Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ice cream blandwiches

I'm surprised there isn't a big market for ice cream sandwiches that are made out of something other than vanilla ice cream and chocolate biscuit. I know I'd eat fancier flavors.


Design of a Dutch commemorative 5 Euro coin

The Dutch Ministry of Finance held a design competition for a commemorative 5 Euro coin celebrating Dutch architecture. The winning artist described his design. It's very creative and clever. Much more interesting than Old Abe.

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The superficial polyglot

Thanks to Dora (whom I loathe), Uma now understands that there's English and there's Spanish. I was telling her the other day that there were other languages, and giving her examples of words I knew from them. I realized I actually know words from a lot of languages. I know at least one word from each of the following:

  • Arabic

  • Chinese

  • English

  • French

  • German

  • Greek (ancient)

  • Greek (modern)

  • Hebrew

  • Hindi

  • Italian

  • Japanese

  • Korean

  • Latin

  • Marathi

  • Mongol

  • Portuguese

  • Russian

  • Spanish

  • Swahili

  • Swedish

  • Thai

  • Turkish

Actually, given that many Indian languages use similar words for things like chick peas, I could probably add another 5 or 8 languages to the list. That seems like cheating, though. Restricting it to non-food words would make that list a lot shorter, as would needing to know, say, 5 words. Still, it surprised me. How many do you think you know?


Optimism: On the 10,000th try there was light.

I've seen this billboard from the Foundation For a Better Life, an organization that I find vaguely suspicious for no discernible reason. This billboard is historically inaccurate, or at least misleading. It implies that it took Thomas Edison by himself 10,000 attempts before he made a working light bulb. If that were true, it would be stupid. Only an idiot would keep trying after 5,000 complete failures.

Incorrect implication the first: Edison didn't invent the light bulb. The light bulb was actually invented in 1802, decades before Edison was even born. It just wasn't a practical one. Just getting light out of an incandescent bulb wasn't hard. What was difficult was making it bright and durable.

Incorrect implication the second: Edison worked alone. Edison had an army of (underappreciated) assistants doing much of the work (as described in the biography The Wizard of Menlo Park). He also built on the work of others (as detailed in the afore-linked Wikipedia article), including the key innovations of the evacuated glass bulb and the carbon filament.

What Edison and his team of assistants managed to do in the late 1870s was to perfect the state of the art in electrical lighting. It was a valuable effort, but it isn't nearly the grand leap the billboard implies. I'm not even convinced they really did try 10,000 different types of filaments. Even a thousand seems unlikely, but I don't have a better number. Regardless, the billboard is deceptive.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Test Your Knowledge: The electromagnetic spectrum

Name the 7 main components of the electromagnetic spectrum.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Test Your Knowledge: Presidential Surnames

A little sneakier and harder: how many distinct Presidential surnames have there been?

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

The NY Times demonstrates my rule

"The victory was the third straight for the Longhorns against a team in the top 11 of the Associated Press poll."

Top 11? Because the previous win was against then #11 Missouri.



Friday, October 24, 2008

Giant crystals in Mexico

Amazing pictures of enormous crystals found in an underground mine in Mexico. It looks like Superman's Fortress of Solitude. You can read some words, too. If you're into that.

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Availability cascade

What an interesting concept, and a great name for it:

An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that gives the perception of increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse. The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives: Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance. Availability entrepreneurs - activists who manipulate the content of public discourse - strive to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their agendas. Their availability campaigns may yield social benefits, but sometimes they bring harm, which suggests a need for safeguards. Focusing on the role of mass pressures in the regulation of risks associated with production, consumption, and the environment, Professor Timur Kuran and Cass R. Sunstein analyze availability cascades and suggest reforms to alleviate their potential hazards. Their proposals include new governmental structures designed to give civil servants better insulation against mass demands for regulatory change and an easily accessible scientific database to reduce people's dependence on popular (mis)perceptions.

Source (yeah, I only read the abstract)

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Panic vs. capitulation

Is it over yet? Probably not.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time to buy a fuel-efficient car?

Heading into a recession, with auto loans increasingly hard to get, and (temporary?) relief at the pump, it seems to me that auto dealers are going to be motivated over the next few months. Maybe especially in the first quarter of the year, usually the economic doldrums.

What does it say about me that the car that inspires the most acquisitive materialism in me is the Honda Fit?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My protest vote

I wrote in "Ron Paul."


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baby food idea

One of the baby food books we have suggests one odd possible food for 8-month old babies: cooked parsley. Can you imagine the look on a baby's face after getting a mouthful of parsley? I mean, what the...

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Whither the speculators?

Oddly, nobody's giving the speculators credit for halving the price of oil. You know, seeing as they're the ones who control the market and drove the price so high. More reasonable people can at least gloat that a bunch of them have probably lost a lot of money in the fall.

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It's easy to call a bottom in the stock market...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some days matter more than others

You've probably seen statements like "most of the gains on stocks in 2005 game on 4 days." No? Ok, then look here (it's in Part III). That's not the point of this post or that guy's post. Instead:

Guys, remember that time when you were 24 and you were on the subway, and you saw that girl with the glasses reading a book wearing a black leather coat, and you were obsessing over whether to go up to her or not but then your stop came, and you were like, screw it, she'll probably mace me, so you got off and went to the library to study for your chem exam?

You chose wrong.

Most days are like other days. A few days are different. Those days have the potential to be the best days of your life. You won't know when those days are coming, but after they happen, you'll recognize them. A chance encounter. A surprising conversation. Those few days can change your life, but you have to be ready for it. If you don't take chances, you won't take the chance that will change your life.

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Working weekends at The Economist

I used to get issues of The Economist pretty regularly on Fridays. Now... not so much. I guess there's just too much that happens during the week for a Wednesday night/Thursday morning publishing deadline. Now, well, now I don't get it until Monday, sometimes even Tuesday. And since this crisis is 7 days a week, not 5, even that doesn't help, because the issue is often still obsolete by the time I get it. Those poor guys.

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Restricted access

Linkedin annoys me every time I go to them because they're asking for my Google/Yahoo/Facebook/Whatever logins. Uh, no. I accept that some people find this kind of thing useful. But giving up my username and password? SRSLY? Uh uh.

There's a simple thing all these web sites can do. They can add restricted roles support. I should be able to log into Hotmail, create a restricted role called "Linkedin," give that role permission to look at my address book but not my mail, and then get a generated username/password combination to give to Linkedin. If Linkedin starts to annoy in some other way, say, by plaxo-ing everyone I know, then I can turn off their access. That's the basic level.

The even better level would be to be able to specify which information in which parts of the app the restricted role can see. Not just "Linkedin can see address book," but "Linkedin can see the first names and last names but not the email addresses." That way you can search for people you know en masse but avoid giving Linkedin the ability to spam.

Just thought of a social networking site for pigs: oinkedin(.com)

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verb: for newlyweds to become stranded while on their post-wedding vacation celebration.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Underwhelming Christmas sales

Used to be that retailers would place their orders months and months in advance. Manufacturers would attempt to anticipate demand and build up inventories against predicted sales later in the year. If there was an abrupt downturn in the economy, retailers would be sitting on inventory that they would have to get rid of, which meant great sales (I assume).

These days, with globally integrated supply chains, sophisticated software, and just-in-time manufacturing, companies can react a lot faster, and be a lot less likely to have excess inventory. That means that retailers will be less desperate to dump inventory this Christmas. They'll be desperate for sales, but not the sort of desperation that makes them sell below cost. That's better for them, and probably better for the economy, but not very satisfying for a skinflint for me.

On the other hand, I expect a bumper crop of discounted gift cards starting December 26th.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jump back

Anything that plays any video or audio media absolutely needs to copy Tivo's jump back 7 seconds button.


A European Cold War

I discovered today that the country of Liechtenstein refuses to recognize the governments of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and vice versa, because of post-WWII era laws and the confiscation of property belonging to the former Prince of Liechtenstein due to his links with Nazi Germany. When I was thinking about countries not recognized by other countries, I was thinking Israel or Abkhazia or Taiwan, not civilized Europe.

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Is the panic over?

Maybe the panic is over, but...

"Do not confuse this moment of calm with a stock market bottom or a sign that a serious recession has been avoided."

"Put another way, we didn't just have a housing bubble and a corporate takeover bubble and a consumer credit bubble and a commodities bubble. In time, those asset bubbles led to the creation of a bubble economy, with too many airplanes and restaurant seats and hotel rooms, too many office buildings and shopping centers, too many investment banks and media outlets dependent on advertising revenue from car companies producing too many cars and home builders producing too many houses. Shrinking all that back to the right size is what the coming recession is all about."


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Monday, October 13, 2008

Black and White Mothography


This neat moth was just outside my door when we came home from a walk on Saturday. Actually, it's still there. I wonder if it's dead...

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Oversimplified Presidential qualifications

Barack Obama = Mediocre judgment + minor experience

John McCain = Terrible judgment + major experience

Joe Biden = Mediocre judgment + major experience

Sarah Palin = Terrible judgment + minor experience


Bubbles begetting bubbles

To me, it is apparent that the cause of the current financial crisis is the Federal Reserve's attempt to avoid a recession after the collapse of the dot-com bubble. They weren't able to avoid it, only delay it, and now the bill is coming due, with interest. I am concerned that the current interventions may repeat the mistakes of the past, and avoid substantial hurt now only to cause greater hurt later.

Unlike my esteemed colleague, I don't think that government intervention by itself is the source of the problem. It can cause numerous problems, but I don't think government intervention in the markets is the source of bubbles. I would be less worried about catastrophic hurt further down the line if the hurt today is severe enough. That means primarily two things: property values have to at least fall back to long-term trends (possibly as measured by the ratio of household income property value), and the banks have to see a lot of their shareholder value evaporate. That can be due to bank collapses, share price collapses, or, more likely, some combination of the two.

I can't find the link, but I read an analogy of the financial crisis to forest fires. Under normal circumstances, forests have fires on a semi-regular basis. That thins out the trees, burns out all the accumulated underbrush, fallen branches, etc. It's generally not a big problem, in aggregate. However, when there are humans in the equation, they put out the fires. The trees grow more thickly and the combustible elements have a chance to build up. The forest fires aren't avoided so much as delayed. What happens in the end is a catastrophic fire that rages and burns everything down.

That's sort of how I see the current situation. I want the fire to burn long enough to thin out the trees and to burn out all the flammable underbrush. I don't want it to wipe everything out. There needs to be enough destruction to purge all the crap that has accumulated over the last 2 decades since the last "real" recession, in the early 1990s. Obviously, I don't want to see the whole world burn. Another analogy that I won't belabor is chemotherapy. You have to suffer a lot to completely kill the cancer; you don't want to just wound it, because then you've injured yourself, but you haven't actually fixed anything.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The world in the air

Watch it in high quality*. You can see the great-circle paths, especially over the South Pacific from Australia to Buenos Aires.

* Hmmm. Can't flip to high quality when embedded. Look to the right below the player on YouTube's version.

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Friday, October 3, 2008


noun: an unpleasant experience that nonetheless yields a positive outcome.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

VP debate expectations

In the VP debate previews (example, they talk about ways the VP candidates can screw up. For Joseph Biden, they talk about him making trivial gaffes. He might say something that offends some people. He might ramble on, and be a little smug. On the other hand, what they talk about Sarah Palin is that she won't answer with specifics, and that she needs to talk about how she's Jane Six Pack rather than get bogged down in complex political issues.

The way they talk about the two candidates implies that these are roughly equivalent in significance. Biden's pitfall? He often expresses himself poorly, so he needs to exercise some discipline in his answers. Palin's pitfall? She doesn't know what the hell she's talking about, so she's has to throw up a smoke screen of folksy crap in order to escape with any dignity. How are those at all on the same level?


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting a Good Job in Software, Part II: Beginning the Process

As night follows day, so Part II follows Part I (eventually). So you've decided you want a new job, huh? By this time, you should have a rough idea of what you're looking for and what's out there. The first thing you should do is update your list. Your list might have entries on it a year old. Companies go out of business, get acquired, shift markets, etc. Make sure you have current information.

The next step is to filter your list of candidates more rigorously. I said before that you shouldn't be selective when getting your list of names. Well, now is the time to be picky. Now you're looking for reasons to take a company off your list. Map them to find out how far they are. Try to find out how big they are.

Go through that list. See who's hiring. Research their business. Look for news articles about your target company. Try your local newspaper, your local Business Journal, national newspapers, Infoworld, CNet, and the like. Look especially for information about deals, funding, product launches, and hiring. You want to get a feel for the company, and how it is running.

Find out not just how much money they make, but how they do it. Do they get a recurring fee for service? Do they get money from people who aren't their primary users, like in advertising? Do they get a big check up front for shelfware? These models have a pervasive effect on the culture and incentives in a company. Don't expect to find out all these things. You can't get a complete picture of the company, so don't try. What you're doing is trying to save yourself effort later on. If a company is a bad match, you want to find out sooner rather than later.

Look at the job listings they have. Are there jobs you want to do? Would anyone realistically hire you for them? Don't waste employers' time by applying to a job you're not qualified for, even if you're a fast learner. Maybe you can do the job. They have no way of distinguishing between you and someone who is just blowing smoke. If there's a must-have skill that you don't have, forget it and move on. If you can't offer evidence on your resume that you can do the job, skip it.

Contact the independent recruiters that you know. See what they have, what they're working on. Ask them about the companies on your target list. They're probably not working for any of them, but they might be. They'll also often be privy to industry gossip, and can tell you things you wouldn't learn otherwise. If you've been keeping in touch with them, they'll be happy to talk to you, especially if you're willing to talk about one of their prospects.

Use Linkedin to find out if you know anyone at your target. That's good for research, such as when a friend of mine vouched for two of the people at one company. It's also good for making contact, as when I discovered that an acquaintance of mine from years back had become a recruiter for one of my target companies. It's useful even when you don't know anyone there. By looking at the histories and profiles of people who work there, you can get a good idea for their styles and skills.

All of this should be used to narrow down your list. Your goal is to end up with 5-10 currently open positions at your target companies. If you can only come up with a couple, maybe you need to loosen your standards. Or maybe your current situation is tolerable, and you can stick with it. If you have more than 10, you need to prune your list, or at least prioritize it. Go ahead and be as frivolous as you have to in order to get that number down. A good job is not a commodity; different jobs will fit you in different ways, so you should focus on finding a good match.

Once you've narrowed down your list, you need to start thinking about specific openings. You were looking at companies before; now you're ready to take action on specific jobs. Work on your resume. There are lots of guides out there on how to write a resume; I'm not sure they're good, but I'm also not sure I'd be any better. I can just point to what seems to have worked for me.

Come up with a canonical, complete resume that describes every significant aspect of your work experience. Ignore the standard advice about length; you are not going to send this version to anyone. List your experience, skills, education, portfolio of work, and so forth. Leave out hobbies and side interests unless you can directly connect them to the job, or if your read of the company suggests they like that kind of thing (very fuzzy, I know). Spell check, grammar check, etc. Have someone else read it. You don't want to let any stupid errors slip through.

Once you have this resume, shaping it for specific jobs becomes easy. Remove or minimize the less relevant things. The travel web site won't care about your experience with card processors. Remove that section, or at least condense it. The programming tools vendor has no interest in your database experience. The company writing software for Windows won't care that you're a whiz at shell scripting. Use boldface to emphasize points of alignment; if the job posting says "Spring," and you have Spring on your resume, put it in bold. That can apply to inexact matches, too; if the job wants TopLink, and you know Hibernate, emphasis that.

Some job postings emphasize business skills, so leave in the section about how you worked with product marketing to develop business requirements. Put that in bold, too. Other jobs are more about heads-down coding, so you can leave that out. If you can't find a number of places where your job overlaps with the opening, maybe the job isn't for you. This isn't just an exercise in adapting your resume; it's also about double-checking the match. Make sure you save the job posting you're applying to; you'll want that for later so you can confirm what you're getting into, and you can't cont on it to remain where you found it.

This should go without saying, but your resume must be completely true and accurate. Besides being the right thing to do, anything and everything on your resume is fair game for questions in an interview. If it's been a while since you worked with a particular tool, and your skills are rusty, you can leave it in the experience section, but exclude it from the current skills section.

Once you've got a resume customized to a particular job, figure out how you're going to make contact. It's always good to go through someone you know, but I've had surprisingly good results just contacting them cold. I figure if a company is posting a job on their web site, they probably have someone paying attention. In my recent experience, I contacted 6 companies. I knew the recruiter at one of them. Another one came up due to a recruiter contacting me. The rest of them were cold contacts. Two were via their web site, one was via a Craig's List posting, and the last was directly to a specific recruiter whose contact information I'd gotten from a third party. I heard back from all of them.

I'm assuming your contact is via email. Does anyone do anything else these days, at least in software? You must include a message with your resume. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Aim for something between 1 and 4 paragraphs. The basic points to cover are who you are, where you heard about the company, what job you're applying for, why you like the job, and a brief justification for why they should consider you. You can often do that in 100 well-chosen words. Sometimes that's all you need. If you are particularly interested in this job or company, you should say that. That indicates you've done your research. A company would rather hire someone particularly interested in them than someone who's looking for a generic job.

Your resume should be an attachment. Don't include it in the main part of the message because your introductory message serves a distinct purpose. Use whatever file format that the ad calls for. If it doesn't say, you'll have to pick one. Word files are common, but there's a proliferation of versions. Text always works, but it's ugly. On my recent search, I sent out all my resumes as PDF. That seemed like the safest attractive option, and it seemed to work.

Once you contact a company, you should expect it to take up to 2 weeks for them to get back to you. It's unfortunate, but it's true; for a number of reasons beyond your control, companies can be slow. There's nothing you can do about it. Often, companies don't even acknowledge that you've contacted them. It's rude, but again, there's nothing you can do about it. It is acceptable to send a single follow-up message if you don't hear anything, but I would only do that if you have reason to believe that your email was lost. Otherwise, give up on them and move on.

It is perfectly acceptable to talk to multiple companies at once. In fact, it's desirable. It gives you better perspective on your options, while also mitigating the frustration of the glacial pace of the process. Let's not forget that this is a financial transaction. You want to establish a positive relationship built on trust and mutual respect, but you're also looking out for number one. Balancing those can be tricky, but nobody worth working for should question you examining all of your options.

Assuming you get a positive response you should expect the process to take at least 3 weeks from initial contact to an offer, unless of course you or the company declines to continue. Usually it will take 4-6 weeks, though in some cases it may be as much as 12 weeks. 3 months is totally not cool, but it can happen. It can be a frustrating experience because you'll have bursts of activity where you're making rapid progress, followed by days or weeks of stasis. That's where it can help to be talking to multiple companies at once. Hopefully, you'll be making progress with at least one company every couple of days. There's a lot that's outside your control, though, so you should know what to expect. These are important decisions, so you should expect it to take a while.

Next time I'll write about what to do when they respond.

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Test Your Knowledge: Napoleon

When and where was Napoleon's final battlefield defeat?

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Sarah Palin is just like someone you know

The thing I find fascinating is that Sarah Palin was originally popular because people could relate to her as someone they knew from their everyday lives: the bubbly, over-achiever hockey mom who really gets involved in the community. Why she's fallen, hard, is that people realized she was in fact another person they knew from their everyday lives: that crazy mom who turns even the PTA into an insane obsessive power-play and forms weird hostile rivalries she executes through byzantine yet childish plots, seasoned with a dash of Fear of Anything Different.


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Last week's oil spike

You remember how last week the price of oil spiked $25 on September 22 (closing up $15)? Don't read too much into that. When the media report on the price of oil, they seem to report on the spot price of the futures contracts with the soonest delivery dates. Contracts are for delivery on the first of the month. There are October contracts, November contracts, December contracts, etc.

September 22 was the last day to trade October contracts. Anyone who wanted an oil delivery for October had to buy that day. That magnified the normal market movement on that day. The contract for November went up by $6.62, which was a lot, but much less than the October one.

The price of oil isn't smooth because the market isn't smooth. There is a basic structure to the contracts to make them regular and consistent, and thus easier to trade. The down side of that is it introduces variables other than plain old supply and demand that have to do with the mechanics of trading and delivery. The oil market isn't the only market where such things happen, but that's where this phenomenon most recently manifested.

Credit to The Economist.

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Tech company benefits

Employers can be short-sighted and stingy with benefits. In the back of my mind, I've always kept the ambition that some day I would start my own software business. I'd like to think I'd be more enlightened. It's not about generosity in and of itself; I think that generous benefits can be a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace for talent. That makes it easier to get the best people and make sure they stick around. So far, I've come up with a list of ideal benefits I'd like to see:

  • 4 weeks of vacation per year at start, with 6 weeks available for those who have been around for a while.

  • 2 weeks of personal/sick time per year.

  • Fully paid health insurance premiums for employee and spouse.

  • 401(k) contribution of 5% no matter what the employee does, with matching of another 5%

  • A severance fund created the moment an employee starts. This fund would have 2 months of salary in it. If the employee is terminated without cause, such as in a layoff, they get the whole thing. If the employee is terminated with cause, they get 2 weeks. I don't know what to do in the case of the employee leaving by choice; I'm wavering between giving half and giving nothing. The important thing is that the money would be funded (using, say, TIPS) as soon as the employee started. That way, no matter what happened to the company, the employee wouldn't be left in the lurch.

  • 3 months fully paid paternity leave - it would be half pay for 3 months, with the balance paid out after the employee has been back on the job for a while, perhaps 9-12 months. If the employee quits before then, he doesn't get it. I've seen too many people take excessive advantage of this kind of benefit.

  • 4 months fully paid maternity leave - same conditions.

  • 4 day work weeks (maybe)

I have only a rough idea what this would cost. I think the vacation, sick time, and shortened work week would be free. People would be at work less, but more effective when they were around. The severance fund is less pricey than it looks; severance is normal, and this only differs in the quantity and the timing of the funding. The parental benefits would be expensive, but would only apply to some of the employees some of the time. I expect this would add 25%-40% to payroll costs on an annual basis. My hope is that these benefits would drastically reduce turnover and make hiring much easier. Vacancies are expensive, as is filling them. I haven't run the numbers, but my gut says it's the right thing to do. Hopefully, one day I'll get the chance to test this, and I'll end up being right.

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Does the housing bust mean Osama Bin Laden is winning?

One of Osama Bin Laden's goals was to plunge the United States into economic chaos. Well, there's chaos now, and it can be traced back indirectly to September 11th. In 2001, the Federal Reserve lowered rates to compensate for a slowing economy after the dot-com bust. Then September 11th hit, and what looked like a painful but manageable slowdown suddenly looked a lot more dangerous. The Fed slashed rates even further. Interest rates would have been low anyway, but not this low.

This was the fuel for the housing boom. With so much cheap money available, house prices got pushed much higher than was justified. With so much potential profit, fraud, recklessness, and negligence allowed people to borrow money when no sane person should have lent them any. That was the genesis of the housing boom and bust, and the trigger event for this credit crunch.

It's quite likely there would have been a housing boom without September 11th. After all, interest rates were going down as it was. They wouldn't have gone down so much, though, and that makes all the difference. This economic crisis is a non-linear, chaotic event. A difference of 0.5% in the federal funds rate, or a more rapid raising of rates leading into the recovery might have made all the difference.

Osama Bin Laden wanted a war with the United States in Afghanistan, where he thought he could win and bloody the nose of the infidel imperialists. He was wrong, but then we served up Iraq. He provoked the war he wanted, but he lost it. And then we invaded Iraq, in response to September 11th, and gave him the war between Islam and infidel that he wanted. He didn't make us do it, but he provoked us into doing it to ourselves.

The same applies to the credit crunch. Osama Bin Laden did not cause the bust. It's something he wanted to happen, but he didn't cause it. It's worse than that. He caused us to do it to ourselves. The chain of causality is different, but the result is the same.

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Hint: it's what's next to the logo on the main label.

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Trusting the bailout

That there is a crisis is something that basically 99% of the country is taking on trust. We have no direct knowledge of it. We have no indicators. The stock and bond markets don't count, as they are feeding off the same indicators. What we have here is a potential crisis that only a few people in the banking industry and regulatory system can directly perceive. I don't claim it's a fiction, only noting the phenomenon. It's a good (I think) that Bernanke and Paulson are convincing with respect to the existence of the problem, if not its solution. Otherwise, how would we know until it was too late?

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