Review: Bob Dylan a Spiritual Life

Recently, I have found myself reading more books and watching less television. Cord cutting has the advantage of not distracting me as much with nonsense. For those in the “snowflake” generation, a B.O.O.K. is also known as “Bio Optical Organic Knowledge”.


In the last few weeks I read two books about the same era that have a remarkable amount of overlap. I started with Larry Norman: Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music. This book is about the original Christian rocker. The book discusses the good, the bad, and the ugly of the music industry and also Norman’s very flawed and human trek thru this world.

Larry Norman: Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music

Norman got his musical start in the 1960’s in San Jose, CA. In the early days he shared the stage with Janis Joplin and many other names that you might recognize. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and made a name for himself. In the book you learn about Norman’s street preaching, Bible study, and other endeavors. I highly recommend the book.

So you may be wondering why I start with Larry Norman in a discussion about a Bob Dylan book. Because their lives are incredibly linked together.

The Apostle Paul spoke about spiritual growth in these terms:

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
I Corinthians 3:4-7.

Larry Norman sowed many seeds that grew and matured which eventually touched Bob Dylan’s life in a way that only God can. Larry is never mentioned in the Dylan book and that is a shame because the two men clearly knew each other, if only at a distance.

Norman includes Dylan in his song, Song For A Small Circle Of Friends which he released in 1971. Why Dylan is part of this “small circle” remains unsaid in either book.

Dear Bobby watch your fears all hide
And disappear while love inside starts growing,
You’re older but less colder
Than the jokes and folks you spent your childhood snowing.

And Someone died for all your friends
But even better yet, He lives again.
And if this song does not make sense to you,
I hope His Spirit slips on through,
He loves you

Link: Lyrics–Song For A Small Circle Of Friends

An example of their intersecting worlds is the Bible study that Norman started in Los Angeles in the late 1960’s. This study morphed into the church that Dylan attended prior to releasing his Slow Train Coming album in 1979. Other people and actions in the Norman book impact the life of Dylan or those around him. Other folks that are common to both men and in ways most unexpected include Billy Graham, President Jimmy Carter, and Jews for Jesus.

Another interesting overlap of both men’s worlds is not documented in either book. Larry Norman produced an album of up and coming Christian musicians. On that album was a track by Leslie Phillips called Beyond Saturday Night. Leslie’s first LP was later released and titled Beyond Saturday Night but was a different studio recording of the same song. Leslie released four Christian albums before changing her stage name to “Sam Phillips” and “going secular.” As this transition was happening in her life she married a fellow named T-Bone Burnett who was a member of Dylan’s touring band and frequently played with Dylan over the years. T-Bone converted to Christianity while touring with Dylan.

Enter Bob Dylan

After completing the Larry Norman book, I ordered the book Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life by Scott Marshall. Cost $16.95

The publisher describes the book as:

Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life bridges the gap between purpose and meaning in grand fashion. It offers readers an informative, entertaining, and nuanced look into Bob Dylan’s spiritual odyssey. Today, there is not a Dylan book in existence that exclusively focuses on his spiritual odyssey through years of research and original interviews with those who know him and his journey well, such as Barry Beckett, Arthur Blessit, T-Bone Burnett, Carolyn Dennis, Dave Kelly, Regina McCrary, Maria Muldaur, Scott Ross, Jerry Wexler, and Paul Wasserman. The evidence abounds and Dylan’s friends and fans provide a plethora of insight into this veritable music icon’s spiritual side.

The book is exhaustively footnoted and generally follows Dylan’s career in chronological order.

Dylan Controversy

Many folks in Christian circles have voiced their concerns about Dylan and his profession of faith.

The two songs that come to mind as critiques of Dylan are Steve Taylor’s title track from 1984, Meltdown and Dave Edward’s 1981 song, Commercial Suicide.

Elvis and the Beatles have seen a better day
Better off to burn out than to melt away
Dylan may be fillin’ the puddle they designed
Is it gonna take a miracle to make up his mind?
–Steve Taylor

Additional Info: Steve Taylor: Meltdown

He was the prophet of a generation
They watched his every cryptic verb
People everywhere in every nation
Would bow and worship every word

He gave them songs and made them wild with passion
They would leave his name is history
Then he sang a little out of fashion
And so he gave them one more mystery

And then they cried – Commercial suicide…
Watch how you say it
We’ll never play it
–Dave Edwards

Additional Info: Dave Edwards: Commercial suicide

Dylan the Good Stuff

From reading A Spiritual Life what you discover is that Dylan’s story is confusing, not so much for what he says, but more for what those around him want to be true. Often what you’ve heard about Dylan is what others are projecting onto him and not his words.

Scott Marshall does a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff. He looks not just at Dylan’s words but his music to show that Dylan is actually rather consistent. Dylan will respond to stupid interviewer questions with obtuse answers but when treated respectfully he can be rather forthcoming about his faith. When it comes to Dylan’s answers about his faith, however; the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew come to mind, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Many folks just don’t understand Dylan’s answers and their Biblical references.

After reading the book, I not only think I have a grasp of where Dylan is spiritually but can understand his point of view.

Marshall has responded to the criticisms of Dave Edwards and Steve Taylor (quoted above) and his answer is one that I appreciate. If you want to meet the man behind the mystique then Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life is well worth your consideration.

Thoughts on “Kill It and Grill It”

On internal combustion vehicles, the front end is often called “the grill” because it has an area that allows air to flow thru the radiator to cool the engine. But now Californians may mean something entirely different when talking about their automobile and “the grill.”

Custom Corvette Grill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Get ready to break out your recipes for roadkill. Eating wild animals killed by a car could soon become legal in California.
State Senator Bob Archuleta introduced a so-called “you kill it, you grill it” bill at the Capitol this week.
The bill reads, “each year it is estimated that over 20,000 deer alone are hit by motor vehicles on California roadways. This translates into hundreds of thousands of pounds of healthy meat that could be utilized to feed those in need.”

Bob “Kill it and grill it” Archuleta

Ok, so thought number one was the parody that Rush Limbaugh did many years ago on the subject. He illustrated serving roadkill with a parody of diners eating the special of the day at mythical Furs Cafeteria. About the third day of running the parody, he got a polite cease and desist letter from Furr’s Cafeteria letting him know that they were offended. Rush had to alter the parody as a result.

Furr’s claims it doesn’t really serve roadkill

In the old days roadkill was given to jails and prisons as a way to supplement the menu. Since Jerry Brown let so many felons out of prison without serving their sentences (over 50,000) maybe this is the Democrat’s way of making them feel at home in the “real world.”

However, there is more to this juicy story…

UC Davis has maintains a website documenting roadkill incidents across California.
In 10 years, the California Roadkill Observation System has recorded 60,000 cases of roadkill collisions, mostly with deer.

Ok, color me shocked. Did you know your tax dollars were hard at work funding the California Roadkill Observation System? Is the guy running this vital government agency a double major in environmental studies and traffic engineering?

Please note that you’ve been paying for this for at least the last ten years. Does that mean Arnold Schwarzenegger authorized this boondoggle too?

Next please note the math in this story. Bob Archuleta claims there are 20,000 deer killed each year on California highways while the taxpayer funded California Roadkill Observation System claims that 60,000 animals—mostly deer—have been murdered by passing autos in a ten year period.

Using Bob’s statistic, we should expect over 200,000 deer to be killed in a ten year period. That sounds like we are supposed to celebrate deer genocide by destroying the evidence that there were ever any deer in California.

As a former deer hunter, I’m saddened by this issue. In many parts of the state, deer are almost as scarce as jack rabbits these days and now government is trying to give you an incentive to run over them with your car. Need a bambulance?

Bambulance–Actual 9-1-1 call

The bill, notwithstanding any other law, would authorize (a) a person who unintentionally strikes and kills a deer, elk, antelope, or wild pig on a roadway in California with a vehicle to recover, possess, use, or transport the whole animal and salvage the edible portions of the animal…

Link: Will Californians Eat Roadkill For Dinner?

The bill is discriminatory in several ways.

First, after hitting a deer with my vehicle, how does anyone know what my intent was? The only other witness to the carnage (good word choice in this context) is dead.

Second, besides a town baring the name, are there any antelope in this state?

Third, this bill discriminates against other species of animals commonly hit by vehicles and consumed by groups living in the state. Rabbits, coons, and possums come to mind. But why stop there? What about cats and dogs? If they can’t stay on the leash and happen to wok in front of you then aren’t they fair game too? Cows and horses are both consumed in this state and occasionally wander in front of vehicles as well.

I personally have hit one dog, one cat, two owls, one pheasant, at least one snake, and a possum since getting my license at age sixteen. Oh, the owls and pheasant were all airborne when the fatal blows were struck.

If you look at the economic direction of this state, are they anticipating a time when we will be like Venezuela and need to eat anything we can grill just to survive? Is this the end-game of healthcare for all and other utopian ideas?

Lastly, don’t you find it curious that vehicle insurance statistics are not cited to prove the widespread slaughter of furry mammals by motorized vehicles? We are all required by law to have our cars insured so clearly hard numbers exist as to the actual number of such collisions that occur annually.

Oops Google Puts Microphones in Nest Gizmo But Didn’t Tell You

For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.

Luke 8:17

For those of you that think you have privacy any more, here’s yet more proof it’s an illusion.

According to a new report, Google “unintentionally forgot” to mention the existence of a microphone on the Next Guard. The report mentioned that Nest users were unaware that the Nest Guard comes with a microphone as it was not mentioned anywhere including the website and the spec sheet.

Oh, Google’s justification was:

The spokesperson also mentioned that the on-device microphone was never on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option. Moreover, Google stated that they added the microphone as a way to allow for future developments and to add more security features to the device through software updates.

In early February, Google announced that its home security and alarm system Nest Secure would be getting an update — users could now enable its virtual assistant technology, Google Assistant.
The problem: Nest users didn’t know a microphone even existed on their security device to begin with.
The existence of a microphone on the Nest Guard (which is the alarm, keypad, and motion sensor component in the Nest Secure offering) was never disclosed in any of the product material for the device.
On Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had made an “error.”

Link: Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was ‘never supposed to be a secret’

OK folks, pop quiz, what else has Google or someone else put a microphone in without telling you? Your “Smart TV” or gaming console? You mesh network gizmo?

Isn’t there enough microphones in your house already?

  • Cell phone
  • Smart watch
  • Laptop
  • Children’s toys

Plus any speaker not in use can also act as a microphone. Think stereo, clock radio, television, sound bar, etc.

Please note that Google only needed a software update to turn on the microphone and that means others with ill intent could access it too.

Somehow when Jesus spoke those words in Luke, I don’t think he had Google in mind however, I guess we don’t have to wait until judgement day any more for our private deeds to be made public, just get the wrong organization or nation state to pay attention to you and the future can be now. Jesus tells us that we will be condemned by what comes to light and I’m sure that would be true in this life as well.

Carma-geddon or Car-mageddon?

William, the Blog Father, and I met for lunch a couple years ago and both us had our “tin foil hats on” according to the cheerleaders of this disaster of an economy. A ton of issues were discussed but one item I brought up could reign supreme very soon, the topic of the car loan market. More specifically I spoke about the fact that the market was being flooded with subprime auto loans (not standard loans, think the No Income, No Job, No Assets, No Problem loans for homeowners during the meltdown a decade ago).

For a time, my prediction seemed baseless and unsubstantiated. There was nary a word from any media at all, until Wednesday, when CNBC had an article about it. As predicted at our lunch many years ago, its jaw dropping folks. William runs this site and perfection is not asked for, it’s demanded. We stand behind our predictions, and in this case I wish I was issuing a retraction. Here are some brutal highlights from the article:

  • 7 million American borrowers are at least 90 days behind on their car loan
  • 1 million more than 2010, when we went through the credit crisis
  • Total auto loan debt has increased by 584 billion, the highest levels ever recorded by the FED

Link: A record number of Americans are 90 days behind on their car payments

When I digest these numbers, even I myself, the “Nostradamus” of this crisis, am somewhat dumbfounded….aren’t we told that we are in a period of major economic growth and expansion? I am told the stock market is making new highs almost weekly; wage growth should be keeping up as well right? Problem is while most of the above is true, the results say otherwise. We have had economic growth, largely due to low interest rates; this carries over to the stock market increasing to all-time highs. What I am saying is you cannot earn a decent return in a savings account so as a result you invest the money, driving the market up. Corporations, can make loans on the cheap through a bank to finance a large acquisition, like Kuerig buying Dr. Pepper Snapple, or Pinnacle Foods being bought by Conagra. I cannot blame these corporations just like the ones who borrowed money just to juice earnings returns, but back to the car aspect of this blog.

During the last 9 years, banks were able to borrow money from the Federal Reserve Bank for 0% interest. Subsequently, they lent it out at far higher rates of return depending on your credit or FICO score. To sum this up, the bank is taking zero risk, and you the borrower are at their mercy.

So how does this pertain to the above article? Well you walk onto a car lot or dealership because you need a means to get to work. Just like that, you are circled by the vultures posing as car salesman. I say posing because they don’t care about you, they see you as a sale not a person. Don’t believe me then go see for yourself. These dealers will literally hire anyone. Still don’t believe me, these people make money only when they sell, not so much when they are standing around, so when they find a live warm body, you’re dinner! You’re literally their meal ticket because they are on commission and without selling to someone like you, they don’t eat.

Since you need a ride to get to work, they don’t want you to see the affordable compact commuter car. Oh, you have a family then you need that SUV, or crossover, or full size car….think about going to the beach, or snow, or grandma’s house then get our all-wheel drive car over there! You test drive several, and you make a decision. You decided to buy a little more car than you needed but it’s ok because it will pay off in the long run. The sales guy made you feel like a million bucks, sadly, you don’t have said millions so you finance the purchase.

The finance guy (known as “The Closer) sets up a payment plan…0% APR right? Isn’t that what the ad said? Well not in your case but we can probably do it for 15%. Then he runs your credit. You can’t make the payment over 48 months, so….let’s make it 72 months, and maybe it becomes 29%, but you need to get to work and the payment works so you sign. Congratulations Chief, you are now the proud owner of a new car or used car. It’s a ton of payments but we know you can afford $475 a month. Read the last part again. You got taken but you don’t realize it yet. You whip out the credit card for the down payment, you need the car now but it won’t be ready until tomorrow.

Excitedly, off you go in your new vehicle. Typically you get 45 to 60 days before the first payment is due. The first couple payments are a bit of a struggle but you make them. Eventually a life event happens or other bills just increase as they always do. (Seen what rental prices are doing lately?) All of a sudden a couple years into the loan, you realize you bit off too much but too bad. The car sales guy, he may or may not work there anymore, the finance person, ditto however both got paid up front. Keep in mind there is no fiduciary duty law in this business.

Paul Blanco Auto–got a pulse, get a car

A local car dealership (Paul Blanco) literally runs ads saying we will get you in a car even with bad or no credit…and hence we have this auto loan issue. Frantically you call seeking to work out a payment plan…sorry the car is worth less than you owe, no refinance options exist Chief. Surely your credit union/bank can do something for you, you have been with them for years…negative Ghost Rider. Sadly your car is worth more repossessed even if you keep making payments on it. Surely this is usury or something, there has to be a way out…sorry, no one can help you. By the way, your car will be repo-ed and they will sell it again to another sucker, lather, rinse, repeat.

“Whatcha gonna do when they come for you”

If you pursue legal action, you have no leg to stand on since you signed the papers. You also will find out the law firm hired by the finance company is Dewey, Skrewem, and Howe…while the in-house finance company hires law firm Howie, Keepum, Kurent. You were took, and are now on the hook, just another statistic in the actuary’s book. The sad cold hard reality is you need a car to get to work, you bought too much car, and got saddled with a high rate loan on a vehicle whose value depreciated tremendously upon leaving the lot. We never learned our lesson from 2008, and we are going to repeat it yet again, in a way that is going to be cataclysmic to the economy and credit markets. As pointed out earlier on this website, you won’t be getting that large tax refund to bring your payments current.

In this case I do wish I was wrong, however I was Really Right.

Johnnie Does Firehouse Subs

Recently, I found myself at a chain restaurant called Firehouse Subs. I have visited this location twice, both unannounced. Here is my full report and experience.

The Firehouse Subs location that I visited was on Truxel Road in north Sacramento County. Upon walking in, a crew leader or watchperson calls out “12, 10…3..2..1”…..and every employee yells “Welcome to Firehouse.” This greeting is a copycat of Moe’s Southwest Restaurant. Frankly it is too much; especially since it’s called out each time someone walks in. When you dine at a chain restaurant and this kind of racket is breaking out every few minutes or someone is having a birthday and the siren goes off every ten minutes, its overkill. Stop copying the concept…. find something new.

Once you enter the place, you’ll notice that the décor is awesome. It’s all firehouse and emergency service: photos and gear like hoses and ladders. It looks like a firehouse!

Also donning the walls were copies of checks donated to the local firefighters and county sheriff departments; really nice touch. The employees were all gracious and dressed in shirts giving credit to their favorite sub…. pretty cool if you ask me. For the ambiance, décor etc. solid 4/5, just change the welcome to firehouse thing.

The menu board is semi-intimidating because some of the sandwiches have a firehouse/exotic name. Just to name a couple: Hook & Ladder, Engineer, and Firehouse Hero. Other subs have a standard/traditional name like turkey, bacon ranch, or meatball. The sub’s veggies can all be modified; you can even add/subtract things for no additional charge, unlike Togo’s or Subway where there is a fee.

All subs are served hot on toasted bread and warmed meat via a steamer but can also be ordered cold. The subs come in small 4”, medium 6”, and large 8” size, I ordered the medium both times and was satisfied. On my first visit, I ordered the Hook and Ladder which is turkey, ham, and Monterey jack cheese, which I was told comes “fully involved” meaning I get a pickle on the side in addition to my sandwich…nice touch.

You order, swipe, and take a seat, and your food is brought out to you in a neat little firehouse basket.

I devoured my sandwich, it never stood a chance. The sandwich was perfectly cooked, and the perfect temperature…..again, it never stood a chance. I found the warm bun and meat paired with cool veggies and mayo was right on point. The other visit I ordered the Firehouse Cajun Chicken which was cut chicken, cooked with Cajun spices, on a sub with hot peppers, onions and homemade Cajun mustard…..WOW, I loved it!!!!! 5/5 no question asked. Firehouse also offers soups, chili, chips, and soda, like most other sandwich places, I have yet to try the signature chili. There is also a hot sauce bar with roughly 30 hot sauce bottles all ranked 1-10, great touch. I tried several, came away impressed!

As far as price goes, the medium size subs are $8.99 which after tax puts you right around $10 which is the sweet spot for lunch. The price is a little more than a cheap Subway but less than a Togo’s and the flavor makes it very worthwhile. They offer a daily special like every other chain, have a rewards club, and have seasonal specials like the Cajun chicken sub for $5.55. 5/5 on price, very affordable and great value.

Overall solid 14/15

Bloggers note: On the 2nd trip to Firehouse, the regional manager from corporate was there, and I have to say it was a fairly awkward visit with him there. It was too bad really. I get it it’s a franchised operation and quality assurance must be made; however, this guy looked like Chuck “The Shermanator” Sherman from American Pie.

It was awkward. He did the strangest stuff during the lunch rush like pulling the ice dispenser in front the soda machine, taking photos and storing it on his iPad, or grabbing and squeezing every bag of chips…really weird. Firehouse needs to clean this up…. other than that, I love the place.

Yardhouse is next….

Apple Still In Freefall: Update February 2019

Apple is such a target rich environment of bad news that it’s no wonder that they have fallen in value and deservedly so. Apple’s Store is full of spyware and security flaws, they have legal troubles that are concerning, they have quit innovating. Below I will give you a brief summary of each article and a link to read it for yourself but be ready to be shocked. I don’t own any stock in FAANG companies but if you do, now would be a good time to sell.

FAANG is Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google

Apple App Makers Spying on You

Many major companies, like Air Canada, Hollister and Expedia, are recording every tap and swipe you make on their iPhone apps. In most cases you won’t even realize it. And they don’t need to ask for permission.

Apps like Abercrombie & Fitch, and Singapore Airlines also use Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm, one of a handful of companies that allows developers to embed “session replay” technology into their apps. These session replays let app developers record the screen and play them back to see how its users interacted with the app to figure out if something didn’t work or if there was an error. Every tap, button push and keyboard entry is recorded — effectively screenshotted — and sent back to the app developers.
Or, as Glassbox said in a recent tweet: “Imagine if your website or mobile app could see exactly what your customers do in real time, and why they did it?”

Apps that are submitted to Apple’s App Store must have a privacy policy, but none of the apps we reviewed make it clear in their policies that they record a user’s screen. Glassbox doesn’t require any special permission from Apple or from the user, so there’s no way a user would know.

Glassbox is one of many session replay services on the market. Appsee actively markets its “user recording” technology that lets developers “see your app through your user’s eyes,” while UXCam says it lets developers “watch recordings of your users’ sessions, including all their gestures and triggered events.”

Apple Allows User to Spy on Each Other

Apple has released an iPhone update to fix a software flaw that allowed people to eavesdrop on others while using FaceTime.
The bug enabled interlopers to turn an iPhone into a live microphone while using Group FaceTime. Callers were able to activate another person’s microphone remotely even before the person has accepted or rejected the call.
Apple turned off the group-chat feature last week, after a 14-year-old boy in Tucson, Arizona, discovered the flaw. The teenager, Grant Thompson, and his mother said they unsuccessfully tried to contact the company about the problem for more than a week.

Apple releases update to prevent FaceTime eavesdropping

FYI: Apple will never admit fault or flaws with any product or service until it has been made public and the publicity has embarrassed the crap out of them. This and the fact that their PC market share is so small has allowed them to falsely claim that they are more secure than Windows. Their iPhone apps are a mess despite their claims.

Turns out is not just Facebook and Google who are misusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate Program to distribute apps which would not pass Apple’s App Store approval process. Techcrunch has discovered that hundreds of companies are distributing pornography and gambling apps to members of the public using the certificate system designed for only internal use.

The news, however, underlines that the supposedly safe and secure iPhone ecosystem has a rather seedy underbelly…

Turns out Apple’s Enterprise Certificate Program is hiding a multitude of sinful apps

Apple Guilt of Patent Infringement

As previously reported on this blog, Apple iPhones have been banned for sale in China and Germany due to patent infringement. Here is an update on the story from a German Court.

Apple and Qualcomm have been at loggerheads for a while now, with the firm suing Apple over its alleged patent infringement. Qualcomm won a victory against Apple in Germany, acquiring an injunction which would stop Apple from selling iPhone models that used Intel chips in their retail stores, forcing Apple to pull their devices from sale both in-store and online.

Apple as of now has resumed sales of its iPhone 7 and 8 family of devices with Qualcomm chips in Germany.

Apple Exec Busted for Insider Trading

The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought suit against Gene Daniel Levoff, who was Apple’s senior director of corporate law until September 2018. Levoff is accused of using his position to make illegal trades of Apple shares.
Levoff was part of Apple’s Disclosure Committee—one of the people who could review the company’s quarterly financial reports ahead of their publication. The SEC maintains that he used nonpublic information obtained as part of the committee to inform trades he made of Apple shares. For example, in July 2015 he learned that Apple was going to miss analyst estimates for iPhone unit sales. Between July 17 and July 21, when Apple published its quarterly earnings report, he sold nearly his entire holding of Apple stock, totaling nearly $10 million. When the news became public, Apple’s share price dropped by more than 4 percent—selling early avoided losses of approximately $345,000.

Apple’s insider-trading policy enforcer accused of insider trading

Considering what they did to Martha Stewart for $50K, they better throw the book at this guy.

Apple Stops Innovating iPhone

Apple’s cash cow—the iPhone—for the last decade is running out of steam and new ideas. As reported here previously, they have no plans to release a true 5G phone in 2019, they are reportedly going to shift to USB-C connector in 2020 (more on this in a minute), they have announced no R & D for a foldable tablet or phone, and they are shifting to an Android style display. But still no micro USB memory slot.

As per the report, Apple is also planning to shift its display technology to OLED for the 2019 iPhone family of devices. OLED displays are more visually appealing than LCDs subjectively speaking and show deeper blacks and greater contrast. In other words, they ‘pop’ more and look prettier in stores. They also tend to feature on higher-end Android smartphones, something Apple may be reacting to as sales fall in China and India as consumers prefer their own homegrown, full-featured Android smartphones.

Apple Shift from Products to Services

Apple has stopped reporting sales numbers for any devices on their quarterly stock reports due to declining sales but since they have fallen into the 90 Calendar trap, they are trying a new way to improve their cash flow. The new idea is to fleece their flock by offering subscription services. As such they are rolling out two new services, a subscription news service and a streaming service.

Apple, is expected to have a March 25 event at its Cupertino campus, where it could introduce the entertainment service, a new magazine subscription app and an update to its popular AirPods wireless earbuds.
Apple, coming off declining iPhone sales, is looking to make up the difference.

…Apple will offer the service for free for the first three months, as an app, like iTunes, available on iPhones, iPads, computers and via the Apple TV set-top box and then begin charging. His prediction: $3 monthly if bundled with Apple’s current $9.99 Apple Music offering, or $6.99 as a stand-alone product.
That’s a good deal cheaper than industry leader Netflix, which charges $11.99 for its most popular rate, but then Apple will have a tiny library in comparison. CBS, which also debuted with a smaller library for its All Access offering of originals (new Star Trek, and a sequel to the Good Wife) and library titles like Perry Mason and Cheers, charges $5.99 monthly, with ads, or $9.99 ad-free.
Apple’s track record in entertainment isn’t stellar. It debuted two new series in 2017, the widely panned Planet of the Apps reality show in 2017 and an extended version of the CBS late night comedy bit Carpool Karaoke. It also debuted in 2017 with five episodes, but hasn’t been heard from since.
Apple reported falling iPhone sales in its most recent earnings report, down 15 percent for the holiday quarter, but a booming business for its Services, which includes iCloud online storage, Apple Music and iTunes movie rentals. The company said Services revenue rose $10.9 billion, or 19 percent, over the previous year.

Report: Apple’s entertainment service could launch very soon

Are people really willing to pay $7 or more to watch shows they can only view on their phones? Color me skeptical. At lest with USB-C phones, you can hook them up to a computer monitor or television and view the content but a phone only person? You already have Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, CBS All Access plus Disney and Warner are starting their own streaming services; all of which you can watch on any device that you own. Apple is late to the party and they only plan to let you watch on their devices. Lastly, as mentioned above, content is going to be a problem. Heck Netflix is suffering due to the content pulled already for services that aren’t even live yet.

Apple is planning to launch an all-you-can-read news subscription service, but is running into resistance from The New York Times Co. and Washington Post, both of which want better terms, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Apple’s negotiators are reportedly floating an all-in-one news subscription plan that would cost consumers $10 per month, with Apple keeping half, and the remaining money getting split among all the other publishers on the platform, based on how much time people spend reading stories from each outlet.

Apple News subscription service faces resistance from newspapers

Apple keeps half and gives crumbs to everyone else. Also please note that they are the ones that decide how much to pay all the news contributors based on how many hits each story gets.


I keep saying Tim Cook is just a caretaker and I think I’ve been vindicated in spades on that claim. Apple is no longer a leader in next generation technology, instead, they are just interested in making the current generation more comfortable in their old age.

Financial Literacy is at an All Time Low

While conversing with an old college friend the topic of money and debts came up, my degree being in finance I offered to lend a hand. My friend also graduated with a degree in finance from the same college I did. My friend told me she was barely making ends meet. She is single and lives in the Bay Area and makes a decent salary of about 60k a year. She had amassed 35k in credit card debt, and has about $150k in student loan debt; credit card debt notwithstanding this is about normal for a young professional in their 30’s nowadays.

We are told Credit Cards are the way to happiness

We cannot focus much on the student loan debt, because truth be told, without that degree you cannot even apply for a job at most places. This person is gainfully employed, so they have a paycheck going in their favor. What is the credit card debt about? This was a very painful discussion that initially ended with me saying if you’re not going to be forthcoming, the discussion would move on to another topic.

She began to open up. She revealed that she doesn’t cook so she eats out twice a day. The cardinal sin isn’t so much she is eating out, it’s that she is going to happy hour. Happy hour involves alcohol, and salt filled appetizers at a great teaser rate. I know this too well; you grab a tall one, then order up the wings, egg rolls and chips and salsa for just $11.99. Then upon finishing your appetizer you want another tall beer, then maybe one more, before deciding you probably better order food because its dinner time now…..$15 happy hour just became $70, possibly more with tax and tip……don’t worry just put it on the card! You get up tomorrow morning and need something to cure the hangover so you grab fast food, and spend another $10…lather rinse repeat. Those charges add up.

Reluctantly she went on that she spent quite a bit of money trying to keep up with the Jane’s and Kardashians of the world. I cannot relate to this, I am a guy, and as William can attest I usually have the same shirts, jeans or whatnot until it is ready for Goodwill…but I digress. In addition, I found a premium cable package, gotta watch the soaps every week, and binge watch on weekends. A home phone? ….if you’re under ago 60….lose it ASAP. A brand new iPhone, with a cancellation proof guarantee of a three year contract built in. A gym membership……where she went one time. This friend was in desperate need of help, I was there to advise, but I told her she isn’t going to like what she hears, but it’s got to be done.

The truth of the matter is she doesn’t need a diet, she needs a lifestyle change, and poor decisions have begat more poor decisions. A couple notes prior to me telling the advice that I gave her; she drives an old car and lives in a decent area, by no means high rent district. No car payment, and it’s not my place to tell a girl to live on skid row or somewhere not safe in order to save a buck.

My advice to her was her ditch the gym membership and commit to going for a walk during her break or lunch and park near the back of the parking lot at work. Ditch cable and the home phone. If you don’t think you can live without cable, try Hulu or Netflix or both. The cell phone is problematic however you have agreed to a contract so maybe try to negotiate a lower plan or something, this is the danger of brand new items. Take cooking classes, watch YouTube cooking videos, or I guess if you keep cable watch Food Network. The amount of money you spend eating out daily ads up quickly. What you spend in the course of just one week would likely covered groceries for a month. The key here is McDonald’s dollar menu seems cheap, but the food is loaded with chemicals that make you crave it for lunch, then dinner and a possible late night snack. Your waistline will thank you as well. In addition don’t think eating out for healthy food is the answer either. Salads cost more than $11. Subway may sound good and in some cases can be healthy but costs can add up quickly. The goal here is that we found quite a bit in monthly savings and we could apply this to debt service, starting with the 25% interest rate credit card debt. In her case the student loans were subsidized at 5.5% and honestly the least of her worries.

We found a potential of $800 per month in savings if she can implement the lifestyle changes that we discussed. This doesn’t sound like much but if she remains diligent, it will substantially cut into the credit card debt. Contrary to most people’s opinions, I told her keep the cards, do not cut them up, and in fact keep using them. Dave Ramsey won’t agree, but the way I see it, cash has a way to disappear with no accountability, with a credit card your charges are all itemized out each statement cycle. This is a way of keeping yourself honest, while also paying down the balance.

This plan is a roadmap to achieving a level of financial freedom and other people may have issues with the particulars but if the plan is maintained, it will work. I have to give my friend some kudos, she had her degree, and even found some additional work to provide a little more $$$ on the side. However this is where the kudos end, and cold reality of the world we live in sets in. The plan was not followed….well it was for about 6 months. Reality is a doozy in this case, but well here is the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.

Paul Harvey

In the case of my friend, she reduced her credit card debt to $17k in just 6 months’ time, everything was going well, then she went back to her old ways. It’s true, you aren’t going to meet anyone to form a relationship with sitting at home eating a can of chicken noodle soup, just like it isn’t true living like a miser will make you happy. However if going out to the bar is recipe for eternal happiness I would rather die alone. Credit card debt maxed out now at 45k and the issuer is having no part of a deal involving reduced payments or more credit extensions. All the while rent in her area has skyrocketed and goes up about $150 a month twice a year, further constraining a budget, now the minimum payment cannot be made! That car…well it’s systematically breaking down and becoming a large money pit, you have no option but to keep sinking money into it. The rent issue? Well you need a roof over your head, so you have to keep paying. The student loans? While you don’t have to pay, you cannot discharge these through bankruptcy. She does not have rent money for next month….adding insult to injury, the complex manager is looking for the last 3 months rent. She is at the end of the treadmill of debt…it’s now over, decisions she made and subsequently have continued to make have finally come home to roost. Even worse rather than seek out help or try something productive, she gambles at the local Indian Casino, and plays the lottery, essentially falling for the lie that the easiest way to double your money is betting it all on black. Suffice it to say, she blames me for telling her to keep the credit card, we no longer have a relationship.

Now I will add some commentary. I prefer using my credit card to track my spending and purchases, maybe it was not a great idea, but ask anyone who is a waiter/bartender/valet, cash tends to disappear quickly and there is no paper trail. While I firmly believe in separating needs and wants, the bigger issue is you can be seduced by a want, and you could convince yourself it’s a need….you need a budget. Make a shopping list wherever you go, grocery stores love it when you insist on going up and down every aisle, it’s easier to trick your mind by those fancy SALE stickers. By the way ever notice those sale prices are not as good as the actual sale prices a week later? Impulse buying perhaps?

When it comes to tackling your debt, pay off largest balance/highest interest rate first. The one that costs you the most needs to be paid down first, then apply additional money to next highest interest rate etc. until paid off in full. Take advantage of local non-profits that are there to help/guide you, ditch that “financial advisor” eager to pitch their latest product to you. Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey are two of the best on the radio, free! They also offer classes for a nominal fee and it is well worth it as blogged about earlier. Additionally, this idea of hording a bunch of money in a savings account, when you have existing debt is ridiculous. Just think about it, your credit card issuer is charging you 30%, your savings is earning 2% at best if you use an internet bank…..William said it best, the house always wins. Having a rainy day fund is ok but deal with your debt.

Playing the lotto and gambling is even worse because the atmosphere is created to make you addicted and play more.

If you need to file bankruptcy and start over, so be it, but understand the difference between dischargeable debt (mortgage, credit card, auto loan) and undischargable debt (student loans). Perhaps worse, she started reading a tax website and decided to start looking into buying a house….get this…..for the mortgage interest deduction. Yes, she thought spending $$$ on a house payment each month and getting a bigger tax refund would get her out of debt. Then worse yet, she joined several dating websites ($$$) looking for a special someone. Again seduced by a child tax deduction and a marriage tax break…news flash the marriage tax break is double that of a single one, however your taxable income will be higher. The goal of marriage is not to share the misery of your past mistakes by expecting someone else to fix them so you can double-down on continuing to make stupid life choices. Truthfully, what guy worth having would willingly enter into a relationship with someone carrying all your financial baggage?

The bottom line is that my friend has no chance anymore, except bankruptcy, and even then the road back will be rough. Good luck living anywhere decent. You won’t be driving a new vehicle for a while and worse your credit will stink for many years. However there is good news, we have some of the most generous bankruptcy laws in the world, so fear not in about 7 years you will get to start all over again! I have a customer who’s family is doing just that, they owned a really nice house in my parents old neighborhood, went into foreclosure, filed bankruptcy, and now they are right back at it 7 years later. Bought a house in that same neighborhood, also near the peak of the market, by the way, bought a huge new boat, 3 new cars, and I’m sure this story will once again end poorly soon, but hey it’s America! By the way didn’t Citibank used to have a catch phrase of “Live Richly?”

Buy now, pay later

I guess I may be missing out?

No Tax Refund: Financial Media Proves We’re ReallyRight

Finally, several weeks later and after two different articles written by me on this blog, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC are catching up to the fact that many people are either not getting a tax refund at all this year or a smaller one based on changes stemming from Trump’s tax cuts.

First the WSJ article.

FYI, I found that saving said articles from WSJ as PDF files is important because after their first day on the web, they are embargoed behind a pay firewall. As usual, I quote extensively to prove my comments and analysis art in context, something the Main Stream Media will not do.

WASHINGTON—The first tax-filing season under the new tax law got off to a slower start than last year and filers so far are seeing smaller average refunds, according to early Internal Revenue Service data released Friday.
With about 10% of households filing their returns, the percentage of households getting tax refunds is similar to last year, but average refund size is down 8%, to $1,865. The number of returns filed so far—16 million—is down 12% from the similar point a year ago.

The article points out that early filers are typically the ones expecting a refund and those numbers are down. Yep, no kidding.

Please note the next section carefully, overall you may have gotten a tax cut but that is not the same as a large refund because you had less withheld over the year and thus had more spendable money through-out the year.

About two-thirds of households are getting tax cuts for 2018 under the law, and just 6% are paying more, according to the Tax Policy Center. But the size of those tax cuts may not be reflected in refunds, which are just the end-of-year reconciliation of what a taxpayer owes and what was withheld or paid during the year.
Many taxpayers received much of the benefit through reduced paycheck-withholding throughout 2018. On average, refunds should be larger than usual according to estimates from Evercore ISI and Morgan Stanley .
Still, tax experts and preparers expect many households to be surprised by the size of their refunds—in both directions—and, on balance, millions of people may shift from getting refunds to owing taxes.

Early Data Show Slower Start to Tax Season

CNBC also has a similar article up today.

Though the 2018 filing season only started on Jan. 28, some early filers are discovering that they either owe the IRS or they’ll be getting a smaller-than-expected refund from the taxman.

About 30 million people, or 21 percent of U.S. taxpayers, are expected to owe money to the IRS this tax season, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office, a legislative agency that provides data to Congress.
“The people who are most likely to be surprised this year are the ones who lost some deductions they had last year and who didn’t make changes to their withholding,” said Nathan Rigney, lead tax research analyst at the Tax Institute at H&R Block.

If you owe this season, consider it a lesson learned and do what you can to head off the same troubles in 2019.
It’s generally a good practice to review your withholding, especially if you’ve been through major life changes, including getting married or having children.

If you failed to withhold enough tax in 2018, the IRS has a nasty surprise for you

If you do owe Federal taxes, TurboTax will let you eFile now and schedule payment anytime until April 15th.

Occasionally here, our posts do beat the Drudge Report, Wall Street Journal, local television stations and others by hours or even days. For a guy that runs this blog in my spare time, I think that’s kinda cool. Oh, and in fairness I do have a little help.

Apple Defends Terrorists But Volunteers Private Data to Mueller

Folks this action should disturb you greatly. We are told backing up our personal information to “the cloud” is smart, secure and safe; except for Google which admits that it scans your personal data so they can target you with advertisements but then assures us that nobody human really reads your stuff.

Anyway, this news story surfaces today that Apple is giving away private iCloud passwords just to be nice to people that Tim Cook agrees with politically.

Three years after Apple refused to give the federal government access to the devices used by the San Bernadino terrorists who killed and injured dozens in a mass shooting event, the company has given the office of the Special Counsel complete access to Trump advisor Roger Stone’s iCloud account, reports Apple Insider.
According to the Washington Post, Apple objected to giving the federal government backdoor access to the shooters iPhones, claiming it would “set a dangerous precedent.”

Fast forward to present, and we see that Apple no longer seems to have the same privacy concerns it once did in 2015. Without any fight, they simply turned over Roger Stone’s iCloud passwords and God knows what else, because Orange Man Bad. The fact that Apple views a political persecution less of a hill to die on than protecting the rights of terrorists who killed and maimed dozens of Americans is quite telling.

You may not like Roger Stone and you may not agree with him. However, he has been charged with non-violent process crimes…

Folks, our Republic is in trouble. On one hand Apple is willing to turn your data over to the government because your political party is different than their CEO but simultaneously they defend the privacy rights of terrorists and murderers that killed American citizens in cold blood. What’s going on?

If you thought Facebook and Google were the only tech companies that didn’t care about your privacy you might want to re-evaluate that idea.

Apple is living off the legacy of Steve Jobs, Steve is dead and whatever goodwill he may have had died with him. The company that he created is emerging from his shadow and it a quite a different and inferior thing.

Final Thought

If Mr. Stone is using iCloud then presumably he is using Apple’s iPhone. Did Apple give Mueller all their tracking data and telephone logs on him as well? FYI — phone manufacturers and app developers can use the GPS of your smartphone to track all your movements and use algorithms to develop information about your daily routine. This data is frequently monetized.

FAANG is Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google

Tim Cook and the boys in Silicon Valley know way more about American citizens than J. Edgar Hoover ever did and on an unimaginable scale. Liberals are OK with Cook et al. but not Hoover? Makes you wonder…

Oh No! Another PG&E Fire

Today we had a tragedy in San Francisco, no the land was not sold to the Chinese as has been rumored.  A large explosion took place…pandemonium ensued.

  • Was this an attack by the Russians ordered by President Trump
  • Was Leland Yee orShrimp Boy” Chow involved? 
  • Was this truly the “big one”?
  • Did the toxic waste at Hunter’s Point go critical?
  • Reports surfaced it was just hot air……. but I don’t recall Aaron or George Park visiting San Francisco to give a speech, so I was dumbfounded. 

I needed answers, I was told London Breed would make a statement soon…. my reaction was London what? Was this a type of dog, new brand of malt liquor, a clothing line for homeless people, a rap singer or something else entirely? What does a breed of anything from London know about an explosion in San Francisco?

Classic London Breed

Well it turns out that San Francisco voters—documented and otherwise—elected a Mayor named “London Breed”, I’m more of a corgi guy myself.

The explosion was a result of natural gas—in this instance, said gas was not created from the contributions of local homeless people accumulating on public sidewalks—but from a ruptured pipeline belonging to PG&E that caught fire and burned several buildings.  Yeah there’s that company again.

Three-story flames could be seen leaping into the air in television images. Police spokesman Robert Rueca says the fire was reported around 1:10 p.m. and there were no immediate reports of injuries.
KPIX-TV reported that the fire started at a construction site.

The Latest: San Francisco blast, fire ignites 5 buildings

  You hate to see it.  Thankfully no one was hurt or killed, but I can’t help but fault this corporation for their blatant stupidity.  They easily could have torched their headquarters and collected insurance money…I may know a guy btw!  It would have been a real shame if the maintenance records and other documents the Public Utility Commission has been trying to subpoena for the last few months were located in said building, but alas your company couldn’t even blow up the right structure…. SAD!

I don’t even know how this works since technically or I guess “allegedly” you filed bankruptcy a week ago.  So, I guess the “ratepayers” are on the hook for this?  I ask because I haven’t seen a gas leak like this since I ate an “extra loaded bean and cheese burrito” at a certain Mexican joint in Elk Grove!  But really, PG&E, I am asking for a friend, do I pay you this month or do I just pay myself since I guess the ratepayers kind of own you now?  However I am glad you found a way to pay out $130 million in bonuses to your top executives!  I hate the idea of taking food off the table from them!

Sadly, this is just more tone deafness from a corporation surprised that “Paradise Lost” is already a movie…. imagine the revenue that idea could have produced. 

Pacific Gas and Electric stock trend for last 3 months

This caps off one heck of a quarter for PG&E, too bad something worthwhile couldn’t have been blown up…like, I don’t know, Berkeley?