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progree's Journal
progree's Journal
December 1, 2022

Copying Beethoven/cut HD (Beethoven 9th symphony, the best, most inspiring 13m)

It will both pump you up and make you cry.

OK, this is largely fictional. What is true is that he could barely hear anything at this point in time. He could hear some vibrations, but not enough to let him know where in the heck he was in this.

The fictional part is that someone filled in to conduct the conductor (AFAIK). I just haven't looked into this to see how he managed.

All's I remember reading T/F is that he kept conducting the piece after it was done, until someone let him know and turned him around to see the audience. Kind of dubious and no links

Credit Uncle Joe https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181607194
November 29, 2022

'Safety is disappearing': Racist 'Great Replacement' theory targets Fargo's Liberian immigrants

The Great Replacement theory has not only achieved prominence among White supremacist and White nationalist groups — it has been enthusiastically promoted by some prominent Republicans, from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to Rep. Elise Stefanik of Upstate New York. And in Fargo, North Dakota, according to Washington Post reporter Danielle Paquette, it is having real-life consequences for some Liberian immigrants who now fear for their safety.

Paquette, in an article published on November 28, reports that Manny Behyee and other Liberian immigrants in Fargo have “tried to keep a low profile since someone — a stranger? a neighbor? — distributed hundreds of fliers labeling them a threat to White children.”

“A mile away, people woke up one September morning to small plastic bags on their lawns containing a picture of a Liberian man who had recently been convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl in Fargo,” Paquette reports. “The caption invoked a racist theory that foreigners of color are ‘replacing’ White Americans in the United States: ‘THE GREAT REPLACEMENT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.’ The victim’s father had appeared in court with who he called ‘pro-White advocates.’ Anti-Black stickers and graffiti showed up on streetlights and buildings, including the international grocery store where Behyee shopped.”

. . . Carlson and Stefanik have promoted their own version of the Great Replacement theory, claiming that Democrats are trying to replace Americans with voters from other countries in the hope that they’ll vote Democrat.

. . . Paquette adds, “Behyee’s exasperation — ‘ridiculous! just ridiculous!’ — chilled to fear upon reading about the mass shooters who have referenced the Great Replacement.”

A little more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/safety-is-disappearing-racist-great-replacement-theory-targets-fargo-s-liberian-immigrants/ar-AA14EWhH?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=f72901f2cca44530b6ccfdba78a5e1d6

Fargo, North Dakota
November 27, 2022

Afghans are bracing for a winter many fear will be even worse than the last, 11/25/22

Afghans are bracing for a winter many fear will be even worse than the last, NPR, 11/25/22

When Afghanistan's government collapsed last year and the Taliban returned to power, it triggered a major humanitarian crisis. Donor governments and institutions like the International Monetary Fund cut off their assistance, which sent the country's economy into a tailspin and left countless Afghans without jobs and incomes.

These days, more than 90% of Afghans don't have enough food to eat, according to the WFP (World Food Programme) and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — and the hardships families endured last year feel insurmountable this year.

This week, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that cases of child malnutrition seen at its hospitals in Afghanistan are 90% higher this year than they were in 2021. The aid group also reported that a children's hospital it supports in Kabul has seen a 55% increase in the number of children younger than 5 who are being treated for pneumonia, as people struggle to keep their homes warm.

The country's harvest this year, particularly of wheat, was much lower than expected, in part because of a years-long drought, but also because of rising fuel and fertilizer costs. All of this means many families in the countryside may struggle to make it through the winter on subsistence farming alone. Getting aid to those communities and more remote villages may not be possible, depending on weather and road conditions.

The WFP says it is in need of more than $1 billion in additional funding to keep its operations in Afghanistan going through the winter. The war in Ukraine caused a massive spike in food and energy prices this year, it reports. The aid group's food basket is about 20% more expensive than it was last year.

MORE: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2022/11/25/npr-afghanistan-winter-hunger-aid

There are still sanctions on the regime, at the same time there are efforts to provide more aid

Xposted to Foreign Affiars
November 9, 2022

TIPS - Treasury Inflation Protection Bonds - how to figure out if a TIP is a good deal?

As we have heard time and time again from innumerable postings, I-Bonds are a great deal. But one is allowed only to buy $10,000 in a year (and an extra $5,000 if one applies their refund to buying them).

But since I've maxed out on my I-bond allotment, I've been looking at TIPs. I've always thought they sucked, e.g. whenever I see TIPs bond fund or ETF total returns (not just recently but pre-pandemic as well), they are pretty poor (this year they are negative for intermediate and long-term ones, because rising interest rates makes old bonds worth less).

So I will buy an individual bond and hold it until maturity.

First, I don't know how to buy a new one -- I have to wait for an auction date, and those are too far out in the future and I want to get my cash fund (a money market fund earning about 2.5%) invested ASAP in something higher.

Also, I want this for my Roth IRA for several reasons. I don't think I can have a Roth IRA at TreasuryDirect.

So I looked in the secondary market.

This Schwab article gives a very good explanation of the fundaments or TIPS.

But it doesn't explain how to know whether a particular deal available on the secondary market looks good.

I've done some mock purchase scenarios at Fidelity and Vanguard (where I do everything except click the final submit button), and I'm being asked to spend $19,975 for $10,000 face value of bonds on Friday 11/4/22 for this animal (of course these prices aren't good anymore, but for a snapshot in time):

CUSIP: 912810FD5 < - yes, it can be Googled

UNITED STATES TREAS BDS 3.62500% 04/15/2028 - it’s a 30 year TIPS bond

It was issued 4/15/98 (yes, last millennium) and matures 4/15/28 (5.4 years from now)

I don't know what happened in the early years in the bond's life, but for illustration, let's pretend inflation was 4% in the early years. Then the situation in the first 2 years looks like the first 5 lines of the table below.

Then after the ellipses (...) , the 10/15/22 and 11/4/22 information is from their data. The adjusted principal is the index ratio * 10,000.

And what follows the ellipses is my spreadsheet projection of what the adjusted principal and interest payments would be if inflation continued at 4% for the remaining life of the bond.

The principal, which begins at $10,000, is adjusted upwards every 6 months according to the CPI-U. That's why it's called Adjusted Principal.

The final Adjusted Principal value, at the 4/15/28 maturity date, $22,724.41 is the amount one gets from the Treasury for it (remembering that the above table is assuming that inflation from here on is 4%). Plus one receives the final interest payment of $411.88.

One can't "cash out" earlier than the final maturity date. But one can sell it on the secondary market. What it will sell for should be close to the adjusted principal on that date. But the market is the market, and there is no guarantee what one will get for it on the secondary market.

The semi-annual interest payment is:
    coupon rate / 2 * adjusted principal
I've shown a couple examples in the above table.

So the question is, is $19,975 plus accrued interest a good price to pay for the stream of interest payments shown 4/15/23 and after, plus getting $22,724.41 at final maturity?

There ought to be something "out there" on at least one of the interwebs that would answer that question:

Enter the CUSIP of the security: __912810FD5__
Enter the assumed inflation rate from here onward to maturity: __4.0%__
Answer: your calculated rate of return is 5.9% (or whatever)

Anyway, 5.9% was what I got in my first approximation of this from the spreadsheet. So yes, it’s a good deal because one canNOT find a regular Treasury note with a 5.9% rate that matures in 5.4 years or 5 years or 6 years.

However, if I assumed inflation going forward averaged 2%, my rate of return would be about 3.9%. That is less than the 4+% interest rate that 5 year and 10 year regular treasuries offer now. So if I believed inflation over the next 5.4 years will average 2% or less, I would get a regular treasury note instead of a TIP.

But there doesn't appear to be any such calculator or anything that makes it simpler than the egghead-with-a-spreadsheet approach.

One shouldn't have to construct a spreadsheet. And then because a purchase, like on 11/4/22 for example, falls in-between interest payment dates, one has to fool around with adjusting for my spreadsheet to handle that somehow. I can think of reasonable ways to do that, but it is a little messy.

I used Excel's IRR function (internal rate of return) to get an approximation, but that function requires that the transactions be equally spaced apart. So I have more work to do.

But darn it, I'm sure I'm not the only one that has this question when examining a prospective TIP.

Then the accrued interest thing - the concept is simple: The previous owner owned the bond for the 20 days since the 10/15/22 interest payment (20 days between 10/15/22 and 11/4/22), but I, the new owner, gets the next interest payment, due 4/15/23, in its entirety and the previous owner gets nothing.

So the accrued interest thing is something I pay for 20 days of interest to compensate the previous owner.


I'm buying much more than $10,000, but I'm showing the above table in units of $10,000. A bond is actually $1,000 face value but one must buy a minimum of say 60 of those for a minimum purchase of $60,000.

Probably will add some more in this section, but can't think of anything to add right now.

From Schwab, 10/20/22:

How can I compare TIPS to traditional Treasuries

Breakeven inflation rates. The breakeven rate is the difference between the yield of a nominal Treasury and the yield of a TIPS with a similar maturity. For TIPS investors, the breakeven rate can be considered a hurdle rate—it's what inflation would need to average over the life of the TIPS for it to outperform the nominal Treasury.

Breakeven rates are well off their recent highs. At 2.5%, the five-year TIPS breakeven rate is well off its recent high of 3.7% hit the past March. If the CPI were to average more than 2.5% over the next five years, the five-year TIPS would outperform a five-year nominal Treasury. (Likewise, if inflation averaged less than 2.5%, the nominal Treasury would outperform.) TIPS breakeven rates are relatively low given the high current rate of inflation ((meaning that TIPS are a good deal relative to regular treasuries at this point in time -Progree))

The above is all very fine and wonderful and all that, and it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it doesn't tell me what the rate of return is of a particular TIP on the secondary market.

Thanks for any ideas
November 6, 2022

Inflation last 3 months: CPI just 2%, Real earnings up 2.6% (both are annual rates)


Just to highlight a few bright spots on the inflation front.

In the last 3 months, the CPI has increased just 2.0% on a seasonally adjusted annual rate -- just like what Powell has been aiming for.

(Small print: though the Federal Reserve uses the PCE as its measure of inflation -- that's probably done even better -- well actually they aim for the CORE PCE to be 2% annualized, unfortunately the core inflation measures in the last 3 months, annualized, have been high though not as high as the year-over-year figures, but still multiples of 2% annual rates.

The core numbers are with food and energy stripped out. Since we all eat and consume energy, the regular inflation numbers are what matter as far as our budgets and living standards. The core is better for forecasting what is likely to happen with inflation in the future since zig-zaggy energy prices are very hard to project into the future)

(More small print: the good behavior of the CPI and the PCE -- which are the "everything" versions that include food and energy -- has been good only because of volatile energy prices having been on a downslide)


Real (meaning inflation-adjusted) average earnings are UP 2.6% over the past 3 months on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Meaning wages and salaries grew considerably faster than inflation over the past 3 months.

(Small print: see comments on the CPI and PCE above. The CPI is used to inflation-adjust the average earnings)

But we don't have to tell any RW fuckheads or the so-called "independents" and the JackPineRadicals the small print part. Just tell them Biden has tamed inflation over the last 3 months - give them those numbers and the link -- and leave it at that.

The October CPI comes out November 10 (2 days after election day),

No economic reports of major interest are on the calendar for Monday or Tuesday, so no economic "October Surprises" due.
November 5, 2022

Election deniers in Minnesota are training some election judges, MPR

The email from the head of the “Olmsted County Election Integrity” group inviting Jim Anderson to an online training session for election judges looked official. Anderson had served as a judge before, and the email seemed like part of the normal process to prepare him for the 2022 election.

But as he joined the Zoom call, it was clear to him there was nothing normal about the training — and it definitely was not from Olmsted County, which is in charge of training election judges. “They said, well, ‘You know our real president isn’t in office,’” he recalled. “That’s about the time I hit ‘end.’”

Another email from Olmsted County Election Integrity arrived about a week later, this time urging Anderson to rename his smartphone to masquerade as the Wi-Fi network of the polling place where he’d be stationed on Election Day.

The goal, it said, was to capture data being sent over that network and expose an imagined security vulnerability.

The emailer also asked him to photograph vote counting machines and various documents and forward it all to the group’s leader.....

More fun at: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2022/11/04/election-deniers-in-minnesota-are-training-some-election-judges

Dozens of people who’ve raised doubts about elections to Minnesota County boards over the last year appear on rosters of election judges compiled by APM Reports,

Olmsted County Election Integrity is part of a widespread effort across the country by people who doubt the legitimacy of the 2020 elections and who’ve pushed hard in this election cycle to recruit and install poll workers who share their beliefs.

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About progree

Thanks for all the good wishes. A wellness check was done several days ago My next door neighbor of 43 years is looking out for me

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