Archive for November, 2007

 

Heil Technoviking!

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Be very afraid, I am…

 
 

Why Bother?

Monday, November 12th, 2007

We all hate it when calling the credit card company, and they demand you enter your credit card number, and finally you get someone on the phone and it’s a retard who asks you for your number again. Complete uselessness.

So I also have to wonder why it is when you call, they recite your balance, minimum payment due, and give you an elaborate phone menu of options. Because today, who the heck can’t more readily get that information off the Internet? It’s a complete waste.

So I’m calling Bank of America regarding a disputed payment (3rd time by the way), I go through all this BS and I tell the nice white girl on the phone I’m calling for the 3rd time regarding the same matter, and what does she do? She hangs up on me.

Seriously. Complain all you want about calls routed to India, but I’ve never had one of those people hang up on me during a customer service call.

OH, AND ANOTHER THING: So you call back, and they ask you to enter all this info, right? But there’s no obvious “go back” button in case you hit the wrong key. Or if there is, they don’t tell you which one it is, # or *.

And to make matters worse, they play music on hold really softly, and then intersperse it with voice-over announcements that are REALLY LOUD!!! This means that when you put it on speaker while you’re on hold, you need to keep it really soft. So when a real person comes on the line, 1/2 the time you simply don’t hear them at all.

And of course, the woman who finally is able to help me has a foreign accent. What the hell is happening to our country?

Oh, and may I add, all this on the Visa Signature card. That’s the famed “Black Card”, the one with a free concierge and the supposedly famed great customer service…

ONE MORE TIME: So the lady told me that I could simply download the form from my statement online. So I go to do that, and it says it’s temporarily unavailable. Makes you feel like they’re intentionally screwing with you, doesn’t it?

 
 

Digital Gold

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Sebastian Mallaby has an interesting column on the currency issues today:

So the world faces a dilemma. The last thing it wants is more dollar weakness, which is why central bankers in East Asia and the petro-states, which control most of the world’s official reserves, are not about to dump U.S. bonds and trigger a collapse in the greenback. But the world may also draw the lesson that an alternative global currency needs to be the long-term goal. Households don’t like saving in a currency that won’t hold its value. Companies don’t like building global supply chains based on a unit of account that fluctuates unstably.

Most economists assume that the dollar will continue to act as the global currency because there is no alternative. But one of my colleagues at the Council on Foreign Relations, Benn Steil, has proposed another option — a privately created currency that would confer an inflation-proof claim on gold or a basket of commodities. Steil calls his idea “digital gold,” which has a nice back-to-the-future ring. The more the dollar slides, the less Steil’s suggestion sounds like a fantasy from a movie studio.

Read Sebastian Mallaby. And read Benn Steil.

And read this old Cringely article on what he thought digital currency would look like in the future (today). There’s no reason why it couldn’t be done now.

UPDATE: Wikipedia on digital gold.

 
 

Ron Paul Schools Bernanke

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Let’s hope Ron Paul’s economic message gets picked up by the Republican nominee.

 
 

inflation Inflation INFLATION!

Friday, November 9th, 2007

The WSJ keeps at it in an editorial today. Let’s hope the message gets through:

To understand the dollar’s current woes, you have to look elsewhere — to monetary policy and economic management. The supply of dollars in the world is ultimately controlled by a single source, the Federal Reserve. With its aggressive easing in September, and again in late October, the Fed has signaled to the world that it cares more about creating dollars in the hope of limiting U.S. credit problems than it does about the dollar’s value. Investors can see this, and so they are dumping dollars and looking for other assets to hold. This includes commodities such as gold, which is now at $835 an ounce. The nearby chart from economist Michael Darda gives a sense of how far the dollar has fallen this year.

The world can also hear the silence from U.S. economic officials, whom they have come to believe are content with the dollar’s decline. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson mouths the ritual lines about a strong dollar, even as he keeps pressuring China to revalue the yuan. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke yesterday told Congress that inflation remains a risk, which shows that he at least has noted this week’s dollar rout. But his previous actions have left him and the Fed with a growing credibility problem that is perilous for any central banker.

* * *

Our current financial woes are in large part the result of previous monetary excess, which fueled a debt and asset boom that has become a banking bust. The way to emerge from the mess is to slowly but honestly work off the bad debt and write down the losses. The one sure way to make things worse is with more monetary excess. That could trigger a run on the dollar and the necessity for far higher interest rates to stem it.

Read the whole thing here.

 
 

High School

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

I guess that’s not bad, considering most of the text on my page is quotes from other publications. I should write an essay of my own and see how it rates.

(via velocichild_)

 
 

No Surprises There

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Your Inner European is Italian!


Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.

(via dynamist)

 
 

So Much For The Conventional Wisdom

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Pat Robertson just endorsed Rudy Giuliani.

 
 

The WSJ Endorses Ron Paul

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Not really, but they might as well, with editorials like these (I’m quoting in full because it’s that good):

Ben Bernanke is a married man. But if he weren’t, there’s at least one woman who wouldn’t want anything to do with the Federal Reserve Chairman’s policy charms: Gisele Bundchen. The Brazilian supermodel is reportedly now insisting that she be paid in a currency other than the U.S. dollar.

“Contracts starting now are more attractive in euros because we don’t know what will happen to the dollar,” the model’s twin sister and manager in Brazil, Patricia Bundchen, told Bloomberg recently. The ubiquitous runway diva even demanded payment in euros when she signed a contract in August to promote Pantene hair products for Procter & Gamble Co., according to a Brazil magazine. Think about that one: She’s willing to sell a U.S. product, but she won’t accept payment in U.S. currency.

It’s one thing to be rejected by Warren Buffett, who’s been predicting the dollar’s demotion for years. But it’s an ominous sign when dollar weakness becomes ingrained enough in the popular mind for the currency to be spurned by runway models. At least Gisele hasn’t yet declared that she prefers the Canadian loonie, which would really be humiliating. That’s like being dumped by your date for the PC geek in those Apple Macintosh ads.

This is what happens when the Fed and U.S. Treasury give the impression that the dollar’s decline is no big deal, and that a little devaluation might even be useful. Nations start to de-peg from the dollar standard, and people around the world start to dump the greenback. We hope the Fed shapes up before Tom Brady, the New England Patriot quarterback and Gisele’s boyfriend, starts demanding that he be paid in euros just to keep up.

Read it again here.

Seriously, if this keeps up, Ron Paul will look like a prophet. We may even get a gold standard after all is said and done. But the intermediate economic pain would be excruciating.

 
 

Torture

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Bret Stephens has an column connecting the current debate on torture to the one on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think it’s brilliant:

Whatever side one takes here, the important point is that the debate fundamentally is about results. Note the difference with the current debate over waterboarding, where opponents argue that the technique is unconscionable and inadmissible under any circumstances, even in hypothetical cases where the alternative to waterboarding is terrorist attacks resulting in mass casualties among innocent civilians. According to this view, it is possible to wage war yet avoid the classic “choice of evils” dilemmas that confronted past statesmen such as Churchill and Roosevelt. Or, to put the argument more precisely, it is possible to avoid this choice if one is also prepared to pay for it in blood–if not in one’s own, than in that of kith and kin and whoever else’s life must be sacrificed to keep our consciences clear.

Paul Tibbets, too, had a clear conscience. “Why be bashful?” he told the Columbus Dispatch in 2003. “That’s what it took to end the war.” Tibbets needed no instruction in the cruelties of war. But he also understood that awful things would have to be done in order to be spared greater harms. One senses Judge Mukasey understands that too–further evidence of his fitness to serve as attorney general.

Read Bret Stephens.