The reason that nothing seems to work anymore is maybe because it does not. Virtually every single organization seems to have been co opted and overrun with people that simply do not know what they are doing. Anyone of any competence is systematically purged from the organization over time for fear of making people of less merit ‘look bad’.
Part of what has driven this trend is the ultra low interest rates and The Federal reserve buying up all manner of assets, causing sky high asset prices. The end result, is ‘making companies look better than they really are’ has been rewarded by large multiples to stock prices and anyone that has sufficient control over such to award themselves stock or options on these large run up in prices, benefits from it.
In many cases we have companies where large parts of their profits are spent on stock buybacks; meaning any re investment in the business has to come from borrowing or not done at all. One example of this shocking development is Apple Computer ($APPL). Their recent 10K report shows record annual profits of $150 billion, and also a stock purchase plan of $330 billion. How can a company keep purchasing more stock than it makes every year? The answer is that is can’t, eventually any company that goes down such a path will have nothing on its balance sheet except treasury stock and debt used to buy said stock and a product line that will be all ‘hollowed out’ from lack of reinvestment in its business. I am surprised that any company in the tech industry would engage in such financial engineering since within tech things can changed within the space of a few years. Blackberry in the late 1980s/early 1990s was the leader in pagers and messaging devices and within the space of several years it simply faded away, and that was without the drag of all these financial engineering gimmicks.
It is hard to stay in the front of technology, harder when one throws their profits away on gimmicks to boost stock prices.
With the Omicron variant spreading, but not causing many hospitalizations or deaths; it looks like covid is probably over. Report from Denmark of 782 Omicron cases showed 9 hospitalizations with only one ICU case and zero deaths.
Omicron seems to have the same symptoms as the typical cold. According to a youtube recent video by Dr Campbell, half of the ‘cold’ cases in the UK were Omicron. Another report cited to the fact that hospital usage was around 89.3% of capacity, which is the typical average over the long term; so ‘hospitals are NOT filling up with covid paitents’. Also noted that 70% of the people in hospitals WITH covid only tested positive for covid after 7 or 8 days in the hospital, so the general belief is these peole got covid while in the hospital and did not have it prior to going to the hospital.
At this point, mass testing of everyone with cold like symptoms seems to be pointless, especially if they develop no other problems or symtpoms. Unless someone already had covid, it looks like everyone is going to get covid; shot(s) or no shot(s). Other measures that seem to have had no effect are masks, lockdowns, vaccine passports or the shot(s). In many places people are on their third covid shots and other places 4th shot, but Omicron is still spreading. Omicron looks like it may be the ‘vaccine’ that the covid shot(s) should have been.
Today, November 09, 2021, it will be nine years since I got word that Roger Anderson had passed away at 1:47pm and what I expect will be a sad day for everyone that knew Roger.
I remember I got the call from a friend of the family, Ing, and was told “Roger died”. It was a Friday. I was at a customer site at that moment and not sure what was going on. The person delivering the message was not a native English speaker, so I was hoping that I had misheard her or somehow it was a miss translation. (Of course, how much off could two simple words be?) So I rushed around my customer site telling the controller and human resources person that ‘everything was fine, but I had to go immediately to Shrewsbury to check on something.’ On the way their I called one of my classmates, who was an attorney in Massachusetts at the time, and put him on standby in case a lawyer would be needed.
When I got to his house at about 2:30pm, it turned out, Roger really had died. Roger did not get up for the day, like he normally would, even in the worst of neck or back pain to at least have a coffee and talk with his family in the morning like he normally would. So they went to check on him around 11am, found they couldn’t get him up, and ‘he was gone’. We had always feared that in Roger’s declining health days that he was going to end up in a nursing home that would take up all of his assets but never, ever expected that when the end came, he would just simply ‘be gone’ and nothing possible to be done. The day before Roger seemed fine. While he was recovering from something like the flu, he was generally ok. I even spent time helping to get his suv running with the expectation that Roger would go to the store for several hours and be open for customers getting their comics from the weekly shipment. I remember leaving Roger’s house at 10:15pm the evening prior to Roger passing away, and outside of his family, I was the last person to see Roger.
The whole problem with the van was somewhat amusing. Roger, for whatever reason, had a habit of letting the gas run down in any vehicle he was driving. Normally, this was not a problem but in the one he had at the time, a GMC suburban I think, if you let the gas run down to about 1/8 of a tank or less, and the weather got cold, I think frost would form on the gas filter in the tank, and then you would have trouble starting the van. The same thing happened about a year earlier where I helped Roger with the exact same problem, until I realized what was probably wrong and fixed it (get more gas, then jump the battery and then the van was fine). The problem is that by the time I figured out what was wrong we would have spent so much time trying to start the van that the battery would need to be jumped, after a few more gallons were put into the gas tank. So on this evening, just like months prior, after trying to start the van for a while, with it seeming it was going to start, I ran the battery down. Then I realized what the problem was, had to make a few trips to the gas station to put in a few gallons, jump the van battery from my car, and then finally could get the van started, recharge its battery. Since I had to run the van for a while, I took it over to a car wash and cleaned it up a little. That all took about 90 minutes or so, but at least then the van was ok for the next day.
It is hard to believe that so much time has passed and how things have changed. While everyone had some hope that maybe Roger’s comic book store, Musicquest, would somehow be able to stay open, that was not be to and now the space is currently vacant. I have thought about maybe trying to reopen the store, once I was in retirement, but realize that without Roger there can be no Musicquest and is something that I mentioned about the whole comic book store thing. As long as the owner is still around, it is possible for a store to keep going. Even if all of the inventory is gone, the owner can just setup with a stack of comics, a table, chair and phone and ‘he is in business and the store still alive’; but if the owner is not around anymore, then even with a mountain of inventory is it not possible for the store to keep going. While there maybe some kind of business there, it will not be the old store plus after a period of time many of the old customers will have gone elsewhere.
One sad change in the past year is that the sidewalk in front of the old store space was redone over in June 2021 and the writtings Roger and his daughter did in the cement are now not there anymore. The one Roger did I was not able to find to save/archive, but the one his daughter did I was able to save and have it in storage. Maybe someday I will be able to search the yard where construction debris went to and find the one Roger did, back around 2007/2008 or so when the City redid the sidewalk back then.
I have been fortunate in that I have been able to stay in contact with a few of Roger’s friends and customers, even after all of these years, and hope to continue to do so in the future.
In the first few years after Roger was gone, I had keys to the store space and would go there for a few minutes on November 09 every year, get some Chinese food from the restaurant next door and read some of the latest issue of Knights of The Diner Table comic. (I was even able to do this one last time after the building was sold in 2014 since nothing was being done with the space with the new owners.) In recent years, I will stop over and take a few pictures of the building front, even if it is just from the window of my car, like I did one year since it was night out and raining and wanted to get ‘my memorial’ of this day.
While I knew back then, that things eventually change, somehow I always felt that ‘the fun would never end’ and that somehow Roger would always be around. Now it is the later, am not really sure what to expect in the future, do miss how things use to be and know that it is all an era gone by forever. Once in a while when I am at the laundry mat or Chinese food take out place, that are still open next to what was Roger’s store, I run into someone that remembers the store and maybe even Roger, so at least I know that people still remember Roger and the store.
Link to uploaded video of Roger on the Worcester Community Cable channel in 1984. Roger Anderson appearing on Greater Media Cable in Worcester, MA WCCTV-13 show Entertainment Showcase in 1984. This digital copy is from a VHS tape that was found as part of the Roger Anderson estate and saved by his friend Kraig.
Today would have been Roger’s 70 birthday but he passed away Nov 09, 2012 at the age of 61. It is hard to believe that it was only nine years ago we were celebrating his 61st birthday with his family and a friend from across the street. Since his daughter’s friend across the street also had the same birth date, we did a joint celebration with a cake for both of them. Initially, we were not sure to have the cake on the 19th or not, since Roger’s mother in law passed away a little after 5pm the day before, so no one felt too ‘happy’ enough to be having a birthday party (What would Miss Manners say, or the protocol be, about having a birthday party the day after a relative has passed away?); but since the friend had been invited days before we didn’t think we should delay having the cake for her also since it was still her birthday so we went ahead with the joint birthday cake for both of them.
As it turned out, it is a very good thing we went ahead since Roger passed away only 21 days later. If we had delayed having a cake for him for something like a month, he would have missed it.
It is somewhat strange seeing all the changes since then. Roger’s store has had all of the signs it was there ‘gone’ with the building being remodeled and such. The writing he did in the cement out front got re done over by the City of Worcester in a rebuilding of the sidewalk this summer. One good part is that while I missed saving the one he wrote, I was able to preserve the one his daughter did. I had thought they would have stayed in place for years, if not decades to come and it is kind of sad to see that those marks of Roger being with us only lasted about nine years.
Even though Roger is no longer with us, we did prepare a card for the friend that was there to celebrate the joint birthday back in 2012 and thanked them for being part of it.
Some people may remember the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft of March 18, 1990. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_Stewart_Gardner_Museum_theft ) The short version is that two guys tied up the two security guards in the early morning hours, stole several valuable and rare paintings, which have never been seen since. No one has ever been charged in the theft and the paintings are still missing to this day. Every once in while there is a new lead that results in nothing. At one time or another just about any possible suspect in the theft was brought in for questioning or mob leaders within the underworld searched to find out ‘who had done the robbery’; usually to collect tribute they felt was owed since it was in an area they consider their turf or trying to collect on the reward currently at $10 million. At this point, the statute of limitations has expired on the crime, so whoever did it could hold a press conference, collect the reward, and live in comfortable retirement.
So the big question is: Why has no one come forward. returned the works, and collected the reward?
My Answer: Because anyone and everyone involved in the original robbery that took part, or knew where the paintings are, is dead. At this point I expect the only way anyone will ever recover the works is if and when someone accidently comes across them. This person may at first have no idea what they even have unless they are familiar with works of art or heard about the robbery.
From looking at a summary of the robbery on Wikipedia, I would probably say that it is not entirely clear who the original robbers were, but they are all probably dead at this point, and left no word or clue to where the works are. The paintings have probably been put into storage somewhere that no one would expect, know, or think to look for them. I expect it is possible they have been buried somewhere. The reason I put forth this theory is that IF the paintings were in any of the typical places for storing items like this, the family and friends of any of the possible/probable suspects in the robbery would have done a search of every place the paintings could be. The fact that no one has returned the paintings tells us there paintings are not sitting in a garage, basement or storage shed. (Or at least one that the suspects had access to. It is always possible they found some out of the way place/building to ‘ditch’ the paintings in and no one has discovered this hiding place yet. Personally, I hope that is what happened since one of the suspects said they were ‘buried outside of the US’ and expect that is not exactly a great way to store such items if this is what really happened.)
There was some speculation that maybe the works stolen were in someone’s collection but that seems unlikely because some of the works were valuable but others were of modest value and seemed a strange item to make part of the theft. (i.e. Think ‘The Thomas Crown’ affair where a guy steals a work of art that he really can’t buy at any price and part of the reason on why he steals it is just for the thrill of doing such a thing.) It is generally believed that the works were picked somewhat at random and done because the thieves wanted to use them in some kind of trade of exchange; i.e. the theft was more about arranging some kind of deal with authorities than just money.
The tragedy and lost opportunity is that whatever the original reason or plan was is that nothing useful or of value ever came to the two robbers simply because they waited too long to do anything with the opportunity they had and now rare works of art have been lost, maybe forever.
Lost opportunities happens a lot in many situations, people simply think that there is no time limit on exercising their option to realize the value from something. They have some collectible, and think it will keep going up in value forever. Sometimes that does happen but even then, is something that one holds onto until it is worth more money when they are 95 years old really worth it, when if they had sold it for less money when they were 30 or 40 years old, and would have had a greater change in the course of their life, be worth it?
I have seen some situations where people have collectible items, but the market is small and shrinking over time. While the items ‘have value’, the question always is; Yes, but who wants to buy them and who is able to buy them? Sometime people hold onto various collectible items for far too long that the item disintegrates, case in point being a lot of 16mm or 35mm old films. All those films have a limited shelf life and unless they are transferred to digital, the films eventually will ‘go bad’. The film material actually starts to disintegrate, get moldy, turns to dust, or even curls to the point that it can no longer be put through a projector and the sound track is not playable anymore.
Eventually the works of art stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will be found and returned to their place in that museum; the only question is when. It will be interesting to find out where the works have been all these years and why no one ever returned them for the reward.
One of the interesting aspects of the whole Bitcoin or crypto coins is that there are a number of coins that are currently considered ‘dead. Dead as in the sense that the development team no longer seems to exist for the coin or the coin no longer trades anywhere. So while the coins may be dead at the moment, I wonder if it would be possible to start up trading in those coins and get them trading again.
From my experience and observations with the stock of various companies over the years I do think it might be possible to get a coin trading again and maybe some value to it. It seems the easiest solution would be to get it trading on any exchange and then convert the ‘dead’ coin into another more popular coin and solve the problem that way. The other path would be to develop some kind of standardized new blockchain for dead coins and convert dead coins into that and get them trading that way again. While it may not put it back to the old value, at least anyone that holds or held any of them would be able to trading in them again.
The other aspect is if anything can be done with abandoned or lost coins. Apparently, there are a number of coins in the various cryptos that the owners have either totally forget about or lost the keys, so these coins are, in a sense, dead. The last owner has completely forgotten about them or is no longer able to trade them, so the block chain is at an end. It seems it should be possible to try to get those back into circulation or maybe somehow send word to the chain and owner about the status. In some of my recent research Bitcoin has about 100 bytes that is like a comment field and that might be useable to somehow send word to the people with these inactive chains to get them back into circulation.
The last bit of research also talked about SHA-256 (I think that is it) which is the hash routine for the blockchains. One thing that did occur to me is that with enough computing power that it might be possible to have an index of all of the possible hashes, which would make the whole blockchain at risk. There was also some mention by various people that a quantum computer might be able to solve hashes much faster than the standard computers currently in use. From looking around a few months ago I think the largest quantum computer has 2048 Qubits, so it is limited in what it can do and only available at a large scale, like large corporation labs or government budgets would be needed. BUT, I expect as time goes on that the hardware will shrink, the Qubits will go up, and what it can do will far outpace what the standard computing can do for computations on a hash. I did run across one company that seemed to be selling time on a quantum computer, but expect it is still somewhat expensive and impractical, but should improve as time goes on.
NOTE: There are some people who think and talk about a Quantum computer being the path or what is needed to get to an AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) but I think they only think that because of the general path being taken with machine learning; where we basically throw millions of options at the computer so it can ‘learn’ what to do. In one of my prior posts I wrote that this ‘Big Data’ method seemed to be more of a way to try to brute force a solution to the problem instead of going about it the right way and figuring out how people think and learn. While I do expect this brute force Big Data method will get some results, I expect within a short period of time its limits will become obvious and never lead to a true AGI and without a real AGI, we will never get to an SAGI (Super Artificial General Intelligence; a group of AGIs are needed to build a SAGI).