576. No one wants to hear you talk about your health, your dreams, your diet, or your money. - (via Mrs. Maria Matthiessen on This American LIfe)
4 weeks ago
"Watching Greece slide into chaos from 6,000 miles away is painful. Asia, after all, was the last region to experience what Europe may be about to endure. Asia’s implosion in 1997 toppled leaders, touched off riots, set back living standards a decade or more and tarnished the International Monetary Fund’s reputation. Expect similar developments as Europe’s grand monetary experiment cracks.
Asia and Europe are half a world apart and it is true that the differences are considerable. Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand were much less developed 14 years ago than their euro- zone counterparts are today. China had yet to emerge as a dominant manufacturing economy. The U.S. was also in a better position to offer international assistance than it is today.
With that in mind, here are five lessons Europe might learn from Asia.
No. 1: A default is unavoidable. What makes Europe’s bailout efforts so hard to watch is that they are so futile. The Greek public has been very consistent about one thing: the belief that it bears no responsibility for all the debt its leaders took on over the last decade. If that doesn’t provide the backdrop for debt repudiation, what does?
The U.S. and Japan are near recession. China’s boom continues to squeeze wages in uncompetitive economies such as Greece. This won’t end well for the euro zone.
Purge the Debt
No. 2: Recovery is quicker once debts are purged. Greece fudged its way into the common currency with the help of financial creativity.
Greece will have to restructure its debt, and the fallout from this will increase pressure on Portugal, Spain and Italy. If Greece had acted a year ago, markets might not be spending every waking moment on edge over how and when a default will arrive.
No. 3: Don’t forget reforms. In all the obsessing over debt, European leaders are taking their eyes off the need to retool in a world increasingly influenced by China. Fiscal austerity is important, of course, but so is altering policies to make economies more nimble, competitive and conducive to entrepreneurs who create jobs.
No. 4: Growth beats taxes when repairing fiscal balance.
Japan is a cautionary tale when it comes to rich nations getting incentives wrong. It issued mountains of debt, assuming for 20 years that it was just one stimulus plan away from 5 percent growth. That never happened.
Then, amid a ballooning budget deficit, it increased consumption taxes in 1997. That killed a nascent recovery.
No. 5: Markets are quick to forgive and forget. Yes, there’s a heavy price to pay for going hat-in-hand to the IMF. The key will be conditionality. There’s much griping in Asia about how the terms of Greece’s IMF package are far less stringent than those forced on Indonesia, Korea and Thailand.
Fresh starts are possible, though, as the powerful gains in Asian markets over the last 14 years attest. So drop the denial, Europe. Let Greece do what it needs to do, even if it means default, and move on. Asia shows there is life after crisis."
Euro Crash Looks as Inevitable as Asia in ’97: William Pesek
"The US market rallied on a story that came out this morning. The supposed deal that reuters reported at around 3pm NY and caused the market spurt higher was actually out before lunch with the gist being the Greek government will lower the income threshold of those being taxed, amongst other spending cuts." Greek Noise | The Big Picture
"Somehow the fact that Greece has "reached" a deal on its austerity plan is supposed to be good for 100 pips on the EURUSD even though this is not news, and has been priced in for a long time. Furthermore it does absolutely nothing to dampen the fear and loathing that this plan will be met by the broader Greek population. But with markets that have absolutely no liquidity and monkeys controlling the buy and sell algos, one can only sit back and laugh." Market surges on non-news | Zero Hedge
"Mr. Papandreou’s first task is to persuade his governing Socialist Party to pass a bill that would save or raise about $40 billion by 2015, equivalent to 12 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product, through wage cuts and tax increases, at a time when the economy is shrinking. To put that in perspective, spending cuts and tax increases of a similar scale in the United States would amount to $1.75 trillion, considerably more sweeping than even the most far-reaching proposals for reducing the American federal budget deficit. And Greece has promised to generate another $72 billion by selling off prime state assets, which many Greeks consider a fire sale of national patrimony." Greece fact of the Day - Marginal Revolution
"WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) Announcing a drawdown of American troops, President Barack Obama tonight maintained that the United States was not deserting Afghanistan, promising the Afghan people, “We will continue to follow you on Twitter.”
Mr. Obama indicated that the United States’ relationship with Afghanistan would soon transition from a military one to a social networking one, with the United States promising to “Like” Afghanistan’s Facebook page and share contact information on LinkedIn.
In summing up the United States’ ten-year military mission in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama said, “We have done everything we set out to do in Afghanistan, even though we actually did it in Pakistan.”
Mr. Obama detailed the United States’ exit strategy, saying that troops would soon be leaving Afghanistan “by way of Libya.”
He said that with troops coming or going to and/or from Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, “by 2012 the United States will be fighting only two wars – two and a half, tops.”
The President’s speech about Afghanistan ended on this stirring note: “In conclusion, my fellow Americans, I killed Osama bin Laden. Fuckin’ A.”
In a poll taken after the President’s speech, a majority of Americans agreed with this statement: “Afghanistan is a little like the TV show LOST: it’s ending, but I’m not sure I know what it all meant.”"
"To race bicycles is to drink greedily from a bottomless chalice of agony. The sport and its heroes are only knowable, and then just barely, once you come to understand that suffering is cycling’s currency. And what that currency buys is the occasional — the very, very occasional — moment of exquisite glory.
The first thing you notice about professional cyclists is that, with few exceptions, they appear to live their internal lives in a heavily padlocked tomb of mental anguish. They are at once astonishingly young and improbably ancient, a result of the fact that they are paid for their agony. They are modern-day ascetics, working in the open-air monastery of the mountains of Europe, with helmets as tonsures, spandex as robes."
The Pain Principle - The Walrus
"Another woman with strong, sometimes crazed opinions but who definitely does not watch any television – or certainly doesn't let her children watch any – is Tiger Mother. The other night, we came face to clavicle (she is very short). Amy Chua, author, law professor and famously hectoring mummy, was in London for an Intelligence Squared debate where she argued for the motion: "Western parents don't know how to bring up their children."
In the pre-debate count, 100 voted for her, 300 against. By the end, she had completely turned the numbers around: more than 300, including me, voted for the motion. Did she threaten to make us practise the piano for 15 hours or complete 2,000 equations before bedtime unless we voted for her? Disappointingly, no. Instead, she revealed herself to be less Tiger Mother, more pussy cat.
Her views are actually oddly balanced. To her credit, she didn't complain about the hype surrounding her book (more than one million copies sold). She simply revealed the title of the Chinese translation: Parenting by Yale Law Professor: Raising Kids in America. Over there, they are marketing her as Cuddly Mom.
She argues that neither western nor Asian parents have got it right. In the west, she says, we are too keen to be friends with our clidren. We need to give them expectations to live up to. In China, parents are too over-invested in their children's success. In the end, though, the opposition won the case for her. Frank Furedi, speaking against the motion, argued that we should all stop judging other people's parenting. So she's strict and others are liberal, so what? Enough comparing ourselves with others.
At the party afterwards, I had a question for Chua. "Isn't this really a debate about our fear of our children hating us? After all, most people secretly hate their parents – and children need something to kick against." The Tiger Mother's fangs finally emerged. Serenely chic, the picture of the American dream, she looked me up and down pointedly and replied: "People who lead successful lives have nothing but love for their parents."
Thrilled to have provoked the beast, I returned to my failed existence, happy in my British misery."
via The Guardian
"As usual, the tired old bigoted comedian Rush Limbaugh took offence that anyone could call Sarah Palin 'nuts,' even though she is quite obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and her grip on reality is, shall we say, tenuous. And as usual, Limbaugh blamed it on the left, ie the Guardian's Wintour/Watt blog.
"What he doesn't understand is that Palin's nutsiness is not a partisan matter in Britain, or anywhere else in the world. It is an obvious truth marvelled at by all. Palin's emergence as a serious figure in American politics has made the country a laughing stock across the world. The idea that a stateswoman like Thatcher, in advanced dementia, would be used by such a crackpot is simply unseemly."
Limbaugh, Palin And "The Left" - The Daily Beast via Sarah Palin snub by Margaret Thatcher aides infuriates US rightwing - The Guardian
"A great day for Apple.
Not such a good day for Amazon, Google and the recording industry.
Unlike Apple, the music industry is very shortsighted. There is no tomorrow, only today. Steve Jobs is seriously ill and he’s looking to tomorrow, the labels still haven’t pulled their heads out of yesteryear.
How do you make music pay in the future? How do you get a ton of revenue for recordings?
By getting everyone to pay.
How do we get everybody to pay for music? By dropping the price and making it easy.
You call that subscription.
Cable TV is a subscription. As is Netflix. As is your cell phone plan. Don’t say people hate subscriptions, that they don’t want them, it’s about offering a great service at a fair price.
The record industry refuses to do this.
The concept of renting your music, like you rent cable TV, that’s kaput.
And what did it cost?
$150 million. For approximately $40 million to the bottom line of each recording company, you know they’re not going to share the revenue with artists, the labels sold out their future.
This is so dumb it’s almost incomprehensible.
The labels have been snookered by Steve Jobs, who could sense their ignorance and preyed upon them."
Bob Lefsetz on iCloud - The Big Picture
"The male sexual brain is like a single toggle switch, whereas the female sexual brain is like the cockpit of an F1 fighter jet," neuroscientist Sai Gaddam said last month after studying female and male sexual cues. "There are tons of dials and instruments, and there's sophisticated calibration going on."
What it comes down to is that men are far more visual beings. We get turned on by looking at nudity and we know that. And some men are pompous enough to believe that what turns them on should also be a turn-on to women. But that's wrong; sexuality isn't rigid.
That fluidity in mind, I'd be a fool to say that there aren't women out there who are dying to get poorly lit iPhone pics of your junk texted to them in the middle of the night. But, as with every aspect of sex, you should probably ask first."
You Won't Attract Women with Cellphone Pictures of Your Penis - Good Culture
"A group of more than 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to tackle the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station.
The Skilled Veterans Corps, as they call themselves, is made up of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60.
They say they should be facing the dangers of radiation, not the young.
It was while watching the television news that Yasuteru Yamada decided it was time for his generation to stand up.
No longer could he be just an observer of the struggle to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The retired engineer is reporting back for duty at the age of 72, and he is organising a team of pensioners to go with him.
For weeks now Mr Yamada has been getting back in touch with old friends, sending out e-mails and even messages on Twitter.
Volunteering to take the place of younger workers at the power station is not brave, Mr Yamada says, but logical."
Japan pensioners volunteer to tackle nuclear crisis - BBC