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Sunday, May 17, 2009

The tip of the spear

I grew up in the Catholic faith, went to a Catholic high school, was an altar server (altar boy to those of you born during World War II) and was deeply disturbed by the sight of men wearing skirts. My friend Ali had a similar upbringing growing up In Pakistan and he, also, was bothered by the idea of men wearing skirts The misgivings are similar but Ali is Muslim. Our religions have more similarities than differences but it's the last two percentage points of differences that make me wonder.

First the similarities: Both religions originated in the sands of what became known as the Middle East. Anything, man, beast or idea that grows up around 110 degree heat is bound to have idiosyncrasies, bordering on big-time neuroses. Those of you who grew up around the equator in this hemisphere would find 110 degrees uncomfortable. Wisconsin cheese farmers would think they were being boiled in a soup pot (see New Guinea for further information on the soup pot or click on www.newguinea.mansoup.com .) That kind of temperature over the span of thirty years would make me ponder swapping it out for a three month water boarding course on a tropical paradise.

Both religions have huge followings and where there are huge followings there are large collection plates. These large collection plates collect large amounts of tithes and offerings, all of it tax free in most countries. Were these guys offering stock you wouldn't be able to afford it, particularly now that most of your investments have denestegged. Dictionary Nazis rest assured. If denestegged ain't in your dictionary you should get yourself a new edition.

Both religions have shown that women wearing tall skirts and veils have a higher purpose in life. They are dedicated to the premise that no woman appearing in public should be enticing to men, an easily enticed demographic. And I can see how many of you would support that, although a small minority in mostly southern states in this country insist that if it's a cousin, it's fair game. I can't support that in the interest of public health. Things are already bad in the south. Any endorsement of the cousin theory on a wide scale would further dumb down a teetering population.

Much like the cold war, both religions dwarf all other customers and are first and second in numbers of followers. In another twenty years Europe will be Muslim. The balance of power is about to shift as Muslims worldwide will outnumber catholics in the next few years. Students of history will recall the ensuing me-lee when the balance of power shifted near the end of the cold war. The Catholics in America are aware of this and have begun to take steps to ensure that they don't do a Soviet in the face of the Muslim juggernaut

The tip of the spear will be tightening of rules regarding condoms. In another few months the Pope shall announce the elevation of condom use from a mortal sin to full-blown AIDS. In other words, any Catholic using a condom with the aide of a spouse of the opposite sex will have committed an “All In Deep Shit” sin, usually reserved for wife swapping and group sex. Full-blown All in Deep Shit sin is really a veiled attempt by the Vatican to raise the population of the faithful as quickly as possible.

Soon to follow will be a lobbying effort against immigration reform, the likes of which you have never seen. The Catholic Bishops of America shall have adopted the stance that no immigration reform is good immigration reform, going so far as to launch a googlemaps mashup at www.gapsinthefence.com . As much as I am opposed to a porous border as the next man the alternative is sobering enough to bear comparison to the end of d├ętente as we knew it. As I said before, things are bad here in the South. Large sub-populations of the cousin syndrome abound and give rise to insane laws, such that prohibit you from buying beer on a Sunday. But if the alternative lies in prohibiting you from drinking beer on the Sabbath in public at say, a baseball game, you can vent your feelings at www.wirecuttersfund.giv.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

the next bubble

Where do you go after the $125,000 Porsche-Design watch, The $400,000 Rolls Royce Phantom and the Lear Jet 85 have become all-too visible evidence of your having made off with billions in the last bubble? Your bank failed, your Chinese factory shut down throwing three million out of work, your bonds have been down-graded to triple-dump and you are down to your last two or three billion. Your closest friends have either shot themselves ( you knew those guys were chumps), deponzificated, or have been shot dead in a federalista raid in Mexico. Have I got a location for you!

Somalia is a country on the East coast of Africa. Let me list its benefits before wasting any more of your valuable time. Of foremost interest to you should be the little-known fact that Somalia's taxation system is in shambles and it's unlikely that you'll need to pay income tax on any of your far-flung sources of lucre that have not yet done the Poseidon. The SEC has no known jurisdiction in Somalia, nor is it likely to be able to obtain visas for any of those pesky investigators from whom you would like to deproximise yourself.

Those of you reaching for a dictionary to reacquaint yourselves with the etymology of the word “deproximise” should know your dictionary is probably outdated. If you have like designs on “deponzificated” as used in the passage above it is a sure sign that you have not reached the level of sophistication of my primary audience: men with factories in China. But I digress. Another salient point to consider when assessing Somalia is its close proximity to the next big bubble. And I refer of course to piracy.

You have a serious head start on the competition that's likely to start trickling in now that the next big thing has hit the news. Your advantage lies in the fact that you already have transportation. Sure you would have to strengthen the helicopter pad to accommodate a slightly used Apache, that you can pick up on the black market at fire-sale prices now that the war in Iraq is winding down. Your Blackwater contacts should be able to furnish you a wet-leased set of SEAL delivery vehicles and those should be a cinch to launch from the aft deck of your three hundred-footer. Having taken care of the hardware, it should be easy enough to set up a network of trading companies now that the feds are cleaning out all those post office boxes in the Cayman islands.

You are about to bring your corporate expertise to bear on a fledgling industry. While those rank amateurs now operating in Somalia are seizing ships and seeking ransom for the crew, your operation will focus solely on the cargo. Take a few oil tankers coming out of the gulf of Aden and your hard-pressed buddies in Tijuana will start to notice. I'm talking syndication, risk management and portfolio diversification. Why rely solely on drug sales when you can purchase oil futures in relative anonymity, secure in the knowledge that the market will go your way. For a small management fee, any cartel leader with an eye to the future will realize that oil prices will go up when you aim your Apache at a Saudi supertanker and will go down when you re-aim at a few local pirates. In six months you will have outdone yourself, taking in the kind of money that only Popes and short Jewish men in orange jump suits have been used to handling on a personal basis.

After a year of dedication seasoned with moments of high drama, you should be back to your old cheerful self. No more Chinese factories for you; it's time to start thinking big once again. I have to admit not even I saw your grand scheme unfolding and I can't help but admire your pentagonian ability to invest in large objects of desire. I will admit this thing about buying the Suez and Panama canals gives me goose bumps.