Wednesday, 14 September 2011

08:35 – I’m really getting disgusted with WordPress. It’s a dog of an application: slow, kludgy, and unstable. I wish I’d never started using it.

The export utility is particularly annoying. It claims to back up “All content This will contain all of your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts.” Well, perhaps it does, but only if you don’t consider images content. I noticed this some weeks ago, the first time I added an image to a post. Comparing the size of the backup file from the previous day, it was obvious that the export function hadn’t backed up the image I just added.

And then there’s the fact that the process aborts frequently. To initiate an export, one goes to the Tools menu and chooses Export. When you click the Download Export File, WordPress is supposed to create a zipped file of all content and then initiate a download to your browser. What actually happens about half the time is that the zip process fails with a file-not-found error. Clicking Retry works about one time in ten. The rest of the time I have to go back and click the Download Export File again, which involves waiting for a minute or so for the file to be created. But even when that happens, the problems aren’t over. About three times in four, the download fails and the process has to be restarted from the beginning. Yesterday, it took me literally ten tries and probably half an hour of my time to finally get the file downloaded to my local drive.

After that experience, I decided just to connect directly to the server and transfer the raw files down to my hard drive. Unfortunately, I can’t find my content. I started at the top-level directory, which has as a subdirectory. That subdirectory contains a subdirectory called journal, which in turn contains a subdirectory called wp-content, along with wp-admin, wp-includes, and several files. I assumed that my WordPress content would be in the wp-content subdirectory, but if it is I can’t find it.

I wonder if my service provider, Dreamhost, has another blogging app that offers a one-click install, but I really don’t have time to go looking for something else. I’m pissed that they’d even offer this piece of shit. It’s not ready for prime-time. I suspect that what WordPress really wants is for users to sign up for their hosted service and either pay WordPress directly or let them run ads on the hosted blog. I’m not willing to do either.

So I guess I’ll keep running WordPress for now. But it does make me seriously consider just abandoning this journal and using the time I’m now spending on it for more productive tasks. Hell, I might as well create an account on Facebook as keep using this POS app. Or perhaps I’ll return to the way I used to do things: a static journal page that incorporates email comments I receive from readers.

Meanwhile, Greece is coming apart at the seams, not just economically but socially. Remember that as recently as the mid-70’s Greece was still involved in a hot civil war, and it won’t take much more to reignite that conflict. The media has described the confrontations that have already occurred as “protests”, but in fact they’ve been full-blown riots. Only our politically-correct media could describe people overturning cars and throwing Molotov cocktails as “protesters”. But Greece has so far seen only a tiny fraction of the pain that it will inevitably suffer when it is abandoned by the EU and defaults. There will be blood in the streets, literally.

And then there’s Italy, which just had a bond auction with disastrously bad bid-to-cover ratios and catastrophic yields. Italy is now grasping at straws, with the latest straw being the hope that China will bail out Italy by purchasing mountains of worthless Italian debt. But China has already made clear that it has no intention of doing that. What China intends to do is buy Italy, or at least the parts that are still worth buying. What money China decides to invest in Italy will be in the form of equities purchases, not debt purchases. To the extent that China buys any Italian debt, it will be a strategic move, in return for the EU granting China full trading status with the EU.

Meanwhile, the FANG nations are sitting on the sidelines watching all of this take place and no doubt wondering why they ever believed it was a good idea to tie themselves economically to the profligate, irresponsible southern-tier nations. And the UK is just happy that it was wise enough to refuse to join the eurozone in the first place, and considering what concessions it should demand in return for supporting the EU treaty changes that are currently being discussed. If the UK has any sense, it will distance itself as far as possible from the EU, negotiating common market status for itself with regard to the EU, but no financial or regulatory ties.

By definition, it’s difficult to predict what will happen in a disorderly Greek bankruptcy. Right now, Greece awaits the decision of the troika that will determine if Greece receives the next tranche of the current bailout. If that decision goes against Greece–which it should based on the facts but may not based on the politics–Greece no longer has anything to lose, and I would expect it to default within days of the decision. If the next tranche is approved, I would expect Greece to wait until it has its hands on that money and then default in short order.

The immediate effects of a Greek default will be catastrophic for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, all of which will topple quickly into formal default as their banks fail. France and Belgium won’t be far behind, immediately losing access to capital markets, leaving only the FANG nations standing. Those nations will be badly hurt, and will have little option but to re-establish their own local currencies. The euro will plummet through parity with the US dollar, and eventually settle at some small fraction of its current value. Investors in euro-denominated instruments will be wiped out.

Fortunately, the US and UK have limited exposure to euro sovereign and bank debt, but that doesn’t mean we’ll not be badly hurt. Our own industries will be hammered coming and going. Exports from the US and UK to the eurozone will fall off a cliff, as eurozone countries will no longer be able to afford US and UK products. And sales by US and UK companies to their local markets will also suffer as a flood of cheap eurozone products floods those local markets.

And the real bitch is that no one can do anything to stop all this from happening. As Milton Friedman and others warned at the time, this collapse was inevitable because the euro itself had and has a fatal design flaw. The next few years are going to be interesting times in the sense of that old Chinese curse.

13:33 – Hmmm. As I was walking Colin a few minutes ago, I was surprised to see what looked like a full-blown race car parked at the curb a few houses down the street.

As we got closer, I realized that it wasn’t really a CanAm race car, but a facsimile. I checked it out on Google when we got home, and it’s apparently a one-off built by Dick Bear around a Honda two-liter four-cylinder engine as a facsimile of the McLaren M8B. It looks a bit worse for wear now compared to the image, but it still looks like a fun car to drive on nice days. It’s street-legal, as confirmed by its North Carolina license plate, MCBEAREN.