Links 12/27/08

Houses With No Furnace but Plenty of Heat New York Times

Skipping sleep ‘hardens arteries’ BBC

Gazan invents alternative to cooking gas Ma’an News

Another unholy mess created by a message from the Pope Willem Buiter

Burning Coal at Home Is Making a Comeback New York Times

White House in foreclosure Rolfe Winkler

UBS on Initial Claims John Jansen

Naughtiest And Nicest C.E.O.’s Of 2008 Huffington Post

Retailers Brace for Major Change Wall Street Journal. By “change” they mean lots of bankruptcies…and collateral damage. Read the piece, the estimates are striking.

Friday Movie Night – The Secret History of the Credit Card The Economic Populist

Chutzpah Unlimited Independent Accountant

Low Mortgage Rates to Spur New Wave of Defaults Mr. Mortgage. Whether or not you buy the conclusion, a useful discussion of the impediments facing borrowers trying to refinance.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. doc holiday

    Susan Blackmore, who was trapped inside The Meme Machine, argues that imitation is what makes humans unique among animals.

    This visual metaphor is based on British ducks mimicking American ducks and then British coppers taking on the collective role of the modern day Michael and then playing off The Brits generational confusion as to why ducks, geese, birds, cars or coppers move from one place to another.

    Only a bloody idiot would fail to see the allusion to Sir Isaac Newton here and the nationalistic pride still associated with the Newtonian groundwork which was the foundation for classical mechanics up until the time that Einstein displaced his place in history, making The English The Laughing Stocks of The World:

    See: Newton’s stature among scientists remains at the very top rank, as demonstrated by a 2005 survey of scientists in Britain’s Royal Society asking who had the greater effect on the history of science, Newton was deemed much more influential than Albert Einstein.

    See Also: On 7 November 1919, leading British newspaper The Times printed a banner headline that read: “Revolution in Science – New Theory of the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown”

    Why not attempt to see:
    Michael, the policeman who fed peanuts to the Mallards, stopping traffic for the family to cross. Michael calls police headquarters and instructs them to send a police car to stop traffic along the route for the ducks. The ducks cross the highway, Embankment Road, then proceed down Mount Vernon Street to Charles Street where they head south to the Garden.

    Obviously, The Brits in assigning one copper per duckling in this odd twist of over-protective coddling and babying themselves, are hinting at the unexplained question which has lingered for generations as to why Mr. Mallard left the island in the Charles River and why the Mallards did not simply stay on the lagoon island in the first place and avoid the bicyclists on the shore.

    IMHO, it is the process of hinting at questions twhich brings about the lack of a credible answers, i.e, if you don’t understand the logic of questions in the first place, then how can you come to terms with the realistic formation of a solution?

    Einstein once screamed at a British goose in the road, yelling, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created. “

  2. Richard Kline

    Speaking of geese and the experience of relativity which they engender, ten years since on an autumn afternoon I was riding a northbound bus past the large urban lake in the center of my burg. A northbound geese flight came in on a parallel trajectory, at exactly the same speed; in tight formation they sloughed speed expertly to a stall at six inches, and put down on the lake surface. They and I stood still, it seemed, while the world it was that rolled in its station. From relative motion and its experience of timelessness, this was my takeaway:


    2 Dreams 1 Fastness 98

    Geese-V in autumn light stands still:
    It’s the World which turns,
    spins on wires, sails.
    Late sun; late season;
    Life’s autumn leaf elision;
    Silence without,
    soundless song within.

    Bend bow; glide, wind won:

  3. Independent Accountant

    Buiter would do well to avoid writing on religious themes. “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood shall be on their own heads”, Leviticus 20:13 (NIV). “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”, Matthew 5:17-19 (NIV).
    What would The Master do if confronted with a homosexual today? I do not know. My best guess: treat him the same as he did the adulterous woman.

  4. fresno dan

    “Low Mortgage Rates to Spur New Wave of Defaults”
    Good article – always like anything that speaks to unintended cosequences.
    I was reading the newspaper (I do that sometimes, and crank up the victrola) and it brought up a good point – at this time, my best investment is paying down my mortgage (th eonly risk free 6% return I can get). I plan to sell and move in 3 or 4 years, so I find it hard to believe that with fees that refinancing would pay for me. I have enough equity that despite my house being worth 50% less than 2 years ago, I would probably meet the equity threshold to refinance – it just wouldn’t make economic sense. I wonder how many people are in a similar situation – and what that will do to bank balance sheets (foregone income from their most dependable mortgagees).

  5. Anonymous

    Gazan resident Abd Ar-Rahman Farajallah: “He refused to reveal the exact substances used, fearing that they will not be allowed into the Gaza Strip.”

    Yeah, right. That’s up there with Madoff. Trust me, it works.

  6. Anonymous

    Bush Data Threatens to Overload Archives
    The National Archives has put into effect an emergency plan to handle electronic records from the Bush White House amid growing doubts about whether its new $144 million computer system can cope with the vast quantities of digital data it will receive when President Bush leaves office on Jan. 20.

    The technical challenge was an inevitable result of the explosion in cybercommunications, which will make the electronic record of the Bush years about 50 times as large as that left by the Clinton White House in 2001, archives officials estimate. The collection will include top-secret e-mail tracing plans for the Iraq war as well as scenes from the likes of Barney Cam 2008, a White House video featuring the first pet.

    Under federal law, the government has “complete ownership, possession and control” of presidential and vice-presidential records. The moment Mr. Bush leaves office, the National Archives becomes legally responsible for “the custody, control and preservation” of the records.

  7. Anonymous


    I hope you are paying attention to the BBC health articles you are posting. Seems like several have been on sleep and many of us are worrying that you are not getting enough. Thanks for your work on this blog and a healthy and happy new year to you

  8. S


    interestring article by Ferguson in the Weekend FT on a mock retrospective of 2009…some interesting calls on relative gains by the US on the back of the world’s misery; 50 year obamabonds, continued house price declines, riots in Shenzen China, Obama to Iran with nuke abandonment and the madman thrown out of office. Lots to chew on…

    ..his optimism about the rest of the world being so mired in their own filth that they continue to buy treasuries en mass and foster largess on the US seems a bridge too far. Perhaps the opposite is true: the outrage around the world directed at the US will grow so fierce that the unthinkable becomes thinkable. Time will tell, but it is a sure fire bet that US coming out relativily ahead seems akin to Fukyama’s end of history.

    “That was the true significance of the Great Repression which began in August 2007 and reached its nadir in 2009. It was clearly not a Great Depression on the scale of the 1930s, when output in the US declined by as much as a third and unemployment reached 25 per cent. Nor was it merely a Big Recession. As output in the developed world continued to decline throughout 2009 – despite the best efforts of central banks and finance ministries – the tag “Great Repression” seemed more and more apt: although this was the worst economic crisis in 70 years, many people remained in deep denial about it…. “

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