Month: June 2008

Pictures: Copenhagen, Reboot 10 & Flash Party

www.chrisco.us

www.chrisco.us

This is my complete set of photos (I posted a subset and of the pictures and pretty much all of my comments here (on The BuzzPal Blog). Video clip of the Flash Party is here.

The guys you see at the bottom of this blog (because the pics are in chronological order) are two cool Norwegian brothers we met at the bus back to Sweden for us and Norway for them. They were coming back from a 3-week trip in Italy, Greece, and Hungry. They turned us on to the biggest blues festival in Europe, which is in August in the town where they live. Susanne and I hope to go, but need to make sure the timing doesn’t conflict with our trip to Gotland, which starts August 9th.

PS: I put larger sizes of a couple of the black-and-whites plus a few of the other cool pics (if you liked the abstract effects) up at buzzpal.com/reboot10.

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Who Will Tell the People?

Who Will Tell the People?
By Thomas Friedman
2008-5-4
New York Times

Traveling the country these past five months while writing a book, I’ve had my own opportunity to take the pulse, far from the campaign crowds. My own totally unscientific polling has left me feeling that if there is one overwhelming hunger in our country today it’s this: People want to do nation-building. They really do. But they want to do nation-building in America.

They are not only tired of nation-building in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with so little to show for it. They sense something deeper — that we’re just not that strong anymore. We’re borrowing money to shore up our banks from city-states called Dubai and Singapore. Our generals regularly tell us that Iran is subverting our efforts in Iraq, but they do nothing about it because we have no leverage — as long as our forces are pinned down in Baghdad and our economy is pinned to Middle East oil.

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From Daydreaming to Filmmaking, Through the Lens of Dyslexia

Another interesting NYT article on dyslexia. See a few related articles here and here. And this one from the WSJ: How the Brain Learns to Read.

March 30, 2008
Documentary
From Daydreaming to Filmmaking, Through the Lens of Dyslexia
By WENDY CARLSON

WHEN Harvey Hubbell V had difficulty learning in elementary school in the 1960s, his parents had him tested for dyslexia. He had no idea what that was. Nor did he care.

He was too busy making movies in his head.

“I would close my eyes and see pictures. I’d hear music, too — like from a marching band or something — and I knew right where it should come in,” Mr. Hubbell recalled.

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“Buy and Bail”: Is It Wrong? Discuss.

This question was prompted by today’s Wall Street Journal story with the biased headline “Some Buy a New Home to Bail on the Old” (click through to read the article).

It’s an interesting question. As long as it doesn’t violate the terms of any contract, my initial thought is that it’s perfectly ok, indeed a rational economic decision that maximizes individual self interest, which is the system in the USA.

That last part raises another question: Should the focus be on maximizing individual self interest or collective self interest? That is, of course, the topic of many a book and debate.

In a nutshell, the Adam Smith / USA argument is that the way to maximize the collective good is for each individual to maximize his individual good. Some people agree with this, others not so much (or only partially and/or with conditions or tweaks). I suspect that many people, at least secretly, prefer it one way when it benefits them and the other way when it doesn’t. Sounds like that is the case with these lenders and investors who now want to change the rules halfway through the game (see article, below).

It’s fascinating for me, an old USA finance guy who worked at a relatively ruthless investment firm, which by the way appears to be in a death spiral right now (I bailed and sold all my stock as fast as I could in 2003). On Wall Street, “Ruthless” is a compliment in many circles because it just means “hard-nosed deal making and the expectation that the other guy is a big boy and if he gets into the ring then he knows what he is doing and it is up to him to protect and maximize his self interest.” That works fine when both parties are equally matched, but breaks down when information and positioning are asymmetrical, indeed when a lamb goes into the arena with a lion.

Now I live in Sweden, a country that values the collective good over the individual good. It’s great to get such a close look at the other side of the capitalism/socialism coin. Neither system is perfect, of course, but if I were to design a new system from scratch it would incorporate aspects from both.

Now on to the article:

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Old Joke That Applies to Ben Bernanke

Got this from Don Cox’s piece, “Traders of the Lost Arc”:

The Clark Kentish ex-professor has been transformed into a financial superhero who bails out bankers faster than a speeding bullet. As the chart on Fed Treasury holdings shows, his creativity in crisis seems to know no bounds, as he continues to pump liquidity into failing banks.

We can’t help recalling an old joke about the little boy who brought home a stray dog. He wanted to keep it, but his father objected. After a few days, his father told him:

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