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Now I Get It

Aha! Argentina's economy had trouble in the earlie nineties because they couldn't float their currency against other currencies. Thailand's economy blew up because they'd pegged their currency to the dollar. Japan's economy collapsed because they were hugely leveraged and they were vulnerable to Thailand's economy. So it's a chain.
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I'm listening to Paul Krugman's The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 and I'm getting annoyed by two things. The first and by far the least important, is the narrator's enunciation. My own accent gives "er" in the middle of a word such as "interior" and "material" the same sound as the word "ear". This narrator, Don Leslie, sounds like he's trying to turn all such sounds into the same "er" as normally appears in "her" or "intern". As I listen to the book, I find myself imagining supertitles: "...maturrial..."

On the upside, he does pronounce all the syllables in "industrial".

But the thing that's really bugging me is that Krugman has so far asserted that the Mexican and Argentinian economic crises of 1994/95 have something in common with the Asian crisis of the later nineties and that all of these are somehow the same as the current recession in the United States. And yet, he's finished telling us about the Mexican and Argentinian crises and they seem to have been caused by governmental unwillingness to manage the currency properly. Mexico pegged the peso at an artificially high exchange rate to the U.S. dollar and Argentina had a policy of fixing their peso to the dollar, so neither country was able to let their currency float. That meant that when they finally did adjust their exchange rates, their domestic economies kind of got whiplash in addition to all the punishment they'd been taking before (the various problems that come from having an overvalued currency).

My understanding is incomplete, of course, and Krugman has a Nobel Prize in economics and I don't. So I'm eagerly looking forward to the part in this book where he tells me that our current crisis isn't coming from phenomenally overleveraged consumers and banks, nor from criminal negligence or ignorance at banks and hedge funds, but from some domestic policy of overvaluing the dollar.
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Give Me a Dollar

There's a guy who's been pinging me on Twitter. He follows me, then stops, then follows me. So every day I get an email saying that this guy is following me and here's a link that will let me follow him.

I checked out his profile and he's some guy I don't know who's all about telecommuting. He's pimping his website. Okay, I get that's how people are using Twitter. So I check out his website.

Get this "free" PDF that describes the three applications you need to telecommute. All you have to do is give him your email address and sign up for his free newsletter.

What kind of crap is this? People! World! I'll tell you this for free, and you don't have to send me your email address. In fact, I'd prefer if you didn't. You need a telephone so you can talk to your coworkers. You need some kind of secure network link so you can exchange confidential or proprietary documents with your coworkers (Google virtual private network and you'll find all kinds of commercial VPN products). That's it! The rest is all about job environment specific details. *I* need Remote Desktop because I'm driving a Windows machine back in the office. You might need a VNC client or ssh or Word or NeoOffice or a database explorer. All those specifics are really down to your work situation, and I guarantee you that your situation is not covered by the free PDF this guy wants to use to scam your email address so he can telecommute by selling email addresses to spammers.

If I were really in a bad mood, I'd suspect the three applications of being trojans to subvert your laptop and incorporate it into some botnet.
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Sherriff Joe

I've been hearing about Sherriff Joe for a few years, as junglemonkee's family live in Phoenix. But guh-dang, even the flippin' BBC have noticed him. Yikes!

Oh, and in the obscuring-the-truth department there's this quote from the story:
FBI figures for 2006 and 2007 indicate an overall drop in crime rates in Arizona of around 2%, while in Sheriff Arpaio's Maricopa County crime rates increased by a fifth over the same period.

It's hard to compare two different units (two percent, one fifth -- see today's xkcd for another good example). One fifth is the same as twenty percent.
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Git your Free Speech on!

So, here's a troubling story about the erosion of our rights. I agree with one commenter who wrote, "Allowing geographically limited jurisdictions increased control over online communications is one of the terrible problems of our time..."

I think he scoped his comment too narrowly. Imagine I'm on vacation and I'm riding a train from...oh, Berlin to Tehran. Let's say, for the sake of this imaginary situation, that it goes through Turkey. Let's further imagine that I have been so bold as to say that the mass slaughter of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century was genocide. Hey, presto - my online speech that was posted from my comfy house here in California is suddenly Not Protected according to my own government and I'm therefore S.O.L. when the Turkish authorities throw my ass in prison.

Better not travel anywhere. And better not insult anyone in power. Ever.

God damn. Quick, send some money to the ACLU and the EFF because this shit must not stand.
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Bail this

What bad thing happens if the big three auto makers have to cut way back or even go out of business?

Yeah, people will be out of work. But you know, there was this other sector that went through a huge collapse, not even ten years ago. People were out of work, there was collateral damage as unemployment took off -- shops closed, space was suddenly cheaper -- but where was the government bailout of the dot bomb?

Since we didn't get a bailout, pets.com went out of business. Kozmo couriers no longer deliver videos by bicycle. Webvan stopped driving around. But you know what? People still feed their pets. Netflix and Blockbuster will mail DVDs to you. Safeway.com will deliver groceries to your house or your office.

This whole auto thing is such a joke. Chrysler isn't even Chrysler any more, it's DaimlerChrysler - not an American company but a global company. What bad thing would happen if Toyota took over Ford and somehow coerced Ford plants to make cars that don't suck?

That's right, citizen, your tax dollars are at work.