Category Archives: Rants and Updates

Investing in the Age of Trump

[11/12/17: Please also see the 6-Month follow-up to this article!]

As retirement draws near, I have to be more thoughtful about how I invest my admittedly modest savings, and the election of Donald Trump has made this very complicated, to understate a bit. Like most leftists, I believe that his campaign promises will damage the American economy in the long run, by overheating the economy, and then bringing in a popped-bubble recession. However, it is clear that the stock market totally disagrees with me. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for instance, has skyrocketed from around 18,000 in early November to around 21,000 today.

If that sounds like a ringing endorsement of his promise to “make America great again”, however, we need to also consider the fact that the price of safe havens like gold and Treasury bonds have recovered much of the initial crash after the election.

This means that there is a bit of a split-personality going on in the market. Like the rest of the nation, Wall Street is also divided along partisan lines in their assessment of the future.

So, how is a middle-class soon-to-retire professional to cope?

I have asked one of my more level-headed lefty friends, also nearing retirement, and wealthier than me, to tell me what to do, and this is what they sent me a couple of months ago. Since I have found it helpful, I am posting it here, with some updates and corrections they wanted to make, to reflect recent events and data.

Investing in the Age of Trump

by anonymous

Trump’s seeming inability to quickly implement the major components of his economic agenda–tax reform, infrastructure spending, and health care reform–that the pro-Trump half of the market is betting on is a big source of complication. From the anti-Trump perspective, in the long run, this is a good thing, since he won’t be able to wreck the economy that quickly. From the pro-Trump perspective, however, in the short run, all of these promises have already been priced into the market. If he fails to deliver soon, the short attention span of the market will turn against him, and this will not be good for the economy as a whole, whether you are for him or against him.

To be sure, we can’t go all-in that he’s going to succeed, and we can’t go all-in that he’s going to fail. A good anti-Trump portfolio has to take a balanced approach. In other words, if you haven’t diversified, now is the time.

Here are the possible scenarios we need to prepare for.

Continue reading »

A Snowflake Manifesto

I recently found out that the Ctrl-Alt-Right-Delete folks have been calling us leftists “snowflakes”. Of course, the fact that I found out about this means that it’s already way passé, but it did give me something to think about. Apparently, the right wingers think all the things that we leftists value about ourselves—our sensitivity, our flexibility, our considerateness—are shortcomings. Fair enough. The left is notorious for our chaotic messaging, incoherent strategies, and willingness to roll over for small victories. We are more concerned about not hurting each other’s feelings than we are about fighting together for what we believe in. By contrast, the right has perfected their art of lock-stepping and obstinacy, and that is, after all, how they swept this last election.

Still, there is an irony here. The right is currently spearheaded by the ultimate snowflake, a man who is more sensitive to criticism, more frustrated by opposition, and more fixated on trivialities than… Well, I can think of many categories of people who are stereotyped to be sensitive, but it would be an insult to every one of them for me to analogize our Whiner-in-Chief to them. This is why I’ve started tweeting with the tag #SnowflakePresident, along with many other tweeters, and every week we will surely have more reasons to do so.

At the same time, perhaps we have been going about this the wrong way.

What is wrong with being a snowflake? Snowflakes are gentle and fragile individually, but powerful in quantity. Snowflakes flutter about every which way, but can thoroughly cover the ground. Snowflakes melt away seemingly quickly, but can quench the thirst of an entire continent for months.

Snowflakes are beautiful both individually and collectively.

And each snowflake is unique.

So, much as the Ctrl-Alt-Right-Delete has worn the label “deplorables” with pride, perhaps we the left should wear the label “snowflakes” with pride. We do not agree with each other. We fall chaotically, clashing with one another more than we clash with our foes. We do not have a controlled message. Some of us stand up tall and some of us hide away meekly. Yet, in the end, we will cover the land; we will drench the land; and we will make the land rich with substantial, permanent waves of change.

Deplorability is an abstraction, a misunderstanding of a misstatement. And they are confined to a basket.

Snowflake Revolution will endure.

Even the Snowflake President is welcome to rejoin us, his original tribe, of course. Then being a Snowflake-in-Chief will no longer be an insult, but a label to be proud of. Something that will go down in history.

On Being a Twitter Troll

So, I tried my hand at being a Twitter troll for a few days. I’ve been posting incessantly, combing through trending topics, chasing after right wingers posting self-satisfied drivel, drafting some meme-candidates, and generally being a pest toward our Troll-in-Chief. And, man, is it hard work! I have a day job, a side job, a health thing, and other responsibilities, and I just can’t keep up with what it takes to be relevant here.

By the time I’ve spotted a trending topic of interest, it’s already on its way down, and, by the time I have a “clever” response, the time has past. Not only that, even if I am on time, I am quickly buried under dozens and hundreds of responses that are just as clever. All this means that, not having a following at all, I have to keep churning out junk, which means that even people who have deigned to follow me get sick of me very quickly. I don’t know how people do this.

Take @RealMikeDoughty, for instance. He is not only tweeting up to a dozen times a day, he is responding to a bunch of people who are tweeting to him, which means he is reading them. He even responded to me, a real nobody! He has posted 1,287 tweets since last October, which is like 100 a day. He is obviously keeping up with current events, and he has a weekly podcast to boot. Now, I suppose this is all he does, and he doesn’t have another job to deal with, so he has an advantage. Still, as much as I disagree with his point of view, this is pretty impressive.

I just can’t do it. I’m on a kick, so I’ll keep up for a while, but I will be done with all this pretty soon, leaving this arena for those who are better suited for it.

Hope you all enjoy it!

I’m back… sort of…

Hello, everyone! I’ve been neglecting this blog for reasons slightly out of my control, and I may be away a bit more. Cori Rubio books 3 – 6 are back from the proofreader, and are being prepared for publication. All should be up by the end of the year. Please let me know if you are anxious to read them; the more we hear from you, the harder I’ll work! I’d also appreciate any feedback you have.

When they are ready, we will probably post them on iBooks for free for a while, and then switch to Kindle-only while we gear up our marketing effort through KDP Select. Once that’s over, we will be back on iBooks, Kobo, and Nook. I will announce the free book deals also on Reddit FreeEBOOKS.

I’m still working on my “evil” book. I was thinking about serializing it, for free access, but that would mean less polish, proofreading, etc. Let me know if you have any opinions about that.

Redirecting Links

We’ve made some changes to our book list pages, so, now, if you click on the links on the Cori page or the States page, you will be redirected to the Kindle or iBooks store for your country. If there is no store in your country, you will be redirected to the US store. Same thing should be happening when you click on our ads on other sites.

Please let us know whether this works properly! There is only so much we can test from home.

Kobo and Nook Technical Difficulties

Cori Rubio books 1 and 2 are available now on Kobo and Nook, but the technical problems persist.

On Kobo, purchased books do not show up in the library. We’ve been assured that this was a matter of time.

On Nook, there is a weird formatting problem on the iPhone app; looks like some kind of a hard return problem. We do not yet have a solution for this. It works fine if viewed on a Web browser.

We will keep you posted. Let us know if you have any difficulties.

[Updated 6/11/15: Kobo is working fine now.]

States Is Coming Soon!

Things are really moving at a break-neck speed around here. Looks like we will be able to upload Journey through the States some time next weekend; it will be available for purchase a few days after that. Judging by our visitor statistics, there is a lot of interest in States. Right now, I am the bottleneck, so I’ll get my butt in gear and make it happen!

One quick update. We are having some delays with Kobo and Nook that we hope to resolve soon. On Kobo, it appears that you can purchase the books but not download it, yet. On Nook, we’re having problems with the uploading process. If anything develops, I will post an update.

I Hate Color Profiles!

Actually, I don’t, but they’ve been giving me hell this week. Mostly the problem is that I’ve been doing cover designs in CMYK—you know, since they are for books—but then they look awful on computers. My iPad is especially lousy at this; time to upgrade to iOS 8, I guess. I am converting them to RGB, which means everything has to be readjusted… and then rechecked on multiple screens in multiple software in multiple OS… Color profiles were supposed to make this all unnecessary!

And don’t get me started on sRGB vs Adobe RGB. You can see Ken Rockwell’s rants instead.

[Added 5/11/15] This one is CMYK sRGB:


And this one is RGB sRGB, with some shadow enhancement: