April 2006 Archives

April 25, 2006

More Bubbleage

My man Dean Baker, over here at Beat the Press, his new blog.

Not much else to say, but the Washington Post article he references is good eatin', too.

April 24, 2006

DOW Schmow

"Yes, you read that correctly. The real annual rate of return on the DOW over the past 82 years has [...] been 1.64%"

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"... Still, the DOW beats the real estate market, which has stayed more or less even with inflation for the past 100 years ..."

via itulip.com

April 18, 2006

Our New House

Today, we wrote some big checks, and now oficially own 1.9% of this place.

I don't know which is scarier, the fact that we are now responsible for one humongous loan, or the fact that Microsoft Earth lets me zoom practically in through our living-room window.

Anyways, I am not looking forward to the actual "moving" (does that really need to be in quotation marks?), but the feeling of actually having a house is consoling me quite a bit.

Did I mention the pre-configured Internet Closet™ that comes with our new apartment? There's like all this hardware and cabling and stuff the former owner added to make the place more attractive to us business types. I'm looking forward to fussing with it during my vacation, first week in May, the weekend after D. and I get back from Jazzfest in New Orleans.

April 14, 2006

Peer Gynt

I went to see Peer Gynt at BAM last night - its what I like to do when the wife's out of town, you know, catch up on my obscure 19th century Norwegian plays and the like.

The best parts about the production were;

#1: Robert Wilson's direction/influence - the lighting and conception of the sets was incredible. Together with the stunted movements of the actors, like motorized mannequins in molasses, the overall impression was of a twisted fairy-tale shadowy dream world. Yep.

#2: This guy's stage presence - phew! As the "young" Peer Gynt in the first act, I do not feel the subsequent leads were as strong.

On the downside;

#1: The subtitles for my section (rear mezzanine) were off to the side, making it extremely difficult to keep an eye on the stage and also make sense of what was going on.

#2: Four hours of existentialist Norwegian banter doth a somnolent man make. There was only intermittent dozing, though, I was determined to make it all the way through.

April 11, 2006

Now for Something Completely Different?

Ooh, I just knew something like this was going to happen to Howard Stern's new Sirus show.

See, my theory is that Howard is so megalomaniacally obsessed with "killing" terrestrial radio that he chooses to ignore/disbelieve there could be any downside. As I see it, he will need to change his tactics to account for the following problematic terms of his new pay-per-listen gig;

1) As perhaps portended by the Carmen Electra case above, a few cancelled contracts here and there due to an appearance on the Stern show will cause many more A-list celebs to shun the venue. The way I see it, Carmen's actions on the show were no doubt a result of thinking "Oh, it's the Howard Stern Show, whatever they ask me to do in the studio must be okay, because there's always decency standards and stuff that regulate what's being broadcast."

Yes, a savvy agent/manager on the premises should perhaps have intervened, but the inverse of this has always been part of the fun of the show; celebs drop by to say "hi" in breezy, informal fashion, giving a sense that they don't have to be excessively managed at all - the radio censors and the station reps will take care of it if its too far out there... Not so anymore! So instead of dropping by breezily, celebs more-and-more have to look at an HSS appearance as something that needs to be heavily managed, and so will be less inclined. "Uh, you say anything can happen while my client is on the show? Hmm, no thanks!"

2) It's impossible to listen to Howard at work any more. Same logic. I've never listened at work, but I'm sure there are many who did so with the assurance that it was a safe bet because truly "indecent" material will never be allowed over the air. At least there was a sense that work listening could be defended against attacks by coworkers / boss / etc. Now its bye-bye to that audience.

Those are two big reasons Howard's show actually benefitted from regulation. Plus it was fun to listen to him being outrageous because we all had a feeling he was "putting one over" on the man, getting away with edgy content. Well, now who's he putting one over on? Nobody? Oh, Ho-humm then...

And another non-regulatory issue; how many Stern show listeners were "accidental" listeners like me, who just happened to have an alarm clock with a radio in it? Now its just too much bother to go sign up for a contract and shell out for the expensive equipment... Yes, Howard, I'm lazy like that! Especially since from time to time I have to tune out the show for a couple months because I can't stand the "carpet bomb the Middle East" rants he gets into sometimes.

Econ Apocalypsy

Sigh;

"When the dollar loses most of its value, through hyperinflation and/or currency dumping, the global currency system and economy will be in shambles, and a new currency system will have to be established. Those setting up the new system will need to establish its credibility, and there is only one monetary asset that can accomplish that: Gold.

Gold is the only commodity that has held up as a liquid store of wealth over the millennia. The amount of gold used to buy a loaf of bread in Ancient Rome still buys a loaf of bread today. In like manner, the amount of gold that bought a regular haircut for a man in 1914, still buys a similar haircut today. Where the public does not trust today's politicians and central bankers, it does trust gold.

Whatever structure evolves for the new currency system, it most likely will have gold at its base. That is one reason that central banks rarely have followed through on threatened gold sales in recent years. The threats usually were nothing but jawboning aimed at depressing current market prices. Those countries holding the most gold will have the greatest advantage in any new currency system, and the central bankers know that, including Mr. Greenspan."

Via "Gillespie Research", whatever that is.

Again, I'm not inclined to believe every word I read, particularly not on the Internets. But generally speaking, taking an aggregate of all of the economic advice that has crossed my desk in the last five or so years, some kind of bigtime inflation in the very near future does seem likely.

Hey, unless this whole "new economy" keeps growing - I mean this whole Web 2.0 thing alone seems destined to change the whole frickin' universe and make everybody rich beyond dreams, right? Hells, yeah. Let's all go put our retirement savings in Flickr.com right this very instant!

April 5, 2006

Strong Dollar

Maybe I should have been an economist, I just love this stuff.

Anyway, via iTulip.com, this article from Asia Times is not 100% kosher, but I did like this paragraph, explaining to me what is meant by a "strong dollar" policy by the U.S.;

"World trade under dollar hegemony is a game in which the US produces paper dollars and the rest of the world produces real things that paper dollars can buy. The world's interlinked economies no longer trade to capture comparative advantage; they compete in exports to capture needed dollars to service dollar-denominated foreign debts and to accumulate dollar reserves to sustain the exchange value of their domestic currencies in foreign-exchange markets. To prevent speculative and manipulative attacks on their currencies in deregulated markets, the world's central banks must acquire and hold dollar reserves in corresponding amounts to market pressure on their currencies in circulation. The higher the market pressure to devalue a particular currency, the more dollar reserves its central bank must hold. This creates a built-in support for a strong dollar that in turn forces all central banks to acquire and hold more dollar reserves, making it stronger. This anomalous phenomenon is known as dollar hegemony, which is created by the geopolitically constructed peculiarity that critical commodities, most notably oil, are denominated in dollars. Everyone accepts dollars because dollars can buy oil. The denomination of oil in dollars and the recycling of petro-dollars is the price the US has extracted from oil-producing countries for US tolerance of the oil-exporting cartel since 1973."

Sweet.