Jingle Mail

Posted On: Saturday - October 19th 2019 5:40PM MST
In Topics: 
  Global Financial Stupidity  Economics  US Feral Government  Big-Biz Stupidity

The keys are in the mail - all yours, bitchez!

The discussion on the "moral hazard" of handing out student loans like jolly ranchers on Halloween brought my mind back to an even bigger instance of this government induced problem. That is the housing bubble 1.0 crash of 11 years back. I'd guess that there are 3-5 times as many mortgage loans out there as student loans, and they are in the range of 2 (for the med students!) to 15 times bigger (for the student at the State U. who doesn't go crazy with it). There's a LOT more money involved.

Back from the mid 1990s through 2008, it wasn't all DIRECT guaranteeing of mortgage loans, mind you, in this HUGE market, but the US Government got very involved. It started with the claims of "red-lining" (like, yeah, a bank wouldn't want to lend money to a good risk) that were made since the Civil Rites era, but the stupidity of Bill Clinton and the "compassion" of George W. started this push on the banks. It was not just that the Feds would help these banks out when they took on the bad risks, but also that the more conservative banks that didn't want to play this game were made out to be non-virtuous and mean, racist bankers. Why fight all that, when the US Gov would back you?

It wasn't all just that - housing prices had been going up steadily since the late 1980s, with maybe a few very slight drops. Since house prices "always go up", banks saw no reason to fight this stupidity. Investors got in on this game, and these $350,000 mortgages to $10/hr Hispanic gardeners were all packaged in nicely into these "tranches" of funds, ... or whatever-the-hell. After years of helping out Uncle Sugar with his virtuous project (and making a killing), when the SHTF in '07-'08 (depending on where you live), well, "quid pro quo, Clarice" said the big banks, at least those officially too big to fail. "Bail me out, Clarice, uhh, Uncle Sugar!"

I'd perused one particular housing bubble web site starting in '05, so I did see this coming. The posts and comments were mostly from real estate agent types. Their being part of the F.I.R.E. economy, I'm not the biggest fans of real estate agents, but some of the details they wrote of regarding what was going on after the crash were pretty interesting.

The term "jingle mail" was used a lot in '08 - '12. This term refers to the sending of house keys in the mail back to the bank, as in "Yeah, we can't sell this thing without bringing 200 large to the closing, which we don't have, so here you go. Good luck with all that ..." Yeah, it was not always the actual keys in the actual mail, but you get the idea. There were some amazingly stupid things going on, as the banks did not want so many"non-performing" loans on their books, making them look insolvent. I have a friend who did pretty well with this. On his 2nd out of 3 foreclosures, though he hadn't paid a cent in a year, the bank PAID HIM 2,000 bucks to not trash the place when he left! "Hmmm, nice place I'm leaving you here ... it'd be a real shame if sometin' woulda' happen to it."

For years, when discussing the housing loan crisis, I'd been using the same line I wrote in the previous post on the school loan business - "Hey you signed on the line." Well, the more I thought about it later, I recalled a time when my personal finances were not so good. I didn't plan on cheating on any deal, mind you, and the last thing I got behind on WAS the house payment. The money was coming - "you'll get it when I get it" is what I wanted to say, but there was no chance to say that. In those years, you got a letter from lawyers by that point. They wanted 2 payments (not quite catching up, but on the way) together, or foreclosure would start.

Years after this (I had made 2 double payments, as I got out of the financial hole caused, yes, it was, by the US government with regard to the business I was involved in) a thought came to me. At the time in question, housing prices had already risen for a few years, and the equity in my house was likely $50,000 more than what I owed on the loan.* Shouldn't they have given me that 50 grand, were I to say "OK, I can't pay anymore"? No, that wasn't part of the deal - they just get the house. Well, quid pro quo, Clarice bitchez!** How about if I'm "underwater" next time, and I do this jingle-mail thing?

It's not quite like the student-loan business in which the amount of benefit one has obtained from this education is not easily calculable, and sometimes a net negative, BEFORE accounting for the loan.

OK, it's been financial stupidity week, I guess. Part 3 on the school loans is to come next week, along with more on Media Stupidity and a book review.

* Personally, I wasn't as excited about some are about this sort of thing. All it meant to me was higher property taxes.

** OK, this whole "bitchez" thing is from the ZeroHedge commenters and I'm having some kind of flashback here ...

No comments - Click here to start thread

Student loan debt and forgiveness - Part 2

Posted On: Saturday - October 19th 2019 10:01AM MST
In Topics: 
  University  Global Financial Stupidity  Economics  Liberty/Libertarianism

(continued from previous post)

(This is pretty much the same data as on the previous post, but a bit clearer and with only blue shades. I'd already saved this, so ...)

This is discussion of the ideas presented in Steve Penfield's comprehensive article on the whole student loan/traditional university education business - Student Debt Cancellation: A Good Idea and a Political Hoax. Has everyone read it yet? What?? How about at least the Cliff Notes? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? OK, I can't even ... all right, you all are Peak Stupidity's customers, and the customer is ALWAYS right, and I've got my tenure committee meeting coming, so just stay here and read anyway.

One can see from Mr. Penfield's title what was coming. After that great explanation of the problems, including hard-core Libertarian reasoning, and some good ideas for alternate methods of higher education, what's the guy's conclusion? FORGIVE THE LOANS. Let's have a JUBILEE! Like in the Bible. The author quotes one James Richards, of US News & World Report (they still make that?!) as he explains how the deal ran in Leviticus (excerpt from Mr. Richards, not Mr. Penfield):
The Bible’s book of Leviticus provides that every 50 years all mortgage debt is to be forgiven. This occurrence was called the Jubilee Year. This may seem like a shocking imposition on creditors and a free ride for debtors. Yet, consider the behavioral feedback loops. In the 10th year after the last Jubilee, lenders might lend freely for a 20-year term. By the 45th year it seems likely that long-term credit would have dried up because the lenders were as aware of the coming Jubilee as the debtors. This was a self-regulating system that deleveraged itself before credit bubbles grew out of control and threatened a widespread collapse. It was an orderly deleveraging that seems enlightened in comparison with the disorderly and draconian deleveraging our economy is experiencing today.
Yeah, fine, that might have worked, but here's the obvious difference, the both of you knuckleheads: There was prior knowledge of these 50-year jubilees. That makes all the difference in the world! Just as the excerpt says, the money managers of Leviticus-day could plan and make loans accordingly. That is NOT the situation today.

Let me back up a bit and just mention that this student-loan forgiveness business is being bandied about by various members of the Young Turds and Old Pharts of the blue squad. Promising to rob the taxpayer Peter to pay the free-loaders Paul has been a winning strategy for the Socialists since the 1960s. Something's got to be done, right? People won't be able to pay all this money back. Peak Stupidity believes Instapundit's statement that what can't go on, won't go on.

Steve Penfield's solution to basically just do this this ONE TIME, and then implement an entirely different method of higher-ed, or, at least, financing of it, reminds me of "It's just this one Amnesty, and then we control the border..."* or the Savings & Loan crises of the 1980's, and lastly, and most destructively, the big-bank bailouts of 2008. Beside the fact that the promises to "now go ahead and fix it so this won't happen again" are not usually kept, there is the moral hazard.

Yes, I like that term "moral hazard", and that Steve Penfield, with all his other great Libertarian writing to get to the root of the problem, should really have known what this means. Mr. Penfield writes that those who did the responsible thing, paying off their loans, will at least have learned a lesson that the forgivees will not:
As for the college grads who honorably paid off their school loans, how would granting Debt Forgiveness to other people harm you in any way? If the word “education” has any meaning at all, you’ve gained a great education from the discipline of working, saving and paying off your obligations. Now maybe use those skills to do something even more productive. Unlike the conservative writer Matt Walsh, who worked to pay off his wife’s student debt, there’s no reason to be bitter about “an awful lot of unnecessary sacrifices” made in the past. Look how far that great experience has got you (and him) already?

We can’t change the past. And reckless college graduates who are over their head in bills from a worthless degree won’t get a chance to learn from that particular mistake. But they may get a chance to start over. If debt-relieved graduates make the same foolish choices in the future, they will be the ones to suffer.
No, I don't think that's the lesson that the average responsible guy, the one who worked in the evenings to help pay at least for the dorm, used his old beater car, if any, and bought the cheap swill instead of going to the brew pubs (you really can't tell anyway after 2!) to keep his loan down to $20,000, instead of $50,000, will learn.

The actual lessons he will have learned are: Don’t live by the rules anymore, don’t trust the US Gov’t (at least that’s a good thing to learn), and next time, screw the system any way you can!. It screwed you, and who knows what the next thing will be, forgiven mortgages, car loans, CC debt, what? Student loan forgiveness will create even more irresponsibility in a country that already has too much due to 5 decades of hard Socialism.

You think there is a lack of social trust now in America? Wait until more responsible people get screwed, and that’s exactly what your solution is. Don’t try to rationalize it, Steve Penfield.

No matter how much of a scam American higher education is these days, and it's a LOT of one, the fact is that these students and/or their parents signed on the line. Yes, maybe the older "boomer" parents still had the antiquated ideas in their heads about "just get any degree - they'll be white collar jobs just waiting for you", and "hell, I saved for all my tuition, just delivering pizzas during the summers", etc. I know, they were, and still are, deluded about the modern costs and rewards of a BS degree. I would hope these would make up a majority of the cosigners, as they deserve to pay for their inability to keep up! If they didn't sign, but still gave their kids bad advice, well, I guess these kids can learn some truly valuable lessons. Why didn't their baby-boomer parents teach them "don't trust anybody over 30", right? ;-}

Then there are the bogus complaints about "hey, the amount keeps going up, it was just 4 years of grad school." "Then, I didn't borrow any more and took a year off to tour Europe, and it STILL went up!" Yeah, the US Gov’t does lots of criminal things, but accumulation of interest during forbearance (see the difference between forbearance and deferment here) is not criminal nor is accumulation of interest during a decade of non-payment.

Even with all the time spent on the PC, SJW crap, isn't there any time left at college to learn how to use an compound interest table (P, A, F, Rate, etc.)? You can learn this in 10 minutes. These calculators are on-line – don’t tell me modern students don’t know how to “search it up”.

Compound interest - it ain't rocket surgery:

(Of course, 8% versus 10% makes a difference, especially if you don't pay for 10 years.)

What's my solution, or attempt at one? I guess it'll be in Part 3, next week.

* See also 1986 Illegal Amnesty - Ronald Reagan's regrets..

No comments - Click here to start thread

Student loan debt and forgiveness - Part 1

Posted On: Friday - October 18th 2019 7:26PM MST
In Topics: 
  University  Global Financial Stupidity  Economics  Liberty/Libertarianism

Is it really some kind of crisis? When you compare $1.6 Trillion to the US national debt of $23 Trillion, and maybe 5 x as much as that in Feral Gov't obligations that can't be paid, it does seem like a drop in the bucket. Well, the holders of the US debt are treasury bond holders, and most Americans wouldn't even know whether they are indirectly, or maybe occasionally directly, holders of this form of debt that cannot be paid in full. As the debtors, on the other side, Americans see that the FED can just create more money, and the Congress can just up the deficit. It's been working fine like this for 5 decades, so ...

For the student loans, the last-resort holder of the debt is the US Gov't, and again, nobody worries about that either. It's only on the debtor side, as students come of of the Universities with a small mortgage-sized debt load while just entering the working world, that has anybody worried. You can see the numbers, either going up, up, up, or, once you finally get to paying, down very slowly as you pay off an interest accumulating loan.

$1,600,000,000,000 is a lot of money hanging out there, still, and something like 15% of it is in default (with varying definitions of default status). Student loan debt, along with the other consumer debt, is much more real to us than the other, bigger, financial holes America is in. It has also become political, for the blue-squad party of free stuff.

Really, on a per individual basis, it doesn't look insurmountable:

Look at that, well more than half of the loans have less than $10,000 due. We could say also that the median (1/2 above and 1/2 below) loan amount is somewhat under 10 grand (without more data). Either way you put it, what's the problem? The problem is that this chart is for all student loans outstanding, not at all for currently-graduating students in '19 or so. The low amounts due by those 58% are mostly owed by people that have:

a) been dutifully paying off their loans for 5 or 10 years already.
b) graduated quite a while ago, when tuition was lower and 10 grand might pay 1/2 your bill.

You can play with the numbers in various ways, but the important one, in my opinion, is that steadily growing $1.6 Trillion.

A writer named Steve Penfield has written a very comprehensive article on American student loan debt - Student Debt Cancellation: A Good Idea and a Political Hoax. I really recommend the reader go through the whole thing, as Mr. Penfield does a SUPERB job of discussion all aspects of the student loan problem, with a couple of minor exceptions, one being his conclusion!

I don't want to make this into a review, but I may point out some problems with, and highlights of, the article first, before my own arguments about the conclusion. Mr. Penfield covered a lot of ground, but as he described the financial stupidity of this country, in which we are told debt is a healthy thing, he never drilled down the real root of this particular debt problem - the guaranteeing of student loans by the US government. I've written this sort of thing before, but I'll to explain the moral hazard again: The guaranteeing of the loans means the banks cannot lose. Why wouldn’t they loan $73,000 to a guy who will major in Art History for 5 years … and climbing?

Before the moral hazard of the US Gov. backing the loans, any bank loan officer who made such a move as that loan speculated-on above would be fired. It’s not a good risk. Sure, $5,000 over 4 years to help an electrical engr. student make it through, even back when tuition was $1200 yearly, yeah. That, and loans like it, are a good bet. I see shades of the 11 year-ago mortgage crisis here.

A 2nd minor but very annoying problem with the article is that I suppose stuff doesn't get published* without some little bits of PC SJWisms, so Mr. Penfield had to add his stupid obligatory notes about "institutional racism" and "disparate impact on minorities" out of the blue. That detracts from the quality a little bit.

The author makes a great case for obsolescence of the University system, run as it has been for a century or two, but with the attendance of a large portion of the American population nowadays vs. only the brightest, and I suppose, most elite, back in the past. He lays out other ways of credentialing people for white-collar jobs and other ways of learning, without requiring the huge monetary outlays.

Part of the article is a great Libertarian explanation of the mess America is in due to central banking and the big banks in general. Steve Penfield reads as if he's read or heard a heaping helping of Ron Paul, and he does just as great a job of explaining the financial side of Libertarianism as Dr. Paul could, or, say, Peak Stupidity.

Now, I've gotten this far, the post has gotten long, and I see the need for a 2nd part tomorrow to detail Mr. Penfield's erroneous conclusion, and our explanation on what's wrong with it. Sorry about that. Tomorrow will have the good, ranty stuff. In the meantime, I hope the Peak Stupidity reader will take 1/2 hour to an hour to read the article, as there is lots of great stuff in there.

* I assume Mr. Penfield wrote this long article for other publications, not just the Unz Review. Mr. Unz features all kinds of viewpoints, and would not at all be the type to screen for PC.

[UPDATED 10/19:]
Added a bit of discussion of the annular pie chart.
Why make it annular? Is that trending? It's not how you make a pumpkin pie.

No comments - Click here to start thread

Scandi-Anarcho-Tyranny and the Commies

Posted On: Thursday - October 17th 2019 9:22PM MST
In Topics: 
  Commies  alt-right  ctrl-left  Anarcho-tyranny

VDare reported today on a Scandinavian Nationalist conference that was harassed and attacked by their ctrl-left very much as VDare conferences themselves, along with the American Renaissance ones, do. The letter writer who reported from this Scandza conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, compared the way things went down to the happenings in Charlottesville 2 years back, using the term Anarcho-tyranny. This stuff is now world-wide, or at least anywhere Conservatives want to have a say in things.

An interesting thing told by this Scandinavian VDare letter-writer was that some union leaders of the police force that refused to keep the peace, letting the antifa goons attack the peaceful private conference with only 4 arrests on minor charges (sound familiar?) are Communists. (The picture above was taken directly from the VDare letter/report.) But, but ... Communism is dead, 'cause the Cold War is over... that's what they say.

Peak Stupidity knows better. We have stated the following before: It's not like the antifa worthless misfits and the SJW groups of all kinds are full of students of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky. They don't memorize Chairman Mao's little red book, except for likely the unz.com resident Commie Godfree Roberts. OK, so that means they don't know the whole Commie program about "to each according to his needs, from each according to her fertility" and the definitions of the "proletariat" and the "bourgeoisie" and other strange European words. They don't have to. They've had their successful long march through the institutions of America, so they can just speak their anti-American bullshit in plain American English, with the power of Big-Ed, the Lyin' Press, and the Feral Gov'ts behind them (the institutions they have taken over).

What makes them Commies is simply that, in the same way as the Bolsheviks, the Red Chinese, and the followers of Castro and Pol Pot, they don't think life is fair to them and therefore want to see all traditional conservative institutions of people's lives be destroyed. It's the same type of people a century, 70 years, 60 years, and ~ 45 years later, respectively, that are involved, whether they use the official Communist catch-phrases or not.

We can see these people showing their true colors (bright red) in the photo from Copenhagen. Sure, Western Europe has always had more tolerance for Communism than old-fashioned America has. We had our tail-gunner McCarthy's and John Birch Societies, and I, for one, am damn proud of them all. I just read a comment 1/2 hour ago under one of John Derbyshire's articles on China (from his recent trip) that applies:
UR ["Unz Review"] attracts a lot of ageing Cold Warriors who are still obsessed with searching for commies under the bed. They still think it’s the 1950s. Everything is a communist conspiracy. You can’t reason with them.
Oh, it's not really a conspiracy, and they never were under beds, just in Sociology Departments, newsrooms, Feral Government agencies, that kind of thing. They are just coming out of the woodwork, as their time comes again.

They will need to be put down with extreme prejudice at some point, as the Anarcho-tyranny is definitely not working for us.

No comments - Click here to start thread

Revisiting the Financial Stupidity

Posted On: Thursday - October 17th 2019 10:03AM MST
In Topics: 
  Websites  Global Financial Stupidity  Cars  Economics

Possibly our topic key Global Financial Stupidity, should have an offshoot for just the American part of it. Most of the posts have discussed America's and Americans' finances. However, though declining, our economy still impacts the world. We'll just stick with this key on this subset of stupidity that Peak Stupidity has not visited in a while. The student loan business will be discussed specifically in an upcoming post.

You can see why student loan debt is a biggie:

Hey, the really big area of consumer financing, the mortgages, along with CC debt, doesn't look like it's a real problem. It sure helps, for the former, that one can still get loans at 3.5 - 4% for a house. (Yeah, the banks get their money a lot cheaper at 1-2%, so don't worry too much about them.) Credit card debt is one I'd have thought would be worse, but then I'm a Zerohedge reader (more about ZH in a bit).

That auto loan debt doesn't look that good though. It's not like the population has grown 60% in a decade, though it's not for lack of trying by the implementers of our immigration-invasion. Zerohedge had an article a couple of weeks back about the growth in the PERIODS of car loans - "Auto Loans Stretch To Eight Years To Accommodate Irresponsible Car Buyers". Do a little reading of the posts under Peak Stupidity's Economics topic key, and you'll soon see that we are in agreement about the irresponsibility. You undergo 5 decades of Socialism - what in hell would you expect, really? Zerohedge laments:
About a third of all US auto loans issued today are stretching out to seven years, according to the Wall Street Journal. By comparison, a decade ago, the seven-year loan only made up about 10% of all loans.

Why? Because that's the only type of loan increasingly more Americans can afford to amortize.

The longer loan durations are a clear sign that the American middle class is growing broker by the day, and, as we pointed out in our recent article about millennials putting items like sneakers and sweaters on installment plans, the US consumer's creeping debt burden is, among other things, the result of auto prices growing rapidly while real incomes have barely budged. It is also the result of little to no financial education piled on top of a pathological shopping addiction.

Despite so-called hedonic adjustments, new safety and technological features being included with vehicles, like larger and more intricate multimedia displays, have made even the most basic vehicles unaffordable... without the help of debt that is. And of course, in true debt-laden American fashion, broke consumers are also drifting towards higher priced vehicles, like SUVs.
Haha, sneakers and sweaters on installment plans? In my day, it was the Red Ryder steel wagon or Schwinn Sting-Ray bike. Sneakers were cheap, and sweaters were gay. On, and we weren't grown-ups.

Now as an aside on Zerohedge, that site is written by the black-pilled, formerly called "Debbie Downers". A commenter on unz gave more info. that I need to put in the ZH review, along the lines that the site came on big during/after the crash of '08. Many of the commenters were people from the financial industry. I can vouch for that, as the talk under most of the posts was about detailed financial matters. As was discussed in "The Non-Science of Economics", the hypocrisy of some of them was that they were discussing ways to still make money in the very markets that they rightly criticized as rigged (by the FED, etc.)

Financial folks shouldn't be Debbie or Tyler Downers, as that's not good for sales, and, anyway, were they still employed, they'd be making money whatever their specific financial markets are doing. That's the whole thing about the F.I.R.E. "industries, excepting, perhaps the Insurance sector. They all make money on the ups and the downs. "The market's crashing, you say? Fuck you, pay me! (my commission)" "Oh, the whole block's turned dark and dangerous, and you need to sell in a hurry for a loss? Fuck you, pay me!" It works great! Why so down, Paulie?

Anyway, if you keep up with ZH daily, you will be surprised to hit each new year without the collapse of the US dollar, gasoline delivery trucks being driven by Mad Max and some Feral Kids, and the local neighborhood militias patrolling the streets. Still, the numbers don't lie. Where were we? Let's show ZH's auto loan graph:

The article give a number, that the average car loan pay-off period is 69 months. That's 5 3/4 years. Just eyeballing off of this, one of the better of ZeroHedge's normally worthless graphs, I can get the opposite end of this, that about 35% of loans have terms of > 6 years (bottom of the dark red).

Look at the black line in the top graph, though. There's your black pill. Though these loan "markets" are not of the same size, the $1.6 Trillion student loan market is a big worry. The economic stupidity and the politics, as in forgiveness, will be discussed in the upcoming post, hopefully by end-o-bidness-week.

Comments (2)

Bread and Circuses - Part 5 - Conclusion

Posted On: Tuesday - October 15th 2019 5:50PM MST
In Topics: 
  Bread and Circuses

This is the concluding post on the definition of "Bread and Circuses" or, from last time around with this world empire thing, "Pan et Circenses". (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, , and Part 4.)

Perhaps this is a boring series, as it's so far just been a description of the copious amount of bread and the various types of circuses available to us in modern America. Let's get to the point of all this.

As happened during the Roman Empire for a few hundred years, the American empire is in decline. Whether it's the invade-the-world/invite-the-world program or the debasement of the money, also practiced by the Romans during their later era, (both discussed nicely in that American Thinker article that I mentioned in the 1st post on this, this is more of the rhyming of history. This deal seems to be on a 2,000 year cycle, but with 2 orders-of-magnitude faster transportation and close-to-infinite higher speed in communication, perhaps this decline will be quicker too. I'd say we are already 5 decades into it, though some would argue a century or so.

The amount of "bread" and the amount of "circuses" also must be a couple of orders of magnitude higher, that's both in actual quantity and in choices. Perhaps that makes sense as we need greater distractions for a quicker decline.

Peak Stupidity has stated numerous times that we don't believe in really long-term conspiracy theories on the scale of centuries or even half of that. Who really has the time and inclination for that sort of thing? Nope, it's usually just the same culprits in power and/or of the elite, who just don't give a damn about the rest of the population, sometimes truly detesting them. They think alike. If Americans will watch 5 hours of football, and another 5 hours of guys talking about football and being in LUV with the players each week, have those Applebees/Chile's/TGI-Fridays/Ruby Tuesdays* available for $12 meals with unlimited breadsticks and olive oil, will they really get up in arms about some of the egregious stuff happening? They bet on "NO".

Big-Biz keeps this stuff running, with employees who need the bread to spend themselves on the same stuff. You don't make that much in either the restaurant business or the sportsball business without being an owner or player, one. It's a distracting, monotonous cycle: Work long hours roviding bread or circuses, make some bread, and spend it on the same.

For the folks that do care about the changes being forced upon them, well, they can tune into the idiot plate for the political version of the circus. How does one get out of this mode - read Peak Stupidity daily? Well, that's a start!**

* Is it the very same corporate naming company coming up with these?

** See, they didn't have Peak Stupidity in the old Roman Empire, so there's that ... Really, the internet, with its offerings of information contrary to the official narrative, IS something that can possibly offset the much large dose of Bread and Circuses that we are offered vs. the Romans. And, guess what? With the new screens most of us carry around we can learn of another way WHILE we are eating our unlimited breadsticks (yes, and soup and salad).

No comments - Click here to start thread

Bowflex for the win

Posted On: Tuesday - October 15th 2019 5:24PM MST
In Topics: 
  Artificial Stupidity  Science

The one I used wasn't in color like this BT-116:

Exercise machines have been somewhat of a sub-fixation within Peak Stupidity's topic key called Artificial Stupidity. Though we did mention the mechanical quality (or lack thereof) of one of the machines, in relation to the subject of Cheap China-made Crap, our problem has been with the much easier to fix (or do right the first time) matter of the displays.

We discussed some more force-feeding of TV (without some extra effort!) on one of the bike machines recently, mostly our beef has been with the lack of accurate and/or meaningful calculations of the data presented. In fact, in that post on the Sears one with the quality problem, titled "The Softer Noisier Side of Sears", we also mentioned the screw-up of what could have been a very simple calculation on power exerted or energy spent (in calories).

The sometimes simple (on the bike machines) and often more complicated physical calculations required to give accurate displays of exercise being accomplished were discussed here in "Peak Torque, Wattage, and Exercise Machine electronic stupidity". There can be a lot to it, but, as I've written before, in an open sentence* to these exercise machine manufacturers, for cryin' out loud, just hire a 2nd-year physics or mechanical engineering student of a few hours to give you the formulae for your geeks to program in! WTF is so hard or expensive about that, spread out over a few or tens of thousands of units?

That all said as a long-winded intro, or summary, however you take it, the reason this post DOESN'T HAVE the curmudgeonry tag is that I used a treadmill that did seem to be programmed to display work done correctly. This was a Bowflex machine, the company more known for the workout tools using flexing members. Well, they done good here. There's a cool speedometer-type gauge that reads in calories/min (burned). It read close to linear with speed. Keep in mind, or peruse that post on Peak Torque ... etc, that no, that's not all there is to it. This value does depend on the user's weight, but also, muscle type and other things that can't be known, much less calculated in. (Other machines do let you input your weight - this may or may not - I didn't notice.)

Now, the linearity of displayed work done with speed is probably the case for other treadmills, for the most part. The bigger deal with this Bowflex is that as I moved the incline up and down to experiment, calories/min varied linearly with incline too. That is important. After all, just based on pure rigid-body physics, the power being exerted should be ZERO at the horizontal setting**. The vertical speed, a pretty linear function of incline at the settings of these treadmills(no more than 15% for most of them), should have a linear relationship with the rate of calorie burn. Most of the other machines I've seen DO NOT calculate it this way. Their displays of calories are totally bogus for that reason, if one uses the incline feature.

The display on the Bowflex was otherwise kind of boring, with no track or Go-Pro camera footage, but that's OK. The numbers are right, or if not right, they vary as they should with your speed and incline. This means that you can be rewarded with the right numbers for the extra effort you put in. I even tested the thing at a high speed that I could not possibly keep up with, and the needle pegged. Even better, the read-out told me "you've pegged out!" Well, I wasn't actually on the machine, but I like that old-timey terminology.

Nice job, Bowflex. If I'm gonna review this machine, I may as well state that it is not as massive as many of the other brand treadmills, the Precors and such. Whether it would last as long is something I can't say. For home use, hopefully, it would do OK, and being lighter, at least one could possibly move it into the house. As far as the display and accurate calculations go it's Bowflex for the win!

* Can you do that, write just an "open sentence" instead of a long-ass "open letter" to people? Do they read it?

** WHAT?! See, that's why there's more to it. One most certainly is exercising like hell at 10 mph even with the belt level. Using the definition of mechanical work as Force -dot- distance (power = Force -dot- speed) well, the power is the weight force (g x mass, or your weight) times your vertical speed component, the latter easily calculated by belt speed x sin(incline ANGLE, not SLOPE).

So, what does this mean? It means that the work done by your muscles moving your mass around, up and down, and sideways, is exertion of energy. The amount is not easy to calculate, but a linear relationship with speed is quite reasonable.

No comments - Click here to start thread

Bread and Circuses - Part 4 - The Media Circus

Posted On: Monday - October 14th 2019 9:40AM MST
In Topics: 
  TV, aka Gov't Media  Media Stupidity  Bread and Circuses

In the previous post of this series, we discussed how many and varied are the types of "circenses" during this decline of the America empire vs. during the decline (and fall, mind you) of the Roman empire. There is more to it now, though, of course: the media circus.

It was a simple 3-ring 3-channel circus early on:

We don't get demographics on you all, as with Chinese internet, so I don't know how many Peak Stupidity readers are old enough to remember when the TV wasn't on nearly all the time, at home, at the store, at the airport, etc., mainly, because it COULDN'T BE. They cost a lot, they were too much like a piece of furniture to hand everywhere, the stations (remember stations?) just signed the hell off with the Star-Spangled Banner at 11 P or midnight, and everyone went to sleep. When it came to news, it was 1/2 hour a day national, and 1/2 hour local news, not enough time for babbling idiots (other a few of the anchormen). It likely took a while for the creators of the shows to understand how they could write scripts with agendas inserted, likely not till the 1970s.

Starting 'em early now.

CNN was the first network, as I recall, to make news broadcasting a full-time job. I think the original idea was to have the news available for people to watch a bit of at any time, rather than just at 6:30 P Eastern time. There was a lot of mission creep, needed to keep interest and fill in all that 24/7 airtime. They could have broadcast re-runs of Hogan's Heroes, and One Day at a Time, but since they are the "Cable News Network, they stuck to that, rather than keeping the name and going completely off the mission, such as with the History Channel showing continuous Pawn Stars instead of history.

CNN narrates per the agenda:

CNN could have just found more stories from around the country to fill the time - to me that would have been a better use of their capital. No, they just take the few "big" stories and go with them over and over. That may seem like what I stated was the original mission in the last paragraph, but no, the deal is that now, all the big stories must be discussed endlessly by and with "experts". It's not broadcasting of even what they say is news, it's broadcasting of endless blabbering about the same news.

Now, as I wrote, Americans have the various and sundry big-time sports as their modern "circuses". However, even the many that DO CARE enough about their country to try to keep up with happenings, in addition to their sports, are just distracted by another type of circus. This crap is on endlessly and everywhere. Americans rooting for the Red Squad can watch FOX and hear the one side of the stories a little more. Those that root for the Blue Squad can watch CNN and MSNBC to catch the other side of the stories. The problem is: what are these stories? Major things happening in the world and in America that don't fit the narrative of The Party are just not story material, while lots of the stupidity in American politics is broadcast as the stories, over and over.

The nonstop TV media doesn't get to fundamental questions about the existence of, and decline of, America, such as the big picture on immigration (the numbers), the drastic changes to our economy for the worse, and the fact that America has been running as an empire to begin with. So long as it's not anything that intentionally causes Americans to think about the fundamental problems, all this Red-Squad/Blue-Squad squabbling is fine entertainment, like the Superbowl or NCAA final 4. In the meantime, not many understand the agenda that CNN and all the networks work under to keep the narrative going in the same direction - toward Globalism.

No comments - Click here to start thread

Greta is Betta!

Posted On: Saturday - October 12th 2019 3:45PM MST
In Topics: 
  Humor  Global Climate Stupidity

(Does that title ring a bell? It's from an old water-filtering machine commercial, probably before your time, and not everyone can keep up with all the water-filtering machine commercials.)

Greta is BIG. I mean, on youtube, she is big. You can type in "Greta" and "ABC", where ABC is any regular expression, and you'll get some video with this little pigtailed pipsqueak. You know who she reminds me of - that Pippi Longstocking. I can't even remember what Pippi did in her stories, but I just wasn't sexually attracted due to the pig-tails. (Also, I was 7.)

This first video is a meme, one might say, just 10 seconds long with a basic point.

The point is: Isn't it weird being scolded by a 16 year-old? It's fine if you're 10, and she's your babysitter.

The next one took much more effort and was nicely done. The sound IS in English, except at the very end. Just so you know, "gestrande" means "stranded", as in, for this case, stranded at the airport for cancelled flights due to not wanting to KILL THE PLANET!

We never even got to the school loan discussion and have not finished this "Bread & Circuses" thing. That'll leave plenty for next week. Enjoy the game!

PS: Yeah, it's a pony-tail in the 2nd video. I've seen her in pig-tails though.

No comments - Click here to start thread

Bread and Circuses - Part 3 - The Greatest (number of) Shows on Earth

Posted On: Saturday - October 12th 2019 3:22PM MST
In Topics: 
  Bread and Circuses

This and the previous post most likely come under "stuff I already know" or "no duh!" for the reader, so I apologize if it's boring. I just want to be complete on this topic, with a discussion of it all on the last post.

Slow day at the Coliseum - "Circuses" in Roman Times:

Yeah, I know, that was Monty Python (The Life of Brian).

The "circenses" half of "Pan et Circenses" refers to entertainment of the masses of regular josephem, not just by shows of animals and feats of daring. It meant entertainment of any kind to keep life from being too dull and full of drudgery and to give them enough to think and talk about, in order to avoid any deeper thoughts and resulting action by the people.

The Romans had circuses all right, in a big way. As Peak Stupidity reported from our tour of the eternal city (here and here), before we snubbed the so-called Pope and his Vatican City, we had seen the big Roman Colisseum. It is pretty damn impressive, rivaling a medium-sized college football stadium today in seating, but without the built-in beer-cup holders. The events that went on there may seem barbaric today, but it's probably just because they are against the law. Once can watch pro boxing, MMA, cockfighting, etc., and see something of the same. Interestingly, a Ringling Brothers and/or Barnum & Bailey circus would have been pretty mild in Roman times, had they pulled it all off, but now, we are too civilized apparently to have old-fashioned circuses anymore (or it it that the modern announcers are all afraid of clowns?)

Modern-day circenses:

The football arena is the best we've got today. Guys smash into each other, but only occasionally get hurt badly in front of us (the serious damage is long-term). Since things seem harder and harder to look up on the search engines, I was just trying to estimate how many people are in attendance on a college game day. For an average of 5 big teams per state, with 1/2 playing at home, let's give it a minimum of 100 games at these big stadiums holding, say 80,000 apiece. I would say 5 to 10 million people are AT the games. (Adding NFL would give you another 16 x 80,000 = 1.2 million, so let's keep it in that wide range.)

Then, there are college and pro basketball and baseball, less-attended sports, monster truck rallies, drag races, NASCAR, ... it goes on and on. There is no shortage of this type of entertainment. The Roman Emperors could only have dreamt of having the varied and greatly-attended circenses that America has to keep Americans entertained and distracted.

I didn't yet mention the order-of-magnitude more amount of entertainment from these same "circuses" brought to the viewers over the TV. Of course, the Romans couldn't have imagined this, and more so the 24/7 ESPN-n (where n is a channel number ranging from 1 through 3?) discussion of what exactly happened well and what went wrong during last weekend's circuses, what will likely happen next game, and the man-crushes or lamentations of the announcers.

Let me continue with the media aspect of our modern "circuses" portion of the "Bread and Circuses" next post. I want to put something funny up in a bit.

Comments (3)


Posted On: Saturday - October 12th 2019 6:50AM MST
In Topics: 
  Political Correctness  History

It was 527 years ago today, when Christopher Columbus and crew arrived in the New World after 6 weeks of sailing the ocean blue.

It's still early. Greet your friends with this, greet any left-kook you meet. Whatever BS he has to say back, it doesn't compare to this amazing voyage of discovery by the Italian navigator. We can date civilization on the American continents from October 12th, 1492 onward ... till ... pretty recently.

Peak Stupidity celebrated this holiday belatedly last year and in '17, and amazingly, before I just looked at last year's post, I picked an image for this one (2nd picture there). They are amazingly similar! Same minds think alike, or something.

Anyway, it's not too late to take the day off on Monday. If you are a Fed - and I don't expect many readers from that "sector" after things published on Peak Stupidity, but please remember folks, we are an Equal Opportunity Offender, complying with all statutes, rulings, and penumbrae required by the UN and PS legal dept.- if you haven't been offended yet, you haven't been reading enough - where was I, yeah, this holiday IS a Federal Holiday and you should not go to "work". If you are in a State or local government, hell, even a First Responder, they have sick days for a reason. Just let the PC boss and colleagues know, "I'm gonna take a sick day, I'm so sick of you people!"

Don't let the ctrl-left have the megaphone.


PS: The six week voyage was from the last islands off the Euro/African continent until first landfall.

Comments (5)


Posted On: Friday - October 11th 2019 7:56AM MST
In Topics: 
  Genderbenders  Feminism  Educational Stupidity

It's the LGBTism, not the feminism! Should I be relieved? Feminism has taken a terrible long-term toll on American society. The LGBTism* at least is stupid enough to not really change the world in the way that feminism has. Not enough people really want to be a part of it ...

If it works for paramecium, well, DAMMIT, it ought to work for everybody!

OK, let me explain. My elementary school kid has had a habit, ever since he's been going to school, of saying "person", when talking about anyone he doesn't know well, or know by name, or is, in fact, of unknown** sex. (By "sex", now re-labelled "gender", at least I'm talking about in the traditional binary sense.) This has bugged me for quite a while, and I know he didn't get it at home. "We had a person come in to talk about the rules of the playground ..." Think about it - wouldn't it be normal to just say "we had a man come in ..." or "we had a lady come in ..."?

I don't think he always talks like this in referring to other kids, because he's got the term "kids" itself. "There's a new kid in town class." However, for adults, the use of "person" instead of a specific sex, seems to be the example being set.

In the 2nd half of the Peak Stupidity post Great gender-neutrality debunking video and other tidbit, I mentioned this verbal behavior before. I had chalked it up to feminism, just as with the use of "Ms" starting back in the day when feminism was taken a little more lightheartedly. I'd thought this was just another way to get rid of any sex-distinguishing pronouns of the NORMAL type, especially the use of him/his for people of unknown (OK, how about "not yet known!) sex.

Ahhhaaa! I had a thought this morning that I'm almost sure is correct. I now think that all this use of "person" for anyone of known or unknown sex, is part of the LGBT genderbender flavor of stupidity. It's not feminism at all! This is the school's way of getting the students' minds right, without outright teaching the BS of one's sex being determined on the fly.

I've already told the boy to refer to people in a normal manner, but, they are really working on these kids. You've got to fight this stuff all the way through. Though it may not sound like it, homeschooling may be easier, at least in the avoidance of the constant battling for this part of the minds of your children. It's a sick sick sick sick world!

* I spent 5 minutes looking for the poster shown under BLT-G. All I could remember for this initialism**** was Bacon Lettuce and Tomato, with Guacamole on the side. That didn't work!

** Unknown to my son, that is, not to the "person" in question!

*** Peak Stupidity will keep using "Miss" and "Mrs" until the cows and/or bulls come home, or until it becomes illegal, and then some.

**** I was corrected by someone on-line on the difference between an acronym and an initialism (in an acronym, the letters taken from the original term can be pronounced, as in NASA).

No comments - Click here to start thread

Bread and Circuses - Part 2 - Unlimited Breadsticks

Posted On: Wednesday - October 9th 2019 7:29PM MST
In Topics: 
  Bread and Circuses

We want to draw parallels to the decline (yes, and fall) of the Roman Empire with regard to political atmosphere of "Pan et Circenses", or "Bread and Circuses" for those not conversant in Latin. History does not necessarily repeat though, it just rhymes, and our Bread is a half-dozen orders of magnitude more tasty and varied than 2,000 years ago in the Roman Empire.

This is not Rome, in which the poor may have felt grateful just having those European-style baguettes of bread, dipped in some olive oil, like at the Olive Garden. Come to think of it, if you grew up on white Wonder Bread, that other bread is definitely a step up!* However, even a poor Roman slob, walking around in proto-Birkenstocks on his dirt floor, would probably get really tired of it, and dream of the bread aisle in a standard American grocery store.

You've got 20 kinds of normal bread, English muffins, pita bread for the health nuts, baguettes for the Euro-trash, cupcakes, red velvet cake, German Black Forest cake, standard yellow cake with massively-sugar-laden icing printed into a picture of ancient Rome ... That's just the bread aisle. We're not really talking about just bread here, though, as the deal is to have the hoi polloi walking around on a satisfied stomach.

I won't go down all the aisles in our imaginary tour of the store, as the reader may not be mobile right now, and we need you to keep reading. (I'm getting a hankering for some of that Black Forest cake, myself... but, hell, I'm the blogger, so ...) IThis amazingly varied food is not just available to any average working American (and Westerner, Japanese, etc.), but even those on the lowest economic rungs can swipe that EBT and buy a coupla' ribeyes, a 2 lb bag of chips, 4 liters of Mountain Dew, and a bottle of Don Perignon - no, I understand the EBT doesn't cover Don "Per-in-yoan", I'm talking about the knock-off Don "Per-ig-non". It's a cornucopia never seen till half a century ago.

Lately, tastes have gotten even more picky, but then food manufacturers have kept up to make the formerly gourmet products easily obtainable by all. You've got your "Foodies" now and your craft beer makers. There have always been connoisseurs of fine food around, but they've been the very well-to-do. Now, everyone wants the granite counter-tops, even if she only makes a mean dish of Mac-and-Cheese once in a while. Beer-making is in fashion (kind of fun), but some of us, cough, cough, would be fine with just a Miller High-Life (none of that "Genuine Draft" crap for me) or a Bud, and there are hundreds of brands of the cheap swill too.

In any medium-sized city, one can just go out and find 20 or more kinds of ethnic food, which is why, you know, we need to bring in millions of people, because it's not like you can just get the recipes from places far away over the internet or something... There are the microbreweries too, so let's bring in some Germans! "Kum on, guys. Vat, do you need a refresher curse? Eeez all fermentation nowadaysss!"

Then, to keep themselves a rung above the common Foodies and Brewers and those who go out nearby for ethnic exotic food 3 times a week, the very well-to-do do this while earning Gold Status on the airlines. The magazines in those seat-back pockets will tell you where one can get Greek food in Austin, Texas, Somalian food in Albuquerque, where's the best seafood place in Paraguay, and the best Texas BBQ place in Greece. Nobody wants to just stay the fuck home and eat his meat and potatoes anymore.

For those on the lower rungs, well, you can go out too. Low-budget Americans can go out for General Tso's chicken, and low-budget Chinamen can go out for Colonel Harlen Sander's Kentucky fried chicken (see Superpower Battle of the Chicken Titans - Sanders v Tso). If not that, there are mile-long stretches of fast-food places with all varieties of material all containing the four basic food groups, your fat, your sugar, your salt, and your caffeine. Taco Bell, Taco John, In-and-Out Burger, Cook-Out, Zaxby's, Chick Fil A, McD's, Wendy's ... it really can go on for miles. Each one will often add new "dishes" which are just different combinations of that salt, sugar, and fat. Hey, believe me, I'm not knocking the taste or the business model. The stuff IS good-tasting!

What's the point here, besides getting the readers hungry? It's that all this variety and quantity keeps American busy, too busy for more important issues. Due to this distraction, these issues have become important enough to perhaps result in their country reverting back to the eating of nothing but pieces of bread in olive oil, maybe hyrdro-unsaturated peanut oil, hell, maybe motor oil, if the SHTF. Nobody here on a full stomach of this infinite variety of food is that awful ready to raise hell about anything.

* Hey, it was good to me, as a kid, but that's because it's nothing but expanded starch, ready to turn into sugar at the drop of a hat sandwich. To this day, I still like to squish it dpwn to 10% of its former volume, and pop it in my mouth like a big sugar pill.

No comments - Click here to start thread

Advancements in Higher Education

Posted On: Wednesday - October 9th 2019 8:25AM MST
In Topics: 
  University  Educational Stupidity

As if often the case, it's Steve Sailer's commentary on the stupidity he reads in the Lyin' Press (this time the Seattle Times) that sets our site's Peak Stupometer off. The stupidity Mr. Sailer related in Seattle Times: "Is Math Racist?" was enough to peg the needle in fact, so we cannot really tell you exactly HOW STUPID this stuff is, beyond a certain number.

From Mr. Sailer's excerpt of the Staff Reporter Elise Takahama:
Seattle schools are in the process of developing ethnic-studies frameworks for different subjects, including social studies and art.

… But while some school districts are only building stand-alone ethnic-studies classes, Seattle is also rethinking existing courses to be taught through an anti-racist lens. …

In math, lessons are more theoretical. Seattle’s recently released proposal includes questions like, “Where does Power and Oppression show up in our math experiences?” and “How is math manipulated to allow inequality and oppression to persist?”
OK, I felt my eyes roll back early on, during that bolded (mine) wording. This stuff is exactly why Colleges of Education should be TERMINATED WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE!

Brainstorming in the Faculty meeting:

The advanced-degree programs in these Ed-Schools get lots of enrollment, as it is forced upon the poor budding elementary/middle/high school teachers as a qualification required for employment in many school districts. Many of them, students and faculty, have got to know it's all a waste of time. These colleges just have to keep these people busy though, so they don’t all know for sure that their whole required degrees are SCAMS. If you’re going to have 10’s of thousands of future elementary school teachers writing theses every year, you’d damn well come up with some topics.

That’s where this stuff comes from. I have some BS on a couple of "here's what we did this week" papers my elementary school student brought home. One said “I am learning to: use prior knowledge (schema) to make connections and inferences when I am reading”. The other said "I am learning: strategies that I use to read unknown words".

For crying out loud, if the kid is smart he can just up and read. He's got a brain, so he can understand what he's reading. If he comes upon an unknown word, he can sound it out and ask us later. If the kid ain’t too bright (not ours!), he sure as hell won't be able to explain his "strategy" and will not understand what a “schema” is! I sure don’t!

So, I don’t know if this Elise Takahama of the Seattle Times really believes any of her own crap, but, dammit, if you’re gonna have a whole “Education Lab” paid for by Bill Gates, you’ve got to come up with some new shit now and then. Microsoft customers are gonna get wise. They may, worst case, get off their asses and switch to Linux... some day in the near, near future ...

No comments - Click here to start thread

Bread and Circuses - Part 1 - Intro.

Posted On: Tuesday - October 8th 2019 6:25PM MST
In Topics: 
  Bread and Circuses

The topic key Bread and Circuses has been used here on Peak Stupidity for at least a year, I'm guessing (I'll sometimes update older posts with appropriate keys). Up to now, there are 8 posts already. I think it's time to explain this term, so we'll have a few posts about it, this one being just an intro. - got a bit distracted today...

"Pan et Circenses" is the expression, for all you Latin speakers out there from, like, Latin America or something. No, seriously, back during the decline of the Roman empire, the expression was used disdainfully regarding the lives of the common people.* To placate the masses during the times of decline, giving the people enough basic food to sustain them, and events to regularly entertain them, is the idea. As much as I'd like to sometime, I don't have the time to read Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (3980 pages!) just for this one post here.

America is in a decline of many types, and it really would be a great learning experience to read more about what really went on during the late years of the Roman Empire to have knowledge for comparison and guidance. Peak Stupidity is far from the first to mention it, but "Pan et Circenses", or "Bread and Circuses", describes pretty well the treatment of the average modern America by the elites and/including the Feral Government of it's empire.

While looking up the Latin, I came across this 2013 American Thinker article by Jack Curtis. Though it doesn't cover the same material as my examples to show America's version of "Bread and Circuses" in the subsequent posts, it is a nice short summary of the parallels of the Roman Empire's destruction of their finances and America's (as described herein under the Global Financial Stupidity topic key).

I also came upon a Christian Post article by one Ron Hart, coincidentally also written 6 years ago, on this topic. Mr. Hart wrote in quite a humorous manner, and the sportsball (part of the circuses, right?) fans will probably get the football jokes that I didn't.

I'd recommend at least the latter article, if not both of them, as I get it together to write more on the subject, starting off with the "bread".

* Per the Christian Post article: In 100 AD, satirist Decimus Juvenal in Satires X fittingly pointed out that society ends when voters are pacified by politicians with "bread and circuses."

No comments - Click here to start thread