Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just one more for the road

"It's either feed your kids or pay your mortgage."

Politicians' talk of an economic recovery is laughable to many of those here. This is a last, desperate bid to cling on to home ownership – the event is shrewdly named "save the dream".

"What you hear from the Obama administration is 'we're helpless, our programmes aren't working'. What you hear from Congress is 'we don't know what to do so we're going to do nothing'."

Irresponsible borrowers are partly at fault.

Naca's chief executive worries the US property crisis may have swung to the opposite extreme, with risk-averse banks reluctant to write even the most sensible of mortgages. Marks says banks "just refuse to lend" because they see no prospect of the "abusive" profits they once made. He is pessimistic about a short-term return to stability: "If somebody is used to getting intoxicated, to taking an extreme amount of drugs or alcohol, then they're never going to be satisfied with just a beer."

US homeowners flock to Florida event in desperate bid to save properties - Guardian

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Refreshing(?)

As seen during today's ride amongst the usual, huge choice of drinks at the conbini. Orange with rare cheese flavour? No thanks. Hot (35C), humid, sunny and silly weather to be out on a bike in IMHO. Set off at 6:30am to try to avoid some of the heat but wasn't long before Dave, The Russian and myself were feeling the heat. I bid them farewell as planned and swung back towards Tokyo over Odarumi, they had Yabitsu in their sights with a train back from Hadano. Not really a day for doughnuts though. Saw Jerome and then Graham on my way back, mad dogs, englishman and a frenchman, in this case, setting off in the midday sun. The aircon in the apartment never felt more welcoming as I came through the door. Rehydrating this afternoon with pints of water and a large Dominos for carb replenishment. Excellent. Knackered, cooked, but excellent. Swim later?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting caught in the shitstorm vortex


"This blasphemecration of sacrosanctified ground is abhorrentible! I refudiate it unequivocalutely!" Fabulous, via idealistpropoganda

Burgernomics

"Remember the Big Mac Index, created – half in jest – by the Economist back in 1986 to measure purchasing power parity between countries, and named after McDonald’s eponymous best-selling burger?

Since then, the Economist, billing - in typically modest style – the index as “arguably the world’s most accurate financial indicator to be based on a fast-food item”, has published it every year.

In the context of Japan – one of McDonald’s top overseas markets – it is worth looking at what the latest Big Mac Index, published last month, can tell us about the yen.

Amid the cacophony of opinion about the Japanese currency’s concerted rise against the dollar (to a 15-year high of Y83.60 on Tuesday before a slight dip to Y84.61 on Wednesday), “burgernomics” has a rather interesting take.

As of late July, the price of a Big Mac in Japan, at Y320 ($3.78 under Wednesday’s exchange rate), represented an exchange rate of Y85.7 in implied purchasing power parity of the dollar. The actual yen/dollar exchange rate then was Y87.2 – meaning the Japanese Big Mac was 2 per cent under-valued against the dollar, according to the index.

But here’s a beautiful twist: earlier in August, McDonalds cut the price of a Big Mac in Japan to just Y200 as part of a summer campaign – which amounts to a 30 per cent discount, in both burger and PPP terms.

As the Japan Times reports, although the discount period runs only until August 26, “it’s likely that the price will not return to its former level.” McDonald’s has received enormous free coverage of the deal on TV news and in tabloids, and has already done well with the breakfast crowd by reducing its McGriddle product from ¥200 to ¥100 on an indefinite basis, the report notes.

So, you can forget Japan’s angst-ridden exporters. As far as the world’s most “accurate” financial indicator based on a fast-food item goes, it would seem that the yen has reached its natural level and – indeed, is even a bargain."

The ‘burgernomics’ of yen appreciation - FT Alphaville

Attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.

"The whole group then bustles into the lobby of the building, where they are greeted by the long neck of a huge, herbivorous dinosaur. The kids run past that and around a corner, where stands another, smaller dinosaur.

Which is wearing a saddle.

Which means, in this interpretation and among other things, that dinosaurs coexisted with man (hence the saddles), that there were dinosaurs in Eden, and that Noah, who certainly had enough on his hands, had to load two brachiosaurs onto the Ark along with his wife, his sons, and their wives, to say nothing of green ally-gators and long-necked geese and humpty-backed camels and all the rest.

(Faced with the obvious question of how to keep a three-hundred-by-thirty-by-fifty-cubit ark from sinking under the weight of dinosaur couples, Ham's literature argues that the dinosaurs on the Ark were young ones, and thus did not weigh as much as they might have.)

"We," Ham exclaims to the assembled, "are taking the dinosaurs back from the evolutionists!" And everybody cheers.

This is a serious crowd. They gather in the auditorium and they listen intently, and they take copious notes as Ham draws a straight line from Adam's fall to our godless public schools, from Darwin to gay marriage. He talks about the triumph over Ganesh, and everybody cheers again.

It is impolite to wonder why our parents sent us all to college, and why generations of immigrants sweated and bled so their children could be educated, if it wasn't so that we would all one day feel confident enough to look at a museum filled with dinosaurs rigged to run six furlongs at Belmont and make the not unreasonable point that it is all batshit crazy and that anyone who believes this righteous hooey should be kept away from sharp objects and his own money.

Dinosaurs with saddles?

Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark?

Welcome to your new Eden.

Welcome to Idiot America.

In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut.

The Gut is the basis for the Great Premises of Idiot America. We hold these truths to be self-evident:
1) Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
2) Anything can be true if somebody says it on television.
3) Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

How does it work? This is how it works. On August 21, a newspaper account of the "intelligent design" movement contained this remarkable sentence: "They have mounted a politically savvy challenge to evolution as the bedrock of modern biology, propelling a fringe academic movement onto the front pages and putting Darwin's defenders firmly on the defensive."

A "politically savvy challenge to evolution" is as self-evidently ridiculous as an agriculturally savvy challenge to euclidean geometry would be. It makes as much sense as conducting a Gallup poll on gravity or running someone for president on the Alchemy Party ticket. It doesn't matter what percentage of people believe they ought to be able to flap their arms and fly, none of them can. It doesn't matter how many votes your candidate got, he's not going to turn lead into gold. The sentence is so arrantly foolish that the only real news in it is where it appeared.

On the front page.

Of The New York Times.

"It's more than a general dumbing down of America -- the lack of self-motivated thinking: clear, creative thinking. It's like you're happy for other people to think for you. If you should be worried about, say, global warming, well, somebody in Washington will tell me whether or not I should be worried about global warming. So it's like this abdication of intellectual responsibility -- that America now is getting to the point that more and more people would just love to let somebody else think for them."

If we have abdicated our birthright to scientific progress, we have done so by moving the debate into the realm of political and cultural argument, where we all feel more confident, because it is there that the Gut rules. Held to this standard, any scientific theory is rendered mere opinion. Scientific fact is no more immutable than a polling sample. This is how there's a "debate" over the very existence of global warming, even though the preponderance of fact among those who actually have studied the phenomenon renders the "debate" quite silly. The debate is about making people feel better about driving SUVs. The debate is less about climatology than it is about guiltlessly topping off your tank and voting in tax incentives for oil companies."

Greetings from Idiot America - Esquire

Ozawa-chan

"Ichiro Ozawa, a politican tipped as a future Japanese prime minister has declared Americans are simple-minded and the British are not very likeable.

The former secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Democratic party said the way prisoners of war marched in orderly ranks in “The Bridge on the River Kwai” demonstrated the best qualities of the British.

But he added that he had an aversion to the British. He said: “I don’t like British people”

Americans fared equally poorly in his outlook. “Why is the United States so simple? I like Americans, but they are somewhat like single-cell (organisms).”

Mr Ozawa quit as the No. 2 official in the ruling party in June after coming under fire for campaign finance scandals.

The 68-year-old was also quoted as saying: “I don’t think Americans are smart... but I appreciate very much that the choices made by the people during a crisis are put into practice.”"

'I don't like British people’ says Japanese politician - Telegraph

Federer

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

May the Schwartz be with you!

"This is the time of year where central bankers, along with a clueless band of economists, completely self interested financiers, breathless ass-munchers from CNBC and other assorted, out of touch morons get together to talk about the global economy in Jackson Hole.

If these asshats really want to talk about what is going on and what the long (and short) term economic outlook REALLY is, why not Detroit? How about Cleveland?

Are the "Holers" going to come up with answers? Probably not. However, I bet they would get more out of sharing a McDonald's dollar meal with a real person as opposed to canapes with a carbon copy of their clueless selves."

Time For Jackson Hole! How About Detroit This Time Around? - Monkey Business

How long?

"After the elation of learning they are alive comes the agony of waiting.

Seventeen days after the San Jose copper and gold mine collapsed, the news that all 33 men trapped inside are still alive was greeted with celebrations more than 2,000ft above them.

But their loved ones will probably have to wait until Christmas to see them again, because it will take that long to bore a new hole wide enough to pull them through.

Glucose, rehydration tablets, oxygen and medicine have made their way down from the surface through an 8cm lifeline and into the miners' refuge, which is thought to be about 50 square metres, although some reports say it could be larger.

Trapped miners elsewhere in the world have had to wait to be rescued but very rarely, if ever, for this long."

Six steps to survival for Chile miners - BBC

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Constant Velocity Joint

As used in front wheel drive cars... more mechanism animation here

Rates

"With economic growth painfully slow throughout the rich world it will be a long time before the threat of deflation can be written off. Central banks are not only likely to keep their policy rates on hold for the foreseeable future, they may, for good measure, buy more bonds themselves. Low yields could be here for a good while yet."

A bull market in pessimism - Economist

"I'm inclined to think that bond yields are appropriately low at the moment and, indeed, might fall further. I accept that fiscal positions are terrible but, as with Japan, that proves nothing. Yields are likely to remain low because (i) aging populations will shift their investments out of assets delivering capital growth into those that deliver a steady income stream (ii) productive potential growth was overstated in recent years and, as perceptions drop, real yields will end up lower (iii) related to this, cash rich companies bereft of interesting investment ideas will be under pressure to return cash to their shareholders (iv) in a deleveraging world, deflation is more likely than inflation (v) in a bid to avoid deflation, central banks will be forced to expand their balance sheet holdings of government debt."

Bond yields are probably appropriately low - Stephen King

via How low will they go? - Free Exchange

Monday, August 23, 2010

Carbon footprint

Dilbert.com

Google

"He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites."

Google and the Search for the Future - WSJ

"I get the feeling that if there’s a rift between the old “Don’t be evil” Google and the new “Let’s do whatever we want” Google, that it’s a rift between Schmidt and Larry/Sergey — if not personally, then at least culturally within the company. On the one side, the Larry/Sergey Google that makes amazing cool things — the search engine, Gmail, Android. On the other, the Schmidt Google that, in its efforts to serve ads as efficiently as possible, no longer seems concerned with the traditional Western concept of personal privacy."

Creep Executive Officer - Daring Fireball

BBC Dimensions

http://howbigreally.com/ Cool.

The Dirt on Purses

"There is a wicked new marketing strategy currently sending shock waves through the high-stakes competitive world of luxury fashion. It's devious, delightful and deliciously dirty.

Here's the deal: Remember how Snooki, drunk or sober, was never seen without that Coach bag dangling from the crook of her arm? Snooki and her Coach were as synonymous as The Situation and his six-pack. But then the winds of change started blowing on Jersey Shore. Every photograph of Guido-huntin' Snooki showed her toting a new designer purse. Why the sudden disloyalty? Was she trading up? Was she vomiting into her purses and then randomly replacing them? The answer is much more intriguing.

Allegedly, the anxious folks at these various luxury houses are all aggressively gifting our gal Snookums with free bags. No surprise, right? But here's the shocker: They are not sending her their own bags. They are sending her each other's bags! Competitors' bags!

Call it what you will — "preemptive product placement"? "unbranding"? — either way, it's brilliant, and it makes total sense. As much as one might adore Miss Snickerdoodle, her ability to inspire dress-alikes among her fans is questionable. The bottom line? Nobody in fashion wants to co-brand with Snooki."

How Snooki Got Her Gucci: The Dirt on Purses - NYObserver

Delightfully devious. Erm. Snooki? Who dat?

Perjury

"Roger Clemens was charged with perjury yesterday after prosecutors judged there is enough evidence to indict the former baseball pitcher for lying in testimony to Congress.

I would imagine many Americans believe that Clemens did, in fact, take drugs during at least part of his long and storied career, and that yes, he did then lie about it when he told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he never took drugs.

So it’s interesting, in light of the federal investigation into Lance Armstrong, to see the prevailing reaction from the public seems to be, “Seriously? After two years, that’s all you got?”

Apparently only congressmen are allowed to lie in Congress. (Clemens appeared voluntarily, not under subpoena.)

Armstrong is very clearly setting the stage for this to be a referendum on prosecutorial overreach rather than the question of whether Tailwind committed crimes in pursuit of Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles.

The Clemens indictment plays right into that. To use a baseball metaphor, that means prosecutors have to swing for the fences; a bloop single just won’t cut it."

Clemens, Armstrong, Perjury and Perception

This sport's culture and DNA are based around performance enhancement. The problem is that the majority are 'guilty'. They should be punished? How? People wouldn't care as much if it didn't involve a polarising character such as Armstrong. How do you argue 'never tested positive' when Landis (for example) admits constant and prolific doping to only fail once in 2006. How do you argue against 'never tested positive' without other physical evidence? Should we delete all the cycling results for the last 10 years or more? Do you care? I am not sure I do. I do think you have no voice in the argument if your viewpoint is made from the headlines and the sofa. We should wait for the chips to fall then discuss. It will be interesting to say the least. I'll be impressed if the prosecutors keep this on track.

Ground Zero Mosque

"Millions are hopping mad over the news that a bunch of triumphalist Muslim extremists are about to build a "victory mosque" slap bang in the middle of Ground Zero.

The "Ground Zero mosque" is a genuine proposal, but it's slightly less provocative than its critics' nickname makes it sound. For one thing, it's not at Ground Zero. Also, it isn't a mosque.

It's not being built by extremists either. Its aim is to improve inter-faith relations. It'll probably also have comfy chairs and people who smile at you when you walk in, the monsters.

70% of Americans are opposed to the "Ground Zero mosque", doubtless in many cases because they've been led to believe it literally is a mosque at Ground Zero.

One in five Americans believes Barack Obama is a Muslim, even though he isn't.

Where are they getting their information?

Sixty per cent said they learned it from the media."

'Ground Zero mosque'? America needs a reality check. Really - Guardian

Arguing over unfounded beliefs. Emotions are not logical. Completely disinterested in reality. I work for an organization that was decimated during the 9/11 tragedy. My sister-in-law was far too close for comfort. I sympathize with the antis, but cannot stand the media that is stoking the fire. They should be pilloried.

Or do some actual WORK, as perhaps it will never get built anyway.. Mosque is a long shot to be built - Politico.com

"If you want to be ignorant, go ahead. If you want to believe that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist hellbent on forcing you into a gay marriage with a federally-funded deathbot, go for it! But don’t expect me to take you seriously.

Yet, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Both in the media and in the halls of power, the inmates, if not running the asylum, are setting the agenda. John Adams said that “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people” and yet those charged with informing the public have failed."

America Needs a War on Stupid

Dark days

"It’s important to understand the roots of America’s growing intolerance. And to fight the hate-mongers and cynical opportunists who are using the fears unleashed by this awful economy to advance their own sordid agendas."

The Anatomy of Intolerance - Robert Reich

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Inebriation

Thursday, August 19, 2010

They're watching...

"UBS Investment Research has started incorporating analysis of satellite images of the parking lots of big-box retailers into its earnings estimates, reports CNBC, forecasting an uptick in sales based on parking lot traffic where a drop was previously expected.

It turns out that rather than a 1 percent decline in sales for Walmart in the second quarter compared to year ago, relatively full parking lots indicate a 0.7 percent gain in sales for the quarter.

UBS bought its satellite data and analysis from a startup called Remote Sensing Metrics, which built a model for how customer flow presages quarterly earnings. Remote Sensing found that Walmart parking lot traffic was up 4 percent in June from a year ago, probably because of an aggressive “rollback” marketing campaign.

Remote Sensing also determined that earlier this year, Walmart stores were attracting growth in areas where there was more unemployment, while Target stores were doing the opposite. Now both retailers are seeing growth, which the firm thinks bodes well for the economy. It also found that Lowe’s is outpacing Home Depot in summer shoppers.

Lanworth, another research company mentioned in the CNBC report, analyzes commodity crop production using infrared and microwave images. Last year, it detected a drop in corn production months months before the USDA, and it recently warned that 2010 Russian wheat production is far below reported levels.

Just imagine if such satellite image analysis were crowdsourced on a service like Amazon Mechanical Turk. We could probably figure out just about everything that’s happening in the world at any time. Privacy lovers might want to avoid satellite detection by staying indoors and buying from Walmart.com where they can’t be tracked. Oh wait — that won’t work either."

Parking Lots Help Predict Earnings - GigaOM

Titanium Testicles

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Conflation of Fear

"Crashing visitor numbers and plummeting fish sales have devastated the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. There is talk of an 80% drop in revenues in some resorts. Yet figures show just 16 of the state's 180 holiday beaches are at all polluted, while the bulk of the spill appears to have dispersed, or be dispersing out at sea. Having hyped the disaster for political purposes, the president is now frantically trying to play it down.

Hardly a day passed without the president castigating BP, the hated "British Petroleum" – never its American site operators, Transocean and Halliburton, or his own regulators. It was a field day for xenophobes. The president used the sort of language normally visited on global terrorists. He was going to "get BP" and make them "pay for this".

Foreigners had raped America. It was they, they, they …

Now the Gulf is apparently "clean, safe and open for business", and a lovely place to take the kids. It is OK, everyone. Disaster has turned to triumph, so let us all think about the midterm elections.

The imperative to exploit public fear is as old as power itself, but modern media give it a new menace. It enables leaders to suppress the dictates of reason and, however briefly, mesmerise the public into obedience. In 2003 Tony Blair decided to show off by sending 400 Household Cavalry in tanks to Heathrow "to counter terrorism", as a preliminary to a blitz of legislation curbing civil liberty. The image of a city under siege wiped millions off Britain's tourism account, but Blair got his legislation.

The US Travel Association is suing BP for $500m in promotional compensation. Why not sue the president? It was he who led the charge in disaster rhetoric, with a daily stream of negative publicity for the Gulf of Mexico, before trying, somewhat pathetically, to make up for it. He and others were surely accessories after the fact."

Oil spilled. But hysteria did the real damage in the Gulf - Guardian

Patriots

"Mark Twain's definition of a patriot: "the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about." I give you the Tea Party." via Newsweek letters.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

America's modern aristocracy

"Robert Jordan applied for a police job in New London and scored 33 on his qualification exam, equivalent to a 125 IQ. That's one standard deviation above the mean – smart, but no genius by any definition. The city refused to hire him, stating a preference for those who scored 27 or lower; the suggested median for a patrol officer was 21. New London's argument was that smart people would find police work boring, and leave the profession after receiving expensive training. Jordan sued for discrimination – and lost. The court ruled there's nothing discriminatory about a city's desire to ensure only C-students get to carry police badges."

US cops: armed and dangerous?

The Race to The Bottom

"Traditionally JPY always trade strong when equities are weak. However, the Nikkei never really recovered during the bounce from 1,003 to 1,127 in S&P futures and has instead been consolidating around support it looks. I would have been a lot more comfortable selling a bounce around 10,700 than playing a break of the support here. What is all the more odd is that I see some strong bullish divergence for USDJPY on the Monthly and 180-minute chart. A bullish USDJPY is clearly at odds with a break in equities. Given that I remain bearish long term on equities and even medium term as this bounce to 1,095/1,105 should be short lived, I am struggling a bit with this observation."

"To further investigate, I plotted the Nikkei's value in USD. The result is for sure bearish: the last two big up cycle peaked at 61.8% retracement of the previous bear market, and we just tested the 200-week moving average while forming a potential head and shoulder. My conclusion is that the only possible way for the Nikkei to appreciate (in JPY terms, as quoted) and the Nikkei to depreciate in USD terms is for USDJPY to appreciate. People have been talking a lot recently about the BOJ possibly stepping up in the market to stop the JPY appreciation but it is believed and they have hinted that these levels are not necessarily a concern for them yet. However GDP data disappointed quite a bit, and this could be the boost in terms of public opinion and political capital for intervention."

"Whether it is by buying calls on Nikkei or buying USDJPY between 85.00 and 85.40 with a stop on a daily close below 83.50, I think this is a great opportunity especially for traders who are already short US/European equities and/or short AUD and emerging currencies. A breakdown of this USDJPY / S&P correlation would be very interesting. USDJPY also trade in line with 10Y US yields traditionally, and they on the other hand keep dropping like a stone. Something has to give here and personally I believe it could well be the JPY. I feel better about this call since everyone I floated the idea to seemed to think I am crazy. Usually contrarian trades have a way to come to fruition when no one thinks they will. I would keep an eye on the 10Y Japan CDS as well for confirmation. To me it looks like Japan is about to make a move in the race to the bottom."

Nic Lenoir - Technical Analyst

Monday, August 16, 2010

Turning to suet

"Computers and allied technologies have created the most intimidating generation gap in human history, one so wide and so rapidly created that I stand staring across the chasm like an aborigine watching Krakatoa split the sky.

Blessedly disconnected. “Alone with his thoughts”, now a literary anachronism, was a commonplace reality.

Not long ago, it was generally accepted that humanity’s most creative achievements, from art and poetry to major scientific discoveries, were the precious fruits of solitude. But in a single heartbeat on history’s timeline, this sacred, fecund privacy has become the unpardonable social sin for the generation on which future creativity depends.

The wailing of the wire-wary only aggravates the captive multitudes and widens the dreadful gap. But we can’t just fold our tents and quit the field, because we, the pre-wired generations, bear most of the blame. We betrayed them. We turned them over to habit-forming, mind-altering, behaviour-warping gizmos when they were helpless children.

Chronic, epidemic obesity among American children, along with unprecedented levels of juvenile diabetes and heart disease, coincides exactly with the advent of “personal technology”. An alarming study that followed 4,000 subjects for three decades indicates that 90 per cent of American men and 70 per cent of American women will eventually be fat.

Worse news is that the American mind is emulating its body – it’s turning to suet.

The reality seems to be just the opposite. Though the educational potential of the internet is limitless, it’s becoming apparent that students use technology less to learn than to distract themselves from learning, and to take advantage of toxic short cuts such as research paper databases and essay-writing websites. Reading and writing skills among eighth graders decline each year, as internet penetration rises. Only three per cent now read at the level scored “advanced” and the state of Maine recently scrapped its eighth grade writing test because 78 per cent of the participants failed.

High tech is a habit too new to boast any record of survivors, recovering addicts, successful rehabs. So far, no one’s coming back. In the words of recovery programmes, users have yet to acknowledge that they have a problem. Or that there is a problem. Staring for hours at glowing squares, gossiping with needy strangers, poking away at little keyboards, playing half-assed violent games – does this strike anyone as an interesting and honourable life, or even a preparation for one? And the answer, more often than not, would come back, “Sure, what’s your problem?”

Technology’s sceptics are ageing and thinning out. Soon, by conversion or attrition, they will vanish. Soon, when everyone is born wired into the hive, no more of them will appear. All the more reason to have our say, leave our protests on the record, exit cursing and fighting."

One Hundred Fears of Solitude by Hal Crowther

I only have to watch how relatives, friends and colleagues are tied to their Blackberries, their iPhones, to know that this addiction is just the same as those that society tells us to seek help from, such as drugs and alcohol. Finding the balance between having our daughter as comfortable with the use of technology as she will need to be to, yet still having the ability to read, analyse and opine on a good book is something that will require constant attention. Or will there be a backlash? Will technology become more seamless and less obtrusive. Perhaps that is the area of the next 'step' or 'revolution' in this field.

No need for an iceberg

"Can it get any worse for President Obama? Undoubtedly yes. Why?

1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people

The Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime, extravagant, decaying and out of touch with ordinary Americans.

2. Most Americans don’t have confidence in the president’s leadership

According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, “nearly six in ten voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country”, and two thirds “say they are disillusioned with or angry about the way the federal government is working.” The poll showed that a staggering 58 per cent of Americans say they do not have confidence in the president’s decision-making, with just 42 per cent saying they do.

3. Obama fails to inspire

In contrast to the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Convention speech in Boston which succeeded in impressing millions of television viewers at the time, America is no longer inspired by Barack Obama’s flat, monotonous and often dull presidential speeches and statements delivered via teleprompter.

4. The United States is drowning in debt

While much of Europe, led by Britain and Germany, are aggressively cutting their deficits, the Obama administration is actively growing America’s debt, and has no plan in place to avert a looming Greek-style financial crisis.

5. Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat

The relentless emphasis on bailouts and stimulus spending has done little to spur economic growth or create jobs. This is not an approach that is proving popular with the American public.

6. Obama’s support for socialised health care is a huge political mistake

NB. Political mistake.

7. Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive

The Obama administration settled on a convenient strategy of relentlessly bashing an Anglo-American company while largely sitting on its hands.

8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration

It is hard to think of a single foreign policy success for the Obama administration. An administration completely out of its depth in international affairs.

9. President Obama is muddled and confused on national security

From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the War on Terror, President Obama’s leadership has often been muddled and confused.

10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness

Barack Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism. It is difficult to see how a US president who holds these views and does not even accept America’s greatness in history can actually lead the world’s only superpower with force and conviction.

There is a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency and it’s not hard to see why. The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth.

This, combined with weak leadership both at home and abroad against the backdrop of tremendous economic uncertainty in an increasingly dangerous world, has contributed to a spectacular political collapse for a president once thought to be invincible. America at its core remains a deeply conservative nation, which cherishes its traditions and founding principles. President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, by advancing policies that undermine the United States as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom."

The stunning decline of Barack Obama: 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in meltdown - Nile Gardiner

No doubt inherited a mess, but a weak management team has squandered any 'good' momentum. They now own the US's problems, rather than being seen to be trying to fix them. Inevitable maybe, but only history will judge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

HK bound.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Oven Gloves

"A rule of thumb for life: beware the man who gives amazing presents. Normal men give weird books, ill-fitting underwear and badly judged kitchen equipment. Broadly, you can assume that a man who gives you dazzling pieces of clothing and technology is going to be a Flash Harry, a man who gives you a new car or a horse is going to be unfaithful and a man who gives you a handful of rough-cut diamonds in a bag is going to have killed hundreds of thousands of people."

Next time, Naomi, settle for oven gloves - Guardian

Mirror Japan

Friday, August 06, 2010

Janelle Monae: Cold War

Tiger Mike

Transcripts and more memos here

“Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don’t want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-bitches.”

Basu-boru

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Logic is dead

"In reality, investors need to reverse everything they thought they knew about risk. Assets such as property, the dollar and developed-country bonds are only for those who don’t mind losing their shirts. Small-time investors who depend on getting their money back should be buying into small companies, emerging markets and private-equity or hedge funds.

Sometime around 2015, don’t be surprised if bankers are advising widows and trust funds, which need to preserve capital above all else. They will be offered Turkish bonds, a hedge fund or two, and a portfolio of small emerging-market stocks. Real estate, Treasury bills, and dollar or euro blue-chips will only be for people who fancy a flutter -- and have already been warned they may lose everything."

Risk Is the New Black in World Turned Upside Down - Bloomberg

Afghanistan IEDs* via Wikileaks**



* Improvised Explosive Device

** http://wikileaks.org/

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

TiJ

"Japan today launched a nationwide campaign to establish the whereabouts of its oldest residents after embarrassed officials in Tokyo discovered that a 113-year-old woman thought to have been the capital's oldest citizen had been missing for more than 20 years.

The phenomenon of disappearing seniors hit the headlines late last month when police discovered that Sogen Kato, then thought to be Tokyo's oldest man at 111, had long since died.
His mummified corpse, dressed in long johns and covered with a blanket, was found 32 years after he retreated to his bedroom, telling his 81-year-old daughter and her 83-year-old husband that he wanted to become "a living Buddha".

Japan launches nationwide search for centenarians - Guardian

Monday, August 02, 2010

TdF Stage 15 - Cote de Carla-Bayle


Back...

...to a very sweaty Tokyo August.. digging through photos, rss feeds, emails and the like.. I need to post an Etape story, some TdF pictures, collect a new frame from Trek Japan, apply for a new passport and make the next travel plans.. normal service to resume in some shape or form shortly.

Meanwhile, if you can get access, I highly recommend "Sherlock", airs on BBC on Sunday evenings, 3 part series, second one was last night.. we watched the first one last weekend after seeing an interview in the morning on breakfast TV. Excellent stuff.