03/11/09 1:42AM

One of my favorite blogs to keep up with (via google reader) is Aid Watch. It regularly makes the point that unequal exchanges of wealth are a bad idea. to israel, to sri lanka, to africa. everywhere. not only is it only a very short term fix for those countries, it messes with national sovereignty, and it has the potential to create a lot of blowback.

Amy's frozen dinners are seriously some of the most delicious frozen foods i've ever eaten. try their tofu lasagna or mac and soy cheese or mattar paneer. not the cheapest, but definitely delicious.

that is all for now.
  • alp1926
    Thank you for appreciating those who work in education. There are many really good educators out there. We don't hear about them. Teachers and schools usually make the news when something bad has happened.
    by alp1926 at 03/19/09 7:18PM
  • el_magnifico
    I know you would Steve...I know you would.
    by el_magnifico at 04/10/09 10:15AM
  • dr_corndog
    by dr_corndog at 05/08/09 7:31AM
  • preacherdavetx
    I found "Influence: The Psychology of Persuation" So now that I have found it, I may read it and then send it to you:)

    Adriana eats alot of Amy's dinners because she makes some that are gluten free!!!
    by preacherdavetx at 05/10/09 11:45PM
  • tryphena
    Long time, no hear. Give us an update on yourself!
    by tryphena at 07/03/09 3:50PM

03/06/09 10:12PM

I've been eating vegetarian 2/3 meals a day. why? you ask- because i can.

maybe i shouldn't read all the vegan blogs i do, and i don't really care much for the well being of animals, i think i'm just bored with the taste of meat. maybe it has to do a bit with lowering my carbon footprint ever so slightly. Though it's unfortunate that eating vegetables and fruits ends up costing a bit more than eating fast food all day long.

that being said- portabella garlic burgers are some of the most delicious microwaveable things i have ever eaten. It ends up being about a dollar a patty but oh man are they worth it.

soy milk is also much better than i remember it from the week my mom paid me $100 to be a vegan.

in high school i was more of a pain than i am now. this is largely attributable to the punk rock (aka, satan music) that i listen to. I was kind of the leader of our little punk clan as i got most of my friends into the music, so our beliefs fell in line, on everything besides God. I even got them to take up a straightXedge lifestyle (no drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity). This worked until they figured out they could make their free time more interesting with pot. I digress.

A lot of our favorite punk bands ran rampant with hippy idealism. This taught me to be critical of, and, for lack of a better term, despise a large part of the united states government. So they pushed a lot of human rights, a lot of socialism, and (far less importantly) animal rights. I never slipped on the animal rights train but two of the guys in my band did, and boy did i have fun harassing them. One of my friends pulled of being a vegan for over 2 years. I was mocking him, in my usual fashion, one day at my house and my mom then bet me i couldn't be a vegan for a week. I took her up on it. It was some of the easiest money i've ever earned, and it satisfied my angsty desire to prove my parental units wrong.

i'm thinking of taking up twitter. do any of you use it frequently?

also- if you feel like making this for me, i'll gladly do the dishes.
  • preacherdavetx
    Whataburger.... Whataburger.... Whataburger.... Whataburger....
    by preacherdavetx at 03/06/09 11:35PM
  • anitaj
    I'm thankful you were such a good example and leader among your high school friends. Though they eventually went their own immoral ways, you did keep them straightXedge longer than they would have had you not been there.

    As for that $100 thing, I don't remember it as being a bet -- you wanted/needed something for about $100 and you earned it by being a vegan for a week. I do remember you were very hungry for REAL food at the end of the week.

    Twitter as in twitter-pated as in "Bambi"? :)
    by anitaj at 03/07/09 12:44AM
  • w3jl
    Hope you have wonderful time in Ill. with your family.
    by w3jl at 03/07/09 10:32AM
  • flyonthewall
    The veggie burgers aren't too bad either -- at least I like them. I get tired of eating meat, too and from time to time protest with a full plate of veggies only.
    by flyonthewall at 03/07/09 12:44PM
  • flyonthewall
    Oh, and I'd make the dish for you, but where on earth do you find "tempeh" (and what is it??)?
    by flyonthewall at 03/07/09 12:46PM
  • textilet
    I could almost be a vegetarian, but never a vegan, unless it was for one week for $100.
    by textilet at 03/07/09 2:23PM
  • curlie
    by curlie at 03/07/09 7:46PM
  • anitaj
    Besides ESV Bible, bring any gift cards you want to sell back.
    by anitaj at 03/09/09 1:27AM
  • holly_ann
    I hope you enjoy your new herbivore adventure. I'm glad you had such a positive influence on your friends... maybe I should hang around you more. I'm getting pretty wild these days. haha

    I'm on twitter. I enjoy it. Charlie Trotter has some pretty crazy updates most days.
    by holly_ann at 03/09/09 12:22PM

summer break roap trip 09!

my computer is not as young as it once was.
Fall of 2005 it was an absolute beast of a machine. 3.5 years later it's not quite as much, but it gets the job done right now. I frequently write up pleo entries one night to find that in the morning my computer has reset itself, or the video card overheated and the screen froze. I get angry and don't write for another couple days. Sometimes i remember to save the posts elsewhere, and then reread them and choose not to post. There's some pretty amusing stuff on the confines of my hard drive.

Being a technophile, I'm constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place when upgrading my gadgets. I know what the next cool things are as soon as they're announced, then i want to wait for them to trickle down to the retail channel which can take months and months. For this reason I constantly obsess about laptops and smartphones. I live in fear of my processor/motherboard going out and realizing my computer really isn't worth trying to find parts for that are that old (socket 939? what?), THEN having to settle for a computer that's in the channels today when I know something better is just around the corner.

Making those decisions for real is going to extremely tough come fall. What I am looking forward to is cheaply upgrading this desktop to work as a networked server that I can access remotely if need be. more on that nerdage as it transforms itself into reality.

I had an outstanding day of productivity in the recent past:
1. withdrew from shelton community college, as i didn't really need the classes i was taking, and they were boring me to tears.
2. retroactively withdrew from the university of illinois. turned a semester of F's into a semester that didn't exist.
3. made a budget to convince my dad i was somewhat fiscally responsible.
4. got my tax return back, AND refrained from spending that sweet cash on frivolous things. alright, you caught me. I paid for an appetizer at chili's when i had a gift card to buy the rest of my meal on. and i'm hitting up indian food on sunday. /drool

In a similar bout of productivity, today I reapplied to UA for the fall semester. Tomorrow will have me re-sending my transcripts. I also started work on my FAFSA, which also means I have to convince the UA financial aid office i'm independent.

So $1,000,000,000,000, eh? I wrote both Alabama senators asking them to ask congress to allot me my piece of the pie. I could do a lot with $3,000.

People call this the failure of a market economy, which I don't think could be further from the truth. This market is shedding the economy of hundreds of thousands (millions?) of jobs that weren't deemed important enough to continue existing. Any bailout is only going to delay the inevitable.

In a globalized economy, the world is a giant free market. People are essentially a type of currency whose value is in a number of different places (ability to learn, think, create, teach, raise children to do likewise). When you draw higher value people to your shores, the more your stock goes up. The more barriers we put up to smart people entering the country, the less are going to live here. The more barriers we put up to smart companies entering a competitive market, the less are going to make it. If we were all embracing the competition going on, we wouldn't be where we are today. The US would be pooling its resources to defeat the next evil empire (a bunch of fundamentalists in a near third world country do not count).

GM should be burning right now, UAW should be whining over the fall of socialism, and Toyota should be making cars that get 40+ mpg. Gasoline should have a fair tax on it to decrease demand. Drugs should be legalized and taxed moderately, eliminating the need for the DEA and DARE (both proven to be largely ineffective, instead i say create a drug abuse education program as well as better funded rehab clinics with tax money from the drugs. I imagine this to be received about as thrillingly as sex ed programs where abstinence is supposedly brushed off: "don't have sex, but if you ever find yourself bored and in heat, here's some stuff to consider". abstinence only education isn't much of an education. /end mini rant. The good part is this would be a money making endeavor on the government's part, and it would eliminate most drug related crimes and people's overwhelming desire to travel to amsterdam). The military should just not be overseas. If education is to be socialized, as it unfortunately is, we need to increase expectations for students and teachers. The industries should learn how to deal with rampant piracy in other ways (variable electronic pricing, lowered salaries, inefficient companies fail, promoting many more bands and letting fans choose the music they want to listen to... i could go on for reforming the movie/record industry). That's a piece of what a truly market economy would allow to happen.

At least reading the blog of my favorite econ textbook's author keeps me sane-ish. Sometimes even he gets a tad liberal for my taste.

I may/may not be 'assisting' a friend with write ups for her sociology homework every week and I find myself continually attacking the way questions are worded as they're biased towards giving military personnel, the homeless, prisoners, hospital workers, really just anyone they write about, some lofty sense of entitlement. Sociology blogs i read are almost all written by people that think that people who don't earn it need a ton of free stuff, which couldn't be more at odds with econ 101- people respond to incentives. I can't decide if that makes me want to minor in sociology more or less. I am extremely passionate about those people not receiving any more than they're due, so that could be good fuel. On the other hand I do want to learn more about how and why people think what they do to get involved in behavioral econ. double minor?

The most useful manager at the northport store was laid off the other day. By laid off i mean the district manager called the store manager 5 minutes before she arrived, came in, brought tony to the back, fired him, gave him a week's pay for every year with the company (3) and then gave him his remaining vacation hours. Pretty terrible severance package. Pretty terrible way to go, just get blindsided. Like i already said, he was the most useful manager because he can do everything in the store and he knows about technology, and not only that, I learned he was the lowest paid manager and the one that had been with the company the longest. I can't fathom what office depot was thinking.

At my store up north, 3 managers were fired with the same severance, at the same time. This creates a remarkable disincentive to advance within the company. kudos office depot: increasing job turnaround and continuing to sow the seeds of your own destruction, and that 1.5 billion dollar loss last quarter was pretty solid to boot.

On a positive note, I've begun abusing the "winning solutions suggestion program". every day i've worked for the past 2 weeks i've sent in suggestions for how to better the company/make it more profitable. It's a good way to vent at work. Unfortunately they only review those ideas once per quarter, and review is probably an extremely generous term to use here. SO I look for other more immediate issues and bother other people with them. I get dull calls from corporate every couple days saying how they fixed this line here or there. If you're going to office depot and looking at a desktop with a quad core processor, you can thank me that the tag no longer says "Run up to 4 programs at once," which is silly because any computer can run 4 programs at once. Now it says "powerful quad core processor".

A roadtrip, yes, a roadtrip to the Panama Canal is in the works for this summer. If you all have contacts along the way, suggestions for things to do or places to see, or experiences to impart, they'd be extremely welcome.
  • tryphena
    You really drive me batty. Actually, you're just one of my excuses for being batty...

    When we agree, I'm with you 100%, and when the situation is otherwise, I pretty much DISagree with you 100%. There's no in-between!

    But, I love you anyway, because I can see a great deal more good in you than anything else, and a sense of humor, too.
    by tryphena at 02/27/09 8:00AM
  • textilet
    My kids would say get a Mac.
    by textilet at 02/27/09 8:28AM
  • flyonthewall
    Glad to hear the University erased your last semester!
    by flyonthewall at 02/27/09 10:17AM
  • soundandfury
    Getting a mac is all well and good, but they're coming out with a new line of macs in the fall and i din't want to settle for the current ones that are already a bit out of date. see? :)
    by soundandfury at 02/27/09 11:03AM
  • anitaj
    I hope you enjoy your "roap" trip.
    by anitaj at 02/27/09 6:14PM
  • beetlegal85
    Hey no prob. I just wish I'd thought of it a little bit earlier than when we were already half way there.
    by beetlegal85 at 03/01/09 10:38PM

Question of the day

I'm going to guess a solid 95% of you are for the second amendment- the right to bear arms. 94% of you are probably militantly for it.

If every American retains the right to bear arms for the reason that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns, should iran be allowed to have a nuclear program? remember: crazy, irresponsible, and/or non-white people can and do get guns
  • deusvitae
    "Allowed" seems rather patronizing, doesn't it?

    Who "allowed" the USA to have a nuclear program?
    by deusvitae at 02/12/09 10:06PM
  • preacherdavetx
    ^^^God did.
    by preacherdavetx at 02/12/09 10:12PM
  • holly_ann
    I do not like guns. I do not like that some of my neighbors probably have them. I do not like it that crazy people can get guns legally, walk into my university, and shoot people. I understand that if only law enforcement officials were allowed to have guns there is a great potential for oppression. So I can see why the right to bear arms is in place. Do I support it? That's a good question. I hate, hate, hate guns, but do not want to live in a police state. So... idk where that leaves me.
    by holly_ann at 02/12/09 10:29PM
  • holly_ann
    I also think that people who own guns legally can become "outlaws" very easily... in a moment of passion turning the gun against someone else, or inadvertently allowing a child access to one. Not every gun owner is a responsible gun owner. It scares me.
    by holly_ann at 02/12/09 10:32PM
  • holly_ann
    I do not support anyone having a nuclear program. Not the US, not anyone else. It is disturbing on every level.
    by holly_ann at 02/12/09 10:34PM
  • preacherdavetx
    I don't know if you remember Mrs. Wentzel - the 86 year old lady that carries a gun in her purse. She has a bumper sticker on the back of her truck from her 2nd favorite organization. It Reads, "NRA: Front Line of Freedom"
    by preacherdavetx at 02/12/09 10:37PM
  • the_mom
    Irag isn't under the Constitution of the US therefore the second amendment doesn't apply to Iraq. I rest my case. :)
    by the_mom at 02/19/09 7:26AM

It's no time for protectionism.

Published: February 7, 2009
NY Times
WHAT approach will the Obama administration and the Democratic majority in Congress take on international economic policy? It is too early to say for sure, but the signs so far are worrying.

Just before his confirmation as Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner turned up the heat on the Chinese regarding the dollar-yuan exchange rate. President Obama, he said, “believes that China is manipulating its currency. Countries like China cannot continue to get a free pass for undermining fair-trade principles.”

Like many economists, I cringe whenever I hear the term “fair trade.” It is not that I am against fairness — who is? — but the word “fair” is so amorphous in this context as to defy definition. Most often, the slogan “fair trade” is little more than a rallying cry for protectionism.

Just days after Mr. Geithner pointed his finger at China, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, pointed his own finger right back. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr. Wen blamed the United States for the economic crisis the world is now experiencing. He talked in particular of “the failure of financial supervision.”

Most likely, Mr. Wen was aware that one of the important players in the United States supervisory system has been Mr. Geithner, who until recently was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In that role, Mr. Geithner was, for example, the primary federal regulator for Citigroup. Mr. Wen may have been suggesting — quite rightly — that the new Treasury secretary should focus his energy on fixing problems a bit closer to home.

But timing aside, is Mr. Geithner right about the currency question? Are Americans hurt by China’s exchange-rate policy?
Critics of China say it is keeping the yuan undervalued to gain an advantage in the international marketplace. A cheaper yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive in the United States and American goods more expensive in China. As a result, American producers find it harder to compete with Chinese imports in the United States and to sell their own exports in China.

There is, however, another side to the story. The loss to American producers comes with a gain to the many millions of American consumers who prefer to pay less for the goods they buy.

The situation is much the same as when the price of imported oil falls, as it has done in recent months. Domestic oil producers may see lower profits, but American consumers are better off every time they fill up their tanks. Consumers similarly gain when a cheap yuan reduces the prices of T-shirts and televisions imported from China.

Mr. Geithner and other China critics might also want to ponder how the Chinese keep the yuan undervalued. The essence of the policy is supplying yuan and demanding dollars on foreign-exchange markets. The dollars that China accumulates in these transactions are then invested in United States Treasury securities.

So when the Treasury secretary complains about the undervalued yuan, his message to the Chinese boils down to this: Stop lending us money.

Not surprisingly, after Mr. Geithner made his remarks about the Chinese currency, the prices of Treasuries fell and yields rose. If China took him seriously, long-term interest rates would rise even more. As the United States embarks on a path of unusually large budget deficits, the nation’s chief financial officer should pause and think carefully before turning up the heat on one of its biggest creditors.

Perhaps the oddest thing about Mr. Geithner’s move is that his complaint seems out of date. The yuan-dollar exchange rate has moved considerably in recent years. After a long period of completely fixing the exchange rate, China allowed its currency to start moving in July 2005. Since then, it has appreciated by 21 percent.

Mr. Geithner might think that the yuan needs to move more, but why shine a bright light on the issue at this particular moment? Olivier Blanchard, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, had it right when he said: “It is probably not the right time to focus on the Chinese exchange rate, given that it is not a central element of the world crisis. There are many other things we should be thinking about.”

DIRECTING attention to the China currency issue amid a worldwide recession and growing fears of depression is more than a distraction. It is downright counterproductive. Senators Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, have long proposed dealing with the yuan undervaluation by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports. The Treasury secretary’s comments risk stoking those protectionist embers.

Indeed, protectionist influences seem to be finding their way into the stimulus bill winding its way through Congress. The bill passed by the House included a provision banning the use of foreign iron and steel in infrastructure projects. The Senate has adopted a somewhat more flexible restriction (after voting down an amendment by John McCain to strip the “Buy American” provision from the bill).

Despite having hired many first-rate economists with impeccable free-trade credentials, the president has been only tepid in his public opposition to this creeping protectionism.

This may be a good time to recall the legacy of Senator Reed Smoot of Utah and Representative Willis Hawley of Oregon, both Republicans. The 1930 tariff bill that bears their name did not cause the Great Depression, but it contributed to a plunge in world trade and undoubtedly was a step in the wrong direction.

As we sort through the wreckage of our own financial crisis, a retreat into economic isolationism is one mistake we want to be sure not to repeat.
  • preacherdavetx
    you're right... it's past time!
    by preacherdavetx at 02/07/09 6:27PM
  • cbonk
    We thought that at leasat they didn't take it as far as they might have!
    by cbonk at 02/10/09 12:58PM