Wednesday, 30 November 2011

09:37 – It’s the last day of the month, and I’d scheduled the Fungi chapter to be complete today. I don’t think I’m going to make it, but I may come close.


13:24 – Good grief. The Fed, the Bank of England, and most of the world’s other major central banks are going to bailout the eurozone, with (of course) the US bearing a disproportionate share of the costs. Not that it will ultimately make any difference. The euro has a fatal design flaw, so all this latest initiative will do is kick the can down the road a bit farther. And, like all the other half-measures taken so far, the actual long-term benefit will be zero while the costs will be extraordinarily high. You can’t fix a rotten, collapsing old shack by slapping a fresh coat of paint on it, and euro makes that rotten old shack look like a concrete blockhouse.

In case it’s not obvious to everyone, this initiative has nothing to do with saving the euro, which is not savable. The only purpose is to kick the can down the road far enough to stave off the collapse until after the 2012 election. Obama is as cynical as they come. He’s obviously weighed the political cost to himself and the Democrats of committing hundreds of billions of dollars to an ultimately futile bailout of Europe and Europe’s banks against the political fallout if the EU collapses before the 2012 election and concluded that screwing US taxpayers is his best option. No surprise, I guess. That’s what he’s been doing since he was elected.

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25 Responses to Wednesday, 30 November 2011

  1. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Well, you might have thought the SOPA legislation Brad mentioned the other day, had died, but not so. A Nevada judge just ordered exactly what SOPA would have required: that “Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook, among others, delist domain names linked to websites selling counterfeit goods.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15959882

  2. Dave B. says:

    Well, you might have thought the SOPA legislation Brad mentioned the other day, had died, but not so. A Nevada judge just ordered exactly what SOPA would have required: that “Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook, among others, delist domain names linked to websites selling counterfeit goods.”

  3. Dave B. says:

    Oops, I meant to add my own response to my quoting of Chuck’s comment.

    I think the problem is SOPA will make it even easier to get a site removed than it is now. I think it’s already too easy to take a site off the net. I suspect SOPA would make it worse. My issue with the case Chuck links to is that it took 600 sites down at once. Unless the sites have a common owner, I think that’s way too many.

    I can see a future where an Amazon affiliate with a controversial political blog has his site taken down because Amazon unknowingly offers “fake” content through a third party. I think Amazon has to make an effort to do this, and I’m sure they already do, to protect their good name. However Amazon isn’t going to be able to catch everything.

  4. Lynn McGuire says:

    Does anyone here know anyone with Lyme disease ? My 24 yr old daughter just tested positive for it. I am wondering how prevalent this disease is ? We have been
    tearing our hair out trying to figure out what is wrong with her and finally took her to an infectious disease doctor who tested her for Mono, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Lyme and about 3 others.

    We have been told to expect a call from the CDC since this disease is monitored, whatever that means.

    Our daughter lives with us and is somewhat disabled since she had to have her thyroid removed 6 years ago. She has no auto-immune function and catches everything. But, she abhors the outdoors so I am very puzzled by the causation. And we live in a low tick area, Sugar Land, Texas. This in contrast to my son who is a
    Marine Corps combat veteran with two Iraq tours of duty who is extremely healthy and does not catch anything.

  5. brad says:

    Taking down the websites – rather it’s 1 or 1000 – is clearly a seizure of property, namely, the domain name that the people have rented or purchased. This ought to require some sort of court order, else it is a clear violation of the 4th and 5th amendments.

    Of course, this is the same country where the Senate want to allow the US military to arrest civilians, and detain them indefinitely without charges. This is clearly a violation of the fifth, sixth and possibly eighth amendments.

    Apparently, the Constitution has become completely irrelevant to our government. Perhaps more likely, our lofty Congresscritters think they are above such trivial things as the rule of law. Of course, if you were to survey the populace, most of them probably have no idea what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights say – and probably couldn’t care less anyway.

  6. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Best statistics question ever

    Well, I guess I’ll have to go with B, although this reminds me of an actual multiple guess question I once had in a real test.

    1. (question)
    a. (answer a)
    b. (answer b)
    c. (answer c)
    d. None of the above
    e. All of the above

    Answers a, b, and c were all correct, so choosing just one of them would be incorrect. Answer d was clearly wrong, since a, b, and c were all correct answers. Answer e was incorrect because it incorporated answer d. So I marked the box next to e and hoped for the best.

  7. SteveF says:

    Apparently, the Constitution has become completely irrelevant to our government.

    Are you serious? Are you serious?

  8. SteveF says:

    Er, oops. I had two opening blockquote tags rather than an open and a close. Let’s see if this comment comes out borked. If so, it’s panic button time.

  9. SteveF says:

    Does anyone here know anyone with Lyme disease ?

    A coworker had it a few years ago. She was sick and listless for over a year, though a very large fraction of that was her doctors trying this n that before correctly diagnosing it. Not much I can tell that might help. She was tired and irritable and her brain was clearly not firing on all cylinders, but that’s all can tell you.

  10. OFD says:

    Lynn, my best wishes for your daughter (and prayers) in her sickness, and I will check in with Mrs. OFD who has been in the public health field for over thirty years now. (if anything germane, I’ll post it back here.)

    And a big salute to your son and my thanks for his service; tell him I said “Welcome home, bro.” (OFD was USAF 71-77 and USA 78-80 on a number of Uncle’s plantations)

  11. Miles_Teg says:

    RBT wrote:

    “In case it’s not obvious to everyone, this initiative has nothing to do with saving the euro, which is not savable. The only purpose is to kick the can down the road far enough to stave off the collapse until after the 2012 election.”

    Surely the euro can’t last that long…

    I’d give it till early next year.

  12. Raymond Thompson says:

    You can’t fix a rotten, collapsing old shack by slapping a fresh coat of paint on it

    You have obviously never been in the backwoods of TN. Many have tried.

  13. Miles_Teg says:

    Anyone here have strong views on good/bad external hard drives? I’ve been buying externally powered LaCie 1 TB drives lately but have been happy with Seagate internal drives I’ve bought in the past. What about WD drives – internal and external? Any thoughts on this?

  14. OFD says:

    …whistling past the graveyard…kickin’ dat ol’ can on down da road…

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveschaefer/2011/11/30/bernanke-ecb-throw-more-dollars-at-europes-crisis/

    The longer they play this game, the harder will be the fall. Oh, not for them, of course; for the rest of us Mundanes.

  15. Steve says:

    @Miles_Teg:
    I’ve bought two LaCie USB 3.0 2TB, four WD USB 3.0 2TB, two WD Passport 1TB USB 3.0, one WD 3TB USB 3.0, one WD2002FAEX, two WD2001FASS. They’re all working great so far.

    Mind you, all of them have doubled in price in the last few months. If you can wait 6 months or so, I bet you’ll get better prices. It’s those floods in Thailand…

    As for Seagate, I’ve got two of their 500GB drives at work. They’re more than 4 years old and still going fine.

    If you’re running Windows 7 64-bit it’s safe to get 3TB drives. If not, there are restrictions. You may be able to use a 3TB internal drive for data but not as a boot drive, or not at all. WD has a compatibility chart somewhere on their web site.

  16. Miles_Teg says:

    Thanks, I’d forgotten about the 2 TB limit. I wasn’t thinking of getting an internal drive in the immediate future, but my Win 7 Pro 64 box does have a SSD that’s only about 56 GB. Amazingly enough I’ve driven that drive down to zero a few times. I won’t get a larger SSD, the price is just too high. Does it make sense for someone who can afford a SSD to use a spinning disk for booting?

    Yeah, I’d heard that the floods in Thailand had caused a hit on hard drive production and price spike, but the prices I’ve been seeing are still reasonable. And prices are *always* better in six months… 🙂

    has anyone used a utility like Microsoft’s Synctoy for comparing two directories? I would like a utility that compares a directory tree on one disk with a backup tree on another, preferably quickly, and preferably free. Any suggestions?

  17. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I have no recent experience with desktop drives, but recommend avoiding Seagate and WD laptop drives. I have a Seagate dead out of the box — bought in the US, with warranty replacement refused in Germany, — and I also recently returned a WD drive to Fry’s that wanted to shut down all the time to save energy. That drive was really not usable and was like returning to the mid ’90’s in terms of HD response time. I stick with Hitachi and Toshiba laptop drives.

    And increasing number of techs around me, are using solid state drives for boot and OS, and reserving spinning drives for data.

    Me, I’m waiting for the HP Proliant Microserver to come down in price (but I see it has actually increased for Xmas, as have a lot of other things this year). If it won’t come down to competitive with what it has been selling in the UK (about US$235), then I will wait on the next generation microserver from somebody. I have been hoping to use that Proliant Microserver to build a machine that would be both a Rivendell playout automation system, in addition to server storage in the same box. It has a PCI slot that is bigger than half-height, but not full height. I need to be able to get a pro audio card in there, like the Maya 44 4in/4out. That Maya is taller than half-height, but not full height, so until I actually get a Microserver to measure the exact space, I will not know whether my plan will work.

  18. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Here we go again on the euro. The euro is not going to go away unless they stop printing it. Banks are not closing and commerce has not halted. Nor will it. 7+% on debt issues may be more than a country hopes to have to pay, but it is not impossible; even the US had to pay far more than that during the Carter years.

    This focus on debt by the economically ill-informed media and completely uneducated, near moronic modern-day press journalists who do not even study up or research the fields they report on, is a sad cause of some of the problems economic leaders are needlessly having to deal with. The WEALTH of modern developed countries has little to do with its debts or reserves — they are not the indicators of whether a country is rich or poor. China has the largest reserves in the world, but yet it is still the poorest country on Earth (it also has one of the lowest worker productivity rates in the world — manufactured good may be cheap because of super-cheap labor, but NOT because of good worker productivity). This focus on debt is the equivalent of taking a billionaire who buys a $10 million dollar home and gets a bank loan for it, and saying that person is in a helluva lot of debt that could crush him. Well, yeah, from an ordinary income-earner’s point of view, that might be true; but the billionaire could cash out that debt in an instant, and hardly notice it. Today’s journalists reporting on economics and finance make this mistake. Michael Pettis of Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management has called them on this. (I would provide a link, but it looks like his personal website has been hacked and has only Viagra ads at the moment.)

    The EU is by no means poor, and ranks close to the US as the richest place in the world. In cashing out assets against debt, China has millions who live on less than the equivalent of US$200/year and a substantial portion of those people do not even have running water or central heat in their homes. There are not too many people in the US or the EU who make less than $200/year and own no modern amenities whatever.

    Germany’s insistence that everybody — especially those in the worst shape — institute austerity is a terrible mistake that will increase unemployment and slow growth across the EU. And it is unnecessary. It is a stupid call by Germany, too — from their own history. I recall when we first moved to Berlin, that there were shortfalls in the German coffers, and the ‘wise’ economists called for austerity. Berlin was one of the cleanest places I have ever been in the world, with a cadre of manual street sweepers, who combed every part of the city and swept the streets, sidewalks, and parks. All of them were axed in the austerity cuts. Libraries were closed at 5:00pm; some government offices were closed for whole days (additional to the fact that many were already not opened every weekday); frequency of busses were cut; postage was raised; improvements to subways and trains were postponed.

    One of the changes was to close the nearest subway stop to my Volkshochschule classes, where I was learning German, rather than do scheduled improvements to it. I remember the teacher remarked one day, “How could we have had 15 years of the most unprecedented growth and success in German history, but yet no money at all was saved for the rainy day, and when it comes, we all must suffer?” Five years on, the economy thrived again, but many of those cutbacks were never restored.

    The EU may be ensuring a decline, but they are nowhere near to collapse — and if there is one, it will be completely artificial, and not because Euroland is truly broke. Wealth differences between EU countries ARE going to be evened out, and the Germans knew that when they devised the Euro. The EU is NOT poor, and it can afford any of the transfers necessary to bail out the current situation. And if Germany is smart, it will stop demanding the austerity of the countries that need time to develop and solve these problems. Germany is going to find a backlash that will be equivalent to their own renouncing of their reparations due to France at the end of WWI, if they do not become more moderate. The euro is — after all — their creation.

    And all this US wishing of a speedy collapse of the euro — if it happens, — is going to cause a recession in the US that will make the latest one look quite mild by comparison. Better to wish the EU well, than to anxiously await its collapse.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    Well, if I was a German whose opinion mattered I wouldn’t want to be subsidizing the lower tier. I’m happy to subsidize people, states and countries that are having temporary problems but only so long as they aren’t rorting the situation, as Greece and Italy, and probably others were.

    Chuck, for what you say to work it would require that Greece and the others have some tangible assets to ell. You came up with the example of a billionaire who borrows $10m to buy an asset. Well, s/he has a large net worth so I don’t see how that relates to the struggling nations in Euroland. It’s not as if they can sell the Parthenon for more than enough to cover their debts.

    I agree with what you say about the mindless cutbacks of the German austerity program when you were there. Those services are the very things that government – federal, state or local – can and should provide. But governments shouldn’t get into commercial risk taking. IMHO it’s proper for a government to have an interest in an airport, but not airlines. Perhaps central banks can and should be government controlled but retail banks should not. In South Australia our government owned State Bank collapsed in the early Nineties, owing billions. At the next election the state government, which was in denial for so long, was wiped out, and rightly so. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Bank_of_South_Australia for details.

  20. brad says:

    I’m not so sure our host has read the current actions by the national banks correctly. From what I’ve heard and read here, they are providing liquidity via “swaps”, which essentially let banks *borrow* money, but doesn’t *give* them money.

    The explanations on this end is that this is a way to get banks to lend money. The last time the national banks did this was after the collapse of Lehman Bros – when banks panicked and refused to lend anyone money for anything.

    The economic analyst interviewed on our national news (who generally is pretty darned sensible) said that the rise in stock markets reflected their usual lemming-mentality. His opinion is that the only reason to take this action *pre-emptively* is because things are far worse than most people think. Perhaps the national banks want to prevent a panic, as the Euro-zone flushes itself down the toilet.

    To some extent, I agree with Chuck: there is a Euro and there will continue to be a Euro. The question is: under what circumstances. If the weaker countries leave the Euro, the currency will continue to have value, and other countries will continue on their ways. They may even learn a lesson, and get their debt under control in time to prevent a second round of even bigger failures.

    Alternatively, if France gets its way, and get Eurobonds, the weaker countries will drag the entire Eurozone down with them right now.

  21. Dave B. says:

    I’m not so sure our host has read the current actions by the national banks correctly. From what I’ve heard and read here, they are providing liquidity via “swaps”, which essentially let banks *borrow* money, but doesn’t *give* them money.

    I believe our host is making the assumption that loaning money to someone who can’t repay the loan is essentially giving them money. For example, if Germany leaves the Euro, will there be a European Central Bank to repay the money?

  22. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yes, we’ve agreed to “lend” unlimited amounts of money to deadbeat borrowers who are already bankrupt, but that differs in no practical sense from “giving” them money. Oh, they’re putting lipstick on the pig by saying this is only “short-term” lending, but that has a way of becoming long-term bad debt. In effect, because the ECB refuses to inflate the euro, we’ve said, “That’s okay. We’ll inflate the dollar instead, and give you the benefit of that.”

  23. Lynn McGuire says:

    I buy 10 to 20 WD internal and external drives a year. The failure rate is about 2 to 3% the first year and going up by 10% each year after that. I am now buying my first Intel SSDs and will find out about those over time.

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