View from Central Park towards mid-town Manhattan, NYC
Duck, Central Park, New York City
I'll admit two things up front immediately: 1) nobody is going to want to read this post, and 2) I can't quite get a finger on the FTC anti-trust agenda.
Back in Feb. Whole Foods entered into a buyout agreement with Wild Oats, its only close competitor in the organic foods market. Sure sure, perhaps the two of them together represent most of the national organic food market share. Sure, maybe the two of them might not make for the most trustful merger. Certainly, they could try and price-gouge us poor poor organic food consumers. But come on! This is a company selling upscale in the first place and secondly, they would hardly be what I would refer to as a Monopoly.
The bottom line here is that these sorts of federal competitive policies don't really do shit at the end of the day. Wal-Mart has killed the American downtown. Target has paved over the old wounds with shiny and economical plastic. When Portland, Maine got a new Wild Oats it went in right next to a 25 yr old local business called the Whole Grocer. It is a few years later and we've acquired a Whole Foods a mere stone's throw from these other two organics.
Meanwhile, we have seen a list of telecom transgressions longer than their broadband is slow and kludgy. We've seen the FTC and FCC approve mergers of companies that were once two divisions of the same company that, essentially, was split up a few years earlier!
This is the glut of a super-sized nation. Starbuck's stores across the street from each other. Targets and Wal-Marts sharing the same parking lots. This is a country with too much money and not enough slow-the-fuck-down
and I truly believe we've been hoodwinked into this lifestyle of more
at the expense of our wallets, our independence, and our freedom.
So where is the obligatory article link? It is here in the form of a Yahoo! Finance article
that describes one man's opinion on where our economy is going (and when we say "our" we really mean the entire world's, at this point):
The coming bust started in 1971. That was the year Richard Nixon took the United States off the gold standard, thus converting the U.S. dollar from money to currency -- that is, from an asset to a liability, and an instrument of debt. That was the year the dollar died.
After Nixon was forced out of office, the U.S. economy went into a slump under presidents Ford and Carter. We had high inflation and low growth, otherwise known as "stagflation," before Ronald Reagan and his dedication to supply-side economics -- Reganonomics -- came along. Reagan cut taxes and started borrowing money, increasing the national debt. As a nation and as a people, we began borrowing and spending to spur the economy. And the economy boomed until 2000.
Ahh, "trickle down" indeed! Trickling so slowly that only now, thirty some-odd years later, is the shit starting to hit the proverbial fan.
So how bad will it be? Opinions differ but it would appear that it will
be bad to some degree and it will come. These things are certain. The Global economy is so complex now that it is impossible to discuss the individual economies of countries in the singular. The exchange of goods and services sneak through even the most detailed of economic statistics. Black markets churn. Internet outsourcing, casino off-shoring, and immigration (illegal or not) create all sorts of difficult-to-measure effects.
When you throw America's suburbanization and love for all things large and costly, like SUVs and McMansions, and then stire in a little peak oil scare mongering into the mix you get, well, a pretty badly painted picture
.. the activities that have become "normal" for us during the post World War Two era will very shortly become untenable. An economy based on suburban expansion and incessant motoring is on the top of the list of supposedly "normal" activities that will not be able to continue. I would maintain that even if we had 20 years, no combination of bio-fuels and other alternatives would enable us to keep suburbia running.
He goes on to say:
Perhaps the most imminent danger is that the financial markets, which have been driving our insane, hollowed-out economy, will soon recognize what's in store and implode, creating a crisis of capital that will leave us with no ability to make any emergency investments, such as would be required to rebuild the railroad system. The equity markets sure blinked last week when two hedge funds based on phony-baloney collateralized debt obligations tanked. The collateral underlying this load of hallucinated "wealth" is comprised of contracts made by the insolvent for suburban houses worth far less than the value stated on the contracts -- with every indication that the real value will keep dropping.
I may not agree whole-heartedly, as I shy away from broad doom-saying oratories, and I definitely believe in human ingenuity. However, I also believe in the short-sightedness of mob mentality and the blinding nature of greed for the green. I suspect the amount of "free" money, so easily borrowed in this decade thus far, won't continue forever. The imbalances of our global economy, as it stretches its legs and learns to fly, combined with an ingrained atmosphere of we-can-afford-anything
in the US is probably not going to be the rosy affair we've all dreamed about.
Mid-town Manhattan, Evening, NYC
In the woods, Central Park, NYC
Apple Store, 5th Ave, NYC
Central Park, NYC
I happened to stumble upon this flickr photo
Who doesn't like a nice cute animal picture? They're, like, best friends! Totally.
More virtual economy nonsense, as the NYTimes takes a look at the life of a chinese [virtual] gold farmer
. The big numbers are what is truly interesting:
It is estimated that there are thousands of [$80,000-a-year] businesses like it all over China, neither owned nor operated by the game companies from which they make their money. Collectively they employ an estimated 100,000 workers, who produce the bulk of all the goods in what has become a $1.8 billion worldwide trade in virtual items.
$1.8 billion sounds like a lot.. until you realize that U.S. motorists might be loosing $1.5 billion this summer
alone due to fuel's tendency to expand with higher temperatures:
"It is a little-known industry secret that the amount of gasoline you put in your tank when you fill up in the summer is less than the amount in the winter, in terms of weight and energy content," said Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who conducted a congressional hearing on the issue Friday.
I've quoted it before and I'm sure I'll quote it again: "A billion here and a billion there.. pretty soon it adds up to real money!" - Will Rogers.
twig & wirenature & technology
Ocean & Seashell, Old Orchard Beach
Coincidence that these two articles were posted almost right after one another?
Number one, from CNN.com, China taking on U.S. in cyber arms race
China is seeking to unseat the United States as the dominant power in cyberspace, a U.S. Air Force general leading a new push in this area said Wednesday.
"They're the only nation that has been quite that blatant about saying, 'We're looking to do that,"' 8th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Robert Elder told reporters..
.. The Defense Department said in its annual report on China's military power last month that China regarded computer network operations -- attacks, defense and exploitation -- as critical to achieving "electromagnetic dominance" early in a conflict.
China's People's Liberation Army has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, the Pentagon said.
Brave new.. cyber world? State-sanctioned viral attacks that cripple economies, destroy communication grids, and prevent people from entering a winning bid for that Barry Bonds bobble head doll they wanted on Ebay?
I suppose it would be easy to wave this off as fear-mongering, as our gov'ment is so wont to do, but article number two from the BBC, FBI tries to fight zombie hordes takes this to task:
The FBI is contacting more than one million PC owners who have had their computers hijacked by cyber criminals.
The initiative is part of an ongoing project to thwart the use of hijacked home computers, or zombies, as launch platforms for hi-tech crimes.The FBI has found networks of zombie computers being used to spread spam, steal IDs, and attack websites.
The agency said the zombies or bots were "a growing threat to national security".
These wouldn't happen to be chinese
zombie networks, would they?
Meanwhile, besides the giant deficit that the U.S. is holding with China, Europe's trade gap with China grew 33% in the 1st Quarter
China will face mounting ``impatience and anger'' from the EU unless it takes steps to ease trade tensions and open its market to European goods, EU Trade Commissioner Peter] Mandelson said.
At the same time, China is still working on those pesky little problems, like slave labour
Tens of thousands of police raided brick kilns across central China this week in a hunt for more than 1,000 children kidnapped and sold into slave labour in a revival of abuses associated with the poverty of the 1930s and 1940s.
The scandal involving negligent law enforcement and even collusion between government officials and slave masters burst into the open only after the domestic media ran a series of hard-hitting investigative reports.
The children, as well as many adult workers, were guarded by fierce dogs and thugs who beat their prisoners at will and were forced to work 16 hours a day with little food. They lived in squalid conditions, sleeping on filthy quilts on layers of bricks inside brickworks working at full pace to keep up with the demands of China's construction boom.
Even while the government of China struggles with its own media, locking up bloggers and other journalists, their economy continues to boom. Well, I guess my output would be a lot better, too, if I had a billion shmoes to do my bidding for pennies a day and squalid living conditions.China's industrial output rose 18.1 percent in May
this year (including all state enterprises and private enterprises with annual sales revenues in excess of $0.625 million) and its fixed-asset urban investment surged 25.9%
yet they can't even keep the Olympics clean from the smear of child labour
Some people still think they're gonna be the cat's meow of the global economy soon enough - like in ten years
In the next 10 years the main driver will be the industrialisation of China. Don't doubt it - and the Chinese will become very active investors globally. Chinese money will soon smack into equity markets. They will initially invest in the companies causing them the most trouble. They are fed up with being bent over by the Australians, Brazilians and Yanks.
The truth of the matter, however, is that our politicians are allowing their politicians to soldier on in this time of human rights and civil liberty abuses, all the while lining their pockets. China is an economic force to be reckoned with because they are allowing the sort of squalor in working conditions that was reserved for coloniale rule of the 18th century and beyond. Certainly, we should not be proud of our own history of slavery and economic oppression (think company mining towns, indians, etc).. but the real question we must ask ourselves is whether, having learned from our mistakes, we will stand up and loudly denounce these look-the-other-way policies?
Would China not grow in a more stable and mature fashion, causing less economic bubble-bursting in the end, if it worked heavily on these problems and simply said No
to human rights abuse, paid their employees a mildly livable wage, and smiled in the mirror in the morning? I think so, but if there is anything you can count on it is the power of human greed.
Mark my words, the roller coaster is just getting started.
Our neighbours to the north in Canada will soon boast their own WiMax-based WiFi rollout, as Montreal is already set to become the "first Canadian city to deliver wireless Internet and mobile IP telephony to residents."
.. It will first be made available to the oh-so-lucky residents of Montreal's Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood (I knew it was the hippest place to live in
Montreal the World). By 2009 the network will blanket nearly 300 square kilometers of Montreal and service "around 90-percent" of its citizens.
No such thing as a free lunch, though. Those targeted for the first wave can expect the luxury to cost them "under $30 per month" when it launches in September. As my buddy says,
SWEET! Fuck Bell, those stupid fucking bastards! $60/month? I don't fucking think so! Once this is up and running, those Bell assholes will never see another penny of mine!
P.S. I don't like Bell
Fire Suppression Device, Thomas St, Portland ME
Leaf, Old Orchard Beach
Sunstripes on back porch
Dog, Old Orchard Beach
Lobster pot, Old Orchard Beach
Ferrari outside my front door, sweet
It's been mentioned ad nauseum already, but apparently the U.S. Military has, in the past, bandied about plans for a gaybomb
As part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."
The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.
Hey, at least they're using their time and resources to develop physically harmless alternatives.. that is unless a dick up the butt doesn't sound like physically harmless
What time is it? Whoops
I find it unlikely that I, as an American citizen, could ever get that close to Bush as to caress his forearm and/or slip his watch off his wrist. Apparently, however, the Albanians are free to have at it.
I guess if you're the first U.S. President to visit a country, ever, you gotta look past a little petty theft. I just hope that watch wasn't a gift from Chavez or a wrist-iPod from Jong-Il or something.
Headlights & Waiting Taxi, NYCLiquor behind the bar, NYC
Cause it's Friday. Cause I don't care. Cause I said so:
A 21-year-old man was taken on a wild ride Wednesday afternoon when the wheelchair he was in became attached to the grille of a semi-truck and was taken four miles down a highway at about 50 mph..Via Px
.. "The man spilled his soda pop, but he wasn't upset," Sgt. Kathy Morton of the Michigan State Police said.
Just south of the Aker Brygge shopping district, Oslo, Norway
Brooklyn Bridge, heading east, NYC
Blue Moon - somewhere in NYC
Candle on the patio of the Burp Castle bar in the East Village, NYC. I forgot to take pictures of the fun murals on the wall so you'll have to go check out laughingsquid's flikr pool instead
I just got an email reminder from JetBlue regarding a future flight I am going to take. It had some "JetBlue News" bits in it, too. How is this for marketing spin:
History Repeats Itself
Once again we have been named the Best Airline for Customer Satisfaction by Market Metrix, a hospitality market research firm. In Market Metrix's survey of 35,000 consumers in the first quarter of 2007, JetBlue beat out all other U.S airlines to take the title. Thank you for your continued loyalty and for voting us number one time and time again!
Call me crazy but wasn't it JetBlue that stranded thousands of people in... uhh... the first quarter of 2007?
I found this Time piece
(har har) comparing family food budgets from around the world unendingly interesting. Not only is it strange and eye-opening to see the mountain of food that is one week of supply, the range of costs is, not surprisingly, very large. While one African family of six people came in at under $2, a German family of four maxed out at $500.
If you haven't been surfing the interwebs lately you might have missed a recent LA Weekly article on Ray Bradbury
where the writer points out that Fahrenheit 451 wasn't about government censorship, ala '84, but rather about the dangers of the boob tube:
Most Americans did not have televisions when Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, and those who did watched 7-inch screens in black and white. Interestingly, his book imagined a future of giant color sets — flat panels that hung on walls like moving paintings. And television was used to broadcast meaningless drivel to divert attention, and thought, away from an impending war.
A regular ol' H.G. Wells, this one.
Central Park, NYC
The best part of this "man wakes up from coma" article
is his final comment:
"What amazes me today is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning," said Mr Grzebski.
"I've got nothing to complain about."
Yeah yeah.. It's been busy around here. I don't need you or anybody else telling me I'm behind in my chores. Shit happens. These last few weeks have been all make-up days that had me running around filling out paperwork and handing over checks to government officials. I've shuffled the Audi out of the rotation and called in an old timer from the minors to pitch a few games - a 1995 Saab 900s with so many miles on it that I can only assume there is wisdom and courage in that metal frame. We'll see. I got the bike fully planted on the road with an insurance card to boot, I have, for the first time in my life, managed to put together a team of insurance policies covering my car and bike for under $50 a month total. I picked up a used washer and dryer and am moving them into the basement for some crazy laundry disco nights. I grabbed the company tickets to the Sunday Sea Dogs baseball game, and I've got more shit to do this weekend than I can shake a stick out. I'm still shaking a stick, though, just for fun. Try it sometime. Walk around, real soft like, but carry a big stick. You'd be surprised.
I took about 400 pictures in New York City this last weekend and, if I wasn't so busy of late, you'd have seen some evidence of this. As it is, I will get to it and hopefully sooner rather than later. I'm 29 now.. life is passing me by. I need to take control, and drive this train out of the tunnel and into the light.
Keep your eyes peeled for some big apple shine.