Friday, 31 May 2013

Lie to death

These days there are a lot of scandals to rant about.

To me, the biggest scandal ever, the event that makes me feel like we are living in a Matrix dream happened a year ago. It is the Libor scandal (London Interbank Offered Rate).

Libor is a ratings system run by the worlds largest banks. These banks post the interest rate they are actually paying or should be paying to borrow money from another bank. Those numbers are gathered together and averaged to give banks around the world a benchmark rate to set their interest rates by.

It's like setting the wholesale price for borrowing money. None of us would ever get this rate but the rate we do pay, is often based on these numbers.

Wikipedia is here to help explain:

"The banks are supposed to submit the actual interest rates they are paying, or would expect to pay, for borrowing from other banks." - source Wikipedia.

It turns out the banks were making side deals to report their numbers at certain levels so that other banks could make a profit or make their own banks business look like it was in better shape than it actually was. 

"Since mortgages, student loans, financial derivatives, and other financial products often rely on Libor as a reference rate, the manipulation of submissions used to calculate those rates can have significant negative effects on consumers and financial markets worldwide." - source

Let's hear that again "consumers and financial markets worldwide". This is supposed to be an honourable game. Rate fixing is tantamount to loan sharking. Keeping the little guy down. Squeezing every last penny out of them. With interest.

When I first heard about how Libor was calculated and used, I thought I must not have heard it correctly. But I had. A bunch of financial elites post the interest rate they are paying and they are supposed to give an "honest" answer. Nobody checking to make sure they are being "honest" and huge gains if they tell a lie here and there.


It turns out they are simply pulling the numbers from their hind quarters (to put it politely). In fact, it is worse than that, they were (are) intentionally manipulating the numbers to suit their own best interests.

Whenever we hear from the 'tinfoil hat set' about, whatever conspiracy is tickling their fancy that day, it invariably involves a sentence like "and the worlds banks are colluding to rip us off". It turns out they are 100% right and very little is being done about it.

The game is rigged and the only reason we aren't upset about it, is because most of us can't get through an explanation of what happened without nodding off. It is the most boring lie ever told.

We still set our interest rates by this number and have yet to change any regulations in order to prevent fraud from happening again. We don't even know the full extent to which this fraud was committed.

A few fines have been handed out. A few big names have resigned. A few admissions of guilt to felony wire fraud charges by the banks who were caught.

No banks in the U.S. have been fined or charged as of this date.

Nobody has gone to jail.

Nobody has had money returned to them because tracing that would be virtually impossible.

Can it be prevented in the future? A number of recommendations have been made that will make it more difficult but it is hard to say how long this has been going on, or if it can be stopped.

Yet it is contributing to the decay of capitalism. It shakes it to its core. It may very well be the lie that bores us to death.

Additional Reading:

Rolling Stone

Libor Scandal



Pic of the day courtesy or

Alaska - huh - who knew?


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Crack and Rob Ford

Many people, myself included, were opposed to the idea of Rob Ford being Mayor, from the outset of his campaign. Many of us worked under the assumption that someone this incompetent wouldn't make it very far down the campaign trail before he said or did something which would bring the whole ordeal to an end. Most believed Toronto would never elect such a seemingly racist homophobe in this century.

Politics is a dirty game and the main characters often act worse than a bunch of misbehaving children but Rob Ford takes top prize for childishness. Here is my case in point.  I mean really. That video starts out with a Toronto Star reporter acting less than professionally and ends with Rob Ford needing a new pacifier for his mouth. I have never seen a grown man act like that...and then get elected Mayor.

Yet, there were people who chose to ignore how he behaved (I only provided one example, feel free to cruise YouTube for more because there are plenty). Instead, many people with a flair for the right wing decided that his slogan driven single message campaign was exactly what Toronto needed. They turned out in record numbers - 53% voter turn out in the 2010 Municipal Elections. That is a shitty turn out by most standards but the two prior elections were 39% in 2006 and 38% in 2003. So a lot of people jumped up out of their EZ chairs for this one. Ford won by capturing 47% of the vote.

I understand that the previous Mayor was perceived as being a liberal "tax and spender" who was too cozy with the unions to prevent a massive and prolonged garbage strike. So it was no surprise when the right wingers of the city clamored for someone more fiscally conservative and less "lefty pinko". The surprise was who they picked to carry their banner.

Was there no one else who could be convinced to run a conservative platform? Actually, the whole group of Mayoral candidates tried to present themselves as the conservative candidate of choice (regardless of their past affiliations - I'm looking at you Joe Pantalone). There were a few other options but Ford seemed to connect with the "right leaning" electorate. Well, look at who you got. Not what you were expecting? I'd look a little closer next time, maybe the guy who thinks like you do but has a more nuanced approach will get you where you want to go.

But what do I know? I'm just a lefty pinko.


Photo of the day courtesy of Reddit r/Pics

Friday, 17 May 2013

Stop me If you have heard this one already...

I made a blog! 2001 would be so proud of me! So avent-garde!

Basically, I want to brush up on my writing skills, something that I have let lag since my early 20's. I always enjoyed writing and thus I found myself graduating from a journalism program in 1993. I promptly went back to chasing around my dreams of rock & roll stardom and fell off the Journalism wagon pretty quickly.

I was also waaaay too full of myself back then (now I am only half full of myself - an optimistic narcissist?). I had trouble with people telling me how to write. I mean, how dare they? I was 23 years old and completed a two year diploma at my local community college. I didn't need their help! Some people...

So here I am. Rock Star dreams are wrapped up and sitting in my closet (actually just did that this morning) and I am ready to start writing.

I should call this blog "stop me if you've heard this one before". As I get older, I have noticed I will repeat my "stories" and "wild theories" without being aware of the repetition until several hours later. It's a little embarrassing. I am sure the people who sit through my ramblings, remember the last time and are just too polite to stop me.

Now I can stop myself, by getting it out of my system and then searching my posts before writing on the same subject twice. No more repeats!

Some blogs will be short. Some may need some sort of wrist support for scrolling through them to avoid any carpal tunnel related injuries.

Honestly, I am too damn wordy for Twitter.

Double honest?

I am hoping that writing these posts will help me get better at Tweeting. So, these may get shorter as we go along. Mission accomplished as far as I'm concerned. Just so ya know. #forealz

I plan to write about things I will, from time to time, go on a rant about to whomever will listen. I learn a lot by shooting my mouth off on topics that I may not fully understand. People are happy to correct me. 

Kick back. Relax and don't take anything I say too seriously. Send me your messages of love, hate and everything in between. Please correct me anytime I can be proven wrong. I will take your criticisms and examine them for authenticity. I want to know what all of you think. At least once.

I may politely ignore you if I think you are wrong.

That's the worst case scenario though.

A severe and pro-longed ignoring.

Take that yo!


Picture of The Day - Courtesy of

Building A Basement