An interesting comparison
Sep 30th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

From Fer­FAL in Argenti­na: A US Crash that Will Par­al­lel Argentina’s?.

Hi James,

These are hard times, indeed.
The par­al­lels between the days before our own econ­o­my [in Argenti­na] col­lapsed
and what’s
going on today in Amer­i­ca today are very hard to ignore.
Our local tele­vi­sion seems to be get­ting some kind of sick kick out of all
They show­ing the com­par­isons, even edit­ing politi­cians and econ­o­mists speech­es
show­ing how sim­i­lar they were to the ones the Amer­i­can politi­cians and econ­o­mists
are using right now. In some cas­es, they even said the exact same line, the
only dif­fer­ence being the lan­guage.
About the arti­cle “Let­ter Re: What Are the Eco­nom­ic Col­lapse Indi­ca­tors
to Watch For?” I’d like to make a few com­ments.
Some of the signs we could actu­al­ly ver­i­fy dur­ing our own 2001 cri­sis;
*Lim­its to with­draw amounts per day. This hap­pened just one or two days before
banks actu­al­ly closed.
*Sud­den infla­tion. A few weeks before, but care­ful, it only turned into hyper
after banks closed.
*Rumors of default. Those had been going on for a while and that’s when
we slow­ly start­ed invest­ing else­where and slow­ly mov­ing the mon­ey out of the
*Lim­its to mov­ing fund out of the coun­try
*Lim­its to the trans­ac­tions. At the end you could just with­draw like $250
per week, if you found an ATM with mon­ey. Oth­er­wise
you had to suf­fer the ter­ri­ble lines at he bank.
It’s just impos­si­ble to know exact­ly when it will hit, when banks will
say bye bye, but care­ful, tim­ing is every­thing.
In my case, we had dropped by the French Bank and asked for $2,000 USD.
The employ­ee talked to the man­ag­er and the man­ag­er came to us look­ing ner­vous
and said they didn’t have that kind of mon­ey right now, to come back
“Wait a minute.. you’re telling me you don’t have 2,000 lousy
dol­lars, in the entire bank?”
That same day we went down town to oth­er banks, closed the cou­ple accounts
left and one or two days lat­er the crash hit and banks closed their doors.
Just a few days lat­er, my wife’s father lost a 6 dig­it fig­ure, their
fall­back life sav­ings.
He was an elder­ly man, but the bank didn’t care at all of course. He
died with­out see­ing that mon­ey returned to him.
Do not expect any kind of mer­cy or sym­pa­thy from banks. You wont be get­ting
Peo­ple need­ing med­ical treat­ment have died in this coun­try before court orders
came out demand­ing the bank to give the mon­ey to the per­son because of life
or death sit­u­a­tions.
Some peo­ple have died of heart attacks at the bank’s closed doors, hit­ting
them with pans and fists.
Not try­ing to be dra­mat­ic here, but it did hap­pen that way, and it’s
impor­tant for peo­ple to under­stand how seri­ous this is.
I know a run in the banks is some­thing you’d like to avoid. But remem­ber,
that mon­ey is yours, and banks won’t be giv­ing it back to you if they
close, you’ll loose a rather big per­cent­age, and if the econ­o­my goes
down, it will only be returned to you after months, even years.
Maybe it would be a good idea to take anoth­er look at the
Wikipedia page that sum­ma­rizes our 2001 eco­nom­ic cri­sis

Peo­ple should try to remain clam, but take the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions giv­en
the cir­cum­stances.
Take care James. God bless you and all the read­ers, grant them the peace of
mind need­ed in these
try­ing times. — Fer­FAL


Really weird capsule bio
Sep 30th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Space Tourist Simonyi Pre­pares For Sec­ond Flight. Toren Altair writes “Space Adven­tures announced today that Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., intends to train with the Soyuz TMA-14 crew in prepa­ra­tion for a spring mis­sion in 2009 to the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion. Simonyi flew his first space mis­sion in 2007. He would be the first space tourist to repeat the expe­ri­ence. Space Adven­tures’ sixth orbital space­flight par­tic­i­pant, Richard Gar­riott, son of NASA astro­naut Owen Gar­riott, is cur­rent­ly sched­uled to launch to the ISS on Octo­ber 12 of this year.”

Read more of this sto­ry at Slash­dot.


This post stands out for the rather odd way they refer to Richard Gar­riott. Also known as “Lord British,” Richard Gar­riott is one of the most influ­en­tial game design­ers in his­to­ry, respon­si­ble for both the Ulti­ma series (which pop­u­lar­ized com­put­er role play­ing games) and Ulti­ma Online, which start­ed the Online RPG indus­try. Describ­ing him as the son of an astro­naut is like describ­ing Howard Hugh­es as the son of a tool mak­er.

Cop humor
Sep 30th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Because You Can’t Make a Den­ver Omelet With­out Crack­ing a Few Heads.

T-shirt hand­ed out by Denver’s police union to com­mem­o­rate the 2008 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion:


[Hit and Run]

I know, it’s all just an “iso­lat­ed inci­dent.” Or, based on the sales pro­jec­tion giv­en by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the union, “about 2000” iso­lat­ed inci­dents. That’s one for every employ­ee of the Den­ver Police Depart­ment, with a few hun­dred left over for fam­i­ly mem­bers.

A rare piece of good news
Sep 29th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Bailout Reject­ed by the House?.

The one body of gov­ern­ment most hard­wired to the Amer­i­can pub­lic just reject­ed the lead­er­ship of both major polit­i­cal par­ties, the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, his admin­is­tra­tion, the two con­tenders to his throne, and seem­ing­ly every talk­ing head on cable tele­vi­sion. The first tal­ly was 228−205−1; but it looks like they’re keep­ing the vote open long past the allot­ted time, and now it’s at 226−207−1. “They’re just going to hold it closed until they can get enough Yeah votes,” CNN’s floor reporter just said. That’s the same maneu­ver they used to cre­ate a huge new Medicare/prescription drug enti­tle­ment. Democ­ra­cy!

C-SPAN today has been more grue­some than watch­ing David Cronenberg’s Crash. Among the minute-by-minute hor­rors of crap eco­nom­ics, utter­ances of the phrase “inac­tion is not an option,” and nausea-inducing bipar­ti­san­ship, my favorite moment might have been when Major­i­ty Leader Ste­ny Hoy­er (D-Maryland) quot­ed favor­ably, and with­out irony, Spiro fuck­ing Agnew, as say­ing “the cost of our fail­ure will far exceed the price of our pro­grees.” Just one of scores of com­ments today that did not make any sense, at least not to me.

The Dow Jones tum­bled down 650 points (more than 5 per­cent) right when the deal looked killed, but now it’s around minus-450 for the day and head­ing north­ward, though in a herky-jerky way.

More impor­tant­ly, if this vote is allowed to stand, 132 House Repub­li­cans and 94 Democ­rats will have, at least for a moment, slowed the rush to nation­al­iza­tion that has shot through Wash­ing­ton like Hoof in Mouth dis­ease these past days and weeks. I’m as apoc­a­lyp­tic as the next guy, but I nev­er did under­stand how a tem­po­rary illiq­uid­i­ty in the mortgage-backed secu­ri­ties and cred­it default swaps mar­kets required the biggest gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion since Richard Nixon’s dis­as­trous wage and price con­trols.

UPDATE: Mis­tah bill, he dead.

[Hit and Run]

Life imitates art
Sep 26th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Is a bird? Is it a plane? First cross­ing of Eng­lish Chan­nel using jet-powered wings. A Swiss pilot becomes the first per­son to fly across the Eng­lish Chan­nel using a jet-powered fixed wing. [BBC News]

The craft he used looks a lot like the fly­ing wing used by the title char­ac­ter in Hayao Miyazaki’s Nau­si­caa of the Val­ley of the Wind.

Why the mainstream media can’t be trusted
Sep 26th, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Mad About Let­ter­man. CBS News exec­u­tives were red- faced yes­ter­day try­ing to explain how David Let­ter­man used unaired news footage of Sen. John McCain with Katie Couric to embar­rass the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

McCain can­celed his appear­ance on Letterman’s show late Wednes­day, sev­er­al hours before he was due to appear — claim­ing he had to return to Wash­ing­ton to deal with the finan­cial cri­sis.

But when Let­ter­man dis­cov­ered the Sen­a­tor sit­ting down with Couric at the same time he was sup­posed to be tap­ing “Late Night,” he unloaded on McCain.


Lat­er in the show, Let­ter­man showed an inter­nal, live video of McCain being tend­ed to by a make-up artist before the Couric inter­view. Both Couric and Let­ter­man are on CBS.

Let­ter­man said on the air that McCain had called him per­son­al­ly to apol­o­gize and said he was rac­ing to the air­port.

He doesn’t seem to be rac­ing to the air­port, does he?” Let­ter­man told view­ers.


But sev­er­al CBS News exec­u­tives — who asked not to be iden­ti­fied — said that the stunt did not go down well with­in the news divi­sion.

If we had done some­thing like that to him, some­one around here would end up get­ting fired,” one said. [New York Post]

Thanks to the unnamed exec­u­tive for illus­trat­ing why the main­stream media has so lit­tle cred­i­bil­i­ty. A sen­a­tor and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date gets caught lying and his reac­tion is that if some­one in the “news” divi­sion did it they’d get fired? So why on earth would any­one take them seri­ous­ly as a source of news?

Not a very sturdy platform
Sep 23rd, 2008 by Ken Hagler

McCain and the plat­form. Not that any­one pays atten­tion to par­ty plat­forms, least of all McCain, but a read­er spots this rather unam­bigu­ous sec­tion of the plat­form just passed by the GOP:

We do not sup­port gov­ern­ment bailouts of pri­vate insti­tu­tions. Gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence in the mar­kets exac­er­bates prob­lems in the mar­ket­place and caus­es the free mar­ket to take longer to cor­rect itself. 


Of course it’s not just McCain, but pret­ty much all Repub­li­cans (and Democ­rats, for that mat­ter) who are push­ing the bailout. The hypocrisy might be more fun­ny if they weren’t on track to destroy what’s left of the econ­o­my, though.

Asking the wrong question
Sep 23rd, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Is Geor­gia About to Exe­cute an Inno­cent Man?

Bar­ring a U.S. Supreme Court inter­ven­tion or an unlike­ly inter­ven­tion from Gov. Son­ny Per­due this after­noon, the state of Geor­gia will exe­cute Troy Davis this evening at 7pm.

Davis was con­vict­ed of mur­der­ing a police offi­cer in 1991 based on eye­wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny.  The prob­lem is that sev­en of the nine peo­ple who tes­ti­fied against him at his tri­al have since recant­ed, say­ing they were pres­sured and coerced by the police.  Three oth­er wit­ness­es who did not tes­ti­fy at the tri­al have since come for­ward to say anoth­er man com­mit­ted the murder—a man who hap­pens to have been one of the two remain­ing wit­ness­es against Davis who have yet to recant their tes­ti­mo­ny.

The Geor­gia Supreme Court grant­ed a stay last year with Davis with­in hours of exe­cu­tion.  The same court vot­ed 4–3 this year to pro­ceed with Davis’ pun­ish­ment.

So is Geor­gia about to exe­cute an inno­cent man?  It looks as if there’s at least enough doubt that we can’t say for sure.

And that ought to be more than enough doubt to hold off on the exe­cu­tion.

[Hit and Run]

I have no idea if he’s inno­cent or not, but that’s the wrong ques­tion. The right ques­tion is, “did the police frame Troy Davis?” It seems pret­ty clear that they did.

Quote of the day
Sep 22nd, 2008 by Ken Hagler

I say to the gods and the sons of gods the things that whet my thoughts; by the wells of the world there is none with the might to make me do his will.

The Lay of Loki

I came across this quote in an online nov­el heav­i­ly influ­enced by Norse mythology–it inter­ests me that such an idea exists in that reli­gion. Over the years I’ve noticed that Chris­tians invari­ably assume that if Athe­ists (such as myself) believed in their mythol­o­gy, we would just auto­mat­i­cal­ly wor­ship their gods. Wrong.

You can fool some of the people all of the time
Sep 21st, 2008 by Ken Hagler

Obey’ Street Artist Churns Out ‘Hope’ for Oba­ma. The street artist known for the “Obey” guer­ril­la art cam­paign has entered the main­stream thanks to his two-tone prints of Barack Oba­ma that have become syn­ony­mous with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee. But he hasn’t lost his rad­i­cal edge. [Wired News]

The Wired arti­cle includes a pho­to of the guy. If I had any artis­tic abil­i­ty, I’d cre­ate a two-tone print of him with the cap­tion “chump.”

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