September 19, 2011 archive

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Iceland, Greece, & The Future

Iceland survived by taking over the domestic units of its banks and leaving the foreign creditors to bear losses. An 80 percent slump in the krona against the euro offshore in 2008 sent the trade deficit into surplus within months, while government spending cuts helped rein in the budget. Iceland will post a shortfall of 1.4 percent of gross domestic product next year after 2011’s 2.7 percent deficit, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on May 25.

Instead of bailing out its banks using taxpayer funds like the United States did, Iceland let its bank default.

Some economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, now think that letting the banks default was the right thing to do for Iceland’s economy, and some see it as a model for other debt-stricken European nations.…

Here’s the 5 year view of it’s currency vs the USD:…

Pretty good, huh? It’s more or less doubled.

Of course, that’s the key difference, the 500,000 Icelanders have their own currency, the 11, 283,000 million Greeks no longer do. (nor do the 60 million Italians, 46 million in Spain, etc etc) So, with Germany and France controlling the currency, they can’t follow that route.

And, there’s no painless way for these countries to go back to their own currencies–really there may be no way at all to go back, painful or otherwise; they’re probably stuck in the zone, if they were ever to go back to their own currencies, it would only be after the Germans have carried off everything that wasn’t tied down, and most stuff that was too. How would the Parthenon look on the Rhine?

When all is said and done, what we’re watching play out is a bloodless war- perhaps planned a decade or decades ago.

Where the economic powers of France and Germany, etc. (and likely also the UK and maybe US to some extent)  will take the actual assets of the south, leaving those countries poor, with no assets, and in perpetual debt. I suspect that then we’ll see a two tier euro zone-where the borders are no longer so open, but ‘guest worker’ programs will return as the broke and out of work of the south, compete for subsistence wage jobs in the northern zone, or maybe no wages at home. More or less, then, a return to the 1980s.  

The Town; A Stupid, Overrated, Crappy Movie:

Hey, folks!  

Since I’m in a rambling mood, here’s hoping that you can tolerate another review of a film that is more like a feature-length made-for-TV, junky soap opera.  Sure, there are good and bad movies in every era and in every decade, but this decade has certainly taken the cake regarding really lousy movies.  Movies that give the message that it’s okay to steal, terrorize, kill, maim and, in general, put the lives and very safety of innocent bank employees and customers at risk in order to steal their money from them.  This movie also provides the message that it’s okay to be an accomplice to and abet an armed felon and wanted fugitive, enable him to elude the law, and to help make total dupes out of law enforcement people whose job it is to bring long-time thieves, thugs and killers to justice and put them behind bars, if and when necessary, for a period of time.  

This movie I’m referring to is Ben Affleck’s most recent movie, The Town, which is based on Chuck Hogan’s novel, Prince of Thieves, which I read and found far better than the film, although, in either case, I still admit that the whole idea of some girl from a middle class background, who’s a bank manager and makes good decent money falling in love with some guy that she met at a laundromat just days after being robbed and kidnapped (after being blindfolded) at gunpoint), who turned out to be the leader of the band of masked men with automatic weapons who robbed her bank and kidnapped her, really doesn’t sit well with me.  Just saying.

Anyway, here’s my somewhat venomous review of The Town;

On This Day In History September 19

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 19 is the 262nd day of the year (263rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 103 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1796, President George Washington’s Farewell Address to the Nation is published.

George Washington’s Farewell Address was written to “The People of the United States” near the end of his second term as President of the United States and before his retirement to Mount Vernon.

Originally published in David Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796 under the title “The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the

United States,” the letter was almost immediately reprinted in newspapers across the country and later in a pamphlet form. The work was later named a “Farewell Address,” as it was Washington’s valedictory after 45 years of service to the new republic, first during the Revolution of the Continental Army and later as the nation’s first president.

The letter was originally prepared in 1792 with the help of James Madison, as Washington prepared to retire following a single term in office. However, he set aside the letter and ran for a second term after his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and his Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, convinced him that the growing divisions between the newly formed Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties, along with the current state of foreign affairs, would tear the country apart in the absence of his leadership.

Four years later, as his second term came to a close, Washington revisited the letter and with the help of Alexander Hamilton prepared a revision of the original draft to announce his intention to decline a third term in office; to reflect the emerging issues of the American political landscape in 1796; and to parting advice to his fellow Americans, express his support for the government eight years following the adoption of the Constitution; and to defend his administration’s record.

The letter was written by Washington after years of exhaustion due to his advanced age, years of service to his country, the duties of the presidency, and increased attacks by his political opponents. It was published almost two months before the Electoral College cast their votes in the 1796 presidential election.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny.  The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.

–Irene C. Kassorla



Get Rich Quick Porky

Late Night Karaoke

It’s the 20 anniversary of the release of Never Mind  

The Battle of the Greecey Grass

Monday Business Edition

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

We’ve seen this play before.  All of a sudden trillions of dollars of ‘notional’ value turn into meaningless scraps of paper (or ephemeral photons if you prefer) suitable for lining litter boxes or wrapping fish.

Except it’s not even very good at that.

The biggest losers in the casino will turn to taxpayers to make good their losses or simply pretend that they don’t exist.  Markets plunge because the trust in magic evaporates and suddenly skeptical children refuse to clap for dying confidence fairies anymore.

Folks, it’s just a fucking light bulb on a string.

Sooner rather than later people are going to take their Greek bets off the table, followed shortly by Spain, Italy, France, and Germany.  The Euro will collapse, no longer a threat to the Dollar as a reserve currency.  Countries will struggle to rebuild ‘national’ financial systems.

This is all because governments, led by the United States, refused to force banks to deleverage and accept their losses in a timely fashion.

There won’t be another 2008 bailout.  In Europe, where there is already violent rioting, Bankers and Ministers will be hung from lamp posts first.  In the United States the suicide would be political.

Austerity will not make the losses good either, everything everyone in the bottom 50% owns is a mere $1.4 Trillion.  Taking it all won’t solve the problem.  Our elites are faced with a decline in their own standard of living that squeezing the poor can’t mitigate.

Good say I.

What will work is more Socialist than Keynesian.  Mark to market and vaporize ‘notional’ value.  Seize assets and aggressively tax wealth to force investment.  Stimulate production by increasing demand.

Real estate values in Greenwich are going to decline and yachts rust in the harbor, but you know, it’s better than selling apples on a street corner worrying that someone is going to cut you for your fancy ass Rolex and that’s next.

(Supporting documentation, which I strongly urge you to read, below.)

It Be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Reprinted from The Stars Hollow Gazette, September 19, 2010

Now with more Pirate Carols!

Ahoy matey!

Wikipedia, which as we know can be trusted in all things (especially Colbert Elephants), tells us that in the modern era celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day started in 1995.  Those who accept Our Noodly Savior know that Pirates were the Original Apostles of Pastafarianism.  Unfortunately the Revealed Scripture (known as The Ramen Texts) is unavailable for modern study as it was consumed during a particularly long calm in the Doldrums.

Still it is accepted as an article of faith proven by the historical record that decline in Piracy is directly correlated with Global Warming and many choose to spend this day in Worship at Church in addition to emulating the manners, customs, and language of their Pirate forbearers.  I myself have the good fortune to be 1/4 full blooded Pirate through my Viking ancestors (indeed Viking is a verb which means ‘Pirate’).

I generally celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day by telling the 3 Pirate Jokes.  There are only 3, all the others are just variations.  As Cap’n Slappy says:

Thar be only three pirate jokes in the world. The biggest one is the one that ends with someone usin’ “Arrr” in the punchline. Oh, sure, thar be plenty o’ these, but they’re all the same damn joke.

“What’s the pirate movie rated? – Arrr!”

“What kind o’ socks does a pirate wear? – Arrrrgyle!”

“What’s the problem with the way a pirate speaks? – Arrrrticulation!”

…and so forth.

The second joke is the one wear the pirate walks into the bar with a ships wheel attached to the front o’ his trousers. The bartender asks, “What the hell is that ships wheel for?” The pirate says, “I don’t know, but it’s drivin’ me nuts!”

And finally. A little boy is trick or treatin’ on Halloween by himself. He is dressed as a pirate. At one house, a friendly man asks him, “Where are your buccaneers?” The little boy responds, “On either side o’ me ‘buccan’ head!”

And there ye have it. A symposium on pirate humor that’ll last ye a lifetime – so long as life is violent and short.

And singing some Pirate Carols, for which you can join me below the fold.

Pique the Geek 20110918: Arsenic

This seems to be a topical topic (please forgive the confoundment of words) because of the controversial claims that the purported “Doctor Oz” gave last week about arsenic in apple juice.  I shall give a couple of links later about that, but shall first describe the element in a Geeky way.

Then I shall dismember “Dr. Oz’s” credibility.  Fair enough?

Before we get started, know that arsenic is all around us, at higher or lower concentrations, depending on where we live.  I shall get into that a bit as well.  The important thing to come away with from this post is that arsenic is almost (but not ALWAYS) a bad thing to ingest or to have for an injection.  On the other hand, it likely is allowing us to communicate via the Internet as we read and speak.

Are you ready to start?  I am!

“That Was My Brother”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Paul Krugman: Free To Die

Back in 1980, just as America was making its political turn to the right, Milton Friedman lent his voice to the change with the famous TV series “Free to Choose.” In episode after episode, the genial economist identified laissez-faire economics with personal choice and empowerment, an upbeat vision that would be echoed and amplified by Ronald Reagan.

But that was then. Today, “free to choose” has become “free to die.”

I’m referring, as you might guess, to what happened during Monday’s G.O.P. presidential debate. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about – taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”

And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!

Susan Grigsby’s brother Steve died a painful death fighting for care as an uninsured American. Susan watched, horrified, as the GOP Presidential Candidates on CNN’s Tea Party Debate stood silent when the the audience cheered for the idea that we as a society should just let an uninsured man die. Now Susan wants an answer from each and every GOP candidate.

Aldous Tyler for President: Obama will be primaried

Wouldn’t it be nice if Russ Feingold challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Bernie Sanders challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Elizabeth Warren challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Howard Dean challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Dennis Kucinich challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?

Well, they aren’t.  Aldous Tyler is.  He describes himself thus:

I am what I am – a 39 year old longtime activist, husband, father, who has lived almost his whole life in the Great Lakes region of America, from Detroit to Minneapolis to Madison. Professionally speaking, I’m a worker who is fortunate enough to have two paying jobs (on top of my volunteer radio program) to work in this economy. I’ve worked most of my time in the copy and print industry, with additional forays into web design, database management, technical support and industrial equipment resale.

Tyler has announced.  He is raising the $5,000 to file with the FEC and launch his ballot access effort, and he has begun to campaign.  Now progressives have to deal with it.

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