Bits & Pieces (Monday Evening Slog)

Ugh. What a day. One of those days where nothing gets resolved but I can continue to see all the things that are unresolved hovering over my head. Although they are mostly 3rd world problems, most of them stem from a mistake or decision I made previously, and I hate that. I always have that sense that somehow I have an obligation to do things differently in the past, but I can’t do it.It’s like those dreams where you’re running through molasses. Nothing a big, fat check from the government wouldn’t solve. I’m just saying, NoVA. 😉 
As you may know, I’m a Disney fan. And I always hope they hit it out of the park, and create another classic, each time they make another movie. There are a few movies I felt were classics from the first time I saw them, like Beauty and the Beast. But I had good feelings about that one from the minute I first saw the poster art and theater standees. I think I got that vibe from The Little Mermaid, as well. I knew when I saw it, or shortly after, that it was a very good movie. I believe we had rented it on VHS and I was watching it with a little group of college friends when one of them said: “It’s like an instant Disney classic!”, and I realized that I agreed.

I think Tangled belongs in that group of Disney classics. After films that I enjoyed but didn’t feel weren’t classics in the manner of Beauty and the Beast, such as The Frog Princess, and one’s that were good but weren’t really classic Disney, like Bolt, my expectations were tempered. I came out of my first viewing, thinking they had pulled it off, but not really considering it an instant classic.

After having watched it several times now, and seeing both my daughters (one 6 and one 13) watch it several more times, I’m convinced it’s a classic, and one that will build an even bigger following over time. It’s a great re-telling of the Rapunzel tale, has some great set pieces, great performances, and classic Disney musical numbers.

Another indicator for me: Tangled is the first Disney Soundtrack I’ve purchased since The Nightmare Before Christmas. Before that, it was The Little Mermaid.

I had originally planned to discuss my deep love of certain movies, and my ability to watch them over and over again, such as It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s been a crazy day, so some other time.

My favorite scene:

Some days I feel a whole lot like George Bailey at 0:56.

— KW

This is not lobbying

Taking advantage of the pension system

I’m quoting liberally here from the story:

Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found ….. The legislation enabled union officials to get into the state teachers pension fund and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. They just had to do it before the bill was signed into law.

… His pay for one day as a substitute was $93, according to records of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System … based on his salary history so far, he could earn a pension of about $108,000 a year, more than double what the average teacher receives …. stand to receive more than a million dollars each from a state pension fund …. A spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers emphasized that the lobbyists’ actions were legal and that they made “individual decisions.”

End quote.

Here are two guys who clearly took advantage of a situation. What I don’t get is the defense from the union. The tone-deafness of that quote is astounding to me.

Morning Report

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1238 2.8 0.23%
Eurostoxx Index 2337.8 0.280 0.01%
Oil (WTI) 88.04 0.640 0.73%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 76.438 0.043 0.06%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.21% -0.01%

Futures are flat this morning as the market waits to see what comes out of Europe. The WSJ has a story this morning about the brightening outlook for Corporate America. It raises an interesting point regarding consumers – what they actually do can be different from what they say. Consumers can feel tapped out and miserable, but when the 10-year old car has had it, they buy a new one. Consumption can only be deferred for so long, and we have had a retrenching consumer for 3 years now.

The Obama administration is working on a new housing plan – one which eases the requirements for refinancing. Credit is so tight right now that borrowers who are current but have little or no equity are unable to refinance. This move is intended to break that dynamic. Will it prevent home prices from dropping? Probably not, as the first-time homebuyer is not really in a position to buy a house, and prices aren’t cheap enough to entice professional investors to take the liquidity risk and step into the market.

Merger Monday is back upon us with a bear hug in the pipeline space and a deal in the cloud computing space. CAT reported better than expected earnings.

No major economic data today – Case-Schiller comes out tomorrow.

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