Financial Nonsense Overload

Kelly Hensing

“Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad” goes a quote wrongly attributed to Euripides. It seems to describe the current state of affairs with regard to the unfolding Greek imbroglio. It is a Greek tragedy all right: we have the various Eurocrats—elected, unelected, and soon-to-be-unelected—stumbling about the stage spewing forth fanciful nonsense, and we have the choir of the Greek electorate loudly announcing to the world what fanciful nonsense this is by means of a referendum.
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The Care and Feeding of a Financial Black Hole

A while ago I had the pleasure of hearing Sergey Glazyev—economist, politician, member of the Academy of Sciences, adviser to Pres. Putin—say something that very much confirmed my own thinking. He said that anyone who knows mathematics can see that the United States is on the verge of collapse because its debt has gone exponential. These aren’t words that an American or a European politician can utter in public, and perhaps not even whisper to their significant other while lying in bed, because the American eavesdroppers might overhear them, and then the politician in question would get the Dominique Strauss-Kahn treatment (whose illustrious career ended when on a visit to the US he was falsely accused of rape and arrested). And so no European (never mind American) politician can state the obvious, no matter how obvious it is.
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Pop goes the Bubble

Running a fundraiser (which, by the way, has been a great success—thank you all very much!) has prompted me to think about money more deeply than I normally do. I am no financial expert, and I certainly can’t give you investment advice, but when I figure something out for myself, it makes me want to share my insights. I know that many people see national finances as an impenetrable fog of numbers and acronyms, which they feel is best left up to financial specialists to interpret for them. But try to see national finances as a henhouse, yourself as a hen, and financial specialists as foxes. Perhaps you should pay a little bit of attention—perhaps a bit more than one would expect from a chicken?
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The Magical Content Tree

A long, long time ago books were very expensive. They were produced by copying them by hand, page by page, onto parchment, by very poor monks toiling in their monastic scriptoria, but the books they produced turned out to be expensive anyway. The aristocracy could afford them, and, of course, the clergy, but the laymen had little access to the written word.
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A new engine for my boat

My boat needs a new engine

A Sad Story—but with a Happy End?

Late last year, as I was sailing my boat south for the winter, the engine failed. I had only made it as far as the Cape Cod Canal, and was able to get a tow back to Boston. By then it was too late in the season to do anything about the engine, so I let it sit. This year, when I tried to fix it, I discovered extensive internal corrosion.

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Crazyland

Banksy

A long time ago—almost a quarter of a century—I worked in a research lab, designing measurement and data acquisition electronics for high energy physics experiments. In the interest of providing motivation for what follows, I will say a few words about the job. It was interesting work, and it gave me a chance to rub shoulders (and drink beer) with some of the most intelligent people on the planet (though far too fixated on subatomic particles).

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The Extinction Survey

Tim White

There is a survey currently running on the Doomstead Diner, which asks people to make specific, numerical estimates about the timing of human extinction. It is inspired by the work of Guy McPherson, who has amassed much scientific evidence that points to very major climate disruption occurring over the next 2-3 decades, caused by multiple runaway positive feedback effects, such as Arctic methane release. Guy’s conclusion is that these changes will mean that the Earth will no longer provide a habitat for humans, leading to near-term human extinction. His reasoning, as far as I have been able to piece it together, rests on a supposition of time-invariance: the planet will be warmer than it has ever been in human experience; therefore, no humans will survive. This is far short of a proof.
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