10/10/08 12:05 PM: Race to the Bottom
So it looks like the stock market is currently free falling. There is seemingly no end in sight for the current drops, amid all sorts of fear and worry. The credit markets are still not functioning, and it appears as though it’s going to take a lot of effort to get them back on track.
A few thoughts, even though I’m by no means any sort of expert.
While the current situation shares some features of the Great Depression, a lot of things are different. First off, the FDIC has raised insurance limits, and is discussing possibly removing limits all together. It’s not so much whether or not the FDIC could actually pay out if every bank failed (they couldn’t), but to encourage people to keep their money in the bank. Secondly, in the event of massive bank failures, it would be better for the Treasury to simply “print money” (not exactly how it would work, but the idea) to cover losses. It’s better to inflate the currency than to have people completely lose all of their money. I’d take my money even with a 20-25% devaluation than have 0% of it.
Second, the world appears to be working together to find some sort of solution. There is talk of a possible worldwide suspension of trading while specifics of new regulation are hammered out. I worry that this might cause markets to plunge right before this happens, but it might not be the worst idea in the world. Close all the major stock markets to allow people to figure some things out.
My major concern is the fact that Congress has recessed until after the election, and we have a lame duck President. When the election is over, it will be very important to get the new person’s economic team in place ASAP. This will require all sorts of cooperation with the Bush administration. I hope they will agree.
09/22/08 12:08 PM: Current Events and the like
A few years ago when I was taking Economic Statistics and Econometrics at Georgetown, I remember other students talking about their awesome internships at Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. Most of these kids had fathers or uncles or whatnot who worked for an investment bank and had gotten them that crucial summer internship. The summer interhship of getting coffee and possibly reading the Financial Times leads to getting paid to get coffee and read the Financial Times, eventually hopefully leading to lucrative career as an investment banker.
I suppose now the tables have turned, and I’m glad that I didn’t get into that rat race. For a while I thought, what if I had really pushed myself, and tried to get a job in New York with a bank, even though I didn’t want to move to New York or work for a bank. If I had, I’d probably still have a job (for now) but would be terrified and under so much stress.
It all works out in the end, right?
I haven’t really had time to pour over the specifics of what exactly is happening, and the details of this proposed bailout. I can’t help but think this is going to potentially cause more problems than it fixes, though. Gold has been rising obscenely fast the past few days, I’m guessing on fears of serious inflation.
I predicted $1000/ounce for gold last year, but that was too premature. Maybe this year, though. I really hope not, though. For everyone’s sake.
08/29/08 01:20 PM: McCain-Palin
Eventually I’m going to move away from politics on this blog, but since this is a huge topic of conversation, let me say a few things.
First off, I really have to ask if McCain has lost his mind. Well, no, I think we already knew the answer to that question. He lost it ages ago. I suppose the better question to ask is how did he end up with Sarah Palin as his choice?
I see two possible answers:
1. McCain thinks women are stupid.
2. Everyone else said no.
I think it’s probably a little from column A and a little from column B. Does McCain really think women who supported Hillary will support him simply because Palin is on the ticket?
And just, by the way, let me pause and again ask just who the hell is Sarah Paulin? Oh, that’s right, a former mayor of a tiny little village in Alaska who somehow managed to become governor.
So this is who will take over when/if McCain is no longer able to perform the duties of President? Really?
05/01/07 05:37 PM: As we all know
The war in Iraq could be over with one signature.
At 6:10PM EST, the president will veto funding for the Iraq war. He will announce that withdrawing troops would create a “cauldron of chaos.”
Mmmhmm. Defying the will of the American people, the Congress, most of the world, and the Iraqi people. Why can’t we have a Fearless Leader™ who would stand up like this for things that are actually rational, sane, and productive?
04/20/07 05:56 PM: Evil don't look like anything
So we have debates about gun control, with plenty of people quivering at the thought that maybe they could have prevent the shooting, had they just been there, with their gun. Maybe so, maybe some of the deaths could have been prevented had there been someone with a weapon near the shooting. I don’t know. Maybe it would have been worse, with armed bystanders getting into shoot-outs with each other in the confusion. Maybe the campus should have been completely shut down after the first shooting, maybe that would have saved some lives. Maybe the shooter should have been removed from school a year ago, when there were some indications he had problems. We can second guess all day long. As the cliche goes, hindsight is always 20/20.
This whole thing is just so incredibly tragic, innocent lives lost—taken by a killer who slipped through the cracks. Maybe we’ll learn something from all of this, but probably not.
Now, with all these cameras focused on my face
You would think that they could see it through my skin.
Looking for evil, thinking they can trace it but
Evil don’t look like anything.
04/18/07 11:12 PM: Virginia Tech
I wish I had something constructive to say regarding this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech. It’s difficult, and living in the DC area means this was sort of in our own backyard. Many of my friends know people at VT, including some of those who were injured. Thankfully, though, all of the people my friends know, and I know, made it out alive. Sadly, the same cannot be said for others. It’s tough.
In other news, last weekend I traveled around New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts with my friends in Telograph. I shot three of their shows with O.A.R. Some photos have been posted on my flickr and more will be forthcoming. Although I have never been a huge O.A.R. fan, I would like to say they are some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met while working shows. The band and their crew are very professional but also understanding and helpful to make sure we had everything we needed, even though we were only the opening band. So a big thanks to everyone on the O.A.R. crew. Also, it goes without saying, but Telograph did a fantastic job, and as always the band was very well organized and treated me as a professional, which is appreciated more anything. Kudos to everyone affiliated with the tour, kudos indeed.
Here’s one of the shots:
04/01/07 10:59 PM: Download music, help save the planet?
I was reading TIME Magazine’s special report on Global Warming, and it got me thinking. Currently I spent $3.00 per month to Cool Driver to offset the carbon emissions of my car. The Time article got me thinking about how much carbon is emitted in the production of a compact disc, and how much these emissions are reduced as a consequence of music downloading.
These are very rudimentary calculations, but I would imagine the general idea is fairly accurate.
The first figure I found for how much carbon is emitted from the production of a compact disc was via a blog, which cites its source as a Canadian firm called Offsetters. Their figure is .212 tonnes of CO2 per $1,000 of record sales. Figuring an industry typical $18 per CD (which is admittedly a bit high), that comes out to .0038 tonnes per album.
The music industry throws around large numbers for how much they have suffered, and one popular figure is $4.2 billion in lost revenue. This is attributed to multiple source of piracy, but we’ll work with the figure anyway.
Taking the .212 tonnes of CO2 per $1,000 figure, we come to an estimated carbon offset of 890,400 tonnes.
Sure, that figure may not be very accurate, as some of that may include “hard” copies made by pirates, which would have the same carbon emissions. So, say you go with a figure of 700,000.
That’s a fairly substantial figure. Add in legal downloading of music, with over 1 billion songs downloaded on the iTunes Music Store. Running that through my non-scientific calculations, that’s another 200,000 some tonnes of carbon. We’re now at around a million tonnes of carbon emissions reduced. Not too shabby.
Something to think about.
I’d be interested in more accurate calculations. If anyone has a source for CO2 emissions for the production of compact discs, let me know. Also, if we figure in full-length movie downloads… that would be interesting as well.
03/28/07 12:54 AM: Final Four
So in my facebook.com NCAA bracket, I successfully chose the teams that made it to the final four. Except for those UNC fans, I’ll bet a lot of people chose UCLA, Georgetown, Florida and Ohio St.
Since I went to Georgetown, and witnessed the return of basketball, I am immensely pleased. I still remember the vocal protests my sophomore year for the University to fire Craig Esherick. In just three years, John Thompson III has taken the team to the Final Four.
I was in Georgetown right after the come-from-behind win over UNC, and I would like to point out how well behaved the celebrations were. When we win the national championship on Monday, I’m not expecting anything different. (Insert UMD-College Park putdown here). While I may, at times, complain that some of my alma mater’s student body are loud and belligerent, I am very proud nothing got out of hand.
With a possible exception for Duke, it’s rather rare to see a school that is strong in both academics and athletics. It may be a sad commentary on American education, but prominence in Basketball can make a real difference for a school. Applications will rise, donations will come pouring in, and hopefully it help the entire school. Plus it gives us graduates nice bragging rights other than “have you heard how awesome our international politics programs are?”
I may have had some gripes with Georgetown as a student, but I’m very proud of our team, and of our school.
From the press conference in 2004 when John Thompson, III was announced as the new head coach:
“I grew up on this campus, I grew up in McDonough Gym,” Thompson said. “It’s a part of who I am in as much as Princeton is. But growing up … [there] was a chant that was, ‘We are Georgetown’ … I love it. Because it’s ‘We are Georgetown.’ And when you say that, it’s the institution, it’s the administration, it’s the community, it’s Washington, D.C., it’s the other teams, the other members of the athletic department, it’s our program. And that’s what we have, a program, not a team. We are Georgetown. And a few people have forgotten that we’re Georgetown, and we’re going to work our tails off to remind them.”
03/18/07 03:42 AM: Spring TV Round-Up
This is a bit different, a non music or tech related post. I’m sure you won’t mind too much.
Last fall I decided to sign up for TiVo service, after not having cable for a few months. I had tried to set up an over-the-air antenna to receive HDTV, unfortunately I live on the wrong side of the 8th floor, and reception was near impossible. I was able to receive CBS, so long as I dangled the antenna out the window. So I caved, and have a TiVo hooked up to basic analog cable.
To get to the point, TiVo did have an impact on how I watch TV. When I lived in Arlington, and in my previous DC apartment, I went for the Comcast all-digital snazzy package that came with an HDTV DVR. It was a Motorola box, and I must tell you it was awful. The user interface was terrible, their version of “season pass” was unreliable, and as such I rarely used the functionality. It also came with a $120/mo price tag for Internet+TV. I could simply not justify paying that much money to watch television.
So now I watch a few shows, which the TiVo dutifully records. I thought I’d take a moment to discuss two of the network primetime shows I am excited about.
I would easily say that Jericho has become my favorite television show. It won me over because it deals with one of my favorite genres of science fiction/fiction, nuclear war/post-apocalyptic. Jericho airs Wednesdays on CBS at 8PM EST.
Yeah, check out that graphic, isn’t Skeet Ulrich a dreamboat? Seeing how this is a show I enjoy, I am hoping that the presence of Mr. Ulrich (as the shows star, Jake Green) will attract a large enough teenage girl crowd to keep the show viable. Most shows I enjoy are canceled within the first 2-3 episodes, so it’s been nice to see Jericho will at least enjoy an entire first season. I’ve heard it’s ratings lately have been poorer as of late, though (it returned from hiatus in February). I don’t understand why networks do this, take a popular show off the air for a few months, and wonder why it has bad ratings when it returns opposite American Idol.
Jericho takes place in, of all places, the fictional Jericho, Kansas, after terrorists detonated 20-kiloton nuclear weapons in most major cities in the U.S. It follows how one town copes, as well as giving clues as to how and why the attack happened. I am hoping it will be renewed for next year, as it seems CBS is seriously lacking in the decent prime time drama department. Jericho and NCIS, however, make for a decent showing.
Next up is Raines, starring Jeff Goldblum. I love Jeff Goldblum, and will forever be quoting “That’s when you take them out … take them down … do your thing” from Independence Day. Goldblum stars as Detective Raines, a man who “sees” the victims of the crimes he investigates. So far only the Pilot has aired, but it seems to have some potential. It’s not as goofy as Monk, but not as gritty or serious as Law and Order. This could gather a following among people who enjoyed shows such as Diagnosis Murder, or many of those other mid-to-late 90’s crime shows that peaked before the age of CSI. I’d predict it’s largest audience would be older, 40-50 year olds, simply based on the types of shows my family watches.
Raines airs Thursdays on NBC at 10 PM EST.
02/04/07 03:23 AM: War with Iran?
I’m a bit concerned we are going to get into a war with Iran.
Now, I’m not one to say I like Iran. It’s difficult to differentiate Iran from, say, Saudi Arabia.
However, there are several problems with going to war with Iran. These include:
1. Iran has a real military.
2. Iran has allies.
3. Iran could potentially deploy weapons of mass destruction.
Now some people will make the argument that points 1 & 3 justify going to war. I’m going to be super selfish and argue that however much we don’t like Iran, it’s not worth Vietnam-sized casualties (or more), and potentially sparking a world war.
If it’s going to happen, it would most likely unfold somehow like this:
1. Israel conducts airstrikes against Iranian nuclear plants. This attack may involve the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Estimated Iranian casualties go as high as 1 million.
2. Iran, unlike Iraq, can deliver a counter-strike. The United States, as an ally of Israel, launches airstrikes against targets inside Iran, again potentially using tactical nuclear weapons.
3. We have more than 100,000 troops sitting in Iraq, right next door. Sitting ducks, if you will. Iranian counter-attacks against our troops in Iraq, and against oil production facilities all around the gulf region.
4. Within a few weeks, potentially, a million or so people are dead, and gas is upwards of $10/gallon. Terrorist attacks in the United States are likely, as well as in Britain and elsewhere.
Would China or Russia get involved as well? Most likely not overtly, but covertly certainly. There would be, of course, potential for this to spread, and we end up going to war with countries we certainly don’t want to be fighting.
Of course, the scenario could also happen that we attack Iran following a terrorist attack in the United States. I am going to say this is unlikely, but not off the table. It’s more likely we will see an Israeli led-strike, leading to U.S.-involvement.
The concerning part of all of this is that the President requires no Congressional approval to attack Iran, and even if he did, he would most certainly get it if it was the result of an Israeli-initiated strike.
It’s my understanding that going to war with Iran would be a very, very, bad thing. This reminds me of a quotation from the movie The Hunt for Red October, “This business will get out of control. It will get out of control, and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”
I’d put odds of a strike on Iran at 25% before the end of March.