Link dumps in lieu of content:
#: Actual inflation up at least 6.9 percent in the past year. Most inflation statistics that you read in the news report core inflation – inflation that excludes changes in the price of oil or food. But if inflation comes from an increase in the money supply relative to the demand for dollars, then we’d want to look extra closely at any industry the U.S. subsidizes – any stops along the trough where the feds pour more money in. And the U.S. subsidizes domestic food production, to the point that American corn sells on the international markets below cost, and wheat sells at nearly half cost. And the price of oil today certainly reflects decisions that the Commander-in-Chief makes in regards to certain Middle Eastern provinces. So if you have an argument for why I should pay more attention to core inflation than bottom-line inflation, I’d love to hear it.
(This article explains inflation in better detail than I can)
#: On the subject of economics: a New York Times article on Jan Chipcase, a “human behavior researcher” for Nokia. He travels all across the planet – to Vietnam, to Sri Lanka, to Bangladesh or to Mississippi – to simply document how people live. Nokia’s not trying to sell these people cell phones – at least not through Chipcase, anyway – but rather, trying to understand what their needs are and if Nokia can make a product that fulfills them.
The article also explores one of my favorite themes: markets evolving out of nowhere, unbidden and unpredicted. How does a Ugandan day laborer send money to his mother in a rural village where only one person (a “phone lady”) owns a cell phone?
Someone working in Kampala, for instance, who wishes to send the equivalent of $5 back to his mother in a village will buy a $5 prepaid airtime card, but rather than entering the code into his own phone, he will call the village phone operator (“phone ladies” often run their businesses from small kiosks) and read the code to her. She then uses the airtime for her phone and completes the transaction by giving the man’s mother the money, minus a small commission. “It’s a rather ingenious practice,” Chipchase says, “an example of grass-roots innovation, in which people create new uses for technology based on need.”
Order arising from chaos turned me onto economics in the first place. I eat nuggets like this for dessert.
#: “”Expelled, Ben Stein’s new jeremiad against Charles Darwin, purports that Darwinism caused the Holocaust. Not true! In fact, the Holocaust is almost solely the work of Scandinavian astronomer Tycho Brahe!”
#: More coverage of John McCain on the campaign trail:
McCain has a whole slew of superstitions and rituals, many stemming from his days as a Navy fighter pilot, a notoriously superstitious bunch. He won’t throw a hat on a bed (bad luck), and he carries a lucky feather, a lucky compass, and a lucky penny — and nickel, and quarter.
He’s got more stuff on him, too. On St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, “this guy had a lucky four-leaf clover that was laminated,” Buchanan said. “He pulled it out of his pocket and told the senator it had brought him good luck and now the senator carries it around in his wallet.”
I don’t know what bothers me more: the notion that President Dog might decide to bomb Iran based on a horoscope, or that he’ll carry any random piece of shit that a stranger hands him. Here, Senator – my grandfather had this rusty sewing needle with him when he landed at Omaha Beach. My mom buried it with him five years ago but I want you to have it.
#: Finally, Delta and Northwest announced plans yesterday to combine and form the world’s worst airline. Finishing the work that the TSA started on September 12th, 2001 would daunt most challengers, but I think Northwelta can handle the task. Combining their unions’ contracts, their legacy software and the various deals they have with our nation’s airport hubs, they can make transcontinental travel just as quick, safe and cheap as it was in 1908. If you need me, you can find me in the club car, stretching my legs.