"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reflections on following the news

I guess it started early

I vaguely remember my mother following the Army McCarthy hearings - which would have been '54
Also, undated memories of going to the MSU Union with my father to watch coverage of news, likely Korea

But between '54 and '72 it was likely only the 15 min evening news - Huntley Brinkley and the like
When at Oberlin, I would drop by the campus radio station to read the newswires (either UPI or AP, I don't recall which)
Kennedy assination(s), but that was just a few days, protests of 68, again spotty

Then we had Watergate - and moved towards 24-7 coverage
CNN launches in '80, by then I was following FNN (morphed to CNBC)

Today we follow Cairo via FaceBook


Driving home yesterday, looking for tunes or talk radio
Judy Collins beautiful rendition

Songwriters: Sondheim, Stephen : A little Night Music

Isn't it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air.
Send in the clowns.
Isn't it bliss?
Don't you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can't move.
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.
Just when I'd stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours,
Making my entrance again with my usual flair,
Sure of my lines,
No one is there.
Don't you love farce?
My fault I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want.
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don't bother, they're here.
Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer,
Losing my timing this late
In my career?
And where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Well, maybe next year.

Then picked up NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" and mention of this

"A small study, published in Fertility and Sterility on January 6, 2011, showed the advantages to laughter when in fertility treatment. What will they think of next? The study, comprised of 219 women, set up for women to be entertained by a professional “medical clown” right after transfer. The success rate was 36% versus %20 who went without the clown.

'Dr. Shevach Friedler, who led the work, said he got the idea for the study after reading about the potential physiological effects of laughter as a 'natural anti-stress mechanism.'"

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Combine snow, a small birch (tagged to be removed) and a bit to much "oomph" to get through a drift and we have

A lighter wallet

Change of pace

Meet Apple's New Boss, The Most Powerful Gay Man in Silicon Valley

Tim Cook

and will this sell a few million more iPads?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Unions so 20th Century?

Bargaining for employment: Union power and the jobless recovery | The Economist:

"...labor-industrial complexes of the postwar era were mostly cosy oligopolies; there was a lot of value for labor to extract because they didn't have to worry so much about losing their customers. Those cosy oligopolies had cosy relationships with bankers, who lent them money to keep overstaffed in downturns without much thought of how the depositors would feel, and the depositors didn't care because their heavily regulated accounts paid exactly the same interest rates as every other bank, and were federally insured."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Takes two to Tango

Good or bad, this is the Sino-American Century

FT.com / Comment - East and west are in it together:

"Both China and the west have much to be proud about. Yet this does not mean that everything has gone smoothly. On the contrary, both sides have made mistakes in managing their economic interaction."

Please respect FT.com's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/45c703f4-233c-11e0-b6a3-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1BRI7knEq

China, for example, allowed an extraordinary surge in exports and the current account surplus to mask the development of an increasingly unbalanced domestic economy. Chinese household consumption collapsed from an already very low share of 46 per cent of gross domestic product in 2000 to a mere 35 per cent in 2008.

Partly as a result of its decision to keep the exchange rate down, China emerged as the world’s largest surplus country, with a current account surplus peaking at 11 per cent of GDP and foreign currency reserves of about 50 per cent of GDP. These were foolish investments, made as a result of foolish policies. It is absurd for China’s leaders to complain about China’s consequent (and entirely unnecessary) vulnerability to US fiscal and monetary policies.

Meanwhile, the US and a number of other western countries allowed the supply of cheap foreign savings, partly from China, to encourage a huge surge in household debt, private consumption, residential construction and financial sector leverage. While the excess savings of the emerging world were not the principal cause of the financial crisis, they were a contributory factor.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Markets are conversations - cluetrain maifesto

How to drive a successful social media campaign | VentureBeat:
"The steps:

Focus: Hand pick small audiences that will have a positive emotional reaction to the campaign you’re pushing.

Grab attention: The more you remove barriers for the audience to help you, the better your chances. Breaking those down, in fact, is possibly more important than encouraging action on their behalf.

Engagement: Humans aren’t set up to understand logic. They’re set up to understand stories. Want to hook an audience? Talk to it, not at it."

50 years ago this week

The Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You speech by John F. Kennedy:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you."

Maybe not all apply, but some do

11 Tricks to Cutting Travel Costs in 2011 - NYTimes.com

Public Employees Unions

Franklin Roosevelt questioned public employee unions, voicing the opinion that they had a special relationship with the government and the public.

Private-sector union workers begin to notice that their job prospects are at risk from public-employee union contracts."

"State officials from both parties are wrestling with ways to curb the salaries and pensions of government employees, which typically make up a significant percentage of state budgets. On Wednesday, for example, New York’s new Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, is expected to call for a one-year salary freeze for state workers, a move that would save $200 million to $400 million and challenge labor’s traditional clout in Albany.

But in some cases — mostly in states with Republican governors and Republican statehouse majorities — officials are seeking more far-reaching, structural changes that would weaken the bargaining power and political influence of unions, including private sector ones."

And it's not just in America

The public sector unions: The battle ahead | The Economist: (link to leader with links to articles)

"Look around the world and the forces are massing. On one side are Californian prison guards, British policemen, French railworkers, Greek civil servants, and teachers just about everywhere. On the other stand the cash-strapped governments of the rich world. Even the mere mention of cuts has brought public-sector workers onto the streets across Europe. When those plans are put into action, expect much worse."

some done, many not yet

Why 41?
Beats me

The 41 Places to Go in 2011 - NYTimes.com

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Does/Will the Euro ever work

NYTimes Sunday Mag cover story

The Road to Economic Crisis Is Paved With Euros - NYTimes.com

Deeper than most

More thinking here

I've been a skeptic for some time

Some history

I can recall going to a lecture by Jean Monnet at Fairchild Auditorium at Michigan State sometime back in the mid 60's.

The key was that it was formed to prevent any future wars between France and Germany

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Vino Veratas

Doubt on Anti-Aging Molecule as Resveratrol Trial Is Halted - NYTimes.com:

"The pharmaceutical company Sirtris announced last month that it had halted the last of its clinical trials of resveratrol, the minor ingredient of red wine that some researchers see as a drug that can extend life.

The decision signifies an apparent divergence of views on the merits of resveratrol between the current head of the company, which was bought by GlaxoSmithKline in 2008 for $720 million, and its founders.

But mankind has been chasing this for many years

Armenian Winery Is Oldest Found to Date - WSJ.com:

"Scientists have discovered the world's oldest known winery, secreted amid dozens of prehistoric graves in a cavern in Armenia, an international research team said Tuesday.

Outside a mountain village still known for its wine-making skill, archaeologists unearthed a large vat set in a platform for treading grapes, along with the well-preserved remains of crushed grapes, seeds and vine leaves, dating to about 6,100 years ago—a thousand years older than other comparable finds."

Michael Aronstein on Green Swans

Oct 14, 2010

Good insight

Michael Aronstein, President, Marketfield Asset Management | Analyst Wire | Find Articles at BNET:

"The fundamentals of the capital markets, if you look at liquidity and the posture of the participants, are much, much better now than people are judging if they come at it from one of the fundamentals of the economy and how will that affect the capital markets."

it's so warm it's cold

Warmer water, more precipitation, more snow, colder air

Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming - NYTimes.com:

"...the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes. Last winter, too, was exceptionally snowy and cold across the Eastern United States and Eurasia, as were seven of the previous nine winters.

For a more detailed explanation, we must turn our attention to the snow in Siberia."

Kenneth G. Lieberthal - Brookings Institution

Excellent source on China

Kenneth G. Lieberthal - Brookings Institution

The 60's

For now, a placeholder for some posts on 67-68

Such as
German history and the Stasi: The gunshot that hoaxed a generation | The Economist

Violence in Europe and America
I was in Detroit shortly after the German incident
July 23rd and for about a week afterwards
The "12th Street" Riot, the beginning of the end for Detroit as a city

'68 and the student unrest in France, the Police Riot in Chicago

The end of the Kennedy-Johnson Administration, the beginning of the end of Viet Nam (Tet), end of Civil Rights movement as a multi-racial affair (beginning of the Black Power movement)

more links here

Saturday, January 01, 2011


What does the global situation look like

Buttonwood: In a spin | The Economist:

"Indeed, for all the efforts of governments and central banks, many of the global economy’s long-term problems have yet to be solved. The banks are weak, the American housing market is still in the doldrums and the global imbalances have not gone away."

Conclusion - rates, in the US, will stay low