Wednesday, December 24, 2008

die ohrwürmer von weihnachten

A song, or an advertising jingle, that invades your consciousness and won't leave. There's no word for this in English.... Here's where German comes to the rescue, with Ohrwurm, literally "ear-worm." You can almost picture the cute little fellow camping out in your ear, singing the inane ditty over and over, cheerfully evading your increasingly desperate attempts to silence him.
~~ German Joys.

This is the time of year when I suffer an infestation of ear-worms. I call them die Ohrwürmer von Weihnachten, literally the earworms of Christmas.

I'm talking about Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, dogs barking Jingle Bells, plus many others of which I do not wish to be reminded. Being reminded only awakens the little buggers.

I have only heard part of Leroy the Redneck Reindeer once but now I am afraid to turn on the radio for fear that I might have another Ohrwurm implanted.

To control the infestation I must avoid all commercial radio. If I must have something on, I limit myself to NPR. However, even this strategy is not without risk.

On Christmas Eve, complete radio silence is imperative. On this night you cannot trust anyone.

Die Ohrwürmer von Weihnachten may still come alive without taking countermeasures. So I listen to carefully screened CD's of Christmas songs, carols, and hymns. Yes, these songs may have their own Ohrwürmer as well. However, these ear-worms build you up and cause you to focus on what Christmas should really be about. They actually have a positive, therapeutic effect.

You may not be completely rid of the little buggers, but at least you may be able to influence which ones are active. The right ones can actually help bring alive the original, authentic awe of Christmas to your soul.

Be blessed and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

bailout light

Found here.

Watch and listen to this music video for at least for 1 minute and 11 seconds. You'll be better for it...

Found here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

more toilet economics: cost-effectiveness in zimbabwe

At around 231 million percent, Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation currently the highest in the world.

Blog reader Ben Saltsman sent us this photo of a restroom sign in South Africa, which hints at one use for Zimbabwe’s severely devalued currency:

But is it cost-effective for Zimbabweans to use money instead of T.P.?

A roll of toilet paper costs about $1.50 U.S. dollars and has about 352 sheets per roll. That means each sheet is worth about US $.004, or 3,600 Zimbabwe dollars, according to

So according to these calculations, using a ZWD 1,000 note in place of a piece of toilet paper is a wise financial decision.

~ source: today's Freakonomics:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

final exam time and performace-enhancing beverages

Death by Caffeine

How much of your favorite energy drink, soda, or caffeinated food would it take to kill you?

Take this quick test and find out:

click here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

dogbert and systemic risk.

Found at Greg Mankiw's Blog: The Magic of Financial Engineering

One can diversify to reduce risk but there is also un-diversifiable risk (a.k.a., systemic risk).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

a wonderful day, all day

I had a wonderful day today. Miss Lois is here this weekend. As usual, the first evening and morning she was very clingy with her father. Again, as usual, by this afternoon her daddy-deprivation was relieved enough that she would sometimes play with others.

I was able to play Play-Doh with Miss Lois. We made pizza, hot dogs, grandmas (don't ask), snails, cobras, worms, bowls, spoons, brass knuckles, tunnels, gamma ray thumb shields (sorry, that's classified), and a toothbrush.

I don't think we'll do the toothbrush again. The Play-Doh gets too slobbery.

We made towers out of Duplos. Some towers were as high as 6'8" before they were knocked over. This is quite educational since Miss Lois learns patience to wait until after we're finished to knock it over.

This afternoon I was able to watch a webcast of the Arkansas H.S. Championship. My great nephew Troy is on the team, Shiloh Christian, which won 42-18. He got his team's first sack of the day too!

We celebrated Daddy's birthday today and went out to dinner where Miss Lois charmed everyone. A young lady of style and distinction, she daintily dipped her french fries in nothing but the finest ketchup.

It was fun to open presents. This year she actually let Daddy open his own presents. (Last year she tore the wrapping off before handing them to her father.) There was a certain routine that developed:
1) Lois hands an unopened present to Daddy.
2) Daddy removes paper and and asks, "What is it?"
3) Lois replies, "It Lois's!"
4) Daddy calmly states, "No, it is Daddy's."
5) Lois responds, "Put it down" as she hands another unopened present to him.

Opening presents moved along quite nicely thanks to our little efficiency expert.

Lois also fed Grandpa birthday cake. She must be pretty good at it. Others commented how there was less of a mess on the table than when Grandpa feeds himself.

She helped in the kitchen and put self-designed, tissue paper bows in Grandma's
hair. Also chased Aunt Low'ah and Uncle Ted around with the occasional quick stop to tickle Daddy or Grandpa.

With all that, she should sleep well tonight even though there was an unscheduled nap with Grandpa this afternoon during story time.

Be blessed!

Friday, December 12, 2008

great nephew in big game

RB's sister's grandson, Troy Goss, plays for a high school football powerhouse, Shiloh Christian. Although it has a relatively young team this year, Shiloh Christian is playing for the Arkansas State H.S. 4-A championship tomorrow (Saturday) at noon and Troy should be a starting defensive lineman.

I last time I saw Troy was a couple of years ago. Then I could push him around a bit when we played some basketball. Our BB days are over. Although Troy is only a high school sophomore, he is now 6'2" tall and weighs 250 lbs.

I wonder how big he'll be when he stops growing?

Next time I see him I will need to remind him of the need to be careful around his tottering great uncle who is 40 years his senior.

No contact sports.

Troy is not only a great nephew but a great kid.

There is a webcast of the game starting at noon.


Be blessed!

NOTE: Shiloh Christian's football website is pretty impressive. I think they may take their football seriously.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the stock market: just how unusual is 2008?

Speaking of investments....
You know your investment portfolio is in trouble when....

(cartoon found here)

Just how bad is the 2008 stock market?

(chart found here)

This is a graphic of the Standard and Poor's stock index's annual returns, placing every year since 1825 in a column of returns from -50% to +60%. As you can see, it is a rough bell curve, with 45 of those 185 years falling in the +0-10% column. There are only 4 years each in the 40-50% and 50-60% return columns, and, through 2007, there were only two years in the -31-40% and -41-50% columns. You can see where 2008 to date falls (source).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

on the nobel prize in economics

The Nobel Prize in Economics is always awarded during ceremonies on December 10th, the birthday of a great, yet humble, economist. In fact, the very first prize in economics was awarded on his 18th birthday.

UPDATE: Canton Central School District (NY) canceled all classes, K-12, for today. The honors just keep accumulating.

technology and the poor: closing the connection gap

Even without email, the web, or "smart" cell phones, the poorest of the poor can now stay connected to work.

Onion News Network video report from Bangladesh:
New Portable Sewing Machine Lets Sweatshop Employees Work On The Go

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

evolution | the shape of things to come

THE ECONOMIST had this cover five years ago this week.

This time of year I kind of identify with the guy on the right.

Monday, December 8, 2008

ivcf international dinner 22nov@cfc

Over 300 international students and their families enjoyed an over-the-top feast, which included Moroccan Chicken, Chinese favorites, and a vegetarian buffet, in addition to the ever-popular turkey with all the trimmings.... An hour before dinner, I waltzed into the kitchen..."Who is in charge here?" I inquired. No fear, kitchen staff. Laura is in the house. This girl knows what's what and who's who. Do what she says and no one gets hurt.
~ snipped from thisrequiresthought: going international

I was a proud dad that evening. Come to think of it, I was a proud dad before and after that evening as well.

Be blessed!

P.S. A certain Mr. Richards should be a proud dad as well (see entire post).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

being tall isn't everything . . . .

"The quality of a man’s sperm depends on how intelligent he is, and vice versa." At least according to this article in THE ECONOMIST.

Friday, December 5, 2008

evidence & not opinion: tall people are smarter

You have to be smart if you are that tall and can still walk in those heels.

On the frontiers of economics . . .

. . . studies have shown that . . . .

Of course more attractive men are more successful and attractiveness has an even bigger impact on the earnings of women (source).

You may not be surprised to learn that tall people also tend to be more successful (source). . . and being skinny helps (source).

. . . but did you know that tall people tend not only to be smarter, but are smarter from an early age (source)?

Do I get a witness?


Be blessed.

BTW, women from lower socioeconomic families earn more if they have healthier teeth (source).

[source of these sources]

Thursday, December 4, 2008

if your income goes up, will you watch tv in the bathroom?

To students of economics:

True or False: Toilets and TV's have a negative cross-price elasticity of demand.

True or False: Bathrooms with TV & toilet(s) have an income elasticity of demand greater than +1.

For an economic analysis of toilets and TV's see: Freakonomics

Answers? Both TRUE.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ugandan water project

You can make a difference . . . .

The Ugandan Water Project is an organization set out to provide clean water for villages in Uganda. Through music, media, and any means necessary we hope to raise awareness and funds for these villages in Africa. We can't be reminded enough of how much need there really is in this land. In this busy and modern age it is so easy to forget how much we really have. So often we take the simple things for granted. This is a very practical way to truly change lives. For us it's such a small sacrifice to help others. Please consider giving in any way that you can. And be encouraged to pass the word along to any and everyone you know.

A compilation of artists who have united for a single mission to provide clean drinking water throughout villages in Uganda. 100% of the proceeds from this creative compilation of worship music go directly to supporting The Ugandan Water Project.

Find it in the Amani Store.

Help change Uganda by donating to the project!

Donate online at PayPal

Mail donation to:
Isaiah Six
PO Box 10A
Lima, NY 14485

Video of First Water Tank

Found at: Isaiah Six.

Be blessed!

Monday, December 1, 2008

carpe diem: miscellany

I found these over the weekend.

The Top Ten Worst Currencies in the World Go Zimbabwe: $35 million for an egg! A prettier version with the full list is HERE.

Gas in St. Louis Falls Below All-Time Historical Low We'll feel a lot better if we just adjust for inflation.

2002-08: 60% Growth in World Per-Capita Real GDP Interesting chart but the IMF's forecast for the next few years may need revising.

Fiscal Stimulus: Permanent, Pervasive, Predictable versus Temporary, Targeted and Timely Check the chart: temp tax cuts or "tax rebates" don't work -- something we've known after 40 years of experience.

Uncorking CDOs: Financial Crisis Explained The best explanation yet of CDO's (collateralized debt obligations) which include MBS's (mortgage backed securities). Faint praise indeed. If you want to begin to understand what set off the credit crisis, the posted video might help. It helped me anyway.

carpe diem: 2 posts on the detroit 3

Tuesday the Congressional hearings begin again. Don't expect anything but Congressional show-boating and posturing.

(1) Here is something I didn't know: The Detroit 3 (D3) have a jobs bank where they pay idled auto workers not to work in their factories. Costs the D3 $80,000 to $120,000 per worker per year for them not to work.
See: CARPE DIEM: jobs-bank-cost-big-three-15-billion-in....

(2) Here is testimony you didn't see during the last round of testimony on the Hill. The only testimony that was not self-serving.

From Maryland Professor Peter Morici's Senate testimony on the Big Three bailout (click arrow above to watch video):

Circumstances are dramatically different today than in 1979 when Chrysler received assistance from the federal government. In those days, the challenge at Chrysler was to become competitive with Ford and GM, and Lee Iacocca had a clear plan to achieve that objective and succeeded. Today, the Detroit Three, though improved in productivity and with lower labor costs thanks to concessions from the United Auto Workers, are still not as competitive as the Japanese transplants.

Margins in automobile manufacturing are thin and there is no such thing as being "almost as competitive." Either a company is competitive or it is not—either it accomplishes the cost structure enjoyed by Toyota and Honda, operating in the United States, or it will continually cede market share and run into financial difficulties.

By assisting the Detroit Three, Congress can delay one or all of them going through Chapter 11 reorganization but sooner or later one or all will face reorganization. The communities and suppliers dependent on these companies would be better off going through that process now than by delaying it with assistance from the federal government.

Without a new labor agreement that brings wages, benefits and work rules in line with those at the most competitive transplant factories, and without reduced debt and other liabilities, the Detroit Three will continue to lag in product innovation and field too few attractive new vehicles, because their higher costs, debt and other liabilities require them to spend less on new productive development than they should. Also, they are inclined to field products with less desirable content to compensate for higher costs. As consumers find vehicles made by Japanese and other transplants more attractive, like those imported from Korea and eventually from China, the Detroit Three will cede market share of one or a few percentage points each year.

If Chapter 11 is put off, the successors to GM, Ford and Chrysler that emerge from a bankruptcy reorganization process will be smaller and support fewer jobs than if these companies endure this difficult transition in 2009. More jobs can be saved among GM, Ford and Chrysler and their suppliers if bankruptcy reorganization is endured now than in the future.

From CARPE DIEM: Professor Morici:"Big 3 Bankruptcy Now, Not Later"