somehow?).  Meanwhile, John Calipari might be the scuzziest coach in the history of sports and has committed violations at just about every school he’s been at, but instead of getting disciplined, he gets millions of dollars and is loved by Kentucky fans everywhere. The lesson here is that if you want to be a college coach, you have to be willing to cheat your ass off.  And if you somehow get caught, all you have to do is cooperate with the investigation, say it was all a misunderstanding and it won’t happen again, and flee to a new school before the NCAA comes to your current school and just starts dishing out sanctions up in that bitch.

Seriously, though, all college coaches cheat.  It’s just to the degree that the cheating takes place that sets them apart.  Some coaches practice too often or for too long and some give money to recruits. Obviously one is more serious than the other (practicing too much sucks and any coach that can’t follow that rule should be fired immediately), but in the end they’re both considered cheating.  Still, you can’t punish every coach for cheating, so it’s important to just go after the guys who either break the rules the most often or commit the most serious violations.

As a good rule of thumb, to figure out how badly a coach cheats all you have to do is look at his hair. If it seems as though the coach doesn’t care what his hair looks like, chances are he only commits minor infractions.  Coaches that style their hair a little bit usually commit more serious violations, but nothing worth investigating.  Coaches that use way too much hair gel are just about guaranteed to be doing some shady things, and coaches that use too much hair gel and slick their hair back are surely giving recruits thousands of dollars, changing SAT scores, and probably have some sort of ties to the mafia.  Using this template, I completely expect Steve Lavin to turn St. John’s into a national powerhouse within the next five years.

This is simple.  If there isn’t much time left and the outcome is in the balance, these are the guys who take matters into their own hands and do something about it.  These guys will let you get a little taste of victory, and then will swiftly cut your tongue out, make you lick your own scrotum, and have sex with your girlfriend just because they can.  All without really breaking a sweat.  So yeah, don’t f*** with these guys.

FIFA: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

It’s no secret that just thinking about Cristiano Ronaldo’s abilities on FIFA gives me at least a semi-chub.  I’ve said many times that I think he’s the best athlete on a sports video game since Jeremy Roenick on NHL ‘94, but the more I think about it, he actually might be better.  Now, I know that the real Ronaldo is a puss who flops way too much and has that weird European mullet going on, but the beauty of FIFA is that the personality of the players doesn’t matter and none of the players are programmed to take dives.  All that is taken into account is pure physical and athletic talent, and there’s no denying that from a this standpoint nobody (not even Messi) can touch Ronaldo.  Ronaldo is so good, in fact, that if you created a virtual pro on FIFA, made it Ronaldo’s size, and maxed out its attributes, it still wouldn’t come close to having Ronaldo’s speed, skill, or strength.  In other words, you can’t even create a player as good as him because FIFA thinks its impossible for someone to be that good.  Think about that for a second.

So what does this have to do with crunch time? Well, obviously the best players throughout the game are going to still be the best players when the game is on the line.  Ronaldo not only is the overall best player in the closing moments, but he’s also got a specific go-to move that rivals my step-back three going left that I perfected during my basketball playing days (just ask Danny Peters how venomous my step-back going left is – he knew exactly when it was coming every day in practice and still couldn’t stop it).  It truly is the most unstoppable move on FIFA, and it only becomes that much more unstoppable when things get ugly and I desperately need a goal.  Unfortunately, people who I regularly play in FIFA read this blog and therefore would know my secret move if I told all of you, so I’m going to have to keep that vault locked. Sorry, but when you aspire the be the best like I do, giving away secrets isn’t a great idea.

Pro Wrestling: Hulk Hogan (At height of Hulkamania)

It’s hard to definitively say what goes into Hulking Up. I would venture to guess that it’s partly from having the most patriotic song in history as your entrance music, part dad strength, and part Hogan being a total dick in real life who refuses to lose any of his matches (when that last part is mixed with another dick who refuses to lose matches like Shawn Michaels, hilarity ensues). You have a better chance of getting that sweet Yoda backpack you wanted for Christmas than you do of beating Hogan in an important match. Nonetheless, when the match is on the line, Hulk Hogan turns into arguably the most unstoppable force in the history of the world.

It happened, among countless other times, at Wrestlemania VII, against Sgt. Slaughter. Hogan, bloodied and looking like he’d met his match, finds his inner strength and begins Hulking Up. He becomes unfazed by punches, impervious to pain. He takes shots that don’t affect him until he’s finally had enough. Out comes the point. This is a picture of Hulk Hogan pointing at you while Hulking Up (and this is a picture of a taxidermied squirrel riding a plastic horse). If you see this, the match is over. What follows next is pretty much set in stone, because they’re 3 of the only 5 moves that Hogan knows. First comes the punch. Then comes the big boot, which is supposed to hit the opponent in the face but usually connects with the right nipple instead. Finally, the leg drop. It’s never really been properly explained how dropping a leg on your opponent is somehow the most effective finishing maneuver in professional wrestling history (as opposed to this, or this for that matter), but it almost always leads to a three count when Hogan delivers it.  When it matters, Hogan delivers. Just ignore the part about him always delivering because he’s a selfish doucher who won’t let other people beat him. Hogan might be all-time quarterback a little too much, but he still gets the job done in crunch time.

College Basketball: Jimmer Fredette (BYU)

Before Jimmer Fredette came along, the only thing I knew about Mormons that I didn’t learn from South Park is the concept of “letting it soak.”  Now, thanks to Fredette, I’ve also learned that Mormons can apparently play basketball pretty well.  Fredette is a preseason 1st team All-American this year, thanks largely in part to a stellar season a year ago in which he broke the BYU record for points in a game by pouring in 49 against Arizona.  Call me crazy, but I think this solidifies his status as the best athlete named “Jimmer” of all-time.  In fact, I’ll take it a step further and say that he’s the best anything that’s ever been named “Jimmer.”  That’s something to be proud of, I guess.

There are really two reasons why I think Jimmer Fredette is the most clutch player in college basketball.  The first and most important reason is that I wanted an excuse to bring up “letting it soak,” because that might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.  The second, and probably more relevant, reason I picked Jimmer Fredette is because of his performance against Florida in the NCAA tournament last year.  In one of the more memorable games of the first round of last year’s tournament, Jimmer scored 37 points as BYU beat Florida in double overtime.  Fredette gave the Gators a steady dose of buckets rainmaking (Mr. Rainmaker > Kyle Gets Buckets) throughout the game, but really ripped their hearts out in the second overtime by hitting two more threes.  Sure he didn’t hit a game winning shot or anything dramatic like that, but that’s only because he decided to take the game over so that a last second shot wouldn’t be necessary.  And really, hitting a last second shot doesn’t necessarily equate to being clutch.  Most of the time it’s just a result of being in the right spot at the right time.  Being clutch is really achieved when there’s about a minute left and your team desperately needs to score (either because they’re up by one possession, tied, or down by one possession). Fredette strikes me as a guy who is dangerous with the ball in his hands during these moments, as evidenced by the fact that he stepped up his play when it mattered most (second overtime of NCAA tourney).  That’s why he gets the nod (also, I really wanted to mention letting it soak).

By the way, through the first couple weeks of the college basketball season, here is my starting lineup of “White Guys Who Really Don’t Look Like Much But Are Actually Pretty Good”:


The day you’ve all been waiting for is finally here.  At this point, just about every D1 team has played at least two games, meaning it’s time to start tabulating results so we can put together a leaderboard for The Belt (For those who don’t know – I’m giving away a custom made wrestling belt to the Division 1 player with the most trillions this season).  As of right now, we have 18 entrants but ideally I’d like to have close to 50.  So please, do whatever you have to do to get your favorite college team’s walk-ons to sign up.  All it takes to enter is to be a Division I basketball player (don’t even have to be a walk-on, but a walk-on will probably win) and send an email with your name and school by clicking here.  Remember: Fans can’t register for players.  I want the players themselves to enter because I don’t want to give The Belt to someone who won’t appreciate it and/or doesn’t even know about it.  With all that being said, here’s your current leaderboard for The Belt:

Nov. 22nd Leaderboard

Obviously, seeing a Michigan player at the top is very disheartening. This needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now.

Also, and this is just my opinion here, look for the Purdue guys to make a strong play at The Belt this year.  They have a pretty good team and Matt Painter is quick to pull the trigger on subbing walk-ons into the game, so these guys will have a lot of chances to put up trillions. What they do with these chances is up to them.


A few reminders:

  1. FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!! shirts are now available by clicking here.

    fundmont1If you really want to consider yourself a member of the TMM, you’ll buy one as a way to show the world that you prefer Mr. Rainmaker over Kyle Singler’s terrible knock off video.  Also, 10% of all shirt sales for the rest of the month will go towards the Movember cause.  So really, you’re getting a badass shirt and supporting two great causes at the same time – Movember and Mr. Rainmaker.
  2. Movember – Don’t forget to take a picture of your mustache towards the end of Movember and send it to clubtrilcontest@gmail.com. I’ll post what I deem to be the best ones on the blog and I’ll let the TMM vote for the winner, who will receive a pack of Barbasol shaving cream for being so manly and a free Club Trillion t-shirt (either CLUB TRIL or FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!) for being so awesome.
  3. Kyle Singler’s video sucks.


Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Steve Prefontaine.

“Pre” is by far the most famous distance runner in the history of the sport, most likely because he was a bonafide badass.  While others would pace themselves during long distance runs, Pre always went balls to the wall because that’s what guys with mustaches as awesome as that do. As a 19-year-old, when most other people his age were celebrating their first pubes, Pre celebrated being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  During his collegiate career, he won four straight 5000 meter NCAA track titles and won three NCAA cross country championships.  The only reason he didn’t win a fourth cross country title is because he got too bored beating all the college kids’ asses and decided to try a little tougher competition in the Olympics instead.  At one point, he held the American track record for every distance between 2,000 and 10,000 meters, which added up to seven records in all. So yeah, he was pretty good at running.

Pre ultimately died in a car wreck when he was just 24 years old, but his legacy has lived on thanks to Nike and the University of Oregon refusing to let people forget about him (not to mention the two movies that were made about his life).  35 years after his death, he’s still the only name in long distance running that I know, which doesn’t seem like much, but is kind of a big deal considering I watch every Olympics and my best friend closely follows track to the point that he routinely tells me about the results of meets all over the world.  Anyway, the bottom line is that Pre was a hero who continues to inspire thousands if not millions of people to this day, and was capable of growing a kickass mustache even though he died well before his mustache-growing prime.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part II)        

The Club Trillion College Basketball Preview moves on, as today we talk about guys who look the part, guys who kinda suck, and guys whose lunch money we could easily steal.  As a reminder, I’m in charge of the FIFA and college basketball sections and my good friend Keller is in charge of the professional wrestling section (just so you know who to be pissed at if we somehow offend you). Now let’s get to it. 5…4…3…1…off blast!

(By the way, if none of that made sense to you because you missed Part I of the Club Trillion College Basketball Preview, you can get up to speed by clicking here.)

At first, this category might seem like it’s focusing on fashion, but in reality that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I think of fashion as people using their clothing and whatnot to mask their insecurities and try to be cool.  In other words, fashion is for vaginas.  What we’re doing here is analyzing the guys who use their “gear” as a way to accentuate their attitude.  They don’t wear this stuff to make it seem like they’re cool.  They already know they’re badass.  These guys dress the way they do simply because it’s comfortable and that’s how they like it.

FIFA: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

No homo, but real talk I’ve always been a little fascinated with the long hair pulled straight back look.  This is most likely because both of the male members of the original DX rocked this hairstyle in two completely different yet completely perfect ways.  Seeing Triple H and Shawn Michaels raise hell and crotch chop all through my childhood made a lasting impression on me and I’ve been a fan of long hair ever since.  It should be noted, though, that the DX/Sergio Ramos long hair look is the only long hair style that’s awesome.  Examples of guys’ long hair looks that suck include the Bama Bangs, the Emo Bangs, the Polomalu, the Shaun White, the Bieber (Bama Bangs except the hair goes over the ears), the Asian Mullet, the Efron (pretty much a combination of the Bama Bangs and the Bieber), the Joakim Noah, and the Home Improvement Kids.

What makes Sergio Ramos stand out is that he takes his long hair to the next level with a subtle skinny headband.  By also wearing a sweatband on his wrist with the occasional long sleeve jersey, Sergio Ramos has the exact look I would have if I were a soccer player (again, no homo).  Unfortunately, a quick Google Image search of him shows me that he can be a little feminine off the field sometimes, which is pretty discouraging really.  I’m going to chalk up this perceived femininity to the fact that he’s European and it’s well-known that all Europeans are a little light in their loafers.  Nonetheless, the FIFA version of Sergio Ramos looks pretty badass and that’s ultimately all that I care about.

Pro Wrestling: “Ravishing” Rick Rude

When I was a kid, I absolutely hated Rick Rude. I disliked vegetables. I didn’t care much for girls. But I completely and unequivocally hated Rick Rude and would cheer for whoever he was wrestling to kick his ass every time one of his matches was on. As I got older, I really started to wonder why young me was such a dumbass on all those things (except for vegetables. Those still blow). The more I caught Rude’s matches, the more and more I started to like him. In fact, he was awesome. He was from Robbinsdale, Minnesota, and the only people I’ve known from Minnesota have been Jared Allen, two swimmers who bite the lids off beer cans to open them, and a total babe who owns multiple animal shirts, so he was good from location alone. Add in a mustache so manly that it generated testosterone into the air the way that trees generate oxygen to go along with the fact that he gyrated his hips inappropriately at both females and males alike, and already you can tell how stupid young me was for hating him. But the biggest thing I missed as a youngster when it came to Rick Rude was just how ridiculously awesome his ring attire was.

The first place to start is his robe. While not known for his robes in the way that Ric Flair (the runner-up in this award, obviously) was, Rude’s robe was still an integral part of his look. Adorned with jewels and with “Simply Ravishing” written on the back with a pair of lips, the robe worked on two levels. The first was that it was cool in its own right. The second level was that he used his robe as a great reveal, putting down audience members and reminding them that he was the sexiest man in the room and they were about to see for themselves. When he opened his robe, they’d get a glimpse of not only his steroid-perfected body, but also of the tights that lay him claim to this award for best use of gear. It’s an interesting dichotomy.

A quick aside: to the reader that doesn’t know any better, it would seem like Rude might have been gay. Between the bedazzled robe with big red lips on them and an entrance song that sounds like if Val Venis’ music had been composed for a Christmas present shopping montage in an 80s movie, to the untrained eye Rude would appear to be a homosexual character. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rude would routinely bring female fans in from the audience to make out with him in the ring, leaving them swooning messes when he was done with them. He would even adorn his tights with female faces to show just how much of a ladies man he really was.

But back to the tights. You see, Rude wins this award because there has never been a wrestler in history with cooler tights than his. The exact look varied, but they almost always had either his face, some girl’s face, or something relevant to whatever angle he was in. When Rude was facing the Ultimate Warrior, the Warrior’s face ended up on Rude’s tights (if you’ve been clicking these links, you’ll see that Rude has a go-to pose, not unlike Same Face Guy). When Rude won the Intercontinental title, where a face would normally be was instead now an airbrushed rendering of the belt itself. Of course, Rude still had a picture of himself puckering his lips, just on the back of his tights now. With gear like Rude wore, it would be wrong to give the award to anybody else.

College Basketball: E’Twaun Moore (Purdue)

E’Twuan Moore’s look varies from time to time, but the reason he’s on the list as the best use of gear in college basketball is because of his occasional combination of shirt under the jersey and single sweatband on his wrist.  But, you might be saying, aren’t there tons of guys who wear shirts underneath their jerseys?  Yes, yes there are.  But in case you haven’t figured it out, sweatbands being worn on the wrist gets all sorts of bonus points in my book.  This is mostly because ever since Michael Jordan came along, everyone abandoned the wrist and started wearing their sweatband on their forearm.  Very few people have the audacity to take it old school and throw that sumbitch on their wrist, which is why I think it’s so awesome when someone does, especially when that someone is one of college basketball’s better players.

The truth is that picking Moore for this is somewhat reverse racism, but it makes perfect sense so I’m not going to apologize.  Even though there are tons of white guys who wear a wristband and a shirt under the jersey, the reality is that pretty much every one of them looks like a dweeb.  It’s a universal rule in society that black guys make everything cooler and this case is no different.  When a white walk-on wears a shirt under his jersey, he looks like he’s doing nothing but trying to hide his scrawny arms.  But when E’Twaun Moore dresses exactly like said scrawny white walk-on, he somehow makes it look awesome, simply because he’s smooth on the court (and he’s black).  And that’s ultimately what sets Moore apart from everyone else.  There are plenty of guys that look cool, per se, but only E’Twuan Moore really looks smooth, which is a completely different thing in the same way that William Buford will tell you that your “ol’ girl” and your “main squeeze” are completely different things.

For this category, we’re taking a look at guys who have become famous to the point that people who don’t pay all that much attention just assume these guys are really good.  In reality, they’re decent, but these guys are by no means as good as their level of fame would suggest.  An example of the type of person we’re dealing with here is how chicks who don’t watch basketball assume that Lamar Odom is one of the five best players in the world because he’s always on Keeping Up With The Kardashians and he’s won a couple NBA titles. Sure he’s a great player, but by no means is he as good as a majority of girls probably think he is (Now that I think about it, Hank Baskett is another example for the same reason as Odom, except Hank Baskett really does suck).  You get the idea.

FIFA: Ronaldinho (AC Milan)

In all honesty, Ronaldinho was the single reason I ever started to care about soccer and consequently FIFA in the first place.  Thanks to the combination of his crazy ball handling (or is it ball footling?) skills and the increasing popularity of the internet when I was in high school, a friend of mine showed me a few highlights on YouTube and I was mesmerized to the point that I decided to give soccer a chance.  I haven’t looked back since.  My guess is that there are tons of people like me who never knew anything about soccer but know about Ronaldinho because they saw a few YouTubes of him and were blown away at what he was capable of (mostly because it was fake). In fact, if my circle of friends are any indication, Ronaldinho is one of the most famous soccer players in the world to Americans.  Unfortunately, though, no matter how famous he is, at the end of the day his game is pretty much all show and doesn’t translate to FIFA all that well.

There’s no denying that the real Ronaldinho’s ball footling ability is pretty f’ing nuts, but the problem is that it there really is no place for it on FIFA to me.  I play a very disciplined, fundamentals-oriented brand of soccer when I play FIFA and Ronaldinho’s flashy brand of soccer just doesn’t fit (kinda like how it didn’t fit with the Brazilian national team, which is why he was left off their World Cup roster this year).  Besides, even if I do want to get flashy, I can just use Barcelona and Messi because he’s probably got better ball skills anyway and is much, much faster than Ronaldinho.  Plus, if I’m playing with AC Milan, I’m running everything through Ibrahimovic, if for no other reason than he can kick the piss out of the ball and I really want to see him burn a hole in the virtual net like he’s an on-fire Chris Mullin on NBA JAM.

Pro Wrestling: The Miz

I hate to say this, because he dresses like a total doucher and clearly used steroids and his previous fame to help him get where he is today, but I respect the hell out of Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. Here’s a guy who we only knew liked pro wrestling because he (awesomely) used to proclaim himself “The Miz” and cut loud promos when he was on the Real World: New York. This took guts because it always annoyed Coral, and she had huge boobs which he effectively ruined his chance of seeing by acting like a pro wrestler. Even later, when he’d used his fame from being a dominant player on the Real World/Road Rules Challenge to secure a spot WWE Tough Enough, The Miz worked his ass off to improve his in-ring skills after he got cut, and eventually got a full-time contract. All of this aside, for the amount of fame he might have to the random person on the street, The Miz still, well, sucks.

This might not be the case in 5 years, because he has natural charisma and is continually trying to get better. In fact, he even stopped wrestling in ridiculous-looking board shorts and moved on to actual wrestling tights, which can only mean good things. But at this point in his career, the recognition that The Miz gets as a pro wrestler from the casual fan or random stranger would make you think he’s been a multiple time Heavyweight champion. While he has had reigns as the United States champion and the tag team champion, The Miz has yet to serve any meaningful time in the main event scene. So despite his fauxhawk and half-Mystery Method, half-Tool Academy wardrobe having a high Q score with the general public, any pro wrestling fan will tell you that The Miz just isn’t as good as you think he would be.

College Basketball: Matt Howard (Butler)

If for some reason you don’t know who Matt Howard is, maybe referring to him as “the big white guy on Butler who had the dirty stache last year” will help jog your memory.  Thanks to an improbable run by Butler to the National Championship last season, Howard and his mustache got all sorts of national publicity, and rightfully so.  After seeing his mustache on CBS, college basketball fans collectively flocked to the internet to research Howard a little bit, and were probably surprised to find that he was the Horizon League Player of The Year in 2008-2009 before his teammate (and my high school teammate), Gordon Hayward, took the honor from him the following season.  Upon learning this information, the casual college basketball fan referred to the Morrison Theorem (wispy mustache + mid-major conference player of the year = someone who isn’t to be f***ed with) and assumed that Matt Howard must be one of the best players in college basketball.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Before Butler fans get upset with me (“you’re just hating cause we beat you last year!”), let me first say that I have the utmost respect for Matt Howard.  As you should know by now, I’m a fan of both mustaches and wearing a shirt under the jersey, which is why I want so badly for Matt Howard to be good.  Sadly, the only thing keeping this from happening is that his game consists of nothing but pumpfaking, throwing elbows, setting illegal screens, and flopping so much that even Butler fans get uncomfortable with it.  Again, I’m not hating on the kid, because I did every single one of those things when I played in high school and practiced in college.  But that’s the problem – I can do all of these things (not to mention the fact that there’s a 45-year-old version of Matt Howard in every church league in America).  As much as I respect what he does and I think of him as an inspiration to all of us pumpfaking/flopping guys, the bottom line is that he simply isn’t that talented.

(Now that I think about it, this is more of a compliment to him than anything else.  The guy gets more out of his abilities than anyone in college basketball, which is something to be proud of, I guess.)

This category is simple.  We have no doubt in our mind that if we wandered into a dark alley to find these guys perched up against a wall with a leather jacket on and a look in their eye that suggests they want to anally rape us, we would not only deny all access to our buttholes, but we would also kick so much ass and take so many names that we’d probably get a key to the city or whatever it is they give all those awesome superheroes like Daredevil. 

FIFA: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

First and foremost, let me make it perfectly clear that the real life Messi would beat the snot out of me if we were ever to fight.  Sure he’s only 5’7”, but the dude is one of the best athletes alive and is lightning quick, so there’s a very good chance that he could beat me silly before I’m even done with my warm-up jumping jacks (even if it is a spontaneous street fight, going through a proper warm-up routine is still very important).  There really is no disputing who would win this fight because I fully admit that I would stand no chance against him.  But, as is the consistent theme with this preview, I’m not concerned with the real life Messi.  I only care about the FIFA version of Messi, and it’s clear to me that I would make virtual Messi my b*tch.

To confirm my point that I could destroy the virtual Messi, I decide to create myself on FIFA 11 and compare my relevant attributes with Messi’s.  Here’s what I found:

Shark vs. Messi

As you can clearly see, Messi has better body control than me but I more than make up for it with both my strength and aggression.  And isn’t that really what would matter most in a street fight?  Virtual Messi’s best attributes suggest that if we were to fight, he would do nothing but duck and run away.  Meanwhile, I’m bringing a nine inch and 54 pound advantage to the table, not to mention my 91 in strength that would surely break his jaw in two.  As much as you might want to side with Messi, the bottom line is that scientific data shows that I would have no problem opening up a can of whoop ass on a virtual Messi in a street fight (two Stone Cold references in one sentence!).

Pro Wrestling: Bob Backlund

I thought about going a few different ways with this one. At first I considered picking the cruiserweight who I thought was the biggest pussy (probably Scotty 2 Hotty, just so I could do the Worm over his lifeless body), but then I realized that the smaller guys are usually legit, real-life badasses, like the “Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman. So that probably wouldn’t be a great choice. Then I thought about going with someone like Sid Justice, who is arguably the most physically intimidating man with a blonde curly mullet to have been alive in the 90s, but who is also famous for being incredibly soft outside the ring (and for having arguably the most gruesome injury inside it. Click at your own risk). This was a man who once used a squeegee in a street fight with Brian Pillman, so maybe he’d be a good choice for a street fight against me. But even Sid, who was billed at 6’9” and 320 pounds and once went by the name Lord Humongous in the ring before everyone associated it with Greg Oden, had the wherewithal to stab Arn Anderson with scissors in his next out of the ring fight, so he’s probably not a safe bet for a victory. Then it dawned on me: Bob Backlund.

Backlund has the strange distinction of being one of the longest reigning WWF champions of all-time (over 5 years) while also being the loser of the fastest championship match in history (8 seconds, to Diesel/Kevin Nash). He also serves as exhibit A as to why I strongly believe all redheads should have some sort of facial hair to help offset how it looks like you have no hair  on your face at all from your eyebrows and eyelashes being so light. Seriously, there is absolutely no way that I lose in a street fight to a man who looks like a 60 year old version of the Gingers Do Have Souls kid. Backlund was apparently an accomplished amateur wrestler, but Adam Morrison is living proof that the better you are as an amateur, the more you’re likely to suck as a pro. Besides, this is a street fight. I’d like to see Backlund try and give me a single leg takedown while I’m hitting him in his temple with a lead pipe and/or stabbing him in the torso with a knife. Those are legal in a streetfight, right? Actually, on second thought, I’m not sure I’d even need them. Again, this is what Bob Backlund looks like. Just like he lost the 1996 Presidential election, Bob Backlund would get dominated in a street fight against me.

College B-ball: Mick Cronin (Cincinnati’s Head Coach)

Even though I couldn’t find Mick Cronin’s height with a quick Google search, I did discover that Bob Huggins is about 6’3” (one inch shorter than me) and Cronin comes up to Huggins’ shoulders.  Maybe you don’t know this, but this means that Mick Cronin’s face is at a perfect punching height for me.  As I would make contact with Cronin’s schnoz, my arm would be perfectly parallel with the ground, which I’m sure John Brenkus and his Sport Science would tell you is how to get optimal force behind a punch. Translation: Mick Cronin would be f’ed if we were to engage in fisticuffs.

Should the fight move to the ground and take on more of a wrestling dynamic, I’m just as confident that I could destroy Cronin.  My guess is that he’d be a wiry little fella that could escape from all sorts of holds and whatnot, so I’d focus more on restraining him with one arm and beating him senseless with the other.  As much as I’d love to put him in a camel clutch until he’s unconscious, I’d probably have to be a little more offensive and find a way to land a few punches instead.  Surely it wouldn’t take much more than two or three solid shots to the kisser before he’s had enough.  Of course, there’s always the chance that he’s a black belt in karate or Billy Blanks Tae Bo, which would throw a huge wrench in the system, but I still think I’d have the upper hand because I’m not afraid to play dirty and hit below the belt if that’s what it takes. ___________________________________________________

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter or your friends who added me on Facebook haven’t broke the news to you yet, I’m proud to announce that after months of begging HOMAGE, we  finally released the “FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!” shirt yesterday.

Before you complain about the price, please keep in mind that this isn’t your standard t-shirt, as this will undoubtedly be the softest shirt you will ever own in your life (unless you have the CLUB TRIL one).  Also, 10% of all sales for the rest of the month will be donated to Movember and will ultimately help with prostate/testicular cancer research.  So basically you can do your part to help fight cancer by getting an unbelievably awesome and soft shirt.  I’m pretty sure this could be the definition of a win-win. ___________________________________________________

Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Dale Earnhardt.

Even though I spent my childhood cheering on the Rainbow Warriors and the 24 Dupont Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, I have no problem admitting that Dale Earnhardt is the greatest NASCAR driver of all-time (Gordon and Earnhardt were bitter rivals for those of you who think you’re too cool to follow NASCAR). Most people are of the opinion that Richard Petty is the best ever, but I’m giving Earnhardt the nod, if for no other reason than Earnhardt had a better mustache.

I was going to highlight some of Earnhardt’s finest moments, but then I realized that those of you who follow NASCAR already know how awesome he was and those of you who don’t follow NASCAR wouldn’t care anyway.  So instead, I’ll just link you to a tribute video on YouTube that made my a little teary-eyed and you can do what you want with it.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part I)        
Many of you have asked me how I feel about my beloved Vikings deciding to waive Randy Moss last week after trading for him a month earlier, so I thought I’d address it real quick. The truth is that I’m actually not that upset that Moss isn’t a Viking anymore, but I am upset that the Vikings front office (read: Brad Childress) ultimately threw away a draft pick because they couldn’t foresee Moss being a headache. This is like asking The Villain to be on your pick-up basketball team and then getting upset when he never passes you the ball. Or like letting The Villain borrow your car “for ten minutes” during your sophomore year at Ohio State and getting pissed when he returns it to you six hours later with less than a quarter tank of gas and a funky smell coming from the back seat. Sure it sucks that Moss was kind of a doucher, but ultimately it’s the Vikings’ fault for putting so much trust in him. That, more than anything else, is what is so frustrating. This whole ordeal is just another example of how other than murder, pedophilia, and rape, nothing in this world upsets me more than Brad Childress’ decision making, which is ironic because Childress looks like a guy who commits all three of those crimes on a regular basis. But enough about a mediocre NFL team. Let’s talk college basketball.

If you know anything about me or my blog, you know that there are three things in the world of sports that my life revolves around – college basketball, FIFA, and professional wrestling. And if the handfuls of emails I regularly get from the Trillion Man March are any indication, most of you also care about at least two of those three things. So, keeping this in mind and acknowledging that college basketball officially started this week, I’ve decided to team up with Keller to get you pumped for the season by bringing you what will surely be both the best and most irrelevant college basketball preview you will ever read.

For the preview, Keller and I intertwined our three favorite things about sports by likening different aspects of college basketball to aspects of both FIFA and professional wrestling. Keller knows more about wrestling than anyone I’ve ever met in my life, so he will be handling the wrestling section of the preview (warning – he wrote a ton). And since every time we play FIFA I beat Keller like he’s my ex-wife, I’ll be handling the FIFA section of the preview. Obviously, now that I’m writing college basketball pieces for ESPN and I’m therefore considered a college basketball expert, I’ll also be handing the basketball section. Finally, because the entire preview is longer than the list of people who wanted me to make a Greg Oden penis joke right here, I’ve decided to break it up into a bunch of parts and post a new part every couple of days (I would post a new one every day, but I can already anticipate Keller not getting his sections done).

With all of that being said, here is Part I of your 2010-2011 Club Trillion College Basketball Preview. Boom baby.

This category is pretty self explanatory, but I’ll explain it a little bit anyway. These are the guys who you see either playing, wrestling, or on FIFA and think to yourself, “Wait, he’s still playing/wrestling? How old is that guy?” You know, guys like…

FIFA: David Beckham (LA Galaxy)

Beckham is kinda like the Brett Favre of soccer. Not only has he been playing seemingly forever, but he also has an immaculate stubble beard and there are pictures of his junk all over the internet (although, his junk is unfortunately covered by whatever underwear he is endorsing for that particular photo shoot – damn). Plus, the video game version of Beckham is also much better than the real version of him, just like Favre and his video game likeness. What’s more, Beckham and Favre both married women who are about one year older than them. In fact, the only difference I can see between these two is that Beckham didn’t cost the Vikings their first trip to the Super Bowl in my lifetime by throwing an inexcusable interception to Tracy Porter late in the NFC Championship. Not yet, anyway.

Pro Wrestling: Ric Flair (The Nature Boy)

As a man who currently has a 15-year unbeaten streak in Mercy, and who’s been shaving since the 7th grade, I’ve been conditioned never to cry under any circumstances. That being said, I stood helpless as my eyes welled up with tears while I watched Monday Night Raw on March 31, 2008. The night before, Ric Flair had lost his retirement match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXIV, and this night’s Raw was dedicated as a farewell show to the Nature Boy, honoring his multiple-decade career. Prior to this moment, I think the last time that I cried was during a 5th grade AAU basketball game, where an opponent who was no less than 12 inches shorter than me bit me in the stomach as I dribbled up the court. After yelling at the top of my high-pitched 5th grade lungs “HE BIT ME!!!”, the combination of rage, shock, and pain led to me sobbing on the bench for the entire 3rd quarter before re-entering the game and fouling the kid in retribution.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that watching the Four Horseman reuniting in the ring for the first time in 20 years caused the waterworks to start up. The sound of the greatest entrance music in wrestling history combined with the visual of Ric Flair sobbing in the ring was too much for me. This was the perfect send-off for arguably the greatest wrestler in history. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Flair wouldn't spend his final years toiling away in second rate promotions tarnishing his legacy for a few more paydays. Flair would be different. That is, until Flair would un-retire to toil away in a second rate promotion, tarnishing his legacy for a few more paydays. My tears were for nothing now.

When you're a stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling and dealing son of a gun, you tend to acquire expensive tastes and multiple wives. Flair lived a lavish lifestyle (hell, even his famous robes cost upwards of $5,000 apiece) and let throngs of women ride Space Mountain (his awesome euphemism for sex). By giving out season passes to Space Mountain to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different women, and continuing his free-spending ways to go along with those divorces, Flair essentially went broke after his retirement and was forced to come back. He signed a contract with TNA a year after his retirement ceremony, and sadly continues to wrestle to this day.

It's truly a shame it ended up this way too, because there have been multiple points in Flair's career where he could have retired on top besides the post-Wrestlemania ceremony. There was the time he went crazy, stripped off his clothes in the middle of the ring, and started elbow dropping his suit jacket. Or after his match with Sting on the final episode of WCW Monday Night Nitro. Or every time he talked sh*t to a fan by calling them "fat boy" or telling them that their mother rode Space Mountain and that they'd ride it later that night. Or when Will Ferrell paid homage to him as Ashley Schaeffer. Through the years there were plenty of perfect times for Ric Flair to go out like the Nature Boy truly should have, and not have to languish in 2010 wrestling in TNA, looking like a droopier-breasted Randy the Ram while every fan who cheered for him during his heyday looked on embarrassed (I say looked on in the loosest sense of the word, because TNA sucks and nobody actually watches it). Much like the Nature Boy never has learned to stop going to the top rope (at this point I would link you to a montage of Flair getting slammed from the top rope, but for some stupid reason there is no video of it on YouTube, despite Flair never once landing a top rope move in any match I’ve seen even though he tries every time), he's never learned it's time to hang up his boots.

College Basketball: David Lighty (Ohio State)

The official Ohio State basketball website says that Dave Lighty is a 5th year senior this year, but this is also the same website that once said that The Villain’s hobbies include reading and playing golf, so forgive me for being a little skeptical. I’m fully convinced that he has somehow been in the program for at least ten years. This is mostly because Dave joined the Ohio State basketball team before I did, yet I played four full seasons with the team and graduated, and Dave is still going to play one more year. Those of you who have followed Big Ten basketball for awhile surely agree that Dave has been playing for the Buckeyes forever, but if for some reason you don’t, consider this: Dave was college teammates with Greg Oden and Greg Oden is at least 82-years-old. You do the math.

This category is also self explanatory, but I won’t insult your intelligence like I did with the last one and explain it to you. Let’s just get to it.

FIFA: Kaka (Real Madrid)
(Note: I know Kaka has an accent mark somewhere in his name, but last time I checked, this is America and we don’t use accent marks in America. You can either love it or leave it.)

Diehard soccer fans who follow real soccer being played by real people would tell you that Kaka is one of the best players in the world, which is something you would most likely respond to by saying that you “don’t give a s*** because soccer is gay.” The FIFA version of him is every bit as good as the real version, as Kaka would easily be the best player on just about every other team than the one he’s actually on. Unfortunately for him, he will have to settle with his role as sidekick because he’s teammates with Cristiano Ronaldo, who is without question the greatest player on a sports video game since Jeremy Roenick on NHL ‘94 (more on Ronaldo later on in the preview).

Other than being the best sidekick on FIFA, I think Kaka is the most versatile player on the game as well. His default position is in the midfield, but I’ve literally played (and dominated) with him at every position except goalie. I’ve also discovered that he’s a master of finishing rebounds that come from Ronaldo rocketing shots off the goalie’s nuts. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but I swear if there was an attribute for “being in the right place at the right time to score the goal and get all the credit, even though your teammate did all the hard work,” Kaka’s rating in that particular attribute would be at least a 96.

Pro Wrestling: Scott Hall (Razor Ramon)

On paper, Scott Hall had it all: legit size, loads of charisma, awesome shirts that make you consider spending $200 to get on eBay, a finishing move that you could easily break someone’s neck with, the list goes on. The only thing he never had was a world title. For someone with arguably the greatest stubble beard of all-time and the ability to make a full denim outfit look cool, you’d think that Hall would have spent the better part of the 90s as the heavyweight champion. But due to unfortunate timing and his inability to not get drunk and party six nights a week, Hall would settle down into a role as the quintessential second banana.

As Razor Ramon in the (then) WWF, Hall would consistently earn cheers like a main-eventer, despite the fact his only push to the main event scene came when the Ultimate Warrior did what the Ultimate Warrior did best (besides being insane and gay-bashing, which for him are mutually exclusive) and left the company without any advance notice, leaving Razor Ramon as an emergency replacement to lose to Bret Hart. Instead, Hall spent much of his time in the Intercontinental title scene, having matches that remain legendary to this day. He stole the show against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X by defending his Intercontinental title in the very first ladder match, which both males and females will excitedly remember as “the match where you got to see HBK’s bare ass.” The Intercontinental title would be the peak of Hall’s run in the WWF, excluding the time he made a couple of young kids’ dreams come true on the Jerry Springer Show. In ’96, Hall signed with WCW and continued his career living a real-life version of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” albeit he was a bridesmaid with some pretty awesome chest hair.

Despite being the first member of the New World Order to invade WCW’s shows, Hall was quickly pushed down the pecking order due to Hollywood Hogan’s heel turn and his own failure to power bomb announcers through the stage. For the second time in as many companies, Hall would win the second highest title (this time the WCW United States title), but never make it to the top. At first, Hall was stuck behind legendary WCW title moments like Hollywood Hogan and Sting’s feud that culminated at Starrcade 97 (a pay-per-view I’ll never forget, because for the first time in my life I convinced my mom to let me order a pay-per-view, only to have the signal be scrambled and the show ruined. Scrambled Spice channel I could deal with, scrambled Starrcade I could not.) and Goldberg’s 173 match win streak. Eventually though, Hall’s actions behind the scenes started costing him opportunities. His excessive drinking began spiraling out of control, with Hall even performing in the ring under the influence. At this point, you would have been more likely to find an attractive girl with a shrine to Jerry Orbach than a WCW executive who would ever have faith in Scott Hall being a main eventer. He would never again get past the midcard. Instead of trying to get Hall help, the brain trust at WCW decided to exploit Hall’s problems by incorporating them into an angle, as the last few memorable moments of Hall’s time in WCW revolved around him pretending to be drunk in the ring. While he never made it to the top in either company, Scott Hall is arguably the greatest wrestler ever in a supporting role.

(Note: I choose to ignore Hall’s time after WCW, because I refuse to believe that he would end up looking like he did)

Suddenly the stubblebeard isn’t as cool as it used to be

College Basketball: Nolan Smith (Duke)

It is a well-documented fact that Duke sucks. Since they’ve won a ton of national championships, I obviously don’t mean this in a “Duke isn’t good at basketball” way, but more of a “Duke fans are insufferable and the white guys on the team who slap the floor on defense make me lose all hope in humanity” kind of way. Duke fans think that people hate them because we are jealous and secretly want to be just like them, which is the same ass-backwards philosophy that made LeBron say, “They boo you because they like the way you play basketball.” No. We boo Duke/Duke fans/LeBron because they act like entitled pricks and think that the game of basketball couldn’t exist without them. Why is it that there are college basketball programs all over the country that have historically had more success than Duke, yet Duke is really the only team that is the bane of America’s collective existence? The answer is simple – because Duke sucks.

But despite the hatred we all have for Duke, there’s no denying that they historically are always a juggernaut, they have one of the greatest coaches of all-time, and they are probably the favorites to win back-to-back titles again this year. Now that Scheyer Face has graduated, Kyle Singler is the undisputed leader and best player on the team, but Nolan Smith is a senior NBA prospect in his own right who will be the Blue Devils’ leading scorer on many occasions this year. Like Kaka and Scott Hall, Smith is good enough to be the star on pretty much any other team, but he still embraces his role and knows that Duke wouldn’t be nearly as good without him. So, if you get the chance to watch him play this year, be prepared to be impressed with his skills. And if you do appreciate the way he plays, please remember to have the common courtesy to boo him as loudly as you possibly can. It’s the least you could do.

This category was developed in protest to the absurd number of tournaments and events that are held in the world of sports every year. The truth is that nobody cares about the non-BCS bowls (except when the MudDogs won the Bourbon Bowl), the non-majors in golf and tennis (or even the majors in golf and tennis), or any race of any kind that isn’t the Daytona 500 or Indy 500. These things are meant to wet our whistle while we’re waiting on the important tournaments, but in reality they pretty much just get in the way.

FIFA: FA Cup (England)

Wikipedia tells me that the FA Cup has been around since 1871 and is the oldest soccer competition in the world, which would be impressive except “nobody gives a s*** because soccer is gay.” In reality, this tournament is probably a very big deal to people in England, not so much because it’s really old and has a lot of history but more because England sucks in the World Cup and this tournament at least guarantees English people that a team from England will win the thing. All that’s fine and well, but I’m not concerned with real soccer. I only care about virtual soccer and on FIFA, this tournament does nothing but get in my way.

When I play manager mode on FIFA, I play with Manchester United, only because the Premier League is the only competitive league and I kinda like Wayne Rooney’s game (I also like his soccer game). My only goal on manager mode is to win the Champions League or whatever they call it on the game. I have no interest in anything else. The only reason I even play regular season games is to finish in the top of the league so I can qualify for next season’s Champions League. At no point in time have I ever cared about winning the FA Cup, which is why I used to simulate those games. The only problem with this is that FIFA would sometimes screw me when I simulated the FA Cup games and I would get upset by a scrub team in the first round. When this would happen, my coach’s rating or whatever would plummet, I’d get fired, and I’d be stuck managing an MLS team the following season. Therefore, I have no choice but to play these FA Cup games and win some tournament that I literally could not care any less about.

Pro Wrestling: Women’s Wrestling (WWE)

Quick: can anybody name their favorite women's wrestling match of all time? I've been a fan of pro wrestling in some capacity since 1990, and I can still only remember four things about women wrestlers – that Alundra Blayze showed up on WCW Nitro and threw away the WWF women's title on live TV in a move that seemed extreme before the nWo showed up, that Mae Young gave birth to a hand, that Chyna has some not-so-womanly bodily features that the world saw in her sex tape with X-Pac (as has previously been mentioned in this blog before...Google at your own risk), and that I first learned how to clear my internet history to hide the Playboy pictures of Sable I had looked up. After scanning through my Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam anthologies, not a single women’s match listed on the cards brought back a memory, and I'm the same guy who can still tell you the home phone number of a girl I had a crush on in the 9th grade, despite never having the balls to actually call her. Even a Google search to help jog my brain instead produced results that were split between fetish female wrestling porn and sites completely dedicated to moments where a female wrestler's top came undone and their breasts were exposed on live TV.

And that's what seems to be missing on Vince McMahon and other people who run wrestling companies. The only time a male fan is going to watch a women's wrestling match is in the hopes that a boob pops out during a suplex. The unfortunate reality is that there is no amount of technical proficiency that can take place in a women's match that will make it compare to a men's match. Many women’s matches are filled with hair tosses and kicks when the fans want to see finishers like this, much like many WNBA games are filled with set shots and missed lay-ups when the fans want to see, well, men's basketball (I'm only slamming the WNBA because they can't slam things themselves!!!). And since, according to a site that I cannot even think about linking to because of the content, there have not been that many nipple slips in women's matches, that they're even happening at all is a waste of time.

College B-ball: Cancun Challenge (Preseason Tourney)
Note: The teams playing in this year’s Cancun Challenge are LaSalle, Missouri, Providence, Wyoming, Morgan State, North Florida, Prairie View A&M, and Western Illinois.

I can’t tell if these “preseason” tourneys (by the way, calling them preseason tournaments is both deceiving and dumb – kinda like calling this a college basketball preview although the season has actually already started) have been going on for awhile and I just recently started noticing how many there are or if they are a relatively new fad in college basketball. My guess is that the success of the Maui Invitational gave the higher-ups the idea to create more of these things than any one person could possibly keep track of. Either way, I’m pretty confident that when it comes to preseason college basketball tournaments, the Cancun Challenge is the cream of the crap.

Cancun is one of the few places in Mexico that Americans can visit right now without being 100% sure that they will die (there’s only an 85% chance you’ll die), so the Cancun Challenge was probably created as a way to give these college athletes an opportunity to experience a different culture for a few days. Unfortunately, the organizers of the tournament failed to realize that the Cancun Challenge is really nothing more than a cocktease to the players. As cool as a free trip to Cancun seems, it’s not like these guys are going to be sipping margaritas and sexing senoritas the whole trip. For the most part, all of their time will be spent either practicing, playing, or falling asleep in film sessions, which means their trip to Cancun would essentially be the same as a team trip to Detroit in the middle of January.

As for the fans who are crazy enough to travel to the tournament, it’s a similar story. They pay ridiculous amounts of money for a vacation to Cancun, only to get down there and realize that their vacation is being ruined by subpar basketball games that are being played in a hotel ballroom (yes, the games really are played in a hotel ballroom). Throw in the fact that absolutely zero neutral college basketball fans are going to pay attention to games like North Florida vs. Prairie View A&M and Wyoming vs. Western Illinois, and it’s easy to see why this will be the biggest waste of time event in college basketball this year. __________________________________________________

Because it’s Movember and nothing else matters more in my life right now than growing my mustache, I’ve decided to substitute the awesome basketball YouTube video at the end of the blog posts this month for a little history lesson that I will be calling “Great Mustaches In American History.”

Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Teddy Roosevelt.


Teddy Roosevelt is without a doubt the most badass president (and quite possibly human being) in the history of America. I could honestly write 10,000 words about how awesome this man is, but I’ll just provide you with three bullet points that tell you all you need to know about the guy.

  • In 1912, former-president Roosevelt was the target of an assassination attempt and was shot in the chest shortly before he was scheduled to give a speech in Milwaukee. Instead of being rushed to the hospital like everyone suggested, Roosevelt kicked common sense in the balls and proceeded to give his 90 minute speech as planned. He even opened the speech by telling the crowd, “I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” After he gave the speech, Roosevelt finally went to the hospital, but the bullet was never removed and he lived with it in his chest for the rest of his life. What a badass.
  • Teddy Roosevelt was awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize. Try wrapping your mind around that for a second. The only possible explanation I can think of for this is that he was such a badass that people decided to play nice because they were so terrified of what he was capable of.
  • Roosevelt eventually died of a heart attack while sleeping when he was 60-years-old. The US vice president at the time, Thomas Marshall, had this to say about his death: “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.” Let it be known that I want that exact quote put on my headstone when I die, even if I don’t die in my sleep and even though my last name isn’t Roosevelt. If it weren’t for Nathan Hale, that would be the greatest quote in American history (by the way, I’m not going to explain the Nathan Hale reference to those of you who don’t know his quote – that’s something that should be common knowledge for anyone who loves their country).

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder


One of my favorite things that happened on a routine basis with my teammates at Ohio State was when they would start sentences with either the words “real talk” or the much more entertaining and hilarious phrase “on some real s**t.” By starting their sentence with one of these phrases, they are basically telling everyone, “I was just messing around with everything else I have ever said in my life. That all means nothing compared to what I’m about to say, so please give me your undivided attention because I’m going to talk about something that is more serious and more important than global warming, AIDS, and Wrestlemania combined.” What made this so funny to me was that each and every time one of my teammates led with one of those phrases, they always would inevitably follow it up by saying something that couldn’t possibly be more irrelevant. Because of this, it was common for one of them to walk into our locker room after practice, get everyone’s attention, and then say something along the lines of, “Real talk, Martin had me rollin back in the day.” Sometimes, if they really wanted to drive the point home, they’d even throw in “and that’s on my momma” for good measure. Some people just know how to eloquently present an argument.

Having said all of that, it’s time for some real talk. My favorite month of the year, Movember, starts on Monday, which means on Monday it’s time to quite literally separate the men from the boys. Those of you who have been members of the Trillion Man March for awhile surely remember Movember from last year. If you’re new to the party, though, and don’t know about Movember, check out my blog post from last year that explained everything. Here are a few important paragraphs for those of you who are too lazy to simply click on a link:

It was brought to my attention by a few members of the Trillion Man March that the month of November marks a very important time for lovers of mustaches and haters of prostate cancer. That’s because November has been dubbed “Movember” by a couple of Australians, which may initially sound like a month-long tribute to GUTS announcer, Mo Quirk, but is actually an event that was started to raise prostate cancer awareness (apparently “mo” is an Australian slang term for mustache). I thought Movember was just another event started by guys in high school who wanted an excuse to grow out their peach fuzz without upsetting their moms, but as it turns out, Movember is actually the biggest charity event in the world that is targeted exclusively for men, having raised over $47 million to date. It’s like the men’s equivalent of Race For The Cure, except instead of using your legs all you have to use are your upper lip hair follicles.

Even though one out of every six American men will get prostate cancer at some point in time, it should be noted that I can’t think of anyone close to me who has ever had the disease. I’m not trying to get you to care because prostate cancer has personally destroyed my life by inflicting the people around me. It’s not like that at all. I’m just trying to get you to care because Movember provides a great opportunity to have an excuse to grow a mustache and also provides a great opportunity to raise awareness for a good cause. You can become a better person simply by growing out your mustache. Call me crazy but I think this might be the epitome of a win-win situation.

In short, Movember is an initiative to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer research. Prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women, only more people care about breast cancer because, well, breast cancer affects boobs and everybody loves boobs. Since there isn’t as much of a focus on prostate cancer in this country as there is on breast cancer, the main goal with Movember is basically to show people that a man’s prostate can be just as sexy as a nice pair of hooters. Naturally, this is done by growing mustaches.

So here’s the plan. Since statistics say that at least 500 people reading this will end up getting prostate cancer at some point in their lives, I’ve decided that the Trillion Man March needs to do its part to kick prostate cancer in the nuts and give it the fiercest powerbomb of all-time. This can be accomplished two different ways.

Most of you are either in high school/college or have recently graduated college, which is another way of saying that most of you are ridiculously broke. Shoot, there are probably some of you that have been out of school for years and are still broke because you either have spending habits like my former OSU teammate, Daequan Cook (I heard rumors that he bought 13 flat screen TVs for just his living room immediately after signing his first NBA contract), or you have more likely fallen victim to the terrible economy. This first way of helping out doesn’t apply to you, so you can stop paying attention for a second. But, for those of you who have somehow found a way to successfully pay off all those student loans that went towards countless Trapper Keepers and Lisa Frank products, this first way of helping out just might be for you. The ultimate goal with Movember is to obviously raise money for prostate cancer research, so if you are in a financially stable place, you can help make this happen by donating whatever your heart desires. One member of the TMM, Matthew, took it upon himself to make a group on the official Movember site, so if you do want to make a donation, please click on this link, fill out the information to join Matthew’s group, and donate like your life depends on it (because it very well could someday).

As for those of us who aren’t rolling in the benjamins (the cool kids still say that, right?), we get to take on prostate cancer in a much more exciting way by growing out our mustaches for an entire month (it goes without saying that it’s perfectly fine to both donate and grow a stache). I’ve already pointed out that a majority of the Trillion Man March falls into the “dudes who are broke, man” demographic (myself included), which means that a majority of you will probably be taking part in Movember just by growing your stache. And since mustache growing will be the main way the TMM participates in Movember, I’ve decided to have a contest to establish who in the TMM is the manliest man of all. The only rules are as follows:

  1. You must shave your entire face (excluding eyebrows) down to the skin on October 31st. This is on an honor system. If you know you can’t grow an awesome stache, it’s ok. Just do the best you can. But whatever you do, don’t be a jealous doucher and cheat.
  2. Your stache can’t connect to itself or your sideburns anywhere on your face. If this happens, you have either a goatee or a beard, which means you no longer have a stache.
  3. The best mustache doesn’t necessarily mean the longest mustache. Creativity is taken into account, so doing something like this is every bit as impressive as growing a Sam Elliott stache (ok, so not really but you get what I’m saying here).
  4. Send me pictures of your stache throughout the entire month of Movember and I’ll post them on the blog as we move closer to judgment day on November 30th.
  5. The ultimate winner will be decided by a TMM vote and will win a case of Barbasol shaving cream for being so manly, as well as a free shirt (your choice between either CLUB TRIL or FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!) for being so awesome.

Just so you’re mentally prepared, this is what you’ll be up against:


“Who wants a mustache ride?”

Based on past experience, I know that many of you work for companies or bosses who suck and won’t let you grow out facial hair of any kind for any reason. The unfortunate reality about the world we live in is that some people just don’t get it. If the economy was better I would coerce you all to participate anyway, but getting fired seems like an awful idea right now, so I won’t give you too much trouble for not participating. I truly am sorry. Fortunately, most of the TMM is comprised of college-aged guys whose only responsibilities are to skip class and get drunk, so they can pick up the slack.

Obviously the women of the TMM also can’t take part in the mustache contest because you all can’t grow mustaches (unless, of course, you’re an elderly librarian or lunch lady). If you have your heart set on doing something for Movember, I suggest you make a pledge to yourself to only party with guys who have mustaches all month. If you’re a high school girl, refuse to give your class ring or go to the school dance with any guy who doesn’t at least have a little peach fuzz. If you’re a girl in college, take a stand and only let guys with staches do body shots off of you (that would probably feel better for you anyway – not that I’d know or anything). You get the idea.

Finally, I thought I would address something that might be giving a few of you cold feet. Some of you might be asking yourself, “How exactly does growing out my mustache for a month do anything to help prostate cancer research?” Good question. Your mustache serves as a walking advertisement to raise awareness for prostate cancer. A lot of men don’t know all that much about the disease, so half of the battle is just spreading the word. Here’s an example of how your mustache can achieve just that:

Friend: “Dude, nice mustache. You look like a pedophile that molests little kids.”

You: “A) I’m trying to raise awareness for prostate cancer by celebrating my manhood, and B) Your redundancy makes it obvious to me that you have no idea what the word ‘pedophile’ means.”

Friend: “Oh my bad, I didn’t know you worked for the grammar police. And who cares about prostate cancer? Getting rid of breast cancer is obviously much more important. Last time I checked, I’ve never gotten a pants-tent from looking at Pam Anderson’s prostates.”

You: “You are the single dumbest person I’ve ever met in my life. You should care about prostate cancer because it is the most prevalent cancer for men and affects millions of guys all over the world. It should be more important to you than breast cancer since, ya know, you’re a guy which means you actually have a chance of getting prostate cancer. Sure breast cancer research is important, but you’re never going to have to worry about getting breast cancer since dudes don’t have boobs. Well, except for Tony over there.”

(NOTE: I know that guys have breasts and can get breast cancer. Just go with me on this one.)

Tony: “Ha. Ha. Real funny. Dick. For your information, I’ve started a new diet that is actually working really well for me.”

Friend: “Oh really? What do you call it? The FATkins diet?”

You: (laughing) (high five your friend) “Good one, dude. Yeah, Tony, sitting on your ass playing Halo every day and falling asleep to anime porn every night isn’t much of a diet.”

Tony: “You guys are jerks. I’m offended and I’m leaving.”

Friend: “I would say, ‘Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out’ but chances are you actually need that to happen cause it will help you get unstuck after you get your enormous hips wedged in the doorframe.”

Tony: “I hate you both. While I’m gone, I suggest you both go die.”

You: “Tony. Got. Served.”

Friend: “Yeah, we totally served him. What a doucher. Look. He left his Halo game paused. We should go play it and ruin it for him. And maybe you can tell me more about this prostate cancer thing you were talking about earlier.”

You: “Deal.”

Real talk, Tony sucks. And that’s on my momma. __________________________________________________

After I called out the walk-on community with my last blog post, tons of walk-ons around the country emailed me to sign up for The Belt. This is very encouraging, but I still think we need more guys. So again, please email me if you are a Division I men’s basketball walk-on. Even if you aren’t eligible for The Belt, you can still help out by writing a Facebook message or something to the walk-ons for your favorite basketball team that will let them know about this awesome contest.

(I know that paragraph was copied and pasted from last time but it still applies, so shut up. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s perfectly fine to plagiarize your own work. If it’s not, I should probably give back my college degree.) __________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by Evan T. (no, not The Villain). There’s your shout-out, Evan. And here’s your video.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

          The Cage, Volume III        

I was watching ESPN last week and I saw an interview they did with Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended by the NFL because he apparently used a bathroom stall for a number other than 1 or 2 (hint: it was 69). During the interview, Roethlisberger completely jacked Magic Johnson’s concept of having an alter ego created from fame and money. In an HBO documentary that aired earlier this year, Magic explained that it wasn’t actually Earvin Johnson who routinely cheated on his wife and got HIV. It was “Magic.” Magic was the leader of the Lakers who threw behind the back passes, oozed all sorts of charisma and personality in interviews, and put his tallywhacker where it didn’t belong. Earvin was a shy kid from Michigan who was humble, respectful, and could apparently grow a kickass afro. He went on to say something like deep down he was Earvin, but fame and money had turned him into Magic. Basically, he was a victim of his own success. Poor guy.

The crazy thing about Magic’s interview was that I actually ended up feeling bad for him, even though everything he said suggested that I should have felt the exact opposite. The reason for this is because Magic is quite possibly the most likable athlete to ever live, which is why guys like me were listening to what he said and were thinking, “Wow, I never thought of it like that. Magic didn’t want to have sex with all these women, but since he was rich and famous, he had no choice.” I never once questioned his logic, because he’s Magic Johnson, and Magic Johnson could tell me that he murdered my family and destroyed every copy of FIFA ever made, and as long as he smiled and let out that hearty laugh of his, I’d probably shake his hand and tell him not to worry about it.

Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, comes across as a guy who is as charismatic and persuasive as Brett Favre’s penis. So when he blatantly stole Magic’s alter ego concept and said something like “I stopped being the Ben Roethlisberger who grew up in Findlay and spent his weekends sheltering the homeless, and I started becoming Big Ben, captain of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” I couldn’t help but think of how big of a jerk this guy is and how I don’t feel sorry for him at all. Sure he used the exact same excuse as Magic, but since he’s nowhere near as likable as Magic, I was furious. The excuse works for guys who have an infectious smile (and in Magic’s case, an infectious disease) or at least a likable personality. It most certainly does not work for guys who think it’s appropriate to have the most rapist-looking haircut in the world right after they’ve been accused of sexual assault.

I guess the point I’m trying to convey here is that I’m really upset that Big Ben had to completely ruin this otherwise great excuse for misbehaving. Magic laid the foundation for athletes and celebrities to save themselves with nothing more than a little charisma and an alter ego. I even used Magic’s model to formulate a plan for myself. In five to ten years, when the cops inevitably bust open my door to find a dead hooker in my bathtub and an unconscious me laying in the living room with my pants around my ankles and my face buried in a huge mound of cocaine, I was going to be so excited to tell the judge that it wasn’t me who got into all that trouble. It was The Shark. But no. Ben Roethlisberger has to go and be an unlikable sleazeball and ruin it for everyone. Wait, I got that wrong. It was Big Ben who ruined it for everyone. Ben Roethlisberger did nothing wrong. My bad.

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s open up The Cage and see if I can do my best to avoid answering your emails. Before you ask, the answer is yes – all of these are real emails from real people, except for the ones that aren’t. ___________________________________________________

My email question is: Why do you never answer emails?
- Ann L.

Good question.

Dear Mark, you are my hero. I love you.
-Riley A.

Good statements.

Since you are a mid twenties something man, I am sure that you were excited when you heard of NBA JAM 2010. And since you grew up in Indiana, I was wondering what you thought about the fact that Reggie Miller and Rik Smits didn't make the Pacers legends roster.
- Matt S.

Even though I grew up 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, I admittedly have never been much of a Pacers fan. This is predominantly because I absolutely despised the way Reggie Miller played basketball, which is to say that I despised how dirty of player he was and how much he trash talked. I hated all the theatrics that came with his game and I reached my boiling point with him when he pushed off of Jordan to hit that shot in the ‘98 Eastern Conference Finals, and then proceeded to execute the worst game-winning shot celebration in history. That play alone epitomized everything I hated about Reggie Miller.

As I grew older, though, I realized that trash talking and playing dirty were woven into the fabric of basketball tradition just as much as Chuck Taylors and teammates using the N-bomb as a term of endearment. Upon learning this, I gained a greater appreciation for Reggie’s talents and actually respect the hell out of the guy now. He was one of the best clutch shooters of all-time and made the NBA that much better during his playing days. As for Rik Smits? He was always one of my favorite players if for no other reason than he had a mullet and an awesome nickname (The Dunkin Dutchman). I liked him so much that I briefly considered playing for Marist when they were recruiting me in high school, even though I knew absolutely nothing about the school or basketball program other than the fact that Rik Smits played there.

To answer your question, I think this has the potential to make the fine people of Indianapolis the most upset they’ve been since Steven Tyler disgraced our great country with his national anthem at the 2001 Indy 500. Miller and Smits are the Pacers. If you asked all the Pacer fans who will buy NBA JAM 2010 to name the first two Pacers to come to mind, every one of them would say Miller and Smits. How could they possibly leave both of these guys off the game? More importantly, who got the nod ahead of them? Travis Best?

Now that we got Moss how many more years does Favre stay for? 4? 5? 45?
- Nate H.

All of the above. He will retire after four more years, come back, retire again after another year, come back, and then finally retire for good 40 years later. But his final retirement won’t be his choice. It will be God’s. Following the 2055 NFL season, an 86-year-old Brett Favre will have a heart attack, pick up the phone to dial 911, and ultimately die in stunned silence after Tracy Porter intercepts his call.

(I thought that taking an hour-long rape shower immediately after the Vikings lost the NFC Championship last year would get me over the loss. I couldn’t have been more wrong.)

Who would win in a street fight? Mark Madsen or Craig Ehlo?
- Doug P.

This is a no-brainer. I’m taking Craig Ehlo over Mark Madsen in a fight of any kind, whether it be street, MMA, or pillow. This is because I’m 100% sure that he’s tougher than the Maddog. Think about it. Both of these guys are known for one thing respectively. Madsen is famous for setting white people back at least 20 years with his horrendous dancing at the Lakers championship celebration. And by 20 years, I mean that he didn’t set white people back at all because pretty much all white guys dance like that. But still.

Ehlo’s claim to fame, however, is that he was repeatedly abused by Michael Jordan. I’m guessing a lot of people reading this are Cavs fans who don’t need to be reminded, but the rest of you probably only know Ehlo because of the shot Jordan hit over him at the buzzer to knock the Cavs out of the ‘89 playoffs, when in reality he was frequently dominated by Jordan (in Ehlo’s defense, though, who wasn’t?). Along with hitting “The Shot,” Jordan’s career high of 69 points also came against the Cavs in 1990, and while Ehlo didn’t start out guarding Jordan, he certainly guarded him (or attempted to) for a majority of the game. Ehlo got abused by Jordan so much, in fact, that during a game in Chicago, following a play in which Jordan scored on Ehlo even though Ehlo had wrapped him up with both arms, one of the game announcers was in such disbelief at how frequently plays like that happened that he felt compelled to say, “It always happens to Craig Ehlo” (I’m too lazy to look it up on YouTube, but I can just about guarantee that you’ll be able to find it). Jordan obviously had many victims during his career, but nobody got abused on a regular basis by Jordan like Craig Ehlo did. Nobody. Sorry, Cavs fans.

So what does that have to do with fighting? It’s pretty simple, really. People have spent the past 10 years telling Madsen that he sucks at dancing, which is something that I’m sure he’s somewhat proud of. Meanwhile, people have been telling Craig Ehlo for the past 15+ years that he’s Jordan’s bitch. You and I can’t even fathom how much pent-up anger Ehlo is waiting to unleash because of this. That’s why I think if these guys really got into a fight, Ehlo would be like the disgruntled employee who finally snaps and shows up to work with a shotgun, only instead of pumping bullets into his co-workers he would be pumping a steady dose of knuckle sandwiches into Mark Madsen’s face.

I think it's fair to say that I anticipated FIFA 11 just about as much as anyone. And, of course, was disappointed just as much as everyone. My roommate is the only one of my friends to share a love for the beautiful game. We got FIFA 10 last year to start preparing for the World Cup, and it was a great ride. I've even been getting up at 9:55 on Saturdays to watch EPL games. When FIFA 11 arrived we spent the next 2 days playing it and came to the conclusion that indeed it did suck, and maybe we'll just have to play FIFA 10. A few days go by and we give it another chance. Sure enough, I hate it just as much as before, however... he now pulls a 180 and says he likes it better than it's predecessor. I was floored. He read the first paragraph of your latest blog, and closed it. He refused to read, as he called it, “garbage.” So my question is - 1. Is his TMM membership revoked? and B. How do I best handle this doucher?
- Dan W.

As much as I’d like to revoke his TMM membership, the fact is that the only crime he’s guilty of is loving FIFA too much, which obviously isn’t a crime at all. I would be a hypocrite to denounce him for defending FIFA, so I can’t exactly be that upset.

However, anyone who thinks FIFA 11 is better than FIFA 10 is obviously completely out of their mind. These are the same people who probably prefer the first Home Alone, the second version of DX, and the Third Reich. These people are so off-base with their thinking that they can’t be rationalized with. There is no saving your friend. I suggest you knock him unconscious, throw him in the trunk of your car, drive until you reach the depths of hell, and then leave his ass to rot in Ann Arbor, Michigan for being so dumb. Or you could just draw penises on his face the next time he passes out. Whatever works for you.

What are your thoughts on Rufus taking on Brutus?
- Justin B.

I’m kinda split on this particular mascot attack. On the one hand, I’m all for mascot-on-mascot violence because every time it happens, it’s always hilarious to me. Always. Plus, when the kid who dressed up as Rufus was interviewed, he said that the only reason he ever tried out in the first place was because he knew that OU played Ohio State and he wanted to attack Brutus. I completely respect this kid’s ambition and desire to achieve his dreams. But, on the other hand, he kinda took a cowardly approach by springing a surprise attack on Brutus. There is absolutely no honor in how he went about doing it which kinda takes away from the act altogether. If you’re going to start a mascot fight, you gotta do it the old fashioned way – walk up behind the other mascot and give him a nice little shove. When he turns around to acknowledge your shove, you shove him again to let him know that it wasn’t an accident and that it most certainly is on. From there, you wait a second to let him have a chance to process what exactly is going on, and then you unleash hell. That’s the only fair way to go about it that still makes for great theater. It’s Mascot Fighting 101.

When I first read about this mascot fight, I was immediately struck by how awesome both mascot names are. I was sure that a fight between Rufus and Brutus would have to be the greatest combination of mascot names that could possibly get into a fight, but like most things, I was wrong. After doing a little Wikipedia research, I’ve decided that the best possible mascot fight that could ever take place, based solely on the names of the mascots involved, would be if Scrotie (from the Rhode Island School of Design) fought Gaylord (from Campbell University). Can you imagine the headlines if this ever happened? I would actually go buy a newspaper for once in my life, just so I could have a copy of a paper with an inadvertently hilarious headline like “Gaylord Wrestles With Scrotie.” Another element of hilarity is added when you consider that this story is absolutely unGooglable, because Googling “gaylord” and “scrotie” together would result in nothing but gay porn on at least the first 27 pages of results (not that I would know or anything). That really would be the greatest mascot fight ever. I dare you to check out the Wikipedia list of mascots and come up with something better than that.

Speaking of homosexuality…

I played D3 hoops and we always had uncomfortable conversations about why one or two guys would rather hike back to the dorms in the winter weather than get into the team shower mix. Along those lines, were you a shower sandal wearer, or were you willing to take that risk? Did you ever pee on your feet as a faux method to kill fungus? Did your teammates offer to do it for you? Was my locker room just that weird?
- CC

First I’ll answer your questions - no, yes (just to freak out my teammates who apparently never realized that I’d douse my feet in soap after I did it), no, and yes if your teammates offered to do it for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll address something that should have been addressed long ago.

Locker room shower etiquette is one of the most confusing things in the world to me, right up there with the female anatomy and Three 6 Mafia winning an Oscar. In all my years of playing sports, I’ve never understood it. It’s completely counterintuitive for one fairly obvious reason.

It’s no secret that male athletes (specifically football and basketball players) are some of the most homophobic people on the planet. This is solely because they have an unspoken pressure to be as tough as they possibly can, and doing anything that could ever be perceived as “gay” would completely destroy their macho reputation in their minds. This is why they annoyingly overuse the phrase “no homo” on a regular basis (“no homo but I’m really hungry”), because even the slightest act of “gayness” would destroy an athlete’s reputation among his colleagues. Yet these are the same people who see no problem with packing twelve naked guys into a tiny communal shower area or making fun of a teammate with a small penis. It truly is perplexing.

And then there are women athletes, who are often stereotyped as being lesbians, even though a majority of them aren’t. But even so, anyone who has ever been on spring break can tell you that there are tons of straight girls who are willing to make out with each other if you offer them $20 or simply start a convincing group chant. Women athletes don’t have that macho perception to live up to, which is why they tend to be much less paranoid about being perceived as gay. But if you were to ask women athletes if they use the locker room showers after their games, nearly all of them would say something along the lines of, “That’s disgusting. Why would we do that?” It truly is perplexing.

Speaking of homosexuality…

My bromate named Chris continually bashes soccer for only being for homosexual people. Do you believe that assessment is true?
- Terry P.

In a word, no. In a hyperlink, this.

What is your greatest experience with a Thad Matta halftime or postgame tongue lashing?
- Caleb W.

A little known fact about Coach Matta is that he might be the worst yeller in the history of getting angry. What I mean by this is that it’s completely unnatural for him to yell, so when he does it’s hard to take him seriously. He’s the consummate “players’ coach,” which is why I was able to write my blog and act like an idiot on a daily basis. Because of this, he rarely ever screamed at us and when he did it was always a little forced. Looking back, it was always pretty funny when he yelled but one story involving his yelling sticks out more than any other, even though it wasn’t at halftime or after a game.

During my freshman year at Ohio State, Coach Matta began having back problems that eventually led to him having foot drop in his right foot that still plagues him today. Before his injury, one of his favorite ways of expressing his anger during practice was to dropkick a basketball into the Schottenstein Center stands. When yelling simply wasn’t getting the job done, he’d find a ball laying close to him scream a few four-letter words, and cherry bomb for the upper deck. But when he started having back problems, he obviously couldn’t punt basketballs anymore, so he had to start improvising.

Maybe the funniest moment in my Ohio State career happened at one practice after Coach Matta’s back problems came up. He got upset with the way we were playing, presumably because Ivan Harris was shooting too many fade-away threes and Ron Lewis was smacking his lips at everybody, and stopped practice to unleash a furious tirade. After he thought he got through to us, we started practicing again. But on the very first play back, somebody didn’t do something right (my guess is that Daequan Cook forgot that he had to run to the other end of the floor and play defense after he scored) and Coach Matta lost it. He temporarily forgot about his foot drop as he searched for a basketball to punt into the stands. When he eventually found one, the proverbial light bulb in his head went off telling him that kicking a basketball is right next to swinging a golf club and receiving a powerbomb on the list of “The Absolute Worst Things You Could Possibly Do With A Bad Back.” Upon realizing this, Coach Matta turned to a nearby assistant coach and quickly told him something that was undoubtedly along the lines of “kick this for me.”

The assistant (who will remain unnamed for his sake) was obviously flustered by the request, because it was probably the last thing he expected to hear. Plus, he hadn’t even been that upset that we were playing badly, or at least he certainly wasn’t mad enough to want to kick a basketball. Still, the assistant didn’t want to upset Coach Matta more than he already was, so he quickly wound up to kick the ball. But instead of kicking it, he almost completely whiffed, as the ball grazed the side of his foot and rolled to the other end of the court. When this happened, the assistant was so embarrassed about whiffing that he actually became just as mad as Coach Matta, even though it was for a completely different reason. In a hilarious turn of events, the assistant coach decided that the best way to release the anger that he had just developed was to, you guessed it, dropkick another basketball. He hurriedly grabbed another ball and again wound up to boot the snot out of it. This time he made a little better contact, with “little” being the operative word here. The ball shot off the side of his foot as he shanked the kick into only the fifth row of the stands. I started laughing so hard that I had to bury my face in my jersey, and eventually acted like I had to pee so I could leave the gym without getting busted for not taking things seriously. It was, without a doubt, the worst execution of an angry tirade by a coaching staff that I’ve ever witnessed.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the funniest thing to happen when I was at Ohio State. But it’s still pretty funny to think about a pissed off Coach Matta delegating the role of ball-kicker to a flustered assistant coach, who just so happened to be so bad a kicking that he made Ray Finkle look like Morten Andersen.

Just was wondering what your thoughts are on OSU basketball team this upcoming year. Think they will be as good as you guys were last year even with the loss of The Villain? I know they have a good incoming freshman class that will help, especially with Sullinger. So just seeing what your thoughts are on the subject.
- JJ S.

Obviously I could make some wisecracks about how Ohio State is going to struggle to replace me and my record for the most wins in the history of the program. And I could joke about how I brought so many intangibles to the team that I’m just as synonymous with intangibility as MC Hammer. And I could also make some funnies about how screwed the team will be because they’ll have one less silky smooth J to have to keep in check during practice, which means they won’t be nearly as prepared as they should be for games. I could do all those things, but since most of you are probably Ohio State fans who really do want to know how good the team will be, I’ll give you my honest opinion on this year’s team.

I fully expect this year’s team to be every bit as good as our team from last year, even though they lost The Villain. In fact, I think they might actually be better off without The Villain. Obviously, on the surface it seems like I’m saying this just because I want to take shots at The Villain, but the truth is that last year we won or lost based on how he played. Clearly he played well more often than not, but even so, many of our games consisted of four guys standing around watching Evan take over. This became a problem during a few stretches of last season. There’s no way that they’ll be able to replace The Villain this year, but I don’t think they necessarily need to. This team will have a lot more parity, which will force teams to plan their defenses around more than one guy.

On an individual level, I really think Will Buford will be the best player in the Big Ten this year, which may be surprising to hear for some people. I don’t think he has much of a chance to win the Big Ten POY simply because of the fact that the people who vote for these things are unfathomably stupid, but he certainly has the talent to be phenomenal this year. From what I’ve seen over the summer and early this fall, Will has not only improved his basketball skills, but he’s also taken his mental approach to a whole new level. Last year he kinda took a backseat and picked his spots throughout the season, but this year he’s already showing signs of being the undisputed go-to guy on the team. He’s playing his ass off right now and I would say his swagger is through the roof, except I’ve never actually used the word “swagger” to describe anything in my life and I really don’t want to start now. But you get the idea.

As for some of the other guys – Dallas Lauderdale finally gave in to his baldness and shaved his head, which is hilariously awesome to me. Dave Lighty has promised me that since this is his 17th and last year at OSU, he’s planning on making it his best. And Jon Diebler is still the same doucher he’s always been.

Oh, and Coach Matta told me that Jared Sullinger is the best player he’s ever recruited. Ever. And this was when Jared was at least 30 pounds overweight. He’s since lost a lot of weight and is in much better shape. Translation: I’m going to every home game this year.

Which brings us to the next email…

I'm a freshmen here at the great OSU. Basketball tickets go on sale today, and the games I've been to I (and I'm sure you also) have noticed some great fans in the student section such as Red Man Group and the Cowboy. With the basketball fans getting a lot of flack about not being good enough and the reforms they made to the student section this year (behind the bench), do you have any ideas for one person or a group of people to get a 4 year tradition of great Buckeye fanhood? The only idea I have that is decent (or maybe not) would be to have 5 guys all in full uniform behind the bench every game and call ourselves "Second String" or something like that. So let me know if you've got some good ones and you can see your work in action this winter at the games.
- Eric L.

If there’s one thing I’ve always wished I was better at, it’s parkour. But if there’s two things I wished I was better at, they’re parkour and coming up with creative ideas for basketball fans or fantasy football/intramural team names. For some reason I always draw a blank on these kinds of things, probably because I have never actually experienced any of them. I’ve never played intramurals or fantasy football and I was always too busy making it rain to think about creative basketball fan costumes or signs, which is why I think I’m so far behind on the creative curve with this stuff. It’s a lame, copout of an excuse, I know. But I really think this Second String idea is solid. I’d go with that if I were you.

I’m a sophomore in high school. Today I was eating lunch and like we do everyday, we were shooting trick shots into the trash can with our empty Gatorade bottles, the only drink for high quality athletes. I made a behind the back bounce off one table and over our assistant principal. I just wanted a judgment of this shot from a respected, honorable American like yourself. On a scale from 1 to the size of Greg Oden's penis, what would you rate this shot?
- Nathan P.

Without video evidence, I just don’t see how I can give it anything higher than a Brett Favre.

Since there has been a tremendous lack of historical wrestling flavor in your blog save for a few small references, I would like to share with you that two of the all-time legends, Ric Flair and Mick Foley, will battle it out in the upcoming TNA Impact in somewhat of a "Last Match".
Where does this fall in the list of all-time saddest wrestling moments?
- AJ K.

In order, here’s my list of the Top 10 all-time saddest moments in wrestling history:

  1. My parents telling me when I was in 3rd grade that I couldn’t watch wrestling anymore because it’s “filth.” It would be almost five years before I started watching again. An obvious choice for #1.
  2. Owen Hart falling to his death
  3. Chris Benoit murders/suicide
  4. The Montreal Screwjob
  5. Ric Flair and Mick Foley – “Last Match”
  6. Keller showing me a particular zoomed in screen shot from the X-Pac and Chyna sex tape (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky – you honest to God don’t want to know)
  7. Earthquake squashing Damien
  8. Mae Young giving birth to Mark Henry’s hand baby (sad because it was an awkward and embarrassingly terrible storyline)
  9. The Rock starring in The Tooth Fairy
  10. The fact that this video doesn’t even have 60,000 views

I know it goes without saying, but just so we’re clear – the greatest moment in wrestling history is without a doubt “The Plane Ride from Hell,” highlighted by Ric Flair trying to get a flight attendant’s attention by spinning his penis in circles while wearing nothing but one of his badass robes.

I've been thinking for some time that you're input could be valuable on this subject. Since last winter my roommates and I have debated what would be the best way to "make whoopee" with Jillian from The Biggest Loser. I guess there really are a lot of excellent options to go about this but the following are the choices for the four of us:
1. My personal favorite: Give her absolutely everything you've got only to have her screaming at you how inferior you are
2. Completely dominate and control her to turn the tables
3. Cover her in all manner of fatty delicious deserts and eat them off each other as foreplay
4. The two of you are
“furries.” I think this guy has a fetish b/c I'm not sure how it relates to Jillian.
- Scott C.

Call me old-fashioned, but if I had to “make whoopee” with Jillian I’d just do it the same way I’ve done it my whole life – I’d make her a mixtape full of K-Ci & JoJo to get her attention, I’d give her my class ring to prove my sincerity, and then I’d slip a roofie into her drink and have my way with her underneath the bleachers during the 3rd quarter of the varsity football game. But that’s just me. I’m more chivalrous than most. ___________________________________________________

After I called out the walk-on community with my last blog post, tons of walk-ons around the country emailed me to sign up for The Belt. This is very encouraging, but I still think we need more guys. So again, please email me if you are a Division I men’s basketball walk-on. Even if you aren’t eligible for The Belt, you can still help out by writing a Facebook message or something to the walk-ons for your favorite basketball team that will let them know about this awesome contest.

I also want to take a second to remind everyone about the Club Trillion Halloween costume contest I decided to have. In case you forgot, the only rule for the contest is that your costume has some sort of reference to Club Tril. This reference can be as strong or as weak as you want, as costumes can range from a walk-on basketball player sitting on a bench to my idea of a giant inflatable penis wearing an Evan Turner jersey. Remember: the stakes are high, as the most creative costume gets a free “FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!” shirt.

Finally, I wanted to let the Trillion Man March know that we will again be taking part in Movember this year for prostate cancer awareness/research. Since this blog post is already long enough, I’ll provide all the details with the next blog post. For now, I just wanted to remind you all to get mentally prepared to start growing your mustaches out on November 1st. Also, I’m planning on having maybe a couple mustache contests and I’m working on getting Barbasol to sponsor everything by providing shaving cream for the winners. Get excited. ___________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by John J. and features Mitchell, a member of the TMM, wearing his CLUB TRIL shirt. There’s your shout-out, John. And here’s your video.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder

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When your transactions move from one market to another involving one currency to another you will notice the symbols are used to explain the transactions. Every transaction will look something like this USDzzz/EURzzz the zzz is to represent the percentages of trading for the percentage of the transaction. Other transactions could look like JPYzzz/GBPzzz and so on. When reading and reviewing your forex statements and online information you will understand the transactions better if you are to remember these symbols of the currencies that are involved.

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          iPhone 8 can make Apple world's first trillion dollar company        

San Francisco: Riding on the 'better-than-expected iPad and iPhone sales', the upcoming flagship device iPhone 8 could make the Cupertino-based giant the first company to reach and sustain a $1 trillion market cap, analysts have predicted.

According to a report in MarketWatch late on Wednesday, since the announcement of its third quarter results, the stock momentum has added $56 billion to the company's market cap.

Analysts from investment service company RBC Capital predicted that the stock momentum will continue as Apple will launch its flagship device iPhone 8 in mid-September.

RBC analysts said the iPhone 8 launch will create a 'super cycle' for the company.

"Apple has potential to achieve a $1 trillion dollar market cap and even surpass that over the next 12 to 18 months. We see upside occurring from multiple levers," Amit Daryanani, lead analyst on the note, was quoted as saying.

Those "levers" to get to $12 per share in profit are revenue increasing from new iPhone models, including a higher-priced premium model, growing services revenue helping to expand profit margins, tighter cost control and strong stock buybacks, the analyst said.

Daryanani said that Apple's share price would have to rise from its current level (about $160) to about $192 to $195, depending on the rate of the company's stock buybacks, to reach the $1 trillion value.

According to reports, Apple might release three iPhones -- iPhone 7S, 7S Plus and iPhone 8 -- in September.

With an expected price range of between $900 and $1,100, two of the three iPhones are expected to be more expensive compared with previous versions.

Apple posted a quarterly revenue of $45.4 billion -- up seven per cent YoY (year-over-year) -- for the third quarter of 2017.

With revenue up seven per cent YoY, the company reported a third consecutive quarter of accelerating growth and an all-time quarterly record for services revenue.

The net income was up to $8.72 billion ($1.67 per share) from $7.80 billion ($1.42 per share) a year earlier.

iPhone sales were up 1.6 per cent to 41.03 million in the third quarter that ended on July 1.

The Cupertino-based tech giant sold 40.4 million iPhones a year earlier.

Apple saw a 21.6 per cent jump in the services business - the App Store, Apple Pay and iCloud - to $7.27 billion.

We also returned $11.7 billion to investors during the quarter, bringing cumulative capital returns under our programme to almost $223 billion, the company said.

According to The Verge, leading the way was Apple's iPad sales, which were up 15 per cent from 2016.

Hardware like the Apple Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones were the highlights in the 'Other Products' category.

          Â¿Sobran los mandos intermedios? El plan para acabar con los jefes inútiles        
A pesar del adelgazamiento de muchas estructuras empresariales, parece que aún no le ha tocado el turno a los supervisores. La cosa puede estar a punto de cambiar.

Durante los últimos años muchas empresas han optimizado sus estructuras jerárquicas, eliminando puestos o concentrando las mismas labores en menos trabajadores. Sin embargo, hay un perfil de profesional que en muchos países aún ha seguido conservando sus puestos, a pesar de que no siempre su utilidad resulta clara. Se trata de los mandos intermedios, supervisores y administrativos, cuya labor es cada vez más puesta en duda, a pesar de que en España haya sido uno de los sectores más perjudicados por la crisis económica. 
Dos de los grandes críticos de este escalafón de la organización son Gary Hamel y Michele Zanini, dos consultores de la London Business School y el Management Lab, respectivamente, que han analizado durante los últimos años el rendimiento de los mandos intermedios. La conclusión no puede ser más despiadada: no solo la mayor parte de ellos no sirven para gran cosa, sino que recolocarlos realizando el mismo trabajo que aquellos a quienes supervisan dispararía la economía estadounidense en unos 3.000 millones de dólares (141.000 dólares por empleado).

Hay unos 21,4 millones de empleados que “aunque no sea su culpa, están creando poco o ninguno valor añadido”
“Cada vez más gente trabaja en organizaciones grandes y burocráticas”, explican los autores en un artículo publicado en el último número de la 'Harvard Business Review'. “Sin embargo, hay una gran cantidad de pruebas de que la burocracia supone una pesada carga en la productividad y en la resiliencia organizativa, así como en la innovación”. Según sus cálculos, hay unos 21,4 millones de empleados en la fuerza laboral estadounidense que “aunque no sea su culpa, están creando poco o ninguno valor añadido”.

Unas cuentas palmarias

Hamel y Zanini han hecho aquello que muchos mandos intermedios, cuya contribución a la empresa es intangible (ejem) temían: sacar la calculadora y ponerse a hacer cuentas. Según sus cálculos, el ratio en las empresas estadounidenses es de un mando intermedio por cada 4,7 trabajadores. Sin embargo, los autores consideran que pueden hacer descender el ratio a 10 trabajadores por cada superior, lo que liberaría a 12,5 millones de individuos para hacer algo más productivo.
Con el agua al cuello. (iStock)
No es únicamente una cuestión de productividad, aclaran los autores. Es decir, no se trata de que los mandos intermedios no resulten tan productivos como sus subordinados, sino que también su presencia es un estorbo organizativo. Hamel y Zanini recuerdan que los trabajadores que no tienen ningún rol en la jerarquía gastan aproximadamente el 16% de su tiempo rindiendo cuentas a sus superiores inmediatos y cumpliendo con la burocracia, como señaló un informe publicado por Deloitte
¿Por qué, si todos son tan conscientes de la inutilidad de estos puestos, hay tantos? No solo eso, ¿por qué el número de mandos intermedios en países como EEUU se ha duplicado mientras que el de otros niveles de la jerarquía tan solo lo ha hecho en un 40%? Quizá porque se trata del destino natural de muchos empleados 'senior' con experiencia a los que se quiere conferir una mayor responsabilidad y que, a medida que pasa el tiempo, empiezan a acumularse entre los puestos directivos y los soldados rasos. No es su culpa, como recuerdan los autores, pero la proliferación de estas figuras (cuyas competencias, en muchos casos, no quedan totalmente claras) son un importante escollo en la toma de decisiones.
Devolver a los cargos intermedios a otras labores más productivas permitiría mejorar los resultados económicos
“Aquí están los beneficios enormes pero difíciles de cuantificar que se derivarían de una nueva fuerza laboral empoderada pero ya no paralizada por el proceso”, explican los autores. En muchos casos, la iniciativa y capacidad de innovación de los empleados se ve obstaculizada por la toma de decisiones en los escalafones inmediatamente superiores a ellos. Nada de mecanización o internet de las cosas, advierten Hamel y Zanini. Adelgazar la burocratización de las empresas devolviendo a millones de trabajadores atasacados en inútiles cargos intermedios a otras labores sería “una ruta inmediata y menos especulativa para un mejor rendimiento económico”.

El caso de Svenska Handelbanken

¿Cuál es el ejemplo a seguir? Según los autores, el de Svenska Handelsbanken, uno de los mayores bancos nórdicos con sucursales en Suecia, Dinamarca, Finlandia y Reino Unido. Se trata de una de las entidades bancarias con un mayor retorno por acción de toda Europa, una cualidad que los autores achacan a su control de gastos y toma de decisiones.
Las oficinas centrales del Handelsbanken en Estocolmo. (Reuters)
Tan solo hay tres niveles de mando en la jerarquía de una organización que emplea a 12.000 trabajadores. Además, existe una gran independencia en cada una de las ramas operativas, lo que permite una mayor libertad a la hora de fijar precios para los préstamos, el control de sus presupuestos o el trato con el cliente. Lo que para muchos sería el primer paso hacia el caos, en realidad favorece una estructura más ligera y dúctil a la hora de adaptarse a las necesidades de cada región.
“Casi todas sus decisiones van en el sentido contrario del conocimiento bancario convencional, que mantiene que para ser eficiente un banco debe consolidar las actividades operativas y centralizar la toma de decisiones en precios o préstamos”, explican los autores en 'HBR'. Sin embargo, el banco ha mejorado con mucho los ratios entre pérdidas y ganancias del sector debido a su estructura organizativa. Otras empresas con una gran optimización empresarial son Gore-Tex, la compañía de videojuegos Valve, la tomatera Morning Star o la acerera Nucor.

          What One Million Recently Fired Chinese Coal And Steel Workers Are Doing Now        
Having followed China's biggest risk with great interest for the past year, which incidentally is not its $36 trillion in debt, nor its defaults, its zombie companies, its ponzi "wealth products", its currency, its capital outflows, its crony capitalism and corruption, nor its gargantuan capital misallocation, but the threat of a social revolution as a result of a surge in unemployment as entire zombie industries fail, that has always been true biggest risk for Beijing (something the Politburo knows very well), we found it less than surprising when last September a Chinese coal company announced it would fires 100,000. That...
          Telecommunications Industry Stats        
Oracle recently published a blog post that includes some compelling telecommunications industry stats. The telecommunication market: has surpassed USD 1 trillion in revenues is growing in real terms of around 3% per year is growing in share of GDP at 3% is the fastest growing item in household consumption (communication goods and services). has increased […]
          From Made in America to the World        
Ludwig Willisch (far right), President, CEO and Chairman of the Board for BMW (U.S.) Holding Corp., discusses BMW’s manufacturing operations in the United States at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 20, 2017.

In connection with Made in America Week (July 17-21 2017), SelectUSA is proud to highlight the unique advantages of “Made in America” and the important role that foreign direct investment (FDI) plays in U.S. manufacturing.

Manufacturing in the United States is a significant driver of U.S. economic growth, featuring a higher gross output than any other private sector industry. The United States attracts innovative and industrious manufacturers from a wide variety of industries around the world. And U.S. affiliates of foreign-owned firms are playing a significant role in this production renaissance.

According to the latest available data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total value (stock) of foreign direct investment (FDI) in manufacturing reached $1.2 trillion in 2015 – higher than any other sector – comprising nearly 40% of total FDI stock in the nation. Moreover, FDI in U.S. manufacturing is growing at an average annual rate of nearly nine percent, one of the fastest growth rates in the country.

There are many reasons why global manufacturers choose the United States. Made in America represents high-quality, reliability and service to increasingly demanding global consumers. Proximity to customers in the world’s largest market, access to raw materials, and independent, low-cost energy sources help U.S. manufacturers minimize supply chain risks and reduce costs. A thriving innovation ecosystem encourages game-changing product and process innovation. U.S. workers are among the most productive in the world – a key reason why more than 2.4 million U.S. jobs in manufacturing are supported by FDI. And for many, manufacturing in America is not only key to making it in America – but also to their global success.

Take German automaker BMW. The company’s Spartanburg, SC, plant encapsulates its commitment to manufacturing, selling and exporting U.S.-made cars. What began as a facility with a few hundred workers has blossomed into BMW’s largest manufacturing plant in its global network, employing nearly 10,000 U.S. workers.

Chinese chemical company Wanhua Chemical is building a $1.1 billion chemical manufacturing plant in St. James Parish, LA. The massive complex will lead to the creation of more than 1,100 jobs. When the plant is fully operational, it will produce a chemical found in numerous products from a variety of industries, including insulation foam, footwear and furniture.

LINAK U.S. Inc., a Danish linear actuator manufacturing company, recently announced it was doubling the size of its Louisville, KY, plant, which was established almost 20 years ago. The $33 million expansion will result in higher production efficiency, lower costs, and most importantly, more than 400 new jobs. When fully staffed, the facility will support over 700 U.S. jobs.

Stories like these show that when global companies choose the United States, it’s a win-win. When they select the USA, they’re tapping into a vast consumer market. Additionally, they are able to utilize one of the most competitive export platforms in the world. Put simply, “Made in America” is good for business, good for consumers and good for American workers.

To read more about the advantages of investing in the United States, please visit selectusa.gov.

          NOAA Data Helps Retail and Manufacturing Business Minimize Impacts from Weather and Climate        
Photo of down jackets at retail store.

The following is a cross-post from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information

From making sure warm winter coats are in stock at just the right time to accurately evaluating the underlying causes of fluctuations in the U.S. economy, NCEI’s environmental data provide critical information for retailers, manufacturers, and the companies that invest in them. As industries that are highly sensitive to changing weather conditions, retail and manufacturing businesses rely on our climate data to assess how weather has influenced their past sales. By understanding the past, these business can also better plan for the future.

Weather can affect every step of the retail supply chain, from the supplier, to the manufacturer, to the distributor, to the retailer, to consumer purchases. As the seasons change, manufacturers may need to produce different machine parts for equipment like lawn mowers and snow blowers. Similarly, retailers may need to shift the stock of seasonal items like hot cocoa and sandals as temperatures and weather conditions fluctuate.

In the winter, in particular, the weather can dramatically influence economic activity related to the manufacturing and retail industries. A severe snowstorm may keep consumers from shopping at retail stores and dining at restaurants. And, winter weather can prevent goods from getting to market too. For example, when a major snowstorm caused a single-day shutdown in New York, it resulted in $152 million in lost sales. However, major snowstorms can be profitable for online retailers and the automotive repair industry.

The performance of the manufacturing and retail industries is a top indicator of economic well-being. Since they account for $3.2 trillion or 17 percent of the U.S. GDP and an estimated 22 million jobs collectively, the performance of the manufacturing and retail industries is a top indicator of economic well-being. With the right data, manufacturers, retailers, and the companies that invest in them can understand and measure how weather is influencing their bottom lines and the country’s economy.

NCEI’s data are a crucial source of credible and authoritative information for a wide variety of businesses in the retail and manufacturing industries according to an April 2017 report. The report, which compiles feedback from companies in these industries, demonstrates how our climate data products are used to understand the effect of certain weather conditions on business performance. Pairing this information with climate outlooks can then inform how much product to manufacture or how to stock items in various regions of the country.

“We use the NCEI climate data reports when we're reviewing month-over-month and then year-over-year results from our sales territories,” said one company’s sales manager. “If we lost the NCEI climate data, I'd have to go back to the old sales guy excuse of ‘I didn't make my number because it rained.’ I'm not really willing to go there.”

Some of our data products that provide real-world value to the retail and manufacturing industries include:

All of these products help monitor and assess the state of Earth’s climate in near–real time and provide perspectives on how the climate of today compares to the past.

Learn more about how retail and manufacturers are using our data and why it’s so important to them in the video, The Benefit of NCEI Data to Retail and Manufacturing.

          Foreign Direct Investment: Driving Global Competitiveness and Innovation        
Graphic on Direct Employment by Majority Foreign-Owned Firms in the United States.

The following is a cross-post from the U.S. Economic and Development Administration 

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) plays an important role in the U.S. economy. It leads to the creation of jobs, an increase in wealth and living standards, and overall growth and innovation that drive the U.S. economic competitiveness. Later this month, the Commerce Department will host the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit providing a platform to communicate economic priorities and affirm the United States as the number one destination in the world for foreign direct investment.

The United States remains an attractive destination for FDI for a variety of reasons, including a large consumer base, a productive workforce, a highly innovative environment, and legal protections. As a result, foreign firms make investments in the United States on a regular basis by establishing new operations, purchasing existing operations of another company, or providing additional capital to their existing U.S. operations.

The U.S. welcomes foreign investment, and the numbers show that investors have confidence in the opportunities here. With a population of 320 million and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that's over $18 trillion, our nation is home to more FDI stock than any other country.

The numbers paint the big picture:

  • 12.1 million jobs are attributable to FDI.
  • 6.4 million reflects the number of U.S. workers who are directly employed by majority foreign-owned firms.
  • 2.4 million includes jobs attributable to the economic activity of majority foreign-owned firms, including jobs in those firms' supply chains, jobs attributable to higher incomes, and other economic effects.
  • In the manufacturing sector alone, productivity growth from technology spillovers associated with FDI contributed 3.5 million jobs.

At the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administratoin (EDA), FDI is one of our investment priorities. These priorities are designed to provide an overarching framework to guide the agency's investment portfolio and ensure its investments contribute the strongest positive impact on sustainable regional economic growth and diversification.

Since FY2011, EDA invested more than $109 million in 91 projects to help advance local strategies to attract FDI. Of the total, 61 projects totaling close to $98 million are expected to create and/or retain 30,073 jobs and attract over $8 billion in private investment. The other 30 projects totaling close to $12 million support FDI-related planning, research, technical assistance, access to capital, and/or other activities that are essential for successful economic development and job creation in the future.

Examples that show how EDA is investing to support FDI include:

  • Mississippi: Mississippi State University's Canton-based office received the Mississippi Economic Development Council's Community Economic Development Award for its work to bring advanced manufacturing jobs back to America. The program acquired its initial funding through EDA. According to the University, the initiative resulted in a nearly $11 million economic impact, with more than 33 direct investment opportunities identified and 333 jobs created or saved. Additionally, the program saw 262 industry certifications and 221 paid internships in high-demand advanced manufacturing skills.
  • Georgia: Over the last three decades, the global automotive sector has established a noticeable presence in the Southeast United States. From Mercedes in Alabama, to BMW in South Carolina, many automotive manufacturers are seeking to take advantage of the Southeast's comparatively inexpensive cost of doing business, warm climate, and excellent transportation networks. In 2015, EDA invested $700,000 in Public Works Program funds in the city of Lavonia, Georgia, to make sewer systems improvements that helped bring a foreign-based automotive parts manufacturer to the region. As a result, it is estimated that the region will gain 400 new manufacturing jobs and attract $54 million in foreign direct investment.

          Spotlight on Commerce: Melvin Tabilas Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)        
Melvin Tabilas, Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of current and past members of the Department of Commerce during Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Guest blog post by Melvin Tabilas Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

As a Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, I serve as a liaison with Congress, federal agencies, state and local government, and other stakeholders.

I was born and raised on the island of Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific. I graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and earned a Master of Public Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Affairs.

Prior to arriving at the Department of Commerce, I served as a Senior Government Affairs Advisor for the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) where I led the organization’s policy advocacy strategies. While there, I also headed the housing and economic development advocacy strategies for the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a coalition of over 30 national Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations. I was also formerly a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii and also worked as a Field Deputy for Congressman Xavier Becerra of California and California State Senator Debra Bowen.

Having worked with local community organizations supporting underserved minority neighborhoods across the country over the years, I joined the MBDA family in 2016 with a clear understanding that business development is instrumental to the economic well-being of these communities. MBDA gives me an opportunity to continue serving underserved minority communities from the perspective of the federal government.

Minority businesses are American businesses. There are 8 million minority businesses contributing $1.4 trillion to the economy and providing over 7 million jobs across the country. With MBDA being the only federal agency exclusively dedicated to supporting minority businesses, I am part of a diverse team that ensures minority businesses have the access and support necessary to contribute to the nation’s economy. Further, as a Filipino American with ties to Guam and Hawaii, I bring a unique perspective in how to implement the mission of our agency in the Asia Pacific region and a personal stake in making sure government services reach underserved areas of the country.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportunity for me and others to recognize the achievements and contributions that AAPI communities continue to make in building an America for all. While AAPI invites all to celebrate our history and appreciate the diversity of our cultures, it is also a reminder that there is still more to do in and for our communities and that our varied experiences include struggles that must be acknowledged and addressed. To celebrate AAPI for me then is to define America within the context of my personal story and the experiences of my parents as immigrants in Guam.

In recognition of AAPI, MBDA and the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) co-hosted a National AAPI Business Summit at the Department of Commerce earlier this month. As part of the planning committee, I was excited to see that we had more than 200 AAPI business owners, leaders and partners from across the country in attendance, highlighted by Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

I believe that where you come from shapes who you are both personally and professionally. To the younger generation of AAPIs beginning their career in government service, my advice is to never forget where you come from. I’ve always believed that I will lose who I am the minute I stop acknowledging where I come from and where I’ve been. I’ve tried to live this mantra in two ways throughout my career. I try to find opportunities to share the knowledge I’ve learned, the access and resources that I have, and the contacts that I’ve developed to the communities I call my own. I also make it a point to use my experiences to color my perspectives in how I accomplish my tasks and achieve my work goals in any role that I’m in. I’ve always said that if my communities don’t take advantage of me in my role or if I don’t take advantage of my role in serving my communities, it’s a wasted opportunity for both of us. I hope that by never forgetting where I come from, this doesn’t happen.

 My father always said, “You need to know someone’s family in order to truly know them as a person.” While he meant this to explain how he thinks I should look at and come to understand other people, it actually gave me a perspective on how I should see myself. Having this ingrained in my head as a child led me to strive to always make my family proud in all that I did and continue to do because it never was just about me. Over the years, I learned to always be part of something bigger than myself. “Family” for me then has grown to mean not just my family, but my neighborhood and the communities I serve and represent. 

          University Course Credits for MOOC Certificates: One Likely Pathway         
How will MOOC-based learning aid learners in entering and performing in the workplace?

We may imagine MOOC-based learning to serve as a qualification in two ways: let's call them the (1) certificate, (2) credit routes.

On the first, MOOC aggregations of certificates themselves are offered as significant job qualifications on a par with, or as an accepted substitute for, college and university degrees. I discussed this option in my last post. On the second, the certificates will be accepted for college and university credit, and thus become (like conventional courses) components of degree pathways where degrees serve as qualifications.

Certificates as Qualifications

The first route  - the use of MOOC certificates as qualifications - has been explored with mixed results..

In December 2012 Coursera announced the opening of its Career Services program, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Participating firms, which have included Yahoo and Twitter, contract with the MOOC provider for an undisclosed fee to get data on students' performance on Coursera's MOOCs. Both students and Coursera's participating University partners can opt out of the program. Udacity had already announced a similar program.

In 2013 the MOOC provider edX experimented with its own job service, attempting to place its top MOOC students in jobs with similar companies - the leading high-tech firms. Of the more than 800 top performers that edX placed before these firms, only three received interviews and not a single one was offered a job. Following this failed experiment, edX withdrew from the career services arena.

As I recently argued in this blog, this step may have been premature and ill-founded:

The top-tier firms get thousands of applicants from the best university programs in computer science and information systems for every opening. Why would they be interested in experimenting with MOOC learners when they can take their pick of numerous Stanford, MIT and Purdue grads, who have shown the persistence to earn four year degrees, rubbed shoulders with top professors, and networked with other top students who will soon enter the workforce and connect up with hundreds of other hot prospects? 
Meanwhile,  new business start-ups in Silicon Valley, on Massachusetts Route 128, in New York's Silicon Alley and throughout the country hunger for talent. Most organizations will not be able to compete for the top grads of the top-tier university programs. Is it not possible that edX, which is hardly an expert in the employment agency business, simply directed their efforts at the wrong job market.
 New online job placement services appear - almost daily - to link individuals with skills and firms hungry for demonstrated capabilities. How effective MOOC certificates will prove to be as demonstrations of skill remains to be seen.

Certificates as Transfer Credits 

In this post I want to consider whether MOOC certificates are likely to enter into degree pathways - that is, whether colleges and universities are likely, anytime soon, to accept MOOC certificates as transferable credits in their degree pathways.

It will be remembered that by the end of 2012 the American Council on Education, the body responsible for determining the credit-worthiness of college courses, had, as noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, begun to evaluate some MOOCs as credit-worthy. The Chronicle quite rightly proclaimed this as a major step - it signaled that colleges and universities failing to recognize MOOC-based learning could not base their rejection on grounds of academic quality.

But to date, few academic institutions have been willing to grant transfer credit for MOOC certificates. And it is not hard to see why! These organizations have become increasingly dependent on tuition dollars for their daily operations. They are naturally reluctant to accept MOOC-based credits into their degree pathways if in doing so they have to forego tuition revenues. If their degrees require, let us say, 120 credits,  at an average cost per credit of perhaps $700, plus fees, then transferring in a MOOC in lieu of a four-credit course would cost almost $3,000. Accepting up to four such transfer courses would cost up to $12,000 per student. If a significant fraction of their students were able to avoid these tuition costs, the organization would be financially strained if not bankrupted.

However, the combination of rising tuition and rising unemployment/underemployment for recent college grads, has radically decreased the private rate of return on the investment in college. The well-publicized trillion dollar student debt crisis has brought this economic fact to public awareness. Most families consider tuition costs as economic investments intended to increase future earnings. As the rate of return on this investment declines (or goes into minus territory) families are reconsidering the value of college education.

According to a Moody's Investment report on the credit-worthiness of colleges and universities released in November 2013, 40% faced stagnant or declining tuition revenues.

Anemic tuition revenue growth has spread to a larger share of the higher education industry, infecting public universities for the first time in decades. At this pace, tuition-dependent colleges and universities will be challenged to make necessary investments in personnel, programs, and facilities to remain competitive over the longer term," said Karen Kedem, a Moody's senior analyst and author of the report.
Moody's key findings include net tuition revenue declines at a projected 28% of public and 19% of private universities, with net tuition revenue growth below inflation projected for 44% of public and 42% of private universities and total enrollment declines at nearly half of public and private universities.
In addition, federal budget negotiations, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and performance-based funding may result in further stress on colleges if student aid and loan programs are curtailed to any degree, given that a rising share of students are dependent on these funding sources, says Moody's.     
While many colleges and universities will continue to demand that their matriculated students earn - and pay for - their credits internally, others will now be hungry for any and all tuition dollars they can get. Some, faced with declining enrollments, will welcome students offering MOOC certificates - like other life experiences - for credit. Others will see the transfer of MOOC credits, paradoxically, as a profit opportunity.

Consider the recent decision by Ashford University to accept MOOC certificates for credit!

Ashford University is a for-profit academic organization owned by Bridgepoint Education, with a campus in Clinton Iowa and a large and profitable on-line degree operation. The university recently agreed, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, to accept certain ACE approved MOOCs from Coursera and Udacity, for transfer credit.

Ashford University depends for its tuition revenues largely on students with federally guaranteed student loans.Relatively few of its students complete their degree programs. According to Wikipedia, "as for-profit colleges have come under increasing scrutiny, a U.S. Senate report in 2011 listed Ashford's parent company, Bridgepoint, as having one of the highest withdrawal rates of any publicly traded school in the industry." Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has said of Ashford  "I think this is a scam, an absolute scam."   

Nonetheless, Ashford is on to something! According to its website, "The mission of Ashford University is to provide accessible, affordable, innovative, high-quality learning opportunities and degree programs." Let's first focus on "affordable". Ashford's website states prominently that students can transfer in up to 90 credits. That is a generous transfer policy. On the face of it, the policy implies that Ashford is willing to forego tuition revenues for these 90 credits. But consider that that leaves 30 or more credits in the degree pathway - credits for which Ashford can collect tuition revenues. That is very likely 30 credits worth of tuition that the university would not, without its generous transfer policy, otherwise hope to collect. 

Turning to "accessible," more than 95% of Ashford's students are enrolled in its anywhere/anytime on-line degree programs consisting of high margin, readily scalable on-line courses. Students will be paying tuition for courses  with low marginal costs per student. That generous transfer policy, with its embrace of MOOC certificates for credit, looks like a pretty good deal for the university. 

And it might also be an attractive deal for many students. Ashford is aggressively defending its policy of accepting ACE-approved MOOC certificates for credit as a boon to students, and its defense makes a lot of sense. "Requiring students to assume debt and repeat course content they have already mastered does not serve the individual student, the future employer, or the community," said Dr. Lori Williams, Ashford University provost. "Our job as an educational institution is to maximize learning and facilitate development for each student. In turn, students are more likely to complete their programs, have greater independence from debt, and ultimately get into the workforce more quickly."

Ashford and its students will hardly be the only ones to find this deal appealing. Remember those "total enrollment declines at nearly half of public and private universities." Why will those universities not follow in Ashford's footsteps and offer generous transfer policies, including transfer of MOOCs?

At NeoAcademic, Professor Richard Landers  complains that MOOCs exploit students by using them to generate data (something that is standard in 'real courses' but also regulated by informed consent).

I find the word "exploit" in this context offensive. Suppose the MOOC leaders say upfront: "We will be asking you some questions and hope to use the data in our research studying XYZ. We hope you will also learn from these exercises. Mooc participants will also collaborate on creating an online archive of games." And then ask you to check a box before participating in the MOOC. I think this is sufficient informed consent.

The providers are offering something and I see no reason why they can't ask for something. No one (at least for now) has to take any MOOC. The university also offers something, and asks anywhere from $500 to $2500 per CREDIT. Most employers now mandate possession of a college degree even for jobs that do not require the capabilities acquired through college (and which can be gained in other ways). And in the U.S. the total student college debt exceeds $1 TRILLION. If we are looking around for something exploitive, why not start with university education.

          Tampa Bay Times: The unvarnished truth about climate change ... by gimleteye        

Tweet by Neil deGrasse Tyson‏ @neiltyson 2h2 hours ago

Odd. No one is in denial of America’s Aug 21 total solar eclipse. Like Climate Change, methods & tools of science predict it.

Another in a string of excellent OPED's pointing out that Republicans and President Trump are on the far, dark side of history when it comes to climate change denialism. Clearly, GOP campaign contributors know that climate change is real. Oh, there are some who are so convinced -- by virtue of ideology or wealth -- that "the weather is always changing". They refuse to read or to understand the science.

So be it. The rest of America must begin to understand that the refusal to ACT NOW on climate change is a dismal expression of mankind's worst instincts: to selfishness, greed, and the accumulation of unlimited power.

Voters need to elevate the response to climate change to the first order of priority in selecting candidates for public office. There is no time to wait.

Editorial: The unvarnished truth about climate change
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 4:43pm

The latest federal report on the Earth's warming climate doesn't mince words about the disturbing trends, man's contributions or the dangers that millions across the globe already face, especially in low-lying coastal areas in Florida and elsewhere. It is yet another call to action for federal, state and local officials — and they all have a role to play in curbing emissions of heat-trapping gases, shoring up infrastructure, improving flood control and finding more efficient ways for societies to grow and manage their populations.

Drafted by scientists at 13 federal agencies, the report cited the warming trend as "global, long term and unambiguous." Global temperatures have increased by about 1.6 degrees over the past 150 years, the study found, and thousands of studies have created "many lines of evidence" to conclude that human activity is primarily behind the changing climate. The authors found it "extremely likely" that most of the warming since 1951 was caused by humans, and that even if emissions were to cease, existing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would cause temperatures to increase at least a half-degree Fahrenheit over this century.

The report, by 30 lead authors representing agencies such as NASA, federal laboratories, the private sector and universities, is part of the National Climate Assessment. That is a congressionally mandated analysis that seeks to build on the existing science and provide a snapshot of the current state of climate change. It found an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, and warming in the Arctic at twice the rate of the global average — a phenomenon that could impact sea levels, the weather and other patterns in the lower 48 states. One-third of the sea level rise since 1880 has occurred since 1990, and coastal communities from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic are at increasing risk of routine flooding, saltwater intrusion into the drinking water supply and the collapse of roads, utilities and other vital infrastructure. That puts Florida's east and west coastlines at risk, yet Gov. Rick Scott's administration has been less aggressive than local governments in South Florida and Tampa Bay in addressing the challenges.

The findings contradict the talking points of the Trump administration, which has openly questioned the science behind climate change and the degree that humans contribute to it, and which has moved to reverse the clean-air initiatives of the Obama White House. The unpublished analysis was made available to the New York Times days before Sunday's deadline for the 13 federal agencies to approve the report. Making the report public at least forces the Trump administration to explain why it does or does not stand behind the science.

This national assessment lays a foundation for securing federal funding and regulatory direction on climate policy, and it offers state and local governments the technical assistance they need to incorporate the impact of climate change into their planning for infrastructure, land use and other long-term issues. States and cities, though, cannot cede all responsibility to the federal government. Studies show Florida, for example, has invested trillions of dollars in infrastructure with virtually no consideration given to rising sea levels. Rising seas could swell Tampa Bay up to 19 inches over the next quarter-century, putting tens of thousands of residents at risk. The federal study is another wake-up call about a threat that is real, here and more pressing by the day.

Editorial: The unvarnished truth about climate change 08/09/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 4:48pm]

          Baloch up the ante against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor        


Baloch up the ante against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Mon, 7 Aug 2017-03:47pm , ANI

Exiled Baloch leaders and activists will gather in Berlin, Germany, on August 11 to voice their protest against the under construction multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The event titled ?China?s One Belt One Road Initiative - Its adverse impact on Balochistan & the region? would be organized by the European branch of Baloch National Movement (BNM), a Baloch nationalist political group.

Hammal Haider, the foreign secretary of the Baloch National Movement, said, ?The purpose of the Berlin conference is to engage scholars from around the world to have a candid debate on China's One Belt Road One Road (OBOR) initiative.

The Baloch National Movement believes OBOR and its related projects not only affect Balochistan but also other nations in the world.

?In this situation, I think, it?s high time we work with other nations and countries who also oppose OBOR / CPEC?, he said.

The BNM has invited experts, analysts, journalists, economists, civil society actors and policy makers to discuss the impact of economic corridor.

People in Balochistan, Pakistan?s resource rich province, are opposing CPEC, which runs mostly through the region. Balochistan is in the throes of a popular movement for self-determination that is gathering intensity by the day.

For the indigenous Baloch people, CPEC is seen as a threat. As CPEC gets implemented in Balochistan, there is a fear of a massive inflow of migrants from different areas of Pakistan which will change the demography of Balochistan and reduce the Baloch people to a permanent minority in their historic homeland.

Ghaffar Baloch, President of BNM Germany, told ANI, ?CPEC is no way an economic project. Pakistan and China together are building a military infrastructure in Balochistan?s coastal areas. The purpose is to strengthen their military supremacy in the region which we believe will undermine the stability of the region.?

Nevertheless, Chinese footprints are on the increase in Pakistan and inroads into Balochistan is becoming increasingly visible.

In order to provide security to Chinese facilities, Pakistan is raising special security groups and intensifying army operations in Balochistan.

The number of the dead and disappeared is increasing and there is a total blackening out of information about the same in the media. Rather than bringing growth and prosperity to people of Balochistan, CPEC has become a call of death for the people in this unfortunate and forgotten corner of the world.

China came up with its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in 2013, and during the last four years, it has displayed its willingness to follow through on its plans.

It is gaining traction as more and more countries from around the world are joining OBOR. This was evident in the May 2017 meeting in Beijing where the Chinese President called it the ?project of the century?. The OBOR is now being renamed as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to overcome the limitations of the earlier nomenclature, ?One belt one road?, because it is expected to involve many roads and many belts.

The initiative involves investment of about USD four trillion or more as it is in an ever-expanding mode and more and more countries are joining it in the hope of reaping trade and commercial dividends out of massive infrastructure bring built around Asia, Europe and Africa to facilitate flow of goods and services.

China aims to be at the centre of a massive economic transformation such grand initiative would galvanize.

The project seeks to enable a 21st century ?Silk Route?, comprising both overland and maritime access routes through installation of new, as well as upgradation of existing transport and communication infrastructure in countries hoping to reap the dividends.

(This article has not been edited by DNA's editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed

          CSU Study Assesses Impact of Paid Sick Leave on Preventive Care         

Workers without paid sick leave are 1.6 times less likely to get a flu shot

Preventative CareMore than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and do not have to pay for 15 preventive screenings recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Yet, despite this advantage, many are not utilizing these lifesaving screenings and are contributing to the nation’s soaring health care costs, which reached a whopping $3 trillion in 2014.

Researchers from Cleveland State University and Florida Atlantic University are the first to use data after the implementation of the ACA to get to the root of what factors are contributing to the low rates of preventive care use. Results of their study, published in the current issue of the journal Preventive Medicine, illuminate the importance of the role paid sick leave benefits plays in the lives of employees and ultimately in public health. 

“Compared to 22 similarly developed countries, the United States is the only one that does not mandate employers to provide paid sick leave benefits or include paid sick leave in a universal social insurance plan,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, lead author and an associate professor in the School of Social Work within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry.

For the study, the research team, co-led by Patricia Stoddard Dare an associate professor of social work at Cleveland State, used cross-sectional data from a sample of 13,545 adults aged 18-64 with current paid employment from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). They examined the relationship between having paid sick leave and obtaining eight preventive care services: blood pressure check; cholesterol check; fasting blood sugar check; getting a flu shot; being seen by a medical doctor or health care provider; getting a Pap test (females only); getting a mammogram (females only); and getting tested for colon cancer. The analysis controlled for demographic and other important predictor variables including gender, marital status, education, race/ethnicity, full time work, insurance coverage, health status, limiting health conditions, family income, age, and family size. 

Regardless of sociodemographic factors, the researchers found that workers who lack paid sick leave were significantly less likely to have received preventive health care screenings in the last 12 months, even among those previously told that they have a condition such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease that places them at higher medical risk. They also found that workers without paid sick leave are 1.6 times less likely to have received a flu shot in the past 12 months.

Additional findings from the study reveal that American workers without paid sick leave were:

  • 30 percent less likely to have had a blood pressure check in the last 12 months
  • 40 percent less likely to have had a cholesterol check in the last 12 months
  • 24 percent less likely to have had a fasting blood sugar check in the last 12 months
  • 19 percent less likely to have seen or talked to a physician or health care provider in the last 12 months
  • 23 percent less likely to have had a Pap test in the last 12 months

“Our findings demonstrate that even when insured adults are provided with free preventive screenings, paid sick leave is a significant factor associated with actually using the screenings,” said DeRigne.  “American workers risk foregoing preventive health care, which could lead to the need for medical care at later stages of disease progression and at a higher cost for workers and the American health care system as a whole.”

The two most common ways to offer paid sick leave is by mandating employer-funded benefits or through a universal social insurance program funded through taxes. The Healthy Families Act, introduced in Congress in 2015, uses the employer-funded model and would allow workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave if their employer has more than 15 employees and seven unpaid days for employers who have less than 15 employees. The bill has not yet been introduced in the current Congressional session.  

“Our data can be used by health care professionals, policy makers and others to consider the expansion of access to evening and weekend hours as well as mobile, community-based, and workplace health and wellness services,” added Stoddard Dare. “When workers forgo essential preventive health care such as flu shots, the public health implications are immense. This is particularly relevant for service related employees, food preparation workers and others who have low access to paid sick leave coverage.”

The article also was co-authored by Cyleste C. Collins, Ph.D., assistant professor at Cleveland State University, and Linda Quinn, Ph.D., college associate lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Cleveland State University.


          So Much Less Than The Great I Am        
If there is one single mental component which engenders the belief that one has, or is in possession of, humanity's longest held zeitgeist the 'immortal soul' it is a person's ego. Only via egotistical thinking can one conclude human consciousness(the 'person'/'self') is not engendered by the biology in which it manifests but instead is somehow independent thereof and can therefore continue to exist, intact, indefinitely and independent of the only location ever known for that 'person', its functioning biology.
While it's likely, after centuries of "slaughter the unbeliever" and elevated breeding levels among the doctrinally oppressed, some are born with an 'Id' that's genetically predisposed to believe the 'immortal soul' notion, I think one may suggest that the presence of such among the population is born of the existence of the egotistical notion triggering epigenetic changes over time.
Could one suggest then that it's the presence of Ego alone that engenders the ready acceptance of eternal life fantasies?

I think so; here's why.
I, one of the soulless, an unbeliever, consider the "I" that is me to be the current culmination of this biochemical genetic colony's life experiences and its current chemical state. The "I" that is me "exists"(has power in the cosmos) for only 1/40th of a second1, then is gone, lost forever, an imprint on the chronology of the cosmos. And is instantly replaced by a new version of "I" with 1/40th of a second more experience2, a new chemical state and responsibility for all this colony's prior acts. When, after a lifetime of about 100 trillion conscious moments, this genetic colony finally fails beyond the capacity for internal or external maintenance or repair, there will be one final "I" before the consecutive stream of "I's" that made up the "me" can no longer be generated. The memory of that recorded "me", who imprinted on the shape of the cosmos for the merest blink of the cosmological timescale, lingers in the consciousness of all or a portion of society then diminishes over a period of time relating roughly to the recorded accomplishments. For the "I" that is "me" the "I" does not extend beyond the single conscious moment and the recorded "me" cannot exist beyond the means which engendered it.

You, one of the soulful, a believer, consider the "I" that is you to be an eternal entity, able to live beyond the biochemistry, extending from before conception, way beyond the single moment and long past the death of the genetic colony stretching on into an distant, possibly unending, future. An "I" of such importance the cosmos will not allow it to expire.

So the question here is...
Which "I" has the bigger Ego?

This is one of the Too Many Questions

1 "1/40th of a second" : Supporting evidence/explanation here
2 "1/40th of a second more experience" : The nature and depth of the experience available in this time period is determined by the complexity of the "I" experiencing the moment. For more on this see Conscious Of Consciousness.

ego: Oxford Dictionaries
1. A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
1.1 Psychoanalysis - The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. Compare with id and superego.
1.2 Philosophy (In metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.

id: Oxford Dictionaries
Psychoanalysis - The part of the mind in which innate instinctive impulses and primary processes are manifest

This is one of the Too Many Questions
Please leave a comment - Anything will do
The best communications are often,

          Critically Acclaimed Documentaries        
This post contains suggestions for how to earn your Be Creative: E-lectrified and Keep It Real: E-lectrified badges.
Learn more and earn badges on the Connect Your Summer page.

A look at the high-wire walk made by Philippe Petit in 1974 between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City, and how it is still considered one of history's most artistic crimes.

The legacy of Roger Ebert's life, recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of the world-renowned film critic and social commentator, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America .

2014's Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour is a real life international thriller that unfolds by the minute. With unprecedented access, this gripping behind-the-scenes chronicle follows award-winning director Laura Poitras (My Country, My Country) and journalist Glenn Greenwald's remarkable encounters with whistle-blower Edward Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents that provide evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). The documentary not only shows the dangers of government surveillance, but makes audiences feel them. After seeing the film, viewers will never think the same way about their phone, e-mail, credit cards, web browser or digital footprint again..

They are the voices behind the greatest Rock, Pop and R&B hits of all time, but no one knows their names. Now in this award-winning documentary, director Morgan Neville shines the spotlight on the untold stories of such legendary background singers as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill and more.

Investigates the torture and killing of an innocent Afghani taxi driver in a gripping probe into reckless abuses of government power. This stunningly crafted narrative demonstrates how one man's life and death symbolizes the erosion of our civil rights.

A film about tough, highly competitive quadriplegic rugby players. These men have been forced to live life sitting down, but in their own version of the full-contact sport, they smash each other in custom-made gladiator-like wheelchairs. Tells the story of a group of world-class athletes unlike any ever shown on screen. In addition to smashing chairs, it will smash every stereotype you ever had about the disabled.

Also available in: e-video

Killer whales are beloved, majestic, friendly giants, yet infamous for their capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of the notorious performing whale Tilikum, who, unlike any orca in the wild, has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. Blackfish expands on the discussion of keeping such intelligent creatures in captivity.

In 1975, director Alejandro Jodorowsky began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12-year-old son alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including H. R. Giger and Jean "Moebius" Giraud, Jodorowsky's adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel Dune was poised to change cinema forever. Through interviews with legends and luminaries including H. R. Giger (artist, Alien), Gary Kurtz (producer, Star Wars Episodes IV & V) and Nicolas Winding Refn (director, Drive), and an intimate and honest conversation with Jodorowsky, director Frank Pavich's film finally unearths the full saga of 'The Greatest Movie Never Made'.

A documentary on confessed pedophile priest Oliver O'Grady and attempts by the Catholic Church to cover up his actions. Includes interviews with O'Grady and his victims.

At 14, Toronto school friends Steve 'Lips' Ludlow and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, went on to become the 'demigods of Canadian metal,' releasing one of the heaviest albums in metal history, 1982's Metal on Metal.

Provided is an analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research, and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia.

Also available in: e-video

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world's greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro's sushi bar.

Also available in: e-video

The Square is one of the most awarded documentaries of the past decade. It was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award for 'Best Documentary Feature' and won 3 Emmy Awards, as well as multiple film festivals awards, including the Audience Awards at the 2013 Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals. The film is a in depth first hand look at the Egyptian Revolution chronicling the fall of two Presidents in a row.

          The Google Books Mess        
There were a couple of tell-tale signs last week that Google may be having some pain and problems with its vastly ambitious Google Books project. First, was the news that Google was pulling the plug on its corresponding, open-ended, plan to scan and database masses of historic newspaper archives. Second a report that Google was diverting all its programmers from its eBookstore and perhaps not vigorously pursuing plans selling eBooks.

The problem that Google has, is that there was huge momentum within the company towards its grandiose plan for a comprehensive universal digital library and this vision, with its accompanying class action settlement [ASA or amended settlement agreement] was decisively stopped in March by the opinion of Judge Chin (USDC SDNY)

While the digitization of books and the creation of a
universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would
simply go too far. It would permit this class action - - which
was brought against defendant Google Inc. ("Google") to challenge
its scanning of books and display of "snippets" for on-line
searching - - to implement a forward-looking business arrangement
that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire
books, without permission of the copyright owners. Indeed, the
ASA would give Google a significant advantage over competitors,
rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted
works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond
those presented in the case. (Opinion 22 March 2011)

Chin's decision is styled an opinion, and it might yet be appealed or revised, but most observers would tell you that it has pretty well stopped the Google project in its tracks.

Google has got a lot of figuring out to do:

  1. Google is not out of its legal woes, although such a rich and powerful company can probably stall or out-manoeuvre the authors and publishers who are parties to the original suite in the USA. Yet Google will need some resolution to the case or it risks enormous damages for breach of copyright ($3.6 trillion according to one scholar).
  2. Google will not find it straightforward to avoid legal actions in other jurisdictions. It has ongoing legal woes in France, and if some French publishers win substantial damages, many others will charge through these same gates.
  3. Google is continuing to scan without permission millions of works which are not out of copyright on behalf of its library partners. So the liabilities grow.
  4. Google will be required to deliver digital library services to some of its core collaborating libraries. The libraries of Michigan and Stanford in particular. To the extent that these services depend on copyright works digitized without permission Google remains at significant risk.
  5. There will be increasing concern about advantages that may accrue to Google from the works that it has already scanned and databased, and which it may use in ways impervious and invisible to external actors. Perhaps Google will gain enormous advantage in the fields of search, automated translation and semantic technologies through private access to vast amounts of unregistered, unlicensed, copyright material. That putative advantage creates legal risks for Google from competitors and regulators.
  6. Without a recognized and legitimized settlement Google cannot deliver services of general public benefit, and at some point Google loses good will. Without a settlement Google cannot even be generous.
  7. Google has plenty of agreements with publishers and authors for the distribution, display and potential licensing of millions of copyright works. So it could be an active participant in the eBooks market, but it has been strangely hesitant and stuttering in recent years about its commercial activities. Almost certainly because Google's lawyers are anxious about the way such commercial exploitation may play against the unresolved matters in dispute. If Google carries on havering it will lose its opportunity in the digital books market, much as it appears to be losing its opportunity in the market for digital music.
I am not sure that Google has an easy way of stepping out of this mess. But it needs to find, or create through disruptive action, some solution.

The original goal of a universal library designed, built and maintained by a single technical player was hubristic and naive, driven by the enthusiasm and commitment of the founders (Page in particular who felt that he owed a debt to his alma mater, the University of Michigan). Google's best hope now would be to distance its involvement from the prospect of private gain and to place all works not public domain, and not explicitly licensed to Google, in the sole care and control of the public academic institutions from which the original works were taken, and to renounce any commercial advantage through its involvement in converting 'orphan' works. Google will have to pay the authors and publishers something (if only to cover some of the legal bills, that will otherwise be pursued to the bitter end on a contingency basis by the other side), it can afford to finance the first blocks of a Rights Registry, but it should be more open and more public, more consultative, in part foundation funded, than the original design. Google does not need and should not look for special advantages on rights and forward-looking business models. If Google were to do that it could help to promote the cause of orphan works legislation in a disinterested manner. Google needs to get legitimate, beyond all shadow of doubt, fast.

Google often likes to play the 'open' card, but it has been far too closed and 'private' over its books project. It needs to rethink the game-plan and its style of involvement. That way it will retain the good will of the library community and the reading public. By being highly generous and public spirited it looks after the interests of its shareholders also. Page is now CEO and he may need to bite on the books bullet and own up to a change of course, only be being much more open and generous can Google hope to make something like the Google Books project a reality.
          What the 20 Trillion Dollar National Debt Means for Investors        

The post What the 20 Trillion Dollar National Debt Means for Investors appeared first on Fortress Gold Group.

          Spring 2017 tech reading        
Hello and a belated happy new year to you! Here's another big list of articles I thought was worth sharing. As always thanks to the authors who wrote these articles and to the people who shared them on Twitter/HackerNews/etc.

Distributed systems (and even plain systems)


SQL lateral view

Docker and containers

Science and math


Java streams and reactive systems

Java Lambdas

Just Java

General and/or fun

Until next time!

          Fall 2015 tech reading        
Big systems:
Until next time!
          Calling it “austerity” doesn’t make it so        
Nick Gillespie provides a reality check on some particularly imaginative use of “austerity” in describing the end of the Bush administration and the start of the Obama administration: In constant 2010 dollars, the federal government spent about $2.3 trillion in 2001. By 2010, the total was around $3.6 trillion. And though the federal government has […]
          A billion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you’re talking about imaginary money        
Mark Steyn on the crossing of the psychological Rubicon: At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial. Tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke – broker than any nation has ever been. A few days […]
          Are we facing a crash in the value of the US dollar?        
Conrad Black certainly makes a strong case to expect it sooner, rather than later: When Barack Obama took office, the official normal money supply of the United States was about $1.1-trillion. The $3-trillion in federal budget deficits that have been run up since then have largely, technically, escaped the money supply, though accretions have almost […]
          Column: When capitalism only rewards shareholders, it’s time for reform        
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTX27DT0

Today’s Anglo-American version of capitalism largely ignores the fact that corporations owe their powers to society, their employees, their customers and other stakeholders and not just to shareholders and executives, writes professor Bruce Scott of the Harvard Business School. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Editor’s Note: On both sides of the Atlantic, populist resentments are stewing. In the United Kingdom, this was epitomized by the vote for Brexit — the British exit from the European Union. And as the number of people in the middle class falls in the United States, wide discontent with economic prospects grows, as does support for candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. But what is at the root of stagnating incomes and increasing inequality? Harvard Business School professor Bruce Scott thinks economists are missing a key cause: “shareholder capitalism.” Below, he lays out a compelling case for the need to reform shareholder capitalism.

— Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers recently warned of populist opposition to the international integration of markets in continental Europe, but his notion that globalization has caused the stagnation of incomes and diminution of opportunities for the bulk of the population is only part of the issue. Part of the problem lies within the firms themselves. British firms, like their U.S. counterparts, shifted from stakeholder capitalism to shareholder capitalism back in the 1970s and 1980s.

Shareholder capitalism has become a means of extracting value from companies, not adding value to companies.

Today’s Anglo-American version of capitalism largely ignores the fact that corporations owe their powers to society, their employees, their customers, suppliers, taxpayers and other stakeholders, and not just to shareholders and executives. The shareholder model focuses corporations on maximizing stock price (as opposed to optimizing the value provided to the company’s stakeholders) and pays excessive compensation to top executives. The disparity in incomes between the highest paid executives and the lowest paid employees is grossly excessive.

According to a Sept. 23, 2014 Harvard Business Review article by Gretchen Gavett, the actual CEO-to-employee compensation ratio in the UK is 84 to 1, and in the U.S., it is 354 to 1, or more than four times greater than in the UK. Thus, the U.S. faces even greater income disparity problems than those facing Britain’s new prime minister, and the resentment in the United States is arguably even stronger.

READ MORE: Average CEO pay was $15.5 million in 2015, down from 2014

Until Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals to add employee and consumer representation to the board and to limit executive pay and incentive compensation, neither Britain nor the United States government nor either of the leading candidates for the presidency had thus far shown any sign of recognizing the role of stakeholders — as opposed to shareholders — in the way capitalism functions in British or U.S. society.

Shareholder capitalism has become a means of extracting value from companies, not adding value to companies. High rates of executive pay and, even more so, the use of aggressive stock buybacks do not create value for a firm’s stakeholders. Instead, they provide a rationale or intellectual cover to allow a limited number of people to extract value to the disadvantage of everyone else.

Economist William Lazonick has written a prize winning analysis in the September 2014 Harvard Business Review on these circumstances, which he titles “Profits Without Prosperity.” It shows how skillful business leaders can capture the regulatory system as a way to plunder their neighbors while criticizing the misfortunes of “excessive business regulation.”

Anglo-American capitalism is failing to generate additional income for any but the top 1 percent of the population, and capitalists are enriching themselves as in the 1920s.

In the July 12 edition of Financial Times, Martin Wolf quotes the work of Robert Gordon, a distinguished economist from Northwestern University, to the effect that in the U.S., growth has slowed dramatically since the period between 1920 and 1970 and still more since 2004 and that “the distribution of the gains has shifted away from those below the top 10 percent of the income distribution. This helps explain the increasingly fraught politics of the U.S. and other high-income countries,” like England. At the same time that growth is slowing, the growth rate for the bottom two-thirds of the populations has essentially fallen close to zero. It should be no wonder that there is frustration with the political system.

Both Britain and the U.S. need to get back into the game of establishing and enforcing realistic and appropriate rules for how our societies want capitalism to operate. They need to reaffirm that the charter for a firm comes from society and not just from shareholders.

As an example of the egregious way the supposedly level playing field has become imbalanced, in 1982, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission altered its regulations to allow firms to repurchase their own shares in a framework that invited abuse. Roughly 10 years ago, those purchases began to equal $300 billion to $400 billion per year; over a period of 30 years, the amount of stock taken out of circulation is approaching $10 trillion. Much of this should have been plowed back into new product development, research or employee training.

READ MORE: Column: The biggest scam bankrupting business and the middle class

Anglo-American capitalism is failing to generate additional income for any but the top 1 percent of the population, and capitalists are enriching themselves as in the 1920s. These issues need to be addressed directly through reforms in and to our capitalist systems and not just through more “responsible nationalism.”

It is a shame that there has been virtually no debate on how our capitalist systems are functioning with respect to societal welfare on either side of the Atlantic, and we should welcome the notion of a new British prime minister who thinks they might be important. It is a shame that there is so little evidence of real reflection on what might be needed to improve the U.S. system. Instead, both U.S. authorities and higher education seem narrowly focused on the need for more attention to English, math and science, while U.S. business schools focus on shareholder capitalism. U.S. academic leaders do not seem willing to recognize and take into consideration that there are other overarching factors at work, like democracy and capitalism and how they interact with each other.

Capitalism is not a self-regulating system and never has been.

In government, higher education and business, we badly need a renewal of ideas on how capitalism and democracy transform each other and what might be done to get them back on the track again. Capitalism is not a self-regulating system and never has been. It is a socially constructed system that needs regular attention by people who recognize that there is a critical role for government in modern societies to balance the playing field and to provide appropriate and competent regulation where it is needed. Indeed, there can be no capitalism at all without the involvement of government to shape appropriate market frameworks by, for example, abolishing the repurchase of stock in all but exceptional and infrequent circumstances.

The post Column: When capitalism only rewards shareholders, it’s time for reform appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

          White House getting religion on deficit?        

After almost a year of big, new spending proposals - to say nothing of the tab that will come along with government run health care - the White House is signaling that this year's one and a half trillion dollar deficit might be a political problem that needs to be dealt with after all. 

It's a good bet that what this really represents is their recognition of what's happening in elections in Virginia, New Jersey and New York - and their trying to inoculate themselves against similar political damage in the future.

From the Washington Times... 

Anxiety about the deficit has fueled the anger of the conservative "tea party" activists, riled by government spending and debt, and it has seeded reservations about the long-term price tags of signature items on the president's agenda...

A speech last week by Christina D. Romer, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, looked at the reasons for the deficit and at how it relates to health care reform. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday to make clear that the administration recognizes the deficit is growing too large.

"Well, it's going to have to come down. Now it's too high, and I think everybody understands this," Mr. Geithner said. "The president's very committed to bring down these deficits."

Republicans have hammered the administration for government spending levels, and public polling for the first time is showing that the American public is losing confidence in the president's handling of the economic crisis. That shift occurred in the middle of last month, when a range of public surveys showed that more people (46.9 percent) disapproved of the president's handling of the economy than approved of it (45 percent), according to the Web site Pollster.com. ...

Mr. Orszag's speech will not contain any new proposals or policy solutions, but will attempt to lay a foundation for the conversations to come next year. ...

In other words, it's just words...  Oh, and they plan to continue to blame everything on Bush.

As his top aides try to make clear that they recognize the problem, Mr. Obama has added an element to his speeches: He reminds the public that he "wasn't sworn in yet" when the nation's economy took a nosedive.

So what do they plan to do?

The White House on Monday was noncommittal on one of the top political solutions under discussion: the creation of a bipartisan commission to study the problems of the long-term deficit and debt and to deliver recommendations to Congress for up or down votes that could not be amended.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that the idea will "be looked at."

Which likely means "no", because it would have to result in recommended reductions in entitlements...which liberals won't stomach.

So just what kind of deficit/debt are we looking at now?  The ten year forecast of deficits via Obama budgeting is nine trillion...which will be added to our current debt of almost twelve trillion - a number that's bigger than the entire annual US economy.


          Political Roundup: 10/29/09        

Spending, schmending...

The Wall Street Journal has a great op-ed out today looking at government spending, as in how high it already is, and how much more the DC crowd wants to pile on top of it.

"The White House disclosed the other day that the fiscal 2009 budget deficit clocked in at $1.4 trillion, amid the usual promises to do something about it. Yet even as budget director Peter Orszag was speaking, House Democrats were moving on a dozen spending bills for fiscal 2010 that total 12.1% in more domestic discretionary increases. "

Yep, you read that right.  12.1%  And how much of that do you think is "one time only" spending, instead of "systemic"?  (hint: none)

They point out that from 2001-2008, the GOP raised spending at about double the rate of inflation...while the current crop of Democrats are besting inflation by six to one.

Quote of the Week:

The big spending ways of Congressional Democrats brings us to this quote of the week from New York's Church Schumer on Meet the Press.

He stated that:  "Barack Obama and we Democrats-this is counterintuitive but true-are really trying to get a handle on balancing the budget and we're making real efforts to do it."

No shame.

Poll: 33% Say U.S. Is Heading In The Right Direction (67% really paying attention...)

Believe it or not, according to the latest Rasmussen poll, 33% of the people in this country actually believe we are "heading in the right direction".  Which pretty much identifies either hard core Obama supporters and/or people who don't pay taxes.  Just think of it as a Democrat voter ID project.

Twenty Questions for the "opt out"

The Heritage Foundation has put together a list of twenty questions on Harry Reid's "opt out" version of Obamacare.  Probably the most important is number 18:

"If a state opts out of the public plan, will the citizens of that state still be required to pay the requisite federal taxes that would subsidize the citizens of other states?"

(three guesses and the last two don't count)

AP confirms abortion covered by Obamacare

The Associated Press has finally confirmed what people in the pro-life movement have been saying since the first version of Obamacare rolled out of a congressional committeee - that the current legislation which stops federal funding for abortion (the Hyde amendment), doesn't apply to any of existing versions of Obamacare.  (via Lifenews)

"Currently a law called the Hyde amendment bars federal funding for abortion - except in cases of rape and incest or if the mother's life would be endangered - and applies those restrictions to Medicaid," AP writer Erica Werner reports. "Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs."

"But the Democrats' health overhaul bill would create a new stream of federal funding not covered by the restrictions," AP confirms.

(Click here and let your members of Congress know how you feel about it!)

          Passphrase dictionary attack countermeasures in tklbam's keying mechanism        

Background: how a backup key works

In TKLBAM the backup key is a secret encrypted with a passphrase which is uploaded to the Hub.  Decrypting the backup key yields the secret which is passed on to duplicity (and eventually to GnuPG) to be used as the symmetric key with which backup volumes are encrypted on backup and decrypted on restore.

When you create a new backup, or change the passphrase on an existing backup, a new backup key is uploaded to the Hub where it is stored in the key field for that backup record.

When you restore, tklbam downloads the backup key from the Hub and decrypts it locally on the computer performing the restore. Note that the Hub only allows you to download the backup key for backup records to which you have access (e.g., you are the owner).

Only you can decrypt your passphrase protected backups

All of this matters because it means that as long as you use a passphrase to protect the key, even the Hub can't decrypt your backups, only you can - provided you remember the passphrase (or failing that, at least have the escrow key stored in a safe place).

In other words, the decryption of the backup key happens locally and at no point does the passphrase reach the Hub, so we can't decrypt your backup even if you asked us to. Neither can an attacker that has theoretically compromised the Hub, or a government agency that comes kicking down our door with a court warrant.

The problem with cryptographic passphrases

But wait. If an attacker has local access to the key, his ability to run dictionary attacks to find the key's passphrase is limited only by the computational resources he can throw at it.

Remember there's a critical difference between a passphrase used for authentication purposes (e.g., to an online service) and a passphrase used for cryptographic purposes.

By contrast, a passphrase used for authenticating to an online service doesn't need to be as strong as a passphrase that is used cryptographically because with an online service, even if no explicit countermeasures are used (e.g., IP blacklisting on too many failed attempts) there is still a network between the attacker and the service. The available bandwidth places a debilitating upper limit on how many passphrases can be tried per second. Also, in practice there are usually  bottlenecks in other places which would slow down an online dictionary attack even further.

But a passphrase used for cryptographic purposes assumes the attacker has access to the ciphertext, and that's a whole different ball game.

To better understand what we're up against, here's the formula for calculating the size of the passphrase search space:

log(howmany_different_possible_values ** howmany_values) / log(2)

For example, consider a typical 6 letter password.

6 ASCII printable letters = maximum 42-bits of search space.

That's a maximum of 4 trillion possible combinations. Which sounds like a lot. But it really isn't, since:

  1. You can probably squeeze out about 1 million local passphrase tests per second from a modern multi-core workstation, assuming a typical passphrase encryption method is used.

  2. This is one of those problems that are trivial to parallelize.

    If you rent just 100 computers (e.g., in the cloud) you could exhaustively search through 42-bits in about 5 days.

    And remember, today the bad guys often have millions of computers at their disposal via botnets.

  3. People are very bad at choosing truly random passwords. A clever attacker will try the low hanging fruit first, so they're likely to find out your passphrase much sooner than by brute forcing blindly through the full search space.

    For example, say you know a 6 letter password is much too short for an encryption key and instead you're using a longer random combination of 10,000 common English words:

    • 2 words = 18-bits worth of search space.
    • 3 words = 27-bits worth of search space.
    • 4 words = 36-bits worth of search space.

    English words aren't very random so your "paranoid" 3 word, 17 letter passphrase may actually be easier to crack than a truly random combination of just 4 ASCII printable characters (28-bits).

    For comparison, let's see what happens if you use 6 random individual characters.

    If you just use random lowercase characters the search space is reduced to 27-bits which is 32,768 times easier to search through than the full 42-bit search space of 6-letter ASCII printable passwords.

    If you just use random lowercase characters and numbers, the search space is 30-bits which is 4,096 times easier to search through.

    If you just use random lowercase and uppercase characters and numbers, the search space is 35-bits which is 128 times easier to search through.

The good news is that each bit of search space doubles the expense for the attacker.

The bad news is that it takes a truly random combination of 11 uppercase, lowercase characters and numbers just to reach 64-bits worth of search space, and a 10M strong botnet could crack even that in an average of 10 days.

Bottom line: even your supposedly ultra-paranoid passphrase (e.g., r0m4n14nv4mp1r344rdv4rkn3st) of 4 random words from a dictionary of 150K words (in l33t speak) only has about 50-bits worth of entropy, despite being 27 characters long. A 10,000 botnet could crack that in about a day.

Countermeasures: increase computational cost

Though it's impossible to prevent these attacks entirely I've implemented a couple of countermeasures in the way TKLBAM generates passphrase protected keys:

1) The first trick: increase how computationally expensive it is to calculate the cipher key from the passphrase:

def _repeat(f, input, count):
    for x in xrange(count):
        input = f(input)
    return input

def _cipher_key(passphrase, repeats):
    cipher_key = _repeat(lambda k: hashlib.sha256(k).digest(),
                         passphrase, repeats)

The principle is that calculating a hash costs CPU time so by feeding the hash into itself enough times we can linearly increase how expensive it is to map the passphrase-space to the key-space.

For example, repeating the hash routine 100,000 times takes about a quarter second on one of the cores of my computer. If I use all 4 cores this limits me to generating 16 cipher keys per second. Down from 1.6 million cipher keys per second. So that's one way to dramatically reduce the practical feasibility of a dictionary or exhaustive brute force attack.

Note that an attacker can't circumvent this calculation by searching through the key-space directly because even after we increase the cost of generating the passphrase space a 100,000 times over, the cost of trying to bruteforce the 256-bit key-space directly is still countless trillions of times greater.

The weakness of this technique is that an attacker would have to pay the cost of mapping the passphrase-space (e.g., a dictionary) to the key-space only once when trying to crack multiple keys.

2) The second trick: increase how computationally expensive it is to decrypt the key packet by increasing the number of times we pass it through encryption:

def _cipher(cipher_key):
    return AES.new(cipher_key, AES.MODE_CBC)

ciphertext = _repeat(lambda v: _cipher(cipher_key).encrypt(v),
                     _pad(plaintext), cipher_repeats)

This part of the computational expense is key-specific so trading off memory to pre-calculate the mapped key-space won't help you with this step.

Implementation notes

Embedding repeat parameters in the key packet

The current implementation hardwires 100,000 repeats of the hash, and another 100,000 repeats of the cipher.

This makes searching through the passphrase-space about 200,000 times more expensive. On my workstation it takes 0.5 seconds to encrypt or decrypt a key (per-core).

I'm not sure these are the ideal parameters but they are in the ball park of how much you can increase the computational expense before usability suffers.

That's not to say you couldn't go higher, but there's a practical upper boundary to that too. If you're willing to wait about a minute for key generation/decryption you could increase the computational expense about 100 times over and that would give you 100 times better protection or allow you to use a password that is 100 times weaker with the same protection.

Just in case, to allow the number of repeats to change or be user configurable in the future the key formatter routine embeds the repeat parameters into the unencrypted portion of the key packet. This allows the key parsing routine to extract these parameters from the key itself so it can just as easily parse a 0.5 second key (I.e., the current default) as a 5 second, or 50 second key.

Embedding a version id

Just to make sure the key format is future proof I'm also embedding a version id into it.

Embedding a version costs almost nothing (an extra byte) and makes it easier to support incompatible changes to the key format should the need arise (e.g., changing of cipher/hash, changing the format, etc.).

Worst case scenario, we increment the version and implement a new incompatible key format. Old clients won't be able to understand the new key format but will at least fail reliably, and new clients will be able to support both new and old key formats.

          THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot        
Rebecca Skloot's THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS is an enthralling look at the origin of HeLa cells that grew "with [such] mythological intensity," that they "seemed unstoppable." They were a "continuously dividing line of cells all descended from one original sample" acquired from Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who suffered from a particularly virulent form of cervical cancer complicated by syphilis...Neither she nor her family had any idea that the cells obtained from her cervix in 1951 would eventually number in the trillions and become a vital part of medical research all over the world.
          India and Australia: Why the two countries such close business partners        
With India's GDP set to grow from $US7 trillion to $38 trillion by 2040, why Australia is uniquely placed to cater for its requirements.
          UBS reports millennials could be worth up to $24 trillion by 2020        
A report from UBS says millennials could be worth $24 trillion by 2020.
          Do Not Let Janet Yellen Turn the Federal Reserve Into a Safe Space        

Over the past several years, there has been a move to make college campuses an ideological bubble where only preferred and pre-approved perspectives are allowed, known as “safe spaces.” It seems this line of thinking is not only on college campuses as some of our politicians have been calling for that as well. Most recently, Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen openly suggested turning the Federal Reserve into a safe space.

For some context, Janet Yellen said this in response to growing calls that the Federal Reserve receive a full audit, which has never happened. Calls for a full audit of the federal reserve have been high with three quarters of Americans consistently supporting an audit and there has been a new push with the election of Donald Trump. When asked about her thoughts on an audit, Yellen stated, “Fed officials...need ‘a space where it can have honest deliberations’ without having the threat of political interference.”

As is stated on the Federal Reserve’s own website, “The Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress,” and “is an agency of the federal government.” It seems bizarre then that the institution has such little interest in oversight since it is supposed to be accountable to the federal government. The desire to keep it private then makes its mission and goals highly questionable.

Safe spaces on college campuses are bad enough so bringing them to the Federal Reserve would be catastrophic. Safe spaces on college campuses prevent hearing outside or differing ideas, which can lead to an insular mindset that makes acceptance of the real world and unpleasant realities hard to grasp. A study meanwhile found that it can lead to outright hostility towards different ways of thinking and groups deemed to be on the outside. This is not how any institution should ever be run.

Unfortunately, the Fed is an institution that could greatly benefit from outside thinking. Since the Federal Reserve’s inception, the value of the dollar has decreased by 95 percent. Meanwhile, it was found in an audit that the Federal Reserve had made $16 trillion in secret bailouts. For this and other reasons, the Fed is in clear need of review and reform so making it an insular “safe space” would be a serious mistake.

Fortunately, there is a remedy for this problem. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) have introduced the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to give more oversight of the Fed. If passed, it would have the Government Accountability Office complete a full audit of the US Federal Reserve in a single year. This is the perfect way to address the problems at the Fed and prevent it from becoming a protected bubble with no oversight.

The bill comes at a time when the Federal Reserve chairwoman seems to be taking a significant step in the wrong direction. Any institution from college campuses to major banks should be open to new ideas as well as introspection. Not doing so leads to a closed mind and destructive actions. Just like any institution, the Federal Reserve should be open to new ideas and never become a “safe space.”

          The CBO Reviews Trump's Budget        

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its analysis of the President’s Budget Proposal. In collaboration with the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the CBO reviewed the President’s proposals to see what the likely impact would be were they implemented. What it found was a major reduction in spending that would reduce the deficit and promote economic growth.

President Trump has requested total discretionary appropriations of $1.15 trillion for 2018, but excluding the proposed net reduction the total comes to $1.17 trillion. Of that amount, defense spending will receive $668 billion which is a net increase of 5 percent from last year while nondefense spending will receive $499 billion which is a net decrease of 13 percent. Overall, that is 3 percent less than last year.

Between 2018 and 2027, the White House’s budget is projected to eliminate $3.3 trillion from the federal deficit. With these cuts in place, the amount of interest payments will be reduced by $300 billion. The totals to $4.2 trillion in its entirety, but there is a projected revenue decline of $900 brillion so that will result in the original reduction which is still a significant cut.

There are some other key reforms in the budget as well. Case and point, the proposal for “lowering the premiums paid by providers for medical liability insurance” and “reducing the use of health care services prescribed by providers when faced with less pressure from potential malpractice suits” would drive down costs by about $64 billion. Another part meanwhile would increase infrastructure spending by $200 billion. In addition, the largest savings will come from repealing Obamacare, which will total $1.25 trillion off the deficit. It also reduces subsidies for student loans which would save $100 billion and possibly drive down college costs as well.

It seems this would have an overall net positive impact on the economy. The percentage of the debt held by the public would total 80 percent by 2027, which is actually a decrease of 11 percent from the CBO’s current baseline. With that in mind, GDP growth would be higher as a result of the budget cuts by 0.2 percent than current projections in 2022 and 0.7 percent higher in 2027. That is a significant increase for economic productivity, though smaller GDP growth than the White House projected.

The new budget proposal significantly cuts spending. This would help spur economic growth which will be good for the country. The CBO highlights its positive impacts so this is definitely a step in the right direction.

          Obama Dropped the Ball on Economic Freedom        

President Obama presided over one of America’s darkest, anti-capitalist, pro-federal government administrations in decades. The federal expansion of power was at levels only previously seen perhaps since the Great Society of LBJ or the New Deal programs under FDR.

Obama hindered the ability for American ingenuity to grow with his countless regulations, executive orders, higher taxes, and all around harsh and un-American treatment of the private sector. Now to some, this may seem like a step in the right direction; it’s not. America is no longer the free, capitalistic, liberty orientated land our founding fathers dreamed of and worked tirelessly to achieve.

In fact, we have been losing freedom for a long time. Every year, several studies are published that grade the economic freedom of almost every country on Earth. These studies show the same thing, American economic freedom and prosperity is not what it used to be, and it was increasingly getting worse.

The most recent Fraser Institute Index of the Economic Freedom of the World, a report put together by a consortium of think tanks, has the United States ranked 16th in the world with a score of 7.75 out of 10. The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom ranked the United States as the 17th which Heritage categorized as mostly free.

These rankings take into account factors that affect the free being of the country's citizens like property rights, government integrity, free trade, monetary freedoms, tax burdens, and the regulatory state.

Relatively, these rankings don’t seem too disgraceful, but only 10 years ago, the same studies ranked the United States as the 5th most economically free nation. In the year 2000, the United States was ranked 2nd, just behind Hong Kong.

But once Obama took office, in his first year, the United States fell to 9th. By the start of his second term, the United States was down to 13th, putting countries ahead of us like Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Chile, the UK, Jordan, UAE, Qatar and many others.

In these reports, the drop in ranking is attributed to the Obama administration's increase in regulation, government spending, bureaucratic cronyism, and liberal policies that increasingly enriched the wealthy while economically costing middle class, average Americans trillions of dollars.

America, the country that was once a bastion of freedom for those across the world stuck under economically oppressive and restrictive governments has now started to join those ranks, or was at least headed in that direction under Obama.

American’s have caught on though, and the 2016 election was an eye opener to the DC swamp. Republicans took control of the House, the Senate, the Presidency, Governorships, and a majority of state seats in the 2017 election season.

The great, hardworking citizens of the America realized that the ideals of freedom, capitalism, liberty, and economic prosperity were being taken away by President Obama and his bureaucrats.

Congressional Republicans now hold a majority of seats due to campaigns that ran almost unanimously on platforms dedicated to repealing the vast federal overreach of Obama’s administration, they need to keep their word and get to work.

President Trump is nearing his first half year as President after running on a campaign dedicated to stopping the federal intrusion into Americans daily lives. Trump promised jobs, economic freedom, law and order, tax reform, and ObamaCare repeal, but Congress needs to take part in the responsibility to enacting this robust agenda.

As of now, Congress has still yet to pass an ObamaCare repeal or replacement. Fundamental tax reform has been discussed, but no real action has been taken on the floor. Bill’s like Sen. Rand Paul’s REINS Act have been proposed to limit federal regulation in the future, but haven’t been passed. It is these sort of bills Congress needs to prioritize and pass to get America moving in the direction of economic freedom.

President Trump has kept his promises of repealing regulations, approved the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, while also beginning to pull back Obama era federal land grabs to spark the energy sector once again. He has signed air traffic privatization reforms, and the Paris Climate Agreement, and cut federal agency budgets and staff.

The opportunity is there to fix Obama’s mess. Congress needs to do its part in returning America back to the great, free nation we so long held the title of, and they need to support President Trump’s robust agenda in order to move America in that direction of the world’s most economically free and prosperous nation.

          A Heel On The Throat of The American Dream: Manufacturing Regulations         

Economic freedom is the greatest gift ever bestowed on man. In the United States, we saw the greatest industrial revolution the world had ever experienced. We set the bar for achievement with the production of the automobile, we put men in the air and built ships of amazing size. We revolutionized steel production and built bridges that stand strong to this day as a symbol of American ingenuity.

Made in the U.S.A. was proudly stamped on almost every part of American life. From the most intricate part of the internal combustion engine to the basic design of the farmers plow shear, we worked together moving forward. As echoed by Henry Ford, “[I]f everything is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” But when is the last time you held a power tool that was stamped “Made in the U.S.A.”?

Under the Obama administration, massive regulations were set in place that made it harder and more expensive for manufacturers to keep up with the world. In fear of bankruptcy under the pressure of overwhelmingly burdensome regulations imposed by federal agencies, many were forced to export their businesses overseas. If the U.S. was able to maintain growth rates from twenty years ago, America’s manufacturing sector would, in fact, be $1 Trillion bigger than it is today.

We hear stories every day from hard working Americans who are fed up, they are fed up when Ford moves its factories to Mexico, they are fed up when they break a tool made of cheap Chinese steel, they are fed up when the see a politician handing out American flags during a parade bearing the words “Made in China,” and many direct their anger and frustration at at the many companies that are leaving the U.S. Every American ought to be frustrated when the see business leaving our economy, but that frustration should be directed at the Federal government, not the American businessman.

Thirty percent fewer Americans are employed in manufacturing now as compared with twenty years ago. The greatest setback on U.S. manufacturing has been the decades-long encroachment of the regulatory state. Today, more than 300,000 regulators wielding a massive budget of $60 billion are standing between you and your American dream. Compliance with the demands of regulators is costing manufacturers on average $20,000 per employee per year, while smaller manufacturers (those with fewer than 50 employees) face costs upward of $35,000 per employee per year. As a matter of fact, surveys find that America’s manufacturers regularly rank regulatory burdens as the top impediment to growth; a large majority also say the regulatory cost are higher in America than in other nations.

On average, the Obama administration's Department of Labor finalized nearly twice as many major labor regulations per year than the previous four administrations. This blatant disregard for the blue collar American worker will come at a cost. The National Association of Manufactures estimates that over 155,700 jobs will be lost and compliance costs will rise to $81.6 billion over the next 10 years. Just six major regulations require near 412 million hours of paperwork, this comes out to about 12 years of 40 hour weeks just for paperwork.

It came at no surprise to find that America is consuming more foreign goods than we export, contributing to today's manufacturing trade deficit of about $600 billion. Today, manufacturing accounts for the single largest share of all U.S. exports. There are 30 percent fewer jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector than there were in 1997 and over the past decade, world manufacturing’s contribution to global GDP had risen by $3 trillion while the U.S. has been left in the dust with our contribution being only $500 billion, almost all of which occurred before 2008. The U.S share of global manufacturing has declined from our longtime level of 25 percent to about 15 percent over the past 20 years.

History shows that an increase in productivity usually credited by innovations that reduce the number of labor hours per unit of output, leads to a lower cost of goods, increased wealth, and a faster economic growth. But with crippling regulatory costs, American business owners are forced to keep using the same worn out machines, they miss out on opportunities to innovate and to make their jobs more efficient, being unable to raise the quality of their products because they’re being backed into a corner by federal regulations.

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump promised to revive the U.S. manufacturing and over the past seven months since taking the oath of office, Apple, Foxconn, Intel, Exxon, And Hasbro have announced plans to expand or restore U.S. based manufacturing operations. Just four days after taking office, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing. The memo directs executive departments and agencies to “support the expansion of manufacturing in the United States” and instructs the Secretary of Commerce to “submit a report to the President setting forth a plan to streamline Federal permitting process for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens affecting domestic manufacturers.” This action was followed by a string of Executive Orders calling for a slash in regulatory burdens. When carried out we will have had the largest cut in regulations since the Reagan era.

This is what Americans need, this is what Americans want, and this is what we must do if we are to become once again a leader in global manufacturing. With less time dedicated to complying with the demands of Federal agencies, Americans will have more freedom to expand, excel, and dominate in manufacturing.

The problem is not trading whether it comes in the form of imports or exports, the problem is not the fact that China is surpassing The United States in manufacturing. We must look to the root of the issue, the problem is that for too long, federal agencies have consistently turned their back on the American worker, government control of the economy is out of control, at the expense of blue-collar America, the Federal Government continues to restrict struggling industries from progressing.

Trade between countries is vital for progress, in Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith writes, “The labor of the rich country is not always much more productive than that of the poor; at least, it is never so much more productive as it commonly is in manufactures.” He goes on to say, “This great increase of the quantity of work which, in consequence of the division of labour, the same number of people are capable of performing, is owing to three different circumstances; first, to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, to the saving of the time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and lastly, to the innovation of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many.”

The world economies can work successfully together and learn from each other, as long as government stays out of the way, we will innovate, we will create new and better ways within our trades. But as long as the American worker is more restricted throughout the world, we will come in last, we will continue to cut jobs and the pink slips will be ever more prevalent.

With more money in the pocket of the American worker we will clearly see once again how obtainable the American dream is, and together united we will rise again as leaders of innovation, pioneers of progress, and consummate the imagination of our children into something real and tangible. Let’s leave a future for those who follow us, a future where in the words of John F. Kennedy we “seek to invoke the wonders of science” and “together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.”

          The Cost of Higher Education        
Download:Audio icon 00457.mp3

Let’s begin with a question. Which of the following rose in cost the most over the past thirty years: housing, medical care, or higher education? The correct answer is higher education. (1) Over this period, housing went up 375%, medical care 600%, and higher education an astonishing 1,120%. (2) At the same time, financial aid provided by the federal government and institutions of higher education also shot up but so did “net cost,” that is, what students and their families must pay after grants, scholarships, and tax credits are subtracted. (3)

The rise in net cost also explains the student loan debt picture. Institutions of higher education enroll more than twenty million students a year and two thirds of them supplement financial aid with loans from Uncle Sam or banks. Student loan debt now hovers around $1 trillion and the average student leaves college with a loan debt of $27,000. Among bachelor degree recipients, borrowers in a recent year included 62% at public institutions (such as Youngstown State University), 72% at private non-profit institutions (such as Hiram College), and 96% at private for-profit institutions (such as the University of Phoenix). Today there are 37,000,000 student loan borrowers with outstanding student loan debt. The average debt balance for all borrowers from all types of schools is over $24,000. Moreover, the delinquency and default rates are very high (4) but borrowers can find no relief in bankruptcy because the U.S. bankruptcy code exempts nearly all cases of student loan debt from discharge. (5) 

75% of the college students in the U.S. attend public institutions, so let’s focus on them. A major reason that cost has skyrocketed in the public sector is the steady decline in state support. In Ohio, for instance, state support has dropped from more than 70% of the operating costs of the public universities in 1970 to less than 20% today. In this regard, Ohio is a microcosm of the nation. All states have reduced spending in higher education to cover other mushrooming costs, especially Medicaid and prisons. On a national basis, state support per student at public universities, adjusted for inflation, dropped from $8,500 in 1987 to $5,900 in 2013. (6)

Understandably, public institutions across the nation have turned to tuition increases to compensate for declining state support. Consider these facts:

  • In 1987 tuition provided 23% of the revenue of public institutions; today it provides 47% - nearly half; 
  • From 2008 to 2012, as state support per student shrunk 27%, average tuition rose 20%; and 
  • In the year 2000, the average family spent 25% of its income to cover the cost of college for a family member; today it spends 40%.

Two obvious questions remain: “Is college worth it?” and “What can we do to contain the cost of college?” I’ll address these in my next commentary.

  1. This commentary draws information from many sources, including the following: Davis Educational Foundation, “An Inquiry into the Rising Cost of Higher Education: Summary of Responses from Seventy College and University Presidents,” 2012; Helen Li, “The Rising Cost of Higher Education: A Supply and Demand Analysis,” Bachelor Thesis, New York University, 2013; William Trombley, “The Rising Price of Higher Education: College Affordability in Jeopardy,” 2003; Allie Bidwell, “The Rise in Tuition Is Slowing, But College Still Costs More,” U.S. News & World Report, online edition, October 24, 2013; Beckie Supiano, “Evaluating the Payoff of a College Degree,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 24, 2014; Pew Research, Social & Demographic Trends, “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College,” February 11, 2014; and American Student Assistance (www.asa.org/policy/resources/stats).
  2. Over the past decade, college tuition has risen three times as fast as the CPI (Consumer Price Index) and twice as fast as medical care.
  3. See Allie Bidwell, “The Rise in Tuition is Slowing, But College Still Costs More,” October 24, 2013, US News & World Report online. The actual average in-state tuition at four-year public institutions in 2012-2013 was $8,893 while the average net cost of tuition was $3,120, and the actual average tuition at four-year private institutions in 2012-2013 was $30,090 while the average net cost of tuition was $12,460. The federal government currently spends about $40 billion a year for Pell Grants. One estimate is that financial aid has gone up since 1970 fifty-fold.
  4. For instance, among students from for-profit institutions and public two-year institutions, the delinquency and default rate is about 50%.
  5. See Kayla Webley, “Why You Can’t Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy,” Time, February 9, 2012.
  6. State support in actual dollars has gone up typically in the states annually in recent decades but support measured by percentage of operating costs and in real dollars per student, however, has declined sharply. Real dollars are dollars adjusted for inflation. A slight exaggeration by one public university president summarizes the national subsidy trend nicely. He said, “When I came here, my school was state-supported, then it was state-assisted, and now it’s state-located.”

          Energy: The Turning Point        

Fast forward fifty years to the United States of America 2058. Most of the cars and trucks run on natural gas, ethanol, or batteries, not gasoline or diesel fuel. Most of the nation's electricity is generated...

  • by thousands of huge solar panels arrayed across the western states,
  • by hundreds of nuclear power plants, and
  • by thousands of windmills along a 400-mile wide corridor through the central states from North Dakota and Minnesota to Texas.

A huge new transmission grid spreads energy from these sources across the nation.
In a high school science class, a teacher explains to her students that the turning point in energy policy in America was summer 2008 when the cost of a gallon of gasoline surpassed $4 and two prominent Americans - Republican T. Boone Pickens, a billionaire oil man, and Democrat Al Gore, a former vice-president - released far-reaching energy reform plans a day apart in the month of July (a). These plans gained traction, the teacher says, for the following reasons:

  1. Oil, a non-renewable source of energy, had become too expensive, and oil and coal were major causes of global pollution,
  2. The White House, Congress, and the American people were willing to swallow the huge one-time cost of an energy overhaul - trillions of dollars - as a preferable alternative to sending $1 trillion a year every year to foreign oil producers,
  3. Despite some differences, the Pickens and Gore plans shared a commitment to energy independence for the nation and much greater use of renewable and clean sources of energy (b),
  4. The authors had far-reaching influence with different but important political constituencies,
  5. The celebrity of the authors guaranteed extensive media exposure to their plans,
  6. Support for greater reliance on renewable domestic sources of energy had been growing across the country when the reports surfaced,
  7. Support for greater reliance on non-renewable but abundant domestic sources of energy had also been growing across the country when the reports surfaced,
  8. The fact that two such disparate public figures as Pickens and Gore spoke with one voice on the need for an overhaul of energy production and distribution in America made people from all backgrounds pay attention, and
  9. The energy overhaul had other important benefits for the nation, including the creation of tens of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and construction jobs and a surge in national pride and patriotism.
  10. Now, back to 2008. The scenario just described is a possible future. Whether this possible future becomes an actual one depends on whether the American people and their leaders are prepared to accept the challenge of Mr. Pickens and Mr. Gore to launch a bold and expensive national initiative in the field of energy similar to the mobilization of the nation for World War II, the defeat of Hitler and his allies, the Marshall Plan, the construction of the interstate highway system, and Neil Armstrong's visit to the moon. Only time will tell.

  • For the Pickens plan, see www.pickensplan.com and for the Gore plan, see www.wecansolveit.org. The two plans were released within a twenty-four hour period, the Pickens plan on July 17 and the Gore plan on July 18.
  • As to differences between the plans, the Pickens Plan emphasizes wind power and the conversion of natural gas from the generation of electricity to transportation but is silent on the future of coal, solar power, and nuclear power while the Gore Plan emphasizes solar power, wind power, and electric cars and seems to call for a phase out of coal but is silent on natural gas and nuclear power. (See page 11 of the Gore Plan.) The silence of both plans on nuclear energy, which provides 75% of the electricity in France, is a serious flaw. Also, both plans are silent on various technical issues that stand in the way of implementation of their major proposals. For instance, how can we store surplus electricity generated by wind turbines until it is needed?

© 2008 Tom Shipka

          For A New Thrift Part 1        

A report entitled For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture was released recently in Washington, D.C. (1) Its sixty-two signatories, called the "Commission on Thrift," aim to reduce debt and to cultivate a habit of saving among Americans of modest means. Today I'll deal with the first part of the report which tell us what went wrong in our culture and next time I'll deal with the second part which outlines a cure.
For a New Thrift points out that America's pro-thrift culture (2) of the post-depression era has been transformed over the past generation by anti-thrift organizations. These include credit card companies, payday lenders, check cashing outlets, rent-to-own stores, auto title lenders, private student loan companies, franchise tax preparers, subprime mortgage brokers and lenders, and state lotteries. (p. 7) The sad outcome of all this for Americans in the lower economic tier of society, who are the prime target of these groups, is that they forego saving and amass huge debt. Let's focus on credit cards, payday lenders, and the lottery.
The report explains that credit cards were initially sent to financially solvent customers who paid off their balances in full when they received their monthly bills. Since this generated little profit for the industry, it chose a new target in the 1990s - "lower-income users" who wanted or needed credit "but would be likely to carry a monthly balance." (p. 16) This move resulted in a staggering increase in credit card usage and higher revenues in interest and fees. Last year credit card debt reached $937.5 billion - nearly $1 trillion - and nearly half of all credit card holders missed at least one payment. (p. 18) Today there are more than a billion credit cards in use in America. (p. 15)
Next, payday lenders target customers with annual incomes between $18,000 and $25,000. Over 20,000 payday loan outlets dispense so-called "fast cash" to 15 million people every month typically at three digit annual interest rates. (p. 23) Why are such exorbitant interest rates legal, you ask? Because in the 1980s most states eliminated usury caps. (p. 16) Further, "(S)ix out of ten (borrowers) take out at least twelve loans per year, each time paying a fee for their 'cash advance'." (p. 24)
As to lotteries, the report tells us that:

  • 42 states and the District of Columbia run lotteries which generate $57 billion a year in revenues, (p. 25)
  • Twenty percent of all Americans are frequent (lottery) players, (p. 25)
  • "Three-quarters of state advertising dollars go to the lottery," (p. 26)
  • Public approval of lotteries is high - around 75%, (p. 26) and
  • Household income varies inversely with lottery spending. For instance, households with incomes under $12,400 a year spend an average of $645 a year on the lottery while households with incomes ten times that amount spend an average of only $419 a year or $226 less. (p. 28) (3)

How, then, does the Commission on Thrift propose to bring consumer debt under control and to restore a habit of regular saving among people of low income? I'll outline their plan next time.


  1. © 2008 Institute for American Values. See http://www.newthrift.org/. References to this report hereinafter are by page number.
  2. Pro-thrift institutions which the report lists include credit unions, mutual savings banks, savers' clubs, savings and loan associations, savings bond programs, labor-union sponsored savings plans, and low caps on loan interest rates mandated by law. (p. 6)
  3. In Texas the lottery is targeting the 18 to 25 year old age group as the group most likely to produce greater revenues. In 2006 the median spending in this group was $50 a month, the highest level of lottery spending among all age groups. (p. 33)

© 2008 Tom Shipka

          How Do You Solve A Problem Like The British High Street Banks?        
The banking monopolies here in the UK really bug me.  It’s like mobile phone companies – whichever one you go to they screw you if not one way then another. Not satisifed with causing the near meltdown of the global Western economy, nor forcing the government to invest TRILLIONS (a figure few can actually get […]
          Want National Security? Dismantle the War Machine        

Want National Security? Dismantle the War Machine

A military response to violence creates more violence. For real security, we need to stop climate change and work toward shared prosperity.


By: David Korten
Date: 2016-09-22

The recent 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade towers was a reminder of the terrible consequences when a nation ignores the lessons of history—including its own recent history. The U.S. military budget is a tragic example.

We currently spend roughly $598 billion on defense, which is more than the next seven biggest military spenders combined: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan. This represents 54 percent of federal discretionary spending. In return, we get an ability to rapidly deploy conventional military power anywhere in the world.

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was the most devastating foreign-sourced attack on the United States since the War of 1812. It was carried out by a largely self-organized band of 19 religious fanatics of varied nationalities, affiliated with a small, dispersed, and loosely organized international network. We responded by invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. This led to hundreds of thousands of pointless deaths, destabilization of the Middle East, and a cost to the U.S. Treasury of some $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

I view all this in part through the lens of my experience as an Air Force captain during the Vietnam War. I briefed pilots headed for Vietnam on the psychological consequences of bombing civilian populations. I later served in the Defense Department’s office overseeing defense-related behavioral and social science research.

"We currently spend roughly $598 billion on defense, which is more than the next seven biggest military spenders combined." (Photo: Daniel Achim / iStock)

Read more »
          The Abraham Lincoln Logs #181        
itunes pic
Abe watches the bailout bill which includes sexy new "undercover" powers for the IRS: The name is Bond. JUNK Bond.


Palin says Obama palling around with terrorists.

McCain Urges Bush To Spend $1 Trillion On Bailout -- Without Congressional Approval

Is the Bush administration making the bailout another Overton window?

Bailout bill now includes undercover IRS agents.

US House threatened with Martial Law if Bailout not passed.

How to stop a facist shift.

          The Abraham Lincoln Logs #180        
itunes pic
Abe knows Senate only approved $700 billion bailout with now famous "39-cent excise tax for children's wooden practice arrows" exemption hoping "message arrows" might reverse "socialist" trend of breast cancer awareness stamps. Abe also feels that Sarah Palin is the victim of "Gotcha Journalism" but knows that before Sarah Palin we just called it "Journalism."


The House limits constituent emails.

McCain Urges Bush To Spend $1 Trillion On Bailout -- Without Congressional Approval

Homer tries to vote for Obama.

Bloomberg wants forbidden 3rd term.

The League of Extraordinary Women Voters

Watch the full Biden/Palin debates online.

Army CCMRF to "help" with "civil unrest."

Harry Shearer's magnificent podcast "Le Show."

          Forget Politics: Without 'Neutral' Internet, US Workers Stand To Lose Trillions        
Across the country, companies big and small are demanding the FCC keep its popular protections of a critical resource without which they--like all our workers--would never be able to thrive.
          PT Bank Swadesi, Tbk        
Are You looking for A Wind of Change and Challenge?
We are Fast Expanding Mid-Size Foreign Private National Bank Registering Business
Growth Almost Double Every Year Since 2007

Bank of India (BOI) is a Government of India Owned 103 Years Young Bank with Business Mix more than Rp. 800 Trilion and Net worth more than Rp.25 Trillion.It has presence in more than 17 countries around the Globe:

Account Officer (AO)
(Bandung and Makasar)


• General Qualification
• Male/Female, maximum age of 40 years
• Having a wide range and trustable Customer Base
• Willing to work in Bandung & Makasar
• Qualification:
• Young Dynamic Aspiring Male/Female Graduated S-1 with GPA Minimum 2.75
• Capability to analyze the Market and Attract / Influence Clients for long term Win-win Relationship
• Aggresive/Target Oriented/ Well Organized/ Good Communication and Inter Personal skills
• Knowledge of Accounting and Financial Analysis. Time Management, Ability for Hard Work and Perform under challenging Pressures shall be added plus points
• Fluency in Oral and Written English with minimum 2 years experience in a Bank / Financial instituition preffered
• Excellent Salary commensurate with Qualificain and Experience negotiable.Performance linked attractive bonus wth no limits.
• Open Aveus for Promotions shall be available
The qualified candidates should send the application and CV along with recent photograph and stated the expected salary and put the position code and the city code on the upper left ot the envelope no later than 2 weeks after this adverisement to:

JL. H Samanhudi No. 37
Pasar Baru – Jakarta Pusat 10710

email : hrd@bankswadesi.co.id

          PT Bank Swadesi, Tbk        
Are You looking for A Wind of Change and Challenge?
We are Fast Expanding Mid-Size Foreign Private National Bank Registering Business
Growth Almost Double Every Year Since 2007

Bank of India (BOI) is a Government of India Owned 103 Years Young Bank with Business Mix more than Rp. 800 Trilion and Net worth more than Rp.25 Trillion.It has presence in more than 17 countries around the Globe:

Appraisal (AP)
(Bandung and Makasar)


• General Qualification
• Male/Female, maximum age of 35 years
• Willing to work in Bandung & Makasar
• Young Dynamic Aspiring Male/Female Graduated S-1 with GPA Minimum 2.75
• Capability to analyze the Market and Attract / Influence Clients for long term Win-win Relationship
• Aggresive/Target Oriented/ Well Organized/ Good Communication and Inter Personal skills
• Knowledge of Accounting and Financial Analysis. Time Management, Ability for Hard Work and Perform under challenging Pressures shall be added plus points
• Fluency in Oral and Written English with minimum 2 years experience in a Bank / Financial instituition preffered
• Excellent Salary commensurate with Qualificain and Experience negotiable.Performance linked attractive bonus wth no limits.
• Open Aveus for Promotions shall be available
The qualified candidates should send the application and CV along with recent photograph and stated the expected salary and put the position code and the city code on the upper left ot the envelope no later than 2 weeks after this adverisement to:

JL. H Samanhudi No. 37
Pasar Baru – Jakarta Pusat 10710

email : hrd@bankswadesi.co.id

          Comment on MW Chapter 1087 by Strider30        
Everyone has a manual that teaches body transformation...umm...no. Remember Lin Ming only gave his wife part of it, because he wanted her foundation to be stronger but didn't want her to pursue body transformation further than he felt she needed. This manual/cultivation was found from the magic cube (from one of the lower spirit fragments floating around) meaning only people from certain places in the Divine Realm would know about it or even consider pursuing it currently. That guy only pursued part of it and just kept it with him. It was also not complete. We can conclude now that this was probably one of several manuals existing today that developed body transformation. Currently, as mentioned, almost no one pursues body transformation to completion. Like less than 1%. Which numerically may still be a lot but not compared to the trillions of cultivators out there.
          Gingrich: Alzheimer's research would save money        

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during the Kiwanis Club luncheon, Monday, May 16, 2011, in Dubuque, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich on Monday said Alzheimer's disease is on pace to cost the government some $20 trillion over the next four decades and said boosting federal research money would be a wise investment.

          IoT Standards – LMFAO        
If you are a company that is interested in connected devices or the Internet of Things (IoT), you better not be waiting for standards to emerge. This will not be happening anytime soon. IoT is a multi-trillion dollar market, and, with so much potential business on the line, the big technology companies are all angling […]
          India: where are the information services?        
It is hard to imagine that the entire $1.3 Trillion Indian economy is supported by less than $200M worth of information services. As we look at the prospects of a $5 Trillion economy in India over the next ten years, this anomaly surely has to correct itself.
          Baby Boomers and Glutathione The Other Side of Baby Boomers        
People who belong in the age of mid-40s or beyond it are part of the Baby Boomer Generation. And some of these 79 million Boomers will soon be facing the day of their retirement.

People of the new generation usually perceive these Boomers as generally wealthy and are able to sustain their lives after they retire. This notion, however, is a mask that hides the pang of truth, for not the entire people included in Baby Boomers Generation are living a life in affluence.

Truth is some of these Boomers suffer in their means of living too. Hence, they are incapable to sustain their lives the moment they retire.

For these Boomers who are seeking for more means to be able to sustain their lives after their retirement or even for those who just wants to have financial security, the approach of network marketing is introduced. And this is apt to those who would want to achieve a healthy family lifestyle.

Network marketing is also termed as multi-level-marketing (MLM), and this is known to create a new chance as well as cultivate unlimited potentials in income. The processes that are involved here are very simple; it can be done wherever the person is, whether he is over the telephone, in his home or using his computer's Internet.

If you are interested to engage in network marketing all you have to do is to find a company with the right tools, proper approach and endorsements. Try to consider also the winning products of the company as well as the faultless timing.

Choosing the right company will help one to get out from too much struggles in money. Surely, it can provide a good income without creating a stress on you due to conflicting time.

Here, you will be able to manage your own time with limitless potentials in your earnings.

However, though it sounds good, the success in network marketing will still depend on your effort. Like any other jobs, network marketing will definitely still require relentless efforts as well as long hours of work for sometime.

What made the network marketing a comfortable job as compared to others is that you will have a very flexible time. There is also the presence of satisfaction in managing your own business.

Here, you have no boss but yourself, and you will not need any employees too. And your earnings will lie on your hands, the harder you work, the more successful you can be.

The moment you establish Network Marketing all you have to do is to maintain and keep up your income level with the right company. Through this you still have the time to spend with your family while providing them a better life at the same time.

Now, if you are not a part of the Baby Boomer Generation, you may still engage in network marketing. In fact you have a good asset; the Baby Boomers are viewed as a good target for network marketing services and products.

In fact the Business Week Online's October 24 issue last 2005 presented "Love Those Boomers," this topic directly pointed out that the Baby Boomers are a good target for network marketing.

Why? The reason is simple. There are approximately 77 Million Boomers in America. And there are roughly a Billion of them globally.

Putting them in figures, they are about 27.5 percent of the population in America, found in 45.8 million households.

Their spending power in each year alone ranges to about $2.1 Trillion Dollars. Their yearly income on household pre-tax is about 57.7 thousand dollars. And their yearly spending for each household ranges to $45.7 thousand dollars. Their poverty rate is only about 7.3 percent.

No wonder the Baby Boomers are regarded as a driving force in America's major trends. To attest this, Baby Boomers increased the sales of a Gerber product, baby food, to about two million containers in the late 40s and early 50s.

The same thing happened to shoes, clothing and toy products as these Baby Boomers started to grow up.

Whether you are a Baby Boomer or not, you may engage in network marketing, in fact there are some who suggests that in someway this is a better alternative to some American job that has a monotonous routine.

To learn about bichon poodle, deer head chihuahua and other information, visit the Small Breed Dogs website.

baby boomers and glutathione: susan juricek

baby boomers and glutathione: susan juricek

Article Source: www.articlesnatch.com

          Jonathan disassociate self from alleged squandering of N11trn electricity funds        
Former president, Goodluck Jonathan has reacted to the report that he was among the past Nigerian leaders who wasted over N11tn on electricity. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had on Wednesday disclosed how over N11 trillion meant for the provision of electricity supply was allegedly squandered by the administrations of former Presidents, Olusegun […]
          Association of Professional Genealogists Hit By Scam - Lessons Learned        
Last week the Association of Professional Genealogists announced it had been targeted by scam artists. The villains were able to impersonate the secretary's email and offered to pay APG members an hourly fee to lobby state legislatures regarding forensic genealogy.  In a further attempt, members received requests to "Support Diane's Brain Cancer Battle."  APG quickly quashed the scam by alerting members and asking them to report any such attempt at fundraising and asking that those affected to notify the organization.  

I have some professional knowledge of cyber security and I have been the target of email cloning and twice had my credit card accounts hacked.  I, therefore, would like to offer a few cautions of my own.  

1. Source. Be cautious of any solicitation via email or social media, especially Facebook. We have all heard about fake news on social media, yet it is hard not to click on that story about the baby with cancer.  Look carefully - is it a story supposedly about someone in a small Missouri town but the link takes you to a website that is not linked to any local, regional or state news source?  Don't be taken in just because it is a sad story or even a happy one!

2. Context.  Does the email read like a normal / regular communication you receive from an organization? Often databases are hacked by groups in foreign countries then they are sold to individual criminals or organizations.  If you closely read the fake email there will be grammatical mistakes or colloquialisms that don't fit.  For example, did a New England genealogical society end their request with "see y'all in the spring!" when you know their annual conference is in the fall and no self-respecting Bostonian would say y'all like we do in the south?  Sometimes it isn't that simple, but if you look you will often see things that just do not fit the norm.  

3. Legitimacy. If any legitimate organization is soliciting funding, take a minute to think about the source and what they are asking.  Would an organization such as APG solicit funding through their work emails for an individual?  The answer is never.  Most companies and non-profit organizations have rules about using their official communication sources for private funding. 

4. Check it out. At the national level any non-profit must register and are held accountable by federal law.  You can check out charity ratings at Charity Watch. For an organization such as a genealogical society, go to their website for information about events and solicitations.  If an organization is undertaking a fundraising campaign, you bet it will be front and center on their website.  Also, you can contact them via phone or mail, but use only phone numbers that you find officially linked to the organization not one provided in the suspect email.

5. Be familiar with the typical scam.  You can check  this US government website that lists common fraud types: https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds#item-35157.

According to an IBM report, the global cost of cybercrime will reach $2 trillion by 2019, a threefold increase from the 2015 estimate of $500 billion. Small, regional and even local organizations are not immune. The IBM report explains, "a staggering 50 percent of small and mid-sized organizations reported suffering at least one cyberattack in the last 12 months."

Your best bet is to be aware, be vigilant of your own finances and social media presence and most importantly when and if you are ready to give to a worthy cause, take the time to do the research and get your hard-earned dollars in needy hands, not those of criminal organizations.

Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG

Executive Director
          Are College Kids Blowing Their Student-Loan Money on Clothes and Beer?        
The student-loan-debt crisis is massive. Americans owe more than $1 trillion in student loans, and according to a July report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, $150 billion of these student loans are from private lenders, which means they often come with higher interest rates than federal loans and are almost impossible to shed in bankruptcy proceedings. Nightmare stories about young adults struggling under mountains of student-loan debt appear in the media nearly every day. But how many college students are using their loans only for necessities? How many are taking out more money than they need and blowing it on silly stuff that they’ll be paying off for years or even decades to come? (MORE: Back to School: Top 5 Things That Stress College Students) I conducted some informal research to determine how endemic the misuse of loans really is. I tapped my kids as well as other recent college graduates, friends and co-workers, and I was stunned at how pervasive this seems. When I asked my stepson, who graduated last winter, if he knew of kids using their student loans for non-school-related purchases, his response was, “Don’t even get me started.” First, he told me about a family friend who, a few months ago when she was a junior in college, used her student-loan money to buy a used car. I almost flipped. Didn’t she realize this means she’ll be paying that car off — at an interest rate almost twice as high as a typical auto loan — long after it breaks down? My colleague Meghan, also a recent grad, mentioned classmates who had purchased flat-screen TVs, sound systems and trendy decor for their dorm rooms. I heard from various people about kids using student loans to pay for expensive spring-break trips, clothes and, a common refrain, “partying.” These students will be paying high interest rates for purchases they probably won’t even remember in five years. (MORE: College ‘Shopping Sheet’ Designed to Help Students Compare Financial Aid, Overall Costs) So listen up, parents: this fall, as funds
          Why are women the fastest-growing prison population?        

In the last 25 years, women have been the fastest growing prison population in the United States and in California. Between the ‘70s and the 2000s, the number of female inmates in state prisons serving a sentence of over a year has grown by 757%.

Between 1985 and 2007, the number of women in prison increased by nearly double the rate of men. At the height of California’s prison boom, in the late 1990s, Theresa Martinez was shipped to a brand new prison in Chowchilla.

The two prisons in Chowchilla were built to house the ballooning population of women, incarcerated mostly for drug-related crimes.

THERESA MARTINEZ: And as the population grew, they were bringing busloads and busloads of women and we were filling up the rooms. At first we started with four bunks. And then more bunks got put in there, that was six. And then eight. Which is past the fire laws. Which they don’t care about the fire laws, somehow they got past that too. And there’s eight in a room now. And basically you’re told when to eat. Each unit goes at a time to eat. You have to wait in line for canteen. You have to wait in line for medical. Don’t catch the flu and have to put in a co-pay, because you’ll have to wait two days anyway.

Martinez is one of 13 women featured in the new book, Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons.

The book’s editors Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman joined KALW’s Holly Kernan for this interview.            

*     *     *

HOLLY KERNAN: A lot of people, women in particular, are caught up in the system because of drugs. Let’s hear a little bit more of Theresa Martinez’s on how she eventually ended up spending a long, long time behind bars.

THERESA MARTINEZ: By the time I was five, I used to self-inflict pain on myself. I remember hitting the back of my head against walls, or pulling my hair, even biting myself, out of just pure anger because I didn’t know how … I didn’t know why things were the way they were – I was too little to understand. But I wanted to know why my friends had a mother and a father and brothers and sisters, and I didn’t have any of that.

I started running away from my grandparents’ house at the age of 12, and I got into PCP, smoking PCP. At age 15 I got pregnant with my daughter. My daughter was born with 9.8 phencyclidine in her system. I was charged for that – got sent to youth authority. From youth authority I graduated straight into the prison system, adult prison system, and I’ve been on parole for the past 26 years of my life.

So you can pretty much imagine, I’m very much used to institutions; I consider them my home. I had no other way of knowing there was a better life for me. I just knew that’s what I deserved and that’s where I had to be. And I kind of adapted to the prison system to where I would come out for 90 days and it was like a vacation. Coming out to the free world was a vacation and I had to go right back in again to where what I knew, and it became my comfort zone – prison.

KERNAN: Martinez is now 45, and she’s recently gotten off of parole. How common is a story like Theresa’s?

ROBIN LEVI: It’s ubiquitous. The story of incarceration, particularly of incarceration of women in this country, is an artifact of the war on drugs. When we decided to increase the penalties for drug use, for drug sale, so astronomically – we began pouring hundreds of thousands of people in the prison system. We now in this country incarcerate more people than any other country in the world, certainly more than any other western country.

KERNAN: And why is it that women are the fastest growing prison population? That’s really happened over the last two decades.

LEVI: And that is the war on drugs. So women are being caught with mandatory minimums, and judges have less discretion in terms of sentencing. In addition women are often the lowest on the totem pole; they have very little to offer in terms of a deal. So they again end up being caught and being put on a mandatory minimum on a required sentence.

AYELET WALDMAN: Let me give you two scenarios. Let’s say before we had these mandatory minimum sentences – and what a mandatory minimum sentence says is the judge has no discretion, for this weight of drugs, you are sentenced to 10 years – doesn’t matter where you are in the conspiracy, doesn’t matter if you’re the kingpin or the lowest person on the totem pole…

KERNAN: Or if you just lived in the house…

WALDMAN: If you happened to have carried a box from point A to point B, all you have to do is know about the conspiracy and commit one overt act in furtherance of it that doesn’t even have to be an illegal act.

So it used to be – let’s take it back 30 or 40 years – a woman would come before the court whose husband was a drug dealer. She is a mother of three, and was nominally involved – took a phone message. The judge would look at that woman and the judge would say, “There are three children dependent on you. It’s ridiculous to incarcerate you. You have no history of criminal offense. Your husband was the person involved. I’m going to give you probation so you can take care of your children. I’m going to give you some kind of home-monitoring. I’m going to give you drug treatment if you’re addicted to drugs.”

Fast forward post the mandatory minimum sentencing, and what happens is that judge has no choice. One of the things you cannot take into consideration are ordinary family circumstances. We had a case where a woman had five foster children who were dependent on her, and it doesn’t matter if you have five foster children who are going to go back into the system whose lives are going to be ruined. You can’t take that into consideration. Doesn’t matter if your husband was the drug dealer and you weren’t. Nothing matters except one thing: whether you can barter information for a lower sentence.

So who barters? The person higher up on the totem pole. The higher up you are, the more you know, the more people you can rat, and the more likely you are to get a lower sentence. So we have this reverse system now where the drug kingpins are going for very little time if at all and the people who are serving the longest sentence are the lowest on the totem pole. And women are invariably the lowest on the totem pole.

KERNAN: And you touched upon the fact that there are these ripple effects which is that women are often the caretakers of children – what’s happening to all of these children who are left essentially without a mom?

LEVI: More than 66%, more than two-thirds of the women in prison are primary caretakers of children under 18. And so what’s happening is that many of these children are going into the foster care system, which is not supportive in pretty much any way, and certainly not to older children coming in. And so you can try and get your child set up with a guardian, but there’s a lot of restrictions as to who can be a guardian. So if you have any violent felony on your history, whether it’s five years ago or 10, you can’t become a guardian to that child. If you have someone else living in your house who was maybe on parole, you can’t become a guardian of that child. So like I said, these children go into the foster care system.

In addition, what the Adoption and Families Act which was passed in around 1994, they’ve really accelerated the rate at which you can get your parental rights terminated. And so if you’ve got a child under three, in California, within six months your parental rights can be terminated.

WALDMAN: So effectively, your punishment for possessing drugs is losing your child forever.

KERNAN: And what I’ve heard people say is, “Well, then why did that mother make that choice?”

LEVI: Well it’s not a choice in many ways. Many of the stories in our book … we’re talking with people who before they’ve gone to prison have experienced an enormous amount of abuses in terms of a huge level of child sexual abuse, other forms of physical abuse. Their families may have experienced drug use. And they have not been given an opportunity to get over that.

KERNAN: And a lot of women from very low-income backgrounds…

LEVI: …very low-income backgrounds who are self-medicating with drugs.

WALDMAN: We don’t have a healthcare system in this country that allows people to get drug treatment. If you’re depressed, it’s a lot easier to get drugs than it is to get SSRIs. And that’s what they do.

KERNAN: California’s prison system has been under federal receivership, essentially for not providing good enough medical and mental healthcare to inmates. Let’s hear from Theresa Martinez again who really experienced a healthcare debacle when she was in prison.

MARTINEZ: So in 1997 I was diagnosed with HIV. I was tested, I was counseled by public health, I was seeing doctors. I have lab results showing HIV viral load inside my blood. So I was treated for HIV with three different types of therapies … come to find out now, there was no actual HIV virus inside my body for these medications to treat.

So I don’t know how much damage it caused me, me being on nine years of HIV therapy, and having no HIV for a target. I’ve had my gall bladder removed. I have severe liver damage. Now I’m Hepatitis C and I have viral loads sky-high. I have this question in the back of my head that just doesn’t go away: Is it true? Do I really not have it? Do I have this special strain they don’t know about that’s going to pop up later, full-blown?

I have all these doubts and these questions still in my head, and to this day I take mental health medication for paranoia and schizophrenia because I was severely damaged behind this misdiagnosis.

WALDMAN: So this prison system was using an incompetent lab that has since gone out of business. They misdiagnosed her, how many times, Robin?

LEVI: They misdiagnosed her at least several times.

WALDMAN: They kept verifying the misdiagnosis over and over and over again. I mean she can’t even sue the lab because the lab is bankrupt and gone out of business.

LEVI: And once she got told that she was not positive, the prison denied responsibility for the diagnosis on any level, even though they had told her that she had been HIV positive.

KERNAN: And that’s another through-line in this book, which is that a lot of the women have sort of barbaric experiences with healthcare, being shackled during pregnancy…

WALDMAN: Governor Jerry Brown – progressive governor, great governor – just refused to sign a law that would have precluded the shackling of pregnant prisoners. Now it’s interesting because there’s no explanation for this beyond the fact that perhaps he’s running for reelection and has to keep on his side the single most powerful political force in the California political system, which is the prison guards’ union. But to shackle a pregnant woman is so utterly barbaric that we are among the only place in the world that does this. And any woman has ever been pregnant, who has ever experienced labor – try to imagine laboring in ankle shackles.

LEVI: And actually the veto is more shocking because they’ve actually passed a law a few years ago in California in which you can’t shackle women in prison going in to give birth. This law was actually to expand it to jails. So we’ve had it in place for a few years without any trouble whatsoever, and they’re asking to expand to jails, and then the sheriffs association, which apparently is not as powerful as the California prison guards, but one notch down, went to oppose it. And Governor Brown vetoed it. And this is the second time it’s been vetoed, and they’re going to try to put it up again.

WALDMAN: It just beggars the imagination to think that a woman who is in an act of labor would what – try to escape? Would try to do physical harm? The explanation given by the organizations that oppose this law are so patently absurd. And let’s be clear: There are many, many states that have wisely and humanely banned the shackling of pregnant women. And California is … we have in the prison system, but in the jails, where most people are, and most people giving birth are, you can’t do it.

KERNAN: Women are the fastest growing prison population in the U.S. and most people listening to this have probably never been inside of a prison. I'd like to have Theresa Martinez give us a snapshot of what it's like inside of the California Women's Prison in Chowchilla.

MARTINEZ: So as you come into the unit, you've got these really big glass windows, right? Each cell has a window in front, the door is made of glass. So you see everything: the big area, the bathroom area, the shower area. The only thing covering the bathroom is the middle of the door. You have an open environment, a big open top. So you can see the person sitting on the toilet near you. It's the same thing in the shower. You can see all of your legs. Some women are short – you might be able to see their whole bodies.

There is absolutely no privacy in prison. There is nowhere you can go to change your top or go in privacy. The male officers do walkthroughs down the halls all day. It's part of their jobs – I understand that. But it's very degrading. Many times I've been sitting on the toilet and I've said, "Excuse me, can you shut the door, I'm using the bathroom please?" and they say, "I'm not trying to look at you!" They'll call you a prostitute or a bitch or say, "I'm not trying to look at your hood street ass, you're in prison, nobody is trying to look at you!" But the whole time they really are.

WALDMAN: And one of the things to understand is that more than two-thirds of these women have experienced some kind of childhood sexual abuse. So they are routinely exposed to these men watching them in the most intimate of circumstances, watching them go to the bathroom, watching them undress, stripping them. And for any woman, that experience is unpleasant. But for these women who have experienced child sexual abuse? It's traumatizing. It's re-traumatizing them every day.

KERNAN: And you're completely vulnerable because you're behind bars, no power whatsoever.

WALDMAN: And you have lots of instances of sexual abuse.

KERNAN: Sexual abuse, by who?

WALDMAN: Well here's the thing: Everyone always assumes that when you go to prison, the other prisoners are going to rape you or do something to you. For women, the truth of the matter is that when sexual abuse occurs, as it does so frequently, it is the guards, the medical officials, the wardens. Those are the people that are abusing women in prison. Not, by and large, the other women.

KERNAN: Do you think it's common? I'm worried there is a tendency to demonize the correctional officers.

LEVI: I have two things to say to that. In my experience of doing this work in the California prison system for more than 14 years, I've maybe, at most, heard of one case of a woman inside the prison sexually abusing another female prisoner. And I'm saying that to leave that open to possibility – I can't think of a specific case. I have stumbled upon dozens and dozens and dozens of situations of staff abusing women, because of the power differential in a variety of ways. Sometimes you'll hear of a basic forced rape situation. You'll have the privacy violations.

Very often you'll have sexual exchanges for favors. And these are favors like an extra phone call, or hairbrush, or shampoo. Or favors to maintain visits with your child, because guards can restrict visits with your children. And that's what you hear so, so often. I don't think we are demonizing the prison officials because that's the reality of what we've seen.

KERNAN: And you're both lawyers so you've dealt with this issue for a long time and have access and understanding of the judicial system that most people don't. What's being done to correct some of this? Is realignment the system whereby we’re going to start putting non-violent offenders in county programs or jails? What is being done to address some of this?

WALDMAN: So first of all, I want to make you understand that realignment isn't happening because there has been a realization on behalf of the government that the system we have is unfair and abusive. Realignment is not a solution to this terrible problem. Realignment is financial imperative.

But the one positive outcome of the economic disaster this country finds itself in is that this prison system that we have ourselves in is terribly inefficient financially. We spent $20,000-30,000 a year to imprison someone who committed no violent offense. And the collateral damage of having to send their kids through the foster system, and the effects of the foster system on their children. All these cascading economic consequences.

Now, with governments so strapped for cash, there's this realization like, "You know what? Now we might have an improved system that improves public safety that actually saves us money.”

LEVI: This is an opportunity to encourage governments to put their money in more effective ways. And realignment can hopefully be that. It's important to keep our eye on that to make sure that realignment doesn't send people from the California prison system to the county jail system.

WALDMAN: And that's also an overcrowded, underfunded and terrible system, collapsing under the weight of its own overpopulation.

LEVI: Also, there's far less oversight in county jail than the California prison system. And it's way more difficult to try to address abuse in the county jail system.

What we want to do is send people back into their communities, and to do it in a way that's much more cost effective, that allows them to reunite and rebuild their families. That's something that Justice Now is working on, and the ACLU of Northern California has been very active in saying that it's a great first step. And that's something that we, too, as citizens here need to make sure that we are having our voice heard at county levels. We don't want to expand the jail system; we want to put people into alternative living arrangements that allows them to be closer to their families, get the parenting skill sets they need, the drug rehabilitation they need, the therapy to deal with the sexual abuse and domestic violence they have experienced. If we don't address any of those things we aren't going to have any long-term change.

KERNAN: This is a really hard book to read. It's hard to see this stuff, to know what's happening, to hear the voices of these women. What do you want listeners to know?

LEVI: I think the most important thing to realize is that people in prison, mean and women, are not a kind of "other" that need to terrify you. I think every time I leave the prison from visiting someone, I have this overwhelming sensation of, “There but for the grace of good fortune and economic security, go I.”

The people in prison are just people. They aren't terrifying. The majority of them are not dangerous.

I think it's almost a truism to say that you can judge a society by the way it treats the most powerless. We as a society have chosen to abuse so profoundly the people who have the least power. A woman who was sexually abused as a child, who committed a non-violent offense, who lost her children, who's incarcerated now for decades, like Theresa. Theresa entered the prison system in her late teens and she's now getting out in her 40's and she never, ever committed a violent crime. She committed property offenses and prostitution offenses, but this is someone we've chosen to incarcerate under horribly abusive circumstances for over 20 years.

I don't recommend reading the book in one night. I recommend reading the stories one by one. I think that if your compassion is not awakened by it, there is something deeply wrong with you.

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          Another Garbage James Hansen Prediction: World’s Young Face $535 Trillion Bill for Climate        
It does not matter how many supporters a theory has or who they are. If the data disagree, the theory is dead.
          Between Motorola, Nest, Google Has Spent $15.7 Billion Buying Device Makers        
Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs is being touted as a sign that it’s serious about putting itself at the center of the Internet of Things, a potential $19 trillionmarket of opportunity for all kinds of connected devices from the thermostats and smoke alarms that Nest makes today to the smartwatches [...]
          CES LIVE: Cisco's Chambers Says Internet of Everything, $19 Trillion Opportunity, Is Next Big Thing        
Cisco CEO John Chambers is counting on the software, services and hardware needed to enable the Internet of Everything to help turn the world's largest maker of networking gear into the leading supplier of information technology. "This will be bigger than anything done in high tech in a decade," Chambers said [...]
          China economic reforms may result in $14.4 trillion GDP, growth at 6 percent – Asia Society report        
Sweeping economic reform initiated by China President Xi Jinping in November 2013 marked a turning point for the world's second biggest economy. If implemented fully, China's potential GDP growth can be sustained at 6 percent through 2020. One risk: Falling short of that growth rate could result in growth at half that projection, or worse, leading to a new economic crisis, according to a new study.
          Euros to Dollars Conversion - How to Take Profit from the Falling US Dollar        
Visit Euros to Dollars Conversion if you look for currency converter.

This weekend I got a call from my uncle. He latterly switched jobs and now runs a small electrician's office. In the flurry of new forms, he realized his 401K was still sitting at his old employer. He decided to roll it over to his new employer.

He's a smart guy. And he's managed to save quite a bit of money.

We then centered our dialogue on where he should invest now. I'm not a fiscal planner, but with additional than 10 years of experience on'Wall Street', I know the markets pretty well. So what should he be looking at?

I started brooding about mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, bonds, the list goes on and on.

Sometimes considering all of the macro-economic drivers influencing these investments becomes mind numbing.

So which is the most important? What ideas should we be paying the most attention to? It's not only my uncle, it's everyone.

Then it hit me.

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a mint crisp twenty-dollar bill. And that got me thinking. Not many stockholders focus on the US greenback but I do... And I know just how tough it can be.

What do I mean by that?

I think the US dollar is teetering on the cliff of destruction. I am going to tell you why. Then I'm going to tell you what happens when the US Dollar falls.

First, why does the US greenback fall in value?

With lots of complicated reasons. Supply and demand. The demand for US bucks changes each day. It's the world's reserve currency so it's used around the planet for commercial transactions of all types.

Financiers were fearful of a worldwide economic collapse. They started shifting out of other currencies into the US Dollar. Now that a commercial collapse looks improbable, investors are dumping US dollars to buy other currencies.

With demand dropping, so is the value of the US Dollar. But that isn't all.

Euros to dollars conversion

Before the recession, the federal Reserve was holding the money supply comparatively stable. Now with the recession in effect, the govt. gives away free cash. It seems anyone that can make their way to Washington and still have a pulse is getting a handout. ( infrequently I assume the pulse is optional - anyone can get free money.

Trillions of dollars are being spent by our government.

Are they taking this cash from a savings account? No. They're simply printing more money.

They just wired in a trillion dollars ( give or take ) ... No necessity to print anything. Just poof. Here's a trillion dollars. Don't misunderstand me, it's real money... But it's's skyrocketing the number of US dollars around the globe.

And that implies more supply... Which also depresses value.

If you follow my logic, you'll realize the US dollar is bound to slide in value . And trust me, it's a extremely slippery slope. So aside from the simple, unloading the US Dollar, how do we make money?

I can think of 100 ways...

Invests abroad.

Take some of your hard earned US dollars and invest them in foreign retirement funds or ETFs. By buying foreign investments, you in essence convert your US dollars into a foreign currency. Even if the investments break even, once the US greenback starts falling, you'll be making money.

For example, I just happen to love the concept of making an investment in China. This ETF holds 25 of the largest and most liquid Chinese companies.

I believe you'll be impressed with the potential it provides. As well as the expansion exposure to China, it also helps protect you from the falling value of the US Dollar.
          Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For August 4th, 2017        

Hey, it's HighScalability time:

Hands down the best ever 25,000 year old selfie from Pech Merle cave in southern France. (The Ice Age)

If you like this sort of Stuff then please support me on Patreon.


  • 35%: US traffic is now IPV6; 10^161: decision points in no-limit Texas hold’em; 4.5 billion: Facebook translations per day; 90%: savings by moving to Lambda; 330TB: IBM's tiny tape cartridge, enough to store 330 million books; $108.9 billion: game revenues in 2017; 85%: of all research papers are on Sci-Hub; 1270x: iPhone 5 vs Apollo guidance computer; 16 zettabytes: 2017 growth in digital universe; 

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • Andrew Roberts: [On Napoleon] No aspect of his command was too small to escape notice.
    • Jason Calacanis: The world has trillions of dollars sitting in bonds, cash, stocks, and real estate, which is all really “dead money.” It sits there and grows slowly and safely, taking no risk and not changing the world at all. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if we put that money to work on crazy experiments like the next Tesla, Google, Uber, Cafe X, or SpaceX?
    • @icecrime: The plural of “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature” is “it’s not a bug tracker, it’s a backlog”.
    • Jeff Darcy: When greater redundancy drives greater dependency, it’s time to take a good hard look at whether the net result is still a good one.
    • uhnuhnuhn: "They ran their business into the ground, but they did it with such great tech!"
    • Anglés-Alcázar: It’s very interesting to think of our galaxy not as some isolated entity, but to think of the galaxy as being surrounded by gas which may come from many different sources. We are connected to other galaxies via these galactic winds.
    • @ojiidotch: Main app now running Python 3.6 (was 2.7 until yesterday). CPU usage 40% down, avg latency 30% down, p95 60% down.
    • Nemanja Mijailovic: It’s really difficult to catch all bugs without fuzzing, no matter how hard you try to test your software. 
    • SandwichTeeth: a lot of companies have security teams solely to meet audit requirements. If you find yourself on a team like that, you'll be spending a lot of time just gathering evidence for audits, remediating findings and writing policy. I really loved security intellectually, but in practice, the blue-team side of things wasn't my cup of tea.
    • jph: security is needed to gradually escalate a user's own identity verification -- think of things like two-factor auth and multi-factor auth, that can phase in (or ramp up) when a user's actions enter a gray area of risk. Some examples: when a user signs in from a new location, or a user does an especially large money transfer, or a user resumes an account that's been dormant for years, etc.
    • @hichaelmart: So while Google is doubling down on gRPC it seems that Amazon is going all in with CBOR. DDB DAX uses some sort of CBOR-over-sockets AFAICT
    • Wysopal: I’d like to see someone fixing this broken market [insecure software and hardware market]. Profiting off of that fix seems like the best approach for a capitalism-based economy.
    • Matthias Käppler: Microservices are often intermediate nodes in a graph of services, acting as façades where an incoming request translates to N outgoing requests upstream, the responses to which are then combined into a single response back downstream to the client.
    • Jack Fennimore: EA Play 2017 was watchable the same way Olive Garden is edible.
    • erikb: [On SoundCloud] TL;DR Top Management started too late to think about making actual money. They also hired an asshole for their US offices. When they got an opportunity to be bought by Twitter they asked for way too much money. And the CEO is basically on a constant holidays trip since 2014, while not failing to rub it in everybody's face via Instagram photos.
    • Jennifer Mendez: If you don’t have the games people want to play, you can wave goodbye to return on investment on a powerful console. Does hardware matter? Of course it does! But it doesn’t matter if you don’t have anything to play on it.
    • Alex Miller: The utility of a blockchain breaks down in a private or consortium setting and should, in my opinion, be replaced by a more performant engine like Apache Kafka.
    • Krish: most of the multi-cloud usecases I am seeing are about using different cloud for different workloads. It could change and I would expect them to embrace the eventual consistency model initially
    • Ian Cutress: Then there is the Ryzen 3 1300X. Compared to the Core i3-7300/7320 and the Core i5-7400, it clearly wins on performance per dollar all around. Compared to the Core i3-7100 though, it offers almost 5% more performance for around $10-15 more, which is just under 10% of the cost.
    • throw2016: Just from an year ago the cpu market has changed completely. The sheer amount of choice at all levels is staggering. For the mid level user the 1600 especially is a formidable offering, and the 1700 with 8 cores just ups the ante.
    • danmaz74: the main reason Rails is declining in relevance isn't microservices or the productivity (!) of Java, but the fact that more and more development effort for web applications is moving into JS front-end coding.
    • Rohit Karlupia: we can deal with [S3] eventual consistency in file listing operations by repeating the listing operation, detecting ghost and conceived files and modifying our work queues to take our new knowledge about the listing status into account.
    • tboyd47: It's the end of an era. From 2005 to 2007, the "Web 2.0" craze, the release of Ruby on Rails, and the rise of Agile methods all happened at once. These ideas all fed into and supported each other, resulting in a cohesive movement with a lot of momentum. The long-term fact turned out to be that this movement didn't benefit large corporations that have always been and usually still are the main source of employment for software developers. So we have returned to our pre-Rails, pre-agile world of high specialization and high bureaucratic control, even if Rails and "Agile" still exist with some popularity.
    • @reneritchie: Only beginning to see the advantages of Apple making everything from atom to bit. Everything will be computational.
    • Vasiliy Zukanov: switching to Kotlin will NOT have any appreciable positive gains on the cost, the effort or the schedule of software projects
    • visarga: Over the years I have seen astronomy become more like biology - diverse both in the kinds of objects it describes and their behavior.
    • Jaana B. Dogan: I think the industry needs a breakdown between product and infra engineering and start talking how we staff infra teams and support product development teams with SRE. The “DevOps” conversation is often not complete without this breakdown and assuming everyone is self serving their infra and ops all the times.
    • David Rosenthal~ Does anybody believe we'll be using Bitcoin or Ethereum 80 years from now?
    • Richard Jones: There is a physical lower limit on how much energy it takes to carry out a computation – the Landauer limit. The plot above shows that our current technology for computing consumes energy at a rate which is many orders of magnitude greater than this theoretical limit (and for that matter, it is much more energy intensive than biological computing). There is huge room for improvement – the only question is whether we can deploy R&D resources to pursue this goal on the scale that’s gone into computing as we know it today.
  • Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

          Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For July 28th, 2017s        

Hey, it's HighScalability time:


Jackson Pollock painting? Cortical column? Nope, it's a 2 trillion particle cosmological simulation using 4000+ GPUs. (paper, Joachim Stadel, UZH)

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  • 1.8x: faster code on iPad MacBook Pro; 1 billion: WhatsApp daily active users; 100 milliamps: heart stopping current; $25m: surprisingly low take from ransomware; 2,700x: improvement in throughput with TCP BBR; 620: Uber locations; $35.5 billion: Facebook's cash hoard; 2 billion: Facebook monthly active users; #1: Apple is the world's most profitable [legal] company; 500,000x: return on destroying an arms depot with a drone; 

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • Alasdair Allan: Jeff Bezos’ statement that “there’s not that much interesting about CubeSats” may well turn out to be the twenty first century’s “nobody needs more than 640kb.”
    • @hardmaru: Decoding the Enigma with RNNs. They trained a LSTM with 3000 hidden units to decode ciphertext with 96%+ accuracy. 
    • @tj_waldorf: Morningstar achieved 97% cost reduction by moving to AWS. #AWSSummit Chicago
    • Ed Sperling: Moore’s Law is alive and well, but it is no longer the only approach. And depending on the market or slice of a market, it may no longer be the best approach.
    • @asymco: With the end of Shuffle and Nano iPods Apple now sells only Unix-enabled products. Amazing how far that Bell Labs invention has come.
    • @peteskomoroch: 2017: RAM is the new Hadoop
    • Carlo Pescio: What if focusing on the problem domain, while still understanding the machine that will execute your code, could improve maintainability and collaterally speed up execution by a factor of over 100x compared to popular hipster code?
    • @stevesi: Something ppl forget: moving products to cloud, margins go down due to costs to operate scale services—costs move from Customer to vendor.
    • @brianalvey: The most popular software for writing fiction isn't Word. It's Excel.
    • @pczarkowski: How to make a monolithic app cloud native: 1) run it in a docker 2) change the url from .com to .io
    • @tj_waldorf: Morningstar achieved 97% cost reduction by moving to AWS. #AWSSummit Chicago
    • drinkzima: There is a huge general misunderstanding in the profitability of directing hotel bookings vs flight bookings or other types of travel consumables. Rate parity and high commission rates mean that directing hotel rooms is hugely profitable and Expedia (hotels.com, trivago, expedia) and Priceline (booking.com) operate as a duopoly in most markets. They are both marketing machines that turn brand + paid traffic into highly profitable room nights.
    • Animats: This is a classic problem with AI researchers. Somebody gets a good result, and then they start thinking strong human-level AI is right around the corner. AI went through this with search, planning, the General Problem Solver, perceptrons, the first generation of neural networks, and expert systems. Then came the "AI winter", late 1980s to early 2000s, when almost all the AI startups went bust. We're seeing some of it again in the machine learning / deep neural net era.
    • Charity Majors: So no, ops isn't going anywhere. It just doesn't look like it used to. Soon it might even look like a software engineer.
    • @mthenw: As long as I need to pay for idle it’s not “serverless”. Pricing is different because in Lambda you pay for invocation not for the runtime.
    • Kelly Shortridge: The goal is to make the attacker uncertain of your defensive environment and profile. So you really want to mess with their ability to profile where their target is
    • @CompSciFact: 'About 1,000 instructions is a reasonable upper limit for the complexity of problems now envisioned.' -- John von Neumann, 1946
    • hn_throwaway_99: Few barriers to entry, really?? Sorry, but this sounds a bit like an inexperienced developer saying "Hey, I could build most of Facebook's functionality in 2 weeks." Booking.com is THE largest spender of advertising on Google. They have giant teams that A/B test the living shite out of every pixel on their screens, and huge teams of data scientists squeezing out every last bit of optimization on their site. It's a huge barrier to entry. 
    • callahad: It's real [performance improvements]. We've [Firefox] landed enormous performance improvements this year, including migrating most Firefox users to a full multi-process architecture, as well as integrating parts of the Servo parallel browser engine project into Firefox. There are still many improvements yet-to-land, but in most cases we're on track for Firefox 57 in November.
    • Samer Buna: One important threat that GraphQL makes easier is resource exhaustion attacks (AKA Denial of Service attacks). A GraphQL server can be attacked with overly complex queries that will consume all the resources of the server.
    • wheaties: This is stupid. Really. Here we are in a world where the companies that own the assets (you know, the things that cost a lot of money) are worth less than the things that don't own anything. This doesn't seem "right" or "fair" in the sense that Priceline should be a middleman, unable to exercise any or all pricing power because it does not control the assets producing the revenue. I wonder how long this can last?
    • platz: Apparently deep-learning and algae are the same thing.
    • @CompSciFact: "If you don't run experiments before you start designing a new system, your entire system will be an experiment." -- Mike Williams
    • Scott Aaronson: our laws of physics are structured in such a way that even pure information often has “nowhere to hide”: if the bits are there at all in the abstract machinery of the world, then they’re forced to pipe up and have a measurable effect. 
    • The Internet said many more interesting things this week. To read them all please click through to the full article.

  • Cool interview with Margaret Hamilton--NASA's First Software Engineer--on Makers. Programmers, you'll love this. One of the stories she tells is how her daughter was playing around and selected the prelaunch program during flight. That crashed the simulator. So like a good programmer she wanted to prevent this from happening. She tried to get a protection put in because an astronaut could actually do this during flight. Management would certainly allow this, right? She was denied. They said astronauts are trained never to make a mistake so it could never happen. Eventually she won the argument and was able to add code to protect against human error. So little has changed :-)

Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

          Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For July 14th, 2017        

Hey, it's HighScalability time:



We've seen algorithms expressed in seeds. Here's an algorithm for taking birth control pills expressed as packaging. Awesome history on 99% Invisible.

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  • 2 trillion: web requests served daily by Akamai; 9 billion: farthest star ever seen in light-years; 10^31: bacteriophages on earth; 7: peers needed to repair ransomware damage; $30,000: threshold of when to leave AWS; $300K-$400K: beginning cost of running Azure Stack on HPE ProLiant; 3.5M: files in the Microsoft's git repository; 300M: Google's internal image data training set size; 7.2 Mbps: global average connection speed; 85 million: Amazon Prime members; 35%: Germany generated its electricity from renewables;

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • Jessica Flack: I believe that science sits at the intersection of these three things — the data, the discussions and the math. It is that triangulation — that’s what science is. And true understanding, if there is such a thing, comes only when we can do the translation between these three ways of representing the world.
    • gonchs: “If your whole business relies on us [Medium], you might want to pick a different one”
    • @AaronBBrown777: Hey @kelseyhightower, if you're surfing GitHub today, you might find it interesting that all your web bits come thru Kubernetes as of today.
    • Psyblog: The researchers were surprised to find that a more rebellious childhood nature was associated with a higher adult income.
    • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
    • Marek Kirejczyk: In general I would say: if you need to debug — you’ve already lost your way.
    • jasondc: To put it another way, RethinkDB did extremely well on Hacker News. Twitter didn't, if you remember all the negative posts (and still went public). There is little relation between success on Hacker News and company success.
    • Rory Sutherland: What intrigues me about human decision making is that there seems to be a path-dependence involved - to which we are completely blind.
    • joeblau: That experience taught me that you really need to understand what you're trying to solve before picking a database. Mongo is great for some things and terrible for others. Knowing what I know now, I would have probably chosen Kafka.
    • 0xbear: cloud "cores" are actually hyperthreads. Cloud GPUs are single dies on multi-die card. If you use GPUs 24x7, just buy a few 1080 Ti cards and forego the cloud entirely. If you must use TF in cloud with CPU, compile it yourself with AVX2 and FMA support. Stock TF is compiled for the lowest common denominator
    • Dissolving the Fermi Paradox: Doing a distribution model shows that even existing literature allows for a substantial probability of very little life, and a more cautious prior gives a significant probability for rare life
    • Peter Stark: Crews with clique structures report significantly more depression, anxiety, anger, fatigue and confusion than crews with core-periphery structures.
    • Patrick Marshall: Gu said that the team expects to have a prototype [S2OS’s software-defined hypervisor is being designed to centrally manage networking, storage and computing resources] ready in about three years that will be available as open-source software.
    • cobookman: I've been amazed that more people don't make use of googles preemtibles. Not only are they great for background batch compute. You can also use them for cutting your stateless webserver compute costs down. I've seen some people use k8s with a cluster of preemtibles and non preemtibles. 
    • @jeffsussna: Complex systems can’t be fully modeled. Failure becomes the only way to fully discover requirements. Thus the need to embrace it.
    • Jennifer Doudna: a genome’s size is not an accurate predictor of an organism’s complexity; the human genome is roughly the same length as a mouse or frog genome, about ten times smaller than the salamander genome, and more than one hundred times smaller than some plant genomes.
    • Daniel C. Dennett: In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995), I argued that natural selection is an algorithmic process, a collection of sorting algorithms that are themselves composed of generate-and-test algorithms that exploit randomness (pseudo-randomness, chaos) in the generation phase, and some sort of mindless quality-control testing phase, with the winners advancing in the tournament by having more offspring.
    • Almir Mustafic: My team learned the DynamoDB limitations before we went to production and we spent time calculating things to properly provision RCUs and WCUs. We are running fine in production now and I hear that there will be automatic DynamoDB scaling soon. In the meantime, we have a custom Python script that scales our DynamoDB.

  • I've written a novella: The Strange Trial of Ciri: The First Sentient AI. It explores the idea of how a sentient AI might arise as ripped from the headlines deep learning techniques are applied to large social networks. I try to be realistic with the technology. There's some hand waving, but I stay true to the programmers perspective on things. One of the big philosophical questions is how do you even know when an AI is sentient? What does sentience mean? So there's a trial to settle the matter. Maybe. The big question: would an AI accept the verdict of a human trial? Or would it fight for its life? When an AI becomes sentient what would it want to do with its life? Those are the tensions in the story. I consider it hard scifi, but if you like LitRPG there's a dash of that thrown in as well. Anyway, I like the story. If you do too please consider giving it a review on Amazon. Thanks for your support!

  • Serving 39 Million Requests for $370/Month, or: How We Reduced Our Hosting Costs by Two Orders of Magnitude. Step 1: Just Go Serverless: Simply moving to a serverless environment had the single greatest impact on reducing hosting costs. Our extremely expensive operating costs immediately shrunk by two orders of magnitude. Step 2: Lower Your Memory Allocation: Remember, each time you halve your function’s memory allocation, you’re roughly halving your Lambda costs. Step 3: Cache Your API Gateway Responses: We pay around $14 a month for a 0.5GB API Gateway cache with a 1 hour TTL. In the last month, 52% (20.3MM out of 39MM) of our API requests were served from the cache, meaning less than half (18.7MM requests) required invoking our Lambda function. That $14 saves us around $240 a month in Lambda costs.

Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

          Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For July 7th, 2017        

Hey, it's HighScalability time:



What's real these days? I was at Lascaux II, an exact replica of Lascaux. I was deeply, deeply moved. Was this an authentic experience? A question we'll ask often in VR I think.

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  • $400k: cost of yearly fake news campaign; $50,000: cost to discredit a journalist; 100 Gbps: SSDP DDoS amplification attack; $5.97BN: wild guess on cost of running Facebook on AWS; 2 billion: Facebook users; 80%: Spotify backend services in production run as containers; $60B: AR market by 2021; 10.4%: AMD market share taken from Intel; 5 days: MIT drone flight time; $1 trillion: Apple iOS revenues; 35%-144%: reduction in image sizes; 10 petabytes: Ancestry.com data stored; 1 trillion: photos taken on iPhone each year; $70B: Apple App Store payout to developers; 355: pages in Internet Trends 2017 report; 14: people needed to make 500,000 tons of steel; 25%: reduced server-rendering time with Node 8; 50-70%: of messages Gmail receives are spam; 8,000: bugs found in pacemaker code; 

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • Vladimir Putin: We must take into account the plans and directions of development of the armed forces of other countries… Our responses must be based on intellectual superiority, they will be asymmetric, and less expensive.
    • @swardley: What most fail to realise is that the Chinese corporate corpus has devoured western business thinking and gone beyond it.
    • @discostu105: I am a 10X developer. Everything I do takes ten times as long as I thought.
    • DINKDINK: You grossly underestimate the hashing capacity of the bitcoin network. The hashing capacity, at time of posting, is approximately 5,000,000,000 Gigahashes/second[1]. Spot measurement of the hashing capacity of an EC2 instance is 0.4 Gigahashes/second[2]. You would need 12 BILLION EC2 instances to 51% attack the bitcoin network.[3] Using EC2 to attack the network is impractical and inefficient.
    • danielsamuels && 19eightyfour~ Machiavelli's Guide to PaaS: Keep your friends close, and your competitors hosted.
    • Paul Buchheit:  I wrote the the first version of Gmail in a day!
    • @herminghaus: If you don’t care about latency, ship a 20ft intermodal container full of 32GB micro-SD cards across the globe. It’s a terabyte per second.
    • @cstross: Okay, so now the Russian defense industry is advertising war-in-a-can (multimodal freight containerized missiles):
    • Dennett~ you don't need comprehension to achieve competence.
    • @michellebrush~ Schema are APIs. @gwenshap #qconnyc
    • Stacy Mitchell: Amazon sells more clothing, electronics, toys, and books than any other company. Last year, Amazon captured nearly $1 of every $2 Americans spent online. As recently as 2015, most people looking to buy something online started at a search engine. Today, a majority go straight to Amazon.
    • Xcelerate: I have noticed that Azure does have a few powerful features that AWS and GCP lack, most notably InfiniBand (fast interconnects), which I have needed on more than one occasion for HPC tasks. In fact, 4x16 core instances on Azure are currently faster at performing molecular dynamics simulations than 1x"64 core" instance on GCP. But the cost is extremely high, and I still haven't found a good cloud platform for short, high intensity HPC tasks.
    • jjeaff: I took about 5 sites from a $50 a month shared cPanel plan that included a few WordPress blogs and some custom sites and put them on a $3 a month scaleway instance and haven't had a bit of trouble.
    • @discordianfish: GCP's Pub/Sub is really priced by GB? And 10GB/free/month? What's the catch?
    • Amazon: This moves beyond the current paradigm of typing search keywords in a box and navigating a website. Instead, discovery should be like talking with a friend who knows you, knows what you like, works with you at every step, and anticipates your needs. This is a vision where intelligence is everywhere. Every interaction should reflect who you are and what you like, and help you find what other people like you have already discovered. 
    • @CloudifySource: Lambda is always 100% busy - @adrianco #awasummit #telaviv #serverless
    • @codinghorror: Funny how Android sites have internalized this "only multi core scores now matter" narrative with 1/2 the CPU speed of iOS hardware
    • @sheeshee: deleted all home directories because no separation of "dev" & "production". almost ran a billion euro site into the ground with a bad loop.
    • We have quotes the likes of which even God has never seen! Please click through to ride all of them.

  • The Not Hotdog app on Silicon Valley may be a bit silly, but the story of how they built the real app is one of the best how-tos on building a machine learning app you'll ever read. How HBO’s Silicon Valley built “Not Hotdog” with mobile TensorFlow, Keras & React Native. The initial app was built in a weekend using Google Cloud Platform’s Vision API, and React Native. The final version took months of refinement. â€ŠGoogle Cloud’s Vision API was dropped because its accuracy in recognizing hotdogs was only so-so; it was slow because of the network hit; it cost too much. They ended up using Keras, a deep learning library that provides nicer, easier-to-use abstractions on top of TensorFlow. They used on SqueezeNet due to its explicit positioning as a solution for embedded deep learning. SqueezeNet used only 1.25 million parameters which made training much faster and reduced resource usage on the device. What would they change? timanglade: Honestly I think the biggest gains would be to go back to a beefier, pre-trained architecture like Inception, and see if I can quantize it to a size that’s manageable, especially if paired with CoreML on device. You’d get the accuracy that comes from big models, but in a package that runs well on mobile. And this is really cool: The last production trick we used was to leverage CodePush and Apple’s relatively permissive terms of service, to live-inject new versions of our neural networks after submission to the app store. 

  • And the winner is: all of us. Serverless Hosting Comparison: Lambda: Unicorn: $20,830.83. Heavy: $120.16. Medium: $4.55. Light: $0.00; Azure Functions: Unicorn: $19,993.60. Heavy: $115.40. Moderate: $3.60. Light: $0.00; Cloud Functions: Unicorn: $23,321.20. Heavy: $138.95. Moderate: $9.76. Light: $0.00; OpenWhisk: Unicorn: $21,243.20. Heavy: $120.70. Medium: $3.83. Light: $0.00; Fission.io: depends on the cost of running your managed Kubernetes cloud. 

  • Minds are algorithms made physical. Seeds May Use Tiny “Brains” to Decide When to Germinate: The seed has two hormones: abscisic acid (ABA), which sends the signal to stay dormant, and gibberellin (GA), which initiates germination. The push and pull between those two hormones helps the seed determine just the right time to start growing...According to Ghose, some 3,000 to 4,000 cells make up the Arabidopsis seeds...It turned out that the hormones clustered in two sections of cells near the tip of the seed—a region the researchers propose make up the “brain.” The two clumps of cells produce the hormones which they send as signals between each other. When ABA, produced by one clump, is the dominate hormone in this decision center, the seed stays dormant. But as GA increases, the “brain” begins telling the seed it’s time to sprout...This splitting of the command center helps the seed make more accurate decisions.

Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

          Links of interest         
  1. My latest op/ed: "Adaptation should secure communities, not property"
  2. Peer-to-peer lending (I've had a terrible return from Lending Club) will only get legitimate when it's regulated like banking (there are too many incentives to provide sub-prime information now)
  3. Watch this Vox video on "the high cost of free parking"
  4. Corruption: "How powerful people use criminal-defamation laws to silence their critics"
  5. Recommended: "How to think like an economist"
  6. I'm quoted in "Opponents of California’s Delta Tunnels Project Push Alternative Strategies" (Here's my idea for local self reliance; this paper [pdf] estimates that SoCal could "support itself" without imports.)
  7. "A world of free movement would be $78 trillion richer"
  8. Globally, more people think China is a greater economic power than the US
  9. If electrical utilities like heatwaves, then surely water utilities like water waste
  10. A marketing guy applies economics to real life
  11. Should the Dutch switch to English and drop their mother tongue?
  12. "This paper shows that cheating [on a lab task in India] predicts corrupt behavior by civil servants, implying that it is a meaningful predictor of future corruption. Students who demonstrate pro-social preferences are less likely to prefer government jobs"

          Nearly 35,000 aircraft valued at US$5.3 trillion required in the next 20 years        
The world's passenger aircraft fleet above 100 seats is set to more than double in the next 20 years to over 40,000 planes as traffic is set to grow at 4.4 percent per year, according to Airbus' latest Global Market Forecast 2017-2036. Over this period, increasing numbers of first time flyers, rising disposable income spent on air travel, expanding tourism, industry liberalisation, new routes and evolving airline business models are driving a need for 34,170 passenger and 730 freighter aircra...
          The IMF Sounds An Alarm As Global Debt Hits A Record $152 Trillion        
  Another record for the history books. Notwithstanding writing about the risks confronting worldwide banks as an aftereffect of declining benefits in the present low [...]
          16 Major Food Companies Slashed a Bunch of Calories, But Is That a Good Thing?        

Greatist Bites examine what's fun, weird, innovative, and downright interesting in health, fitness, and happiness — all in 250 words or less. Check out all recent Bites here.

Some of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies accomplished a major feat, and it has nothing to do with supersizing. In 2010, 16 companies pledged to remove one trillion calories from the U.S. marketplace by 2012 and another 0.5 trillion (trillion!) by 2015. They exceeded their initial goal by more than 400 percent.

As a part of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, the companies banded together to cut 6.4 trillion calories by 2012 (compared to 2007), according to the findings of a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The companies included in the pledge:
  • Bumble Bee Foods, LLC
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • ConAgra Foods (includes Ralston Foods)
  • General Mills, Inc.
  • Hillshire Brands (previously Sara Lee Corporation)
  • Kellogg Company
  • Kraft Foods Group/Mondelez
  • Mars, Incorporated
  • McCormick & Company, Inc.
  • Nestlé USA
  • PepsiCo, Inc.
  • Post Foods
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • The Hershey Company
  • The J.M. Smucker Company
  • Unilever

As of right now, it’s not clear how the companies accomplished the huge calorie reduction. Some reports suggest the companies pulled off the massive calorie decrease by subbing low-calorie snacks and beverages for higher calorie versions (a no brainer), reducing portion size, and by “re-engineering” existing products — for example, reducing sugar and salt levels and creating products in new ways (i.e. “slow churned” ice cream).

Though reducing portion size (with the ever-popular 100-calorie snack packs, for example) is a proven way to control weight, it’s concerning that consumers may be duped by labels suggesting a healthier product, rather than one that’s just been packaged differently Overweight and obesity - use of portion control in management. Clark, A., Franklin, J., Pratt, I., et al. Great Ideas in Nutrition, Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia. Australian Family Physician. 2010 Jun;39(6):407-11. Portion distortion: typical portion sizes selected by young adults. Schwartz, J., Byrd-Bredbenner, C. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2006 Sep;106(9):1412-8.. While it’s great to see companies make strides to reduce the consumption of high-calorie snacks, we should also consider the overall nutrition profile of pre-packaged snacks, beyond just calorie content. Until we see the full study (expected to be published later this year) and understand the companies’ methods used to slash calories, we can’t really know whether their efforts have had a positive effect on consumers' health.

Do pre-portioned foods help you keep snacking in check? Would you buy your favorite grocery store snacks if offered in lower-calorie versions? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.

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          Which State Has the Highest Default Risk?        
As Dr. Gary Shilling notes states hope for tax collections to grow this year but collectively see $136 billion in deficits in fiscal 2012 and 2013 even assuming more federal money for Medicaid.The Pew Center found that as of June 30 2008 states are obligated for $3.35 trillion in pension benefits owed to current and retired employees but have only contributed $2.35 trillion leaving $1 trillion unfunded. (HT: A. Gary Shilling & Company)Investors are lining up to place their bets on which states now have the highest default risk.Below is a chart highlighting default risk for sixteen states that Bespoke ...

From Jenna Orkin

          Why climate change is good for the world        
Don't ask me, ask The Spectator and Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University.
There are many likely effects of climate change: positive and negative, economic and ecological, humanitarian and financial. And if you aggregate them all, the overall effect is positive today — and likely to stay positive until around 2080. 
Best of all, this is the result of a review of all the literature.  So this is the fabled "consensus". The science that is, apparently, "settled".  The Speccie quite properly notes that the results have a degree of scientific and economic uncertainty in them.  But there is the rub:
You can choose not to believe the studies Prof Tol has collated. Or you can say the net benefit is small (which it is), you can argue that the benefits have accrued more to rich countries than poor countries (which is true) or you can emphasise that after 2080 climate change would probably do net harm to the world (which may also be true). You can even say you do not trust the models involved (though they have proved more reliable than the temperature models). But what you cannot do is deny that this is the current consensus. If you wish to accept the consensus on temperature models, then you should accept the consensus on economic benefit.
Or you could say nothing, cherry-pick your results, shout down your opponents, and carry on wasting public money keeping your organisation's budget up:
In exchange for [£1.8 trillion], we hope to lower the air temperature by about 0.005˚C — which will be undetectable by normal thermometers. The accepted consensus among economists is that every £100 spent fighting climate change brings £3 of benefit.

          Latinos key to U.S. economic growth, study finds        
[Source: FOX2NOW.com] Latinos are becoming an increasingly critical engine for America’s economic growth, a new report finds. In 2015, the 55 million Latinos living and working in the U.S. were responsible for $2.13 trillion — or 11.8% — of America’s $18.04 trillion gross domestic product, according to a study released Thursday by the Latino Donors Read More...
          Just How Much IS a Trillion Dollars?        

When you hear all the media talking about a trillion dollars, they throw out the term casually and you don’t really think about what that really means.  A trillion is one thousand billion.  A billion is one thousand million. 

To put this into perspective, if you could spend one million dollars a day every day since Jesus was born, you still wouldn’t spend a trillion. 

I found this neat graphic online, courtesy of www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html.

The graphic depicts an average human being, and the denomination of the money is $100 bills.

A bundle of $100 bills is equivalent to $10,000 and that can easily fit in your pocket. One million dollars would fit inside a standard shopping bag while a billion dollars (stacked on standard sized pallets) would occupy a small room of your house.


With this background in mind, 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) is 1000 times bigger than 1 billion and would therefore take up an entire football field - the man is still standing in the bottom-left corner….and notice, the pallets are double stacked!

Eye-opening, isn’t it?

          I Need to Talk About America for a Minute        
I love this country. 
It is an amazing place to live when you think about all of the other countries in our world. 
I am humbled and feel incredibly lucky that my boyfriend/partner, my grandfather, my father, and so many many others fought for us to live in this country.
I feel incredibly grateful that I was born here by random luck. God could have chosen me to be born into a brothel in Calcutta or into a family in North Korea. I am extremely lucky and I know it.
This country has been through so much from fighting against monarchy rule to fighting against enslaving another human being to fighting for women's rights and the rights of black Americans and LGBTQ Americans and beginning the long arduous process of restoring respect to Native Americans. We are a country of people who fight for ourselves. We are an amazing, amazing country. 
So it hurts me that I feel people are getting confused about what patriotism means. They get angry when someone says that we could change something and make it better. Wanting America to live up to its name is not about ensuring that only some of the people have these freedoms. And it is not about ensuring that we all go around punching people in the mouth with a bald eagle when they dare to stand up and say we could do better than we are doing because we are perfectly capable of it because this is the United States of America for goodness sake.(Read this: Patriotism v. Nationalism)  
And by better I do not mean better for white people only - such as the much-lauded Leave it to Beaver America of the 1950s white middle-class suburban neighborhood that oppressed women and blacks and in which people were having meltdowns about McCarthyism (which has had a resurgence in the last 8 years and we should totally be over by now) and those pesky people trying to redefine gender roles and sexuality and people building bomb shelters in the backyard.  Wasn't America GREAT? 
Or maybe the America of the 1980s Wall Street segment who got rich off of the backs of the working class and poor, and where Reaganomics tripled our national debt from one to three trillion dollars and widened the gap between the rich and the poor to an extent it has never recovered from.  Neither of these "great" experiences were had by most of America even during those decades. So when was America so great for anyone who wasn't white or male or heterosexual or wealthy or Christian? What exactly are people trying to take us back TO? 

America and America's right to freedom are for EVERY single American whether you like them or not. Right now not every single person has an equal amount of rights and freedoms even though they are supposed to. Many people and politicians are pretending this is not true because it makes them uncomfortable or it distorts their worldview or it means they might need to make some changes so every American is treated like a white man is treated (and, yes, white, straight, ci- men you have it the easiest, yes even with affirmative action, so please realize how much worse everyone else must have it if you still have it the best out of us all.)
I know, right?
See, just because most people are not racist or sexist or xenophobic in this country does not mean that racism and sexism and xenophobia do not exist in the country. Nor does it mean that these -isms cannot be executed in subtle ways that you might overlook if you are not the target. Nor does it mean that there are not still actual laws on the books both federally and in states that make it legal to oppress certain people because there absolutely are these laws. Not to mention just two months ago Obama signed a bill eliminating racist slang from federal laws. In 2016. 
Just because you personally don't experience an America that oppresses you in one way, big or small, does not mean it does not occur every single day. I've never experienced what it is like to leave the house without being judged sexually before I'm judged by the content in my brain or without worrying about getting raped just because I had the audacity to go to the gym in a tank top because there are some men who have never been taught that raping someone because you are in lust is immoral and illegal.  But I know that the experience of not worrying about these things exists because most men do not have these concerns. Boys, do you worry about being cornered by a gang of men each twice your strength looking to feel you up because you wore a sleeveless jersey to a basketball game?  No, not really?  So it IS possible to know an experience exists in this country and not have it ourselves. Radical notion, right?  I am sure your mind is blown. Facts can be crazy hard to deal with.
America is the best country we could possibly live in hands down, but that does not mean it is without flaws. Patriotism is about recognizing these flaws and loving the country so much that you continually strive to make it better.  Every American deserves to live in the same America and right now that is not the case. We should love our country and our people enough to continually move forward. 

          ProBility Media Corp. (PBYA) eLearning Programs Support America’s Infrastructure Development        
eLearning programs to close the skills gap Shortage of electricians on the horizon Building an international training brand for technical vocations and trades Although the details have not been published to date, Infrastructure Week, in early June, kept alive the hopes stemming from President Trump’s campaign promise to spend $1 trillion updating America’s aging infrastructure. […]
          ALA 2016 in Orlando        
   I racked my brain to find a clever title, but didn't have the heart after seeing what happened in Orlando days before the conference. I lived through 911 in New York City and remember that an entire metropolis was traumatized after that for months. I was bracing for something similar in Florida, but generally found that life in the happiest place on earth went rolling right along. We started using Uber to avoid a crippling cost of taxis from downtown to Disney parks, and they talked about many things, but not that. Orlando in general is an interesting place. I could go all sociology on you and expound about this is a trillion dollar monument to man's need to be amused, but....wait, Donald Duck just went by!

   We arrived on the 23rd and got to the conference center before we even went to the hotel, so we could get out of our travel clothes and go off to Epcot. The hotel supposedly had a shuttle that took you there, but it wasn't waiting for us, and after 5 days, we never did see the supposed bus. Marriott Residence Inn Convention Center needs to take a good look at this. Alternatively, we took our first Uber ride and soon became fans. We had a marvelous meal at the German restaurant on Epcot's lake and went back ready to take on the convention.

   Before that, we had to take on Disney's Animal Kingdom, which is the only part of the complex
that I had never seen. I will admit that I was not thrilled about going, and I liked it worlds better than I had imagined I would The talk by Michael Eric Dyson was a wonderful and rousing beginning to the conference, We slipped out early so we could get a good spot for the exhibits opening, otherwise known as the "Grabathon."  Donna was off like a shot for that first hour, but I had a hard time finding book bags or suitable galleys for Donna's summer reading club. By the time I reconnected with Donna, she had already introduced us to the people manning the Elsevier booth and made sure that my new title was on display.

   The next morning was the first of the author presentation breakfasts. We were happy to note that the authors spent more time on their books and less time on their love for librarians. All of the presentations were good but the standout was Shola Richards, talking about his book "Making work work: The positivity solution for any work environment." His story of bullying in the corporate work environment was extremely compelling. He told of working in places with jobs so toxic that they sucked the life out of your soul. Looking around the room, lots of us had been there.  There was also a lunch session with authors sponsored by Random House. Lisa Black was possibly the most memorable, as she uses her working knowledge as a forensic analyst to enhance her mystery novels.

  That evening we attended another Random House event (with unusually good food and drink) and heard presentations from the five authors shown here - Brit Bennett, Meg Rosoff, Nathan Hill, Jim Shepard, and Billy Collins. Jim Shepards' book sounded intriguing enough that I may end my ban on reading books about the holocaust - usually I won't touch anything with Nazis or 9-11.




          Pay now to protect 1 billion people from coastal floods        

As sea levels rise, so will the costs of dealing with it, Christian Aid reminds us in a report released today.

“Spending money now on reducing the risk of disasters will save money and lives later,” said report author Dr Alison Doig in a statement.

More than one billion people will be exposed to coastal flooding by 2060, the report says. Most of them will be in Asia, where the seven most vulnerable cities are. India’s Kolkata and Mumbai top the list, followed by the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

The nation with the most people living in areas vulnerable to coastal flooding is China, home to six of the 20 most financially vulnerable cities.

Four of the other top 20 cities are in the United States, including the city with the most materially to lose: Miami. With $3.5 trillion worth of exposed assets, it is projected to pay the highest cost of coastal flooding by 2070.

The growth of coastal populations combined with rising sea levels due to climate change has created “a perfect storm”, said Doig.


Poor people will bear the brunt of it. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for the percentage of global aid for disaster risk reduction to be doubled to one percent, or one billion dollars. The report’s authors suggest raising that figure to 5 percent, arguing that although it sounds like a large amount: it’s better to pay that now than to pay more later.


Ocean waves Maps and Graphics Environment and Disasters Climate change Cities Pay now to protect 1 billion people from coastal floods Jared Ferrie IRIN 20 cities most at risk from flooding PHNOM PENH Africa Somalia Americas Asia Bangladesh China India Malaysia Myanmar Vietnam Europe Egypt
          What is in store for the future of US economy?        
The Super Committee deal is headed towards failure. What's next? Where does it go from here? On the next Your Call, we'll have a conversation about the 12 member Super Committee's failure to agree on at least 1.2 trillion dollars in deficit-reduction, triggering automatic cuts beginning in January 2013, including military spending. Why was the Super committee created? Join us live at 10 or send an email to feedback@yourcallradio.org. What is in store for the future of US economy? It's Your Call with Rose Aguilar and you.

Christian Weller is an Associate Professor at the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Arthur Delaney is a reporter for the Huffington Post based in Washington D.C.

Click to Listen: What's in store for the future of the US economy?
          Will the Trump Era Bring New Infrastructure Investment?        
Public Works Financing

Since the Trump/Republican election sweep, reporters and others have asked for my thoughts on whether the Trump infrastructure plan will gain congressional support and lead to “fixing” America’s somewhat inadequate (but hardly “crumbling” infrastructure). The answer is far from clear.

First of all, there is not a single Trump infrastructure plan: there are more like three, at this stage of the transition. First is a repeated figure of a $550 billion program, with no details on where that money would come from or how it would be spent. Second is a $1 trillion proposal for investor-funded P3 infrastructure, detailed in a 10-page paper by Trump advisers Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro. And third is recent mentions of an infrastructure bank, possibly funded as part of an overhaul of the tax code and currently championed by Trump adviser Steven Mnuchin.

Since the Ross/Navarro proposal is the most dramatic departure from current federal practice, and relates directly to the major subject of this newsletter, let’s take a closer look at what it is and is not. For some reason, its authors believe a federal tax credit for 82% of the equity invested in P3 concession is necessary to provide an incentive for investors. That seems odd for two reasons. First, what infrastructure investment funds and concession companies lament is the lack of a pipeline of US projects, not the lack of a federal tax incentive. Second, tax-exempt U.S. pension funds and all overseas infrastructure investors gain no benefit from a tax credit. In addition, Ross and Navarro engage in arguably sketch projections of eventual off-setting federal income tax revenue, to claim that their plan would be revenue-neutral. But that distracting argument goes away if the tax credit is deleted from the plan.

Making that change leaves some details to be filled in. Critics have quickly seized on the kinds of projects that would not be included, because the plan assumes customer user fees as the revenue stream in each case. So that excludes transit, passenger rail, schools, public buildings, etc. But what Trump and Ross/Navarro are mainly talking about are roads and bridges, airports, seaports, electricity transmission lines, and water and wastewater systems., all of which have (or could have) user-fee revenue streams of large enough magnitude to service revenue bonds and provide a return on equity.

Brad Plumer of Vox trashes the highway portion of the plan for applying only to the handful of existing toll roads and toll bridges, thereby ignoring the vast majority of non-tolled roadways. But since revenue-based P3 concessions are a good fit only for major projects, that objection is beside the point. The focus of the plan is to rebuild aging infrastructure, and to do so without a major federal tax increase. Well then, the only alternative funding source for large-scale highway and bridge replacement is tolls. Toll-financed Interstate highway and bridge replacement alone has been estimated as a $1 trillion-plus program. All Congress needs to do—potentially as part of authorizing a trillion-dollar Trump rebuild America program—is to permit states that wish to participate to use tolls for these replacement facilities.

And if the program is applicable to the other kinds of infrastructure noted above, they all already have user fees of various kinds—electricity and water bills, airport runway and per-passenger charges, port fees, etc. It would make sense to review and eliminate current federal restrictions on those user fees (such as the current $4.50 federal cap on airport-levied passenger facility charges) to ensure that state and local government-owned infrastructure enterprises can take maximum advantage of the new program.

In the surface transportation area, we have seen the value of the TIFIA loan program for P3 financing. If Congress can be persuaded to create an infrastructure bank that operates in the fiscally conservative, taxpayer-friendly way that TIFIA is now run, that change might be acceptable to a bipartisan majority. It would provide only loans, not a combination of loans and grants as in some previous I-bank proposals, and projects would require an investment-grade rating. This enlarged loan facility could include assisting state and local governments to finance P3 refurbishment of infrastructure that lacks a significant user-fee revenue stream. We’ve already seen public buildings and transit lines procured in this manner, as availability-payment concessions backed by a dedicated revenue stream of local or state tax revenue.

In the transportation area, we are already hearing complaints that the various Trump proposals do not fix the ongoing shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, due to the declining real value of per-gallon fuel taxes. And that will be true, to the extent that states fail to shift some of their current major infrastructure to tolls. If 10 states during the next decade each reconstruct one or more major Interstate facilities as a toll-financed P3 concession, that will free up those states’ federal highway funding to meet a larger share of their other needs. Hence, the existence of this program will give states an incentive to begin shifting individual Interstate highways and bridges from taxes to tolls.

I was not a Trump supporter during the election campaign. But at events I’ve attended since election day, I’ve felt a very palpable sense that this election has opened the door to major changes in what the federal government does and how it goes about it. After a decade of talk about comprehensive tax reform, we might actually get it next year. And transportation policy, as well, could be in for significant rethinking. My guess is that these changes will be very positive for P3 infrastructure.

          A New Way to Jump-Start US Infrastructure Investment        
Public Works Financing

The paradox of US infrastructure in 2016 is that everybody agrees we need to invest more—but nobody is enacting policies to bring this about. Consider the following:

  • Majorities in both houses of Congress continue to reject increases in fuel-tax rates.
  • With the federal government on a path toward insolvency, Congress will soon run out of general-fund “pay-fors” to bulk up the Highway Trust Fund.
  • As The Wall Street Journal reported, despite interest rates being at historic lows, cities and states are opting for less debt rather than doing more bond-financing.

So how are we going to invest trillions of dollars in better infrastructure in the coming decade? In previous columns I have discussed two key ideas: asset recycling and pension fund investment.

Asset recycling refers to a government selling or long-term leasing existing revenue-producing infrastructure facilities and using the proceeds to invest in new infrastructure that cannot be self-supporting (e.g., mass transit, some kinds of bridges and tunnels, school buildings, etc.). The recycled assets would be leased under revenue-risk public-private partnership (P3) concessions, while the new infrastructure would be procured via availability-payment (AP) concessions.

Public pension funds are logical investors in brownfield revenue-risk concessions for several reasons. They need an additional asset class to shore up their investment returns, but will be happy with 8-9 percent rather than the double-digit returns expected by infrastructure investment funds that invest in riskier greenfield concessions. And this means, other things equal, user-fee rates for refurbished infrastructure won’t need to be as high. Moreover, public pension funds provide the retirement income for huge numbers of public employees. This combination of features suggests the possibility of bipartisan support for pension-fund investment in recycled revenue-producing airports, toll roads, seaports, and municipal water and electric utilities.

Like any new idea, however, asset recycling must overcome what Milton Friedman called “the tyranny of the status quo.”

Recall a decade ago how much political opposition there was to the long-term leases of the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road. And at least one public employee union in California last year bitterly denounced the decision of CalPERS (the nation’s largest public pension fund) to invest in the Indiana Toll Road. Most public employee unions will term such proposals “Privatization,” and be automatically against them at first blush.

One way to start gaining traction for the idea is to document its success in other countries. Australia has been the leading practitioner, as I discussed in March, and despite a very recent pull-back by its new federal government, states such as New South Wales continue to recycle assets and invest the proceeds. Canada’s new Liberal government is developing plans for asset recycling, with advice from some of the leaders of its major public pension funds, which have been investing in infrastructure for more than a decade (mostly overseas due to a lack of opportunities in Canada). Ontario is the early leader in asset recycling, having sold 30 percent of state-owned utility HydroOne to investors last year, and planning many further sales. Quebec is developing an aggressive program, headed by major pension fund Caisse de depot et placement.

Although a few U.S. pension fund have begun such investments, most don’t really understand the merits of P3 concessions as a superior form of stewardship of vital public-purpose infrastructure. And the same is true of most elected officials. So a concerted educational effort is needed to explain to these audiences what readers of this newsletter already know:

  • There are major benefits in shifting risks such as revenue uncertainty, (re)construction cost overruns, schedule slips, etc. from taxpayers to investors.
  • Long-standing deferred maintenance can be addressed and proper ongoing maintenance guaranteed over the long life of the concession agreement.
  • New technology (and flexible pricing) are more likely to be implemented by commercially-minded P3 companies.

Besides getting pension funds, elected officials, and the media familiar with both asset recycling and the synergies of public pension fund investment in infrastructure, what else is needed to get this concept under way in the United States?

As we have learned with other innovations, such as express toll lanes and P3 concessions themselves, new policy ideas need political champions, and we need to start looking for such people. The original lease of the Indiana Toll Road would not have happened without the vision and political courage of then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. He happened to be a Republican, but his counterpart in leasing the Chicago Skyway was then-Mayor Richard Daley, a Democrat. Surely there are members of both parties—in Congress, in governors’ offices, and elsewhere—who care deeply about infrastructure investments and who might come to see asset recycling and pension fund investments as a new way forward. (DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx visited with Australian pension funds on a visit there in August—but he will likely soon be out of office.)

Someone with the right credentials should start talking with union leadership about these ideas. Infrastructure attorney John Schmidt of Mayer Brown tells me that construction unions in Chicago supported both of the efforts to lease Midway Airport, and their counterparts in Indiana did likewise for the lease of the Indiana Toll Road. Significant union support would make this approach more acceptable to Democrats.

Finally, in our efforts next year to get Congress to lift the $15 billion cap on tax-exempt private activity bonds, the P3 community should embrace Schmidt’s proposal that tax-exempt bonds be allowed in deals to acquire brownfield transportation assets for reconstruction and modernization. Currently they may only be used for greenfield P3 projects.

The paradox--of agreement on the need for large-scale infrastructure investment but no agreement on how to pay for it--cries out for a solution. Asset recycling and pension fund investment could play a key role in resolving this conundrum.

          Statement from U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on the International Trade in October 2014        

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker issued the following statement today on the release of the October 2014 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services data. U.S. exports of goods and services increased to $197.5 billion in October from $195.2 billion in September. Record monthly levels were reached in exports of non-petroleum goods, including a record in capital goods, as well as in charges for the use of intellectual property. The goods and services deficit decreased by $0.2 billion to $43.4 billion in October.

“Today’s data shows that American goods and services are in high demand around the world, which is great news for our businesses, job creation and the American people,” said Secretary Pritzker. “U.S. exports already support 11.3 million jobs, and increasing our exports is critical to this Administration’s efforts to create more jobs, promote sustainable growth, and strengthen the middle class. In order to sell more American goods and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States, America must continue leading the world in negotiating high-standard trade agreements that give our exporters access to billions of customers beyond our borders.”

In May, Secretary Pritzker launched NEI/NEXT to help more U.S. companies begin exporting and to assist companies already exporting increase sales to more overseas markets. The NEI/NEXT strategy focuses on improving data, providing information on specific export opportunities, working more closely with financing organizations and service providers, and partnering with states and communities to empower local export efforts.

NEI/NEXT builds on the success of the National Export Initiative (NEI) announced by President Obama in 2010. Since the launch of the NEI, a record number of U.S. companies have exported annually, and the United States has seen an increase of 1.6 million export-supported jobs since 2009. U.S. goods and services exports have hit record highs four years in a row, reaching $2.3 trillion in 2013.

          David Harvey telling it like it is at the Urban Reform Tent, January 29, 2009, World Social Forum, Belem        
"I'm delighted to be here, but first of all I'd like to apologize for
speaking English which is the language of international imperialism. I
hope that what I have to say is sufficiently anti-imperialist that you
people will forgive me. (applause)

I am very grateful for this invitation because I learn a great deal from the social movements. I've come here to learn and to listen and
therefore I am already finding this a great educational experience
because as Karl Marx once put it there is always the big question of who will educate the educators.

I have been working for some time on the idea of the Right to the City.
I take it that Right to the City means the right of all of us to create
cities that meet human needs, our needs. The right to the city is not
the right to have - and I'll use an English expression - crumbs from the rich mans table. We should all have the same rights to further construct the different kinds of cities that we want to exist.

The right to the city is not simply the right to what already exists in
the city but the right to make the city into something radically
different. When I look at history I see that cities have been managed by capital more than by people. So in this struggle for the right to the city there is going to be a struggle against capital.

I want to talk a little bit now about the history of the relationship
between capital and city building and ask the question: Why is it that
capital manages to exercise so much rights over the city? And why is it
that popular forces are relatively weak against that power? And I'd also like to talk about how, actually, the way capital works in cities is one of its weaknesses. So at this time I think the struggle for the right to the city is at the center of the struggle against capital. We have now - as you all know - a financial crisis of capitalism. If you look at recent history you will find that over the last 30 years there have been many financial crises. Somebody did a calculation and said that since 1970 there have been 378 financial crisis in the world. Between 1945 and 1970 there were only 56 financial crises. So capital has been producing many financial crises over the last 30 to 40 years. And what is interesting is that many of these financial crises have a basis in urbanization. At the end of the 1980s the Japanese economy crashed and it crashed around property and land speculation. In 1987 in the United States there was a huge crisis in which hundreds of banks went bankrupt and it was all about housing and property development speculation. In the 1970s there was a big, world-wide crises in property markets. And I could go on and on giving you examples of financial crises that are urban based. My guess is that half of the financial crises over the last 30 years are urban property based. The origins of this crisis in the United States came from something called the sub prime mortgage crises. I call this not a sub prime mortgage crisis but an urban crisis.

This is what happened. In the 1990s there came about a problem of
surplus money with nowhere to go. Capitalism is a system that always
produces surpluses. You can think of it this way: the capitalist wakes
up in the morning and he goes into the market with a certain amount of
money and buys labor and means of production. He puts those elements to
work and produces a commodity and sells it for more money than he began
with. So at the end of the day the capitalist has more than he had at
the beginning of the day. And the big question is what does he do with
the more that he's picked up? Now if he were like you and me he would
probably go out and have a good time and spend it. But capitalism is not like that. There are competitive forces that push him to reinvest part of his capital in new developments. In the history of capitalism there has been a 3% rate of growth since 1750. Now a 3% growth rate means that you have to find outlets for capital. So capitalism is always faced with what I call a capital surplus absorption problem. Where can I find a profitable outlet to apply my capital? Now back in 1750 the whole world was open for that question. And at that time the total value of the global economy was $135 billion in goods and services. By the time you get to 1950 there is $4 Trillion in circulation and you have to find outlets for 3% of $4 trillion. By the time you get to the year 2000 you have $42 trillion in circulation. Around now its probably $50 Trillion. In another 25 years at 3% rate of growth it will be $100 trillion. What this means is that there is an increasing difficulty in finding profitable outlets for the surplus capital. This situation can be presented in another way. When capitalism was essentially what was going on in Manchester and a few other places in the World, a 3% growth rate posed no problem. Now we have to put a 3% rate of growth on everything that is happening in China, East and Southeast Asia, Europe, much of Latin America and North America and there is a huge, huge problem. Now capitalists, when they have money, have a choice as to how they reinvest it. You can invest in new production. An argument for making the rich richer is that they will reinvest in production and that this will generate employment and a better standard of living for the people. But
since 1970 they have invested less and less in new production. They have invested in buying assets, stock shares, property rights, intellectual property rights and of course property. So since 1970, more and more money has gone into financial assets and when the capitalist class starts buying assets the value of the assets increases. So they start to make money out of the increase in the value of their assets. So property prices go up and up and up. And this does not make for a better city it makes for a more expensive city. Furthermore, to the degree that they want to build condominiums and affluent housing they have to drive poor people off their land. They have to take away our right to the city. So that in New York City I find it very difficult to live in Manhattan, and I am a reasonably well paid professor. The mass of the population that actually works in the city cannot afford to live in the city because property prices have gone up and up and up and up. In other words the people's right to the city has been taken away. Sometimes it has been taken away through actions of the market, sometimes its been taken away by government action expelling people from where they live, sometimes it has been taken away by illegal means, violence, setting fire to a
building. There was a period where one part of New York City had fire
after fire after fire.

So what this does is to create a situation where the rich can increasingly take over the whole domination of the city. And they have
to do that because this is the only way they can use their surplus
capital. And at some point however there is also the incentive for this
process of city building to go down to the poorer people. The financial
institutions lend to the property developers to get them to develop
large areas of the city. You have the developers but then the problem is who do the developers sell their properties too? If working class
incomes were increasing then maybe you could sell to the working class.
But since the 1970s the policies of neoliberalism have been about wage
repression. In the United States real wages haven't risen since 1970, so you have a situation where real wages are constant but property prices are going up. So where is the demand for the houses going to come from? The answer was you invite the working classes into the debt environment. And what we see is that household debt in the United States has gone from about $40,000 per household to over $120,000 per household in the last 20 years. The financial institutions knock on the doors of working class people and say, "we have a good deal for you. You borrow money from us and you can become a homeowner, and don't worry, if at some point you can't pay your debt the housing prices are going to go up so everything is fine".

So more and more low income people were bought into the debt environment. But then about two years ago property prices started to
come down. The gap between what working class people could afford and
what the debt was was too big. Suddenly you had a foreclosure wave going through many American cities. But as usually happens with something of this kind there is an uneven geographical development of that wave. The first wave hit very low income communities in many of the older cities in the United States. There is a wonderful map that you can see on the BBC website of the foreclosures in the city of Cleveland. And what you see is a dot map of the foreclosures that is highly concentrated in certain areas of he city. There is a map beside it which shows a distribution of the African American population, and the two maps correspond. What this means is that this was robbery of a low income African American population. This has been the biggest loss of assets for low income populations in the United States that there has ever been. 2 Million people have lost their homes. And at that very moment when that was happening the bonuses paid out on Wall street were coming to over $30 Billion - that is the extra money that is paid to the bankers for their work. So $30 billion ends up on Wall Street which has effectively been taken from low income neighborhoods. There is talk about this in the United States as a financial Katrina because as you remember Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans differentially and it was the low income black population that got left behind and many of them died. The rich protected their right to the city but the poor essentially lost theirs. In Florida, California and the American South West the pattern was different. It was very much out on the periphery of the cities. And there a lot of money was being lent to the building groups and the developers. They were building housing way out, 30 miles outside of Tuscon and Los Angeles and they couldn't find anybody to sell to so they actually went for a white population that did not like living near immigrants and blacks in the central cities. What this then led to was a situation that happened a year ago when the high gas prices made it very difficult for communities. Many of the people had difficulties paying their debt and so we find a foreclosure wave which is happening in the suburbs and is manly white in places like Florida, Arizona and California. Meanwhile what Wall Street had done is to take all of these risky mortgages and to package them in strange financial instruments. You take all of the mortgages from a particular place and put them into
a pot and then sell shares of that pot to somebody else. The result is
that the whole of the mortgage financial market has globalized. And you
sell pieces of ownership to mortgages to people in Norway or Germany or
the Gulf or whatever. Everybody was told that these mortgages and these
financial instruments were as safe as houses. They turned out not to be
safe and we then had the big crisis which keeps going and going and
going. My argument is that if this crisis is basically a crisis of
urbanization then the solution should be urbanization of a different
sort and this is where the struggle for the right to the city becomes
crucial because we have the opportunity to do something different.

But I am often asked if this crisis is the end of neoliberalism.. My
answer is "no" if you look at what is being proposed in Washington and
London. One of the basic principles that was set up in the 1970s is that state power should protect financial institutions at all costs. And there is a conflict between the well being of financial institutions and the well being of people you chose the well being of the financial institutions. This is the principle that was worked out in New York City in the mid 1970s, and was first defined internationally in Mexico it threatened to go bankrupt in 1982. If Mexico had gone bankrupt it would have destroyed the New York investment banks. So the United States Treasury and the International Monetary Fund combined to help Mexico not go bankrupt. In other words they lent the money to Mexico to pay off the New York bankers. But in so doing they mandated austerity for the Mexican population. In other words they protected the banks and destroyed the people. This has been the standard practice in the International Monetary Fund ever since. Now if you look at the response to the crisis in the United States and Britain, what they have done in effect is to bail out the banks. $700 billion to the banks in the United States. They have done nothing whatsoever to protect the homeowners who have lost their houses. So it is the same principal that we are seeing at work - protect the financial institutions and fuck the people. What we should have done is to take the $700 billion and create an urban redevelopment bank to save all of those neighborhoods that were being destroyed and reconstruct cities more out of popular demand. Interestingly if we had done that then a lot of the crisis would have disappeared because there would be no foreclosed mortgages. Meanwhile we need to organize an anti-eviction movement and we have seen some of that going on in Boston and some other cities. But at this historical moment in the United States there is a sense that popular mobilization is restricted because the election of Obama was a priority. Many people hope that Obama will do something different, unfortunately his economic advisors are exactly those who organized this whole problem in the first place. I doubt that Obama will be as progressive as Lula. You will have to wait a little bit before I think social movements will begin to go in motion. We need a national movement of Urban Reform like you have here.
We need to build a militancy in the way that you have done here. We need in fact to begin to exercise our right to the city. And at some point we'll have to reverse this whole way in which the financial institutions are given priority over us. We have to ask the question what is more important, the value of the banks or the value of humanity. The banking system should serve the people, not live off the people. And the only way in which at some point we are really going to be able to exert the right to the city is that we have to take command of the capitalist surplus absorption problem. We have to socialize the capital surplus. We have to use it to meet social needs . We have to get out of the problem of 3% accumulation forever. We are now at a point where 3% growth rate forever is going to exert such tremendous environmental costs, its going to exert tremendous pressure on social situations that we are going to go from one financial crisis to another. If we come out of this financial crisis in the way they want there will be another financial crisis 5 years from now. So its come to the point when its no longer a matter of accepting what Margaret Thatcher said, that "there is no alternative", and we say that there has to be an alternative. There has to be an alternative to capitalism in general. And we can begin to approach that alternative by perceiving the right to the city as a popular and international demand and I hope that we can all join together in that mission. Thank you very much."
          Just What Is Fx Trading        
While most people in the financial world believe the New York exchange is the pinnacle of financial trading, the FX market is the true leader. The Forex Market, as currency exchange is known, has a volume of around 1.5 trillion United States dollars daily. This is in excess of 100 times larger than the daily value of the New York Stock exchange (NYSE)

The great thing about Forex is that it is a worldwide market. It is known as an "interbank" market which means trades are conducted over the counter (OTC). OTC means trades are directly between the parties involved and do not go through a central exchange. The main centers for the Forex market are located in Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt and London. Consequently, the Forex market operates essentially 24 hours a day. So we say, the Forex market is simply trading currency in one country for that of another country.

The proportion of the economic value of one currency to the other grows and decreases, and this ratio is what fuels the market. The trades consist of the concurrent purchasing of one currency, for example, United States Dollars (USD), and the selling of another, i.e. The European Euro (EUR).

The largest market in Forex trading is called the 'spot market' because sells are performed at once, or "on the spot". There are other components of Forex trading, such as futures trading, and Forward Outrights, which are slightly more involved than spot trading.

The great thing about Forex is that it is a worldwide market. It is known as an "interbank" market which means trades are conducted over the counter (OTC). OTC means trades are directly between the parties involved and do not go through a central exchange. The main centers for the Forex market are located in Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Frankfurt and London. Consequently, the Forex market operates essentially 24 hours a day.

So we say, the Forex market is simply trading currency in one country for that of another country. The proportion of the economic value of one currency to the other grows and decreases, and this ratio is what fuels the market. The trades consist of the concurrent purchasing of one currency, for example, United States Dollars (USD), and the selling of another, i.e. The European Euro (EUR).
To learn an amazing breakthrough system that can skyrocket your trading profits, go here:
Trends in Forex
          Did Trump Launder Money for Putin?         
Is Putin's espousal of Christian values an act, and the conflict 
between Russia and the USA a charade?

According to David Livingstone,  Chabad is the original Illuminati, a front for the
Russian (i.e. Jewish) mafia. Trump has ties to Chabad both through
the Kushners  and business deals with Russian Jewish oligarchs linked to
tax evasion, embezzlement, money laundering and human trafficking.
David thinks the Russia Mafia is closely linked with the KGB and Putin. 
He suspects they are all run by Mossad.

Disclaimer- Like most of you, I like some things Trump has done or is attempting to do.
However, we need to know the truth about our "heroes." David Livingstone essay, which I recommend you read in full, raises the possibility that Trump is leading us on. 

"As James Henry indicated in The American Interest, "one of the most central facts about modern Russia: its emergence since the 1990s as a world-class kleptocracy, second only to China as a source of illicit capital and criminal loot, with more than $1.3 trillion of net offshore 'flight wealth' as of 2016."

Donald Trump, Chabad Lubavitch & the Oligarchs
by David Livingstone
(Excerpt by henrymakow.com)

The Russian (Jewish ) mafia is closely associated with Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic Jewish movement. Although the Chabad Lubavitcher movement is often listed as a part of Orthodox Judaism, it has often been condemned as heretical by traditional Jews. Rabbi Eliezer Schach, 103; Leader of Orthodox in Israel.

Natan Sharansky, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency said that Chabad Lubavitch was an essential connector to Soviet Jewry during the Cold War.  Shimon Peres has stated that it's to Schneerson's credit that "Judaism in the Soviet Union has been preserved." Joseph Telushkin. Rebbe (Harper Collins, 2014), p. 566.

These Russian Chabad-Lubavitcher Jews composed a substantial portion of the country's notorious "oligarchs."

Close to 25% of the 200 richest people in Russia are Jewish, according to a report by Russian banking website lanta.ru. The report found that of the country's 200 billionaires, 48 are Jews  and own a combined net worth of $132.9 billion. Among the 48 Jews who made the list, 42 are Ashkenazi and together have a net worth of $122.3 billion, even though they comprise only 0.11% of the population . 

The wealthiest Ashkenazi is Mikhail Fridman, who has a net worth is $17.6 billion and is Russa's second richest man. The Ashkenazi billionaires include Viktor Vekselberg (net worth of $17.2 billion), Leonid Michelson (net worth of $15.6 billion), German Khan (net worth of $11.3 billion), Mikhail Prokhorov (net worth of $10.9 billion), and Roman Abramovich, left, (net worth of $9.1 billion). Source

As James Henry stated in The American Interest, "Since the 1990s, [Russia has emerged] as a world-class kleptocracy, second only to China as a source of illicit capital and criminal loot, with more than $1.3 trillion of net offshore 'flight wealth' as of 2016." 

For ordinary Russians, as noted, this was disastrous. But for many banks, private bankers, hedge funds, law firms, and accounting firms, for leading oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP, as well as for needy borrowers like the Trump Organization, the opportunity to feed on post-Soviet spoils was a godsend. This was vulture capitalism at its worst. [The Curious World of Donald Trump's Private Russian Connections.]

A 2012 article in the Jerusalem Post titled "At Putin's side, an army of Jewish billionaires" mentioned three Russian-Jewish billionaire oligarchs in particular who are close to Putin: Mikhail Fridman, Moshe Kantor and Lev Leviev. Under Putin, the Hasidic Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) became increasingly influential within the Jewish community of Russia, partly due to the influence and support of businessmen close to Putin, notably Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich. See "No love lost." and Cracked De Beers.

Leviev is an Uzbeki-born Israeli citizen and devout Chabad Lubavitcher. Known as the "King of Diamonds," Leviev has come under scrutiny by the US government and international media for both his partnership with a Chinese business group believed to have funded North Korea and his possible role in developing West Bank settlements.  "Trump and His Advisors Are Connected to a Self-Professed Friend of Putin"

Chris Hutchins, a biographer of Putin, describes the relationship between Putin and Abramovich as like that between a father and a favorite son. (Chabad Lubavitcher) Abramovich was the first person to originally recommend to Yeltsin that Putin be his successor. Richard Sakwa. The Crisis of Russian Democracy: The Dual State, Factionalism and the Medvedev Succession. (Cambridge University Press, 2011). p. 135. Abramovich is a chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (which is allied with Putin's administration), and donates money to the Chabad movement. M. Goldman. The Piratization of Russia: Russian Reform Goes Awry. (Routledge, 2003). p. 132.

According to former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, Russia's intelligence and security services control the country's organized crime network. Putin Welcomes the Return of the Russian Mafia


Like the Oligarchs in Russia, Organized Crime is heavily Jewish...Chabad Jewish

Shortly before his death, former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko claimed that Simeon Mogilevich,  allegedly had a "good relationship" with Vladimir Putin since the 1990s, and has contacts with al Qaeda to whom he sells weapons. Listen: Alexander Litvinenko's apparent warning before his death...In the year he was murdered, Litvinenko was investigating suspicions that Roman Abramovich was involved in money-laundering and illegal land purchases. Litvinenko investigating Abramovich money-laundering claims, court told.

Putin-Lazar (1).jpg
(Putin with Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia) 

Trump's biggest Chabad links are via his infamous son in law Jared Kushner

In 2015, Trump's son-in-law and chief adviser Jared Kushner, who has strong ties with the Lubavitchers, purchased the former New York Times Building in Manhattan from Leviev. Kushner, who married to Trump's daughter Ivanka after she converted to Judaism, had become what the Times described as Trump's "de facto campaign manager." Quiet Fixer in Donald Trump's Campaign: His Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner. 

He was principal owner in his family's real estate company Kushner Companies, and of Observer Media, publisher of the weekly, on-line New York Observer. The Kushner's were friends with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who stayed at their home in New Jersey, sleeping in Jared's bedroom.[77] 

Trump's foundation has donated thousands of dollars to Chabad institutions, and Ha'aretz also reported that the foundation of Jared's parents gave $342,500 to Chabad institutions and projects over a 10-year period.Report: Trump, Kushner foundations have donated thousands to Chabad. "Israel wasn't a political discussion for him; it was his family, his life, his people," said Hirschy Zarchi, rabbi at the Chabad House at Harvard, where Jared was a member. For Kushner, Israel Policy May Be Shaped by the Personal. ...

On January 27, 2017, the Kushners invited Cohn, Department of the Treasury appointee Steve Mnuchin and several members of the President's cabinet for a Shabbat meal, along with Rabbi Levi Shemtov, from the local Chabad-Lubavitch house, which is only a few blocks away from their home. 

Also attending were Department of Commerce pick Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary Geary Ross, and Strategic Communications Director Hope Hicks. The Kushners break bread with Team Trump: Jared and Ivanka welcome several members of the President's cabinet for the first big Shabbat meal at their new DC home.

(Shemtov, left. Nothing changes.)

Shemtov heads the Central Committee of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbis. Shemtov serves the daily governmental and diplomatic needs of the international Chabad-Lubavitch movement, flying to Buenos Aires, Moscow and other capitals. 

Shemtov is often at the White House, Pentagon, United States Department of State and other venues in official Washington, and maintains close relationships with numerous members of the US Congress, senior Administration officials and leaders in the international community, including a number of heads of state and government. Fishcoff Sue. The Rebbe's Army. (New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2003), p. 185.

          Smart city investment opportunities target $1.6 trillion market        
building skyscraper and big dollar

Smart city technology not only promises to improve city life for residents, but stands to make investors loads of money in the process. ValueWalk sums up the upbeat findings of a new report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) on smart city investment. The report, entitled “21st Century Cities: Global Smart Cities Primer Picks”... Read more »

The post Smart city investment opportunities target $1.6 trillion market appeared first on ReadWrite.

          Panama: Profits for two men and a dog        
Global Finance magazine has an interview with a technocrat featured as "the new guard" Pascal Saint-Amans (@PSaintAmans), an OECD veteran named director of its Centre for Tax Policy and Administration in February 2012, who is overseeing the guidelines review.

It is very revealing that Saint-Amans told Global Finance in an interview: “Profits cannot be located in a place where you have two men and a dog,” which basically means that Panama will never cease to be in black or grey lists (or that Panama has 3 million people and 1.5 million dogs).



Multinational corporations could have a much more difficult time shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions—and deductions to high-tax ones—under new OECD rules.
When Apple CEO Tim Cook testified in defense of the computer giant’s tax practices on Capitol Hill in late May, Cook was speaking for many multinational corporate executives when he insisted that Apple paid every bit of tax the company owed to the US and other countries. But that, according to critics, is precisely the problem. The current international tax system, based on a practice known as transfer pricing, lets multinationals shift income from parent companies or their subsidiaries located in high-tax jurisdictions, such as the US, to those in low-tax regimes, and do the opposite with deductions. As a result, critics say, companies artificially minimize their liabilities or even avoid them entirely, and do so legally, thanks to the widely accepted current basis for transfer pricing.
With a great deal of scrutiny coming to bear on corporate tax practices worldwide, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is looking at ways to revamp its guidelines on international tax practices. Until there is clarity on how this review will evolve, however, corporations are wondering, and worrying over, what it will ultimately mean. An OECD report in February to the G20 countries noted: “There is increased segregation between the location where actual business activities take place and the location where profits are reported for tax purposes.”
And though the cost to governments, many of whom are facing sovereign debt woes because of gaping fiscal deficits, may be impossible to gauge precisely, some estimates put it in the trillions of dollars. “If we could estimate it, we could tax it,” says David Spencer, an international tax attorney based in New York, who describes the problem as “monumental.”
The scope of the tax shortfall is evident in a 2008 World Trade Organization estimate that only 40% of world trade occurs between independent companies. The rest is conducted intracompany—and taxing of that income falls under the current murky transfer pricing rules. That proportion has probably decreased since then, as the global economic downturn has seen industries consolidate further. To help close this gap in lost tax revenues, the OECD has revisited the guidelines it established in 1995, and revamped in 2010, as the basis of transfer pricing practices in most of the world. An action plan that the OECD presented to the G20 in late July detailed 15 steps it expects to take over the next year to two and a half years to deal with transfer pricing and related issues.
The OECD is acting after being accused of dragging its feet. “The current system is not workable,” says H. David Rosenbloom, a professor and director of the International Tax Program at New York University—and former Treasury official.
The evolving perspective at the OECD is owing in part to changes within the organization’s structure. Some critics say that much of the tax staff of the OECD until recently was “captured” by private industry, with members moving between positions in the organization and private industry as if through a revolving door. But it may have as much to do with the shifting power of member countries. Countries such as Brazil, China and India have rejected the OECD’s guidelines in favor of their own, more draconian regulations, bringing pressure to bear on the organization to enact change.
Pascal Saint-Amans
Saint-Amans, OECD: Profits cannot be located in a place where you have two men and a dog
Regardless of the reason behind it, the OECD has had “a very serious change of heart” about the current system, observes Spencer. “There is a new guard that realizes it’s up against the wall.”