Friday, June 30, 2006

Democracy in the Herd and Hive

Couple of uplifting 'democractic' articles on group behaviour in the animal kingdom ;-) The first shows how everyman has the potential to move the herd and the second praises the efficiency of decentralized bee decision making.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Derivative Risk and Market Manipulation

Here's a couple of somewhat goofy but nonetheless interesting articles on capital market manipulation and the ever expanding growth of derivatives by Douglas Gnazzo.

The first is flamboyantly titled Market Intervention: Laying Off Risk- Derivatives of Hell. It essentially argues that all forms of lending are futile and immoral at their core- by definition unproductive activity and in the final analysis a means of profiting from the misfortune of others. He then goes on to argue that the 200+ TRILLION in derivative bets (something he implies is another form of money lending) scattered throughout the world's capital markets are primarily a means of market manipulation and actually increase financial risk rather than hedging against it. He's rather vague on details with the last point and presents a totally one-sided argument, but I suspect there is a kernel of truth there. His message about 'usury' and the perils of the accelerating growth of credit (again probably too extreme) is an important and refreshing one we almost never hear in our day and age. It's true that most banking and financial activity isn't a 'zero-sum game', but it's probably much closer to that then we currently believe it to be.

Here's another article by the same author called Gold Wars, which catalogues the history of government and private manipulation of the gold market. Definitely shows that the 'free' market in the real world can at times be anything but fair.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Good Tunes Courtesy of Sean Cullen, Corky and the Juice Pigs

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Dark Side

Another fine documentary from Frontline, called The Dark Side. If you haven't seen it already you can follow that link and watch the whole thing online. Wondering where the title comes from?

"A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies," Cheney told Americans just after 9/11

Oooh, scary stuff. If there ever was an argument for minimal government this documentary is definitely it. Once again Frontline shows it's one of the finest investigative programs in the 'mainstream' US media. Maybe another decade from now we'll have some nice Frontline documentaries on the 'how the US dollar turned to toilet paper' or the shenanigans behind the US-Israeli airstrike on Iran ;-)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Moonman Meets Moon Landing Hoax Boy

Buzz Aldrin says hello to a tin-foil hat wearing moon landing hoax conspiracist.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Georgia's anti-peach

Here's a hilarious Colbert interview with Georgia Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. Gives you some insight as to why the nation is so friggin' f#$%ed up.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

'Thank Heaven For 7-11'

Here's an entertaining hard left rant from Joe Bageant about the state of the US today. Thank heaven for 7-11. Good stuff.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Damn good song...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Salad Days

On the origins of the expression of 'salad days' and it's changing meaning in America. How appropriate ;-)

[Q] From Mike Bumbeck: “We here at work were tossing around hackneyed phrases this morning. Two of us thought of the phrase salad days. What is the origin of this phrase?”

[A] A nice easy one for a change. Unlike so many words and phrases, we know for certain where this one comes from. It appears in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra of 1606, in the speech at the end of Act One in which Cleopatra is regretting her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar: “My salad days, When I was green in judgment”. So the phrase came to mean “a period of youthful inexperience or indiscretion”, though it only became popular from the middle of the nineteenth century on.

The link here is green, which had already had a meaning for a couple of centuries at least before Shakespeare’s day of someone youthful, just like the young green shoots of spring, and also of somebody who was as yet inexperienced or immature. Incidentally, for Shakespeare a salad wasn’t just lettuce with some dressing, but a much more complicated dish of chopped, mixed and seasoned vegetables (its name comes from the Latin word for salt); the word was also used for any vegetable that could be included in that dish.

However, Jan Freeman pointed out in one of her word columns for the Boston Globe back in April 2001 that the expression has shifted sense in the US in the past twenty years or so. It now often refers to a period in the past when somebody was at the peak of their abilities or earning power, in their heyday, not necessarily when they were young. The shift isn’t so hard to understand when you think how few people actually know their Shakespeare.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Robert Newman's History of Oil

Here's an entertaining 45 minute show from the British comedian Robert Newman. It's an overview of modern oil politics given a nice sugary coating to go down easy. The one point he makes that I really agree with is the total lack of discussion of the strategic reasons behind the Iraq war.