Friday, January 29, 2021

4688 The Lovin' of the Game


This is part of our series on Investments for the Broke.

The title is stolen from a folk-ish song about people who don’t care if they lose as long as they can play.


Warning: Do not take your investment advice from paper pushers pushing stocks on Twitter.  The stock market is a bubble and while it doesn’t seem so, the gains are mostly paper and the inmates have taken over the asylum.


In recent days the star of the exchanges has been a penny-ante chain of stores called GameStop (GMS:NYSE).  It has risen at times in four-figure percentages.  People are buying it like crazy.  And crazy people are buying it. Thursday’s closing price was $193.60, down from about 347 earlier.  


Without going into the mechanics of the increase here’s what’s been happening.  GameStop sells video games mostly to kids.  Its stock price was near nothing and over the course of a few days flew up to several hundred dollars.


Investment professionals had figured the stock would tank. So they bet on the coming loss by short selling shares. Short selling is a legal way of moving paper around, so you benefit if the other guy loses. The professionals saw the company as ready to take a tumble. 


Then along came the new prophets of Wall St. Including Elon Musk who should know better.  He and others pushed the broke to invest.  The broke invested. The short sellers said “uh, oh, we were wrong. The stock is rising fast, we’d better sell.” They sold. That drove the price even higher.


Some trading has been restricted.

At this point, we need to stop and point out some things:

The exchanges are casinos and there usually are a goodly lump of big winners and big losers.  But long term, the house always wins.  The house in this case is the community of professional stock transfer agents, AKA salesmen.


You can’t time buys and sells accurately because many of the reasons stocks rise and fall have little to do with the value of the companies or the ability to reason.  It’s all in the collective emotions of the people whose hopes and fears run the machinery of trading. Sometimes -- but not always -- a product of external circumstances.


So in the case of GameStop, some people are going to make a bunch of money but before you transfer your life savings to your trading account remember that by the time an increase becomes a big news story, the story is likely to end.  And GameStop is a big story.


But there is an upside to all this:  The high flying know it all professional masters of the universe who make money whether their customers win or lose are going to be in for an eventual shock.  This stock is going to re-tank.  And it’s going to take a lot of other issues down with it.  And during the down part of the roller coaster ride, it’s going to scare the daylights out of a lot of people who need the daylights scared out of them.


Today’s Quote: “The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” -- John Maynard Keynes.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?

© WIR 2021


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

4687 Normal is a Little Scary

 If this is your temperature reading you may be able to raise it by fearing that you’ll get sick and raise it.

 The news junkies among us are having a tough time.  After the last five or so years, there’s little of interest to satisfy our obsession or addiction or compulsion for stimulation wrapped in other peoples’ misery.


Yeah, yeah. All the issues left in ruin since 2015 need repair. But repair is much duller than disruption and disfunction. And such disruption and disfunction as remains is basically penny ante compared with the high stakes high altitude high decibel poker game played atop a tankful of nitroglycerin in an earthquake we’ve been dealing with.


All of the above went out with a shocking bang when armed traitors stormed the Capitol Building in an attempt to overthrow the US government.  Everything since is the sound of silence and a lot of shuffling of papers with an onslaught of babbling heads steeped in minutia.

Well, we can all look forward to something a little more natural now. Like the North Pole melting. Or at least a decent earthquake or killer hurricane or invasion of killer bees.


The scariest part of this scary scenario?  We’re going to have to make our own excitement.  There’s little out there to stimulate.  Not even the endless Kardashian soap opera moves the needle.


Business newsies are waiting for the stock market to tank. What if it doesn’t?  Crime junkies are waiting for another Lufthansa robbery or the emergence of someone to top Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme record. What if there isn’t one?


There isn’t even a remaining good reason to read Twitter. A good meal of leftovers can be beautiful and satisfying. But trump’s trial in the Senate? Superbowl MMXXI? The start of spring training?  Nah.


Even CORONA-19 seems distant to many of us, though a center of many personal, regional tragedies. The eternal congressional checker game?  Boring. All this makes watching golf exciting, relatively. Paint drying. Grass growing.



-Twitter has closed the account of “My Pillow Guy” and trump acolyte Mike Lindell.


-The justice department opened an investigation to find out whether any of its workers helped engineer the attempted coup at the Capitol Building on January 6th.


--New York’s downstate transportation agency, the MTA, is investigating reports that some suburban commuters stuck working from home are trying to illegally sell their monthly train tickets paid for with the help of their employers.


-When your non-contact thermometer inexplicably converts from Fahrenheit to Celsius and reads 37 degrees, it’s still “normal.”


-According to Google Analytics clickership of these posts has fallen by about 33% since its frequency was intentionally reduced by 33%.


-Today, 1/26, is the first anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?

© WJR 2021


Friday, January 22, 2021

4686 Forgiveness and the Serial Killer

  Five years post promise, no evidence of draining. Who was supposed to bring along the Drano?

Now that he’s gone, should we forgive him?  Isn’t that the American way?  Don’t ruinous people who get their just due often hear that at pre-sentencing hearings from the survivors of the murdered?


Yes, we do.  Just not this time and not this guy.  


He hasn’t even been convicted yet, let alone sentenced. And what he murdered was and is more important than any one individual.


He is a serial killer. Here is a partial list of his victims:

--Tradition.  That started during the campaign when he invaded his opponent’s space, meandering away from his lectern and too close to hers.  Then there was the name calling.  Little Marco. Low energy Jeb. Crooked Hillary. Al Frankenstein. Evita. Little Rocketman. Kung Flu.


He left as he started, heading for Florida instead of attending the Biden inauguration; never admitting he lost.


In between there were all those postings on Twitter.  That’s not how a president talks to the nation.


--Decency. That started decades ago when he stiffed employees, his draft board, his older brother. His first two wives (we don’t yet know about the third, but where there’s smoke...) Decency includes not grabbing women by their private parts.  It doesn’t include building a border wall. Or building cages to separate children from their parents. 


--Truth.  Where can we even start to enumerate the lies? The size of his inaugural crowd. The amount of money in his bank accounts. The number, the breadth and the depth are impossible to calculate.


--Respect: All of those cult followers? They’re means to an end.  They didn’t get him anywhere. He doesn’t respect them, he uses them.


--International relations. He made enemies of America’s friends and friends of America’s enemies. He befriended polluters and made enemies of people who want earth to live another few decades.


And maybe worst of all, his non-policy on the Covid-19 virus caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans… nearly half a million and counting.


He treated you -- yes you who are reading this -- like a crime boss treats members of a rival gang or, for that matter like some members of his own family, but with a notable exception.  Old school crime bosses and old school dictators understood that occasionally, you must put back into the system.  You must help an elderly widow pay the rent. You have trade favors. 


This serial killer did not know how to give back. Or even that giving back was in his job description as a mob boss.


There’s no death penalty for these crimes.  And once wound up, his followers don’t wind down just because the rest of us fired him, sent him packing with his tail between his legs to a sand bar of a state likely to be washed away in a climate change flood.


Forgive?  Not on your life. But let’s borrow and paraphrase his own words in one final sentence:


Lock him up.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?

© WIR 2021


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

4685 Count the Silverware

 Where did Dolley Madison get this Argand Lamp, which burned brighter than the candles they used to light the White House in the early 1800s?

 When the present president exits the White House, what will he take with him.  Certainly, his clothing and shoes, his spray tan equipment and his supply of Sharpie pens.


Of course, from time to time, outgoing presidents have packed a few things that don’t belong to them and somehow have ended up under glass in their presidential libraries.


James Madison may have slipped out the door with one of those fancy Argan Lamps which burned much brighter than the customary candles and oil lamps of his day.  But we must remember that Adams had to buy his own furniture, so there’s evidence he walked out with tables and chairs he’d brought in.


Nixon may have had a few official trinkets in his pockets when he quit and ran.


Bill Clinton took his gifts when he left but had to return some of them because they were meant by their donors to remain in federal custody.


We want to think of our presidents as meeting a higher standard of ethics.  At least that’s the inference we read in traditional history books.


Some presidents, though, were kleptomaniacs of a different order.  They stole things not from the physical White House but from the American People.


Hoover stole economic reality.


Nixon stole confidence in the office.


Dolley Madison’s oil lamp and Bill Clinton’s swag bag and furniture pale when measured against Hoover and Nixon.


Just to be sure everything is as and where it should be, someone inventory the knives, forks and spoons. Count the silverware.  And maybe keep an eye on the plates, bowls and bath towels.



--With trump out of office, it’s time for the Republican Party to get on the couch for some good 50-minute hours of the talking cure. It could be a good time to be in the cult-deprogramming business.  And you can set that up to work on Zoom.


--The National Association of Musical Merchants, NAMM for short, is about to open its 2021 convention in Anaheim.  That’s when nervous factory owners parade the latest in their endless array of planned obsolescence. It’s up to us to decide the difference between innovation and gimmickry.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?

© WIR 2021


Friday, January 15, 2021

4684 Freedom of the Press


 Okay, fellow capitalists, let’s talk about the free press.  Free speech is guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution, isn’t it?  Well, yes, sort of.


What some of the current speech freedom maniacs conveniently forget: the first amendment applies only to congress and law making.  It doesn’t apply to you. It doesn’t apply to Rupert Murdoch.  And it doesn’t apply to the Daily Worker newspaper.


It doesn’t apply to your church. It doesn’t apply to (uh, oh!) Twitter, Facebook or Amazon.


Who was it said there’s no freedom of the press if you don’t own one?  The web cesspool Parler didn’t own its press. It rented distribution from Amazon’s hosting service.  Amazon decided to kick out the tenant because it was a hotbed of danger. 

It’s the same deal as if, say, Jared K was wandering through one of his slums and found a meth lab in Apartment 3B.


That tenant would soon be out on the street. Parler was Amazon’s tenant. Pseudopresident trump was a tenant at Twitter with a summer palace rented from Facebook. They threw him out, just as the trump organization might evict a troop of tap dancers who kept all the other renters from a good night’s sleep.


So, with these big platforms gone, what’s a bunch of True Real Gen-Yu-Wine Amurkans do once they’re finished cleaning their AK’s, cooking their Meth (Hey Honey, what’s for dinner?) and um… courting... their cousins?  


Why it’s back to the internet where lesser but more user friendly chat sites are ready to welcome them with open (and uncontrolled) arms.


At the moment, according to the news website Axios, “Signal” is the fastest growing of the newcomers. But CloutHub and Rumble aren’t that far behind.  Ever heard of any of them?  Probably not. Well, now you have.


Thing is, they’re scattered.  They haven’t coalesced into a force yet.  That may dampen the fun planned for inauguration day.  Not to worry.  They’ll grow.


But chances are, they won’t reach the scale of a Twitter or a Facebook.


The same is true with right wing TV.  Fox will get its act together.  There are some talented newsies there. And executives frightened of drops in ratings and revenues.  So, they’ll have their buyouts and layoffs. And their swollen balance sheets will be … um, fair and balanced. But the junior players like Newsmax and AON don’t have the reach, called “clearances,” that it takes to build a solid national audience.


As for free speech restrictions… the Supremes ruled out the kind that we often summarize as “you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” These days, you can’t do that anyway.  There are three reasons:

1.   Many if not most movie theaters are closed.

2.   Those that are open don’t get all that crowded these days and 

3.   It’s tough to hear the guy disrupting the 15 viewers in Screen Room One if you’re in Screen Room 8 down the hall with the other 15.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?

© WIR 2021


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Mini 013 Impeached!

 Ten republicans joined all democrats present and voted to impeach trump, making him the first American President to be impeached twice.  The Senate won’t return to session until 1/19, the day before the Biden inaugural.  So chances are if they give trump the boot,  it’ll be moot.  But senators of all eras and all parties love ceremony.  So look for a ceremonial moot boot.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

4683 Moynihan Train Palace


In 1927, Margaret Ann Moynihan gave birth to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the perfect New Yorker in Norman, Oklahoma. Her son, “Pat,” to everyone, died 76 years later in Washington, DC. He was still the perfect New Yorker.


In the interim, he earned a bunch of college degrees, was easily elected to the United States Senate while hardly campaigning. He served presidents of both his Democratic Party and the Republicans. He wrote his own newsletters, fine and elegant.  And he spoke like a hesitant, mumbling, fumbling politician who needed a translator and even then was tough to understand.

We all -- Democrats and Republicans -- knew he was a Great Man and didn’t understand a word he muttered.


Now, because of his efforts, his name greets the 21st Century with a railroad station built over the course of years and at a cost of more than one billion dollars. 


The Moynihan Train Palace doesn’t require on-time service and doesn’t offer GPS service to find your track.


The Moynihan Palace shoehorned in next to New York City’s most important post office, named for another one-man colossus born elsewhere, James A. Farley (1888-1976) originally from Virginia. 


It sits across 8th Avenue west of Penn Station.  It is a thing of beauty.  And it has a skylight much like the original Penn Station, the one that served up late trains and dirt before they built an arena and office tower on top.


That Penn Station achieved architectural sainthood, especially after it was torn down.  That skylight grimed up over decades before they tore it down.  The new one will too.  But it’ll take a while.


Meantime, riders of three furiously busy railroads will get a bit of elbow room before being packed into the Metroliner to Washington, the 11:41 to Montclair or the 5:52 to Oyster Bay.


So... a thing of beauty, at least for now. But you can count on certain things happening in and about the Palace.


--Confusion and misdirection will reign supreme at least until mid-March.


--The doughnuts will be stale. The beer will be warm. Both will be overpriced.


--Not every track can be accessed, so you may have to (shudder) enter the main floors of the station.


--Ancient tracks -- and that’s all of them -- will develop (a) signal problems, (b) switch problems and (c) that wonderful old railroad catchall, equipment problems.


--The two guys ahead of you at the ticket vending machine will not know how to work it.


--The guy ahead of you at the ticket window will argue with the clerk or not know where they’re going or how to describe it.


And one thing you can count on like gravity: the 6:46 will leave Penn Station and/or arrive at Babylon late.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? 

Wessays (™) will be available each Tuesday and Friday starting this week.  That’s a railroad-esque reduction in service.

© WIR 2021


Friday, January 08, 2021

4682 It Always Takes a Shock

 I just unwrapped the stuff from Amazon. Now, where do I install these funny little roundish things?

Mike Pence joined Amazon Prime the other day. Gets free shipping and fast delivery on stuff he buys. He searched the website and because he has limited ability to spell and click boxes sought help from his wife: "Mother, how do you spell "balls?"


He ordered a pair, read the quick start guide and installed them.  Then he went to work.  It isn't tough work he does.  What does it take, after all, to open a bunch of envelopes and count ballots?


The Ultimate Sycophant could no longer syc. It took a riot.  But now, at least, we have a president-elect and all that implies.


Did the trump riot at the US Capitol building shock you?  Good. You needed that. We all did.  Else how would the horror that we have inflicted on ourselves starting in 2016 end? How would the boil have been lanced?  How would the cancer have been excised? 


This was like 9/11.  It was like Pearl Harbor. It was like the battle of Ft. Sumter.  Someone had to give us a whack upside the head.  Okay, thanks. You have our attention now.


There are three basic classes of political evil at work in America.  And it’s time to act against all of them.

1.  The soon to be ex-president and his immediate though ever-shifting. Ever shifting and at once shiftless.  Time to go. In handcuffs if possible. Maybe in chains or giant butterfly nets.

2.  Their “ordinary” followers, people you know, whose trump worship you tolerate, whose ramblings that you impotently respond to by doing nothing more than turning your back and walking away instead of answering them in kind.

3.  The worst of this threesome, those who enable and support the other two for personal gain. This third branch of trumpists work the levers of treason. 


These are some members of the third group:

--High ranking officials like Mitch McConnell who isn’t nearly as stupid as he looks or sounds and who makes the legislative end of trumpism work while allegedly demeaning it in private.


--Lowlifes in congress like “The Senator from Texas,” who got into both Yale and Harvard because they want to be seen as broad-minded, not because of accomplishment or intelligence. 


--Lower lowlifes in state and local government who from the safety of gerrymandered bunkers and foxholes goad those above them in the chain of authority to continue the Screw America movement that the rest of us now have a chance to stop.


Start with the 25th Amendment and excise the tumor. With his new Amazon Prime purchase in place, even a bottom feeder like Pence can steer the ship of state for the few days between now and when the grownups move back into the White House.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 

Any Questions?

© WIR 2021

Wessays begins the year with a twice-weekly schedule. We’ll see you on Tuesday and Friday mornings before Noon, Eastern.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

4681 DIY Year in Review


News media and bookie joints were ordered to remove these devices years ago. Now we must root through the garbage to find coy and correspondence we had “put on hold.”  Anyone know how long the Coronavirus lives on paper? In any event, spike 2020.


With too little guidance from the now-retired non-prophet WestraDamus, I wondered what happened in 2020.  Searching the tabloids didn’t help.  Also, the near-tabloids disguised as what we used to call “broadsheets.” 


“Broadsheets” is so very politically incorrect. You know what I mean, though. Even the big snooty newspapers like the NY Times and the Washington Post have or sometimes use horoscopes.  But at least they’re buried amid trivia like recipes, theater criticism, ship arrivals and college sports scores.


Here’s something surprising.  TV News has yet to climb on the horoscope bandwagon.


Anderson Cooper: “Now for a look at the reasons for the Covid pandemic, here’s CNN’s Chief Astrologer Moonbeam Barbara.


MB: The moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter’s aligned with Mars.  This means an outpouring of strange germs will fly out of somewhere in the far east and affect everyone.


At the 2PM rundown meeting at NBC Nightly News…

Lester Holt: This is a Very Serious Newscast.  I will not permit some talking head “astrological consultant” to explain why the president signed the COVID-19 relief bill only after the old one expired.


Executive Producer: Lester, we must get with the trend.  Tell ya what. We’ll kill the cooking segment at the show’s end and give the astrologer 90 seconds.

Holt: It’s not a show. It’s the news.

Holt: Cooking segment? 


So to get a good picture of 2020, we need to read “The Year in Review” features.  But really, do you need a newspaper or television show to tell you what happened last year?  


You may have:

--Fear of the virus.

--The virus.

--A shot of the vaccine.

--A welfare check from the trump administration.

--A hankering for a night out, but the restaurants are all closed.

--A car that doesn’t use nearly the usual amount of gas because you never go anywhere.  Three weeks to the gallon is common.


But by now, you’ve probably stockpiled more toilet paper and paper towels than you thought you’d ever use.


Also lying around the house:

--More antibacterial wipes than you thought you’d ever use.

--A touch free thermometer.

--Enough hand sanitizer to keep the Mormon Tabernacle Choir germ free for a season of touring.

--Enough pasta to feed the entire population of Milan Sunday dinners for the next two years.

--Six hundred packets of instant oatmeal.

--Enough frozen vegetables to cover the Green Giant’s factory in Parsippany.

--Two giant packs each of AAA, AA and D-batteries, but none of those stupid 9-volt jobs which you’ve forgotten you need for the smoke alarms.


Also around the house:

--At least one faucet is leaking.

--At least one window shade needs replacement.

--The icemaker stopped making ice but didn’t stop making noise.


And you don’t remember:

--Where you put the spare bags for the vacuum cleaner. Or:

--The unused checks.

--The 2021 health insurance cards that came automatically two days after you didn’t switch carriers.

--Your 2021 wall calendars.


2020 was a year of education. You learned:

--How to use Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, iChat, Google Chat.

--How to build a home office from scratch.

--Who your friends are… and aren’t.

--How to order foods online from the grocery that’s in easy driving distance.

--Your European shoe size. 


Hell of a year, right?  Or maybe Hell of a year, “Far Right.”


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 

Any Questions?

© WIR 2021

Wessays begins the year with a twice-weekly schedule. We’ll see you on Tuesday and Friday mornings before Noon, Eastern.

4745 An Ounce of Cure

  Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.   While “n...