Month: May 2008

Camping, Canoeing and Fishing Trip on the Norway/Sweden Border

www.chrisco.,us

www.chrisco.,us

www.chrisco.,us

This was a great weekend trip. The six of us camped on a small island in a lake with the Swedish/Norwegian border running down the middle. We were the only people camping on the island. Four of the guys have done this trip before (thank you very much for including us… awesome trip!)

Here’s a short video clip of Calle and Ola playing guitar by the campfire: YouTube.

On the way home Calle, an expert in this branch of geology, archeology, and history, gave us a tour of some of the oldest and best preserved rock carvings in Europe, the earliest of which date from the Bronze age. Click through for all the photos.

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The Numbers Racket: Why The Economy Is Worse Than We Know

The Numbers Racket: Why The Economy Is Worse Than We Know
By Kevin Phillips
13 May 2008
Harper’s Magazine

If Washington’s harping on weapons of mass destruction was essential to buoy public support for the invasion of Iraq, the use of deceptive statistics has played its own vital role in convincing many Americans that the U.S. economy is stronger, fairer, more productive, more dominant, and richer with opportunity than it actually is.

The corruption has tainted the very measures that most shape public perception of the economy-the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI), which serves as the chief bellwether of inflation; the quarterly Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which tracks the U.S. economy’s overall growth; and the monthly unemployment figure, which for the general public is perhaps the most vivid indicator of economic health or infirmity. Not only do governments, businesses, and individuals use these yardsticks in their decision-making but minor revisions in the data can mean major changes in household circumstances-inflation measurements help determine interest rates, federal interest payments on the national debt, and cost-of-living increases for wages, pensions, and Social Security benefits. And, of course, our statistics have political consequences too. An administration is helped when it can mouth banalities about price levels being “anchored” as food and energy costs begin to soar.

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Leaving Behind the Trucker Hat

Another great article from the New York Times. Keeping it real.

March 16, 2008
Leaving Behind the Trucker Hat
By ALLEN SALKIN

Tivoli, N.Y.

THEIR Carhartts are no longer ironic. Now they have real dirt on them.

Until three years ago, Benjamin Shute was living in Williamsburg, where he kept Brooklyn Lager in his refrigerator and played darts in a league.

Raised on the Upper East Side by a father who is a foundation executive and a mother who writes about criminal justice, Mr. Shute graduated from Amherst and worked for an antihunger charity. But something nagged at him. To learn about food production, he had volunteered at a farm in Massachusetts. He liked the dirt, the work and the coaxing of land long fallow into producing eggplant and garlic.

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Classic Relief Rally

Just a quick post to show the sentiment swing that has caused/enabled the bear-market rally off of the March stock-market lows. The chart above is Intrade.com’s “Recession in 2008” contract and it is now at new lows, putting the odds at less than 25% vs. 80% at the height of the March panic. I’m guessing that the pendulum will soon start swinging back in the other direction.

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Is Housing Slump at a Bottom?

Interesting WSJ article and chart that suggests a turning point may be near. Readers of this blog know that I was on the “housing bubble” story from before it even came on to most people’s radar screens, writing stories and selling my Washington, DC co-op for 6x the purchase price and then renting in the summer of 2004, which is exactly when the rate of price change peaked and reversed, with actual prices peaking the following year. Now that rinse cycle is closer to the end than the beginning. Now on to the article:

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Health Care Costs in America

An interesting article from the NYT.

What I don’t understand is why people aren’t alarmed, shocked, and spurred into action by all this. I mean, for a long time it’s been clear that the American “healthcare” system is broken from the citizen’s perspective and works great from the special interests’ perspective.

The existing system needs to be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up, but that’s not going to happen until people stand up for each other instead of only caring about themselves.

In America, we’ve got 48 million uninsured people and millions and millions more “insured” people who “have” insurance, but can’t afford to actually get the healthcare they need. Both of those groups of people clearly should be standing up, even marching on Washington.

One reason why that isn’t happening is that they can’t afford to do that because they are basically slaves to the system and can’t afford anything except their slave quarters, slave food, and slave clothes. And even that can be taken away in the blink of eye by the boss, so people keep their mouthes shut, keep slaving away, thankful master doesn’t beat (fire) them today. That’s a pretty strong analogy, and exaggerated for effect, but it’s a sad state of affairs and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.

But what about all the millions of people who are cozy and content? Why do they not care about the others? If they care, why don’t they do something? I don’t understand it. Actually, I think I do understand, but I don’t like it. It’s a negative cycle and it needs to be turned around into a positive cycle.

Ok, enough on this topic that really gets me heated up. Now on to the article. The comments in [brackets] are mine. The bolding is mine.

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