Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

As long as we’re doing look-alikes:

January 18, 2012


Newt Gingrich

Dwight Schrute


Art imitating life?

January 9, 2012

There’s been a recent announcement in the videogame community by the name of “The last of us”. It looks unique and interesting. (caution: violent)  Not my typical genre, but I do enjoy zombies. Since Shaun of the Dead hooked me I have enjoyed the mythology. What caught my eye when I watched the trailer was the young female character.  In both her look and demenor she reminded me of one of my favorite actresses. So here is the character from the game:

Remind you of anyone?

I’ll show you who I, and a large portion of the internet, thought of when they saw this:

Ellen Page

Not only do they look and act alike, the game character’s name is “Ellie.” To me this is a dead give away and something I found interesting.

Where to Begin?

March 23, 2010

I don’t know what I can say about healthcare that hasn’t already been said countless times by a number of people. I don’t know of a concise and satisfactory way of explaining all the problems that were just placed on us.  I have several questions for those who were for the legislation.  I refuse to call it “reform” as that word has too positive a connotation.

My first question is if the main problem is uninsured people, why did my insurance have to change?  Why not just give them insurance?  I’m sure it would be cheaper than creating cumbersome bureaucracies to enforce regulations and personal mandates. Why am I and everyone eventually going to be forced to buy a product we may not think we need?  I’m not even talking about being forced to by something called “health insurance”, which is extremely wrong  in and of itself.  Why am I being forced to buy health insurance with no limits? What if I don’t want to pay for that much?  You are taking away my freedom by forcing me to buy something and by limiting my options.  This is unethical  no matter how good you may think it is for me. Do you have any idea how much more it is going to cost for the additional insurance? Niether do I, but I don’t want to pay it, and I don’t want anyone to buy it for me.

Modern health insurance didn’t even exist 100 years ago, and it’s suddenly my right to have it? That doesn’t make any sense. It’s like saying everyone has a right to an iPhone, so everyone else has to purchase it for those who can’t afford one . It’s my right to use my own free will, and this legislation takes that right away, and it doesn’t give me any new ones by forcing me to buy (or forcing someone else to pay for) some company’s product.

The other problem this legislation is supposed to fix is high costs. Health care costs so much because the demand is so high and supply is limited; plus the extremely sophisticated advances in technology were not created for free.  This legislation creates much more demand and arguably less supply.  This means prices will rise astronomically unless the prices are capped (which this legislation allows for).  Capped prices will mean a shortage, like the gas lines in the 70’s, which means longer waits and thus more avoidable complications and deaths.  Prices act as a rationing tool which allocates the resources most efficiently. The legislation will ultimately ration on a first-come-first-serve basis, meaning the most desperate will not necessarily get care. Some will argue that the rich unfairly jump the line, but this will still happen.  As unfair as it seems, the high profits of the health industry is the reason modern medicine has developed so quickly and improved everyone’s lives, no matter how poor. The legislation will lower profits and slow this rapid development, if for no other reason than it entrenches the current businesses through regulation and reduces competition by driving  small companies out of business. Why else was big PHARMA so keen on the legislation?  I thought they were some of the worst companies around.

I’ve taken the legislation to it’s logical endpoint.  If it doesn’t ultimately cause these things by itself, it will instead create the problems that will lead to legislative “solutions” which will bring us further in the direction I described. I hope the future allows us to cut off at the knees the consequences of this legislation  if not outright abolish it.  There are much less extreme ways to get better results. Don’t let a moral imperative to help those in need cloud the moral imperative for each of us to keep our freedom.

A happy 2010 outlook.

February 2, 2010

Economic growth is back in full force, though it will still take til the end of the year for many of those out of work to start feeling it.  I have tried to keep the hopes up of those people who have been struggling for a long time, and it’s been difficult.  GDP in Q4 of 2009 was a whopping 5.7%. Expect to see numbers near and exceeding 4% for the rest of the year.  This is great news, but it’s also historically unremarkable.  Previous recessions were followed by huge increases in growth, and the deeper the recession, the better the recovery.

I spent much of the month of January following the epic upset in Massachusetts.  Scott Brown, a Republican, won the Senate seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy.  No one could have guessed this at any time in 2009.  It was incredibly entertaining to watch unfold, not the least reason being that I was thrilled with the outcome.  Now it is almost guaranteed that the economically damaging, freedom destroying bills the Democrats were so close to passing are now dead.  I don’t mean to offend people who may be for these bills for whatever reason, but I personally can’t believe we dodged the bullet of health care control at the last possible second in the most unlikely of places.  Even those who are upset must acknowledge the unbelievability of it all.

In other news, I have my first paper, which is exciting.  It wasn’t written by me, but I am currently writing a paper on my own research, and that should be done pretty soon.  Also, I’m going to Portland, OR in March for “March Meeting,” that should be fun.

I will try to get back to posting on here.  Thanks to everyone who checks my blog unprovoked!

Meet Zoey

December 30, 2009

Here’s a picture of my new puppy.  She’s currently 12 weeks old (8 weeks in the pictures).  She’s a Schnauzer/Poodle mix, otherwise known as a Schnoodle.  Yes, I am that comfortable in my masculinity! 😉  You can now adore her.

“Announcement Nov Thirteenth”

November 9, 2009

I had the privilege of being the first on the internet to post a phase and watch it expand throughout.  Friday night, the official website for the game “Final Fantasy XIII” posted an anagram, A Henchmen Inventor Tent Unto.  I was lucky enough to find out about it minutes after it was posted and quickly went to work figuring it out.  About 15 minutes later I was the first on the internet to post the answer (title of this post).  I googled the exact phrase right after I posted it and the only link was to the forum I just wrote in.  Try it yourself. As of this writing, I am getting around 980 hits to the exact phrase and many of the news websites talking about it reference “hintonmj” as one of the discoverers (guess who?). The other credit goes to someone who tipped me off to the word “thirteenth.” My original guess was “their announcement nov tenth.” It’s probably not that interesting to anyone else, but I found it exciting.

Is Deflation Desirable?

September 17, 2009

My friend Nick linked to a story in my last post by a guy named Matthew Lynn.  I don’t know what his credentials are, but I imagine mine are less in the department of economics.  Still, I can’t find anything in his article I agree with.  I’ll begin with his conclusion.

[With deflation] there are winners and losers, just as there are from most economic developments. The important point is that the people who lose are more powerful than the people who gain. That might explain why we hear about the dangers of deflation, and not about its advantages. It still doesn’t make them right.

This strikes me as incredibly naive. Short bouts of deflation are manageable, especially when they are caused by a short-term panic, like the one that just ended. But in the long run, deflation is a prosperity killer, equivalent to hyperinflation it isn’t magnitude.  Deflation doesn’t just hurt the powerful if it is around long enough.  Lynn lists governments and banks as losers because they borrow, and people who save as winners.  But for people that are so afraid of government borrowing, I don’t understand why they would wish for it’s liability to increase over time, the government is funded by the public after all.  Also, savers should not be views as inherently virtuous to borrowers.  After all, most of us have to borrow to buy a home. I wouldn’t want the principle on my mortgage to increase over time, penalizing me. Lynn neglects to mention this.  This would in turn help the “powerful” banks since they would be payed back with more valuable dollars.  Lynn’s final sentence is as follows:

[Deflation] may even be desirable if it encourages a balance between saving and consumption, and discourages governments and banks from taking on debt.

Those are huge ifs!  I’m not willing to find out if that would happen, and even if it did, I don’t see it as necessarily more desirable than the status quo.

Lynn’s evidence for backing up his claims are misleading. He claims that the Euro-zone is experiencing deflation yet is leading the world out of the recession.  He’s evidence of this is the total price drop in European prices over the last year, but this is not an indicator of current deflation.  I suspect the current situation is flat to slightly inflating, as it is in America.  I expect to see an upward swing as the economy improves.  Also, the US is about to take off with or without Europe. We are in fact currently growing rapidly, but we won’t see the GDP data until the end of October.  Expect to see 3-4% in the 3rd quarter and an average of 4-4.5% through 2010.  This will be followed by a resurgence in inflation, but some inflation is necessary for sustained growth.

Lynn’s make some other claims I take note with.  One is that because computers go down in price it obviously follows that the consumer will gladly keep up consumer demand for everything in a deflationary economy.  I seriously doubt this.  Technology is an exception because it is continuously improving at a rapid pace so many are willing to pay full price for a large jump in quality even though they know it would be cheaper in the future. But if something like furniture, lets say a table, continuously went down in price, you would probably hold out on your purchases as long as possible since you are confident you aren’t losing any value to the advances in table technology.  One would know they can get practically the same item for a lower price in the future, and there likely won’t be a spectacularly better table at the time.

Finally, and I think this is most important, long run deflation would cause a drop in wages, or equivalently, the loss of jobs. Lynn’s rightly claims that wages would be stable in the short run.  But if deflation expectation took hold, wages would have to decrease with it, and I don’t know how many people would take a smaller pay check even if they are told prices are coming down too.

He doesn’t mention it, but the whole article seems like an argument for the gold standard.  When the US was on the gold standard we had lots of deflation.  Back then, the money supply wasn’t controlled by an American entity (The Federal Reserve) which is generally concerned with the welfare of America.  Instead, it was controlled by the amount of gold.  The gold could be found in the US or it could be controlled by those that don’t hold the best interests of America.  Either way, it would be uncontrollable, and we would be susceptible to sharp swings, from both deflation to high inflation whenever a new gold reserve was tapped.

I tried to keep this short and failed.  This is a complex issue and I could expand a lot on what I said here, hopefully more than a handful of people take the time to read it.

Q2 GDP Forcast

July 6, 2009

I said in an earlier post that I was wishing for Q2 GDP to be between -1.0% and 0.0%.  Unfortunately, accounting nuance will likely cause a lower number.  Brian Wesbury is now forecasting -2.5% GDP for the second quarter (April – June).  The consensus forecast back in May was -1.5%, it is likely more negative now.  This is still a huge improvement from the -5.61% in Q1 of this year and -6.50% in Q4 of last year.  The accounting nuance I mentioned is due to inventories, which is the amount of “widgets” businesses have on hand. I believe inventories are included in GDP because of the economic activity of having those widgets produced.

Businesses hold more inventories in the good times because they are selling widgets faster, and they deplete them in the bad times since too much inventory (supply) forces them to drop prices.  It looks like in Q2 this year businesses were cautious and held their inventories down. This is bad news for Q2, but good for the future. Everything other than inventories should cancel to zero, so inventories themselves should account for all of the drop in GDP for this quarter. Inventories tend to be more volatile than the other parts of GDP, and as the economy ramps up this quarter, businesses will have to replenish their warehouses, compounding the increase from the other sectors. This should lead to large GDP growth numbers in the third and forth quarters of the year, and set the stage for an extremely strong 2010.

Here’s hopin’.

Update: The May trade deficit shrank more than expected!  That should add enough to Q2 GDP to keep it between -1.5% and -2.0%.  Small victories are what it’s all about!