Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Few things in life are as funny as politicians and financial pundits who take themselves and their pronouncements seriously. 9 times out of 10 time proves them to be clueless, and have little to no understanding of their times. Here is a sampling from recent Eurozone politicians sure to warm the heart:

“The Community shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of any Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project”.

—Article 104b, Maastricht Treaty, 1992.

“We have a Treaty under which there is no possibility of paying to bailout states in difficulty”.

—German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, 1 March 2010

“[Greek Prime Minister] Papandreou has said that he didn’t want one cent. The German government will not give one cent, anyway”.

—German Economy Minister, Rainer Brüderle, 5 March 2010

“The single currency, far from being an agent of continental style corporatism, is probably the greatest export vehicle of Anglo-Saxon economics. The euro has done more to enforce budgetary discipline, to promote privatisation and force through labour and product market liberalisation in the rest of Europe than any number of exhortations from the IMF, the OECD, or the editors of The Economist”.

—Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, 2002—

“The reality of the euro has exposed the absurdity of many anti-European scares while increasing the public thirst for information. Public opinion is already changing […] as people can see the success of the new currency on the mainland and the alarming fall in inward investment into Britain as international companies show an increasing reluctance to locate here”.

—Kenneth Clarke MP, 2002

“The euro has been a rock of stability, as illustrated by the contrasting fortunes of Iceland and Ireland. Joining the single currency would be a major step”.

—Former Labour MEP Richard Corbett, 2009

“We must enter the euro with a clean sheet on all the criteria”.

—Then Greek Finance Minister, Yannis Papantoniou, 1999

“The thrust of the spirit and of the letter of the Treaty is that everything is done to construct the euro area as an optimum currency area. First by ensuring that it incorporates economies that have already proved being convergent in the fiscal field as well as in the monetary and financial fields”.

—Then Governor of the Bank of France, Jean-Claude Trichet, 1997

“It is sometimes said that while the single monetary policy may be ‘right’ for the euro area as a whole, it is ‘wrong’ for many individual countries within the area. I disagree with this view. First, it overlooks the fact that within a single currency area adjustment can occur via prices and wages”.

—Then President of the European Central Bank, Wim Duisenberg, 1999

“Solidarity is possible, [and] will exist. A bailout is not possible and will not exist”.

—Then EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Joaquín Almunia, 29 January 2010

“I will defend the European Central Bank’s independence under any circumstance and with all my strength”.

—ECB President, Jean-Claude Trichet, 2007

“The euro area now represents a pole of stability for those countries participating in it by protecting them from speculation and financial turmoil. It is strengthening the internal market and contributing to the maintenance of healthy fundamental figures, fostering sustainable growth”.

—European Council conclusions, 2001

“The euro is a protection shield against the crisis”.

—European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, 5 February 2010

“There is not the slightest danger of a break-up of the Eurozone…On the contrary, I expect the Eurozone to be exceptionally stable in the long run…Make no mistake, the Eurozone is here to stay”.

—FT columnist Wolfgang Munchau, 2006

Please feel free to add your own examples.  They are plentiful.

HT: The Daily Capitalist.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Films About Alan Turing

I'm a few days late in celebrating the 100th birthday of Alan Turing, one of the great
mathematicians of the 20th century, who laid the foundations for computer science by developing the concepts of “algorithms” and “computing machines.” (See his seminal 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers.”) Turing also played a key role in breaking the Nazi Enigma code during World War II.

The two films below explore Turing’s life and times. The first film is Dangerous Knowledge, the BBC’s 90-minute documentary that takes a close look at four mathematicians – Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Turing – whose thinking profoundly influenced modern mathematics but also drove them (or so the program argues) to insanity and eventually suicide. You can find Part 2 here (Turing section around the 20 minute mark of part 2).

The second film, the BBC's 1996 Breaking the Code, explores Turing’s exploits as a World War II code breaker. It features Derek Jacobi as Turing and Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter as the mysterious “Man from the Ministry.” Directed by Herbert Wise, the film is based on a 1986 play by Hugh Whitemore, which in turn was based on Andrew Hodge’s 1983 book Alan Turing: The Enigma.

Dangerous Knowledge

Breaking the Code

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Next List: A New CNN Show

CNN is getting their clocks cleaned by another news network, but they still have a few shows worth watching. The Next List, hosted by Sanjay Gupta, is one such show.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hans Rosling: Religions and babies

Hans Rosling had a question: Do some religions have a higher birth rate than others -- and how does this affect global population growth? Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, he graphs data over time and across religions. With his trademark humor and sharp insight, Hans reaches a surprising conclusion on world fertility rates.

In Hans Rosling’s hands, data sings. Global trends in health and economics come to vivid life. And the big picture of global development—with some surprisingly good news—snaps into sharp focus.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cartoon of the Day: Big Gulp Outlet


Those concerned about their privacy on the internet might want to consider switching search engines from google or bing to DuckDuckGo. Duck Duck Go’s primary reason for existing is to be a free, open source search engine that is privacy aware by not tracking you. This way, websites cannot identify you, and you receive true search results that aren’t modified to fit your personality and searching habits. With Duck Duck Go, Big Brother is not watching or trying to make a profit off of your surfing habits.

The Wichita Devil

Charles Koch and his brothers have long been vilified by the left as the devil incarnate and the root of all evil in America (can't you just smell the sulfur when he speaks and see the horns sprouting below his white locks?). Let's let Koch speak for himself, and you judge whether the statist spin machine that has turned the brothers into monsters is accurate or not. People always respond better to stories than facts, and all good stories need bad guys. Who better to play the villain in an anti-capitalist fairy tale than successful brothers who cherish freedom?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Self Healing Machines

Self-healing materials bring with them the promise of scratched touchscreens that fix themselves, broken circuits that start working again, and even buildings that are able to fill any cracks that appear in their structure unaided. What you may not have realized is in order for these healing processes to happen, those materials end up reacting a lot like our skin and blood does after an injury.

The video above demonstrates plastic and foam materials capable of healing themselves. The process relies on microcapsules that are 20 microns or smaller in size, which when a crack is detected turn from a solid to a liquid and form a synthetic clot in the material. That clot then sets, filling the crack and healing the “wound” in some cases to the point where the material is stronger than it was previously.

Get Your Karl Marx Mastercard Right Here

The German Savings Bank (Sparkasse) of Chemnitz in Saxony held a contest allowing customers to vote for an image to be used on its Mastercard.

Chemnitz used to be in the German Democratic Republic (aka East Germany), and the Communist regime renamed the city Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1953. The original name was restored when Communism fell in 1990.

Nostalgic Ostis evidently cast their votes for Karl Marx, proving once again that Capitalism offers choices, even to those who don’t appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"Truthland" is the alternative to the documentary "Gasland," which sought to scare the crap out of people about natural gas and fracking. Shelley, a teacher and farmer, set out to look at the natural gas industry from a fresh point of view. Many of the same folks in the first documentary were given a chance to set the record straight without the filter of an agenda. Experts from industry, environmental groups, and universities were consulted as well as people who can set their tap water or ponds on fire. You be the judge of which documentary is more truthful.

The Genius of European Mutual Indebtedness

What a radical! He has yet to be enlightened by the editorial page of the New York Times.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ray Bradbury 1920 – 2012

Bradbury wrote that it was a chance encounter with a carnival performer called Mr. Electrico that made him a writer. No one else seems to remember Mr. Electrico, and no one has ever managed to confirm the story. Mr. Electrico said to the young Ray Bradbury as he knighted him with his sizzling electric sword: “Live forever.” And that is just what Bradbury will do through his stories.

Bradbury in a not so serious moment:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

You Are Not Special

One of the better commencement addresses of the year. The full text can be found here.

"if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another-which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality – we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point – and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it’s “So what does this get me?” As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans. It’s an epidemic – and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.” I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best. You‘re it or you’re not."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cargo Cult Science: Richard Feynman’s 1974 Caltech Graduation Address on Integrity

Though the talk was never recorded, you can read it in full here and hear it narrated below:

"This long history of learning how not to fool ourselves — of having utter scientific integrity — is, I’m sorry to say, something that we haven’t specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you’ve caught on by osmosis.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that."


"I have just one wish for you — the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Buffett at the D.C. Economics Club

Happy Days are Here Again: The Inflation Song

This film reel is from 1933 and extols the virtues of "moderate" inflation on economic growth and prosperity-- much along the lines of what we hear from the economic pundits of today who believe increased government spending is cure for all of our economic ills.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sugar Bad, Pot Good

Nanny Bloomberg, Mayor for life of NYC, after outlawing large, sugary drinks last week has deemed it ok for the NYPD to cut back on marijuana arrests inadvertently creating a hell on earth for buzz-heads unable to satisfy their cravings for munchies.  Rumor is they are headed for Jersey in droves.

The Lonely Life of the Computer Scientist

The book "C Programming Language" by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie is a classic.

Cycles of Life

The Bears on QE 3, 4, and 5

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Having Fun with Nanny Bloomberg

Should any politician anywhere be able to dictate the size of food or drink portions? Where does the Nanny state end? Does the Bloomberg ego have no boundaries? Oh, by the way, have a doughnut to celebrate National Doughnut Day. I bet he gets more political contributions from Dunkin Donuts than Coke or Pepsi. Hummmm...... maybe New York's finest should be eating a few less doughnuts..... there's some food for future thought.

From the WSJ: "Mayor Bloomberg believes that government has a duty to educate its citizens and even to "nudge" them in the right direction. But the real lesson here is that a government that pays most health-care bills will soon be dictating the everyday behavior of its people. An America that needs government to protect its citizens from 20-ounce sodas has bigger problems than obesity."