Wednesday, 28 December 2011

By on December 28th, 2011 in government, politics

08:45 – I see that Italy is delighted with the “successful” results of its bond sale. The first headline I read claimed that Italian bond yields had fallen to half what they had been at the most recent previous sale. Well, yes, but only on short-term paper, much of which was probably sold to local investors. The yields on benchmark 10-year bonds, which are what really matter, were still at a disastrous 6.7%. EU authorities were hoping that much of the flood of cheap money made available to EU banks by the ECB would be invested in long-term southern periphery bonds, driving down their yields. That didn’t happen, and no one except the clueless EU leadership expected it to.

13:18 – Someone asked me if I expected significant developments in the Euro crisis imminently. I won’t say that I “expect” it to happen in the next few days. There’s simply too much I don’t know and that, in total, no one person knows. I will say that if I were Greece and knew I would have to default in the near future, this week would be the optimum time for doing so. Financial markets are lightly staffed and a holiday is coming up. The ability of the markets, other governments, banks, bank depositors, and companies to react will be minimal from Friday through Tuesday, which would give me my best chance to implement capital controls, airport and bank shutdowns, and so on with maximal effect and minimal risk of interference. If I were doing it, I’d time it for late Thursday night or early Friday morning local time, or possibly late Friday evening/early Saturday morning.

22 Comments and discussion on "Wednesday, 28 December 2011"

  1. Miles_Teg says:

    Any suggestions for a cordless mouse? I usually get MS or Logitek (sp?) I don’t want to pay for a really top of the line one but it’s important that it go a long time between charges. It’s for general Internet use and light gaming.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    We have both MS and Logitech cordless mice. I used to use a Logitech rechargeable with its own recharging cradle powered by connecting to a USB port, but I don’t think they make those any more. All the cordless mice we have now use two or three AA alkaline cells, and seem to last months on one set of cells. I’m using a corded mouse on my main system right now, but when I was using one of the AA cordless mice I’d get two or three months on a set of cells. Barbara uses her system much less than I use mine, and a set of cells lasts her a year or more.

  3. Chad says:

    Never underestimate to what lengths the EU will go to delay the pending financial catasrophe. So far, they’ve seemed quite successful at delaying the inevitable. Financial ruin is always right around the corner and just when you think the shit is going to hit the fan they work their magic and push it back another couple of weeks or months.

  4. Chad says:

    RE: Cordless Mice

    I like the Bluetooth ones because the range is better and the signal stronger, but they seem to eat batteries much faster than the “old fashioned” cordless mice that use a radio signal. The only beef I have with the radio signal ones is that if the receiver is on the floor or at the other end of your desk and you have a big desk then you can lose the connection. The range is like maybe 5 feet (at least it was with the ones I used back in the day… YMMV).

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, but the problem is that the short amounts of time they’re buying come at a gigantic cost, in both economic and human terms. And EU citizens from Greece to Germany are finally starting to realize that the Eurocrats are shifting the ultimate costs from the banks, corporations, and wealthy people onto the general taxpayers. This is not going to be pretty.

  6. Raymond Thompson says:

    I got a P&S camera for Christmas, a Nikon S6100. I chose the camera because it is small and was not expensive. I wanted a camera that I could carry with me in my pocket. If I lose the camera I will be upset, but not angry. I could have gotten a better, and more expensive P&S, but I would be more afraid of losing the camera. The big DSLR is just too big to be lugging around many times.

    Anyway, the following is a link to some night time images taken at Dollywood. High ISO 6400, so lots of noise. All hand held generally braced against something. Quality is not great and a lower ISO would have helped. But the purposes I got the camera I think it will do.

  7. OFD says:

    >rant onrant off<

    7 now and still dropping, with wind howling outside the windows here. I love this state.

  8. OFD says:

    whoops, I guess I shouldn’t have used those characters; just about my whole post about driving home today disappeared. Oh well, trust me, it sucked.

  9. Miles_Teg says:

    Ray wrote:

    “The big DSLR is just too big to be lugging around many times.”

    I used to have a Vietnamese ex-refugee boss, a self taught photography (and piano) nut, who always joked about people with big SLRs as “looking like Japanese tourists”.

    TI’ll have a look at the link later, as my dSLR is often too large to carry around for casual photography.

    And thanks for the mouse tips, my corded mouse has been playing up a bit lately but I fear cordless because of the crazy short battery times on the first ones I got and the consequences of the batteries dying mid game.

  10. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “>rant onrant off<

    7 now and still dropping, with wind howling outside the windows here. I love this state."

    The lovely sirens of Alabama are calling… 🙂

  11. OFD says:

    One degree now at 07:30.

    But sunny!

  12. BGrigg says:

    Mice: Logitech for most of mine. I prefer wired for gaming, though. I use the cordless in the LR, for the HTPC. Mine is a bluetooth model, and I can turn it off, so the batteries have been in that particular mouse for over a year now.

    DSLR: In my glorious youth I used to go about festooned with cameras. I looked a lot like a well-fed Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now. I had two Pentax cameras: Spotmatic and Spotmatic F; and a Minolta, long since stolen, that could do “half-frame” images. I used to irritate Kodak by shooting slides with the Minolta set for half frame. You lost some definition, but viewing slides really didn’t look any different from the full size frames. Kodak sent back the film processed, with half frame slide frames, but I had to do the cutting and final assembly, while I crumpled up their form letter telling me not to do that. One Pentax was loaded with B&W, the other with Kodachrome. All three cameras shared lenses, and I kept my Takumar 50mm 1.4, 135mm telephoto and a 28mm in play. Heavy as hell, and changing film on a bright summer day was always fun! And you know something? I almost never had the right lens on the right camera, at the right time!

  13. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I also used Pentaxes, although I predated the F, so mine were stop-down metering. I used the 50mm f/1.4 lens most of the time, but I also had 28mm and 135mm lenses, along with a Vivitar 2X tele-extender for the 135.

    If you think hauling around a bunch of SLR equipment was a pain, you should have tried using my main camera. An antique Ansco 11X14 field camera with a Red Dot Artar lens that I salvaged literally from the trash as someone was throwing it away! I couldn’t even afford to feed it, really. I’d go out to shoot something and wonder if I could afford to shoot two negatives instead of just one. I quickly learned why Ansel Adams never bracketed (other than Moonrise, where he thought about bracketing but lost the light before he could do so).

    I sold that camera when I was in college. I wish I’d held onto it.

  14. SteveF says:

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, mostly. I’ve never been a photo enthusiast, and I’m younger than most of the regulars here, so I’ve never even heard of the memory lane stuff you mention.

    The only film camera I’ve ever owned is a Canon AE-1 Program that I bought about 25 years ago. Perfectly good, so far as I know, but it’s been sitting in a cubby of my rolltop desk for years and hasn’t had film in it for close to ten years. I probably ought to dust it off and give it to an enthusiast or collector or something.

  15. BGrigg says:

    I loved my F. I carried that camera around with me for years, and still have it, though I don’t really know why anymore. It’s not even on display as an item of interest, but shoved in a box.

    A friend of mine had a 8×10, so I know a bit of what you mean. It all becomes clear why Ansel would set up his camera and wait for days for the right light. Awesome method of framing though, and perfect for geeks, as you can adjust and fine-tune almost infinitely. 🙂

  16. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    What I always missed with small-format cameras were the full movements, both of the lens and in view cameras and some field camera also the back. ISTR that Nikon and perhaps Canon had lenses for their 35mm SLRs that allowed limited movements, but it just wasn’t the same. IIRC, tilts were limited to a very small angle in only one axis.

  17. BGrigg says:

    Pentax had the SMCP 28mm f-3.5 shift lens which (according to my handy How to select and use Pentax SLR Cameras) could shift up to 11mm off-center so you could correct building lean. By rotating the control ring, this could be shifted laterally in any direction.

    Pentax also offered the macro bellows attachment, which provides movement in every conceivable direction, including twisting the bellows. Of course it was only suitable for high magnification, not landscapes.

  18. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yes, that lens was typical of those that offered only rise and fall, but no tilts. I believe Nikon and maybe Canon had lenses that offered very limited tilts in one plane only.

    I also had that bellows, which as you say provided essentially complete view-camera-like movements, which were very important for macro work.

  19. BGrigg says:

    Then add the bellows to another thing you’ll wish you had kept. They’re worth a fortune today.

  20. OFD says:

    I am like unto SteveF in that I don’t know much about cameras. Until a few years ago, I had a Kodak Instamatic plastic gizmo that used 126 film that I’d had since high school, which has since disappeared around here or in one of our moves. Had a Canon SureShot but that started locking up and non-functioning. Ditto with a Ricoh Shotmaster Zoom III. I also have an old Pentax K1000 that I have never done anything with, having no clue, as per SteveF.

    My question is this, camera fiends: I am interested, deeply, in historical landscape here in northern New England, particularly abandoned or semi-abandoned structures, and would like to photograph this stuff under varying light and weather conditions using a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment. I have Linux and Windows machines here with various software like Gimp on them, and Mrs. OFD has been using Gimp to get pictures of the sea glass and stone jewelry she makes onto her web site store.

    Suggestions appreciated. Thanx!

  21. Chuck Waggoner says:

    The guy who lived next door to us in Chicago was a pro photographer of buildings. His forte was creating the pictures used in annual reports. He used only large format cameras for buildings. Although I suspect digital has changed that whole scene.

  22. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I use only M$ mice. Having had several Logitech mice, they were made of flimsy stuff. The casing easily squeezed when dragging (we still have one like that at the radio station). Not so with M$. M$ hardware has always been top quality, IMO.

    Years ago, they made a very useful trackball, which I loved. It was not optical, however, and required frequent cleaning of the rollers. Unfortunately, — in their current trackballs — they decided the thumb is what should control the wheel. My thumb does not even begin to have the precision of my first and FU fingers. Trackball sales are down. No wonder

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