Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekend ramblings

Weekend reading

If you're just a tad confused about what Uncle Ben was talking about yesterday, so am I. The absolute best explanation I've read of what Bernanke said (or more to the point, didn't say) on Friday is this piece by Bruce Krasting over on  It's right on the money and the Night Owl give it four hoots up.  As they say down at the Public Library, check it out.

Last Sunday, August 21st, I wrote a piece called War With China that was fairly well read.  Three days later, a piece appeared over on called Is the market forecasting war?  Hmmm...

Google Trends
And speaking of World War III take a look at this search term graph from Google Trends:  And what term did I search for?  "War with China"!  This term wasn't even on the radar until 2008.  It began perking in 2009 and has been running at about 5 times the average level ever since, with one big spike to over 10x normal in mid-2010 that Google chose not to annotate for some reason.

Know your enemy
And while we're at it, does anyone remember this iconic image?  At first glance, it looks like nothing more than a wallpaper pattern.  It isn't.  It was those 2,008 Chinese drummers pounding away in perfect clockwork synchronization during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Peking.

No doubt meant to be an "oooh, ahhh" moment by the organizers (or maybe it wasn't), but it just gave me the willies.  None of those guys looked  happy.  What do you think?

Two more interesting articles for the student of history: this one seems to have been forgotten in today's Short Attention Span society but it's important: China shoots down satellite.  Way back in 2007, China demonstrated to the world its ability to shoot down satellites orbiting the earth.  Gosh, I wonder why they'd need to be able to do that?

And this item is just a few weeks old: China's first aircraft carrier 'starts sea trials' That's right, the Peoples' Liberation Army (or I guess in this case, Navy) needs an aircraft carrier to, to, um, just why do they need an aircraft carrier?

So do I think WWIII is really coming?  Gosh, I hope not.  Maybe, eventually.  I don't think it will involve duking it out with nukes though.  It will be more of a cyber-socio-economic kind of war.  Every new great war differs substantially from its predecessor.  This one should be no different.

Executive Summary

From world war we move on to class war.  Not rich vs. poor.  This one is workers vs. management (which I guess amounts to the same thing).  Actually, this is just a funny story, not an executive summary  Back in the days when I worked for a big tech company, management decided to install a  fancy new video projector for the conference room.  They left the actual setup of this device to us techie types.

We carefully opened the box and unpacked it.  The first thing we pulled out was a remote control.  This looked like it had once been part of the console for a nuclear reactor or perhaps the space shuttle, had the space shuttle been invented back then.  It just bristled with buttons of various sizes, colors and shapes.  Suffice it to say we were mightily impressed.  Then someone said, "Hey wait, there's another remote in here".  We all took a look but this time we were just puzzled.

This other remote had only two buttons on it.  On for power, and the other for volume up and down.  We roundly scorned this useless sad button-impoverished excuse for a remote and wondered what kind of idiot would want to use it.  Then we came across the installation manual.  And right there in the parts list, under "master remote control", we got our answer.

The kiddie remote was called the "Executive Remote Control".  I kid you not.  We laughed about that for months.  It became something of a standing joke.  And the funny part is that the executives loved it.  Fortunately, I was never called on to hand over the "Executive Remote" to a visiting executive before his presentation.  I don't think I could have done it with a straight face.  So that's why I don't call my "quick overview" the "Executive Summary".  Ain't that a hoot?

Have a great weekend and stay out of Irene's way.

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