Football National Champions: Utah

The University of Utah football team is the national champion of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level in college football, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s football game between the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma. As the only undefeated team in the major conferences it is clear that Utah is the only team that can rightfully call themselves national champions.

No. 7 Utah beats No. 4 Alabama 31-17 in Sugar Bowl – College Football –
Brian Johnson and seventh-ranked Utah came down from the mountains to SEC country and established themselves as the best of the BCS busters, finishing 13-0 with a convincing 31-17 win over No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Friday night.

Yet, after winning the Mountain West Conference, the Utes were left out of the BCS national championship game in favor of perennial powers Florida and Oklahoma, even though both have one loss.

There is no reason to watch tonight’s game, except to take in another meaningless football game. So like many others across the nation, I’ll not bother to turn on the television because there is nothing at stake and my team (USC Trojans) is not playing. Oh, that and I really am boycotting college football as I said I would last year.

Time for a playoff. What other sport in the World crowns a champion with an arbitrary selection by people and computers without a head-to-head matchup? It doesnâ??t happen. Even boxing, fixed as it is, has head-to-head matchups.

Unfortunately, there are no financial incentives to change how things are. That is, until fans provide them. So I’m calling for a fan boycott. Yes, a fan boycott (again).

Boycott: How it will work

  • Refuse to purchase any memorabilia or merchandise that has a logo of any college that participates in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (list here). Also refuse to purchase any tickets to football games, including bowl games. I will not buy any more Trojan Gear until a playoff is installed. The ultimate decision is up to the school presidents of the big six leagues.
  • Contact companies that sponsor your football team, the league they compete in, and the bowl games to declare your opposition to the bowl system and
  • Target one specific company: FedEx
    • Contact its Customer Care (1-800-GoFedEx | 1-800-463-3339) and lodge your dissatisfaction with its sponsoring the Title Game and request it pressure the NCAA to form a football playoff it sponsors instead.
    • Companies are very concerned about image and a few thousand calls regarding its sponsorship will make it take notice.
    • As a last resort, if you want to go this far, is to switch your business.
  • Refuse to watch the games. If anyone has power to convince schools, it is the TV networks that paid beaucoup bucks to broadcast the games. They depend on advertising revenue based on the number of “eyeballs” watching the broadcast. If those “eyeballs” were to not show up …

Until a playoff is installed, I’ll just divert more attention to studying and soccer (a.k.a. futbol).

Do they mean NASDAQ is a Ponzi scheme?

I’m wondering how quickly it will take the Onion to write an almost-too-real article about the NASDAQ ponzi scheme and how Madoff pronounces his name as Made-Off. Unfortunately, this whole financial mess is starting to make all stock and other securities markets resemble gigantic ponzi schemes.

Not just super rich caught up in $50B Madoff case: Financial News – Yahoo Finance.

Around the world, investors who sunk cash into veteran Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff’s investment pool spent the weekend calculating how much exposure they might have. The 70-year-old Madoff, well respected in the investment community after serving as chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, was arrested Thursday in what prosecutors say was a $50 billion scheme to defraud investors.

One thing was clear in the fallout from his arrest: The alleged victims span from the super rich, to pensioners and powerful financial institutions, to local charities. Some investors claim they’ve been wiped out, while others are still likely to come forward.

The Arid West

This quote puts into perspective the current drought and battles over the Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers Delta ecosystem for city/ag water use.

The consequences of aridity multiply by a kind of domino effect. In the attempt to compensate for nature’s lacks we have remade whole sections of the western landscape. The modern West is as surely Lake Mead and Lake Powell and the Fort Peck reservoir, the irrigated greenery of the Salt River Valley and the smog blanket over Phoenix, as it is the high Wind River Range or the Wasatch or the Grand Canyon. We have acted upon the western landscape with the force of a geological agent. But aridity still calls the tune, directs our tinkering, prevents the healing of our mistakes; and vast unwatered reaches still emphasize the contrast between the desert and the sown.

Wallace Stegner, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, page 47.

The quote came up while researching my water law paper.

IMG_5384A river dammed – American River in Sacramento.

The Great Untangling – Capital Markets –

I should stop reading this stuff …

The Great Untangling – Capital Markets –

Some fear that worse may be yet to come. The failure of another big actor in the market would send dealers and other counterparties scurrying to replace trades, almost certainly at a higher cost. Replacing those struck with Lehman, as spreads widened after its bankruptcy filing, is thought to have cost some dealers upwards of $200m each.

That risk remains, judging by CDRâ??s counterparty-risk index, which measures the health of CDS dealers (see chart 1). The next shock could be the failure of a hedge fund with a big swap book, given the spike in redemptions and margin calls many funds face, thinks Pierre Pourquery of the Boston Consulting Group. Hedge funds wrote almost a third of all credit protection last year (see chart 2).

econch1 econch2

Sellers of protection will be watching nervously for a wave of corporate defaults as big economies slip into recession. Standard & Poorâ??s expects the default rate on junk-grade debt to leap to 23% by 2010. Sovereign debt is looking wobbly too, especially but not exclusively in emerging markets. The cost of insuring against a default by the United States has quadrupled since January.

The full article is worth reading and not as dire as this section suggests. It is good to see that the market as well as regulators are looking to resolve the transparency issues with regard to credit default swaps. It seems that until transparency is installed, the financial system will remain on the brink.

Total tax revenue | The Economist

I found this bit from the Economist interesting.

Total tax revenue | The Economist.

Tax revenues have risen as a share of GDP across the OECD over the past 30 years. In 2007 Denmarkâ??s government collected nearly half its GDP as taxes, making it the most heavily taxed among all the rich countries. … France, Norway and Italy also have tax revenues of more than 40% of GDP. At the other end of the spectrum, America and South Korea are relatively lightly taxed, with ratios of under 30%

Regardless of who wins the White House tomorrow, we will all pay higher taxes. How else can we afford two wars, bail outs, the Bush tax cuts, and everything under the sun politicians in all levels of government decide on to satisfy their/our fancies.

I should note that the national debt has risen $500 billion dollars since October 2 when it hit $10 trillion. Today, total outstanding public debt is at: $10,574,094,462,968.23.

Outraged Yet? Goldman Sachs ready to hand out £7BILLION salary and bonus package… after its £6bn bail-out

Goldman Sachs ready to hand out £7BILLION salary and bonus package… after its £6bn bail-out | Mail Online.

“Goldman Sachs is on course to pay its top City bankers multimillion-pound bonuses – despite asking the U.S. government for an emergency bail-out.

The struggling Wall Street bank has set aside £7billion for salaries and 2008 year-end bonuses, it emerged yesterday.

Each of the firm’s 443 partners is on course to pocket an average Christmas bonus of more than £3million.

The size of the pay pool comfortably dwarfs the £6.1billion lifeline which the U.S. government is throwing to Goldman as part of its £430billion bail-out.

As Washington pours money into the bank, the cash will immediately be channelled to Goldman’s already well-heeled employees.”

The gall of these bankers. The world will not crumble if they get ordinary pay, yet they believe themselves above it all. Talk about inviting regulation, especially if the Democrats sweep and get the magic 60 in the Senate (odds are good they will).

I sent the article to my congresswomen and wrote the following note:

“Goldman Sachs took money from the bailout and will use it to pay bonuses. This is outrageous! You need to do something to stop this waste of our money.

It is irresponsible for businesses to pay such big bonuses, particularly when those same businesses are at such high risk of collapse and losing gobs of money. It is likewise irresponsible for our government to prop companies up that have such irresponsible pay practices.”

I.B.M. loses its apples

I.B.M. Sues to Block Executiveâ??s Move to Apple –

SAN FRANCISCO â?? I.B.M. sued one of its top executives on Thursday in an attempt to prevent him from taking a position at Apple.

The company said that the executive, Mark Papermaster, who until last week had been manager in charge of the companyâ??s blade server business, had signed a noncompete agreement with I.B.M. that would prevent him from accepting a job with a competitor until one year after leaving I.B.M.

From the article, it sounds like nothing more than posturing because I.B.M. does not have a leg to stand on if Mr. Papermaster works in California for Apple.

The California Supreme Court, this summer, affirmed longstanding public policy in the state not to allow such non-compete agreements.

“[I]n 1872 California settled public policy in favor of open competition, and rejected the common law â??rule of reasonableness,â? when the Legislature enacted the Civil Code. … Today in California, covenants not to compete are void, subject to several exceptions discussed briefly below. … Also, Noncompetition agreements are invalid under section 16600 in California even if narrowly drawn, unless they fall within the applicable statutory exceptions of sections 16601, 16602, or 16602.5.” Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP, 44 Cal.4th 937, 945, 189 P.3d 285,288 (2008) (emphasis added).

Those exceptions are: (1) 16601 – with regard to selling a business (does not sound like he sold a business);16602 – with regard to a partnership (does not sound like he held a partnership with I.B.M.); and 16602.5 – applies to members of an limited liability company (L.L.C.).

I wonder if this is just a shot across the bow to make sure Apple is careful not to use any trade secret info its new employee might have gotten from I.B.M.

Is the Fed Now Losing Control?

I want to share this … found while researching for my tax policy paper. This chart is frightening. There is more on the post.

FT Alphaville » Blog Archive » Losing control.

Bank writedowns

“Itâ??s Bloombergâ??s chart of the day and has been reproduced by Paul Kedrosky on his blog, Infectious Greed. Kedrosky writes:

“The following more or less supports what some have been saying for a while â?? that major banks in the U.S. and the U.K. will end up being entirely nationalized before this crisis is over â?? but itâ??s still a striking way of looking at the data. The gist: Government recapitalization and other fund-raising has largely been in service of banksâ?? prior subprime losses, while corporate and consumer loans are just starting to hit bank balance sheets. It wonâ??t take much to tip banks over into insolvency again.”

This is frightening stuff. Not least because the Fedâ??s own balance sheet is not looking healthy.”

Video: War propaganda

Old war propaganda is entertainment. It appears old tax propaganda can be just as entertaining.  “Taxes to beat the Axis! … Taxes to bury the Axis! … Taxes to sink the Axis!” Too bad our current wars are far from deserving of this sort of wide support and our current government does not care to collect enough to pay for the wars.

Some of the scenes remind me of Detroit Industry, a mural by Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

airplanes - Rivera Court

a machine in motion - Rivera Court